U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl said today that the budget bill proposed by GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan won't be going anywhere in the Senate.
"I believe it's a measure that is decidedly on the conservative side, if not far right, and edging towards the point where, in my opinion, there's really no chance it could become national policy. I think it's that far off the mark in terms of where we need to go as a country," Kohl, D-Milwaukee, told reporters following a press conference in Madison.
Kohl, the millionaire owner of the NBA's Bucks, said he believes the budget has to be balanced with not only cuts to programs, but by raising taxes on the wealthy.
"I think the American people would see that as a more reasonable approach than the House budget which as you know for the most well-off and corporations provides tax cuts, and I don't believe that's the direction this country wants to go or will go," Kohl said.
Kohl said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may bring the Ryan bill to the floor to see how much GOP support it has, but that it wouldn't get any votes from Senate Dems.
Kohl said he's still weighing options on whether to run for re-election in 2012.
"At an appropriate time I'll sit down and make a decision and consider my activity and my options for re-election next year," he said. "I don't feel for the people of Wisconsin it's a pressing issue."
Kohl was in Madison at the MG&E Innovation Center to talk about the Small Business Innovation and Research Small Business Technology Transfer programs. Funding for the SBIR program is up for reauthorization.
The program is administered by the U.S. U.S. Small Business Administration and awards competitive grants to small, high-tech and innovative businesses involved in research and development. The programs are funded by federal agencies who set aside 2 to 3 percent of their funding.
Kohl said the bill is likely to come to the Senate floor next week. He expects bipartisan support, noting that the only senator to vote against it in committee was Republican Rand Paul.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin today knocked changes to Medicare included in Paul Ryan's budget plan, saying they would undercut the promises the government made to seniors years ago.
Speaking at a senior center near downtown Madison, she said the government should instead look to "shared sacrifice" to fix the deficit rather than doing it on the backs of seniors. She held up Dem and progressive alternative budgets to the plan from Ryan, R-Janesville, as better paths.
The latter includes repealing tax cuts for the wealthy and speeding up the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Ryan's budget, which the House has approved but is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate, calls for overhauling the program by providing subsidies to buy private insurance. He has said the approach would keep benefits the same for those over 55 while shoring up the program for the future.
Baldwin called it the end to Medicare as the country has known it.
"Our seniors did not get us into the fiscal mess in the first place, and we should not push them into poverty to get out of it," said Baldwin, D-Madison.
She was joined by newly sworn-in Dane County Exec Joe Parisi, who criticized Gov. Scott Walker's call for eligible enrollees in the SeniorCare program to also apply for Medicare Part D, saying the state plan was more cost effective.
Walker's plan would save the state $15 million, according to his administration. But Parisi, a former Dem lawmaker, said that money should be set aside for future costs associated with the program as more Baby Boomers retire and demand goes up.
Key GOP state lawmakers have pledged to change Walker's proposal in the state budget.
"The governor is looking short-term," Parisi said. "The question then is what do we do next year?"
Americans United for Change has targeted four Midwestern Republican congressmen -- including two from Wisconsin -- over their votes in favor of the House GOP budget and its proposed changes to Medicare.
The 30-second TV spots running against Paul Ryan of Janesville and Sean Duffy of Ashland feature an announcer saying each "looks like a nice young man," but that the GOP budget would "end Medicare and its guaranteed health care benefits."
The ad alleges the proposal would force senior citizens into the private insurance market and increase their costs by more than $6,000.
"Ryan wants to use that money to give millionaires a $200,000 tax break," the announcer says in the Ryan ad. "Ending Medicare so millionaires can get another tax break? Really? Call Congressman Ryan and ask: What were you thinking?"
The ad campaign is also targeting Chip Cravaack of Minnesota and Steve King of Iowa.
Former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow today announced his candidacy for the 7th Congressional District next year against freshman U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland.
The Chippewa Falls Democrat said in a statement that he began to explore a congressional run "after the new Republican majority began to show it had no interest in keeping its promise to focus on job creation and economic recovery back home.”
“The last straw for me was Sean Duffy’s vote to blow up Medicare, a promise we make to every middle class American that says decades of hard work will be rewarded with a retirement filled with the chance to stay healthy," Kreitlow said, referencing Duffy's vote to approve the House GOP budget resolution earlier this month. "Instead, he wants to give seniors a lame coupon and a shove back into the health insurance shark tank, even as he gives billionaires another tax cut.”
Kreitlow also commended his former Senate colleagues for their attempts to stop proposed changes to public employee collective bargaining, saying he wants to head to Congress "to turn back this new war on the middle class.”
The National Republican Congressional Committee responded, "Voters in Wisconsin have already rejected liberal Pat Kreitlow’s tax-and-spend agenda that forced Wisconsin businesses and jobs to leave the state."
"Wisconsin’s working families couldn’t afford to have Kreitlow in Madison and they certainly can’t afford to send him to Washington," NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement.
House Majority PAC, a national third-party group backing Dem congressional candidates, today unveiled a new radio ad targeting U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy over his vote in favor of the House GOP budget resolution passed last week.
Duffy, R-Ashland, is one of 10 GOP lawmakers to be targeted by the ad campaign, according to reports.
The ad says the House GOP budget -- introduced by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville -- protects subsidies for oil companies and cuts taxes for corporations and the wealthy.
"Poor Sean Duffy. He earns $174,000 a year as a congressman, but says he’s struggling to make ends meet," an announcer says in the 60-second spot, a reference to controversial comments the congressman made to a constituent in Amery earlier this year.
"Duffy says he’s not, quote, 'Living high on the hog.' But he sure is making life easy for those who do."
The Democratic members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation today asked Gov. Scott Walker to drop proposed changes to the SeniorCare prescription drug program from his 2011-2013 budget plan, adding they would urge the Obama administration to reject any request for changes in the state's waiver allowing the program.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl of Milwaukee and U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Ron Kind of La Crosse and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee wrote in a letter to Walker that requiring SeniorCare enrollees to participate in Medicare Part D would "effectively remove the many benefits that seniors like about the program." They also note that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have fought "time and again" to protect the program.
"The SeniorCare program is a popular, cost-efficient program. We urge you to not push forward with your budget proposal to alter the program," the letter states. "Should your administration pursue this proposal or any other harmful change with the Department of Health and Human Services, we will urge Secretary Sebelius to reject them."
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on Sunday brushed off comments President Obama made to campaign contributors last week calling the Janesville Republican's budget proposal "not on the level."
Ryan said both sides of the debate need to put rhetoric aside and focus on solutions.
"[W]e have divided government right now. We have work to do, problems to solve. In a divided government I think it helps if we treat each other with respect. There’s plenty of time for campaigning," Ryan told host Bob Schieffer, according to a transcript of the program.
Ryan said proposals to raise taxes on top earners will slow down the economy by penalizing small businesses. He said his plan will lower taxes on small businesses in exchange for tax code reforms that would target "loopholes and deductions that mostly higher income earners use."
"We want more tax revenues but we want to get it by expanding job creation, by expanding economic growth so the secret to success here is economic growth and job creation through tax reform, not tax cuts, tax reform at the same levels get better economic growth which we get more revenues and also focus on the problem. The problem is spending. The problem is how much we’ve been spending and how we spend and we have to reform those," Ryan said.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl raised nothing during the first quarter of 2011 and didn’t put any more of his own money into his warchest, moves likely to fuel speculation on whether he’ll seek re-election next year.
Kohl has previously said he's focused on legislative matters and will make an announcement about his political plans when appropriate.
Still, the wealthy owner of the Milwaukee Bucks can cut a check at a moment’s notice, having already put $1 million of his own money into the campaign at the end of 2010. Dems also continue to say he’s signaled his intention to seek re-election next year; they also note his office has upped its constituent outreach in recent months through emails and press releases.
During the first three months of the year, Kohl listed no contributions and no additional personal contributions. The only receipts he reported was $714 he collected in interest.
His summary sheets show he spent $51,351 during the three-month period and had $953,713 in his account.
Meanwhile, freshman U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson reported raising $162,718 during the three-month period and spent $275,245. He had $82,844 cash on hand.
The Republican businessman put some $8.7 million of his own money into his successful 2010 campaign and continued to list $500,000 in outstanding debts.
Federal law limits how much candidates who self fund can repay themselves, and Johnson’s report shows he repaid himself $230,000 at the end of 2010. Though the $500,000 is listed in continued obligations, his campaign said no decision had been made on whether he'll repay himself any more money.:
GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan continues to be the best fundraiser in Wisconsin’s House delegation. But freshman Reps. Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble are proving to be no slouches, either.
Duffy, likely the top Dem target among Wisconsin Republicans next fall, reported raising $240,760 in his first three months as a congressman. The Ashland Republican spent $70,311 in the first quarter and ended the period with $235,024 cash on hand.
Ribble raised $212,692 in the period and ended the quarter with $207,853 cash on hand. The De Pere Republican spent $24,714 in the period.
Meanwhile, Ryan had almost $3.2 million in his warchest at the end of the first quarter, according to his latest campaign finance filing with the FEC. The House Budget chair from Janesville reported $338,938 raised during the period and $147,211 spent. His cash balance was nearly four times more than the second highest warchest among Wisconsin U.S. reps.
Other first quarter campaign finance totals:
- Dem U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Madison reported a warchest of $708,566 after raising $98,090 and spending $65,152.
- U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, raised $187,446 during the first three months of 2011 and had $181,386 cash on hand. Kind’s report shows he spent $60,410 and had $4,500 in debts.
- Dem U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee reported raising $95,406, spending $65,603 and ending the quarter with $46,792 cash on hand.
- Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner reported $360,906 cash on hand. He raised $35,936 and spent $28,877 in the first three months of the year.
- U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, had the next highest cash on hand total at $892,988. He raised $88,553 and spent $46,014 during the period.
The House today passed the budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, on a 235-193 vote.
The bill largely split lawmakers along party lines -- just four Republicans crossed over to vote against the proposal, while no Democrats supported it -- and the Wisconsin delegation was no exception. Republicans Sean Duffy, Tom Petri, Reid Ribble and Jim Sensenbrenner joined Ryan in supporting the measure; Democrats Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore opposed it.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has signed onto a proposal that would establish Congressional term limits.
The proposed constitutional amendment, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., would limit House members to three terms and senators to just one re-election. Johnson and nine other Senate Republicans have cosponsored the measure; it has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Virginia-based non-profit group U.S. Term Limits said in a statement that "Senators DeMint and Johnson have taken a bold step to change the culture of corruption and entitlement in our nation’s capitol."
The amendment would have to pass both houses of Congress by two-thirds votes and be ratified by 37 states to become law.
An Iowa congressman today called for a hearing and investigation of the hiring practices of Gov. Scott Walker's administration following the governor's testimony before a House committee.
U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Waterloo, wrote in a letter to the leaders of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that the committee should particularly examine "the possibility of a connection between these practices and political actions taken by his campaign" -- a reference to the controversy over Brian Deschane's appointment to a high level position at the Department of Regulation and Licensing.
Deschane, the 27-year-old son of a building industry lobbyist and Walker campaign donor, resigned last week.
“I’d like to know, and I think the people of Wisconsin have a right to know, why Government Walker chose to hire a 27-year-old with no education and little experience aside from his father’s campaign contribution to Governor Walker’s campaign over two highly-qualified candidates for a well-paid administrative post,” Braley said in a statement. “If the Oversight and Government Reform Committee is truly focused on good government practices, we need to investigate answers to questions like this.”
Gov. Scott Walker this morning told a House committee his administration is "doing something truly progressive" through collective bargaining reforms and budget cuts.
Appearing before a Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on “State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead," Walker said the proposals would balance this budget, make it easier to balance future budgets and make government work better.
"In addition to holding the line on spending and finding efficiencies in state government, we are implementing long term budget reforms focused on protecting middle class jobs and middle class taxpayers," Walker said in prepared testimony. "While our idea may be a bold political move it is a very modest request of our employees."
Referring to the controversial curbing of state employee collective bargaining, Walker argued that most private sector workers "would love our proposal," and noted that federal employees contribute more for benefits and don't collectively bargain for salary or benefits.
"These facts beg the question as to why the protesters are in Wisconsin and not in Washington, D.C.," Walker said.
The governor also said lawmakers in Wisconsin have passed "some of the most aggressive economic development legislation in the country" since the beginning of the year.
"These changes do more than just balance the budget; they give small businesses the confidence they need to grow and invest in our state," Walker said. "Investors want stability and our budget provides long-term fiscal certainty for our state and local governments."
President Obama today ripped the House GOP budget plan introduced last week by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, as "deeply pessimistic."
Obama contrasted Ryan's budget -- which he said would change "the basic social compact in America" -- with his own proposals to reduce the federal deficit.
"I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs," Obama said in a speech at George Washington University.
UPDATE: Ryan responded in a GOP press conference that he was "very disappointed in the president," charging that his speech was overly partisan and inaccurate regarding the GOP budget proposal.
"What we heard today was a political broadside from our commander-in-chief," Ryan said.
He added: "If we don't make tough choices today, our children are going to have to make much, much tougher decisions tomorrow."
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson spoke on the floor for the first time Tuesday, telling his colleagues that the size of government in the country is nearing a "tipping point."
"From 2 percent in 1902 to today, where the federal government spends 25 percent of our nation’s economy, and combined, all levels of government in the U.S. now consume 39 percent," the Oshkosh Republican said. "By comparison, the size of government in Norway is 40 percent; in Greece, 47 percent; and in France, 53 percent. In the end, I don’t believe Americans want to be like France or Greece.
"We haven’t reached that tipping point yet, but we are extremely close."
Johnson attributed the growth in government over the past 100 years to "real problems" -- from the growth of monopolies to the need to curb poverty -- but said the country should move back to the Founders' vision of limited government.
“America became a land of unlimited opportunity because we were a nation of self-reliant people. Hard work was valued, personal responsibility expected, and success was celebrated, not demonized. I grew up in that America," Johnson said. "I am sad to say, what I have witnessed during 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."
Gov. Scott Walker will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday, his office announced today.
Walker will be one of four witnesses to address the hearing on "State and Municipal Debt: Tough Choices Ahead."
"In Wisconsin we’re making the tough choices today so we don’t leave an even larger problem for the next generation," Walker said. "I believe that by demonstrating a commitment to the future we will give businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs."
Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said, "Governor Walker’s actions to cut spending and address over-compensation of public employees are putting his state government in a stronger financial position."
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan ruled out tax increases as part of any plan to fix the federal budget deficit, saying on NBC’s "Meet the Press" that it would slow the economy.
Ryan, R-Janesville, said the United States is in a global economy and when it taxes job creators more than those in other countries are taxes, American companies lose.
“If you go down the tax increase path, you’re sacrificing the economy,” Ryan said, adding spending was the government’s real problem.
Ryan also gave the weekly Republican address, calling his “Path to Prosperity” a commitment to “honor the American legacy of leaving the next generation a more prosperous nation than the one we inherited.”
Ryan repeatedly warned about the nation’s rising debt and said the president’s approach would only make it worse. He said the GOP budget was crafted because it would be “unconscionable to leave the next generation with a crushing burden of debt and a nation in decline.”
“By removing the anchor of debt that weighs down our economy and advancing pro-growth tax reforms, this budget is a jobs budget,” Ryan said. “It sends signals to investors, entrepreneurs, and job creators that a brighter future is still possible – a future in which America is still an engine of growth that leads the world.”
Baldwin wrote that numerous constituents have raised concerns with her over the more than 14,000 votes that Clerk Kathy Nickolaus says she failed to report Election Day due to human error. When she announced the votes two days after the election, it swung the race into Prosser’s favor.
"They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results," Baldwin wrote.
Members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation are blaming the other side of the aisle for a potential government shutdown as Congress faces down a midnight deadline to reach a deal.
U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Ashland, blasted Dems for failing to pass a budget last year, saying the current Congress is "doing the work of last year’s House and Senate." And he ripped Senate Dems for failing to pass a "counter-proposal" to the House GOP plan.
"We can’t negotiate with ourselves," the freshman congressman said in a statement. "We’re willing to sit down and talk, but we can’t continue to put out our proposals and our ideas and have you fail to give us a response.”
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, countered that her party has "met Republicans more than halfway on cuts, and yet Republicans are willing to shut down the government over a decades-old policy fight -- access to reproductive health care for women."
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, said his office would remain open and that he would not accept his paycheck in the event of a shutdown, adding that while deficit reduction measures are needed, "a divisive Republican agenda is not going to do that."
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, also said he would not accept pay during a shutdown, saying, “I do not wish to receive compensation if our troops who are serving are not being paid."
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan this morning laid out the argument for what he calls the GOP’s “path to prosperity" through revamping entitlement programs.
The Janesville Republican and House budget chair debuted a 3-minute YouTube video on "America's Two Futures," featuring Ryan outlining a series of spending projections in the Budget Committee room.
In the video, Ryan says the House GOP plan would prevent the national debt from reaching a "tipping point" -- which he says would total 90 percent of the overall economy -- and would restore federal spending to "the historic level" of 20 percent of the economy.
"We face a crushing burden of debt which will take down our economy," Ryan says. "It will lower our living standards."
Ryan also wrote in an op-ed in this morning's Wall Street Journal that the president's proposed budget "permanently enlarges the size of government. It offers no reforms to save government health and retirement programs, and no leadership."
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said on "Fox News Sunday" that the House GOP budget proposal will seek to cut more than a couple trillion dollars in federal spending over the next decade and reform entitlement programs.
It also will include spending caps that he said would bring U.S. spending more in line with historic levels.
“We're going to put out a budget that gets us on a path to not only balancing the budget, but gets us on a path of paying off the debt,” the House Budget Committee chair said.
To reform Medicare, he'll propose a system in which the program puts out a list of plans that compete against each other and then seniors will pick which one they prefer with the government subsidizing that plan. On Medicaid, he plans to propose block grants to states that would give guvs more flexibility to serve their populations.
“Medicare and Medicaid spending will go up every single year under our budget. They don't just go up as much as they're going right now, because they're growing at unsustainable rates,” Ryan said.