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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

 2:09 PM 

DCCC robocalls target Duffy, Ribble over super committee failure

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced new robocalls beginning today in the districts of U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble.

The robocall charges that Duffy, R-Weston, and Ribble, R-Sherwood, forced the super committee on deficit reduction to fail earlier this month by insisting on “extending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and refusing to include a jobs proposal -- while ending the Medicare guarantee."

"By rejecting a balanced approach, Republicans chose to protect the wealthiest one percent at the expense of seniors and the middle class," the robocall continues. "Now they’re even talking about raising the payroll tax."

Monday, November 21, 2011

 5:06 PM 

Wis. delegation responds to supercommittee's failure to reach deficit deal

Wisconsin lawmakers criticized today's announcement that the congressional supercommittee to reduce the deficit would be unable to reach a deal by Wednesday's deadline.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville and the House Budget Committee chairman, ripped Democrats for failing to lead during the committee's negotiations but said the process has clarified "the growing bipartisan consensus" on the need for entitlement and tax reform.

"Unfortunately, Democrats on the Joint Committee never ‘coalesced’ around a plan, refused to consider structural reforms to government spending on health care, and insisted on at least $1 trillion in higher taxes on hardworking Americans," said Ryan, who asked not to be added to the deficit panel in August.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, added, "Reducing the rate of growth in government spending should not be this hard."

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Milwaukee, called the breakdown "most unfortunate," and said he would "continue to support long term debt reduction that includes a balanced mix of spending cuts and revenue increases.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, responded that he was proud to be part of a group of lawmakers to call for a grand compromise between the parties, lamenting that "apparently the forces of dysfunction are too great to bring a resolution."

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, said he's working on his own plan to cut the deficit "to get our fiscal house in order before the markets start turning on us here in America."

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, said Dems rejected Republicans' balanced approach of cuts and increased revenue, while the president didn't engage in the process, and "I’m very frustrated that the supercommittee failed to come up with a proposal to drive down this massive debt and it underscores the incredible amount of work that lays ahead to get our fiscal house in order.”

And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, urged the president to "veto any attempt to undo the automatic across-the-board cuts caused by the Select Committee’s failure, unless it is accompanied by dollar- for-dollar offsets in spending cuts.”

 10:14 AM 

Thompson to announce Senate bid next week

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson has sent supporters an email to let them know he’ll formally announce his campaign for the U.S. Senate Dec. 1.

Thompson filed papers to run this fall, but had been holding off on making a formal announcement even as he assured people he was fully committed to the race.

The Dec. 1 announcement will be at Weldall Manufacturing in Waukesha.

“I’m ready for the fight ahead and, as you know, no one is better prepared to fix the mess in Washington than I am,” Thompson wrote in the email to supporters. “I’d like nothing more than to share this moment with you, because you are the reason why I’m taking this important step to help bring America back.”

Fellow Republicans Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and former U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann have already formally announced their campaigns, while state Sen. Frank Lasee has filed to run. Hedge fund manager and community banker Eric Hovde has also said he is considering a bid.

Friday, November 18, 2011

 2:03 PM 

Ryan, Kind cross party lines on balanced budget amendment

The Wisconsin congressional delegation split 5-3 this afternoon on consideration of a balanced budget constitutional amendment.

But the split wasn't along party lines. U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, supported the proposal, while U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, votes against it.

The measure fell short of a two-thirds requirement on a 261-165 vote; the state's remaining Republicans voted for the bill as Dems Tammy Baldwin and Gwen Moore opposed it.

“Although I would have rather voted on a Balanced Budget Amendment with stricter guidelines, I knew that I could not pass up this rare opportunity to force the government to balance its books and operate in a more restrained, responsible way," said U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, in a statement.

Kind called the measure "the next best check we can place on fiscal mismanagement" aside from the return of pay-as-you-go budgeting.

But Ryan said he couldn't support the bill without a cap on government spending.

“I’m concerned that this version will lead to a much bigger government fueled by more taxes," the House Budget chairman said in a statement. "Spending is the problem, yet this version of the Balanced Budget Amendment makes it more likely taxes will be raised, government will grow, and economic freedom will be diminished."

 8:58 AM 

Former Bucyrus head unlikely to jump into races next year

Former Bucyrus President and CEO Tim Sullivan told WisPolitics.com Thursday it's unlikely he would run for the U.S. Senate or in a possible recall election involving Gov. Scott Walker “unless the wheels fall off” the political process and he becomes convinced an independent could win.

Sullivan originally surfaced as a possible Senate candidate, and he said earlier this year he'd consider a bid as an independent. He said people also began to approach him recently about getting into the guv’s race.

But he credited Walker with making tough fiscal decisions and said he wouldn’t have necessarily taken a different path in addressing the state’s fiscal problems. His concerns are more over the method in which Walker pushed his changes, but said that wasn’t enough of a reason to get into a possible recall race.

“I just don’t like how things are getting done right now,” Sullivan said. “I think that’s why people are talking to me. I’m more of a consensus person than someone who tries to drive things without a consensus. It’s never a good outcome.”

Sullivan, who left Bucyrus after its sale to Caterpillar was completed earlier this year, said he's unlikely to run for the Senate in part because he doesn't believe the current atmosphere is conducive for an independent to be successful, particularly in a presidential year.

“I never say never, and that’s why I’ve not definitely said absolutely not,” Sullivan said. “But it’s very unlikely right now. There are enough people showing strong interest, there’s enough money flying around this thing that I’m not sure it’s the right time to jump into the fray, especially with the divisiveness right now.”

Sullivan said he believes an independent candidacy would be more viable in a race for guv in the current atmosphere.

“If the wheels fall off the political process completely and there really arises a situation where I don’t want to call it a crisis, but where people really, strongly believe someone like myself could help out, I might change my mind,” Sullivan said. “But right now, I think we’ll see.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

 9:25 AM 

Hovde says he's getting closer to Senate bid

Hedge fund manager and community banker Eric Hovde says he's inching toward a bid for the U.S. Senate, but won’t make a final decision until after the holidays.

“Am I moving closer to a run? Yes. Am I putting the pieces in place in case I decide to run? Yes. Have I made a final decision? No,” the Republican told WisPolitics.com.

The Wisconsin native moved back to Madison this fall after spending much of the past two decades living in Washington, D.C. If he gets in the race, he'd join a field expected to include Jeff Fitzgerald, Frank Lasee, Mark Neumann, and Tommy Thompson.

Monday, November 14, 2011

 9:16 AM 

Wis. House Republicans seek to join redistricting lawsuit

The five GOP members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation have asked to intervene in a federal lawsuit over legislation establishing new political boundaries for the 2012 elections.

The lawmakers say their only interest in the case are any issues related to the new congressional map. They asserted no interest in any issues arising from the state legislative legislation, according to the filing from late last week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

 9:07 AM 

Neumann proposes cuts outside Baldwin office

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Neumann Wednesday proposed $2 trillion in federal budget cuts to close the federal deficit, while calling on U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin to propose her own plan.

In a letter to members of the congressional deficit super committee, the former congressman suggested reducing the federal non-defense and contractor workforce by 15 percent, enacting a three-year pay freeze on federal pay and bonuses and reducing growth in defense spending by 1 percent each year. Those measures alone, according to Neumann's camp, would save about $900 billion over the next 10 years.

"They're (the super committee) talking about tax increases to get their $1.5 trillion in cuts and there's absolutely no reason for tax increases," Neumann said in a press conference held outside Baldwin's Madison office. "We've provided spending reductions ... and actually more than what they actually need to get the job done."

He also said the federal government should "follow Gov. Scott Walker's lead" and make employees pay their "fair share" of pension and retirement plans.

Graeme Zielinski, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said Neumann's plan was "light on specifics, long on extremism" and was simply masking his support for cuts to health care.

"What he is not saying is that he is asking America's seniors and long-term disabled folks to pay for these massive tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent," Zielinski said.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

 9:31 AM 

DCCC targets Duffy, Ribble one year out from election

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced radio ads starting Monday targeting freshman GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble.

"Congressman Sean Duffy is protecting tax breaks for billionaires instead of Medicare for seniors and jobs for us all," an announcer says in the ad running against the Weston Republican. "Tell him to fight for Wisconsin."

The Ribble ad targets the Sherwood Republican over an alleged conflict of interest relating to worker protection standards in the roofing industry.

"Congressman Reid Ribble’s company was fined three times for being unsafe," an announcer says. "Then he fought against those worker protections, a consumer group called it a conflict of interest. Tell him to work for us."

The DCCC released the ads to mark one year until the 2012 election.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

 8:20 AM 

Judicial appointments remain in limbo as Johnson, Kohl disagree on make up of nominating commission

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he wants equal representation on the Federal Nominating Commission to fill two judicial openings even though that would break precedent in Wisconsin.

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl countered that it was a “great disappointment” that Johnson wanted changes to the commission’s composition.

When the state’s senators have been from different parties, the lawmaker whose party controls the White House has traditionally had five appointments to the body while the other senator has four.

But Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said giving him the same number of appointments as Kohl, D-Milwaukee, would increase the chances the candidates would win approval in the U.S. Senate.

“I sincerely hope that Senator Kohl does not decide to go on his own and recommend nominees without bipartisan input,” Johnson said in a statement to WisPolitics.com. “I continue to be willing to work with Senator Kohl to establish a balanced nominating commission. The people of Wisconsin chose a Republican Senator, which should entitle them to equal representation in the recommendation of judicial nominees to this Administration.”

President Obama previously nominated former state Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler to the Western District of Wisconsin and UW-Madison Law Professor Victoria Nourse to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Senate, though with a Dem majority, didn't act on those nominations before the past session ended; Johnson had objected to both nominations being carried over after he took office in January.

Since then, Johnson and Kohl’s offices have been in discussions on a way to move forward on filling the vacancies by starting the process over through the Federal Nominating Commission, which the state has used to screen judicial applicants to recommendation to the White House.

Sources have told WisPolitics.com that Johnson and Kohl, who has announced he'll retire after next year, have been unable to reach an agreement on the commission’s composition.

Kohl noted the commission has been used to fill every judicial and U.S. attorney vacancy in Wisconsin since 1979.

“The Commission, whose structure is determined by a charter, has served our state well, through the tenure of Democratic and Republican senators and under both Republican and Democratic Presidents,” Kohl said. “So it’s been a great disappointment that Senator Johnson has sought significant changes to the Commission. We’ll continue to work to find a way forward that’s in the best interest of the people of our state.”

Johnson’s insistence on an equal number of picks as well as his decision to shut down both the Butler and Nourse nominations have irritated some in Wisconsin’s legal community.

Others, however, have countered Johnson shouldn't be bound by nominations that didn't get votes in the last session.

Still, the ongoing dispute over the commission’s makeup is making it increasingly unlikely either post will be filled, legal observers say.

Judge Barbara Crabb announced in March 2009 that she intended to take senior status. But she continues to hear cases on the federal bench in Madison as she awaits a successor to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, former Appeals Court Judge Terence Evans announced in August 2009 he planned to move to senior status. He passed away this past August.

With a presidential election in 2012, it’s unlikely the Senate will move quickly on judicial appointments. Combine that with Kohl’s lame duck status, and it may be 2013 before there’s any movement.

“Basically if they’re not filled by November, I don’t see those things getting filled,” said one observer.

By JR Ross

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