“Anti-Vax Ron Johnson” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Anti-Vax Ron Johnson” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Our panel discusses Senator Ron Johnson’s continued anti-vaccination lies while the county struggles with slowing vaccination rates. How many will die because of Johnson’s political ambitions and loyalty to the ex President? We update the state budget battle following Republican’s action in the Joint Finance Committee to strip hundreds of popular items. We also review the latest rash of terrible GOP bills on everything from school vouchers to more attacks on the voting process being pushed through the Legislature and certain to be vetoed by Governor Evers. Vital Federal pandemic recovery money will start to roll out to states and local governments as Wisconsin discovers our share will be $700 million less. Legislative Republicans are also preparing to impose more Unemployment Insurance barriers to acquiring vitally needed benefits, following other red state Governor’s blaming the unemployed, while a new conservative report pushes privatization of Wisconsin’s unemployment system in the wake of pandemic dysfunction at the agency. What could go wrong? We close by encouraging our listeners to attend the Fair Maps Rally at the State Capitol next Monday, May 17th at Noon.

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #492
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Bill Kaplan: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s betrayal

Bill Kaplan: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s betrayal

Photo by: Gage Skidmore; CC-BY-SA-2.0

Article VI of the Constitution specifies that members of Congress (and state legislators) “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution … .” Moreover, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson took the following oath of office: “I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will … faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

Senator Johnson has betrayed his oath by undermining the 2020 presidential election. Despite more than 60 state and federal courts rejecting election challenges, Johnson persists in alleging “irregularities.” Worse, despite 5 deaths, including 1 police officer, more than 100 police injured and over 400 of the January 6 Capitol assault mob indicted, Johnson said: “I know those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law … .” Missouri GOP Senator Roy Blunt denounced Johnson’s delusion: “We all saw what happened.”

Johnson’s betrayal extends to Wisconsin voters on issue after issue. He neither represents the entire state nor acts for the common good. Narcissistic self-interest rules. His signature accomplishment was to tilt the 2017 tax cuts more to the top 1 percent (including himself), adding about $2 trillion to the debt.

Recent news headlines clarify the 2017 tax cuts’ impact: “No Federal Taxes for Dozens of Big, Profitable Companies” (NYT) and “Top earners skirt taxes on 20% of income” (Washington Post). Johnson, 8th richest senator, insisted on adding a 20 percent deduction for pass-through businesses such as his now former plastics company. 61 percent of the tax break goes to the top 1 percent. Only 4 percent goes to the bottom 67 percent. Worse, pass-through companies use their complexity to game the tax system and avoid paying taxes (President Biden wants to crack down on these tax cheats).

In 2020, Senate Republicans used COVID relief legislation to obscure making the pass-through tax break even more generous. What was Johnson’s role in expanding a tax break for the wealthy during a pandemic? In contrast, Johnson voted against Biden’s American Rescue Plan (help for all Americans), and he opposed provisions to extend healthcare coverage and consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Millionaire Johnson is fanatically opposed to ACA taxes on the wealthy to expand healthcare coverage to the uninsured. Much of conservative opposition to the ACA centers on a Medicare tax only on the wealthy – earnings over $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for single filers — and the same for a Medicare tax on capital gains, dividends and other investment income. These payroll taxes ensured the wealthy paid their fair share. More than 20 million Americans, including well-over 200,000 Wisconsinites, got healthcare coverage. And, many more gained consumer protections.

Senator Johnson does not hear ordinary Wisconsinites, the ultimate betrayal.

“COVID vaccine waiver” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“COVID vaccine waiver” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the partisan vote in Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee which removed 280 publicly popular items from their state budget, including BadgerCare Expansion. Does this end the budget fight or is it really just getting started? Our panel talks about a Federal court ruling this week invalidating the CDC’s eviction moratorium. What is this Trump-appointed judge thinking? We also dig into why the green transition will largely exclude people of color and women if it does not include fundamental structural reform or our economic system. We welcome Tobita Chow from People’s Action to discuss President Biden’s bold move to suspend the patents of Big Pharma corporations to get generic COVID vaccines to the rest of the world. Is this the end or just the beginning of the fight with Big Pharma to prioritize lives over profits during the worst global pandemic in a century?
Listen Now – Episode #491
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TAKE ACTION contact your state legislator in support of BadgerCare expansion in the state budget.

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Bill Kaplan: Many Republicans support Medicaid expansion

Bill Kaplan: Many Republicans support Medicaid expansion

Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has led the Assembly since 2013, and is the outgoing president of the National Conference of State Legislators. He is at the apex of power, but at a crossroad. Does Vos want to continue to play to part of Wisconsin or leave a broader legacy?

Healthcare used to be a bipartisan issue in Wisconsin. In 1966, GOP Governor Warren Knowles implemented Medicaid. It was later expanded by GOP Governor Tommy Thompson. Democratic legislators strongly supported both policies. Thompson, a conservative, is beloved by most Wisconsinites because he has a heart. No other state Republican has had his level of bipartisan support.

Vos was appointed as a student representative to the UW Board of Regents in 1989 by Thompson. It behooves Vos to talk with Thompson about legacy. Vos should also reflect on our mutual hero, Arizona GOP Senator John McCain, whom Vos endorsed for president in 2008. Stricken with cancer, McCain voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act (2017). Medicaid expansion was saved.

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ budget is before the GOP-led legislature. Predictably, Vos and other GOP leaders are again ruling out expanding Medicaid. They have put themselves in a self-imposed corner, making no fiscal sense. The American Rescue Act gives Wisconsin a 5 percent federal boost (for 2 years) for its traditional Medicaid program if it expands Medicaid; and keeps a permanent 90 percent federal match for Medicaid expansion enrollees. Expanding Medicaid would cover 90,000 Wisconsinites (hardworking and low-income). Finally, Wisconsin would get a $1.6 billion windfall over 2 years. The savings could be used for education and infrastructure.

Joan Alker, Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, said: “We have over 400 studies showing why Medicaid expansion is a good thing. It has not busted the budgets of the states that have done it, it’s supported their budgets, it’s reduced mortality, it’s improved health outcomes, it’s supported hospitals – the evidence is piling up. And, so saying ‘no’ is getting harder and harder.”

In 2018, Virginia GOP House Speaker Kirk Cox, “fiscally conservative, anti-abortion and pro-gun rights” (Washington Post), helped pass Medicaid expansion. He said: “I felt like we had to govern. You couldn’t just think of yourself. … You need to get things done.” And, in 2019, former Oklahoma GOP House Speaker Kris Steele said he now supported Medicaid expansion: “I totally acknowledge my evolution … . Healthcare in rural Oklahoma is in crisis. If there’s a way to bring some of our tax dollars back home to benefit the people who live in our state, I don’t know why we wouldn’t do that.”

More recently, Wyoming GOP Speaker Eric Barlow led the House in passing Medicaid expansion, but it was narrowly rejected by a GOP-led Senate committee. Barlow said: “I voted no multiple times on this issue. I’m going to vote yes this time, because I haven’t seen any other solution. No one has brought anything forward … .”

Vos should lead for all of Wisconsin. Circumstances have changed. Legacy.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

“Historic Investments” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Historic Investments” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Our panel discusses President Biden’s American Family Plan which makes historic investments in paid leave, child care, and tax fairness, but misses an opportunity on prescription drug affordability. Senator Tammy Baldwin and other progressive U.S. Senators are urging President Biden to approve a COVID vaccine patent waiver so all counties can have access to COVID vaccines, while QAnon Ron Johnson spent the week disputing the effectiveness of masks in slowing the spread of COVID. We welcome Eric March from Wisconsin Cannabis Activists Network (WI CAN) to talk about marijuana reform organizing at the local level in Wisconsin. We close with organizer Karen Kirsch from the Citizen Action Healthcare for All Organizing Coop who joins us to discuss her new weekly facebook live talk show which focuses on healthcare policy, focusing on Medicare For All. The show debuts next Wednesday, May 5th, 7pm – 8pm.
Listen Now – Episode #490
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“A verdict on America” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“A verdict on America” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We welcome JoAnna Bautch, Citizen Action’s Movement Politics Director, as a guest panelist. The panel responds to the guilty verdict in the Derrick Chauvin trial and puts it in perspective. We discuss the police reform recommendations from Wisconsin’s Legislative racial disparities task force which was set up by House Speaker Robin Vos to avoid taking meaningful action. The Fox con continues, with a scaled back version that is still a terrible deal for Wisconsin. Switching to the national scene, we have a great conversation on the growing bipartisan anti-China politicization in American politics with Tobita Chow, the Director of People’s Action’s Justice is Global project. We also review Citizen Action’s Climate Equity Week of Action, putting a focus on major Green New Deal opportunities at the federal, state and local level.

Listen Now – Episode #489
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TAKE ACTION for Climate Equity.

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“Structural racism demands structural solutions now” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Structural racism demands structural solutions now” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the Daunte Wright murder by Brooklyn Center police, the announcement that Jacob Blake’s shooter will face no consequences, and a state Department of Public Instruction finding that the Burlington school district is a hostile environment for Black students. We analyze the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause in the face of a new COVID variant wave. The destructive course of the right-wing Legislature continued this week, as they plowed forward with regressive COVID relief and election bills certain to be vetoed. The U.S. Senate race heated up this week with the entrance of Citizen Action Organizing Co-op member and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski as QAnon Ron Johnson prepares to share the stage with a right winger who believes the Jan. 6 riot was ‘staged’. We close with exciting news that the Milwaukee City/County Climate Task Force made bold proposals for use of American Rescue Act money to begin climate conversion, create good jobs and dramatically reduce racial inequality.

Listen Now – Episode #488
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TAKE ACTION in support of legalized cannabis in Wisconsin.

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Bill Kaplan: Wisconsin’s infrastructure is falling apart

Bill Kaplan: Wisconsin’s infrastructure is falling apart

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers inherited a polarized political environment. And, he shares power with a dysfunctional GOP-led legislature, disinterested in addressing long-term costly challenges. The Wisconsin Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers issued a 2020 Report Card for Wisconsin’s infrastructure. The overall GPA is only a C (“mediocre requires attention”). The specifics are damning.

Roads earned a D+: “More than one-third of these roads are in fair or below condition and deterioration is likely to continue over the next 10 years. …Deficient roads cost drivers $6 billion annually due to wear and tear on vehicles, wasted fuel due to congestion and the overall cost of crashes on roadways.”

Bridges earn a C+: Wisconsin has “more than 1,000 bridges … that are considered structurally deficient. … 1,955 bridges in Wisconsin that require repair, with an estimated price tag of $14 billion.”

Dams earn a C+: “Nearly 200 dams are considered ‘high hazard’ meaning loss of life would be probable should the dam fail. The annual (state) budget for dam safety is approximately $750,000 per year … . However, increased resources are needed to ensure public safety and minimize economic impact from future dam failures.”

Drinking water earns a C-: Wisconsin “must contend with aging water treatment and distribution systems … . Lead, bacteria, nitrates, (PFAS – toxic chemicals), arsenic and radium are some of the water quality concerns … . It is estimated that $8.6 billion will be needed to address infrastructure deficiencies over the next two decades… . Increased investment in drinking water infrastructure is needed (for) safe and reliable water supply for future generations.”

The Report Card also grades airports C+, energy B, hazardous waste B-, inland waterways C-, ports C+, solid waste B-, stormwater C, transit D+ and wastewater C-. Other infrastructure problems such as access to high-speed internet (broadband expansion), housing, public schools and universities need a spotlight too. Deficiencies are common in both rural and urban areas. Presidential leadership is needed to highlight and resolve these long-standing infrastructure needs.

Help may be on the way. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin tweeted: “We need a bold economic plan and POTUS has put one forward that will create jobs, put people back to work and rebuild economic security for working families.” President Joe Biden is sending Congress the American Jobs Plan to address the problems outlined by the American Society of Civil Engineers and much more. He said: “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment in America (including Wisconsin), unlike anything we’ve seen or done since we built the Interstate Highway System and the Space Race decades ago.”

Millions of well-paying jobs will be created to rebuild our infrastructure, mitigate climate change impact and bring all Americans into the twenty-first century. Biden pays for his plan by increasing the corporate tax rate, closing tax loopholes and making certain all profitable corporations pay for their use of infrastructure. Biden said: “We can do this. We have to do this. We will do this. … This is the United States of America.”

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C., for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, April 9th

Friday, April 9th

Jill Underly and 21 of 32 Citizen Action endorsed local candidates win this week!

Thank you to all the Citizen Action Organizing Co-op members who ran for office or helped endorsed local candidates running for office this Spring. Jill Underly’s victory was a huge win for public education in Wisconsin. We also excited about new progressive mayors in La Crosse (Mitch Reynolds) and Sheboygan (Ryan Sorenson).

Big congratulations goes out to newly elected Citizen Action Organizing Co-op members, Emily Siegrist (Brown Deer Trustee) and Rebecca Schwartz (LaCrosse City Council).

We are already planing for 2022! There will be critical elections next year at the federal, state and local level. If you are considering running for office please contact [email protected]

Join Us in Amplifying our Demands to Expand BadgerCare!

While we might have concluded our Health Care Week of Action, BadgerCare expansion is still on the line! Thousands of people across Wisconsin are left to purchase low quality plans that come with high deductibles and high co-pays so that many can’t afford to go to the doctor. For years, there have been resources to connect people with coverage through the marketplace — knowing about them or how to enroll isn’t the barrier, being able to afford a plan and use it, to see a doctor, get treatment, and heal from injury, is the problem.

We were joined this week by Senator Tammy Baldwin, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Representative Jodi Emerson and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes to discuss the large impact a BadgerCare expansion would have on nearly 90,000 Wisconsinites!

Together, we can expand BadgerCare and bring American Rescue Act funds into Wisconsin.
Both press conferences are available for streaming on Facebook.

Contact your Legislators now! 

Are You Ready? Climate Week of Action is launching on Monday, April 19th!

Living through the overlapping crises of climate, social injustice, economic unfairness, and the COVID-19 pandemic shows us that we need each other. When we act together, we make a difference. When we go it alone, we fail. That’s why we need YOU to help us bridge across our differences rather than making them deeper.

We have your Earth Day plans covered, register now to attend our virtual town hall on Climate Equity streaming on April 22nd!

Sign up to be a part of our Climate Week of Action, we are working on lobby days, virtual, and outdoor events – keep your eyes peeled for more details next week!

Tell Wisconsin’s elected leaders that you support legalized cannabis in Wisconsin

Whether we are white or Black, Hmong or Latino, rural or urban we all want the same things for our families.  We want to thrive economically. We want to support small, family owned farms. We want a more fair criminal justice system. We want safer options for pain management without the need for opioids. All of these things could be realized when our state legalizes cannabis.

Unfortunately certain politicians in Madison are blocking positive change. They are preventing Wisconsin from keeping up with our neighboring states. Wisconsin has shown, through both polling and local resolutions, that it supports cannabis reform. Legalization is an issue that has broad support across party lines in both rural and urban communities.

You can make a difference RIGHT NOW by using this form and contacting the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee and your state Representatives in the Assembly and Senate to let them know you support legalization.

It is not often a state has the chance to reform laws that disproportionately affect Black and Brown communities across the state. Its not often a single piece of legislation can create hundreds of small businesses and thousands of family supporting jobs. It is not often that a state can directly lend a hand to struggling small farms and give them a new way to thrive. Every state that borders Wisconsin has legalized cannabis in some form. Wisconsin is being left behind.

In his 2021-2022 state budget Governor Tony Evers proposed legalization of both medical and recreational cannabis.  It is time for ALL OF US TO MAKE OUR VOICE HEARD and let our elected leaders know that we support this plan. Please use this form to send an email to your elected leaders and tell them you support marijuana legalization in Wisconsin.  Please feel free to customize this message and SHARE THIS PAGE far and wide!

Help Defend Democracy!

Our voting rights are facing an unprecedented assault from the Republican legislature. Help us fight back! Join the Citizen Action Southeast Organizing Co-op’s new Election Defense Team. We plan to organize a variety of actions that will protect and empower voters in Southeast Wisconsin. We’ll start by getting out the vote in 2022 for our endorsed candidates and recruiting poll workers for the City of Milwaukee, and we’ll expand our scope as we grow. Future actions could include gerrymandering, ranked choice voting, automatic voter registration and more.

So join the new Election Defense Team and help us defend democracy!

Click here to receive updates! or Contact Barbara, SEWI Co-Op Organizer, [email protected], if you have questions.

Celebrate Earth Month by competing in an Eco Challenge 

April is Earth Month and it is time for each of us to take action to protect our planet! You can start by joining the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Organizing Co-op Eco Challenge team!

An Eco Challenge is a fun way to earn points while you take action to fight climate change. Some actions are personal like recycling, offsetting your carbon footprint or installing LED light bulbs. Some actions improve your community such as promoting mass transit or supporting community gardens. Some involve taking action directed at our elected leaders. You earn points with every action you take. You also learn about the impact small actions can have!

By joining our co-op Eco Challenge team you can compete with other teams or other team members. You can see what actions everyone on the team is taking. Signing up is quick and easy. After the month is over you will have made a difference and hopefully added new habits to our daily routine that will help fight climate change!

Click here to learn more our join our team!

If you live in Senate District 32 you can sign up for a lobby visit to promote Badgercare Expansion

Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Organizing Co-op members will be meeting, virtually, with State Senator Brad Pfaff on April 15th at 3:00 PM to discuss the need to expand BadgerCare, control prescription drug costs and fund caregivers across the state.

We are looking for passionate activists from State Senate District 32 to come and tell their personal story or just join the call to show support.

You can sign up to join this visit here.

Your local organizer will follow up with you with more details and get you ready for the meeting.

Conservation and agriculture Round Table with State Senator Pfaff and Rep Billings

Sign up today for a virtual round table with State Senator Brad Pfaff and State Representative Jill Billings about conservation and agriculture related to the proposed state budget.  It is so important that we address ALL aspects of the climate crisis, including agriculture issues.

WHO: DATCP Sec. Randy Romanski, Sen. Brad Pfaff, and Rep. Jill Billings
WHAT: Virtual Agriculture and Conservation Round Table
WHERE: Virtual, via Zoom
WHEN: Monday, April 12th, 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM

RSVP 

Tell Your Legislators To Support BadgerCare Expansion!

Even before the pandemic, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites struggled to afford health insurance, were forced to buy very low quality coverage, or went uninsured because they were forced to choose between health care and other essentials like housing and food. The pandemic has only made it worse. Many people in our community who lost their jobs or had their income affected by the pandemic also lost their health insurance.

That’s why BadgerCare Expansion is now more important than ever. We have an opportunity to help our neighbors live healthy lives, no matter where they live, what they look like, or what’s in their wallets. 

You can use the link below to send an email to your State Senator and State Representative in support of the BadgerCare Expansion. You may use our template email, or customize it with your own story.

Thank you for taking the time to contact your legislators about this critical issue.

Citizen Action in the News

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig talked on the Jeff Santos show about the George Floyd Murder Trial and the moderate block on bold legislation in the U.S. Senate. Listen here.

Citizen Action’s building African American led organizing co-op, got press this week on the resumption of utility cut-offs. Over 93,000 Wisconsinites who fell behind on the utility bills during the pandemic face cut-offs starting April 15. Read here.

News coverage of Citizen Action’s press conference with Senator Tammy Baldwin, State Representative Jodi Emerson, and members Dr. Mark Neumann and Kim Larson went out across the state this week. You can watch two news clips here and here. You can also read about it from WisPolitics here.

“Public schools win in a landslide” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review the huge victory for public education in the Department of Public Instruction race, and the immediate threat by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to take it out on our schools. We discuss the shockingly successful GOP effort to take down progressive school board members who follow the science and our educators by only supporting the safe reopening of schools. Is this a new Republican wedge issue for moderate voters they will use in 2022 in state and federal races? Claire educates us on the Biden Administration’s decision to permanently end health-care denying work requirements to receive Medicaid. We talk about the COVID variants taking off with big spikes in 5 states (and counting), and the GOP use of the fraudulent vaccine passports issues to increase vaccine hesitancy, threatening to further delay heard immunity. Robert discusses Trump’s outrageous scamming of his own supporters, and its copycats in the Republican Party. We close by welcoming Hannah Faris from In These Times magazine to talk about the launch of a new rural focused reporting project called, “the Wisconsin Idea.” The project is a collaboration with People’s Action and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Listen Now

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More information on In These Times “Wisconsin Idea” project with Citizen Action and People’s Action.

Register to attend Gov. Evers Listening Session on the Budget: Justice Reform & Marijuana Legalization​​​, April 14th, 6pm

Facebook post of the week

“Public schools win in a landslide” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Public schools win in a landslide” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We review the huge victory for public education in the Department of Public Instruction race, and the immediate threat by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to take it out on our schools. We discuss the shockingly successful GOP effort to take down progressive school board members who follow the science and our educators by only supporting the safe reopening of schools. Is this a new Republican wedge issue for moderate voters they will use in 2022 in state and federal races? Claire educates us on the Biden Administration’s decision to permanently end health-care denying work requirements to receive Medicaid. We talk about the COVID variants taking off with big spikes in 5 states (and counting), and the GOP use of the fraudulent vaccine passports issues to increase vaccine hesitancy, threatening to further delay heard immunity. Robert discusses Trump’s outrageous scamming of his own supporters, and its copycats in the Republican Party. We close by welcoming Hannah Faris from In These Times magazine to talk about the launch of a new rural focused reporting project called, “the Wisconsin Idea.” The project is a collaboration with People’s Action and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

Listen Now – Episode #487
Download Mp3
Press Clips

More information on In These Times “Wisconsin Idea” project with Citizen Action and People’s Action.

Register to attend Gov. Evers Listening Session on the Budget: Justice Reform & Marijuana Legalization​​​, April 14th, 6pm

Links: