• WisPolitics

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

 11:32 AM 

Moore: GOP misread 2010 election

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore believes last week's Dem victory in a western New York congressional special election showed Republicans misread Americans' concerns with government spending.

"They thought that they could start with Medicare, and I think they totally misread the 2010 election results to think that they could really substantially change a program that is very, very popular and very important to keeping seniors out of poverty," said Moore, D-Milwaukee, on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

Moore said the House GOP budget, authored by Janesville's Paul Ryan, doesn't address the root cause of increasing Medicare expenses: rising health care costs overall.

"Some of the things that were in the affordable health care act, so-called Obamacare, were designed to rein in burgeoning health care costs, not just within these programs, but in general," Moore said.

See more from "UpFront."

Thursday, May 26, 2011

 9:47 AM 

Johnson asks White House to prepare debt ceiling budget 'just in case'

In the wake of comments criticizing the White House for not preparing to potentially hit the nation's debt ceiling, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has signed onto a letter calling on the Obama administration to develop a contingency plan "just in case."

"We are calling on your Administration to immediately begin working with budget experts in Congress to allocate spending within a $2.6 trillion Debt Ceiling Budget," the letter reads. "All agency heads should then be instructed to develop plans to make sure essential services would be funded on a priority basis."

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and 22 of his Senate GOP colleagues co-signed the letter.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

 5:36 PM 

Senate rejects Ryan budget

The Senate voted down the House GOP budget -- crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville -- on a 40-57 vote this afternoon.

Wisconsin's U.S. senators split on the measure, with Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, joining the majority and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, voting for the budget.

Five GOP senators joined Dems in voting down the proposal: Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

 10:51 AM 

Ryan defends Medicare reforms after N.Y. special election

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan released a new web video this morning defending the House GOP budget's Medicare reforms after Dems picked up a New York congressional seat in a Tuesday special election.

Kathy Hochul, a county clerk, defeated GOP state Rep. Jane Corwin in a seat that has long leaned Republican; national reports have indicated that the debate over Medicare played a major role in the race.

State Dem Party Chairman Mike Tate said Tuesday's result showed "the beginning of the end for Paul Ryan's immoral budget."

"The New York vote turned on an immoral plan to end Medicare and Medicaid hatched on Wall Street and in Washington by someone who is supposed to be representing Wisconsin," Tate said in a statement. "Its rejection tonight shows how vulnerable every single Republican in Wisconsin is, but especially Paul Ryan himself, for siding against Wisconsin's working families."

Ryan, however, defended his proposal this morning in a statement, alleging that Dems have "opted to play politics with the health security of America’s seniors."

"Rather than putting the government in charge, our plan provides financial support to help future Medicare patients pay for the insurance plan that works best for them and their families," the Janesville Republican says in the video. "Patients will have the freedom to choose from a list of guaranteed coverage options -- the same kind of system members of Congress enjoy today. And insurance providers, competing for patients’ business, will look to lower the costs and increase quality for their services -- the way it always works when the consumer is in charge."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

 3:58 PM 

Kohl asks AT&T to respond to allegations over billing

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, has joined U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in asking AT&T to respond to allegations that it has overbilled smart phone users.

In a letter to AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, the senators also ask the company to clarify its procedures for accurate billing of data usage and an estimate of errors in that billing.

They note that consumers charge they were billed "well in excess of the data actually used, when data applications were not running on their cell phones, and even while they were asleep and not using their phones."

"The answers to these questions will be important as we consider competition in the cell phone industry, including the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger," the senators write.

Monday, May 23, 2011

 8:50 AM 

Ryan says Gingrich's budget comments 'deeply inaccurate'

Appearing on Sunday's “Meet the Press,” U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan again said he wasn't running for president and expressed his disappointment that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels isn’t getting into the race.

“I think his candidacy would have been a great addition to this race, and I think it’s unfortunate he’s not going to run,” said Ryan, R-Janesville.

Ryan was also asked about Newt Gingrich’s comments on the show last week knocking Ryan's plan.

Ryan called Gingrich's take “deeply inaccurate and a gross mischaracterization" of the House budget plan. But he declined to criticize Gingrich over his comments. The former House speaker has since apologized to Ryan for his remarks.

Friday, May 20, 2011

 12:18 PM 

Green won't run for U.S. Senate, praises Thompson

Former U.S. Rep. and Ambassador Mark Green said today he will not run for U.S. Senate and praised former Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Green said in a statement his family comes first, and it is not the right time to take on the commitment of a Senate campaign.

“The great news is that a number of outstanding candidates are considering a run, including Governor Thompson," Green said. "Tommy Thompson was a leading inspiration for my getting involved in politics in the first place. His innovations on welfare reform, education reform and tax relief helped grow Wisconsin’s economy at a record pace during his time as governor. That kind of bold vision and leadership is certainly needed in Washington."

 9:27 AM 

Kanavas: Thompson wouldn't clear Senate field

Former state Sen. Ted Kanavas is another Republican who doesn’t believe a formal announcement from Tommy Thompson would clear the GOP field for U.S. Senate, in part because it wouldn’t deter him.

“I would not leave the race by virtue of Tommy being in or out,” Kanavas said.

He said he plans to use this weekend’s convention to gauge whether he should formally enter the race, though he’s heard positive feedback so far.

“What people are telling me is it’s time for new blood. What people are telling me is it’s time for people who really are going to get the ball down the field and who are conservative and who kind of understand the direction the country is going to go."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

 5:49 PM 

Baldwin, Pelosi rip House GOP Medicare proposal

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking in Waunakee, blasted Republican efforts to “gut Medicare” and roll back other health care provisions for older Americans.

Pelosi said concern over changes to Medicare has “exploded” as an issue in recent weeks.

“While we must reduce the deficit, create jobs and strengthen the middle class, we can’t say we are going to get the funds to do that from Medicare,” she said.

“That’s a false economy to say you won’t have preventive care for seniors or that you'll save money be telling seniors to take a voucher and go shop in the private sector for insurance.”

The congresswomen were joined by Waunakee senior advocate Joan Ruppenthal, a retired public health nurse, who said she believes Medicare should be strengthened.

“Medicare is kind of like a puppy dog,” she said. “It gives you unconditional love. They accept everyone, and private insurance companies do not do that. Medicare is a lifeline for a lot of people. Why destroy something that is working so well now?”

Baldwin called Medicare one of the nation’s “most successful and valued programs” that has kept seniors from “living out their days in poverty.”

And she praised Medicare as a “contract we make with our seniors that if you work hard, play by the rules and contribute a fair share in your earning years, then you will have medical care in your senior years.”

The congresswoman said she saw first-hand how Medicare helped her grandmother, who raised her from infancy, when she became elderly and frail.

“Because of Medicare, I was able to care for her and establish my own career not saddled by debt,” she said.

Baldwin said the Republican plan passed by the House and authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville, would cut benefits and force seniors to buy insurance on their own.

“According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, most elderly people would pay more for medical care and get less than they do under Medicare.”

In addition, she said the Republican budget would roll back reforms passed by Congress last year and re-open the Part D prescription drug donut hole.

“Seniors would immediately begin paying higher costs for their medications. And, under their plan, the cost to beneficiaries of Medicare coverage would rise dramatically.

“Not one dollar of that increase in beneficiary costs goes to reducing the deficit ," she charged. "It all goes to cover the higher costs of private plans that the Republicans would force seniors to join. “

Quoting Lyndon Johnson, who was president when Medicare was enacted in 1965, Pelosi called the program “a pillar of economic security” for seniors.

She also criticized Republican efforts to cut preventive care included in Medicare, which she said lowers costs, and asked “now you tell me how that’s a good idea for reducing the deficit?

“We all know that we need to reduce the deficit, but not how the Republic budget would do it,” she added. “Cutting Medicare while giving tax breaks to Big Oil and corporations that send jobs overseas is not fair. It’s selfish."

Baldwin also said today she's still considering a possible run for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Herb Kohl.

"I'm undertaking a serious evaluation, and I will let you know the result in the future," she said.

Pelosi said she'd be sad to see Baldwin leave the House, but argued that the Madison congresswoman would be a strong advocate for Wisconsin in the Senate. She said she has no idea if Baldwin will go after Kohl's seat.

"Her timing is her timing, and she let us know that from the start," Pelosi said.

Baldwin praised Kohl for his work to improve health care for older Americans.

"As a champion for seniors, he will be irreplaceable," she said. "He is joining in the fight to make sure we continue the promise of Medicare."

-- By Brian E. Clark
For WisPolitics.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

 11:40 AM 

Fitzgeralds say they won't decide on Senate race until after budget

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald don’t think Tommy Thompson would clear the GOP field if he formally announces he’s running for U.S. Senate.

They also said they didn’t expect to make a decision on whether to get into the race until after the state budget is done.

Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, noted Thompson hasn’t been on the ballot since 1998 and has flirted with various runs before, only to bow out in the end.

“I would imagine a couple of people really question if he’s in or not,” Fitzgerald said.

The speaker also agreed with his brother that both won't get into the primary for Senate. But he didn’t say how that decision would be made. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, could run without giving up his Senate seat while Jeff Fitzgerald would have to give up the Assembly seat.

The Senate leader said he’s focused on passing a budget and won't make a decision on a bid until after that’s done. Beyond that, he has no personal timeline for making a decision on a race that’s still 18 months away.

Scott Fitzgerald said Thompson’s entry into the race might not clear possible candidates like Mark Neumann and Ted Kanavas. But he said it would give anybody pause who’s thinking about getting in.

“Obviously, Tommy Thompson is more than just a formidable candidate. The guy’s name ID is more than just incredible,” Scott Fitzgerald said.

He added this weekend’s convention will likely be filled with buzz about the Senate race.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Madison, confirmed to WisPolitics.com that she was “looking seriously” at running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democrat Herb Kohl. Baldwin promised a decision “by summer.”

Russ Feingold is also considering the race on the Dem side.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

 2:07 PM 

Sullivan acknowledges he's considering a bid

Bucyrus President, CEO and Director Tim Sullivan today acknowledged he is considering a run for U.S. Senate.

But the businessman, who has described himself as an independent, did not disclose in a statement today which party's nomination he may seek.

"I am flattered by the unsolicited support I have received over the past few days by those suggesting I consider running for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Kohl," Sullivan said. "As this point, I am committed to our shareholders and employees in closing the sale of Bucyrus International.
When this deal is consummated in the near future; I will weigh all my options. I have a deep commitment to this community, and I look forward to being involved in the future challenges and opportunities at the local, state, and national level."

In February, Sullivan told WisPolitics that he considered himself an independent. He donated to money to both Dem Tom Barrett and Republican Scott Walker in last year's guv's race.

 12:02 PM 

Barrett won't run for U.S. Senate

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will not run for U.S. Senate next year, a campaign aide says.

“Tom Barrett loves being the mayor of Milwaukee and is very focused on his job and does not plan to run for U.S. Senate,” aide Patrick Guarasci said today.

Following U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl's announcement that he would not seek re-election, Barrett was immediately mentioned as a possible Dem candidate coming off his unsuccessful statewide campaign last year for the guv's office.

Barrett, who faces re-election as mayor in 2012, sparked speculation earlier this month that he may run next year against Gov. Scott Walker if the Republican who beat him last fall faces a recall election.

 12:01 PM 

Source: Thompson intends to run for U.S. Senate

With Paul Ryan out of the race, Tommy Thompson intends to run for U.S. Senate next year, a source close to the former guv says.

The source said an announcement is not imminent. But Thompson is meeting with advisers to craft a campaign structure and budget in anticipation of a campaign. The source said Thompson also understands the window he has to make an announcement after past flirtations with runs did not pan out.

 10:44 AM 

Neumann still 'seriously' considering run for U.S. Senate

Following up Paul Ryan's announcement that he will not run for the U.S. Senate next year, former Rep. Mark Neumann said this morning that he is still "seriously considering" a bid of his own.

Neumann praised Ryan in a statement this morning, saying there was "no doubt he would have made an excellent U.S. Senator."

“I am still seriously considering a U.S. Senate candidacy and listening to what the people of Wisconsin hope to see from their next Senator," Neumann said. "It is clear that people are deeply concerned about the reckless spending and out-of-control deficits that are only getting worse in Washington. The question becomes who is best prepared to deal with this growing problem.”

 9:42 AM 

Ryan won't run for Senate

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said today he will not run for the U.S. Senate next year, believing he is better positioned to have an impact on the nation's debt crisis in his current role as House Budget chair.

"House Republicans have taken bold steps forward in tackling our fiscal and economic challenges – we have led, where others have not," Ryan said in a statement posted on his Web site. "I want to keep building on this progress and therefore, I will seek to continue serving my employers of Wisconsin’s First District as their Representative in the House."

With Ryan electing to remain in his House seat, GOP attention immediately turned to former Gov. Tommy Thompson, who has been sending signals that he is serious about getting into the race.

Monday, May 16, 2011

 7:13 PM 

Ryan stresses need to curb health costs in Chicago speech

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said today in a speech before the Economic Club of Chicago that escalating health care costs are the greatest challenge to the economy.

"It’s basic math -– we cannot solve our fiscal or economic challenges unless we get health care costs under control," said Ryan, R-Janesville.

The House Budget Chair told the gathering that his budget plan -- dubbed “The Path to Prosperity” -- passed by the House last month "aims to do two things: to put our budget on a path to balance, and to put our economy on a path to prosperity.

"I am here today to stress the point that these goals go hand in hand," Ryan said. "Stable government finances are essential to a growing economy, and economic growth is essential to balancing the budget."

Ryan said the budget debate "has degenerated into a game of green-eyeshade arithmetic, with many in Washington – including the president – demanding that we trade ephemeral spending restraints for large, permanent tax increases.

"This sets up a debate in which we are really just arguing over who to hurt and how best to manage the decline of our nation," Ryan said. "It is a framework that accepts ever-higher taxes and bureaucratically rationed health care as givens."

Democrat Rob Zerban, the Kenosha County board member who's running for Ryan's 1st Congressional District seat, ripped the speech.

"Ryan’s speech today in Chicago won’t change what Wisconsin families already know: the numbers in his budget just don’t add up," Zerban said in a statement released by the state Dem Party. "Instead of taking on Washington special interests, Ryan is offering tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while stripping hard-working seniors of their benefits precisely when they need them most."

Reports indicated that Ryan was greeted by protesters outside the event.

 9:15 AM 

Ryan plans to announce decision on Senate run 'very quickly'

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” that he could decide this week whether to run for the Senate.

Crowley asked Ryan, R-Janesville, on yesterday’s show whether he’d be willing to give up his spot as House Budget chair to run for the Senate.

“Well, Herb just announced this Friday,” Ryan said. “It was a bit of a surprise to all of us. And so my family to voters we just started digesting this. I plan on making an announcement very quickly. I don't want to dwindle on this but we're just beginning to process this information.”

Also on the show, Ryan pushed back against a suggestion from Dems that his speech today before the Economic Club of Chicago was part of a “do-over tour” to recast his controversial proposal to revamp entitlement programs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

 5:45 PM 

Ribble named to Transportation Committee

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble has been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, his office announced today.

Ribble, R-De Pere, also serves on the Budget and Agriculture committees. Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, R-Florida, lauded Ribble's business experience, saying he "understands the critical role that our committee plays in the economic development of rural areas like northeast Wisconsin."

“Our country’s infrastructure is one place in our budget where we must continue to invest," Ribble said in a statement. "Not only is it a job creator, it’s an important part of keeping pace in a global economy."

Monday, May 9, 2011

 11:18 AM 

Wisconsin high-speed rail application rejected

The federal Transportation Department today announced more than $2 billion in funding for high-speed rail projects nationally, but Wisconsin's application for a portion of that money has been rejected.

The state had sought at least $150 million to upgrade the popular Hiawatha rail line between Milwaukee and Chicago. The application followed then Gov.-elect Walker's outspoken opposition to the use of $810 million in rail funding for a proposed line between Madison and Milwaukee; the feds pulled that funding late last year.

The current $2 billion in grants comes out of a high-speed rail project rejected by Florida. Fifteen states, including all of Wisconsin's neighbors, received funding in today's announcement.

"The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

 10:39 AM 

Republicans could drop Medicare overhaul from Ryan plan

A provision of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan's House budget proposal that would overhaul Medicare could be on the ropes as Republicans begin negotiating with Democrats on deficit reduction.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told the Washington Post that Republicans may have to consider other ways to achieve savings, saying President Obama “excoriated us” over the Medicare proposal passed in the House GOP budget.

Cantor's office also told Politico that he still backs Ryan's plan but that it is a starting point, since "(w)hether the Democrats will agree to the proposals we've outlined is yet to be seen."

Ryan, R-Janesville, acknowledged this week that "we're not going to get a grand-slam agreement," and said some aspects of his budget could achieve savings without consensus on Medicare or Social Security.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

 8:29 AM 

Duffy back from congressional trip to Afghanistan

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, has returned from a weeklong trip to the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Afghanistan as part of a congressional delegation.

Along with five other members, Duffy met with political leaders in the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Georgia -- three allies in war in Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, Duffy met with General David Petraeus and Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, as well as U.S. troops.

His office said he was present for the ceremony for the flight to bring home the body of Sgt. Matthew Hermanson of Appleton, who was killed by enemy fire last week.

“As we return, there are many critical issues facing our nation, especially how we get our fiscal house in order and economy growing to create jobs and secure a more prosperous future for our children and grandchildren,” Duffy said. “But we must continue to keep all those who serve our nation abroad – the troops and diplomats – in our hearts and minds."

Monday, May 2, 2011

 10:17 AM 

Wis. delegation hails bin Laden announcement

Members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation reacted enthusiastically to the announcement of Osama bin Laden's death during a U.S.-led raid of his Pakistani compound, praising military and intelligence personnel and hailing the news' impact on counterterrorism efforts.

"After ten years of dedicated effort across two administrations, we have struck a major blow against al-Qaeda and achieved a momentous turning point in our nation's ongoing War on Terrorism," said U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville. "While we must remain vigilant in defense of freedom and democracy in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and on other fronts, we can rest assured that the murderer who orchestrated the deaths of thousands of our countrymen has finally met justice at the hands of the brave men and women of our military and intelligence community."

"My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of the attacks of September 11th. Hopefully with his death they and our nation will feel a small amount of closure in regards to the terrorist attacks upon us," added U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. "Also, congratulations and thank you to the military members and intelligence personnel who were involved in this important operation. Hopefully this sends a signal to the other perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks that there is no place too remote or no cave too dark to find them and bring them to justice.”

See more reaction from Wisconsin lawmakers:
- U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee
- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh
- U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison
- U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee
- U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac
- U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland
- U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-De Pere

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