Vice President Dick Cheney had this to say about Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) and his plan to destroy Medicare.
One Wisconsin Now Blog
May 2011 Archives
Wisconsin's Capitol has been on TSA-style lockdown since apparently Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP majority decided images of thousands of middle-class Wisconsinites flooding the Capitol to protest the attack on workers' rights didn't make for good press.
Well today, the fire department issued multiple citations citing numerous fire code violations, including "locked exit doors and inadequate signs pointing toward working exits." In defending her boss, a Walker administration official accidentally admitted they endangered the public to protect the safety of the king Governor:
The Madison Fire Department issued fire code citations Wednesday after finding violations at the state Capitol, including locked exit doors and inadequate signs pointing toward working exits.
The state Department of Administration has cited safety as a reason for restricting access to only a few entrances in the building.
Oh, for the love of god, we again have to endure another version of the yearly Tommy! Thompson's (not) going to run for some political office?
When one asks how many times the former "governor of the great state of Wiscons" will pull this tired canard out, the number is, to quote fellow Bush administration alum Donald Rumsfeld, "unknown unknowns."
To recap: Tommy!s army of regulars in the lobbying corps are floating his name as "seriously" considering a bid for the seat of Sen. Herb Kohl, who announced he would not seek re-election.
Been there. Done that.
Lest you have forgotten how many times we've been down this tired road in the last decade-plus:
• 2000: "Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson said Saturday that he may consider running for a fifth term if he sees evidence that Democratic Attorney General Jim Doyle stands a good chance of being elected governor in 2002." [Green Bay Press-Gazette, 6/11/00]
• 2001-02: Thompson began in 2001 as Health and Human Services Secretary and made no noise about running again, spending time growing his rolodex to do lucrative private sector work, preparing to deceive Americans about the true cost of the coming unfunded $8 trillion Medicare Part D disaster and snapping a motivational locker room towel at our chubby children.
• 2003: "Former Gov. Tommy Thompson gave delegates at the state Republican Party convention what they craved: criticism of sitting Gov. Jim Doyle and a promise he'll return home to Wisconsin one day to run for public office. (But Thompson said Saturday that chances were 'slim to none' he would challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold in next year's election.)" [Associated Press, 5/11/03]
• 2004: "Wisconsin's former governor said Saturday there is a 'possibility' he'll run for governor again." [La Crosse Tribune, 5/23/04]
• 2006: "Former Gov. Tommy Thompson says he believes if he were to seek the Republican nomination for governor, he would be certain to win in November over incumbent Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. 'If I run, I win,' Thompson said Thursday in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reported from its Washington, D.C., office. 'I have no doubt in my mind about that. But then I have to govern.'" [Associated Press, 5/12/06]
• 2007: Thompson was in the midst of his brief presidential run and at the time was making news for saying that employers should be able to fire gay people -- an illegal act for an employer in Wisconsin, and for saying that raising money was "part of the Jewish tradition." No potential run in Wisconsin was inferred.
• 2009: "Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is considering a run for Wisconsin governor. Thompson told 12 News that he's currently looking for other candidates to step up before he throws his hat in the ring." [WISN-TV, 4/29/10]
• 2010: "Former Wisconsin Gov. and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson is still considering a challenge to Sen. Russ Feingold (D)." [Politico.com, 1/21/10]
Tommy! served for a long time in the Assembly. He served a long time as governor. He did the Bush administration gig and now he's spent the last several years making tons of money working for the health insurance cartel.
Tommy! was a huge spender and no governor has increased state spending more. Tommy! hid the costs to help pass the largest unfunded mandate in American history with the $8 trillion Medicare Part D boondoggle.
The fact is: in the current GO-Tea Party Tommy! would not get through a Republican statewide primary against a candidate that has money to remind rabid primary voters about his big gubmint record.
And so now, 45 years after his first election to the State Assembly, that is why Tommy! Thompson will not run for the U.S. Senate.
He can't win.
(Ed note: If even this post seems familiar, we've run a version of it before. In 2009. The more things change, the more....well, you dig.)
It's the same old story with Todd Berry and the conservative, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
Their biased view says there's only money available in the treasury for corporate tax cuts - everything else is second-tier.
In a story today in the Wisconsin State Journal about the additional $636 million in new revenue Wisconsin has from the state's rebounding economy due to the investments by President Obama, former Gov. Jim Doyle and the then-Democratic-controlled legislature, conservative WISTAX head Berry had this to say:
[Berry] said the state was in a similar position in 1979, 1994 and 2005: coming out of an economic downturn and finally seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel. Berry said leaders then chose to spend the money.
"The question I have is: Have our politicians learned anything from our history?" Berry said. "We will see if this time they will be fiscally mature."
You'll note the biased Berry doesn't say word one about, perhaps rolling back the $200 million in corporate tax breaks and tax breaks for the wealthy that Gov. Walker has pushed for in the past four months.
Always the loyal propagandist, Berry's argument is always about the affordability of spending that goes to the middle class and the working poor - never about the unpaid-for corporate taxes or the unfair tax system that allows the investment income of the wealthy avoid the taxation leveled upon the income earned by the labor of the middle class.
No, apparently, Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that a $1 billion cuts to education, which we now see is not needed, is a responsible action for the state's economic future.
And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that cutting 70,000 people off of BadgerCare is a responsible thing to do, when the state now has funds.
And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that gutting the university system and the technical college system will allow us to fully-realize the unlimited potential of the free market?
And Todd Berry and the conservative WISTAX think that jacking prescription drug prices for seniors so that private prescription drug plans can reap $100 million or more in tax dollars.
As One Wisconsin Now documented at WISTAX Watch, our comprehensive research project about corporate influence of the clearly ideological, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, Todd Berry's outfit is in the pocket of the right wing message machine.
When we first explored the organization in 2010, we uncovered the following:
- Nearly 93 percent of the political campaign donations from the board of WISTAX went to Republicans and conservatives ($1.29 million to $101,000 for Democrats or liberals). Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's board at the time gave 80 percent to Republicans and conservative
- Every WISTAX Board Chair since 1986 has also served on the board of director of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce or the Milwaukee affiliate
- Despite its constant calls for budget austerity, its own finances have seen it run a more-than $2 million deficit in its revenues raised to expenditures from 1998-2008 (2004 figures unavailable). They also ran a deficit of $268,000 in 2009.
- The deep ties between WISTAX and the Republican Party, including Todd Berry's appearance as a speaker the teabaggers' Americans for Prosperity event.
The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance has regularly served the conservative agenda by consistently structuring the education spending debate singularly as a tax debate: Wisconsin spends money on education and that makes taxes high. When it creates "studies" of education, the data is blatantly skewed to ensure the results are those desired by the WISTAX anti-public education supporters.
As the Institute for One Wisconsin's report "We're Not Broke" showed, the tax burden has risen on the middle class because the burden has dramatically decreased amongst the wealthy and corporations. It is biased, pro-corporate groups like WISTAX, who have served, and continued to serve, as propaganda machines in the war on the middle class.
WISTAX has advocated getting rid of the corporate income tax, because of all reasons, corporations use a now-closed loophole that allowed them to avoid taxes on Wisconsin profits by setting up a phony post office box "address" in a state without corporate income taxes. WISTAX regularly reports the corporate income tax collections as unpredictable, despite other taxes having less predictability year to year.
WISTAX has a number of time-tested conservative techniques when it comes to advancing its anti-tax argument. For instance, using a relationship between whatever tax is being discussed and income levels, which raises Wisconsin's ranking because average income is under the national average. WISTAX will isolate a tax without talking about what it is used to finance. WISTAX will ignore fees paid by other states, not paid in Wisconsin, such as toll roads. Lastly, WISTAX will omit important context for a tax and the relationship between taxes paid by businesses or not paid by businesses.
Rather than Todd Berry asking for "fiscal maturity," mayhaps it's time the media starts asking for a little "intellectual honesty" from Todd Berry and the conservative, pro-corporate Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
For instance, the budget hawks of WISTAX have run a $2 million organizational deficit from 1998-2008, according to filings at the IRS. Turns out in 2009, they ran another $268,000 deficit. I thought the first rule from the conservatives was: don't spend more than you bring in?
State Infrastructure Not Ready to Implement Costly, Job-Free Voter ID Scheme
Madison -- Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are expected this evening to pass the most restrictive voter right scheme in the nation that will disenfranchise tens of thousands of legal voters, including seniors, students, minorities and working Wisconsinites. One Wisconsin Now believes the current legislation will likely end up in court, costing the state of Wisconsin millions of dollars when eligible voters are denied the franchise.
"Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans could cost us millions of dollars in lawsuits when eligible voters are denied their right to vote due to the legislature's hasty and unconscionable passage of the most restrictive voter law in the nation," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "There is no voter irregularity in Wisconsin, but the Republican legislative majority and Gov. Walker are desperate to rig the elections in their favor. For them, keeping their partisan political power is more important than the rights of the people."
The bill's authors, Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greenfield) and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), are modeling their bill after Indiana's Voter ID law, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Indiana, however, provides its residents exponentially more access to its Department of Motor Vehicles offices to obtain the photo identification. According to the Supreme Court case upholding Indiana's Voter ID bill the lower court found, "99 percent of Indiana's voting age population already possesses the necessary photo identification to vote under the requirements." The Supreme Court concluded that Indiana's law was Constitutional, specifically because so few Indianans were without the state-issued photo identification.
Wisconsin's population is substantially less likely to have a state-issued identification. The study showed that the following numbers about those without state-issued photo identification and who would need to obtain one under the Wisconsin Voter ID bill:
- Over 177,000 elderly Wisconsinites
- 17 percent of white men and women
- 55 percent of African American men and 49 percent of African American women
- 46 percent of Hispanic men and 59 percent of Hispanic women
- 78 percent of African American men age 18-24 and 66 percent of African American women age 18-24
[Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin, 6/05]
The need to expand the numbers and operational hours of Wisconsin DMVs to provide appropriate access could increase the $70 million biennial Wisconsin DMV budget by as much as 50 percent - on top of the current $5 million price tag to provide free identifications.
Wisconsin and Indiana have similar voting age populations (4.35 million vs. 4,8 million), but Wisconsin is 50 percent larger geographically than Indiana (54,314 sq. miles vs. 35,870 sq. miles). Indiana not only provides its residents 50 percent more DMV offices than Wisconsin has (140 to 91), but also nearly three times the total hours these facilities are open.
Additional statistics about Wisconsin lack of accessible DMVs compared to Indiana:
- Twenty-six percent of Wisconsin's 91 DMVs are open one day a month or less, while none of Indiana's are open less than 100 days a year and nearly all are open over 250 days a year.
- Wisconsin has only one DMV with weekend hours, while Indiana has 124 offices with weekend hours.
- Three Wisconsin counties have no DMVs, no Indiana county is without a DMV.
- Over half of Wisconsin's 91 DMVs are open on a part-time basis, while Indiana provides full-time DMVs in every county.
Republican claims of widespread voter irregularity have long been debunked. After a two-year investigation, Republican Attorney General JB Van Hollen has found only 11 potentially-improper votes cast out of nearly 3 million votes in 2008. Former Wisconsin U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush, Steve Biskupic concluded after a similar investigation there was no widespread voter fraud. The majority of charges in all of these cases involved felons who were technically ineligible to vote.
"The Assembly Republican Election Committee chair admitted just the other day, that this bill is being fast-tracked because of new circumstances," said Ross. "The only new circumstance is that the Republicans attack on workers' rights, public education, health care and seniors prescription drug access has put their majority in immediate peril."
Map of Indiana's DMVs
Map of Wisconsin's DMVs open two days a week or more
Map of Wisconsin's Patchwork of DMVs
# # #
Even this one, I have trouble believing.
The breaking news: One Wisconsin Now has obtained documents showing that 12 current Republican members of the State Senate are forcing you to pay the cost for their private membership in one of the nation's most powerful and influential corporate policy outfits - the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
ALEC is the corporate front group that has concocted and supported disastrous attacks on the middle class like ending collective bargaining, privatizing public schools, preventing access to affordable health care and starving local governments - taking police officers and firefighters off the streets.
When you think about how the people on this list, such as Dan Kapanke, Alberta Darling and Scott Fitzgerald have claimed over and over that Wisconsin is broke and we have to cut workers' rights, dismantle public education and raise health care costs for seniors, children and working families, their hypocrisy is enough to make your blood boil. Use this link to the see the Senate's Dishonorable Dozen:
You are probably well aware ALEC was founded nearly 40 years ago to create pro-corporate legislation at the expense of the middle class. Among the many corporate and conservative interests to finance the group is the Koch Foundation and Milwaukee's Bradley Foundation. All 23 members of its public board are identified Republicans and 71 of its 73 state legislative chairs are Republicans.
Not only have Senate Republicans spent tax dollars on ALEC memberships, but also there are substantial ties between ALEC and Gov. Scott Walker, as well as the Republican Assembly Majority. Walker has served previously as a speaker at ALEC, Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald was appointed Wisconsin Chair of ALEC in 2008 and Republican Assembly Joint Finance Chair Robin Vos is current Wisconsin ALEC chair. [ALEC website; Fond du Lac Reporter, 12/28/08]
Let's not mince words here. The American Legislative Exchange Council is nothing more than a corporate propaganda machine and Kapanke, Darling and the other 10 Senate Republicans should immediate return the taxpayers' money and apologize for this improper use of our tax dollars.
If past is prologue, ALEC and its minions may retaliate against One Wisconsin Now. After all, when a University of Wisconsin professor criticized the group, the Republican Party of Wisconsin launched an unprecedented attack on him.
But we are not going to back down from any corporate special interest group or any political party. The stakes are simply too high.
As a final note, One Wisconsin Now also uncovered this: According to the IRS, ALEC, which says on its State Budget Reform page that, "states face structural deficits created by overspending," spent more than it raised in both 2008 and 2009.
The ugliness of Sauk County board member Virgil Hartje's anti-semetic comments during a recent board meeting, is only eclipsed by the defense of his comments provided by Andrea Lombard, a local Republican Party official.
This garbage is indefensible. But rather than criticize a fellow Republican campaign donor, Lombard defended the remark, telling the Baraboo News Republic that:
Supervisor Andrea Lombard of Baraboo has defended Hartje, saying he did not intend to offend anyone and the term "[slur redacted]" is common language for some.
Considering it is the Republican Party which has provided silent approval while many of its elected and aspiring elected officials have fueled the rumors rooted in racism that President Obama is not a Christian, or he was not born in America, it is unfortunate that the Republican Party of Wisconsin has sat back silently while one of its county officials condones the use of a disgusting anti-semetic slur.
After how many pandering state Republicans ranging from Scott Walker to Ron Johnson to Rebecca Kleefisch rode the divisive tea party wave in the elections of 2010, the RPW's collective reticence to criticize would appear intentional.
Let's not rock the boat, huh?
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