Wednesday October 16, 2019

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New Republican Absentee Voting Law Another Round in “Voter Games”

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 28 March 2014
in Our View

votersGREEN BAY - If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. That seems to be the Republican motto when it comes to keeping those pesky Democratic voters from voting.

A few years back, they invented the great “voter fraud” epidemic, with no real evidence that it ever existed, to justify a voter ID law in Wisconsin. Since many more poor people, especially those in the inner city who tended to vote heavily Democratic, don’t have drivers licences and such, why not run them through a few extra hoops the Republican heads reasoned. Maybe some would just give up rather than vote.

After a few scares, the courts finally put a hold on that idea. Seems there was something in the Constitution that doesn’t allow you to inhibit the people’s right to vote.

So on Thursday, Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed into law a Republican bill that limits in-person absentee voting to no later than 7 p.m. during the week and no weekend hours. The new law is a dagger to the heart of the Democratic Get-Out-The-Vote (GOTV) effort of recent years.

It seems those same poor people, and other hourly working people who tend to vote for Democrats, have jobs and find it hard to get to the polls on election day before the six o’clock rush. There is, of course, a law that says your employer has to give you time off to vote, but it doesn’t say they have to pay you for it and you know how that goes.

Republican supporters, for the most part, who do work tend to be more likely managers or other salaried employees who can just take off for an hour or two during the day. Or, as you know if you ever voted in Cedarburg, polling places in the suburbs tend to have about three voting machines for every voter.

So the Democrats reasoned they could raise their voters turnout if they pushed early in-person absentee voting among their people to avoid the rush. It actually came down as a strategy from the national Obama for America people and it worked well for them. It became one of the biggest pieces of the Democratic GOTV effort and had begun to show signs of success.

Of course, the Democrats know what the Republicans are up to with their new law and will challenge it in court. And the courts, in their wisdom, will probably find sooner or later that the Constitution doesn’t allow you to pass laws that inhibit the people’s right to vote. But by then, the Republicans reason, Scott Walker and the Republican majority in the Wisconsin Legislature will be re-elected and it won’t matter.

And while all these Madison political strategists continue to concentrate on the voter games, Wisconsin will continue to drift into mediocrity and drop down the latter among in states in job creation. Will anyone ask what ever happened to those 250,000 new jobs Scott Walker promised to deliver in the last election?

We think not.

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The Republicans in Washington Must Think We’re Pretty Stupid

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Friday, 20 September 2013
in Our View

GREEN BAY – I have been listening to the “debate” coming out of our nation’s capitol all day on CNN and just can’t help but comment.

Today, the Republicans in the House voted to hold the budget of the United States hostage so that they could make a statement about ObamaCare. They would fund the budget but not the implementation of the Affordable Care Act on October 1st. They passed the bill on to the Senate, who is sure to add the money of Affordable Care back. They think the people will then blame the Senate Democrats and/or President Obama if the government shuts down.

Such games are not new. In fact, they have been going on at all levels of government for years, and they are one reason why our government is broken. Legislators have been attaching policy changes to budget bills to end run the legislative process outlined in our Constitution with increasing frequency. Just look at what Scott Walker did in Madison in 2011.

The process is supposed to work like this:

  1. You have an idea.
  2. You formulate it into a bill.
  3. You debate the bill.
  4. You pass the bill in the house.
  5. The Senate passes the bill.
  6. The President signs the bill into law.
  7. The Supreme Court gets to review the law to ensure that it is constitutional.

All of this happened with the Affordable Care Act years ago. Today we heard Republicans trying to go back to the debate phase until we were nauseous. What part of “time to move on” don’t they understand?

If a majority of the American people really doesn’t want ObamaCare, they should, through their representatives, bring forth a bill to repeal it. The simple truth is they have tried this over forty times and they do not have the votes. This means that they are really a minority. Simple.

A minority that doesn’t stop whining even after it’s a done deal. So let’s get on with it.

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Who is Mary Burke?

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 September 2013
in Our View

mary-burkeA few months ago Burke wasn't on the radar screen of possible Democratic candidates for governor in 2014, and now she seems to be the hand picked candidate pushed by the party establishment. But having family money and running with the country club set have not been known to buy you love in traditional Democratic circles.


GREEN BAY - According to her friends in Madison, Mary Burke is so not a politician.

At least, that is the assessment of the former Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive by a former colleague in Madison. But does it explain why a few months ago Burke wasn't on the radar screen of possible Democratic candidates for governor in 2014, and now she seems to be the hand picked candidate pushed by the party establishment.

One obvious advantage is that she could bring a boat load of her own money to the campaign. Should Burke decide to run, she has a fund raising edge over other Democrats because she is a multimillionaire. According to recent articles in the Madison newspapers, Burke paid on average $103,000 in state taxes alone each of the past five years. She could, at least partially, self-finance her campaign.

According to the same reports, Burke has said she is considering entering the race but hasn't yet formed a campaign. She spent the past couple of months meeting with key Democrats and business leaders around the state to assess a possible run.

But Burke's only experience in elected office has been as a Madison School Board member since 2012. She has held several leadership roles during her career, mostly in the private and nonprofit sectors, that party insiders hope could provide insight into what kind of governor she might be.

At Trek, the Waterloo-based company founded by her father in 1976, Burke oversaw the opening of offices in seven European countries and later developed its forecasting and strategic planning department. She also tutored poor minority children at the fledgling Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, which led to her joining the organization's board. In 2002, she became board president. She left Trek in 2004 to commit to raising $6.25 million for the club's Allied Drive expansion.

Her business and philanthropic work caught the attention of then Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who in January 2005 appointed her Commerce secretary, a position she held for two-and-a-half years. She has also held other leadership roles on local boards, most notably in 2003 becoming the first female president of Maple Bluff Country Club, where she honed a single-digit golf handicap.

But having family money and running with the country club set have not been known to buy you love in traditional Democratic circles. Should she run for governor, Burke would be vying to become the first woman to hold the state's highest office, and the first female gubernatorial nominee for a major party ticket in Wisconsin. Another woman, State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, is also considering a run and more closely fits the traditional Democratic profile.

In addition, Statewide candidates typically come with more political experience than Burke. However, the recent election to the U.S. Senate of businessman Ron Johnson shows that doesn't have to be the end of the story, said Charles Franklin, a Marquette University Law School public policy professor. But Johnson is a Republican, and most Democrats have been quick to point out that business experience does not easily convert to the public sector.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, one of several Democrats who met with Burke to discuss her candidacy, said her success in different sectors make her an appealing candidate. He said many politicians, including himself, are waiting until Burke announces her plans before considering a possible run.

"What makes her exciting as a non-politician is she seems interested in the job and serving the state", Mason said. But is that enough for most Democrats to get over her patrician background, regardless of how much money she can bring to the election?

Republicans as usual, are preparing to paint Burke as an out-of-touch Madison liberal representing the policies of the Doyle administration.

As someone who has blatantly supported the failed policies of the past and whose candidacy was completely formed behind closed doors, it's clear that Mary Burke would have a hard time connecting with Main Street, Wisconsin, state Republican Party executive director Joe Fadness said when contacted by the Madison press.

Personal History

Burke was born in Madison in 1959, but grew up in Wauwatosa and Hartland near Milwaukee. She was the second oldest of five, and has three sisters and a brother, John, who now runs Trek.

She majored in finance at Georgetown University and received her MBA from Harvard Business School in 1985. Just before graduation, she asked her father for a job at Intrepid, his Brookfield-based holding company, but there wasn't an opening, so he turned her down.

Six months later, after working as a consultant in New York, she was hired at Intrepid as vice president of finance. But she soon missed the big city and returned to start Manhattan Intelligence, a service for consumers about businesses. It struggled to raise enough capital, and by 1990, she sold her stake and took a job leading Trek's European operations.

In one year, Burke opened offices in four countries, which meant setting up legal entities, hiring staff, leasing office space and establishing office protocol, said John Burke, who was her boss.

Steve Lindenau, who ran Trek's German operations at the time, said when he learned the company founder's daughter would be his boss, he wondered if it was a case of nepotism. It wasn't long before he considered Burke one of the smartest people he knew.

Lindenau was used to making decisions from the gut based on his experience growing up around bike shops. Burke insisted on a different approach based on analyzing data and assembling all available information.

The business changed (to) being less of an emotional way of making decisions and more of a pragmatic approach, said Lindenau, who now runs two bicycle companies in California. It was helpful for the bottom line, for sure.

Burke left Trek, and Europe, after agreeing her position was redundant and took six months off to snowboard in Argentina and Colorado - a decision Republicans have already criticized, citing polling done on that detail by Democrats.

After working at a bicycle industry trade organization, Burke returned to Trek in Wisconsin in 1995 to work on global sales forecasts. John Burke said his sister came in and tore the process apart using data analysis to reduce inventory levels and increase profits. It went from one of the worst things we did as a company to one of the best, he said. Mary has always been somebody who takes a look at things and thinks it can be done better.

Boys & Girls Club

Burke applied her business acumen as president of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, but it led to friction with the club's executive director, Juan Jose Lopez.

Burke started as a tutor in 1998, but it wasn't long before the club's founding president, Peter Brey, and founding director, the Rev. David Smith, took her to a University of Wisconsin basketball game to talk up joining the board.

Burke flexed her executive skills on the board - reviewing financial statements on weekends, generating fundraising ideas and laying the groundwork for transforming the South Side neighborhood club into a citywide organization. In 2002, she was unanimously elected president by fellow board members.

She was focused, she had the ability to raise money, she loved the cause and she had the Rolodex that is such a key part of getting anything done in those particular arenas, Brey said.

Lopez came on as executive director around the same time, and a conflict emerged between them as Burke micromanaged the day-to-day operations of the club, Smith said.

Mary wasn't going to be pushed around by anybody, including her executive director, Smith said. She broke a few eggs, but she made a wonderful omelet, and the community is still eating that omelet.

Brey said Burke and Lopez had different views on how to move the organization forward, and Lopez wasn't executing the way Burke wanted. Lopez declined to comment.

To get to where it is now, there's never easy decisions, but no one can argue the path they took has led to one of the most successful organizations in the entire Boys & Girls Club family, Brey said, and Mary was the driving force.

When Lopez's successor, Marcia Hendrickson, also left abruptly, Burke held the position unpaid for about six months before hiring current executive director Michael Johnson in late 2009. The two agreed the director was in charge of day-to-day club operations and the board was in charge of governance.

Johnson credits Burke with putting in place the strongest financial controls he's seen at a nonprofit organization. A board officer must sign off on expenses over $1,000, and all mail must be opened by two club employees. An employee had embezzled money from the organization before Burke joined the board.

In the past decade, the organization has increased the number of children it serves from 300 to 3,000, expanded the bike ride fundraiser Burke started from $50,000 to $400,000 and grown its operating budget from $250,000 to $3.5 million.

Burke also started the AVID/TOPS student achievement partnership with the Madison School District, raised money for the Allied Drive expansion and established a $1.5 million operating endowment. She is the club's top donor.

Mary is real big on numbers, real big on data and real big on results, Johnson said. She's a no-nonsense person to make sure that the people around her feel valued, but there's a sense of direction and a sense of focus.

Commerce Department

As secretary of the state's Commerce Department, Burke managed 400 employees and a $221 million budget. Madison economic development director Aaron Olver - who was Burke's deputy secretary and later Commerce secretaryunder Doyle - said his first impression of Burke was she didn't come from the political establishment.

She introduced lean manufacturing principles in the department, seeking to reduce waste and improve efficiency. For example, after learning that each office in the department bought its own supplies, she created a central supply depot for everyone to use.

Dissatisfied with the lack of employee input in decision-making, Burke created employee labor management councils to help solve problems in the department.

Her M.O. is to get the right table of folks together to tackle a problem, Olver said.

Like other secretaries, much of Burke's time was spent negotiating economic development loans with private companies. That included a multimillion-dollar package to help reopen a struggling paper mill in Park Falls and build a biofuel refinery to make the company profitable.

Last fall, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which replaced the Commerce Department in 2011, reported that it had lost track of $12.2 million in defaulted loans, including about $5 million from the Park Falls company.

Olver described Burke as so not a politician because she was never one to think about image or campaign donations or public opinion. At the time, she described herself as an independent but leaned more Democratic by the time she left the job, Olver said.

She did not come in thinking about the politics or optics of her decisions, Olver said. She came in focused on problem-solving and getting results.

 

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Source: Madison Newspapers

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Are Conservatives Hiding the Truth about the Costs of ObamaCare?

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Tuesday, 13 August 2013
in Our View

critical-illGREEN BAY - Maybe, if you don’t look at it, it will go away? That seems to be the conservative stand on the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare.

In Washington, the right wing in the House has voted 40 times to kill ObamaCare, while the pressing problems of the nation like job creation and immigration go unanswered.

Governor Scott Walker, darling of the national conservative right wing and Tea Party, decided to shun millions of tax dollars the federal government wanted to give back to Wisconsin to help set up health insurance exchanges.

Right here in Brown County, a Republican “non-partisan” Supervisor named Brad Hopp tried to get a resolution passed preventing the county, and its employees, from assisting Brown County residents in accessing health care made available through the Affordable Care Act.

Now the Walker Administration has still not released the insurance rates for the companies who will be on the new health marketplace. We know who the companies are that will join this marketplace and ensure greater security and control for consumers, but not what the plans will cost!

Some sort of price control on health care costs is fundamental to Affordable Care.

For years, one of the main problems with the American way of providing health care has been it’s ever raising cost. That’s why people needed insurance to pay for health care in the first place. It is why many employers cut full time jobs or moved them overseas rather than pay the costs here to insure employees. That’s one of the major reasons they called it the Affordable Care Act in the first place.

According to our former Congressman, Dr. Steve Kagen of Appleton, one of the authors of the Affordable Care Act, the way to control these costs is the open market place. You go to two or three stores and notice that one store is offering the product at the lowest price. You go back to that store to buy it. The other stores have to lower their price to complete. All you have to know is who has the thing you want and the price.

The Big Health Care Industry and their insurance provider partners have been in the business of hiding the true price of specific health care services for years. Have you ever tried to get an itemized bill after a stay in the hospital? Once we know the price, the free market will drive the costs down.

Wisconsinites need the facts on prices. We deserve to know how much the new insurance rates are. If the news is good and we have lower rates like Maryland and New York, we need to know. If Walker is going to try and spin the numbers like Ohio or Indiana then we need transparency! In either case the truth demands to be told.

###

Our progressive friends at Citizen Action of Wisconsin have started a Petition to force Walker to release the new Health Insurance Rates he’s hiding. If you wish to sign the petition, click HERE.

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Zimmerman Trial Reflects White Prejudice in Legal System

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 16 July 2013
in Our View

black-hoodyGREEN BAY – The American Legal System boasts that it gives the accused the right to a trial before his or her peers. Unfortunately for justice, it sometimes does not guarantee the same right for the victim.

Such was graphically the case in the trial of George Zimmerman last week in Florida for the murder of Trayvon Martin.

In case you were vacationing on Mars for the last few years, George Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer and want-a-be cop in the pretty much all white community of Sanford, Florida who saw Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black youth from out of town, walking down his block. Zimmerman decided to follow him, armed with a gun, and ended up shooting the unarmed Martin dead.

A simple story and one you should think about if you go around packing a gun.

But the story gets complicated from there. The Sanford Police decide to take their local guy’s story at face value and let him go, no fault charged. The Martin family and the national media get involved, demanding at least a decent investigation and trial, in the name of justice for the dead youth. The political right and left charge to their respective sides and the American Legal System lumbers into action.

Now, sixteen months later, the verdict is in and the pretty much all white jury of Sanford residents decide to take their local guy’s story at face value and let him go. Are we surprised?

If Trayvon Martin did the shooting and was the defendant, he could have at least asked for a change of venue by saying he could not get a fair trial in the white community. The police and the jury would apply their community standards in judging the credibility of his story and find him guilty before he even opened his mouth. Unfortunately, he was the victim and could not speak.

In America, black youth, especially young black men face the same problem every day. Often guilty of no more than “walking while black” they are profiled by police as “suspicious”, picked up, and processed into a legal system that is stacked against them. Anyone who says there is no racial prejudice involved is not in touch with reality.

Most probably, there will be no justice for Trayvon Martin. He was found guilty by a jury of Zimmerman’s peers. But maybe, just maybe, we can use this sad incident to start a real discussion about race in America and our legal system. Maybe, some time in this century, all of us can come to see a black kid as just another kid.

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State Senators Pass Budget at Midnight, Bill Goes to Walker

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 21 June 2013
in Our View

scott-walker-clapsBudget includes statewide school voucher plan and rejects federal assistance to provide access to affordable health care options for state residents. Republican plan does little to cut taxes for average citizens or create jobs.


MADISON - Senate Republicans passed the state budget by a one-vote margin just after midnight Friday, moving it on to Gov. Scott Walker’s all but assured signature.

The budget passed 17-16, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) joining all Democrats in opposing it. Walker can alter the plan using his vast line-item veto powers, but few expect any substantial change to it’s key provisions.

The budget would cut state income taxes by $651 million, mostly for wealthy taxpayers, and create a new statewide school voucher program that would allow children who meet income thresholds to use taxpayer money to attend private schools, including religious schools.

In a statement released after the budget was approved, Walker said he was proud of the Legislature for its work on the budget.

The state schools superintendent raised concerns a little-noticed provision in the school voucher plan that could lead to a flood of students attending private schools at taxpayer expense. Superintendent Tony Evers said late Thursday that attorneys are reviewing the issue but that he is worried about it.

The provision could "essentially negate any kind of caps," Evers said. "That would make a separate system of publicly funded private schools."

However, the matter is far from clear, Evers said. Bob Lang, the director of the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, said it would be up to Evers to determine whether such satellite schools would be subject to the cap.

While the Republicans wanted to characterize the budget as a big tax cut, it would actually only cut income taxes by an average of $150, raise property taxes by $29 on the typical home and reject a key element of the federal Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

The budget passed includes the governor’s plan to reject nearly $1 billion in federal assistance to provide access to affordable health care options for all state residents. Experts estimate Walker’s plan will stick Wisconsin taxpayers with approximately $75 million in additional costs the first year, with fewer people under coverage.

The budget provides no major provisions to improve Wisconsin’s dismal performance in job creation under Walker. The Democrats stressed that Wisconsin ranked 44th in private-sector job creation in the last quarterly jobs census.

"We are worse now than we were two years ago," said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton). "And we’re not trending up. We’re trending down. Wisconsin’s economy is actually contracting … And this budget won’t do anything about that."

Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) denounced the budget as a "road map to mediocrity" that "doubles down on the failed policies of the past."

Three and a half hours into the debate, the Senate fell briefly into turmoil as protesters chanted, "Focus on jobs, not on vaginas" — a response to the Legislature’s vote last week to require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds.

In a statement issued early this morning, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said that “since 2011 Governor Walker and the Republican majority have been doing everything they can to move Wisconsin 60 years back and 1,000 miles south”. He goes on to say that “this is the wrong budget at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons”.

In a summary provided by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the nearly 1,400-page Joint Finance budget bill would:

Tax cuts. Cut income taxes by $651 million over two years and provide $30 million a year in income tax savings for the parents of the nearly 100,000 private school students in Wisconsin. Families could receive an income tax deduction of up to $4,000 for private school tuition paid for each kindergarten through eighth-grade student and up to $10,000 per high school student.

School funding. Provide public schools with $150 more per student in state aid and local property taxes this fall and another $150 increase in 2014-’15, for a total of $289 million over two years. However, because of the $50 one-time per-pupil bump to many districts in this past school year, the proposed $150 per pupil funding increase in 2013-’14 would represent a $100 per-pupil increase this fall over current spending.

Health care. Shift nearly 90,000 people from the BadgerCare Plus program into a new online insurance marketplace, where the participants are supposed to find replacement health coverage. A detailed analysis of the plan by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau found that many of the people now receiving BadgerCare Plus coverage through Medicaid likely would not buy the more expensive insurance through the marketplaces.

In doing so, Republicans are passing up a federal offer to cover 84,700 more people in Medicaid than their plan and receive enough additional federal tax money over the next two years to pad the state budget by $119 million even after covering the cost of those additional people, according to the Fiscal Bureau.

Walker has said he wants fewer people on government coverage and is concerned that the federal government won’t keep its commitment to the higher Medicaid funds over the long term.

Residency. Repeal all residency rules for teachers and other workers for local units of government with one exception: Local officials could still require police, fire or emergency personnel to live within 15 miles of the boundaries of their jurisdictions.

Bail bonds. Allow for-profit bail bondsmen in Wisconsin for the first time since 1979, with judges able to opt out of the system. The program would be limited for the first five years to Milwaukee, Waukesha, Kenosha, Racine and Dane counties.

State property. Allow the Walker administration to sell state assets including parking garages, university dormitories and roads.

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Rand Paul Right On This One

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 07 March 2013
in Our View

rand_paulGREEN BAY - Yesterday, Rand Paul spent thirteen hours on the Senate floor conducting an old fashioned filibuster questioning the U.S. drone policy. Rand Paul has a lot of lame ideas, but on this one he was right on both questioning the policy and the method in which he did it.

In the first place, he had the guts to actually stand up on the Senate floor and speak his mind for as long as he could in a filibuster as intended by the framers of our Constitution. Of course, it was theatrics, but that’s what a filibuster is. He did not hide behind the questionable rule commonly used in the Senate to stop discussion by merely saying you want to filibuster. He stood up and talked. He took responsibility for his words. It was a fundamental exercise in democracy that progressives should applaud.

But in a larger sense, in forcing a discussion of the Constitutionality of our government’s use of drones to kill people without charge or even demonstration of just cause in a Court of law, Rand Paul has forced us to face a question we have dodged for over ten years. Under our Constitution, even in a time of fear, how do we keep our form of democratic government viable while still providing for our defense.

It is a thin line and delicate balance. As progressives, we all love President Obama and generally trust him to do the right thing. But our founders had just cause to fear too much arbitrary power in the hands of one leader, as in a King, and placed in our Constitution a division of power between three branches. A President could lead us in war, but only after the people through their representatives in Congress declared it a war, and even then the President’s power was limited by the Courts and the law of the land.

On September 11, 2001 our nation was profoundly shocked by a dastardly attack by an international group of terrorists, and in the atmosphere of fear that followed President George W. Bush embarked our nation on a war-like foreign policy that lead to our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and a number of policies on the treatment of combatants that clearly stretched the limits of our law and national character. The Congress, too timid to appear to question the public mood, looked the other way rather than declare it a real war. The draft was gone, and the majority of people really didn’t have to get involved. And the undeclared war against some shadowy, undefined terrorist enemy has continued for over ten years.

Osama bin Laden is dead, our adventure in Iraq has concluded, and the commitment of troops in Afghanistan is winding down. Our national treasury has been bled dry. The question now is “when does it all end?” When do we go back to being the nation of law and rules I remember as a boy?

Rand Paul has done us a service in pushing this debate, at least a little bit, back into our public consciousness. As citizens of a country we declare a democracy, we should not let it slip back under the rug.

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Scott Walker Beats the Rap in Milwaukee John Doe Investigation

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 05 March 2013
in Our View

scott-walkerMADISON - On Friday we learned that Scott Walker will not be charged with crimes in the John Doe criminal corruption probe. Six close associates of Walker were convicted in actions directly related to Walker and some currently sit in prison. Nineteen individuals, constituting Walker's entire inner circle, were granted transactional immunity for their truthful testimony.

The entire affair speaks directly to Scott Walker's bad values. The court record speaks clearly to the fact that Scott Walker was directly involved in criminal activity. That he was not charged with crimes is no feather in his cap-the standard should be much higher for an elected official.

But does it matter that Walker acts, and the people around him act, as if though he is above the law?

This investigation was without precedent, and as it ends, we have a clear picture of Scott Walker. He has abused the trust of the people he is supposed to serve. He wasn't charged with crimes, but he clearly was involved in crimes.

Scott Walker beat the rap. We can only hope that the corruption that he brought with him from Milwaukee does not continue any more in his current administration.

Now that the investigation is over, we should expect that all documents obtained throughout the course of the John Doe to be made public. When all the documents are out, the fuller picture of Scott Walker's involvement will finally be revealed, as will the involvement of several current cabinet and administration officials. Any governor whose greatest accomplishment in his first two years in office is that he escaped the criminal charges for which several close aides were brought to justice really needs more to brag about. So far, Scott Walker has cleared the bar set by Illinois, but barely.

Wisconsin’s Republican governors in recent decades have gone from red vests to (almost) orange jumpsuits. Robert M. LaFollette must be not just rolling over in his grave, but downright glad that he’s dead and doesn’t have to witness this from above the ground.

As it stands, Scott Walker is the most investigated governor in Wisconsin history. By Scott Walker’s own standards, he should be considered unfit for public office.

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Scott Walker’s Budget Continues State on March to Tea Party Right

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 22 February 2013
in Our View

scott-walker-clapsMADISON - In his biennial budget address, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a chance to reverse the policies that caused so much unrest and recall elections in his first two years in office. Instead of moving to represent all of us, he chose to double down on his commitment to national right wing interest groups over the people of Wisconsin.

Governor Walker laid out a budget that favors corporate campaign donors and out-of-state special interests, at the expense of Wisconsin’s middle class families. While he has spent the past several months paying lip service to moderation, this latest budget proves that all that talk was just talk. There is more of the same policies that have Wisconsin ranked 42nd in the nation in job growth and 2nd to last in economic growth prospects.

Such priorities in Wisconsin as education, health care and jobs-creating infrastructure continue to face a deficit under Scott Walker and his budget. There was no attempt to provide a stronger education system by refunding the devastating cuts of last session to ensure our children have access to a quality education. He also did not provide for a stronger BadgerCare system, fully funded and truly covering 175,000 more working Wisconsinites. Finally, the budget missed a middle class jobs plan that increases access to worker training, access to capital for small businesses and incentivizes buying Wisconsin and buying American.

Scott Walker must think our memories are short and that, by making miniscule investments in schools, tech colleges and job training we won't remember that he slashed those same programs to the bone just two years ago. Will Wisconsin voters give the Governor credit for investing a penny where two years ago he cut a dollar?

Scott Walker’s new budget continues to short change public education, harm job creation, grow the debt and weaken the economic security of Wisconsin’s middle class. The following is a short summary of some of the issues.

ON JOBS

Despite the undying work ethic of Wisconsin’s middle class families, our state is last in the Midwest in virtually every economic indicator while neighboring states enjoy a robust recovery.

This budget fails to introduce any substantive economic development programs and throws chump change at worker training after $72 million in cuts in the last budget

Now, in the face of historic failure, Walker is wasting taxpayer dollars on an $11 million propaganda campaign to make people believe we are doing well instead of fixing the problem

In the face of a crucial skills gap, Scott Walker chose to cut Wisconsin back to vocational technical funding at 1989 levels. His current budget does not fix the damage already done.

Not only have jobs left Wisconsin under Scott Walker’s watch, wages and standards of living have diminished as well.

ON HEALTH CARE

Scott Walker’s budget prevents tens of thousands of people from getting access to healthcare.

Walker’s policies may play well in right-wing circles, but the reality is the cost of care in Wisconsin will be higher and fewer will have access to it.

By saddling Wisconsin with $250 million more in health care costs by turning away Medicaid expansion, and by deep cuts to BadgerCare and aid to seniors, Walker is ensuring that taxpayers will pay more for health care and more out-of-pocket.

ON EDUCATION/VOUCHERS

Through the budget process, Walker has already cut more than $1.6 billion from public education. This budget does nothing to repair the damage to our schoolchildren and Wisconsin’s competitiveness in a global marketplace.

The proposed budget increase for education would not add a single dollar, a single penny to the classrooms. Wisconsin school districts would continue to operate under the same funding levels and the increase in funds will just relieve some of the local tax levies.

Scott Walker’s voucher plan takes your tax money to pay for the wealthy to attend private schools and leave the public schools to fail.

Weakening public schools in the midst of a jobs crisis by funneling money to private schools can only continue Wisconsin’s downward economic spiral, which has us lagging nationally in job growth.

By expanding vouchers for private schools, Scott Walker is punishing public schools, rewarding out-of-state donors, and harming our children.

ON THE STATE INCOME TAX

Scott Walker is masking a tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest by calling it a middle class tax cut.

A true middle class tax cut would not give the biggest breaks to those making over $200,000 a year as Governor Walker’s proposal is expected to do

Democrats support giving Wisconsin’s middle class families a tax break, but Governor Walker’s proposal is not that. It does not call for shared sacrifice and for everyone to pay their fair share.

ON TRANSPORTATION SPENDING

Walker is seeking $6.4 billion in new transportation spending even as Wisconsin suffers record debt under his fiscal mismanagement. He plans on paying for this special interest giveaway by the irresponsible sale of public assets.

To pay for his new transportation spending, Walker is conducting a firesale of Wisconsin assets to his corporate benefactors.

ON THE WAR ON WOMEN

By defunding women’s health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, Walker has continued the “War on Women” that treats women as second-class citizens.

Because of his ideologically-driven cuts, Walker has left thousands of rural women without access to birth control, cervical cancer screenings and other forms of life-saving health care.

Additionally, Walker’s refusal to restore wage equity protections shows an alarming lack of compassion for women who do not receive equal pay for equal work.

ON INNOVATION

Scott Walker’s claim that his historic cuts to education, infrastructure and health care are “innovations” is false. What Walker is doing is part of the same old ideology that rewards corporate benefactors and ideological fellow travelers at the expense of workers, seniors, the middle class and the most vulnerable.

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Let’s Get Real on Gun Control

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 26 December 2012
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rambo-squirrelGREEN BAY - In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the President and other responsible leaders have again raised the issue of gun control as a possible answer to reducing gun violence in America. The most common solutions discussed are a return to the assault weapons ban repealed in 2004 and closing the loophole that allows the purchase of guns at local gun shows without the normal background check.

But the gun lobby has trotted out the usual diversion tactics to muddy the waters. It is a common tactic in public debate.

Shouldn’t we put a cop in every school or theater, or arm teachers, or publish the names of all gun owners, or require mandatory psychiatric care for any relative we think is a little bit weird, they say. While we’re at it, let’s round up all the semi-automatic pistols and violent video games. Why not cancel all the cop shows on TV? The beat goes on. Another media circus.

And in the end, they hope, we will all just throw up our hands, again, and say the problem is too big to solve so we should just do nothing.

Cory Booker had the best point on Meet the Press last Sunday. We are not even arguing about the real problem.

There are good reasons besides hunting for law abiding citizens to buy guns. Personal safety is one of them. I would even argue that more progressives and liberals should get guns. If something happens, like a month long power outage, we wouldn’t want the conservatives to be the only people in the neighborhood armed.

But that’s not the problem, nor is the general state of psychiatric care in the country. We are not going to stop all gun violence with a single law. But we can make things a little better.

Experience shows that, if you want to pull off a mass shooting at a school or theater, you want to arm yourself with a military style long gun with a high capacity banana clip like the AR-15. It’s been the weapon of choice in several of the recent shootings. And a return to the assault weapons ban can make it just a little more difficult for these shooters to get them.

And, as Cory Booker said, evidence in his city shows that law abiding citizens don’t commit crimes with guns. In fact, he said that of all the gun crimes committed in Newark in one recent year, only one was committed by someone who had gotten the gun by going through the normal background check at a registered gun dealer. The problem is the secondary market where nearly 40 per cent of the guns in this country change hands.

If you buy a gun at a gun store with a background check, you have to swear that you have not committed a felony lately, or been dishonorably discharged from the military, or been treated for mental illness, or are addicted to drugs, or need to be restrained from committing domestic abuse.

These are common sense questions to keep the guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people. Why shouldn’t everyone who wants to buy a gun be required to answer them? Why keep the secondary market loophole open that allows people to buy a gun without a background check? What’s all this nonsense about taking the guns out of the hands of law abiding citizens?

We are not going to stop all future gun violence at schools like Sandy Hook. We are not going to end all wars and make the world safe for democracy. We are not going to all love one another. Those delusions ended in the sixties.

But we can do something to make the shootings a little less easy for the shooters, and that is a start. The first step is to keep the discussion on the real issues.

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Progressive Giant of Appleton Passes

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Wednesday, 28 November 2012
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Dr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGENDr. MARVIN STANLEY KAGEN, M.D., who helped found the modern Democratic Party of Wisconsin, dies at the age of 94.


APPLETON – In today’s politics and political parties, leaders often seem to come and go with the 24 hour news cycle. We often forget who got us here. Not so with Dr. Marv Kagen, a true giant from the “greatest generation” who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights and helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire.

Marv Kagen, M.D. always reassured his family he would live forever; he had the right idea, living 94 years from April 11, 1918 until November 23, 2012.

Marv's childhood was spent in the back room of his family's Kagen Drug Store during the Great Depression in Chicago, Illinois. When he could see over the counter, he went to work greeting customers with his life-long trademark: "Glad to see you. How may I help you?"

Marv was always agreeable and kind, believing the customer was always right. He also had a great sense of humor, formed in his youth by watching comedy shows from orchestra pits in Chicago theaters.

Dr. Kagen attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois and the University of Illinois Medical School where he earned his Medical Degree at the age of 22. During World War II, he served as a physician in the U.S. Coast Guard and afterwards, he returned to Chicago to study Dermatology. Marv met and married registered nurse Virginia Johnson in 1947, and moved to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1948, where his son Charlie joined Marv in the Kagen Dermatology Clinic in 1984.

Dr. Kagen loved serving people and was a founding member of the Wisconsin Dermatological Society. He was also active in the American Academy of Dermatology.

Marv was a stand-up guy, organizing people for civil rights beginning in the 1940s. When ordered by his superior officer to flunk all "colored" candidates for the Merchant Marine and Coast Guard, he responded, "I will not do that." Several days later, Dr. Kagen was sent to sea on the USS Calloway. Later, in the 1960s, Marv and his family marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Chicago promoting Peace and Civil Rights for all.

Marv Kagen helped found the Democratic Party of Wisconsin with his friends Gaylord Nelson and Bill Proxmire, commenting, "I may be well-off, but I have never been rich enough to be a Republican." 

Dr. Kagen was opposed to making war, and in 1966 he ran for Congress against our involvement in Vietnam, saying later that it was the greatest challenge he had ever taken on. Kagen was also a champion of our environment, as Appleton Health Commissioner he was the first to ban indiscriminate use of DDT in 1959.

Marv married trial attorney Mary Lou Robinson in 1974, and together they served the needs of their community on issues of social justice, conservation and community health for four decades.

In 1992, Marv and his son, Steve Kagen, M.D., began their campaign to guarantee access to health care for everyone. They sought to make health care a Civil Right by outlawing the once common insurance company practice of discriminating against patients with pre-existing medical conditions - and after 18 years of effort, they succeeded with the passage of our nation's new health care law in 2010.

When asked what he enjoyed most in life, Marv Kagen said, "That's easy. Everyday in my office I'd see the richest and the poorest people in town, and I'd give them all the same treatment at the same price. Nothing beats making people feel better."

Dr. Marv Kagen was so loving and kind to everyone; he was always reassuringly positive to his family, his friends and his patients. He told his children he had a sign on his forehead that read, "You can handle it."

Marv loved helping people, and his loving phrase lives on in our minds: "Be kind to yourself, and if you force anything force a smile."

Dr. Kagen is survived by his great friend Mary Lou Robinson (Hollandtown, WI), former wife Virginia Johnson Kagen (Appleton, WI), children Suzanne (Tom) Sipple (Lawrence, KS), Steve (Gayle) Kagen, M.D. and Charlie (Francoise) Kagen, M.D. (Appleton, WI); grandchildren Melissa Kagen, RN-NP and husband US Army Staff Sgt. Matt Van Auken (Alexandria, VA), Michael Kagen, M.D. and fiancée Zainab Nayeri, M.D. (Chattanooga, TN), and Thomas Kagen, Stephanie Kagen, R.N., Corinne Kagen and Camille Kagen (Appleton, WI); sister Helene Toland, nieces Debra Toland Josephs, Sandy Toland and nephew Scott Toland (Denver, CO); his cousin Maynard Kagen (Chicago, IL) and many other cousins and friends.

Marv was preceded in death by his parents Abraham and Fanny Berger Kagen; his brothers, Leonard A. Kagen, M.D. and Irving N. Kagen, M.D. 

The Kagen family extends their sincerest gratitude to the professional staff at Heartwood Homes Senior Living, his physician, Michael Johnson, M.D. and AseraCare Hospice for the loving care they provided.

A memorial celebration will be held Saturday December 1, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM at Wichmann Funeral Home 537 N. Superior Street, Appleton, WI. 

Online condolences may be expressed at www.wichmannfargo.com.

Because of Marv Kagen's passion for life-long learning, the family asks friends to donate their time and money to area public schools.

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Scott Walker Says No to State Role in Health Care Reform

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Monday, 19 November 2012
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scott_walker-fakesmileMADISON - Wisconsin won't create a health insurance exchange, Gov. Scott Walker (R) announced Friday, joining several other Republican governors to reject a key component of President Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Wisconsin was one of the few remaining holdouts until Friday, the original deadline for states to declare whether they would run a health insurance exchange, before the Federal government gave stalling States an extension to Dec. 14. The exchanges are online marketplaces where uninsured people and small business will shop for coverage and find out if they qualify for financial assistance or Medicaid benefits beginning in 2014.

Many other states have declared they would leave the operation of the exchanges to the federal government, or partner with federal authorities rather than take charge themselves, as the law intended.

Walker decided to turn the health insurance exchange in Wisconsin over to the federal government rather than do the job himself, citing in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius his opposition to Obamacare and his belief that states like Wisconsin still wouldn't have enough say over their health care markets even if they manage their own exchanges under federal guidelines.

"No matter which option is chosen, Wisconsin taxpayers will not have meaningful control over the health care policies and services sold to Wisconsin residents," Walker wrote. "If the state option is chosen, however, Wisconsinites face risk from a federal mandate lacking long-term guaranteed funding."

Walker had previously rejected a $38 million dollar Federal government grant to establish the exchange, and joining the effort at this late date would have been time consuming and expensive. States also have the option of taking over the exchanges after the feds do the heavy lifting, further reducing the incentive for Walker to get involved. From his own political point of view, Walker has little to gain and much to lose from the successful implementation of an exchange in Wisconsin.

Local control of the exchange establishment would have allowed Wisconsin officials to tailor the program to the particular needs of its citizens and given smaller local health care vendors greater access to the bidding process. By dealing only with the larger vendors on a national basis, the Federal government may have less leverage in negotiating the best prices for Wisconsin citizens.

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Today Is Election Day, So VOTE!!

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Tuesday, 06 November 2012
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voteGREEN BAY - Election Day is today, Tuesday, November 6, 2012, so make sure you vote. As long as you’re in line when the polls close tonight, your vote will be counted. We can’t afford to let Romney bring back the same bad ideas that crashed our economy. We need to move forward with President Obama.

Yesterday was President Obama’s last day on the campaign trail, and it was a nonstop sprint to the finish. Obama supporters aren’t resting and neither was the President. He crisscrossed the country asking for every American’s vote.

Bruce Springsteen joined him in Madison, Wisconsin, and Columbus, Ohio, where Jay-Z also joined in. Then, the President and the First Lady returned to Iowa, where it all began in the winter of 2007, for one final grassroots rally in Des Moines.

Must Watch: The President’s grassroots events in Ohio and Iowa will be streamed live at www.barackobama.com/live.

It’s more important than ever to vote today and make your voice heard in this election. The 2000 election was decided by just 537 votes, and this year could be even closer and the stakes are higher than ever before. So make sure you vote, and that everyone you know does too. Go to vote.BarackObama.com to find out when, where and how to vote. Remember, as long as you’re in line when the polls close, your vote will be counted.

We have come a long way in a few short years. We’re out of Iraq, we brought Osama bin Laden to justice, the auto industry is back, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is over, we’re less dependent on foreign oil and we’ve created nearly 5.5 million new jobs in the last 32 months. We have more to do, but we’re on the right track.

President Obama has a clear, specific plan to build on that progress over the next four years. It’ll help create jobs, develop American energy, train the best workforce in the world, reduce the deficit in a balanced way and do some nation-building here at home. It’s a plan that moves us forward, not back.

When you vote, think about which candidate you trust. We can’t trust Mitt Romney. He’d take us back to the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, like fewer rules for big banks and more huge tax cuts for the wealthy. And he’s written off 47 percent of the country. President Obama fights for the entire country.

Voting for Barack Obama is a vote for all Americans, not just a lucky few. He’s always had our backs, and now its time to have his and help finish what we started in 2008. We can’t afford to go back, and you can't afford to stay home. Vote today. It’s the most American thing you can do, and it’s how we keep moving forward.

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President Obama Will Win Re-election Tomorrow

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Monday, 05 November 2012
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obamaGREEN BAY – We here at the Green Bay Progressive are making a prediction on the result of tomorrow’s Presidential election. President Barack Obama will win.

We don’t generally make endorsements any more. Nobody listens to those anyway. But we have been watching the polls closely. It is easy to get lost in all the numbers, but truth generally lies in the simplest conclusions.

First, all the polls, right and left, generally concede that the result in 42 of the 50 States is basically decided. That leaves the election at 234 votes for President Obama and 209 for Mitt Romney. Only eight “swing” States, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada will decide the election. And it leaves Obama much closer to the 270 votes needed for a win.

Of the swing States, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada may be within the margin of error, but most of the polls consistently give the President a decided advantage in each of them. If Obama wins these States as predicted, even if you give Romney Florida and Virginia, the President has a win with 274 Electoral College votes. And we are not even counting Colorado and New Hampshire.

There are few scenarios under which Mitt Romney can win, and all of them will require upsets in States where Obama holds a 2 or 3 to 1 advantage in positive poll leads. While campaign enthusiasts often talk of enthusiasm and “closing the gap” in the final days of a campaign, it is generally more wishful thinking than reality.

All of this requires that everyone will get out to vote as predicted. Storm damage out east could suppress the vote there, and everyone is worried about Ohio, where local Republican officials have tampered with the election process and absentee voting to such an extent that all the votes may not be counted for weeks.

But lacking some major surprise, Romney will appear to lead in the beginning, with President Obama not sealing the deal until after the west coast and Hawaii come in at 10:00 PM central. Then, we predict an Obama-Biden victory. The numbers say so.

Nobody loses their job for saying the election is too close to call, but we want to be different and stick out our neck. We hope tomorrow proves us right.

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President Obama Has Offered a Specific Plan for A New Economic Patriotism in Second Term

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Thursday, 25 October 2012
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barack-obama-explainsWASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has offered a concrete and specific second-term plan that will help create jobs, develop American energy, train the best workforce in the world, reduce the deficit in a balanced way and do some nation-building here at home.

The President's plan would continue to restore economic security to the middle class and avoid returning to the same policies that crashed the economy. He laid it out in his State of the Union and set specific goals at the Convention, he’s been talking about it every day with Americans across the country, and millions have visited barackobama.com/plans to read about it.

Unlike Mitt Romney, the President has been consistent and clear about his vision and values because he knows his plan will actually create jobs and strengthen the middle class. Recent history teaches us the right way to grow the economy is from the middle out, not the top down.

Here is the clear, achievable plan the President has been talking about this year – a plan that will continue creating jobs and building middle-class security over the next four years:

  1. First, creating jobs: He’ll help create a million new manufacturing jobs and double our exports so manufacturers can stamp “Made in America” on more products and sell them around the world.
  2. Second, developing homegrown energy: We’ll cut our oil imports in half and produce more American-made energy – like oil, clean coal, natural gas, and new resources like wind, solar and biofuels – creating 600,000 jobs in natural gas alone, all while doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks.
  3. Third, training the best workforce in the world: We’ll recruit and prepare 100,000 math and science teachers so Americans graduate prepared to compete for the jobs of the future, train 2 million Americans at our community colleges with the job skills they need, and cut the growth of tuition in half over the next decade and expand student aid so more students can afford college.
  4. Fourth, reducing our deficit in a balanced way: The President put a plan on the table to cut the deficit by more than $4 trillion in the next decade. On top of the $1 trillion in spending we’ve already cut, we’ll ask the wealthy to pay a little more and cut spending we don’t need throughout the budget.
  5. Fifth, do some nation-building here at home: we’ll use half the savings from ending the war in Afghanistan to help pay down our debt and invest the rest in fixing our roads, runways, bridges and schools.
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The President Stands Firm in Final Debate

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Tuesday, 23 October 2012
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obama-romney-debateBOCA RATON, FL – When President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney ended their debate Monday night on foreign policy, it was clear one man was the veteran of four years in the role of Commander-in-Chief and one was new and awkward trying to play in the big boys league.

On point after point, President Obama dominated the debate as he displayed a clear vision of what it really takes to make America safe and maintain our country’s leadership in the world. It was simply no contest.

Mitt Romney tried talk his way around a lack of specific new ideas, throwing words like “weak” and “retreat” at the President carelessly, but in the end he could only agreed with what the President was already doing in each situation. Romney could offer nothing he would do differently on Iraq, Afghanistan, bin Laden, al Qaeda. Syria, Russia and defense spending.

Anyone who has spend some time in the military will tell you that a good commander must be clear and consistent in giving orders. Confusion costs lives, on the battlefield and in world affairs. Obama demonstrated that he knows a President has only one chance to get it right, that he understands the complexities of the real world, that he knows from experience what it means to send troops into battle, and he cited his achievements in foreign policy to prove it.

Mr. Romney liked to speculate on the motivations of world leaders, saying several times “what would … think” in discussing their reactions to Obama's foreign policy as justifications for his charges. But Mitt Romney himself failed the Commander-in-Chief test, because he had no clear and consistent policy alternatives to offer.

In perhaps the high point of the debate, Romney tried to claim our current Navy was weak because it had less ships than the Navy of years ago. President Obama quickly pointed out that the United States had less horses and bayonets than it had in World War I too, but that didn't make it any weaker. The modern military uses different tools in more refined ways to meet the needs of the twenty first century.

As President Obama said, Mitt Romney would take us back to the foreign policy of the 1980s, social policy of the 1950s, and economic policy of the 1920s. President Obama’s policies would build on the progress of the last four years, honor our veterans, do some nation building here at home, and move us forward, not back. Mitt Romney had no come back.

Round three to Obama.

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President Obama Comes Through In Second Debate

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Thursday, 18 October 2012
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debate_prez_2HEMPSTEAD, NY - When President Barack Obama and former Governor Mitt Romney met Tuesday night in their second debate, it was almost as if the Obama Campaign had taken a page directly out of TV’s “West Wing”, as they implemented the strategy of “Let Obama be Obama” to perfection.

In this debate, the President was fully direct and quick on his feet. He challenged Mitt Romney's assertions from the beginning. He scored points and clearly left Romney reeling on the defensive.

The President started out hard, listing the many accomplishments and kept promises of his first four years in office. He was strong, steady and decisive and offered an affirmative vision to move this country forward and build the economy from the middle out, not the top down. When Romney tried to change the discussion to his view of the state of the economy, the President forced him to defend himself instead.

"Governor Romney doesn't have a five-point plan. He has a one-point plan, and that plan is to make sure folks at the top play by a different set of rules," Obama said. "That's been his philosophy in the private sector, that's been his philosophy as governor, that's been his philosophy as a presidential candidate."

Pacing back and forth on a stage at Long Island's Hofstra University in New York, Obama and Romney talked over each other at times and quarreled periodically over whose turn it was to speak and how much time they had coming.

"I want to make sure our timekeepers are working here," Obama said at one point.

At another, Romney condescendingly told the President, "You'll get your chance in a minute. I'm still speaking."

Both men played their part in a hard-hitting, contentious debate that touched on taxes, jobs, health care, equal pay, energy, immigration and other issues. Moderator Candy Crowley tried to manage the give-and-take. Over a roughly 90-minute debate, it appeared that President Obama wound up with about 4 more minutes of speaking time than Romney did.

This reporter watched the debate on CNN, which featured a running reaction graph from men and women as the debate proceeded. The dancing line appeared to jump higher and more often toward positive feelings when the President spoke.

Asked by a member of the audience how he would differ from President George W. Bush, Romney clearly dodged the question. He would only say, "President Bush and I are different people and these are different times."

Perhaps the two high points of the debate came in the discussions on foreign policy and the role of women in the economy.

In one sharp exchange, Romney criticized President Obama's handling of the aftermath of the assault on U.S. diplomats in Libya, chiding him for traveling to campaign fundraisers, suggesting his administration was too slow to explain what happened because it feared the election fallout.

Obama said Romney was trying to politicize the event.

"The suggestion that anybody on my team, the secretary of state, the U.N. ambassador, would play politics . . . when we lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president," said Obama.

When Romney continued to try press a claim often stated from inside the conservative media bubble by insisting the President had not called the assault on U.S. diplomats in Libya an act of terrorism, Moderator Crowley had to interrupt Romney to tell him he was mistaken.

When asked about equal pay for equal work, the President talked about women as breadwinners for American families. Romney refused to answer the question. Instead he talked about women as resumes in “binders.” He didn’t seem to understand the challenges women face or believe in helping them fight for equal pay.

President Obama knew that when women make less than men for the same work, it threatens the economic security of entire families. That’s why the first bill he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which helps women fight for the equal pay they earned.

Romney’s plan would turn women’s health decisions over to their bosses and politicians in Washington. President Obama believed women and their doctors should make women’s health decisions.

President Obama closed the debate by reminding voters of Romney's 47% comment.

"I believe Governor Romney is a good man. Loves his family, cares about his faith. But I also believe that when he said behind closed doors that 47% of the country considered themselves victims who refuse personal responsibility, think about who he was talking about," said Obama, referring to retirees, veterans, students and low-wage workers. "I want to fight for them. That's what I've been doing for the last four years."

The election is three weeks away. The third and final debate is Monday in Boca Raton, Fla.

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President Obama Needs To Be Candid Tonight, Holding Romney Accountable

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Tuesday, 16 October 2012
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the PresidentHEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - When the President and former Governor Mitt Romney meet tonight to debate in Hempstead, New York, President Barack Obama needs to speak candidly about his vision and plan for moving America forward. He can't let Mitt Romney get away with dishonestly he was hiding in the last debate.

In the first debate, Romney offered a "new moderate Mitt" that had very different ideas from the “severely conservative” positions he has been stating repeatedly during the last two years. The President, the moderator, and the people in the town hall need need to hold the newly “moderate Mitt” accountable tonight.

President Obama can use tonight’s debate as an opportunity to speak directly with the American people about his plans to move our country forward. He needs to be candid about his vision for an economy built to last from the middle out, not the top down, and his concrete and specific plans to get us there. The real Mitt Romney would take us back to the same failed policies that got us into this mess.

As we learned at the first presidential debate, Romney will say anything to win even if it’s not consistent with his often stated policies or web site. Ahead of the second debate, he is probably practicing more ways to hide the “severely conservative” positions that the real Romney has run on for more than a year.

Everyone can remember what the real Mitt Romney said during the many town hall meetings he held during the GOP primary. His comments reveal his real, extreme positions, the same ones he has been trying to hide during the last weeks before Election Day.

  • He said he would “like to see” Roe vs. Wade overturned.
  • He promised to “cut off funding to Planned Parenthood.”
  • He said he would veto the DREAM Act.
  • He called it “tragic” when President Obama brought our troops home from Iraq.
  • He told students to “shop around” and “borrow money from their parents if they’re worried about college tuition.

The American people should not be fooled by Romney. With a little research, they can compare his real positions to the ones he claims to support in the final weeks of the campaign. As one ordinary American put it, “Instead of really saying what he’s going to do, he’s saying what people want to hear.”

 

Must Watch: This new OFA video on Romney’s dishonesty, “Don’t Be Fooled.”Must Watch: This new OFA video on what the real Romney told voters in some of the many town hall meetings he held during the Republican primary.

Must Read: To help voters and the media interpret the deceptive answers Romney will likely give at the second debate, OFA released a new memo from Campaign Manager Jim Messina translating Romney’s dishonesty into his real positions. To read it, click HERE for a link.

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Lively Biden Takes It To Ryan in Debate

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
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on Friday, 12 October 2012
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debate_stageDANVILLE, KY - The “Thriller in Manila”  it was not, but when Janesville Congressman Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden met across the table in a lively, combative debate Thursday, the VP was not about to let Ryan get away with any of the “malarkey” the Republican had been spreading about his President.

Biden, 69, took after the Republicans with far more aggression than President Barack Obama had displayed in his Denver debate, questioning and challenging the other party's ideas and opinions. Ryan, 42, was far more methodical and less demonstrative than Biden. Ryan spent part of the debate on the attack, but mostly he was on the defensive.

It was the sort of debate in which both candidates likely gratified their own supporters and left the other side shouting "liar" at the TV screen. Biden presented a relentless populist critique of GOP policies, while Ryan tried to shift the debate to an indictment of the Obama administration on the economy and foreign policy. The outcome was probably in the eye of the beholder, with activists on both sides hearing what they wanted to hear.

But there is no doubt Biden succeeded in energizing the Democratic base, a factor that was missing after the Denver debate and will become critical in the final weeks of this close campaign. A snap CNN-ORC International poll showed voters who watched Thursday's debate saw it as basically a statistical draw, while a similar poll had given GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney a clear debate victory in Denver.

The 90-minute debate moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News was divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. The moderator and candidates sat a few feet apart, a more intimate format that encouraged informality and interaction that often gave way to rapid-fire interruptions, especially on Biden's part.

On defense and security, Ryan talked in generalities, "We should always stand up for peace, for democracy and individual rights. And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts."

Biden responded: "With all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey. Not a single thing he said is accurate."

While Ryan characterized the Obama foreign policy as passive and "unraveling," Biden suggested the Republican ticket was too ready to go to war.

"The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East," Biden said.

Ryan seemed on the defensive over gaps in the details of the Romney tax plan and accusations it would help the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. At one point, Biden ridiculed him for attacking the stimulus plan while writing letters of support for constituents seeking stimulus funding.

Biden said Republicans would end Medicare as we know it. Ryan said they would save it from going bankrupt with market-based payout to the insurance companies.

At one point, Raddatz asked both Biden and Ryan how being Catholic would guide them in the job of Vice President. Ryan said his Catholic views would guide him on making abortion illegal for everyone, regardless of their religion, through the legislative process.  Biden felt his religious views should guide him in his own life, but he did not feel his job in government gave him the right to impose them on others.

In the end, it came down to an issue of trust, with Vice President Biden looking straight into the camera and offering a career record standing up for people and middle class values as evidence of where he stands. He contrasted his record with the Republicans, who just seemed to discover 100 per cent of the people in the last few weeks of the campaign. Ryan’s closing was more prepared, a restatement of the points he had been making throughout the campaign.

Both men will be in Wisconsin in the days following the debate. Biden has a campaign event planned in La Crosse Friday, his first post-debate event. Ryan goes to Ohio Friday, but will headline a fundraiser for Senate candidate Tommy Thompson Sunday, and hold a town-hall meeting Monday morning at Carroll University in Waukesha.

The next presidential debate is Tuesday at Hofstra University in New York.

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Where Has the New Moderate Mitt Been these Past Years?

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 10 October 2012
in Our View

mitt_romneyGREEN BAY – It seems that Mitt Romney is constantly trying to refocus his campaign, yesterday it was on foreign policy, and today it’s on agriculture. It is all a continuation of the NEW “Moderate Mitt” that appeared in last week’s debate. But he still hasn’t offered any specific ideas to fill out his new positions.

For the past two years, Mitt Romney has reset his campaign over and over again, apparently to appeal to different voters as he goes along. Yesterday he tried out a new stand on foreign policy, and today he’s moving to agriculture, but neither speech offered any specific plans.

In trying to outline his agriculture policy, Romney dodged the details because he knows his plans would hurt rural Americans.

  1. He didn’t mention the wind production tax credit he opposes, risking thousands of jobs in Iowa and Colorado.
  2. He barely mentioned the Farm Bill, failing to say what should be in it or call on Republicans in Congress to pass it. That’s probably because his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and their allies in Congress keep blocking it.

Earlier, Romney gave his seventh foreign policy speech, each one less specific than the last. He said he would go back to the same policies that weakened our standing in the world and drove us billions of dollars into debt under the Bush Administration.

  1. His speech was widely panned for lacking policy details and ignoring facts.
  2. Romney doubled down on an indefinite troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Romney’s constantly changing stands are just as dishonest as his debate performance, where the “New Mitt” appeared after nearly two years of the “Severely Conservative Mitt”  used to sell his candidacy to the Republican conservative base.

  1. He was dishonest about the size of his tax breaks for the wealthiest because they’re so big, he’d have to raise taxes on middle-class families to pay for them.
  1. He was dishonest about his health care plan because it would leave millions with preexisting conditions uninsured when they need coverage the most.
  2. He was dishonest about his Medicare plan because it would take away seniors’ guaranteed benefits and raise their health costs by thousands of dollars.
  3. He didn’t honestly lay out a specific plan for dealing with the deficit. Instead he said we should cut funding for Sesame Street.

It all makes one wonder “which Mitt” they would be voting for in November. When a candidate will not give you specifics, and keeps changing his beliefs to satisfy this voter block and that, can you trust them to be our President?

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