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Thursday, February 24, 2011

 3:01 PM 

Kohl to hold subcommittee hearing in Pewaukee

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, will chair a Senate subcommittee field hearing on the proposed merger between Southwest and AirTran airlines Friday in Pewaukee.

The Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights hearing is aimed at analyzing the merger's impact on local communities. In addition to the CEOs of both air carriers, General Mitchell International Airport director C. Barry Bateman and MMAC President Tim Sheehy will also testify.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

 1:56 PM 

DCCC targets Duffy, Ribble, Ryan

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced today it is targeting GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, Reid Ribble and Paul Ryan for supporting House, accusing them of supporting cuts to education to support subsidies for oil companies.

The efforts includes robocalls, Web ads and e-mails, the Dem group said.

Here's the text of a call targeting Duffy:

Everyone knows we need to cut spending and reduce the deficit in Washington. And we can do that by reforming government, cutting wasteful spending, and getting rid of taxpayer subsidies for the Big Oil companies making record profits.

But instead, Representative Sean Duffy voted for a partisan plan to raid $694 million from public education.

Yep, Sean Duffy voted to cut 10,000 teachers from the classroom and over 200,000 kids from early childhood education to pay for subsidies to Big Oil. His priorities don’t make any sense.

That means nearly 2,500 schools could lose their funding.

Call Sean Duffy to tell him to cut taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, not teachers out of the classroom.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

 10:13 AM 

Feingold launches new PAC

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold today announced the launch of Progressives United, a political action committee the Middleton Democrat says will "empower Americans to fight back against corporate influence and corruption in Washington, D.C."

"As you know, I spent much of my career in the Senate fighting that corruptive power," Feingold writes in an email letter to supporters. "I am no longer in the Senate to represent Wisconsin, but I have no intention of giving up that fight -- or giving up on you and all the people who have fought it with me."

"We will support candidates who will work for the people, not the corporations. We will call out the media when they hide from the real story. And we will do it all united," Feingold adds.

Monday, February 14, 2011

 1:26 PM 

Ryan, Wis. Republicans rip budget proposal

Wisconsin Republicans hammered President Barack Obama's FY 2012 budget proposal this morning, with U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan saying Obama is "failing to heed the warnings of economists and the demands of the American people."

Obama announced the $3.7 trillion budget in Baltimore this morning, saying the proposal would work toward both living within the county's means and investing in the future. But Ryan, R-Janesville, said the budget "spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much."

"Far from ‘living within its means,’ the president’s budget puts the government on track to nearly double in size since the day he took office -- a direct result of his party’s reckless spending spree," the House Budget Committee chairman said in a statement. "His budget destroys jobs by imposing a $1.6 trillion tax hike, adding $13 trillion to the national debt and fueling uncertainty in the private sector."

Freshman Republican U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble echoed Ryan's statement on spending, borrowing and taxing.

"If we’re going to have an ‘adult conversation’ about spending it’s going to require that every program be laid on the table for review," Ribble, R-De Pere, said in a statement. "Everyone is going to have to make sacrifices so that we can foster an economy that is robust enough to help create jobs and give entrepreneurs confidence to take risks."

"What we need are pro-growth policies that will empower the private sector to innovate and invest and get our families back to work," added Duffy, R-Ashland.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

 9:47 AM 

Johnson says liberals willing to sacrifice freedom for more government

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson this morning ripped Democrats over health care reform and deficit spending, charging that "they want more government, and they are certainly willing to sacrifice our freedom in their quest for more power over our lives."

"For decades we have been trading bits and pieces of our freedom for the false promise of economic security. And now the bill is coming due," Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said in prepared remarks for a speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. "Liberals have done an excellent job of convincing generations of Americans that they are entitled to benefits and that someone else will pick up the tab. The result has been devastating to our culture and to our society."

Johnson recalled the story of the his daughter's life-saving heart surgery as an infant -- told many times during last year's campaign -- and accused liberals of demonizing doctors in order to pass health care reform legislation last year.

"You can see why I took such offense to the demagoguery," Johnson said. "Our daughter was saved by a group of medical professionals that were now targets of a coordinated liberal attack."

Johnson also encouraged the audience to pay attention to the "doomsday numbers" mentioned during CPAC, in particular arguing that the country's total unfunded liability exceeds the U.S. asset base by $39 trillion.

He also ripped the Environmental Protection Agency as "out of control" and said the nation's welfare system has "created incentives that have caused out of wedlock birth rates to skyrocket."

"What I have sadly witnessed over the course of my lifetime is a slow but steady drift -- and I would argue over the last two years, a lurch -- toward a culture of entitlement and dependency," Johnson said. "This is not an America I recognize. It is not an America that will work."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

 8:27 AM 

Sensenbrenner rips Dems over Patriot Act vote

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is accusing Dems of playing politics with an extension of the Patriot Act even as two dozen of his fellow Republicans voted against the bill.

The House brought up the bill last night under a suspension of the rules that required a two-thirds majority of 290 notes to pass it. The bill failed 277-148 with nine members not voting.

Twenty-six Republicans voted against the extension and 210 supported it, while 122 Dems voted no and 67 voted for it. GOP leaders are expected to bring the bill to the floor again under another rule that would require 218 votes for passage.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, joined the five Republicans in Wisconsin’s House delegation in voting for the extension. U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Madison and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee voted against it.

“This was nothing but Democrats playing politics with national security, and their arguments ring hollow,” charged Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls and one of the bill’s chief backers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

 9:43 AM 

Daily Kos radio ad targets Ryan

Daily Kos is targeting U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan with a new radio spot starting today.

The ad from the liberal site says when it comes to health care, the Janesville Republican and House Budget chair thinks “he deserves better than you.”

The narrator says Ryan receives affordable health care with protections against insurance companies cutting him off, but last month voted to deny others the same protections.

It says he also voted to raise health insurance premiums, take prescription drug coverage away from seniors and deny coverage for children, among other things.

“But don’t worry,” the narrator says. “Congressman Ryan is all set since his vote didn’t apply to the health plan he gets as a member of Congress. Call Congressman Paul Ryan and tell him health care protections that are good enough for Congress should be good enough for all of us.”

Daily Kos says the 60-second spots begins running today on 1290 WMCS in Milwaukee, WJRN-1400 AM/WEZY-92.FM in Racine and WCLO AM 1230/-WJVL 99.9FM in Janesville. The spot will run 174 times.

 8:22 AM 

Obama congratulates Packers coach

The president called Packers coach Mike McCarthy to congratulate him on the Super Bowl victory.

According to the White House, the president asked McCarthy to tell quarterback Aaron Rodgers how impressed he was with his game and season and that “even a Bears fan can appreciate what the victory means to the people of Green Bay and Wisconsin.”

Obama also said he was looking forward to hosting the team at the White House, as defensive back Charles Woodson predicted. Obama picked his home state Chicago Bears to beat the Packers in the NFC championship game and said he planned to attend the Super Bowl if they won. Woodson used the prediction as motivation for the team to win so Obama would have to host them at the White House if he wouldn’t come watch them in the Super Bowl.

Monday, February 7, 2011

 12:38 PM 

Bjork working on Dem health care messaging

Tanya Bjork is among a group of top Dem strategists who are working to coordinate a message supporting federal health care reform.

Bjork is a former state director of federal relations under Gov. Jim Doyle, lobbying the federal government on Wisconsin's behalf. Bjork served as the Wisconsin director for the Obama campaign.

See more on the coordination effort from Politico.

 9:48 AM 

Ryan: GOP won't rubber stamp increase in debt ceiling

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says any increase in the federal debt ceiling must come with spending cuts and controls.

“Nobody's interested in seeing the nation default, but we're also not interested in rubber stamping just a higher debt limit,” the Janesville Republican said on Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” a statewide TV newsmagazine produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com.

Ryan said if spending continues the way it has been, the interest on the national debt will lead to “inflation, high interest rates and crushing high taxes.”

“Our country really is facing a tipping point,” Ryan said. “It's facing a tipping point whether or not we're going to have the American dream and a prosperous nation going forward or whether we're going to go into this sort of European decline status.”

Ryan didn't detail specific cuts or cost controls, but pointed to his proposal to cut $74 billion in the current fiscal year and said details for the next budget will be forthcoming as the budgeting process unfolds this spring.

See more from Ryan on "UpFront" here.

Friday, February 4, 2011

 12:35 PM 

Feingold weighs in on Egypt

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold says the U.S. should learn from the situation in Egypt that it needs a long-term strategy with the country and its people, as well as others in the region.

Feingold praised President Obama in a statement for being "direct and critical" in his comments to President Mubarak. Feingold said Mubarak should step down and participate in a peaceful transition of power.

"No longer can we as a nation look the other way when 'stable' dictators sacrifice human rights and freedoms in the name of security," Feingold said. "This is a recipe for failure. The United States must engage with the people of Egypt to understand the hopes they have for their country, and then the US can play a constructive role in helping Egypt achieve its goals."

 9:06 AM 

Ryan shrugs off questions about higher office

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan again said Thursday he won't run for president in 2012 and shrugged off a question about a veep bid.

“Who knows?” he said during “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” at Marquette University. “That is such a hypothetical situation.”

Some conservatives hope Ryan will challenge Dem U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl in 2012. But Ryan, R-Janesville, said he hasn’t given any thought to such a bid and said for now he only has one job as House budget chair -- correcting the budget deficit and lowering the national debt.

Earlier in the day, Ryan announced spending limits for the remainder of the current fiscal year he said would save $74 billion compared to the president’s budget request.

Ryan was dismissive of the president’s State of the Union promise to veto any bill that contains pork barrel spending. Ryan said that conservative lawmakers wouldn't pass the bills anyway.

“He can't get bills with earmarks in them because we won’t let him get bills with earmarks in them,” Ryan said.

Gousha and audience members were curious to know how Ryan planned to overcome the deep partisan split that permeates Washington.

“I hope there is room for negotiation,” said Ryan. “I would like to think that he (Obama) is willing to cut spending.”

A large portion of the hour-long conversation was devoted to health care reform. Ryan said health-care entitlement programs are key to solving a looming debt crisis.

“The health care entitlements are the cause of our future debt crisis,” Ryan said. “When we should have been reforming the entitlements that add to our debt, the government added two new entitlements. ... I think it is going to collapse under its own weight.”

An epileptic student who said he pays more than $3,000 a month for medication expressed fears over the GOP push to repeal health care reform. The student said he was concerned repeal would eliminate the ability to stay on his parents’ insurance until the age of 26. He feared having to make a choice between weekly seizures and going deep into debt.

Ryan assured the student that people with extreme conditions would still receive subsidies from the government for treatment.

The tone of the conversation lightened considerably when Ryan was asked about GOP U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's Tea Party response to the State of the Union that some saw as competing with the official GOP response that Ryan delivered.

“She keeps 'Saturday Night Live' and `The Daily Show' off my tail,” Ryan joked.

- By Jimmy Theo
For WisPolitics

Thursday, February 3, 2011

 3:17 PM 

Ribble, Barrett to watch Super Bowl at the White House

Wisconsin will be well represented at the White House's Super Bowl watch party on Sunday as U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett watch the Packers with the president.

Ribble, the De Pere Republican who represents the Green Bay area, said he and his wife will attend the watch party and bring Packer paraphernalia for other guests.

"President Obama may be a loyal Bears fan, but we’ll try to win him over for at least this one game," Ribble said in a statement.

Barrett said in a statement he'll attend the party with son Tommy, as well as bring gift packages from local sausage-makers Usinger’s and Klement’s.

“The fact that I will be watching the Packers win the Super Bowl with the Bears' 'Fan-in-Chief' is particularly satisfying," Barrett said. "This is a great honor and will be a lasting memory for Tommy and me.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

 5:58 PM 

Johnson, Kohl split on health care repeal motion

Wisconsin's U.S. senators split on today's effort by Republicans to repeal federal health care reform.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, voted against the motion, while U.S. Rep. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, voted in favor. The motion was turned away by a 51-47 party line vote.

"I'm glad that we had the opportunity to vote on this legislation, to be on record as to which Senators support the implementation of Obamacare and which senators want to repeal the law and replace it with common sense market-based reforms that work," Johnson said in a statement.

 1:33 PM 

Kind asks Walker to invest in Stillwater Bridge

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is asking Gov. Scott Walker to consider backing a bridge project between Minnesota and Wisconsin after the governor promised to re-prioritize the state's transportation needs during Tuesday's State of the State address.

“As your administration reviews the urgent transportation needs of our state, I write requesting that you immediately address the future of the Stillwater Lift Bridge and the St. Croix River Crossing Project,” Kind, D-La Crosse, wrote of the proposed project between Stillwater, Minn., and Houlton, Wis., in a letter to Walker. “The 80 year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge is functionally deficient, in need of substantial investment to simply maintain its operation, is the site of substantial congestion and safety hazards, and limits the ability of the region to attract jobs and tourism.”

Kind also took a shot at Walker over the demise of high-speed rail between Madison and Milwaukee, which was intended to eventually extend through western Wisconsin to the Twin Cities.

"Since the state has refused federal funding to extend high speed rail from Milwaukee to Minneapolis, it is absolutely vital that your administration puts forward a realistic transportation plan that addresses our aging infrastructure and increasing congestion," Kind wrote.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

 7:58 AM 

DCCC ad targets Duffy

The DCCC started a new radio ad Monday targeting freshman GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, accusing him of support a plan to cut education and research.

The spot, one of 19 the group is running against Republicans in districts President Obama won in 2008, urges Duffy to work with the president to create jobs, "instead of supporting a partisan plan that costs jobs." Overall, the group has targeted 61 Republicans in districts the president won in 2008 as part of its "Drive for 25" to recapture control of the House.

The narrator says the recession is still hitting Wisconsin hard and good job openings "are really scarce." The narrator then says Obama has a plan to make the economy work for the middle class again with investments in education, maintaining America's lead in technology with research and development, and reducing the deficit through a budget freeze.

"That plan makes a lot of sense," the narrator says. "But Congressman Sean Duffy supports a plan in Congress that would cut education by 40 percent. And his plan would cut science and technology research by 40 percent, too. Research and development is how we get the new products that create new jobs. How does cutting that help us compete with China and India? It doesn’t make sense."

Duffy is a member of the Republican Study Committee, which recently proposed long-term cuts to the federal budget.

The DCCC plans radio and Web ads, along with automated phone calls, live phone calls and e-mails in Duffy's district. The radio ads began today during drive time.

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