But while Republicans fell in line to support this attack on the environment, one freshman Democrat gave a fiery speech against it — standing as an example for all Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Katrina Shankland, a former Progressive Change Campaign Committee fellow, denounced the plan for the mine, warning that “the will of the people, not the mining company is the law of the land.”
Shankland went on to reference the Native testimony about the bill: “At the only mining bill hearing they had this session they testified from a place of truth. The talked about the wild rice beds. They talked about their families. They talked about their water. And you know what they said? They said that supporting this bill would be equivalent to genocide. And I’m saying that today because they said it and you should listen to them. Polluting an entire watershed for profit is contributing to genocide. And history is on their side.”
Wisconsin was the site over an epic struggle in 2011 to defend public employees’ collective bargaining rights. Backed by Koch brothers cash, Republicans were successful in rolling back public employee rights. In doing so, Republicans claimed that they were just concerned with budget matters and did not want to target unions specifically.
But a year and a half later, Republicans are now advancing a bill that has nothing to do with Wisconsin’s budget but everything to do with crushing unions.
House Republicans have introduced a bill that would allow private businesses to cut back on hours unilaterally, without having to talk to the unions or negotiate with their workers. As the Chippewa Herald notes, this law would be “in contrast to almost all similar laws in other states.”
Republicans are fast-tracking the bill, and it may get a committee vote as soon as Thursday. “It’s one more step toward their goal of ending the right of Wisconsin citizens to have their voice heard in the workplace,” said Democratic state senator Julie Lassa in a statement.
Recall that Republican Governor Scott Walker told a billionaire donor that he is pursuing a “divide and conquer” strategy with respect to unions — going after public ones first to take on private ones later. His strategy seems to be in action here.
Think Scott Walker is the most extreme Republican Wisconsin has to offer? Think again. The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel reports that nine Republicans in the state legislature have told an advocacy group that they support arresting any federal official who tries to implement the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare:
As Gov. Scott Walker contemplates whether to create a state health care exchange under Obamacare, he must contend with nine members of his own party who will serve in the Legislature for the next two years who say they back a bill to arrest any federal officials who try to implement the health care law.
Eight of the nine Republicans also have gone on record saying they also want to write a law that would see Transportation Security Administration agents charged with sexual assault if they conduct pat-downs of passengers going through airport security.
But there’s some good news out of Wisconsin, too. Bold progressive Chris Larson was just elected Democratic leader in the state senate!
Tammy Baldwin is raising more money than her corporate-friendly challenger, and she’s doing it all through the grassroots
Earlier today, we reported that bold progressive Elizabeth Warren has out-raised incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) by over $4 million. And she’s doing it with the power of grassroots donors, as opposed to Brown, who is relying on the financial industry for his support.
Now, numbers are out in the Wisconsin Senate race and they show that fellow progressive Tammy Baldwin is leading her right-wing challenger Tommy Thompson:
Based on statements released by Republican Tommy Thompson’s and Democrat Tammy Baldwin’s campaigns Monday, the congresswoman from Madison has the lead.
Baldwin raised $4.5 million from July 1 through Sept. 30 and had $3.4 million to spend at the beginning of October, according to her campaign. Thompson raised $3.6 million during the third quarter of 2012, with more than $2.2 million of it collected since he won the Aug. 14 Republican primary. He had nearly $2 million, his camp said, to begin the final push.
Let’s dig into the numbers a little bit. Baldwin’s top donors are the members of EMILY’s List. Thompson’s top donor is Centene Corporation, a medical firm where Thompson served as a board member. More than a quarter of his top twenty donors are health care corporations and pharmaceutical giants, while not a single health care profiteer ranks as a top donor to Baldwin.
Baldwin is winning the fundraising race by tapping the grassroots, while Thompson is calling on the very same donors who he worked for as Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary, when he cut a sweetheart deal with Big Pharma that cost Americans $20 billion year.
Tommy Thompson’s health “reforms” are ones we already have.
On Monday, Wisconsin Republican Tommy Thompson and bold progressive Tammy Baldwin debated about their competing visions for the country as they both run for the state’s Senate seat.
As Thompson continued to rail on the Affordable Care Act, one moderator asked him about his own vision for health care. The candidate went on to the normal Republican proverbs about the need for tort reform and other non-reforms, but also bizarrely mentioned that we need to be able to buy health insurance online:
THOMPSON: What I want Bob is I want a health care system that’s affordable…let’s base it on quality. Number 2, let’s allow individuals be able to purchase health insurance over the Internet. Be able to put in what they want in there. Number three let’s do away with the liability problems.
Watch Thompson’s response (it begins at 24:38):
It’d be interesting to know why exactly Thompson thinks purchasing health insurance over the Internet will make health care cheaper (is he confusing health insurance with Amazon.com deals on consumer products?), but what’s even more important to point out is that consumers are already getting that option. There are already websites where you can shop for quotes and then purchase insurance online and one of the main features of the Affordable Care Act that Thompson opposes is the provision of health insurance exchanges where people will be able to directly shop for insurance online.
As for tort reform, a number of states have already enacted it. When Texas did, it did absolutely nothing to reduce overall health care costs.
In response to Tommy Thompson’s promise to end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) has gotten involved in the U.S. Senate race backing Democratic candidate Tammy Baldwin. The PCCC, which has nearly 27,500 members in Wisconsin, was very active in the 2011 recall elections here in Wisconsin as one of the leading groups running TV ads and mobilizing voters in the state. [more]
Membership in the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — a powerful corporate front group that writes and passes bills in state legislatures on behalf of Big Business — is a gift that keeps on giving.
The Center for Media and Democracy’s Brendan Fischer notes today that the American Chemistry Council (ACC) — a group of chemical lobbyists who are members of ALEC — is spending big on behalf of Wisconsin Republican Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, who was an ALEC member as a legislator in the 70′s and 80′s.
So far, ACC has spent $648,600 to promote Thompson. Watch the following ad they’re airing in support of his candidacy. Note that it doesn’t mention any issues that ACC actually deals with in its lobbying and advocacy efforts:
Remember that Thompson said the following during a 2002 ALEC conference: “I always loved going to [ALEC] meetings because I always found new ideas. Then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare that it’s mine.”
ACC has bitterly fought against regulating the plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA), which independent studies show can prove a real health risk to children. It’s likely that if Thompson is elected, he will be paying ACC back by helping it avoid regulation of dangerous chemicals like BPA.
As for-profit virtual schools expand, are children getting the short end of the stick? (Photo credit: Flickr user Elizabeth Albert)
One of the biggest scams Corporate America is trying to foist on the nation is the privatization of our schools, often by promoting online education. The Nation’s Lee Fang documented last year how online learning companies are flooding state legislatures with lobbyists to win funding and mandates for online, for-profit charter schools and educational software.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) used his budget last year to quietly remove the cap on student enrollment his state’s virtual charter schools, opening up a flood of taxpayer dollars for online education companies. The “Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families,” a group promoting these companies, named Walker a “Rock Star of Education Reform” for this move.
But a new analysis shows that these online schools aren’t living up to lobbyists’ hype:
Enrollment in Wisconsin’s online schools has doubled in the last five years, but students who have chosen class without a classroom often struggle to complete their degrees and repeat grades four times as often as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, according to a Gannett Wisconsin Media analysis. [...] In the 2011-12 Wisconsin Student Assessment System testing,virtual students fared slightly better in reading than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, with 83.1 percent scoring proficient or advanced, compared with 81.9 percent statewide. But virtual students fell short in other subjects, with 5 percent to 12 percent fewer virtual students scoring proficient or advanced in math, social studies, language arts and science compared with the statewide average.
Promoting huge subsidies for private school education takes well-connected lobbying. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been promoting virtual schools since 2005, and unsurprisingly the group’s education task force is co-chaired by for-profit education companies like K12 Inc. and Connections Academy. This new data shows that while these schools may offer some benefits to some kids, their overall promise of improving the education system is not being kept.
Adam Green, the co-founder of the liberal group Progressive Change Campaign Committee, released a statement Saturday, saying: “Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. National exposure of Paul Ryan’s extreme plan to end Medicare will make him more vulnerable back home in Wisconsin.” The group says it will begin running online ads nationally, including targeting millions of people in swing states such as Florida and Wisconsin. [more]
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced on Saturday it is spending $100,000 in the last five days before the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall vote. This latest spend brings the PCCC’s investment supporting the recall of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, plus his lieutenant and several state legislators, to $300,000, the group said, with two thirds of that coming in the last two weeks. [more]
Paid for by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee PAC (BoldProgressives.org) and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions to the PCCC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.