Bill Kaplan: Johnson distracts instead of focusing on COVID-19 relief

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Both Trump and Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson are political distractors. Trump speculates about blowing up the U.S. Postal Service (rural Wisconsin’s lifeline), delaying the presidential election and suggesting he become president for “life”. Similarly, Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, wants to hold committee hearings to peddle false conspiracy theories: “I’m (Johnson) here to report today that, unlike the narrative of the press that … Trump wants to dig up dirt on his 2020 opponent (Joe Biden), what he wants is an accounting of what happened in 2016. Who set (Trump) up? Did things spring from Ukraine?”

However, Johnson let the cat out of the bag: “The more that we expose of the corruption of the transition process between Obama and Trump …(and) corruption within (intelligence) agencies … I would think that it would certainly help … Trump win reelection … .” The Biden campaign responded: “This damning acknowledgement totally exposes that Ron Johnson’s disgraceful conduct is the definition of malfeasance.” Moreover, Politico reported that some GOP senators think Johnson’s hearings could “backfire” during a pandemic and COVID-19 economic depression.

Utah GOP Senator Mitt Romney said: “From the outset, there was a tendency on the part of (Trump) to dismiss COVID-19 as a threat, not to consider how serious it could become.” Trump and Johnson have projected unwarranted optimism, made unproven claims about treatments and tried to normalize COVID-19 deaths by falsely saying that car accidents kill more Americans. The facts are damning. About 5.4 million cases nationally, over 65,000 in Wisconsin. U.S. deaths stand at near 170,000 and 1,000+ in Wisconsin.

The eye-popping economic fallout led conservative economic writer Robert Samuelson to label it a “pandemic depression” – mass unemployment, more income inequality, flat retail sales and big-name bankruptcies. State farmers, struggling before COVID-19, have taken a body blow. Trump and Johnson’s relentless cheerleading can’t conceal the economic misery and breadlines. And, with tax revenue down state and local governments need at least $500 billion to avoid budget shortfalls and cutting 3 million jobs.

However, Trump and Johnson don’t want to help. Trump wants to slash a federal $600 per week jobless benefit to a short-lived $300 a week benefit. Johnson said: “I hope the (congressional-White House) talks remain broken down.” And, Johnson also opposes the $600 jobless benefit, calling aid a “perverse disincentive to return to the workplace … .” But the Wall Street Journal reported: “An overwhelming majority of economists surveyed (by WSJ) said economic benefits of additional jobless benefits to help laid-off workers outweighed concerns that extra payments could deter people from going back to work.”

Johnson should stop blocking COVID-19 relief and recovery aid, and be transparent about how an earlier COVID-19 aid bill expanded the pass-through tax break (70 percent of pass-through income goes to the top one percent). He should try to act like a senator, by using his committee to hold real oversight hearings, e.g., price gouging and fraud in the selling of personal protective equipment and inadequate COVID-19 testing.

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

Citizen Action Weekly; Friday, August 14th

Friday, August 14th

Citizen Action endorsed candidates win primary election races this week.

Citizen Action had it’s most active partisan primary election program in recent history. Citizen Action endorsed 37 candidates for the state legislature before Tuesday’s primary election. 11 of our endorsed candidates had important primary election challengers this week.

9 of the 11 candidates won. 81%

Citizen Action members volunteered in texting and phone banking programs in many of the primary races, making thousands of voter contacts.

In AD 90, Citizen Action co-op member Kristina Shelton ousted incumbent Staush Gruszynski with 79% of the vote. Gruszynski was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal and had been barred from the Democratic caucus and stripped of committee assignments. She will face Republican Drew Kirsteatter in November for the historically Democratic district in Green Bay.

Citizen Action co-op members played key roles in supporting Kristina, including volunteering a lot of hours to talk to voters. Thanks to all the hard work of our Northeast co-op members.

“Our job now is to move forward to the November general to keep this district blue, to work hard for other campaigns and other candidates in northeast Wisconsin and around the state, and to really work hard to defeat Trump in November,” Shelton said in a Facebook video Tuesday night. “I ask you to join us.”

In addition, our paid full time deep canvass phone program made thousands of calls to voters SD 30 and AD 96, where both endorsed candidates won.

In AD 96, Citizen Action candidate Josefine Jaynes won a surprisingly wide victory over Tucker Gretebeck with 56% of the vote. The 18 year old Jaynes will now go on to compete against Republican incumbent Loren Oldenburg. This seat is a potential Democratic pick up in 2020. Please contact organizer [email protected] to see how you can help Josefine win the general election.

The new North Side Rising co-op also made hundreds of calls in support of AD 17 Supreme Moore Omokunde and AD 8 JoAnna Bautch.

In AD 17 Citizen Action organizer and Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde was also a big winner on primary night with 49% of the vote in a three way primary.

Supreme is a leader on implementing a racially equitable Green New Deal in Milwaukee County and will bring his passion for the issue to the State Capitol. We are very excited to work with Supreme in the Assembly.

We are deeply disappointed that JoAnna Bautch and Tomika Vukovic did not win their primary elections. Both ran strong campaigns against highly qualified candidates and we thank them for being progressive community leaders and for running for elected office.

We are extremely proud of all the candidates that did win this week. Now on to the big event, the November 3rd general election.

Congratulations to Primary Election Winners
State Senate
SD 6: LaTonya Johnson
SD 16: Melissa Sargent
SD 30: Jonathon Hansen

State Assembly
AD 9: Marisabel Cabrera
AD 17: Supreme Moore-Omokunde
AD 78: Lisa Subeck

AD 85: Jeff Johnson
AD 90: Kristina Shelton
AD 96: Josefine Jaynes

Citizen Action will be making more state legislative candidate endorsements in the coming weeks.

Driftless Co-op Anniversary Meeting, Saturday, August 29th

On August 29th the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will have its one year anniversary of organizing in the area.  In honor of the big day we will be hosting a virtual meeting for all our members, friends and allies.

This will be a chance to hear about all the work we have done to expand healthcare, protect voting rights, fight climate change and elect progressive candidates.  We will also be laying out our plans for the rest of the year.  Several members will be presenting on projects they have been working on with Citizen Action.

We encourage everyone to come out for this very special virtual meeting. Please use the link below to RSVP.  Space is limited so RSVP today!  Details on how to join this Zoom meeting will be sent once you RSVP.

Save the Date! Southeastern Co-op Organizing Summer Assembly, Saturday, September 12th

Mark your calendars for our Summer Assembly on September 12th at 10am! This will be a chance to hear about all the work we have done to expand healthcare, fight the climate crisis and elect progressive candidates.  We will also be laying out our plans for the rest of the year.  Our Climate equity team and healthcare co-op will be presenting on projects they have been working on with Citizen Action. We will also have some local activists as guest speakers.

We encourage everyone to come out for this very special virtual meeting.  Please use the link below to RSVP.  Space is limited so RSVP today!  Details on how to join this Zoom meeting will be sent once you RSVP: //secure.everyaction.com/KEeaeyAvCki5n2lnloKXsg2

Support Black Lives United Annual Education Supply Drive in Green Bay!

Over the past 4 years, the Northeast Co-op’s community partner Black Lives United has donated over 500 book bags filled with back to school supplies to Green Bay students in need. This year, we recognize the need to continue this educational support, especially with the increased time kids are spending at home. The goal is to give away 300 book bags filled with education supplies to be used in an at-home or school environment.

BLU is asking for a suggested donation of $40 (to cover the cost of a backpack and supplies; any amount monetary donations is GREATLY appreciated) OR to purchase a backpack and fill it with supplies from the district’s supplies list.

Organizing Co-op’s Working with People Across the State to Cut Carbon Emissions, Save on Energy Bills, and help to Create Good Jobs 

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has helped convince multiple banks through a public campaign to offer green home upgrades, where the bank provides resources to help cut a home’s carbon emissions and utility bills that pay for themselves right away. This campaign began years ago in the North Central region. Since that time, we’ve helped homeowners access solar panels, cut their mortgage interest through a “green refinance”, and hire pro-climate contractors that treat their workers well. All while saving more immediately than they were before with nothing extra down.

Now, we have launched a project to help homeowners personally divest their money away from banks and utilities, back into the pockets of working people and towards the causes that matter. We can even show you how you can further live your values by showing you how you can reinvest in institutions that are specifically working to invest in the Black community, and that create good living wage jobs right here.

Fill out the “Green Home” fellowship application. Tell us more about your home, and after signing you’ll receive a link to schedule a 1-1 meeting to go over the math of whether or not this program can cut your utility bills, mortgage payments and significantly roll back your carbon emissions! Fill out the application here.

You will only be chosen if we are confident we can reduce costs and cut carbon emissions, with extra consideration for Citizen Action members and/or those from historically under-invested areas (especially rural and communities of color) and/or union members. You do not need to be a Citizen Action member for consideration. (Questions? Email [email protected] and/or [email protected]).

People who participate will be automatically signed up as a Citizen Action Organizing Co-op member at $20-per-month if we can show savings well in excess of $20-per-month after costs (effectively no cost). This allows us to continue working on issues that matter to you and our other members, while continuing to work on proactive campaigns, such as this one..

Citizen Action in the News

The Neighborhood News Service did a great story on Citizen Action’s research documenting the devastating impact on Wisconsin working families of Trump’s cut-off of enhanced unemployment benefits. Read the story here.

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig was on a national Pacifica Radio Network program to discuss the Wisconsin primary elections, and the threat to the integrity of Wisconsin’s presidential election posed by Donald Trump’s assault on the post office. Listen here. Pacifica Radio Network has over 200 affiliated stations across the United States.

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig was on the Jeff Santos Show to calm down anxious progressives about Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate. Listen here (it is in the second half of the podcast). The program, which originates from Boston, is replayed on the leading commercial progressive radio stations in the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. Citizen Action’s Battleground Wisconsin podcast/radio show is also featured on these stations every Saturday and Monday.

“History with Kamala Harris” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast   

We lead with the historic selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential candidate, the first African American women to ever appear on a major party ticket. Will it help Biden win in November? Is there any progressive unrest about the choice? We review Wisconsin’s partisan primary election this Tuesday, where progressives and many candidates of color swept a series of closely contested primaries. We focus in on Citizen Action co-op member Kristina Shelton’s huge victory in Green Bay and Citizen Action organizer Supreme Moore Omokunde’s win in Milwaukee. We discuss the latest MU Law Poll and a new WEAC Regon 7’s “Report Card” grading the opening plans of school districts in southeastern Wisconsin. Is your school district opening safely? Finally, we are joined by Citizen Action co-op member and state legislative candidate Emily Siegrist, to discuss her race and the rising prospects of Democratic pick ups in the previously deep red Milwaukee suburbs.

Listen Now – Episode #455
Download MP3
Press Clips

Donate to Emily Siegrist.

Attend Emily Siegrist’s Cycling with the Candidate event this Sunday, 8/15, 2pm, Brown Deer Park. Leave from Brown Deer Park and head north on the Oak Leaf trail to Foxtown Brewing for a beverage before returning back to the park. The route is approximately 10 miles round trip. Please RSVP at [email protected] Suggested donation is $50. Don’t forget, bring a mask and BYOB (bring your own bike!)

Facebook post of the week

 

“History with Kamala Harris” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“History with Kamala Harris” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We lead with the historic selection of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential candidate, the first African American women to ever appear on a major party ticket. Will it help Biden win in November? Is there any progressive unrest about the choice? We review Wisconsin’s partisan primary election this Tuesday, where progressives and many candidates of color swept a series of closely contested primaries. We focus in on Citizen Action co-op member Kristina Shelton’s huge victory in Green Bay and Citizen Action organizer Supreme Moore Omokunde’s win in Milwaukee. We discuss the latest MU Law Poll and a new WEAC Regon 7’s “Report Card” grading the opening plans of school districts in southeastern Wisconsin. Is your school district opening safely? Finally, we are joined by Citizen Action co-op member and state legislative candidate Emily Siegrist, to discuss her race and the rising prospects of Democratic pick ups in the previously deep red Milwaukee suburbs.
Listen Now – Episode #455
Download MP3
Press Clips

Donate to Emily Siegrist.

Attend Emily Siegrist’s Cycling with the Candidate event this Sunday, 8/15, 2pm, Brown Deer Park. Leave from Brown Deer Park and head north on the Oak Leaf trail to Foxtown Brewing for a beverage before returning back to the park. The route is approximately 10 miles round trip. Please RSVP at [email protected]. Suggested donation is $50. Don’t forget, bring a mask and BYOB (bring your own bike!)

Links:
The Kamala Harris choice: What it means for progressives and swing-state voters.
Kamala Harris Safest Pick & Does not Damage Progressive Pivot of Biden.
Kamala Harris Will Make Sure Racial Justice Is a Key Part of Joe Biden’s Climate Agenda.
Wisconsin primaries point to a more diverse state Legislature next year.
Kristina Shelton defeats Rep. Staush Gruszynski in 90th Assembly District after heated primary; Jonathon Hansen advances in 30th Senate.
Here Are the Winners of Tuesday’s Primary Elections.
New Marquette Law School Poll finds Biden holding a steady lead over Trump in Wisconsin.
Little traction for Trump memos on unemployment, housing. Evers: President’s weekend actions cause ‘uncertainty and confusion’.
Reports of COVID-19 test shortages spark Baldwin letter to VP Pence.

Gray Matters – Check out the novel by John Gastil

Bill Kaplan: Wisconsin at a crossroad, expand Medicaid

Bill Kaplan: Wisconsin at a crossroad, expand Medicaid

Trump says COVID-19 is “under control”, callously downplaying deaths as “it is what it is”. Wisconsin GOP politicians are no better, ending or hindering any policy state Democratic Governor Tony Evers puts forward. Moreover, neither have a plan to control COVID-19.

Cases are soaring, 5 million plus nationally, over 60,000 in Wisconsin. U.S. deaths are about 163,00 and 1,000 in Wisconsin. And, COVID-19 has spread throughout rural Wisconsin. Rural hospitals lack intensive care beds, protective medical equipment and adequate professionals and transit. Additionally, COVID-19 has increased in the GOP WOW counties (Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington). Finally, the state Union Grove Veterans Home has a serious outbreak. The tsunami will worsen.

The economy is in shambles. For the 20h consecutive week more than 1 million filed unemployment claims. Fewer jobs were added. 10.2 percent unemployed nationally, 8.5 percent in Wisconsin and 12.8 percent in Milwaukee. The federal $600 per week jobless benefit has expired. Declining tax revenue spells catastrophe for state and local governments: $500 billion in cuts and more than 3 million jobs eliminated. Governor Evers has been forced to propose $250 million in state budget cuts added to $70 million made earlier.

The Democratic-led House passed a COVID-19 bill in mid-May, extending federal $600 jobless benefit, funding education, food assistance, health, housing and pension needs. It helped state, local and tribal governments facing huge budget holes. Trump was dismissive and the GOP-led Senate did nothing. Finally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed an inadequate take-it-or-leave-it bill. Last minute talks began between House-Senate Democratic leaders and White House officials, without McConnell and Trump. Predictably the talks collapsed last week, despite Democrats reducing the cost of their bill. Trump and McConnell didn’t want a deal.

“Trump on Saturday attempted to bypass Congress and make dramatic changes to tax and spending policy, signing executive actions that challenge the boundaries of power that separate the White House and Capitol Hill” (Washington Post). Trump replaced the expired $600 jobless benefit with a new $400 program, funded by disaster-hurricane relief money and states (with budget shortfalls). Fool’s gold! Same with Trump’s attempt to defer Social Security payroll taxes without any future recoupment. This will not help the unemployed, but only undermine Social Security. And, the eviction memo is just words, no aid to renters and home owners in arrears.

However, voters are smart, and will see through Trump’s scheme as they have his attempts to kill the ACA. Case in point. Last Tuesday, Missouri voters approved Medicaid expansion (38th state). COVID-19 and high unemployment with loss of health insurance woke voters up. The 90 percent federal funding would cover over 200,000, fund struggling rural hospitals, create jobs and increase state tax revenue. Circumstances changed.

It’s long past time for the Wisconsin GOP-led legislature to accept that Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin would cover more, substitute federal funding for state funding and save state spending on uncompensated care, mental health and drug-alcohol treatment. This federal funding is available; more may not be coming. Face reality. Voters will.

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

Citizen Action Weekly: Primary Election Get Out The Vote

Citizen Action Weekly: Primary Election Get Out The Vote

Friday, August 7th

Return your absentee ballot today for the Tuesday, August 11th Primary Election!

See our list of endorsed candidates for State Legislature

Local Citizen Action of Wisconsin members join SEIU to take a Stand Against Medical Debt

Last Sunday, Aug 2nd, several Citizen Action of Wisconsin members came out to tell Gundersen Healthcare to stop suing community members over medical debt, stop garnishing workers wages and to give employees better healthcare.  You can read more about the rally and protest here and here.

Gundersen has a long history of taking community members to collections for healthcare bills as low as $300.00 destroying people’s financial future in the process.  They have also been garnishing wages OF THEIR OWN EMPLOYEES.  Gundersen is a “non profit” healthcare system that produced over a billion dollars of profit last year alone.  They currently pay their CEO $1.1M a year.

50 area activists gathered at Poage Park in La Crosse for a rally that included music and speakers such as local activist leader and Ho-Chunk member Tracy Littlejohn.  People shared their stories about the impact medical debt has had on their life and how there is a better path forward.

Everyone onsite was standing up and making the following demands of Gundersen:

  • Cease suing our community members and employees for medical debt
  • Forgive existing medical debt
  • Provide Gundersen employees with affordable health insurance coverage

If you were not able to join us on Sunday you can still make your voice heard.  Please sign our digital petition right here.  This petition will be delivered to Gundersen in the coming days.

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us.  Look for more actions in the coming days to fight against medical debt, expand healthcare and help create a universal healthcare system in America!

Volunteer to Get Out The Vote: Primary Election, Tuesday, August 11th

Sign Up to Send Texts for Citizen Action of Wisconsin Candidates who have contested Primaries on Tuesday August 11th!

Both the text messages and the call scripts will incorporate the Race Class Narrative Messaging that we’ve been testing over the past couple of months, and the call program will give you an intro into the Deep Phone Canvass model we’ve been developing with People’s Action!

Senate District 6: LaTonya Johnson
Senate District 30: Jonathan Hansen
Assembly District 8: JoAnna Bautch
Assembly District 9: Marisabel Cabrera
Assembly District 10: Tomika Vukovic
Assembly District 16: Melissa Sargent
Assembly District 17: Supreme Moore Omokunde
Assembly District 78: Lisa Subeck
Assembly District 96: Josefine Jaynes

Tuesday Aug 11th from 4:00-6:30 pm: SIGN UP FOR A TEXT SHIFT HERE!

Contact the La Crosse County Board to let them know that you support 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050

On August 20th the La Crosse County Board will be voting on a resolution committing La Crosse to 100% clean, renewable energy We need to let them know that La Crosse County has to stand up and lead the way by committing to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.  We need to send a message to our leaders on the county board that we support clean renewable energy!

This effort is being brought to you by Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Coulee Region Sierra Club and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

For those of you outside of La Crosse County thank you for your support but please do not submit these forms.

Please use this form to send an email directly to your county board supervisors.
Please use this form to sign our digital petition.

Driftless Co-op Anniversary Meeting, Saturday, August 29th

On August 29th the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will have its one year anniversary of organizing in the area.  In honor of the big day we will be hosting a virtual meeting for all our members, friends and allies.

This will be a chance to hear about all the work we have done to expand healthcare, protect voting rights, fight climate change and elect progressive candidates.  We will also be laying out our plans for the rest of the year.  Several members will be presenting on projects they have been working on with Citizen Action.

We encourage everyone to come out for this very special virtual meeting.  Please use the link below to RSVP.  Space is limited so RSVP today!  Details on how to join this Zoom meeting will be sent once you RSVP.

Happy Birthday Medicaid

Members of Citizen Action participated in a bake off to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Medicaid. Without this important program, our most vulnerable would fall through the cracks.  Members baked a treat and took selfies to show their support for the program that has either saved their lives or the lives of someone they know.  Chances are very high that you know someone who was helped by BadgerCare/Medicaid at one time or another.  We need to stand up for this important program.  If healthcare is an important issue to you, join the healthcare co-op and take a collective action around various healthcare issues.

Coffee with with your Co-Op-Milwaukee Area

In the Milwaukee area, meet Karen on Monday mornings at 9:30 at Blum Coffee Garden It’s a giant outdoor patio with plenty of room to social distance.  Please wear a mask when you are not drinking coffee as there are several older people that sometimes attend and we need to be extra vigilant.

Postcard Campaign for ACA Protections

The Affordable Care Act is under attack in our Federal Court system right now and Wisconsin has no state level laws to protect us in the case of a repeal.  We also have no state level laws to ban the predatory practice of surprise billing to consumers.

Sign up to send a postcard to your 2 state level legislators and Governor Tony Evers,  asking them to enshrine pre-existing conditions protection, free preventative care and to close the surprise billing loophole.  We will send you the postcards for you to make out and mail from home and we even pay for postage.

Sign up here to protect Wisconsin’s health.  

Citizen Action in the News

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig discussed how progressives can best influence Joe Biden on the Jeff Santos Radio Show. The program, which originates from Boston, is replayed on the commercial progressive radio stations in the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. Citizen Action’s Battleground Wisconsin is also featured on these stations every week.

Citizen Action was quoted in a feature story in UpNorthNews on the eviction crisis in Wisconsin.

Citizen Action was quoted in a press release from Senator Tammy Baldwin on her work to prevent Big Pharma from price gouging on a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Essential workers and elections” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the potential for a new COVID-19 relief package in Congress and the GOP conspiracy to get Kanye West on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin. Could it influence the outcome in November? We welcome Citizen Action endorsed State Representative candidates Supreme Moore-Omokunde and JoAnna Bautch to discuss their campaigns and next week’s important primary election on Tuesday, August 11th. Will they shake up the Democratic Party in Madison? We encourage you to volunteer with a candidate to help get out the vote. We close the show with Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz and Mario Ramirez discussing their Friday 11am rally in support of fired Strauss workers in Franklin, and the importance of their statewide organizing campaign fighting for the rights of all “essential” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

LISTEN NOW

Volunteer for Supreme Moore-Omokunde by emailing Supreme at: [email protected]
Volunteer for JoAnna Bautch

Voces de la Frontera’s Justice for Strauss workers!

Facebook post of the week

 

“Essential workers and elections” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Essential workers and elections” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the potential for a new COVID-19 relief package in Congress and the GOP conspiracy to get Kanye West on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin. Could it influence the outcome in November? We welcome Citizen Action endorsed State Representative candidates Supreme Moore-Omokunde and JoAnna Bautch to discuss their campaigns and next week’s important primary election on Tuesday, August 11th. Will they shake up the Democratic Party in Madison? We encourage you to volunteer with a candidate to help get out the vote. We close the show with Voces de la Frontera’s Christine Neumann-Ortiz and Mario Ramirez discussing their Friday 11am rally in support of fired Strauss workers in Franklin, and the importance of their statewide organizing campaign fighting for the rights of all “essential” workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Listen Now – Episode #454
Download MP3
Press Clips

Volunteer for Supreme Moore-Omokunde by emailing Supreme at: [email protected]
Volunteer for JoAnna Bautch

Voces de la Frontera’s Justice for Strauss workers!

Links:

White House, congressional Democrats harden stances on coronavirus relief.
‘Optimistic’ Democrats vow to stay in D.C. until coronavirus deal reached.
U.S. Senate’s McConnell says the two sides far apart on coronavirus relief.
More Than 900 Workers Needed for Wisconsin Polls.
Biden No Longer Attending Democratic Convention in Milwaukee Due to COVID-19.
Factory worker’s death highlights debate over GOP-backed coronavirus liability shield.
Meat Company Fired Over 20 Workers for Demanding COVID Protections, Activists Say.

 

Bill Kaplan: GOP-led U.S. Senate refuses to act.

Bill Kaplan: GOP-led U.S. Senate refuses to act.

The U.S., including Wisconsin, is facing a twin catastrophe: an out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic and a cataclysmic economic meltdown. Public health efforts – masks, social distancing and contact tracing – have been undermined nationally by Trump and by Wisconsin GOP legislators. However, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers has not given up. He joined GOP-led Indiana and Ohio in issuing a statewide mask mandate. Why?

More than 4.6 million COVID-19 cases nationally, over 54,000 in Wisconsin. U.S. deaths are about 155,000, approaching 1,000 in Wisconsin. Sun Belt states are setting one-day death records. Moreover, COVID-19 is spreading widely to rural areas, including Iron County, Wisconsin which has no hospital. Currently, almost all 72 Wisconsin counties have high COVID-19 activity.

A surging COVID-19 is crippling the economy and stymieing a recovery. “The U.S. economy shrank by a stunning 9.5 percent from April through June, a historic contraction …” (Washington Post-WP). Moreover, new claims for unemployment benefits totaled over a million for the 19th straight week. Yet the U.S. Senate refuses to act as over 30 million Americans, including hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites, have lost $600 weekly federal jobless benefits. A delusional Trump said: “I think the recovery has been very strong. We’ve set record job numbers.” And, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, 7th-wealthiest U.S. senator, supported cutting the benefits to a paltry weekly $200!

Back in May the Democratic-led House saw the coming train wreck and passed relief and recovery legislation. All Wisconsin Democratic representatives voted yes, while state GOP representatives were opposed. The bill would help struggling state, local and tribal governments facing huge budget deficits due to declining revenues and increasing COVID-19 costs. The bipartisan National Governors Association said: “(W)ithout federal revenue replacement, state and local governments would need to cut more than $500 billion … eliminating more than 3 million jobs.” The bill also extended federal jobless benefits, funded education, food assistance, health and housing needs.

However, for months the GOP-led Senate did nothing. At the 11th hour the Senate finally rolled out a response – a glaring contrast to the House bill. Republicans have proposed billions for new military weapons, despite U.S. defense spending already accounting for about 60 percent of federal discretionary spending. Almost nothing for the millions going without enough food, but “boosts the ‘three-martini-lunch’ (tax) break, not food stamps” (WP). Then there is the easing of capital requirements for big banks, put in place to reduce their risky behavior. Help for Wall Street not Main Street.

Reminiscent of expanding the pass-through tax break in the March COVID-19 relief bill, inserted by Senate Republicans. What role did Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson play? He is the leading advocate of this tax break for the wealthy (70 percent of pass-through income goes to the top 1 percent). Finally, the Senate bill does little for millions of Americans who can’t pay their rent or mortgages. Shame.

As talks continued between Democratic congressional leaders and the Trump administration, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate and went home to Kentucky. Pathetic.

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

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, July 31st

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, July 31st

Friday, July 31st

Request your absentee ballot today! Protect your health vote from home. 

All Registered Wisconsin voters are eligible to vote with an absentee ballot. You can request ballots for both the primary and general elections in 2020.

Request your absentee ballot today.

Primary Election is Tuesday, August 11th; Thursday August 6th is the last day to request your absentee ballot.

Volunteer to Send texts and/or Make Calls for Citizen Action of Wisconsin Endorsed Candidates who have contested Primaries.

Both the text messages and the call scripts will incorporate the Race Class Narrative Messaging that we’ve been testing over the past couple of months, and the call program will give you an intro into the Deep Phone Canvass model we’ve been developing with People’s Action!

Senate District 6: LaTonya Johnson
Senate District 30: Jonathan Hansen
Assembly District 8: JoAnna Bautch
Assembly District 9: Marisabel Cabrera
Assembly District 10: Tomika Vukovic
Assembly District 16: Melissa Sargent
Assembly District 17: Supreme Moore Omokunde
Assembly District 78: Lisa Subeck
Assembly District 96: Josefine Jaynes

Sign up here to get out the vote in these important races for the Tuesday August 11th Primary!

Texting will happen Tuesday, August 4th, and Tuesday Aug 11th from 4:00-6:30 pm.

SIGN UP FOR A TEXT SHIFT HERE!

Calls will happen on Wednesday August 5th from 5-8pm, and you will be able to make calls whenever you want after this initial training.

SIGN UP FOR A CALL SHIFT HERE

Take a stand against medical debt in La Crosse this Sunday!

Citizen Action of Wisconsin and SEIU Healthcare are taking a stand against medical debt. Join us for a socially distant rally and protest to let Gundersen know that they need to stop suing their employees and the community over medical debt!

Please use this form to RSVP for this important event.

As one of the largest employers and health care providers in our community, Gundersen Health System has a responsibility to our most vulnerable citizens. In just the past few years, Gundersen has taken hundreds of our community members to court for unpaid medical debt – including its own employees who cannot afford the who cannot afford the steep cost of the Hospital’s insurance plan.

Gundersen has been named one of the most profitable hospitals in the country.  Community members and Gundersen employees should be able to receive affordable services at a nonprofit Hospital without being sued, taken to collections, or having their wages garnished.

We demand Gundersen:

  1. Cease suing our community members and employees for medical debt
  2. Forgive existing medical debt
  3. Provide employees with affordable health insurance coverage

Remember to bring water and sunscreen.  Also please wear the color purple in solidarity.

PLEASE RSVP

You can read more about the Stand Against Medical Debt and why we are standing up to Gundersen right here.

Follow the brand new Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op page on Facebook

Citizen Action has rolled out a brand new public Facebook page for the Driftless region.  This page is the best place to stay up to date on important events, calls to action and campaigns Citizen Action is working on locally. This public page also makes it very easy to share this important information to everyone on your Facebook friends list with one simple click. Please use this link to like this page and share contact across the internet.

You can also help get the word out by joining our social media team.  We are recruiting a team to help share content from the new local Citizen Action page.  This is a very easy job but a very important one.  Members of the team will be called upon to share specific content on their own Facebook page.  Basically when a team member gets tagged in a post they are asked to simply click the share button.  It only takes a few seconds but it has a HUGE impact.  If you would like to join the social media team please contact Ben Wilson at [email protected].

Contact the La Crosse County Board to let them know that you support 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050

On August 20th the La Crosse County Board will be voting on a resolution committing La Crosse to 100% clean, renewable energy We need to let them know that La Crosse County has to stand up and lead the way by committing to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050.  We need to send a message to our leaders on the county board that we support clean renewable energy!

Our planet is in crisis.  We must protect the environment for generations to come.  It is vital that our elected leaders hear from us NOW.   Wisconsin will not be immune to impacts of climate change, but we can be part of the solution! Climate scientists agree that we must limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid the most destructive and dangerous effects of climate change. This will require net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which means ditching fossil fuels and transitioning to clean, renewable energy.

This effort is being brought to you by Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Coulee Region Sierra Club and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.

For those of you outside of La Crosse County thank you for your support but please do not submit these forms.

Please use this form to send an email directly to your county board supervisors.

Please use this form to sign our digital petition.

CALL TO ACTION: Join in a phone banking day of action for Citizen Action of Wisconsin endorsed candidate Josefine Jaynes on August 6th

Citizen Action of Wisconsin endorsed candidate Josefine Jaynes is running in a tight primary for the Democratic nomination in Wisconsin’s Assembly district 96 covering Vernon, Crawford and Monroe counties.

Josefine is an inspiring 18 year old candidate who will bring a bold new progressive voice to Madison.  She is committed to protecting Wisconsin’s small farms, fighting climate change, protecting our water, making sure our schools are getting the funding they need and making sure that rural Wisconsin is protected and heard. She is the voice of the next generation of progressive leaders.  You can actually hear an interview with Josefine in this week’s “Battleground Wisconsin” podcast.

Josefine’s campaign is planning a major day of action in advance of the August 11th primary.  They will be hosting a phone bank next Thursday Aug 6th.  She is looking for volunteers from across the state to make calls to residents of district 96.  Official instructions on how to get involved in this phone banking event will be announced this weekend on Josefine’s campaign Facebook page.  You can also email Josefine directly at [email protected] and she will make sure you are connected and able to get involved.     

Let the City of La Crosse know that you support expanding voting access

Voting is one of America’s most important rights. Elections during the age of COVID-19 should not be a choice between voting and your health.  The City of La Crosse can take steps RIGHT NOW to expand voting access and ensure safe, free and fair elections through the rest of 2020.  Please take a moment and complete this form to send an email to La Crosse’s mayor, city clerk and deputy city clerk to let them know that you support the following plans to expand voting access and make sure that every La Crosse resident can vote safely.

  • Provide at least three secure absentee ballot drop boxes throughout the city
  • Strive to identify, prepare, and maintain the standard number of polling locations. At a minimum, the city should have at least seventy-five percent of an average election’s total number of polling locations open for Election Day
  • Develop and enact a plan for the recruitment and retention of poll workers to be made available to the public
  • Identify, prepare, and maintain suitable areas for drive through voting for both early and same day voting. Ensure that every in-person polling location has functional curbside voting as required by state statute

Please use the links below to sign our digital petition and send an email directly to the mayor of La Crosse (along with the city clerk) to let them know you support expanded voting options to keep everyone safe while they vote this November.

Please use this form to email the mayor and city clerk directly
Please use this form to sign our digital petition

Driftless Co-op Anniversary Meeting, Saturday, August 29th

On August 29th the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will have its one year anniversary of organizing in the area.  In honor of the big day we will be hosting a virtual meeting for all our members, friends and allies.

This will be a chance to hear about all the work we have done to expand healthcare, protect voting rights, fight climate change and elect progressive candidates.  We will also be laying out our plans for the rest of the year.  Several members will be presenting on projects they have been working on with Citizen Action.

We encourage everyone to come out for this very special virtual meeting.  Please use the link below to RSVP.  Space is limited so RSVP today!  Details on how to join this Zoom meeting will be sent once you RSVP.

Volunteer for Citizen Action endorsed candidate Joni Anderson and help flip State Senate District 14

Progressives have a chance to flip Wisconsin’s State Senate district 14 this year!  Citizen Action of Wisconsin member and endorsed candidate Joni Anderson is running as the State Senate district 14 Senator.  District 14 is an open seat in a very gerrymandered, rural area but we can win if we start organizing RIGHT NOW.

Joni is the vice president of her union.  She is a strong advocate for universal healthcare.  She sees the urgent need to fight against the climate crisis.  She will be a powerful ally for Wisconsin progressives and Citizen Action of Wisconsin.  For more information about her campaign you can visit her campaign Facebook page here.

Joni has no primary opponent but she is building a strong volunteer network now so that they can spring into action after the August 11th primary.  She is looking for virtual volunteers to phone bank, send handwritten postcards and share her message across social media.  No matter where you are in the state (or country) you can help by joining her volunteer team.  For more information on how to get involved please contact Joni directly at [email protected].  Please contact Joni NOW so that after the primary she has a team ready to go to flip State Senate District 14!

Virtual Town Hall and Volunteer opportunities for Supreme Moore Omokunde on Tuesday August 4th!

Join Citizen Action’s North Side Rising on Tuesday, August 4th at 5pm for a virtual town hall with State Assembly candidate Supreme Moore Omokunde. Supreme is running for District 17th on Milwaukee’s Northside.

As a member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, Supreme has been addressing the issues that matter to us the most – climate change and economic opportunity for Milwaukee. As co-chair for the Milwaukee City/County Climate and Economic Equity Taskforce that is developing and implementing a Green New Deal in Milwaukee creating good green jobs for the city. Green jobs are currently the fastest growing job sector in the US today that Milwaukee could really benefit from.

Now, Supreme is running for State Assembly to continue the fight for an equitable green new deal.

Join the town hall to hear more about his campaign and how you can help him.

North Central Organizing Co-op Member Takes Part in National Living Room Conversation

NC Co-op member, community activist, and Wausau City Alder Tom Kilian was interviewed by CHEJ (Center for Health, Environment and Justice) as a part of their weekly living room leadership series. CHEJ is an affiliate of the Action Network and People’s Action. Tom started a grassroots fight in Wausau, in regard to decades of environmental contamination from industry in his neighborhood. He lives in a working-class neighborhood, and believes that it has not been a priority to remediate the years of pollution because of this fact. Tom’s activism led to the creation of the grassroots group Citizens for a Clean Wausau, and has spanned nearly a decade of researching and exposing the past that led to this contamination. You can see Tom’s full interview here.

And here’s an article from Wausau Pilot & Review about the interview.

Marathon County Board of Supervisors Passes a Fair Maps resolution!

After a second attempt (in 4 years) the Marathon County Board of Supervisors has passed a Fair Maps resolution, 19-17! Newly elected Supervisor Will Harris (Who was also endorsed by Citizen Action of Wisconsin) and Jean Maszk sponsored the resolution.  Those voting in favor were Supervisors Harris, Maszk, Beastrom, Buttke, Cihlar, Conway, Christensen, Fisher, Gonnering, Johnson, Krause, Lo, Leahy, Opall, Overbeck, Robinson, Rosenberg, Van Krey and Xiong. This was the result of a coalition of grassroots community members, who organized around this issue, contacted their Supervisors, and fielded calls to Supervisors from community members. At least half a dozen members of the NC Organizing Co-op played an active role in making this happen.

Here is the video of the meeting.

WSAW provided some coverage of this as well.

This follows Rusk County, which passed a measure to have a Fair Maps referendum question on their November ballot a couple of months back. Co-op members were also involved in that. There are more efforts happening in other parts of the NC region. Stay tuned for updates!

Citizen Action in the News

Citizen Action released a report on the impact of cutting the $600 federal supplemental unemployment insurance payment in Wisconsin. See details on our findings and full video of the press conference here, which included State Senator La Tonya Johnson. See and hear media coverage from ABC TV Madison; Up North News, and listen to an interview with Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig on WCLO Radio.

Citizen Action Health Care for All Director Claire Zautke did an interview on WORT Radio on prescription drug reform.

Citizen Action’s Robert Kraig discussed the prospects for progressive influence in the Biden Administration on the Jeff Santos Radio Show. The program, which originates from Boston, is replayed on the commercial progressive radio stations in the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. Citizen Action’s Battleground Wisconsin is also featured on these stations every week.

“Trump mails in the election” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss President Trump’s disturbing pronouncement that the 2020 election should be delayed because mail-in ballots will make it inaccurate and fraudulent. Trump’s statement comes on the heels of a cratering economy and complete absence of Republican leadership on extending desperately needed COVID relief. We celebrate the extension of the moratorium on utility shutoffs last week and thank the leadership of Citizen Action’s new North Side Rising organizing co-op. We welcome progressive State Assembly candidates Kristina Shelton and Josefine Jaynes to discuss their August 11th primary elections.

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #453
Download MP3

Donate to Kristina Shelton.
Volunteer for Kristina Shelton.
Donate to Josefine Jaynes.
Volunteer for Josefine Jaynes.

Press Clips

Facebook post of the week

 

 

“Trump mails in the election” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Trump mails in the election” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss President Trump’s disturbing pronouncement that the 2020 election should be delayed because mail-in ballots will make it inaccurate and fraudulent. Trump’s statement comes on the heels of a cratering economy and complete absence of Republican leadership on extending desperately needed COVID relief. We celebrate the extension of the moratorium on utility shutoffs last week and thank the leadership of Citizen Action’s new North Side Rising organizing co-op. We welcome progressive State Assembly candidates Kristina Shelton and Josefine Jaynes to discuss their August 11th primary elections.

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #453
Download MP3
Press Clips

Donate to Kristina Shelton.
Volunteer for Kristina Shelton.
Donate to Josefine Jaynes.
Volunteer for Josefine Jaynes.

Links:

Donald Trump calls for delay to 2020 US presidential election.
The GOP Stimulus Bill Guts Unemployment But Somehow Finds $7 Billion for Weapons.
Coronavirus relief talks hit impasse on Capitol Hill.
These Republicans Said Wisconsin Needed Another COVID Relief Bill. Now They’re Silent.
Editorial: Gov. Evers should stop hesitating and issue a life-saving mask mandate.
Number of Wisconsin Households Barely Getting by Swells to Nearly 550,000.
A pandemic. Marching in the streets. Economic hardship. Former governors ask where our government leaders are.
More than 25 federal agents coming to Milwaukee as part of ‘Operation Legend’.
Milwaukee’s Federal Deployment Will Not Be Like Portland, Swears U.S. Attorney.
State Regulators Extend Moratorium On Utility Shutoffs For Residential Customers.

 

Bill Kaplan: State congressional Republicans fail Wisconsin

Bill Kaplan: State congressional Republicans fail Wisconsin

Back in May the Democratic-led House anticipated that the toll from COVID-19 and its economic consequences would continue to be devastating. The House passed relief and recovery legislation, largely along party lines. The $3 trillion bill would help

state, local and tribal governments facing huge holes in their budgets; fund more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing; hazard pay for first responders and essential workers; extension of unemployment benefits; aid to education and help with housing problems. Wisconsin Democratic Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan voted yes. However, Wisconsin GOP Representatives Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Jim Sensenbrenner and Bryan Steil shamefully voted no (Tom Tiffany was not yet sworn in).

The legislation would help Wisconsin avoid draconian budget and service cuts. The Wisconsin Budget Project said the bill would: “Allocate $8.5 billion to the state and $7.5 billion to local governments … provide an additional $1.9 billion in Medicaid dollars … (and) $1.4 billion for education … .” But the irresponsible GOP-led Senate refused to consider the House bill. In the middle of a pandemic Republicans played the fiddle while everything burned down. Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, unlike Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin, had excuses when urgent action was needed. Finally, last week Senate Republicans bestirred themselves, but failed to pass anything. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “Hopefully, we can come together behind some package we can agree on in the next few weeks.”

But the need is right now! For example, the emergency $600 per week in extra unemployment benefits expired last Saturday in Wisconsin. Moreover, thousands of unemployed Wisconsinites face eviction. And, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers “seeks another $250M in state budget cuts to offset pandemic revenue losses” (MJS). But University of Wisconsin System interim President Tommy Thompson pleaded no more cuts to the UW System. (Hint for Thompson – ask Wisconsin GOP legislators to approve federally funded Medicaid expansion. State savings from it could help the UW System). The state faces higher unemployment, on top of an epic farm crisis with over 2,000 dairy farms out of business! What’s wrong with Wisconsin
congressional Republicans?