Iron County Progressive

Weekly News from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair


2018: A Year to Remember


What a year it’s been! I can't stress this enough -- we Wisconsin Democrats have come a long way.

We started out 2018 with a bang by electing
Patty Schachtner to the state Senate (a 17 point flip for that district). A few months later, we sent Judge Rebecca Dallet to the Supreme Court -- the first time a non-incumbent liberal justice had been elected in decades. And of course, in November, we won every statewide race on the ballot, re-elected our Senator Tammy Baldwin and even flipped an Assembly seat once held by Scott Walker!

As 2018 comes to a close, I can’t help but be humbled by the work and dedication of our Wisconsin Democratic family. After shocking losses in 2016, many thought Wisconsin would be a red state for the foreseeable future. Pundits said our Senator Tammy Baldwin could lose and that Scott Walker’s re-election was a given.

But you didn’t give up hope.
You believed a better future for our state was possible. In the months leading up to November, you put in the hard work to make it happen, whether you knocked doors, made phone calls, chipped in a few dollars, called your legislators, or even ran for office. Our Party owes its strength to the energy of our grassroots organizers and activists. You helped make it happen, and I couldn't be more appreciative.

In 2019, Wisconsin will begin a new chapter as we inaugurate a new slate of Democratic leadership. With Tony Evers as Governor, Mandela Barnes as Lt. Governor, Josh Kaul as Attorney General, Sarah Godlewski as Treasurer and Doug La Follette as Secretary of State, we will finally have the ability to lead with our Wisconsin values. After 8 years of Scott Walker’s “divide and conquer” politics, we will treat each other with respect and reach our hands across the aisle to get work done. We will focus on issues we know are affecting everyday Wisconsinites -- health care costs, education funding and deteriorating road quality. We’ll make sure everyone has a seat at the table as we build a better future for Wisconsin together. 

This holiday season, I feel hopeful and grateful. Hopeful because our Democratic leadership has an exciting opportunity before them to make real change for the people of Wisconsin. And grateful for your hard work that got us to where we are today.

We won’t be slowing down in 2019. Wisconsinites will have the opportunity to elect an independent justice to the Supreme Court in April, and if we’re successful, we'll be one step closer to finally eliminating conservatives’ majority on the court. There will be many important local races, from Madison and Milwaukee mayor to school board races across the state. And of course, Republicans in power will need to be held accountable.

In these final days of 2018, I hope you’ll step back and appreciate all the good we've done this year, and what a difference the Wisconsin Democratic family has made. Whether you’re with family or friends, I hope you are able to find some peace and warmth this holiday season.
We have much to be grateful for, and much to look forward to.

-Chair Martha Laning



From State Senator Janet Bewley
Don’t Buy the Snake Oil 

                   Without the other provisions of the ACA, a law requiring insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions, by itself, is almost meaningless.   

I thought the days when shameless con men could get away with peddling snake oil as a health care tonic were long over.  Unfortunately, some of my Republican colleagues are trying to revive that tradition.  Earlier this week the Senate voted in the middle of the night (well, early morning) on a bill that pretended to protect people with pre-existing health conditions.  

Neither Assembly Bill 365, as amended by the State Assembly nor the Senate Republicans substitute amendment would have protected people with pre-existing conditions if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is overturned.  Without the other provisions of the ACA, a law requiring insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions, by itself, is almost meaningless. 

Nothing in the republican’s proposals would prevent insurance companies from imposing annual or lifetime limits on the dollar value of benefits provided under the plans they sell.  Nothing in these proposals would require insurance companies to cover the medications that people with pre-existing conditions depend on, or limit the amount they could set for co-pays and deductibles.  The only thing these proposals offer is false hope.  I voted no. 

Minutes before that vote, Democrats presented an amendment that would have provided genuine protections.  Republicans refused to even take it up.  And now they are running around pretending that somehow democrats are responsible for their failure to pass their hollowed out version of a pre-existing conditions exclusion.  They are as shameless as those old time snake oil peddlers. 

The protections that people with pre-existing conditions need were in the Democratic amendment, and every Democrat voted for it.  Every Republican voted it down.   They voted against genuine state level protections for those with pre-exiting conditions.  Then they defeated their own half-hearted measure.  But they found the votes to keep the greatest threat to those with pre-existing conditions, their own ACA lawsuit, alive.  

The only reason a bill banning pre-existing condition exclusions would be needed at the state level is if the ACA were overturned by the pending lawsuit that Wisconsin’s outgoing Attorney General joined.  The man who defeated him ran on a promise to pull the state out of that lawsuit.

Instead of listening to the voters, the republicans who control the legislature used their lame duck extraordinary session to overturn the will of the voters and passed a bill that prevents our new Attorney General from pulling Wisconsin out of the lawsuit.  Taxpayers will be forced to pay for the lawsuit they voted to end.  

So don’t fall for the hype you might be hearing.  Don’t be fooled into buying what my republican colleagues are trying to sell.  They are the ones who voted to put insurance company profits ahead of health of the people of the great state of Wisconsin.  There’s nothing but false hope in their half-empty bottle of snake oil called AB 365.

From State Senator Janet Bewley
If They Had Done Their Jobs, They Would Have Kept Their Jobs

 Instead, one month after the people of Wisconsin rejected the divisive agendas of outgoing Governor Walker and Attorney General Schimel, legislative Republicans spent the final throes of this session doubling down on their record of failure.
They held an unprecedented lame duck session, extraordinary only for its failure to do anything for the people and taxpayers who paid for it.  

Did they come in to deal with Wisconsin jobs at Kimberly Clark, the whole point of this session in the first place? No. 

Did they come in to make good on Governor Walker’s promises to people with preexisting conditions and their families? No. They proved those promises empty, and worse.

After seven years of railing the nation in private sector job creation, legislative Republicans decided to make WEDC - an agency that has proven itself unable or unwilling to count jobs, a permanent source of hefty handouts at your expense.

After working tirelessly to take protections away from people with preexisting conditions, Republicans offered ineffective protections with one hand while the hand behind their back guaranteed their ability to continue the greatest threat to people with pre-existing conditions: Republicans' costly and anti-Wisconsin lawsuit to repeal the ACA. 
Then they created a blank check so they can hire a legion of high-priced attorneys at your expense to file endless lawsuits. Then they created a whole new bureaucracy in a legislative committee to create more red tape, delays and cost. 

This was another act of a seven year pattern of GOP politicians putting their own jobs ahead of the people who vote, and pay, for them. They’ve granted themselves powers the constitution gives to the executive branch, and thanks to the heavily-gerrymandered districts they drew for themselves in 2011, they won’t be giving back that power anytime soon.  

Unfortunately, it's the taxpayers of Wisconsin who have to live with, and pay for, the consequences of this contemptible pettiness.