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With Vinehout Out, What Happens to Mary Burke?

After months of speculation Kathleen Vinehout has announced that she will not run against Mary Burke in a primary for the Democratic nomination for governor of Wisconsin.  Citing her recent car accident, Vinehout declared that the injuries she sustained have made it impossible for her to run a statewide grassroots campaign.  Vinehout would have had an up-hill climb ahead of her as Mary Burke has raised nearly $2 million ($400,000 from her own wallet) and she has been traveling the state for months.  Vinehout’s campaign would have been a grassroots effort that involved a lot of door knocking and handshaking which would prove challenging since her arm was fractured in eight places.  Scott Walker is one of the highest funded gubernatorial candidates in the country, not to mention that he has the luxury of incumbency.  In order to beat him, Democrats will need to fight fire with fire.  Burke has already locked up several key endorsements such as Russ Feingold’s Progressives United and Emily’s List.


A run by Vinehout was something that the progressive left was hoping for as an alternative to Trek executive, Mary Burke.  Many of them, most of whom you can find singing songs every day at lunch in the Capital Rotunda, feel that Burke is unqualified because she is a millionaire who has been riding the center line all the way to the nomination.  Burke has been somewhat vague in her policy proposals, barely supporting a raise in the state’s minimum wage to $7.60/hour. (a proposal that failed in the legislature recently)  She won’t endorse legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes, and she has stated that she supports collective bargaining, but agrees with Scott Walker about employee contributions.


Burke may not be a progressive icon, but she is mounting a credible challenge to Scott Walker.  Unfortunately, to many of us, she appears to be running an “anti-Walker” campaign rather than a “pro-worker” campaign.  Over the next several months she will be vetted more closely, but perhaps not as concisely as a primary would have allowed.  This will preserve her funding for the general election, but will she be ready for the onslaught of right-wing negativity?


Burke is playing it safe right now, but it will be interesting to see if she stays on this course.  Does she start to make bold proposals in an effort to fire up the base?  Does she court Vinehout or Peter Barca as a Lt. Governor?  Or does she stay in the middle of the road and bank on the fact that progressive voters will not miss an opportunity to vote against Walker?


Progressives also have a choice to make: Do they continue condemning the candidate or do they get behind her and push her towards their point of view?  


Mary Burke may not represent everything that Russ Feingold represents, but she is clearly more progressive than Scott Walker.  With the gerrymandered Assembly districts, the next governor will only be as effective as the lower chamber is willing to allow them to be.  There is zero chance that they are willing to roll back any of Walker’s agenda, but there is also zero chance that Mary Burke will advance it.  The only way to stop the right-wing seepage into our state and derail Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions, is to get behind Mary Burke and put her in the state’s highest office.


You can hear our full thoughts on this subject and much more on Civil Discourse Radio!



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How to win every political conversation

How do you win a political conversation? I blog about political conversation skills, and here's my slightly flippant answer to that question.

The key is deciding what exactly you want to win in the conversation, and then going for it.

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Does the CNN Poll Mean Anything?

In the election of 1940, FDR declared that he would run for an unprecedented third term as US President. Presidential term limits were not amended into the constitution until late in the Truman presidency, it was done so as a republican reaction to FDR’s four successful runs for the office.  In the 1940 election, the Democratic Party bosses tried to pick Roosevelt’s running mate for him, but FDR wanted the Progressive Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace on the ticket.  Although Wallace supported the Democratic presidential candidates in 1928 and 1932, he was a member of the Republican Party until 1936.  His progressive ideas and acts went deeper than a party name and FDR knew this, but the party leaders still questioned Wallace’s loyalty.  As a result, FDR wrote a letter to the party declaring that he would not accept the nomination unless Wallace was on the ticket.  The officials agreed, but didn’t forget.  In 1944, FDR decided to run for a fourth term.  Wallace was a staunch progressive that was shaking things up and the officials had found out that he supported emancipation of colonial subjects after WWII.  As a result, the party bosses did everything in their power to stop Wallace from appearing on the ticket in 1944.  They chose Harry Truman as Wallace’s successor.   Wallace was polling over 60% at the Democratic Convention that year, Truman at just 2%.  A little party trickery and 3 ballots later, Truman won the nomination. 

On April 12, 1945, just weeks after his fourth inauguration, FDR passed away, leaving Truman in office.

All eyes were on Truman as the country was unsure of the talents of our newest president.  Just 1.5 years later, in the election of 1946, the republican party swept 55 House seats and 12 Senate seats, giving them control of both chambers of congress for the first time in nearly 20 years.

This infamous “Do Nothing Congress” blocked everything that Harry Truman tried to get through.  The congress even went so far as to override Truman’s veto of the Taft-Hartley Act which effectively began the dismantling of unions in this country.


in the election of 1948 (“Dewey Defeats Truman”) Harry Truman used this do nothing congress to win a second term as president.  By calling out the Republican lead congress, Truman let the American people know the difference between his agenda and the agenda of the Republicans in congress.  The Democrats picked up 75 house seats, nine Senate seats, and the White House, giving them complete control once again.  It would be more than 40 years before the Republicans would take back the House of Representatives and more than 50 years before the American people gave them control of both congressional chambers and the White House. (which lead to the crash of 2008)


The congress that Truman called “do nothing” passed over 300 bills into law.  Our current congress passed 55 laws in 2013.  At this pace, they will be lucky to pass half the amount of laws that the 80th congress passed under Harry Truman.

Americans continue to give congress some of the lowest approval ratings in history.  In a CNN poll that was released on Dec. 26th, nearly 3/4s of those polled said that this is a do nothing congress. 

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said: "That sentiment exists among all demographic and political subgroups. Men, women, rich, poor, young, old - all think this year's Congress has been the worst they can remember, Older Americans - who have lived through more congresses - hold more negative views of the 113th Congress than younger Americans. Republicans, Democrats and independents also agree that this has been the worst session of Congress in their lifetimes.”

Transcending party lines, the polls finds that 52% believe Democratic ideas will take us in the wrong direction and 54% believe Republican ideas will take us in the wrong direction. 

Despite all of this, the poll is gaining attention because it shows that the Republicans have an edge going into 2014.

Two months ago, Dems had a 50-42 edge.  Now the Republicans are showing a 49-44 lead.  The poll also reflects the election of 2010 in that only 3 out of 10 voters are excited about 2014.  Low turnout is always good for the Republicans, hence their voter suppression efforts.  

CNN reports that the poll found the swing comes from male voters who were going for Dems at a rate of 46% in October and just 35% now.  They attribute the drop to the botched website rollout of Obamacare.

Of course we are 10 months out from an election.  That is a lifetime in politics.  We saw this swing take place over just two months.  As candidates declare over then next several months the races will begin to shape up.  The GOP was expecting to win the Senate in 2010 and 2012, but once they rolled out their candidates, those wishes faded quickly.

The GOP is banking on Obamacare as the top issue in 2014.  The Democrats feel it will be income inequality.  As more and more people sign up for Obamacare and realize that there are no more pre-existing conditions, no more lifetime caps, and poor people will qualify for free coverage, these polls are going to change.

It is time for both parties to mobilize for the mid-term elections, but reading too much into polling that is ten months out is not recommended.  The Democrats held a six point edge in January of 2010, but the GOP swept that election.

Listen to Civil Discourse Radio (Progressive Grassroots Radio) for our complete thoughts: 


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How dumb do they think we are?

FRIDAY, DEC 27, 2013


 At a time of year when we’re inclined to show empathy for people less fortunate than ourselves, some of our top business leaders are notable for comments that show their disdain for struggling Americans.

  1. Environmental Wisdom from Exxon and Monsanto

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon...What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?

Monsanto... While Monsanto, according to Food & Water Watch, has “wreaked havoc on the environment and public health” with PCBs, dioxin, and other dangerous chemicals, the company reported in its most recent  financial report to the SEC: We are committed to long-term environmental protection.

2. The Art of Delusion: How Business People Fool Themselves

...McDonald’s, where a company representative vigorously defended his burgers and nuggets: We don’t sell junk food…We sell lots of fruits and veggies at McDonald’s…And we are not marketing food to kids.

[Apple] ...a company that  hides overseas earnings, avoids  federal and state taxes, makes $400,000 per employee, pays its store workers an average of about  $12 per hour, pays its CEO $143 million a year, and operates overseas factories with working conditions that, according to the  Economic Policy Institute, “reflect some of the worst practices of the industrial era.” Their CEO Tim Cook says Apple has a very strong moral compass.

Such delusional heights...Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is doing God’s work...

3. Talking Down to the Down & Out

...people who seem to lack empathy for the less fortunate. Perhaps hedge fund manager Andy Kessler.... Ignoring the National Coalition for the Homeless conclusion that homelessness is caused by (1) a shortage of affordable rental housing, and (2) a lack of job opportunities, Kessler suggests they’re homeless because someone is feeding, clothing and, in effect, bathing them.

 ...the Walmart executive who presumed to speak for his low-wage workers just before Thanksgiving by saying: Walmart associates are really excited to work that day.

 Now back to McDonald’s, which had these budget tips for its own low-wage employees: You may want to consider returning some of your unopened purchases that may not seem as appealing as they did. Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash…Consider bringing a brown bag lunch and skipping the takeout…You might also consider a temporary part time job to dig out of debt quickly.

 ...Charles Koch, whose foundation tried to convince half of America that they were rich: If you earn over $34,000 a year, you are one of the wealthiest one percent in the world.

 4. Paying Taxes with Imaginary Money

 Tim Cook... Apple Corporation, blurted, We pay all the taxes we owe — every single dollar.

 ...Whole Foods CEO John Mackey protested, It’s not Apple’s fault that they’re seeking to avoid paying taxes.

 And Rand Paul added, What we need to do is apologize to Apple and compliment them for the job creation they’re doing.

 Exxon...used a “theoretical tax” to account for almost 90% of last year’s income tax bill. The Economist explains theoretical taxes: “Companies have two versions of the truth: the theoretical tax bill, calculated using accounting profits...and the actual cash tax they pay...”

 CEO of the Year: ...

“You asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I’m in the empire business.” — Walter White


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Wisconsin’s Incarceration Problem

President Obama pardoned 13 people last week and commuted the sentences of eight others.  Each of these commuted sentences was related to violations concerning crack cocaine.  President Obama was able to do so by invoking the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.  Prior to the passage of the FSA, possession of crack cocaine held a far more stiff sentence than possession of powder cocaine.  This was widely believed to be aimed at incarcerating African Americans because for those who use cocaine, blacks are more likely to be caught with crack whereas whites are generally caught with the powder form.

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, both per capita and in real numbers.  Although we are only 5% of the world’s population, we possess 25% of the world’s prison population.  Globally speaking, comparable countries incarcerate at a rate of 100 people per 100,000, but the US rate is 500 per 100,000.  These rates are even more alarming when broken down by race:

Race                    Rate (Per 100,000)

Black                    3,074

Latino                  1,258

White                   459

Wisconsin is no exception.  Wisconsin ranks #1 in the country for our rate of incarcerating African Americans.  The state’s incarceration rate is 12.8%, meaning that one in eight black men are currently in state prison.  In Milwaukee, the numbers are even more stark.  More than half of the black men in Milwaukee have been incarcerated at one point or another, leaving them virtually unemployable as more and more employers run routine background checks.  2/3s of them are in the cities 6 poorest zip codes.

Incarceration rates:

Race            Wisconsin           National

Black           12.8%                   6.7%

Native         7.6%                     3.1%

Latino         1.7%                      2.0%

White          1.2%                      1.3%

Governor Doyle had created a commission to look into this issue, determine its cause, and find a resolution.  Unfortunately, by the time the commission finished their report, Doyle’s term was nearly over.  Unless he is keeping it quiet from the media, Scott Walker has done little with this information,

This issue leads to many other questions:  What happens if Wisconsin adopts a private prison system that gives corporations a financial incentive to lock up our citizens?  Should parts of the Civil Rights Act be expanded to the state of Wisconsin?  Could this be a ploy to strip African Americans of their right to vote (at least temporarily)?  Are these numbers legit and we just have more of a problem than other states?

It would be hard to believe that Wisconsin simply has more of an issue than other states.  However, the other questions deserve investigation.  Private prisons are growing rapidly in our country.  This issue should unite liberals and civil libertarians because none of us want a police state, nor do we want someone to have a financial interest in our incarceration.

Perhaps the recently gutted Civil Rights Act should be reinstated and expanded to states in the north as well as the south.  The republicans will stop at nothing to rig the system in a way that stops Democratic voters from casting their ballots.  Could this be another strategy for them to hold on to power as long as possible, despite the demographic shift in this country?  This problem goes back farther than Scott Walker’s reign of power, but he sure doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to change the situation.

Hear our thoughts on this topic and many more on Civil Discourse Radio!



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The States Must Unite

The November jobs report shows that the country exceeded expectations by creating 203,000 jobs.  The stock market continues to set record highs and private industry is sitting on $1.6 Trillion dollars.


The economy is clearly coming back from our low in 2009, but we could be doing far better.  The people of the United States need to open their eyes and realize that we have been taken over by corporatists who only care about their own bottom line.


Wisconsin now ranks number one in the country for new unemployment filings.  We rank (according to the most generous polls) 34th in job creation.  Scott Walker pledged to create 250,000 jobs and 10,000 new businesses in his first term, or he “doesn’t deserve re-election.”  Three years into Walker’s term, his administration has only overseen the creation of 88,000 jobs and 4400 businesses.  Despite claims that he is “focused like a laser on job creation,” Walker has merely attempted to lure businesses from surrounding states.  Much like his budget, he is only moving numbers around and not solving any underlying problems.  If a business moves to Wisconsin from Illinois, it may be great for Wisconsin, but a community in Illinois is now left holding the bill.  We wouldn’t know that from Walker though.  His Twitter feed explodes every time we steal another 10 jobs from surrounding states.  Even with this “smoke and mirror” strategy, Walker has not pulled Wisconsin back up to pre-recession levels.  We lost 150,000 jobs when the Bush Recession desecrated this country, but Walker has only overseen a growth totaling 88,000.


Furthermore, Walker has rejected the federal money to expand Badgercare and neglected to create a state-run insurance exchange.  As a result, we are insuring less people and paying more to do so.  The Affordable Care Act allocates money to each state to expand their medicaid programs.  Walker’s rejection did not save the tax payers money, it simply sent our tax dollars to other states.  Walker’s rejection of the Badgercare money will cost the state $1.8 billion in 2022.  The expansion of Badgercare would have created 10,000 jobs, as would the rail project.


Digging deeper into these decisions, we find that Wisconsinites are not only losing their tax money, but are also paying more individually. Looking at the plans on the insurance exchange in the Madison area, a 30 year old non-smoker would qualify for quality insurance ranging in price from 160.00 - 350.00 per month.  That does not include any government subsidies which he/she may be eligible to receive.  The same individual, living in Minneapolis would be paying between $102.00 and $217.00 per month, before subsidies.  


Governor Dayton of Minnesota has worked with the federal government to take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act.  He has created an environment that fosters the cheapest insurance plans in the country, and he is just across the river from us.


Competition is a good thing, per the basis of the insurance exchanges, but it has to be used correctly.  States should be competing for the best education, health and safety services, highest wages, and happiest citizens.  Sadly, governors like Scott Walker are simply trying to cut everything possible (except for corporate profits) in an effort to draw in existing businesses rather than creating an environment for new business to be born.


The states and the federal government should be working together to create a prosperous economy that we all enjoy.  Today, they are competing for lower wages, less regulation, and lower corporate tax rates.  Under the ACA, states can use their own system, if they prove that it is more affordable and covers at least as many people as the federal law.  If Scott Walker truly cared about providing Wisconsin with better quality healthcare at a more affordable rate, he has the freedom to do so.  The fact that he doesn’t do so exposes what is truly important to him...politics.


Hear our full thoughts on this topic and many more by listening to Civil Discourse Radio, right here!


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Strengthen our Safety Net to Strengthen our Economy

Congress has missed their first deadline in the budget negotiations that were constructed after the government shutdown.  Paul Ryan and Pat Murray are co-chairing the committee, and Ryan is peddling his usual cuts to entitlement programs.  Republicans persistently talk about cutting entitlement benefits under the guise of cutting the deficit and encouraging people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  That mentality might work in a booming economy, but it has quite the opposite effect in a depressed economy.


Earlier this week, President Obama made a comment referencing the fact that America has installed societal ladders for our people to climb to success, and spread safety net beneath.  We did this so that if we fall, we don’t fall quite so far and we can bounce back.


This is a strong argument to strengthen the safety net programs instead of cutting or even simply maintaining them. Stronger safety nets, properly administered, would actually encourage people to start new businesses and make new investments.  An economy that provides easy access to health insurance and less chance of going bankrupt or losing your home, will enable many people to take risks and start new ventures. 


So many Americans have a great talent or idea that they would like to pursue, but are to afraid because if their business doesn’t succeed, they will have a hard time finding new work.  A failed venture could cost them their homes, their health insurance, and even the ability to put food on the table.  High unemployment, fragile safety nets, and monopolized industries are killing job and business growth because it creates an atmosphere where the average person doesn’t have the equity to survive if they fail at a new endeavor.  A society that provides for its citizens, while they get back on their feet, would provide the peace of mind for new business ventures to be started.  This would create more businesses, which creates more jobs, which would also create more options for individuals who are looking for work.

The GOP says they want to cut entitlements because they feel the safety net “has become a hammock”, in the words of Paul Ryan.  This is a ploy.  They don’t want people to have the freedom to start new businesses because new businesses mean competition and the loss of power. This also why they are so against Obamacare.  The Republican Caucus isn’t worried about middle class individuals losing their health insurance.  If that was their worry, they would vote for universal healthcare, tomorrow.  The real reason, outside of campaign donations from the health insurance industry, is that they know that Obamacare will give people the freedom to find affordable healthcare without needing a job at one of their corporate donors.


Furthermore, the GOP continues to cut unemployment insurance because it allows less time for someone to go ahead and start a new venture.  Granted, they don’t want anyone to have to pay taxes either, but even that is just a talking point.  The longer someone is out of work and receiving unemployment, the longer they have to actually start up their own business.  Maybe they fix cars on the side, repair roofing, paint houses, fix computers; whatever the trade may be, Republicans and corporations do not want new competition popping up in their communities.


The government is not the answer to every problem, but in this case it is for the short-term.  A strong safety net would provide the certainty that people need to feel comfortable in taking a risk.  Of those risks, new and prosperous businesses will be developed.  This will provide more jobs and opportunity while bringing down the unemployment rate.  As more of these business take shape, more jobs create a long-term, market-based solution; lessening the need for the safety net.  


The Democratic Party needs to go on the offensive in this fight.  They must stop talking about preserving what we have and start screaming about strengthening these programs.


Listen to our full program on Civil Discourse podcast, right here:



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Scott Walker had a bad week. Or course he is too self-absorbed to admit or possibly even acknowledge that things are not looking very good for the state of Wisconsin.

The latest jobs numbers are out from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they look pretty good...for the Democratic candidate for Governor.  From June 2012 to June 2013, job creation in Wisconsin slowed by 37% compared to the results from the previous 12 month period.  This equates to the slowest rate of growth in 3 years.  While the rest of the country is accelerating their recovery, especially other mid-western states, Wisconsin added less than 24,000 jobs, compared to nearly 38,000 the previous year.

Democratic Spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff commented:  “Far from the ‘unbelievable amounts’ of new jobs Scott Walker promised after the recall, these numbers are the worst we’ve seen in the past three years. Wisconsinites are sick of hearing excuses for why we aren’t growing jobs like our neighbors in the Midwest and most of the rest of the nation.” -

Although,the unemployment rate of 6.5 percent here remains lower than the nation’s average of 7.3%, we have fallen off the pace considerably.

What is even more interesting is that the “job killing, tax and spend, hippie liberals of Madison” (of whom I am a proud member, thank you very much!) make up less than 10% of the state’s population, but have added 38% of the jobs.  That means that throughout the rest of the state, job creation is nearly non-existent.  

Walker’s infamous pledge to create 250,000 jobs in the state during his first term, could result in his undoing.  In 2010, he stated that if he didn’t create 250,000, then he didn’t deserve a second term.  With only 13 months left in Walker’s first term, he is barely one-third of the way to creating 250k.  The state has only added 88,000 jobs, and remember, over a third of those jobs are in Madison alone. Wisconsin lost nearly 150,000 jobs during the downturn in 2009.  Walker has not even gotten us back to that level, let alone kept up with population growth, meaning that he has not created a single net new job.  In other words, if Walker were governor from the founding of Wisconsin until now, not one person would have ever held a job.  (I stole that line from Michael Moore who said it about the Bush’s)

Another failed promise of Scott Walker is that he would create 10,000 new businesses in the state in his first term.  Walker has recently come out and stated that he has now created 11,000 new businesses.  The truth of the matter is that the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (which Walker touts as the “gold-standard”) has found that only 4,024 new businesses have been created.  Where did walker come up with 11,000?  He found a new way of calculating the number.  The problem is that this new measuring-stick includes “non-stock corporations” which consists of clubs, little league teams, and girl scouts.

Scott Walker has been nothing short of a failure as governor of this state.  When he crushed the unions, he had the support of the hard-right-wing, but the truth is that his stunt took $1,000,000,000.00 out of our state economy.  That is money that could have been used at the mall, a local restaurant, Wisconsin Dells trips, new computers, or other non-essential activities/goods.  Wisconsin needs to wake up and boot him out of office in 2014, or he is going to make a serious run for President.  

That is to say if he actually runs in 2014.  

Walker still has not declared his campaign, but he has certainly seen his falling poll numbers.  Perhaps Walker will anoint J.B. Van Hollen to run in his place, so that Scott doesn’t have to go into 2016 having either just lost, or only won by a hair.  When that decision is made and announced, we will finally see just how “Unintimidated” Walker truly is.

 Hear our full thoughts right here:


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Ron Johnson’s Approval Rating at 28%

The latest Marquette Poll shows that Ron Johnson’s approval rating is at a meager 28%.  Johnson rode into office on a wave of anti-incumbent, anti-progress Tea Party voters in 2010.  He defeated three-term Senator and progressive icon Russ Feingold in a stunning upset.  Although Johnson was leading in the polls, many progressives and media figures found it hard to believe that Russ Feingold could be defeated by an unknown millionaire who denied climate change, enjoyed exploiting campaign finance reform, and wanted to repeal the only step forward in our healthcare system that this country has taken since Lyndon Johnson was president.

Since taking office, Ron Johnson has refused to exit campaign mode and actually legislate like a true statesman.  Johnson has been one of the most reliable party line votes in the Senate.  He refuses to give an inch on anything that could possibly help President Obama pass his agenda, and answers any questions with, “We need to repeal Obamacare.”  Johnson was on the radio for an interview this week, and when asked about his vote against ENDA, his answer was, “I am here to repeal Obamacare.”

Since taking office, Ron Johnson has voted against the Violence Against Women Act, Gun Control Legislation, Immigration reform, Re-opening the Government, and most recently against the Employee Non-Discrimination Act.

Not surprisingly, this partisan attitude and constant campaigning has cost Johnson a lot of political capital with the people of Wisconsin.

Johnson’s latest idea is to propose the “If You Like Your Insurance, You Can Keep It Act.”  The name alone gives way to the prospect that Johnson is not taking his job seriously.  However, once we get past this detail, we see just how ridiculous Johnson operates. This law would force insurance companies to continue offering plans that do not meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act, and even keep offering plans that are not profitable for the company.  Yet Johnson has been preaching against the ACA since day one of his candidacy because, “it is a government takeover of the healthcare industry and puts in way to many regulations on private corporations.”

Johnson is up for reelection in 2016.  Considering that 2016 is a presidential year, it should only take a modest candidate to defeat someone who clearly has only one vision for his position:  obstruction.  Although Johnson should be easily defeated, don’t forget that was also said about Ronald Reagan--and look how that turned out.

Hear our complete thoughts on this subject and more at:


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Polling Gives Democrats Several Angles

The recent polling out of Marquette University should give hope to those who want to oust Scott Walker in 2014.  The polling is about two weeks old and shows that the race is a statistical tie.  Mary Burke, the only declared candidate, polls at 45% compared to Walker’s 47%.  

Just days after Burke declared that she was running for Governor, it was apparent that she was going to offer a formidable challenge to Scott Walker.  There are those on the left who are not excited about Mary Burke, but perhaps we just need to be patient.  Burke offers a strong contrast to Walker in several regards.  Among them are the fact that she is a true job creator.  Her company is the largest producer of bikes in the world, and employs about 1,000 people in Wisconsin.  For those in the center who have been out of work for several weeks, months, or even years, this is going to come across as very appealing.  

The Wisconsin economy has tanked under Walker.  Liberals can take solace in the fact that they were right.  When Scott Walker decided to crush the public sector unions, there were those of us who put the union aspect aside and looked at it from a strictly economic standpoint.  In order for an economy to thrive, money has to change hands.  Walker’s antics pulled $1,000,000,000.00 out of our economy.  By cutting the wages of public workers, he in turn cut the income of private sector workers.  In the words of Paul Krugman, “My spending is your income and your spending is my income.”  Since Walker put through Act 10 (which is in the hands of the right-wing Wisconsin Supreme Court, as we speak) we have seen our economy spit and sputter.  All of our neighbors are outperforming us.  The country is growing economically, and we are still hearing about jobs leaving the state.

Surprisingly, this is not the issue that makes Walker the most vulnerable.  The Marquette poll also found that women prefer Burke 49% to 42% over Walker.  This gender gap is a trend that GOP just can’t shake, and Walker might make things worse if he pushes his new round of anti-choice laws.

However, even that is not where Walker is most vulnerable.  What Walker needs to worry about is his ultrasound bill and his decision to reject the money to expand Badgercare.  56% of Wisconsin voters disapprove of both of these moves.  These are two issues that Mary Burke is already running on.  She received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood last week, and she said she would expand Badgercare once elected.

Although some of these poll numbers came as a surprise to various people, it didn’t appear to shock the Walker camp. As a matter of fact, they seem to have been anticipating it.   Two items that stick out are the fact that he pushed his “tax cut” through so quickly and right after Burke announced her candidacy.   This faux tax cut is nothing but a campaign slogan.  Walker says it will save the average home owner over $600.00 per year.  The truth is that the average homeowner will save about $33.00 over two years.  Barely enough for a husband and wife to go see a movie.  The genius of it is how Walker put big headlines that said “$100 million” tax cut.  This sounds great to a low-information voter.  If the Democrats didn’t vote for it, they would be portrayed as “tax and spend liberals,” you know...that old chestnut.  Walker did this to get the attention off of Burke’s campaign and back on him.  He also pushed it through so that homeowners would see the credit on the last set of taxes before the election.  Walker never mentioned that renters would not see a dime from this faux-cut.

The other clincher is that the state legislature (Republican-controlled due to the wonders of gerrymandering), has also introduced legislation that takes the power away from the Governor to accept the Badgercare money.  This is a sign that the GOP is nervous about who will be living in that beautiful Madison Mansion in 2015.

One of the most surprising items in the poll was that Kathleen Vinehout was only three points behind Walker.  Vinehout has not even announced her candidacy.  This is encouraging for progressives who want someone to the left of Burke.  It is pretty obvious that Vinehout is mounting a campaign, but until she does, Burke is our candidate and she hit the ground running.

Her first televised interview was on a local station back in October.  She did a fine job, but used filler words and seemed a bit nervous.  Last week, she was on Rachel Maddow for her national debut.  If Scott Walker wasn’t nervous before, he certainly should be after her performance that night.  

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