Iron County Progressive


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair



In 2020, we all poured ourselves into defeating Trump—in one of the most epic presidential campaigns in history.  

We won.  

And we did more than toss out a malignant president. We also elected a terrific one. Joe Biden may not be the flashiest politician, but he knows how to get things done… even when it takes a little while.  

The last few weeks have told that story powerfully. The student debt forgiveness announcement is a massive relief to tens of millions of Americans. The PACT Act keeps America’s promise to our veterans, addressing their exposure to toxins while in the service. The CHIPS and Science Act will help ensure that we build the future here in America. And not to forget, we passed the most significant gun violence bill in the last 30 years.  

And on top of all of these things, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Gas prices have dropped continuously for 72 days—and now the federal government is going to ramp up efforts to bring down household costs even more. Tackling Big Pharma and negotiating on drug prices. Bringing down insurance premiums under the ACA. And paying for it all by ensuring the wealthiest and big corporations pay more of their fair share. It’s exactly what the public has been calling for. It’s democracy in action.  

All of this will change lives now, and in years to come. But there’s one thing that won’t just affect all of us—it will affect every person who will ever live.  

The Inflation Reduction Act’s provisions to spur the transition to clean energy puts the U.S. on track to reduce climate change emissions by 40% by 2030. 

Climate change is a crisis of profound urgency—yet is often overlooked in the midst of political chaos. When Trump came into office and pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, he struck a blow to humanity’s strongest collective commitment to action. In all of the roller coasters of the Trump years, his hostility to doing what is right and necessary on climate change sometimes faded into the background. But for people around the world—especially those in the Global South, those with exposure to coal particulates, and the most marginalized and climate-exposed in the U.S.—the lethality of out-of-control climate change only rose.  

The last seven years were the seven hottest years on record. Heat waves and extinctions are rising.  

The question of whether the U.S. would rise to this moment has become existential.  

And now, we rise. 

Trump, and Trumpism, are very much on the ballot in 2022. What we in Wisconsin do in these next 75 days will shape the future of American democracy, the question of whether our government fights for working people or sides only with the wealthiest special interests, and define fundamental freedoms—including control over our own bodies. And it will determine whether we lapse back into Trumpian denialism about this existential risk, or whether we continue to spread our wings into a cleaner and brighter future, where green jobs support families in all of our communities, and where our kids know that the earth they inherit will safely sustain them and their own kids for centuries and millennia to come.  

Let’s do this.  

In solidarity, 





Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Barnes, Wisconsin Democrats Stand with UW Health Nurses


This week, UW Health nurses voted overwhelmingly to authorize a three-day strike next month if their union is not recognized by the UW Hospital Board. The strike is the next step in the nurses’ ongoing efforts to regain their voice in the workplace that they lost after the passage of Act 10. 

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Senator Baldwin, and Democrats across Wisconsin stand in solidarity with the nurses at UW Health in their fight for union representation. UW Health nurses provide the best care to their patients every day and showed up for Wisconsin throughout the pandemic in order to keep our state healthy and safe. We are proud to support their efforts to unionize now and urge UW Health to recognize their union and the rights of their nurses.


Gov. Evers Does the Right Thing On Rising Costs, Tim Michels Does Nothing


On Tuesday, Gov. Evers proposed a new plan to provide support to Wisconsin’s working families and address rising costs. The governor’s plan would use the state’s projected $5 billion revenue surplus to provide over $600 a year in tax relief now and into the future. Gov. Evers plan includes common sense measures that will have an immediate impact like temporarily suspending the state gas tax, repealing the state’s mandatory minimum markup on gas, and cutting taxes by an additional 10% for Wisconsin families. 

Meanwhile, Tim Michels’ campaign “blueprint” on the economy still lacks any serious ideas to help Wisconsin families. Michels has made it clear he is more interested in divisive issues like enabling parents to sue schools, banning abortions with no exceptions, and refusing to support common sense gun safety legislation than he is with helping the people of Wisconsin. 

Tim Michels’ radical agenda leaves Wisconsin families behind, making it clear yet again that he is wrong for Wisconsin.


Johnson Continues Push to Cut Social Security and Medicare


This week, Ron Johnson showed no remorse for his recent threats on the livelihoods of retired Wisconsinites, releasing a new policy paper reiterating his threat to put Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block. Johnson’s plan would convert these critical programs to discretionary spending programs – a move that would open the door for Congress to make cuts. 

Johnson’s proposal would be devastating for Wisconsin seniors who rely on their earned benefits to buy groceries and pay their bills each month. Generations of Wisconsinites paid into Social Security and Medicare with the promise that the programs would support them once they reached retirement. Yet Johnson, who has complained he’s “only doubled” his multi-million dollar fortune while in the Senate, doesn’t seem too concerned with breaking that promise.


President Biden Announces Student Debt Relief Plan


On Wednesday, President Biden announced his plan to forgive up to $10,000 of student loan debt and up to $20,000 for recipients of Pell Grants for Americans making less than $125,000 a year. President Biden’s plan delivers on yet another campaign promise by giving targeted student debt relief to working- and middle-class families, with nearly 90% of relief dollars going toward borrowers earning less than $75,000 a year. 

Alongside student debt forgiveness, the president also extended the payment pause on student loans until December 31, 2022 and cut monthly payments in half for borrowers on income-based repayment plans. The president is committed to building an economy that works for everyone – which extends to students, recent graduates, and even those with established careers still struggling under insurmountable debt burdens caused by the skyrocketing cost of college.




Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair 

This week has illustrated the fundamental divide between the two parties in Wisconsin politics. We’re running on doing right by working families in every corner of our state. The GOP is running on a special-interest agenda that only serves the ultra-rich and the ultra-MAGA.  

Ron Johnson continues his assault on Social Security—saying he wants to “fix” Social Security and that funds should be invested in the stock market. This builds on his proposal to put Social Security on the Congressional chopping block, his defense of Big Pharma and opposition to negotiations on drug prices, and his vote against capping insulin costs. His record is clear—he wants to help special interests rip off Wisconsinites—Republicans, independents, and Democrats alike; white, Black, and brown; in rural communities and cities and suburbs.  

But he doesn’t talk about that in his TV ads—much the opposite. He’s now running ads full of lies, dog-whistles, and innuendos, trying to ramp up fear and division about crime.  

This is the classic formula for Republican politicians: drive up fear, use that to gain power, and use that power to fleece the public on behalf of the ultra-wealthy.  

And just like we did in 2018 and 2020, we’re going to make it backfire. No matter their politics, people don’t like getting ripped off. And by explaining what Ron Johnson is doing, we take away its power.  

Meanwhile, in the Governor’s race Tim Michels is in hiding, running ads to try to bamboozle Wisconsinites into forgetting the ultra-Trumpist extremism we saw on display mere days ago, on everything from reproductive freedom to public safety to democracy itself. We’re not going to let him get away with that. All over Wisconsin, ads are on the air explaining just how vicious and extreme a politician Tim Michels really is—using video of his own words.  

But it’s not enough to explain how bad the other side is. As Democrats, we win when we also show who we are and what we’re for—and then turn out and protect the vote. 

It’s all of our job to communicate the truth: that Mandela Barnes is the son of a third-shift auto worker and a public school teacher, and is working to fight against outsourcing so we build things right here in Wisconsin. Governor Evers, a former teacher, wakes up every day to do what’s right, and is ready to invest even more in our schools, connect even more families to broadband, pave even more roads, and send money from our budget surplus home to Wisconsinites to help people deal with rising costs.  

The Inflation Reduction Act is a distillation of all of this. The Act brings families’ costs down, it tackles the climate crisis, it requires the wealthy and big corporations to pay more of their fair share. Every Wisconsin Democrat in Congress voted for it. Every Wisconsin Republican in DC voted against it. And now comes the time for accountability.  

The latest polls have us up in both the Governor and Senate races—and our candidates down ballot have tremendous energy and momentum. But we have to expect that there will be ups and downs in the 81 days until November 8. The GOP will try to divide and distract at every turn. We’ll bring the focus back to making Wisconsin a state that works for everyone. We’ll lead with our values—and we’ll make history.  

In solidarity, 



Where, Oh Where, has Tim Michels Gone?

Tim Michels spent the first week and a half of the general election avoiding voters and the press. This week, Michels made appearances at invite-only events exclusive to party leaders and members and has refused to be interviewed when the press is finally able to track him down. 

Michels can try to dodge questions about his radical record all he wants, but Wisconsinites won’t be fooled by his parlor tricks. Over the course of four months pandering to the Ultra-MAGA base of the Republican party, Michels has: said the 1849 ban on abortion that doesn’t include exceptions for rape or incest is “an exact mirror” of his position; confirmed that he supports restricting the rights of LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites; called continuing to increase education funding the “definition of insanity”; and refused to answer whether he would certify the 2024 election. 

Self-Serving Ron Johnson Continues to Sell Out Wisconsin

Last week, a new report detailed how Ron Johnson actively tried to block an investigation into Teva Pharmaceuticals, a company accused of deliberately contributing to and exploiting the opioid epidemic. Johnson was rewarded for his efforts to protect Teva when the company gave him thousands of dollars in pol L itical contributions. 

Johnson is a self-described “big supporter” and “defender” of the drug companies that are driving up the costs of necessary and life-saving prescriptions, so it’s no wonder that he voted against cutting prescription drug costs for Wisconsinites and capping insulin at $35 a month. To date, Johnson has received more than one million dollars from the pharmaceutical and insurance industries all while the cost of health care soars and the opioid epidemic ravages Wisconsin communities. 

It’s clear that Johnson would rather serve his donors and special interests than work to bring down costs and protect Wisconsinites.

President Biden Highlights the Inflation Reduction Act in a New Op-Ed

President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law this week, delivering on his promise to build an economy that works for working families. The IRA is a historic win for Wisconsin that will lower prescription drug and energy costs, ramp up efforts to confront the climate crisis, and ensure that the wealthiest corporations finally pay more of their fair share. 

In an op-ed published by Yahoo News, President Biden explained how the IRA is proof that Democrats deliver for the American people. By lowering health care and energy costs and ensuring big corporations pay more of their fair share in taxes, President Biden and Democrats in Congress are fulfilling their promise to deliver progress and prosperity for all Americans–not just the super wealthy and special interests.


Say Goodbye to Social Security and Medicare

Sen. Johnson suggests ending Medicare, Social Security as mandatory spending programs

 By Amy B Wang (Washington Post)


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) speaks during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on April 26 in Washington. (Bonnie Cash/Pool/AP)


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has suggested that Social Security and Medicare be eliminated as federal entitlement programs, and that they should instead become programs approved by Congress on an annual basis as discretionary spending.

Those who work in the United States pay Social Security and Medicare taxes that go into federal trust funds. Upon retirement, based on a person’s lifetime earnings and other factors, a retiree is eligible to receive monthly Social Security payments. Similarly, Medicare is the federal health insurance program that kicks in for people 65 and older, or for others who have disabilities.

In an interview that aired Tuesday on “The Regular Joe Show” podcast, Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, lamented that the Social Security and Medicare programs automatically grant benefits to those who meet the qualifications — that is, to those who had been paying into the system over their working life.

 “If you qualify for the entitlement, you just get it no matter what the cost,” Johnson said. “And our problem in this country is that more than 70 percent of our federal budget, of our federal spending, is all mandatory spending. It’s on automatic pilot. It never — you just don’t do proper oversight. You don’t get in there and fix the programs going bankrupt. It’s just on automatic pilot.”

Johnson suggested that Social Security and Medicare be transformed into programs whose budgets are appropriated by Congress on an annual basis. He pointed out that budgets for the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are approved as discretionary spending.

“What we ought to be doing is we ought to turn everything into discretionary spending so it’s all evaluated so that we can fix problems or fix programs that are broken, that are going to be going bankrupt,” Johnson said. “As long as things are on automatic pilot, we just continue to pile up debt.”

Johnson’s comments prompted criticism from the White House and from Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said Democrats would fight any attempt by Republicans to “pull the rug out from under our seniors.”

“The junior senator from Wisconsin wants to put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. “He has argued that the benefits which millions of Americans rely on every day shouldn’t be guaranteed, but should be subject to partisan infighting here in Washington. He would like to revoke the guarantee of Medicare and Social Security and make them discretionary. Well, you know what happens when we make things discretionary around here? All too often they get cut, or even eliminated. We don’t want to do that.”

A representative for Johnson’s office pushed back on the idea that Johnson wanted to eliminate Medicare or Social Security.

“The Senator’s point was that without fiscal discipline and oversight typically found with discretionary spending, Congress has allowed the guaranteed benefits for programs like Social Security and Medicare to be threatened,” Johnson spokeswoman Alexa Henning said in an email.

“This must be addressed by Congress taking its responsibilities seriously to ensure that seniors don’t need to question whether the programs they depend on remain solvent,” she added. “As he said, we need a process to save these programs and no one is doing anything to save them long term. We just continue piling up debt, mortgaging our children’s future, and putting these programs at risk.”

 Asked Wednesday whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would support such a plan, a representative for him pointed to his previous rejection of a proposal by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) that would have similarly upended Social Security and Medicare. In March, Johnson said he supported “most” of Scott’s plan and called it “a positive thing.”

Sen. McConnell clashes with Sen. Scott over GOP agenda








On March 1, Sen. Mitch McConnell rebuked Sen. Rick Scott's bill that the minority leader says will raise taxes and cut Medicare aid. (Video: The Washington Post)

Top of Form



“If we’re fortunate enough to have the majority next year, I’ll be the majority leader. I’ll decide in consultation with my members what to put on the floor,” McConnell told reporters in March. “Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda: We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”

Earlier this year, Johnson announced that he would seek reelection in November, despite a previous pledge to retire after two terms. He is widely expected to win his primary election next Tuesday.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Senate, criticized his would-be opponent’s remarks on entitlement programs.

“Ron Johnson is threatening to cut Social Security and Medicare,” Barnes tweeted Tuesday. “~surprise surprise~ the self-serving, multimillionaire Senator is trying to strip working people of the Social Security and Medicare benefits they’ve earned over a lifetime of hard work.”

 According to the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, Wisconsin ranks 17th in the nation in the percentage of the population 65 and older. 

This was not the first time Johnson has made news for a proposal that prompted even other Republicans to distance themselves. In March, Johnson said he wanted to see the GOP repeal the Affordable Care Act if his party won the White House and the House and Senate majorities in 2024, something Republicans failed to do the last time they had majorities in Washington.



Mandela Mash: Using Beer to Break Through the Political Noise

By Kirk Bangstad (


By now, if you live in Wisconsin, I’m hoping you’ve seen our new beer called “Mandela Mash.” We publicized it with a lot of fanfare last Friday, and it’s shipping to stores early next week.
Here’s the tongue-in-cheek ad we posted:

"You’ve waited 12 years for this, but you just didn’t know what the flavor was gonna be.

Nothing has tasted quite right up until now 

Sometimes it tasted dumb, sometimes it tasted crazy, sometimes it tasted seditious. 

But now?  It tastes JUST RIGHT! 

Introducing Mandela Mash:  A Legit Lager. 

This beer won’t embarrass you in pubic.    

This beer comes in an aluminum can, not a tinfoil hat.   \ 

This beer was made in America, not Russia. 

With a clean finish, the taste doesn’t lie. 

Mandela Mash: The Only Sane Choice for U.S. Senate 

Call your favorite store today and ask them to stock their shelves so EVERY Wisconsinite, red or blue, can sip this fresh new flavor of American Democracy."

We've made political beer for awhile, but I think “Mandela Mash” broke some new ground. Here’s why:
For those reading who don't live in Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes is our Democratic candidate taking on Ron Johnson for U.S. Senate this November.  Barnes is a solid candidate running against Wisconsin’s national embarrassment.
But because the news media in Wisconsin is weak, our elections are FLOODED with dark money, and the average voter has started tuning out political rhetoric as much as possible for the sake of their mental health, Ron Johnson will STILL be hard to beat this November.
Every 6 years Johnson tries to recreate himself as an avuncular moderate with gazillion dollar ad campaigns, and hopes that this expensive whitewashing will convince the average voter to forget about all the absolutely terrible things he has done and said throughout his terms in office.
I live in Wisconsin, and can tell you that watching TV during election season is painful.  EVERY other commercial is this type of historic whitewashing OR a negative political ad, and after a while, we all become numb.
That’s why I focus on billboards, talk radio, and of course, beer cans that act as little mini billboards in every grocery or liquor store. And the cool thing about beer cans is that they contain some pretty tasty beer!
I think our new beer, Mandela Mash, is novel because I’m hoping that voters who have tuned out ALL THAT NEGATIVITY on TV will see this can in the grocery store and be both amused and uplifted.  MAYBE they will leave the store with a little positive thought about Mandela Barnes, and MAYBE they’ll remember JUST A LITTLE BIT that Johnson was an accomplice to the largest ONGOING presidential coup attempt in the history of our country.
But we’re not stopping with beer cans.
This beer, Mandela Mash, is a part of a 3-pronged strategy to remind voters how precarious our democracy is in Wisconsin and America.



The 2nd prong, to which you’ve collectively donated over $20K to achieve, is to put these billboards up all throughout deep red, rural, northern Wisconsin—where the State Democratic Party has all but abandoned.

These signs have been purchased and will start going up in September if they’re not up already.
The last prong of our strategy involves rural talk radio. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we recently partnered with the new radio conglomerate called Civic Media, which is being driven by progressive Madison radio personality Mike Crute.

Crute and his team have made history in Wisconsin by buying 5 rural radio stations in a matter of 4 months, so that rural Wisconsin voters have a chance at hearing the truth amidst the flood of Trump Cult misinformation being slung at them by radio waves currently saturated with conservative misinformation.
Our "Up North Podcast" is being folded into Pat Kreitlow’s Up North Radio program every Wednesday at 10 am on ALL OF THESE STATIONS and we will be airing radio ads throughout the fall to remind voters that the Republican Party has become a dangerous cult of personality.
But for me, none of this is gonna happen until September because I’m going to take a break from politics for the next three weeks to enjoy some of the summer we have left. I'm sure you all won't mind skipping my long-winded emails for awhile:)
When I come back, I’m gonna ask you for some money to spend on radio ads in Northern Wisconsin. Sorry about that, but until I make enough money selling beer to fund all of these political shenanigans, I'll need some help. Of course, if you want to chip in now, please do so here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping make Wisconsin a Democracy Again, One Beer at a Time.

Kirk Bangstad

Owner, Minocqua Brewing Company
Founder, Minocqua Brewing Company Super PAC


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair