Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos postures, President Biden delivers

Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos postures, President Biden delivers

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, pretending to overturn supposed “illegal executive overreach” by Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers, did it again. Vos led the effort to blowup a compromise COVID-19 relief bill agreed to by Evers and the GOP-led state Senate. Then Vos and the GOP-led legislature repealed the mask mandate, saying it was “not about (Evers’) mask order.” Poppycock! If Vos and other GOP legislators really supported wearing masks they could vote for a Democratic-sponsored bill “to reinstate the use of face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (including increasingly contagious virus variants).”

Democratic state Senator Jon Erpenbach said: “As elected officials, we took an oath to protect the lives of Wisconsin citizens and Republicans should have no problem supporting this bill.” Even with improved vaccination, Wisconsin is still fighting the pandemic: 550,000+ cases, 6,000+ dead. The science prove masks work. 11 GOP-led states have mask mandates.

Moreover, Vos’ politicking led to other dire problems. Repeal of Evers’ emergency order on masking jeopardized about $50 million per month in federal food assistance for 243,000 Wisconsinites. Other federal aid for transit funding may also be threatened by GOP games. Moreover, GOP legislators tried to shift the blame to Evers for this fallout, including re-imposition of a one-week waiting period for jobless claims. Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley rebuked Republicans: “It’s their policy.”

Similar nonsense transpired in Congress. GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to penalize Georgia GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for her anti-Semitic, racist and murderous rants and threats. Greene said California’s terrible wildfires were caused by Jewish bankers using a space laser, and “liked” a Facebook post calling for “a bullet to the head” of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. UW-Madison political science professor Eleanor Neff Powell said: “Typically the party (of the offending member) has asked the person to step aside, they’ve taken the vote themselves (to discipline), and then the chamber as a whole takes the vote to confirm that action.”

However, McCarthy pretended the problem was that Democrats wanted Greene removed from House committees, rather than Greene’s conduct and his inaction. This forced the hand of the Democratic-led House. It voted 230-199 to remove Greene from House committees. Only 11 GOP representatives (none from Wisconsin) joined all Democrats, including Wisconsin’s. Wisconsin GOP Representative Mike Gallagher shamefully voted no, ignoring McCarthy’s inaction. Gallagher disingenuously said: “I’m not sure we should want to set the precedent of another party being able to remove people from their committee assignments, no matter how outlandish (murdering Pelosi) their comments.”

But there’s hope. A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan has moved forward in Congress. It includes help for the 10 million who lost their jobs, nearly 8 million additional poor, funding to reopen schools safely, healthcare coverage expansion and paid sick-family leave, relief to small business, assistance for local-state governments and public health funding. Wisconsin congressional Democrats voted yes while state Republicans opposed. President Joe Biden will sign it. He delivers. Political games vs. tangible benefits for struggling Americans.

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

Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos postures, President Biden delivers

Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos postures, President Biden delivers

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, pretending to overturn supposed “illegal executive overreach” by Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers, did it again. Vos led the effort to blowup a compromise COVID-19 relief bill agreed to by Evers and the GOP-led state Senate. Then Vos and the GOP-led legislature repealed the mask mandate, saying it was “not about (Evers’) mask order.” Poppycock! If Vos and other GOP legislators really supported wearing masks they could vote for a Democratic-sponsored bill “to reinstate the use of face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (including increasingly contagious virus variants).”

Democratic state Senator Jon Erpenbach said: “As elected officials, we took an oath to protect the lives of Wisconsin citizens and Republicans should have no problem supporting this bill.” Even with improved vaccination, Wisconsin is still fighting the pandemic: 550,000+ cases, 6,000+ dead. The science prove masks work. 11 GOP-led states have mask mandates.

Moreover, Vos’ politicking led to other dire problems. Repeal of Evers’ emergency order on masking jeopardized about $50 million per month in federal food assistance for 243,000 Wisconsinites. Other federal aid for transit funding may also be threatened by GOP games. Moreover, GOP legislators tried to shift the blame to Evers for this fallout, including re-imposition of a one-week waiting period for jobless claims. Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley rebuked Republicans: “It’s their policy.”

Similar nonsense transpired in Congress. GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to penalize Georgia GOP Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for her anti-Semitic, racist and murderous rants and threats. Greene said California’s terrible wildfires were caused by Jewish bankers using a space laser, and “liked” a Facebook post calling for “a bullet to the head” of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. UW-Madison political science professor Eleanor Neff Powell said: “Typically the party (of the offending member) has asked the person to step aside, they’ve taken the vote themselves (to discipline), and then the chamber as a whole takes the vote to confirm that action.”

However, McCarthy pretended the problem was that Democrats wanted Greene removed from House committees, rather than Greene’s conduct and his inaction. This forced the hand of the Democratic-led House. It voted 230-199 to remove Greene from House committees. Only 11 GOP representatives (none from Wisconsin) joined all Democrats, including Wisconsin’s. Wisconsin GOP Representative Mike Gallagher shamefully voted no, ignoring McCarthy’s inaction. Gallagher disingenuously said: “I’m not sure we should want to set the precedent of another party being able to remove people from their committee assignments, no matter how outlandish (murdering Pelosi) their comments.”

But there’s hope. A $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan has moved forward in Congress. It includes help for the 10 million who lost their jobs, nearly 8 million additional poor, funding to reopen schools safely, healthcare coverage expansion and paid sick-family leave, relief to small business, assistance for local-state governments and public health funding. Wisconsin congressional Democrats voted yes while state Republicans opposed. President Joe Biden will sign it. He delivers. Political games vs. tangible benefits for struggling Americans.

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

“Making Change in Washington. Can Progressives Co-Govern with Biden?” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Making Change in Washington. Can Progressives Co-Govern with Biden?” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Progressives have more influence in the Joe Biden’s Washington than we have had since the 1960s, but are we prepared to translate our outside power into the governing power we need to win bold reform? In this special edition of Battleground Wisconsin, we discuss how the progressive movement must evolve to meet our moment with two national organizing strategists, George Goehl, the Director of People’s Action and Bree Carlson, the Deputy Director of People’s Action.

Listen Now – Episode #478
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Read In These Times article on the same subject.

Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos’ foolhardiness vs. healthcare security

Bill Kaplan: Speaker Vos’ foolhardiness vs. healthcare security

The U.S. leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, 26+ million and 440,000+ respectively. Wisconsin has 542,000+ cases and 5,900+ deaths. There is hope, vaccines are being administered, but it will take months for the Biden administration to ramp up production and distribution. In the interim, the American Hospital, Medical and Nurses Associations said: Americans can “help stop the spread of the virus (by) wearing a face mask … – allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said: “(The) main thing about the economy, is getting the pandemic under control, getting everyone vaccinated, getting people wearing masks … . That’s the single most important growth policy that we can have.” Moreover, the CDC reported that universal masking protects the mask wearer and the public. Masking is the bridge to prevent shutdowns until vaccination is completed.

However, Wisconsin GOP legislative leaders seem oblivious. Several weeks ago the GOP-led Senate and Democratic Governor Tony Evers compromised and agreed to a modest COVID-19 relief bill. But GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos blew it up, insisting that the bill be amended to include “poison pills” unacceptable to Evers. Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley said: “Legislative Republicans take one step forward, and then three steps back.” The GOP-led Senate also – alarmingly – voted to end Governor Evers’ mask mandate. GOP Senator Rob Cowles dissented: “I think it’s the wrong message. I’m coming from the science (and) healthcare point of view … .”

It looked like Speaker Vos was going to pell-mell end the mask mandate. But Democratic Representative Evan Goyke, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau and the MJS revealed that ending the mask mandate would cost Wisconsin about $50 million in federal food assistance for 243,000 Wisconsinites. It was the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” Vos paused, blaming the Senate and looking for a way out.

Vos should reconsider the human toll from ending universal masking, especially with increasingly contagious virus variants. GOP legislators from 7 states have died from COVID-19. MN GOP state Senator Jerry Relph died after attending a post-Election Day party, with most GOP legislators not wearing masks. NH GOP House Speaker Dick Hinch also died after attending a similar event. NH GOP Representative William Marsh, a retired doctor, said: “Those in our caucus who refused to take precautions are responsible for Dick Hinch’s death.”

Other conservatives get it. The National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce support President Biden’s mask mandate for interstate travel and on federal property. And, the Wisconsin Hospital Association and Medical Society support Governor Evers’ mask mandate. Vos is at a crossroads – help govern or play to a narrowing base.

The pandemic demands healthcare security. President Biden is moving to extend coverage at a lower cost under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Heeding Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin he reopened the ACA private insurance marketplace to help jobless Americans. Over 100,000 Wisconsinites could gain coverage. That’s the right road – healthcare security, including masking.

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

“Wisconsin Republicans fight for anti-maskers” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Wisconsin Republicans fight for anti-maskers” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the horrific vote by Senate Republicans to cancel the state health emergency and the mask mandate while also nixing COVID-19 relief. The panel welcomes State Senator Chris Larson to talk about Tuesday’s Senate vote and the policy atrocities taking place at the State Capital. Is there any rationale for the actions of the majority at all, or our we witnessing reckless disregard for human life? We close with a scouting report on President Biden’s new executive orders this week on climate and healthcare. Do they signal a bold new progressive direction for our national government?

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #477
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46th President looks to future; Wauwatosa Police look to stone age.

46th President looks to future; Wauwatosa Police look to stone age.

We discuss the historic inaugural week of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and Biden’s flurry of executive orders and an exciting new immigration bill. We look behind the organizing that resulted in changes to the Wisconsin COVID vaccination plan to include teachers, grocery workers, meat packers, and prisoners at the top of the list. A new COVID strain is spreading as Wisconsin reopens schools and the state does nothing. We welcome Minocqua Brewing Company SuperPAC owner Kirk Bangstad to discuss their campaign against Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Tom Tiffany for supporting for overturning the 2020 presidential election. Wisconsin Examiner journalist, Isiah Holmes, joins us to discuss his excellent reporting on Wauwatosa Police targeting protestors. We close with Markasa Tucker from the African-American Roundtable to discuss the Milwaukee Common Council reversing course and approving a federal grant for more police officers.
Listen Now – Episode #476
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More about the African-American Roundtable

Links:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Biden to sign 10 more orders and directives aimed at COVID-19 on first full day in White.
What the First Actions from President Biden Could Mean for Wisconsin.
Here’s what Biden plans to do on his first day as president.
Wisconsin moves closer to finalizing second phase of vaccine rollout, including teachers and prisoners.
Will New COVID-19 Strains Mean More Cases in Schools? An Explainer.
GOP Bill Would Require Faster Timeline For COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout.
Tiffany, Johnson Slammed in Billboards Up North for Rhetoric Contributing to DC Riot.
Milwaukee Common Council reverses course, approves federal grant for more police officers.
Wauwatosa PD created “protester list” during crackdown on peaceful demonstrations.
Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride named as ‘target’ by police‘ Such actions can only drive a wedge between the WPD and the people it serves,’ says the mayor.

Bill Kaplan: Expand healthcare coverage in 2021

Bill Kaplan: Expand healthcare coverage in 2021

The pandemic has not peaked, with a cumulative 24 million+ cases nationally and 400,000+ deaths. Wisconsin staggers from a cumulative near 525,000 cases with about 5,500 deaths, including a new daily record of 128 deaths. Moreover, the resultant recession resulted in millions losing employer-based healthcare coverage. But the Affordable Care Act (ACA) proved durable. Enrollment for ACA private insurance increased by 6.6 percent on the federal marketplace, including over 192,000 Wisconsinites. Medicaid enrollment increased nationally by over 5.8 million, including about 85,000 in Wisconsin.

However, millions remain uncovered, especially in the 12 states, including Wisconsin, that refuse to expand Medicaid. If ever a time to expand healthcare coverage was imperative the pandemic has made that clear. Bipartisan common sense and cooperation are required. And, last week Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers and the GOP-led state Senate got off to a good start for 2021, agreeing on a modest COVID-19 relief bill: Medicaid and SeniorCare would cover COVID-19 vaccinations, an incentive for college students to volunteer, some liability protection from lawsuits and continued waiving a one-week waiting period to receive jobless benefits. It also excluded some “poison pills” passed by the GOP-led state Assembly. The Senate vote was near-unanimous. Why?

There was bipartisan recognition that many voters want a reset and will blame Democrats and Republicans for doing nothing. And, new Democratic and GOP Senate leadership helped. Moreover, Evers is applying political skills to govern more effectively. Finally, all sides rediscovered essential governing building blocks – compromise, negotiation and respect for the opposition.

Similarly, the Evers administration, Wisconsin National Guard and the UW System are cooperating in sending mobile COVID-19 vaccination personnel around Wisconsin. UW System President Tommy Thompson said: “UW nursing and pharmacy students can provide critical help to get Wisconsinites vaccinated. We are pleased to offer this tuition credit and appreciate the partnership with Governor Tony Evers as we once again demonstrate the Wisconsin Idea at work – where there’s a problem facing Wisconsin, (the) UW System is part of the solution.”

These steps might help policymakers to take bigger ones such as expanding healthcare coverage. Wisconsin is losing available federal money to other states by not expanding Medicaid. That funding would cover more Wisconsinites while substituting federal for state funding. State spending would be saved on uncompensated care, mental health and drug-alcohol treatment. Savings could then be used for broadband expansion, roads and schools.

A new study by the Urban Institute found hospitals in Medicaid expansion states saw uncompensated care decline with millions in savings. Those hospitals were in better shape to fight COVID-19. Similarly, Health Affairs reported that Medicaid expansion made rural hospitals more viable. Medicaid expansion, embraced by 38 states, makes fiscal sense.

Moreover, the Biden administration has a mandate to expand healthcare coverage. It will likely extend ACA subsidies to the middle class and many below the poverty level to buy ACA private insurance, solving a coverage problem in Wisconsin.

However, should the GOP-led legislature want to leave federal money on the table with state budget problems unresolved?

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

Green Jobs Bill in first 100 days? Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Green Jobs Bill in first 100 days? Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss President Trump’s latest impeachment, shocking new details of his failed insurrection, and the Wisconsin Republicans who are aiding and abetting the violent overthrow of American democracy. We welcome Citizen Action Climate & Equity Director Rafael Smith to discuss a groundbreaking opportunity to pass a large New Deal-style green jobs program (Jobs for Economic Recovery Act) in the first 100 days of the Biden Administration and how you can get involved in making it a reality. The legislation, which has major traction the Senate and House, will put millions of jobless Americans back to work, dramatically improve racial equity and expand opportunity for depressed rural areas. We also dig into Governor Evers’ State of the State speech and new fissures in the Republican state legislature that resulted in Senate Republicans splitting from the Assembly by cutting a deal with the Governor on COVID-19 relief.
Listen Now – Episode #475
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Contact [email protected] to get involved in supporting the Jobs for Economic Recovery Act

Contact your U.S. Senate members in support of Jobs for Economic Recovery Act.
Contact your U.S. House of Representative member in support of Jobs for Economic Recovery Act.

Links:

Wisconsin’s House Democrats vote to impeach Trump, Republicans reject move.
Wisconsin Congressional Delegation Votes Along Party Lines on Impeachment.
Evers forecasts his plans for governing beyond COVID.
Tony Evers focuses on unemployment, expanding broadband in State of the State.
Evers, Senate Republicans reach a deal on COVID-19 bill; Measure goes back to Assembly, where leader says GOP will keep fighting.
Coronavirus relief standoff: Evers urges Assembly compromise after Speaker doubles down on original bill.
Gov. Tony Evers To Call Special Session On State Unemployment System: Governor Uses State Of The State Address To Push System Changes, Broadband Funding.
Evers’ Calls Special Session to Overhaul Antiquated Unemployment Insurance System.
Republicans shoot down Evers’ plan to begin overhauling unemployment system.
GOP Balks at Evers’ Special Session on Unemployment.

 

 

 

Bill Kaplan: Trump, his racist mob and Ron Johnson lost

Bill Kaplan: Trump, his racist mob and Ron Johnson lost

Photo by Gage Skidmore (cc-by-sa-2.0)

Last week began with Democratic Senate wins in Georgia and control of the Senate. Senator-elect Raphael Warnock said: “We are sending an African-American pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. served, and also Jon Ossoff, a young Jewish man, the son of an immigrant, to the U.S. Senate. … In this moment, we’ve got to bring people together in order to do the hard work.”

Then a racist mob, waving Confederate flags and some wearing clothing adorned with “Camp Auschwitz”, stormed the U.S. Capitol, killing a Capitol Police officer and desecrating the Capitol, including a memorial to civil rights icon Georgia Democratic Representative John Lewis. The mob had marched to the Capitol after Trump called his presidential election loss an “egregious assault on our democracy” and told his followers to “walk down to the Capitol” and not show “weakness.”

Wyoming GOP Representative Liz Cheney said: “There’s no question the president formed the mob, … incited the mob … addressed the mob. He lit the flame.” In December, Trump tweeted: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” It was: 5 dead, pipe bombs and a truck filled with 11 Molotov cocktails (crude bombs) and a semiautomatic rifle. The Capitol invasion halted a congressional session to officially ratify the presidential election. The session was previously interrupted by Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson and like-minded GOP colleagues, to raise baseless allegations about “election irregularities.”

However, a group of historians and constitutional scholars said: “Never before in our history has a president who lost reelection tried to stay in office by subverting the democratic process set down by the Constitution. … Unable to accept his defeat, President Trump and his collaborators have falsely charged massive electoral fraud … They have concocted and spread falsehoods that inflame Americans against their own government, and against each other.” Moreover, the voters have spoken, courts rejected Trump’s lawsuits and the Electoral College ratified Joe Biden’s win. But Johnson disingenuously said: “We are not acting to thwart the democratic process – we are acting to protect it.” A lie.

Before Congress reconvened, the National Association of Manufacturers issued an extraordinary statement: “Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing President Trump that he somehow won an election that he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S. Capitol today, attacking police officers and first responders, because Trump refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election. … This is not law and order.” A chastened Johnson dropped his objections. It doesn’t remove his stain of dishonor.

Johnson hears conspiratorial voices, but doesn’t hear those fearful of losing their pensions, healthcare or jobs, or small dairy farmers crushed by market forces beyond their control. He must be defeated if he runs for reelection in 2022.

Impeaching Trump or invoking the 25th Amendment are fool’s errands. Moreover, Congress officially confirmed Biden’s victory. He takes office January 20, hitting the ground running to begin an economic recovery and end the worsening pandemic.

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

“The power behind the insurrection” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“The power behind the insurrection” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We give our reactions and initial analysis of the unprecedented Trump insurrection at Congress. What does it mean for American democracy? We dig into how the shocking events at the Capital lay bare our white supremacist society. Insurrectionists were largely allowed to enter and leave Congress with little resistance and few arrests after sowing chaos in their effort to execute a right-wing coup. We welcome Lauren Jacobs, the Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families, to discuss the real power behind the insurrection and how the progressive movement’s response and commitment to multiracial organizing around our values of caring for everyone can be an anecdote to Trumpism.
Listen Now – Episode #474
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