Bill Kaplan: Trump downplays coronavirus in Midwest

Photo by: Gage Skidmore

Trump said: “Those (California and New York) are really two hotbeds. …(Y)ou go out to the Midwest … and they’re watching it on television but they don’t have the same problems.” Facts: there are many thousands of coronavirus cases and a rising death toll in the Midwest. Wisconsin cases doubled in a week to over 1,000.

That is why the CDC sent a team to Wisconsin. The CDC said: “(W)hat we’re seeing in New York City … right now is a real warning to other areas about what may happen or what may already be starting to happen … .” And, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) chief medical officer Ryan Westergaard said: “I would characterize the risk in all Wisconsin counties as high.”

With the national toll above 125,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 2,500 dead, Trump wants the economy “opened up” by Easter: “You’ll have packed churches… .” However, Trump is not relying on data and science. He said: “I just thought it was a beautiful time (Easter) to loosen limits.” Ohio GOP Governor Mike DeWine strongly disagrees: “Protecting people and protecting the economy are not mutually exclusive. The fact is, we can save our economy by first saving lives. And we have to do it in that order.”

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers told the Washington Post: “We had the president one time saying it’s a hoax, then a few weeks later, it’s really, really bad, then let’s shoot for Easter. There is a disconnect, … it’s confusing to people… . My health care officials and scientists are telling me it’s still a big deal. They’ll make the decisions based on science.”

Evers is not alone. Over 25 Democratic and GOP governors across the U.S. have issued statewide orders to stay at home. Six Midwest states agree with Evers’ “Safer at Home” policy. Wisconsin GOP legislative leaders had second thoughts about challenging Evers, perhaps after noticing GOP governors in Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Vermont and West Virginia on the same page as Evers.

Wisconsin DHS Secretary (nominee) Andrea Palm said: “It is certainly safe to assume that there are more … positive numbers of cases considering the prioritizing we are doing to assure that our frontline health care workers and those in hospitals and long-term care are getting tests.” She thinks Wisconsin could have 1,000 deaths and over 20,000 coronavirus cases shortly if Wisconsinites don’t stay at home. Palm has not been confirmed by the GOP-led Senate, but has risen to the crisis.

Meanwhile, all Wisconsin congressional members supported the $2 trillion coronavirus spending bill, which includes checks to more than 150 million Americans, loans to small and big businesses, and help for hospitals and modest spending for dairy and other farmers. It’s a start.

The additional health care funding is needed for Wisconsin – but may fall short. One prominent Wisconsin doctor said a coronavirus “tsunami” is coming. Hospitals will become overwhelmed. Circumstances have changed. It’s time to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid. It’s urgent.

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

Local Governments Have Power to Lower Dangerously High Prescription Drug Cost

Local Governments Have Power to Lower Dangerously High Prescription Drug Cost

And Trump Administration and GOP just rigged the coronavirus relief so Big Phrama can price gouge on the future COVID-19 vaccine

By Robert Kraig, Executive Director

Outrageously high prescription drug prices, forced on the public by pharmaceutical corporations who have been granted monopolies over life saving medications, are at the very top of voter concerns in 2020. Ultimately, the federal government (which performs most of the nation’s drug research then grants unnecessary monopolies to predatory corporations) has the most power to fix this problem. State governments can provide some relief as well. But few realize that local governments have an opportunity to provide lower cost prescription drugs to their residents, although none have yet taken advantage of it.

More on this innovative local angle in a moment, but first a little on the magnitude of the problem.

The poster child drug for Big Pharma’s reign of medical terror is insulin, which makes it possible for diabetics to live healthy and productive lives. National data shows one in four people with diabetes skip or ration insulin because of cost. This practice comes as little surprise when the price of some varieties of insulin have increased by more than 17.5% per year from 2012 to 2017. Already in 2020, drug corporations have hiked the price of prescription medicines by over twice the current rate of inflation.

Meanwhile pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly–the nation’s largest insulin producer–continue to reap billions of dollars in revenue. In just 2018 alone, Eli Lilly brought in $9 billion in revenue from their diabetes medications. Rather than take action to stop this assault on patients, President Trump has rewarded bad behavior by giving big Pharma billions in tax breaks.  Eli Lilly paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018 thanks to Trump’s 2017 tax law.

When high prices force patients to ration their medicine, the consequences are clear: their conditions worsen, and some even pay with their lives. Here in Wisconsin, according to a statewide survey by the Healthcare Value Hub and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 18% of respondents had not filled a prescription in the last year because of excessive prices.

Instead of holding the drug corporations accountable, President Trump keeps promising to lower drug prices while proposing tweaks and half-measures that protect the drug corporations’ power to set and keep prices high. And now, according to The Intercept, Trump is using his power to make sure Big Pharma will have a monopoly on the Covid-19 vaccine once it is developed with our public research dollars, yet another massive corporate giveaway. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) fought to put price controls in coronavirus relief legislation, but it was stripped by Trump’s team and GOP legislators, meaning Big Pharma will be able to charge whatever they want. This is not a surprise, as Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is a former Pharma lobbyist, as are two members of his Coronavirus Taskforce.

This means that when a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, the U.S. will likely be the only country without any price limits on the life saving medication. The Intercept also reports in a separate article that Wall Street lobbyists are actively pushing Pharma executives and other health care industry leaders to jack up their prices to wring more profits out of the unprecedented national health crisis we are now facing. This gives the attentive public a rare glimpse into the role Wall Street plays in pushing Pharma and other big corporations to extract windfall profits out of the American people in every sector of the U.S. economy. For them, no level of profit is enough, they always demand more, no matter what the consequences to average people.

This brings me back to what local governments can do. I want to be clear that the problem of runaway prescription drug prices is caused by the federal government, and the ultimate solution must be found there by electing a new crop of leaders that will shift the balance of power away from profit-hungry corporations and towards the people. But there is an interesting policy tool local governments can use to get the lower prescription drug prices negotiated by other advanced industrial countries. These prices are also too high, but they can be up to 80% lower than the prices in the U.S., where Axios reports that Big Pharma makes 63% of its profits.

According to Kaiser Health News and NPR, over 500 U.S. cities and counties are already making it possible for their employees to buy brand name FDA approved drugs from Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. These drugs often come in the same packages as the Big Pharma drugs sold in the U.S. The employee ordering the medications has to have a valid prescription from a local doctor, so it works just like it would with a local pharmacy. Although the federal government, at the behest of Big Pharma lobbyists, bans these governments or other large scale buyers from purchasing directly from overseas, this course of action is legal because the local governments work through middlemen located in Canada, with whom employees deal directly. The cities and counties are merely enabling a transaction that is legal in the U.S., the importation of small amounts of prescription drugs for personal use. The savings are substantial, as the drugs cost as much as 80% less than in the United States! The Trump Administration has tried to deter the practices, but more and more local governments are signing up, many of them in red states.

Now you may be asking, it’s great that local governments are saving money for public employees, but what does that do for other residents? Well here at Citizen Action of Wisconsin we wondered why a city or county could not enable the same benefit for all of their residents. We called the largest middleman firm that provides these services, and a representative told us that it could work, but no local government has asked the question!

Already one of the two finalists for Milwaukee County Executive, Chris Larson, is campaigning on making it possible for both county employees and local residents to import prescription drugs from Canada, Great Britain, and Australia. (Note, Citizen Action of Wisconsin has endorsed Larson in this race).

As I said the ultimate solution to Pharma price gouging is at the national level, and requires fundamental structural reform of the system, but in the meantime smart and innovative local officials can at least take advantage of the negotiations other advanced industrial economies do with Big Pharma to lower prescription drug prices. This could mean great relief in the short term for diabetics and others with chronic conditions, and for all of us when the COVID-19 vaccine finally becomes available next year.

Bill Kaplan: Coronavirus, candor and competence

Click image to LISTEN to Battleground WI Podcast discussion of the coronavirus.

Amid the world-wide spread of the coronavirus and steep plunge of the U.S. stock market and global indices, Trump announced his plan to respond to the deadly virus. Trump struck a self-congratulatory tone: “We’ve had tremendous success … beyond what many people would’ve thought”. Trump falsely emphasized that the threat to Americans is “very low”. He also stated, with no evidence, that the virus would magically vanish in April and that a vaccine is imminent. Trump put Pence, with no background in public health, in charge. Pence is best known for delaying containment of an Indiana drug use-related HIV outbreak by initially refusing to authorize a needle exchange program.

No one was reassured. The U.S. stock market continued to plunge — the worst week since the 2008 Great Recession. Meanwhile, U.S. coronavirus cases not linked to travel abroad, are emerging, with one fatality. “At a moment that demands sobriety and honesty, Trump is a leader prone to hyperbole and falsehoods. As the financial markets crave order and clarity,Trump has a penchant for creating chaos and confusion. And, at a time when expertise is paramount, Trump has hollowed out (relevant) government agencies… ” (Washington Post).

Before the coronavirus, Trump dismantled public health protections. In 2018, the pandemic response teams at the White House National Security Council and Department of Homeland Security were dismissed. And, for years Trump has tried to cut “global disease-fighting budgets” (Foreign Policy). Moreover, Trump’s recent budget would sharply reduce funding for the CDC by 16 percent, the National Institutes of Health by $3 billion and eviscerate global health programs. Meanwhile, local and state public health agencies, including in Wisconsin, are underfunded and inadequately staffed. But with markets falling and the coronavirus spreading, Trump and his cronies look for scapegoats. Trump denounced criticism, saying it was a “new hoax”. Rush Limbaugh downplayed coronavirus, calling it the “common cold”. And, Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton falsely claimed it might be a Chinese bioweapon.

However, some Republicans in Congress are warning Trump to take coronavirus seriously (Senators Shelby (AL), Kennedy (LA), and Romney (UT). On February 12, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, to his credit, chaired a hearing by the Senate Homeland Security Committee on coronavirus. Johnson asked the expert health witnesses “what more the federal government could be doing to combat the outbreak of global infectious diseases … .” However, Johnson acquiesced in allowing Trump administration officials to testify behind closed doors. What were they hiding? Why didn’t Johnson hold their feet to the fire? That’s Johnson’s job.

Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin has been forthright: “The emergency request (by Trump for funding) does not seek the sorts of resources that we need to prepare and fight this (coronavirus) pandemic”. She pointed out the cuts to CDC and firing of global health experts by Trump. Enough is enough. With one coronavirus case in Wisconsin and inadequately funded public health, Wisconsin needs more federal funds. It’s going to get worse. Wisconsin shouldn’t pay the price for Trump’s lack of candor and competence.

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

Bill Kaplan: Romney, civic duty and patriotism

Bill Kaplan: Romney, civic duty and patriotism

2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney surprised the Senate and nation by voting to convict Trump on the impeachment charge of abuse of power. The conservative Utah senator gave America a lesson in civic duty and patriotism. Romney became the only senator historically to vote to convict and remove a president of his own party. He exposed the lies and obfuscation of the White House.

Romney said: “The president asked a foreign government (Ukraine) to investigate his political rival (Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden). The president withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so. The president delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The president’s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the president is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust. What he did was not ‘perfect’ – no, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values. Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.”

Distinguished presidential historian Jon Meacham lauded Romney: “What he did was in the tradition of Dwight Eisenhower, his own father (Michigan GOP Governor George Romney), and George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford.” I was reminded of the 7 House Judiciary Committee Republicans, including Wisconsin Representative Harold Froehlich, who voted to impeach Nixon. In words echoed by Romney, Froehlich later said: “You have to put politics aside and vote your conscience for the good of the country.”

All Democratic senators, including endangered Alabama Senator Doug Jones and Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, voted to convict and remove Trump. Baldwin said: “My vote on the president’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress is a vote to uphold my oath of office, and to support and defend the Constitution. My vote is a vote to uphold the rule of law and our uniquely American principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law.” Throughout Baldwin sought facts through witnesses. The GOP-led Senate, including Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, voted to reject subpoenaing witnesses (Romney and Maine GOP Senator Susan Collins supported having witnesses).

From the beginning, Johnson was disinterested in hearing the facts. Johnson said: “I haven’t had time to watch every minute of House hearings. I certainly haven’t read all the detailed depositions” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Instead, Johnson was an unabashed Trump defender no matter the facts or law. He promoted the discredited theory, pushed by Putin, that Ukraine interfered in our 2016 presidential election. Thomas Bossert, Trump’s first homeland security adviser, said: “It is completely debunked”. Finally, Johnson defended his votes to acquit Trump saying “political differences” should not be settled “through impeachment”. Seemingly, Johnson hoped voters forgot his “ruminations about impeaching Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election …” (Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin).

Romney stands apart from Johnson and other Senate Republicans, giving America a lesson in civic duty and patriotism, no matter the cost to himself.

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

“Historic Political Week” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Historic Political Week” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss this historic week that included the anticlimactic conclusion of the Trump impeachment trial, the State of the Union reality TV show, and the epic data problem at the Iowa Caucus. We also review Trump’s new plan to gut Medicaid through a block grant program and Vos’ possible softening on a GOP redistricting fight in 2021. We welcome state representative Jonathan Brostoff to discuss his legislation to phase out state funding of private voucher schools to fund a guaranteed 18:1 class sizes in all public schools.

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #428
Download MP3
Press Clips

Links:
Trump’s scary, nihilistic State of the Union.
Wisconsin Democrat Baldwin says Senate acquittal is putting Trump ‘above the law’.
Trump acquitted, despite one GOP defector.
What went wrong in Iowa?
Wisconsin’s Democratic governor calls Iowa caucuses a form of voter suppression.
Eau Claire lawmaker proposes phasing out voucher system.
Dueling voucher views: Pence to attend rally as lawmaker demands end to Wisconsin programs.

“Organizing the Bucks” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“Organizing the Bucks” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss the historic tentative agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks 1000 workers that will set new wage standards for the for the sector with Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers (MASH) president Peter Rickman. We announce Citizen Action’s endorsement of Ed Fallone and Jill Karofsky for state Supreme Court and Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive. The panel previews the Iowa Caucus and makets its predictions. We also discuss a new executive order from Gov. Evers establishing a public redistricting commission that will ban elected officials and lobbyists from participation. Finally we talk about Evers’ decision to delay implementing Scott Walker’s Medicaid work requirements, and his signing an executive order creating a student debt task force.

Links:

Citizen Action endorses Ed Fallone & Jill Karofsky for Supreme Court.
Citizen Action endorses Chris Larson for Milwaukee County Executive.
Bucks agree to $15 minimum wage at Fiserv Forum; new labor group hails victory.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signs order creating nonpartisan redistricting board.
Lobbyists and lawmakers barred from sitting on Gov. Evers’ redistricting commission.
Wisconsin seeks to delay Medicaid work requirement again.
Gov. Tony Evers signs order creating student debt task force
Congress is talking about paid family leave. Will they do anything?
Union organizers aim to thread Act 10 needle.

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, January 24th

Citizen Action Weekly: Friday, January 24th

Friday, January 24th

Trump promises kept on Rx reform? More like promises broken

The president has ignored the soaring cost of prescription drugs, while Gov. Evers is pushing the Wisconsin legislature to tackle Big Pharma’s price gouging.

By: Robert Kraig

This piece first ran in the Wisconsin Examiner

Photo by: Circe Denyer

As the Democratic candidates for president sparred in Iowa this week, it was inspiring to hear some bold ideas on a topic where solutions are long overdue: the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs. While progressives may differ in the specifics, they all clearly recognize that  that voters want real answers and real action on a matter that can, for some, be one of life or death.

National data show one in four people with diabetes skip or ration insulin because of cost. This practice comes as little surprise when the price of some varieties insulin has increased by more than 17.5% per year from 2012 to 2017. Less than one month into 2020, drug corporations have already hiked the price of prescription medicines by an average of 5% — over twice the current rate of inflation. When high prices force patients to ration their medicine, the consequences are clear: Their conditions worsen, and some even pay with their lives.

Meanwhile pharmaceutical companies like Eli Lilly — the nation’s largest insulin producer — continue to reap billions of dollars in revenue. In 2018 alone, Eli Lilly brought in $9 billion in revenue from their diabetes medications.

Rather than taking action to stop this assault on patients, Pres.Donald Trump has rewarded bad behavior by giving Big Pharma billions in tax breaks.  Eli Lilly paid $0 in federal taxes in 2018 thanks to Trump and the Republicans’ 2017 tax law.

Ever since he began on the campaign trail, Trump has vowed to go after pharmaceutical companies and lower drug costs. But at every turn, he’s given in to Big Pharma, allowing them to continue hiking prices unchecked. The result is a mish-mash of tweaks and half-measures that protect the drug corporations’ power to set and keep prices high.

Consider Trump’s latest proposal to import cheaper medicines from Canada, which has been roundly criticized on both sides of the border — including by former administration officials themselves. Chris Meekins, who worked in the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump and now monitors drug prices in the private sector, pulled no punches in his assessment of whether the plan will provide meaningful relief from high costs: “If you put Canadian drugs on a dogsled and pointed it in the direction of Florida, the dogs would arrive long before any drugs through this regulatory proposal.”

This proposal, like his others, will do nothing to fix the fundamentally flawed system that enables drug corporations to maximize profits at will by granting them monopoly power to raise prices.

Badger state residents fighting cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure and other serious conditions can expect spikes up to 7% on the drugs they need to survive.

As anyone on a budget knows, when out-of-pocket and co-pays go up, something has to give. Paying for life-saving treatments or incurring medical debt and forgoing such basics as food and rent is not much of a choice.

Rx Wisconsin

Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers has made lowering drug prices a state priority, and he appointed a commission to study the topic earlier this fall. Citizen Action worked with Evers during his campaign on a plan that would go a long way toward addressing the major problems in our prescription drug system.

During Wednesday evening’s State of the State address, Evers took an important first step in prescription drug reform, asking the Legislature to enact a cap on insulin prices before the end of the current session.

But even the best action at the state level cannot do the work of comprehensive, national reform — not when Big Pharma can keep on racking up the profits without any check on their power. Not when patients still find hundreds of widely-used medicines further and further out of their reach. And not when taxpayers continue to fund research and development, while pharmaceutical corporations keep using those investments to pad their bottom line at our expense.

If President Trump were serious about keeping his promises on lowering drug costs, he would take action on HR 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Prices Now Act, which passed the House of Representatives in December. Instead, after initially supporting negotiations, Trump has now refused to support the policy, joining Republican leaders in the Senate to stall any progress.

As progressives, we must do better. We must demand candidates answer the question of how they will lower the cost of prescription medications so many people depend on. And we must hold our elected leaders accountable to the promise of meaningful, comprehensive reform. Because everyone in America deserves access to affordable prescription drugs, no matter where they live, what they look like or what’s in their wallets.

Governor Evers Mentions North Central WI Co-op Member Hans Breitenmoser in His State of the State Address

Photo: Katie Rosenberg

Lincoln County Board Supervisor, Dairy Farmer, and Co-op member Hans Breitenmoser got a huge shout out from Gov. Tony Evers during his State of the State Address on Wednesday night. Hans was recognized by the governor for his grassroots efforts to end partisan gerrymandering and get non partisan redistricting legislation passed in Wisconsin.

Hans became a Co-op member of the NC Organizing Co-op in 2017.

Han’s helped develop and introduce a resolution at the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors to support nonpartisan redistricting. Hans worked tirelessly, not only to get a resolution passed at the Board, but he eventually organized to get a referendum on the ballot enabling Lincoln County voters to  weigh in on the Fair Maps issue. Nearly 70% voted yes for the referendum

Hans also worked with the Fair Maps Coalition, as well as members of the NC, NE and Western WI Organizing Co-ops, to develop a streamlined process for other counties to pass resolutions all over the State! You can see the toolkit that he helped to create here.

We are so grateful to call Hans a Co-op member, and stand in awe of all of the great work that he and his family do. Thank you for your leadership Hans, and thank you for your support of the NC Organizing Co-op!

Driftless Region co-op members celebrate the anniversary of Roe v Wade by volunteering for Planned Parenthood

The Supreme Court gave women control over their own bodies and guaranteed the right to choose with its ruling on Roe v Wade on January 22 1973.  Several Citizen Action of Wisconsin celebrated the anniversary by volunteering with Planned Parenthood in La Crosse.  Members Lewis Kuhlman, Amy Dummer, Chris Haskell, and Wyatt Molling were on hand with Citizen Action of Wisconsin organizer Ben Wilson and Planned Parenthood Organizer Marie Lindberg for a day of action at Pearl Street Book to mark the anniversary.  Members helped gather signatures and pledge cards, recruit future volunteers and promote safer sex. Over 100 signatures were collected and 7 new volunteers signed up to help with future events.

Throughout America women’s body anonymity and access to family planning is under attack.  States from coast to coast have tried to pass laws limiting a woman’s right to choose. Planned Parenthood is committed to standing up for women everywhere to be able to have control over their own futures.  Planned Parenthood needs your help. To get plugged into local Planned Parenthood events in the area please contact Marie Lindberg at marie.lindberg@ppwi.org or check out Planned Parenthood’s local event calendar right here.

Healthcare Co-op travels to Madison to demand progress in 2020

Representatives Chris Taylor and Christine Sinicki took part in a press conference with Citizen Action members Dr. Laurel Mark and Amy Washburn to call out all the progress in healthcare that passed us by in 2019.  BadgerCare Expansion, RX Drug Reform, state level ACA protections are all within reach at the state level. These reforms would have the ability to transform people’s lives almost immediately, yet the Wisconsin State Republican’s continue to ignore the needs of the people. The co-op also brought a “storybook” of healthcare stories which feature individuals and their struggles with the current healthcare system. These are real people behind the statistics.  We need to keep demanding that 2020 be a year of progress and to put partisan bickering aside for the health of Wisconsin.

Canvass for Milwaukee Public Schools Referendum, Saturday, January 25th

NEW Bay View Community Center location

Vote Yes for MPS coalition, which includes Citizen Action of Wisconsin, is canvassing in support of the April 7th referendum this Saturday, Jan 25th, 10am – 1pm & Noon – 3pm. Canvassers can meet at the MTEA office, 5130 W. Vliet. or the Bay View Community Center, 1320 East Oklahoma Ave

Attend 7th District Congressional Candidate Forum Wednesday, January 29th in Wasuau 

Participate in our endorsement process

This Wednesday, January 29th, at 6 pm sharp, Citizen Action is hosting a forum featuring the Democratic candidates for the 7th Congressional District. Tricia Zunker will appear at 6pm and Lawrence Dale will be at 7pm. The event will be at the Wausau Labor Temple.

Co-op members and/or allies will be asking a series of 3-5 questions of each candidate, and then each candidate will have time to give their closing statement. Questions will be based off of the Citizen Action of Wisconsin Progressive Platform, created by Co-op members and Board Members all across the State.

You can begin arriving at 5:30. If you require handicapped parking, it is behind the Labor Temple, on 4th Avenue. We will be asking all attendees to complete a survey as to whether or not we should endorse in this race, and if so, who they would like to see us endorse. Come help us make a decision!

We will be located at the Wausau Labor Temple, at 318 S. 3rd Avenue, in the Upper Level. We will start at 6 pm sharp, and try our best to end at 8 pm sharp. Hope to see you there! You can either RSVP here on Facebook, email Organizer Joel Lewis at joel.lewis@citizenactionwi.org, or call him at 715-551-2525

Citizen Grassroots Lobbying training in La Crosse Feb 8th

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is committed to making sure that your voice is heard in local, state and national politics. Please join Citizen Action of Wisconsin for an important training session on how to meet with elected leaders and make your voice heard on issues that matter to you! You can make a huge difference in what bills get passed just by meeting with local lawmakers. Join us for a day of training so that you can help pressure elected leaders to vote in support of expanding healthcare and fighting climate change.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin deputy director Matt Brusky and Movement Politics director JoAnna Bautch will be leading the training workshop. Co-op members will be on hand to present about important bills working their way through the state senate and county boards. These bills will have a huge impact on healthcare and climate change in Wisconsin and we want to make sure you have the tools and training to make a difference!

This training will take place on February 8th at 11:00 AM at the Southside Public Library in La Crosse (1307 16th st s La Crosse WI).   Please RSVP for this event here.

“Coffee with your co-op” in  La Crosse with State Senate candidate Joni Anderson

Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless Co-op will be hosting monthly, informal coffee get-togethers throughout the year, called “Coffee with your Co-op.” These events will be a great chance to get to know fellow activists, talk about issues that matter, talk strategy for the year and grab coffee with amazing, passionate activists!

We will be hosting events in both La Crosse and Viroqua.  Members are invited to both meetings. Please feel free to invite any family or friends that are interested in creating a better Wisconsin!

Special guest State Senate candidate Joni Anderson will be joining us in La Crosse on Feb 22nd. Joni is running for Senate District 14 and she is excited to get to know Citizen Action members from the La Crosse area.  She will be visiting us for a Viroqua meeting in the near future as well

RSVP and join us (and State Senate Candidate Joni Anderson) February 22nd, 12:00 PM JavaVino 2311 State Rd La Crosse WI

Volunteer to help Sanders and Warren campaigns

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is a member of two national networks that have endorsed candidates for President. People’s Action, announced it’s endorsement of Bernie Sanders in December and the Working Families Party endorsed Elizabeth Warner in the Fall of 2019.

As part of the People’s Action process, Citizen Action surveyed its members and nearly 80% of members supported Warren or Sanders. Citizen Action’s Board has decided to not endorse at this time. However, we are supporting our members’ high levels of support for both candidates by encouraging members to get involved in either campaign.

Volunteer with the Sanders’ Campaign. The campaign has numerous events throughout Wisconsin!

Barnstorming for Elizabeth Warren in Milwaukee, Monday, January 27th, 6pm 

This barnstorm meeting will be a large-scale voter engagement training, as well as an opportunity for Warren supporters across the state of Wisconsin to connect and begin to organize in unison across the state.

We’ll dig into our biggest volunteer opportunity right now — sending carpools to IOWA to knock doors before the caucus on February 3rd!

We will explain our organizing structure, train attendees on how to knock doors, and we will start planning upcoming events and actions in our own communities.

RSVP and invite your friends!   

“State of ‘Sconne” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

We discuss Governor Evers’ State of the State speech. Claire and Robert tell us about the Families USA healthcare conference they are attending this week and we dive into a deeper discussion of Trump’s failure to deliver on lowering prescription drug prices. We talk about the 2 new open state Senate seats following the announced retirements of Democratic Senators, Dave Hansen and Mark Miller. We close with a discussion of the disappointing Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ rejection of the proposal to retire Native mascots in Wisconsin schools.

Listen Now – Episode #426
Download MP3
Press Clips

Facebook post of the week

“State of ‘Sconnie” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“State of ‘Sconnie” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

“State of ‘Sconne” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast
We discuss Governor Evers’ State of the State speech. Claire and Robert tell us about the Families USA healthcare conference they are attending this week and we dive into a deeper discussion of Trump’s failure to deliver on lowering prescription drug prices. We talk about the 2 new open state Senate seats following the announced retirements of Democratic Senators, Dave Hansen and Mark Miller. We close with a discussion of the disappointing Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ rejection of the proposal to retire Native mascots in Wisconsin schools.
Listen Now – Episode #426
Download MP3
Press Clips

Links:
Bipartisan bickering and blame begins before the State of the State.
In State of the State speech, Gov. Tony Evers looks to aid farmers, push for nonpartisan redistricting.
Trump promises kept on Rx reform? More like promises broken.
Wisconsin School Board Members Reject Proposal To Ban Native American Mascots.
Wisconsin voter purge ruling appealed to state Supreme Court.
State Rep. Melissa Sargent announces candidacy for Wisconsin State Senate.
Madison-area Democratic Sen. Mark Miller announces he won’t seek re-election.

Citizen Action Weekly: Vote in Supreme Court Survey

Citizen Action Weekly: Vote in Supreme Court Survey

Friday, January 17th

Citizen Action Member Survey on State Supreme Court Election

Citizen Action is surveying our membership on their preferences in the State Supreme Court Election. This information will be used by Citizen Action’s Board to gauge member attitudes in the election and help determine if the organization should endorse in the election.

Please take the survey today!

Northwestern Wisconsin Co-op holds CD 7 forum in Rice Lake

Wednesday, January 15th, the Northwestern Wisconsin Co-op held their 7th Congressional District forum in Rice Lake. Both Democratic candidates in the special election were present. Lawrence Dale and Tricia Zunker were each allotted 45 minutes to talk about what they would do if they were elected to Congress as well as answered questions submitted by Citizen Action members.

There were approximately 50 people in attendance and a lot of enthusiasm for both candidates.

Not able to make it? Citizen Action co-op member, Steve Hanson, streamed the event and can be watched here. Also, thank you to the Barron County Democrats and Gerry Lisi for helping set up and prepare the event with us!

Citizen Action will also host a second 7th CD candidate forum in Wausau on Monday, January 27th, 6-8pm. All members are welcome to attend.

The healthcare co-op team shows up to confront Trump on Prescription Drug Reform

Tuesday, January 14th President Trump visited Milwaukee and complained about energy efficient dishwashers and toilets. Meanwhile, four years into his Presidency we still do not have any meaningful reform around prescription drug prices.

Members of the Citizen Action co-op provided support and a backdrop to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and the Democratic Party at a media event to highlight Trump’s sabotage of healthcare. Citizen Action signs in the background helped to reinforce the idea that there are real policy and performance reasons why another four years of President Trump would be bad and it’s not about us just arbitrarily disliking the President.  Lower drug prices now!

“Dark Money” movie showing in Viroqua.

The Citizen Action of Wisconsin Driftless region co-op was proud to co-sponsor a showing of the documentary  “Dark Money” in Viroqua on January 15th. This eye opening documentary explored how the 2011 Supreme Court ruling “Citizen United” is eroding Democracy in Montana, Wisconsin and across the country.

An amazing crowd of 44 Citizen Action members and community activists joined us for this viewing. The group “Wisconsin United to Amend” was also on hand to give viewers hope and a game plan on how we can save our country. Citizen Action of Wisconsin members Pam Knudtson, Kent Galloway and Karen Dalh were on hand (along with former Republican State Senator Dale Schultz) to speak about the importance of returning political power in America to the people and away from corporations. Ending the influence of dark money is a major bipartisan concern that all Americans should care about.

Hopefully in the future we can bring this documentary to more communities through the Driftless region!

Climate Change and Economic Equity in Milwaukee

Economic Equity work group for the Milwaukee City-County climate planning process met at the Citizen Action office this Thursday evening. It is chaired by Citizen Action staff member Rafael Smith and is part of a planning process to meet the UN climate targets in a way that dramatically improves racial equity in the region.

Citizen Action is organizing to elevate this issue in the upcoming Spring elections in the Milwaukee area. We need all local elected officials to support this critical planning process and its eventual recommendations.

For more information about the campaign contact: rafael.smith@citizenactionwi.org

Citizen Grassroots Lobbying training in La Crosse Feb 8th

Citizen Action of Wisconsin is committed to making sure that your voice is heard in local, state and national politics. Please join Citizen Action of Wisconsin for an important training session on how to meet with elected leaders and make your voice heard on issues that matter to you! You can make a huge difference in what bills get passed just by meeting with local lawmakers. Join us for a day of training so that you can help pressure elected leaders to vote in support of expanding healthcare and fighting climate change.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin deputy director Matt Brusky and Movement Politics director JoAnna Bautch will be leading the training workshop. Co-op members will be on hand to present about important bills working their way through the state senate and county boards. These bills will have a huge impact on healthcare and climate change in Wisconsin and we want to make sure you have the tools and training to make a difference!

This training will take place on February 8th at 11:00 AM at the Southside Public Library in La Crosse (1307 16th st s La Crosse WI).   Please RSVP for this event here.

SIGN Pledge to Vote YES for Milwaukee Public Schools on Tuesday April 7th!

Pledge to vote YES for MPS on Tuesday, April 7th because a referendum will provide the resources and support our students need to set them up for future success.

Our students deserve the same opportunities as kids in neighboring communities. An investment of $4 per week from the average homeowner will raise $87 million for our kids. By voting yes, we’ll be helping move us closer to providing all Milwaukee children with a quality, equitable education regardless of where they live.

Sign pledge NOW!

Canvass for Milwaukee Public Schools Referendum, Jan 18th, 10am – 1pm & Noon – 3pm from the MTEA office, 5130 W. Vliet.

Join educators, students, parents, and community supporters as we talk to Milwaukee voters about Voting Yes for MPS on April 7th.

Vote Yes for MPS will continue to canvass from the MTEA office every Saturday until we win on April 7th!

Coffee with your co-op meetings in the Driftless region, Saturday January 18th, Noon in Viroqua 

Citizen Action of Wisconsin will be hosting monthly, informal coffee get-togethers throughout the year. These “Coffee with your Co-op” events will be a great chance to get to know fellow activists, talk about issues that matter, talk strategy for the year and grab coffee with amazing, passionate activists!

We will be hosting events in both La Crosse and Viroqua.  Members are invited to both meetings. Please feel free to invite any family or friends that are interested in creating a better Wisconsin!

Special guest State Senate candidate Joni Anderson will be joining us in La Crosse on Feb 22nd. Joni is running for Senate District 14 and she is excited to get to know Citizen Action members from the La Crosse area.  She will be visiting us for a Viroqua meeting in the near future as well

RSVP and join us Saturday January 18th 12:00 PM, Viroqua Food Co-op 609 N Main St., Viroqua WI
RSVP and join us (and State Senate Candidate Joni Anderson) February 22nd 12:00 PM JavaVino 2311 State Rd La Crosse WI

Medicare for All Event in Madison

Several of our healthcare co-op members are leading and participating in a Medicare for All forum in Madison. This will be a very enlightening event as Physicians for a National Healthcare Program will be participating and speaking from a physicians point of view.

Tuesday, January 21st
Madison Public Library
201 W Mifflin St.
6-7 PM

“2020 Election Heats Up the Winter” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast

Following a discussion of the latest impeachment news, we discuss Trump’s visit to Milwaukee and his continued strength with white evangelicals, the Warren/Sanders dispute, and the latest developments in the vote purging scandal in Wisconsin. The panel closes with a discussion of the Assembly’s failure to override a Governor Evers veto of legislation to de-skill nursing home care. What does it mean and where do we go from here?

LISTEN NOW – EPISODE #425
Download MP3
Media Clips

Facebook post of the week

Bill Kaplan: Bipartisan Medicaid expansion in Kansas

Bill Kaplan: Bipartisan Medicaid expansion in Kansas

Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly has reached agreement with state Senate GOP leader Jim Denning to expand Medicaid. Kelly said: “Compromise is hard. It’s messy and it’s slow, but it is so worth it.” Similarly, Denning said: “In the spirit of compromise, we have a really good, complete plan.” Importantly, they have the votes to pass it in the GOP-led legislature. Denning emphasized: “It’s a lot easier to get to no than it is to get to yes, but this is what governing looks like.” A roadmap for Wisconsin.

The Walker steamroller era is over in Wisconsin. Now Wisconsin has shared government, Democratic Governor Tony Evers and a GOP-led legislature. For too long Wisconsin has been divided and polarized. The legacy has been fear and mistrust. It’s long past time for Democratic and Republican leaders alike to turn the page. The campaigns are over. Governing must be the priority. Kansas has shown the way forward.

Kansas will be the 37th state to expand Medicaid, with 90 percent federal funding. And, momentum for Medicaid expansion is building across the nation. GOP-led Missouri and Oklahoma will likely hold referendums in 2020. Missouri hospitals, doctors and business leaders are pushing for passage. And, former Oklahoma GOP House Speaker Kris Steele now supports Medicaid expansion. Why? Former Arizona GOP Governor Jan Brewer has the best answer: “You have to do the math. …It’s not only a mathematical issue (90 percent federal funding), but it’s a moral issue.”

The Kansas Medicaid compromise includes: full Medicaid expansion to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL); reinsurance (lowers the cost of private insurance by using a mix of state and federal funds to help health insurers pay big claims, thereby lowering insurance rates); hospitals will pay for the 10 percent state cost of expansion; work referral program to help Medicaid enrollees get job skills and employment; out-of-pocket costs for Medicaid enrollees and “rural health care innovations: (the) proposal creates an advisory committee … to support rural hospitals in assessing viability and identifying new delivery models, strategic partnerships and implementing financial and delivery reform to improve the health of rural communities.”

Wisconsin has already adopted some of the Kansas compromise components. However, the most glaring omission is federal funding for full Medicaid expansion. Wisconsin partially expanded to 100 percent of FPL, thereby remaining ineligible for federal funding. Instead, scarce state dollars are used and Wisconsin’s federal taxes pay for other states’ expansion. Wisconsin should do full Medicaid expansion and take the federal funding (saves the state $324.5 million and covers 82,000 more Wisconsinites).

I asked Dr. Susan Turney, CEO, Marshfield Clinic Health System, if Medicaid expansion would be a plus for Wisconsin. Turney noted that “Medicaid reimbursement is significantly lower than (Affordable Care Act – ACA private insurance) reimbursement … .” Possible solutions: use Medicaid expansion federal funding to cover Wisconsinites with ACA private insurance (e.g., Arkansas) and make the state reinsurance program more generous.

The bipartisan Kansas Medicaid expansion compromise offers Wisconsin a way forward. It’s past time.

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