Thursday, February 28, 2008

GOP-Run Assembly Blocks Discussion Of Climate Change Legislation, Programs

Not content with its recent sandbagging of the Great Lakes Compact and its water conservation provisions, the GOP-run State Assembly has turned its "Just-Say-No" mentality towards blocking innovations to address climate change that many other states are adopting.

Details here from Wisconsin Environment, including the unwillingness of the GOP's Assembly leadership to even schedule hearings on the Wisconsin Safe Climate Act, and all the important information from citizens and groups that could have been offered.

The GOP is needlessly and destructively politicizing any effort in the legislature to address environmental needs and issues, carrying water instead for business interests and contribution bundlers like Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

As long as the GOP holds its slim majority in the Assembly, partisan priorities will trump the public interest there - - and oddly, harm the state's growth and job-creation opportunities in the alternative energy and related agricultural sectors.

As is true in the GOP's opposition to the Great Lakes Compact, ideology and campaign financing arrangements are turning Wisconsin's "Forward" motto into an ironic joke.

Voters need to remember these obstructionist approaches come the statewide fall elections.

The GOP Assembly leadership is even blocking a bill that just passed the State Senate that would require insurance companies to cover autism treatments.

But the GOP obstructs that, too.

And you wonder why the country doesn't have comprehensive health care insurance and a host of programs that are routine in the rest of the industrialized world.

The difference is that one of our two major parties obstructs many programs that would help middle class families, but guarantees privilege and favoritism for the wealthy.

Obstructionist is too strong a term, you say?

One Wisconsin Republican, State Sen. Mary Lazich, (R-New Berlin) touts on her blog her self-described "obstructionist" tactics when it comes helping block the Great Lakes Compact.

Details here.

23 comments:

Betsey said...

Budget redux.

Mission: Accomplish Nothing.

Anonymous said...

Thank god the assembly has some back bone. This global warming is the greatest hoax ever put on the American people. This piece of legislation, will hurt the middle class. Higher energy prices, severly reduce the types of vehicles we drive, etc. There was an article in Newsmax that the artic ice is actually getting thicker.

I would like to see a poll on what the average Wisconsinite would think of this bill if they knew the price that they would pay, interims of lifestyle and money, for something that is a theory and not a fact.

betsey, why is it always the GOP who blocks things? The DEMS do the same thing. Why wont Russ Decker let the voter ID bill come before the senate for a vote?

Anonymous said...

Why is it that all the supposed protectors of great lakes water don't see Chicago's permanent "right" to drain 2.1 billion gallons a day as a problem? Waukesha could run a pipe to Chicago for water, but not to Milwaukee. Why should states such as Wisconsing not negotiate some of that diversion away, and allow it could be used elsewhere?

James Rowen said...

Wisconsin led an effort to roll back the Chicago diversion and it was denied by the US Supreme Court a long time ago.

What the Compact does is establish rules, procedures and standards for future diversions.

Emily said...

Anon at 8:44AM - I strongly encourage you to read this article about the claims that arctic ice getting thicker or thinner. Please. The author has done extensive follow-ups on the sources of the cited data, and it's extremely enlightening.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue personally, it's too important to tackle it without doing due diligence.

Anonymous said...

Emily:

I have spend many hours researching this topic. The article you link to is from 2005, a bit dated dont you think? The Newmax article was from a few weeks ago.

There are MANY scientist that do not agree with the dire aspects of so-called global warming. I urge you to visit www.junkscience.com.

Anonymous said...

There are two big questions out there:

One, are humans the cause of global warming.

Two, if so, is the cost of dealing with it more than the consequence?

If the answer to both is yes, something must be done. However, it is a global issue, not a state issue. Controls at the state level will shift economic activity to other states (or nations - think China) taht don't have the same restrictions.

Deal with the problem at a national level so that a State wanting to do the right thing doesn't suffer.

Emily said...

Anon @ 12:09 - Then link me to this NewsMax article, because all I could find there (dubious as that source is) was a column from 2005.

Fact remains, the source of the data being cited by those claiming arctic ice is thickening has been traced, in the article I originally linked, to extremely sketchy sources. Apparently that information hasn't yet penetrated the heads of those still clinging to the claim to this day.

Joshua Skolnick said...

Mr Anonymous,

We do not need to belabor the point, but under Bush, the Republican US congress, and their cheap-labor conservative wannabes in the Wisconsin Assembly, oil dependency has risen from 52 percent imported to 61 percent since Bush came into office.

Never mind global warming, our money is flowing out of the country to dubious regimes beyond our borders. This is one example of our hollow economy. Furthermore, with relaxed regulations and lavish subsidies to the fossil fuel industries at the behest of the Republican controlled government, gasoline prices have increased by over 120 percent since 2001, health care costs over 100 percent, and food costs close to that, while wages and income have remained stagnant or declined for the bottom 90 percent of Americans. This is all in the context of a degrading environment.

Also, the average Wisconsinite has a dim view of the direction we are going. Over 70 percent disapprove, according to recent polling. That is the true legacy of the cheap labor conservative, money for nothing, credit card Republican ideology that has trashed our country beginning with Reagan and the first Bush.

Anonymous said...

Emily

He is a link to another article you might find interesting

http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/story.html?id=332289

Anonymous said...

B.F.D. How about the DEM-run Senate blocking all attempts to get voter ID to a referendum. It would be approved by voters by a huge margin. Russ Decker and Jim Doyle are blocking this. Let the voters decide!

Global warming is a bunch of crap. Lets get some real legislation out of this session.

Anonymous said...

Emily:

There are many current articles in Newsmax debunking global warming. Here is the one that I referred to above.
http://www.newsmax.com/newsfront/global_warming_or_cooling/2008/02/19/73798.html

Joshua Skolnick said...

Anonymous,

To paraphrase your hero Ronnie Reagan, are you better off than you were 8 years ago? Foreclosures are at the highest levels since the Great Depression. Inflation is raging at a real rate well north of 10 percent a year. Three trillion dollars flushed down the rat hole in Iraq.

Have your heroes in the Wisconsin Assembly or the WMC big wigs put their skin in the game by volunteering to fight in combat or paying higher taxes so we can afford the cost of the war? No, your hero GWB has cut taxes in wartime for the first time in American history.

As for the benefits of the last 8 years, with a GOP-controlled State assembly and a largely GOP-controlled Federal government, they are not trickling down.

If you belong to the bottom 90 percent of the income/wealth distribution, you certainly are not better off than you were 8 years ago.

All of the consumer spending, economic "growth" and "wealth" of the bottom 90 percent is, as the software industry calls it, "vaporware". It is attributed to easy credit during the Bush regime under "Bubbles Greenspan". Money for nothing. Indentured servitude to the credit industry. Now that credit standards are tightening, and home values plummeting, that avenue is gone for economic "growth".

Joshua Skolnick said...

And, a final piece of evidence to graphically show the economic trends of the past 30 years for Americans check this link out: http://afferentinput.blogspot.com/2007/12/if-america-had-100-and-100-people.html

Anonymous said...

Joshua:

First of all Ronald Regean was not my hero, I was in Highschool when he was president. I am in the upper 10% of income, why, because I went to college and studied and worked my but off. I work hard at my job know, working 50-70 hour weeks. So you can kiss my ass, for trying to make me feel guilty for my success. People have the opportunity to better themselves in all areas of their lives. I guess, to lefties like you, it is easier for the government just to take care of it, because the so called rich, (which to a liberal is what?) are evil.

Sorry for getting off topic.

I am not in the corporate world by the way.

John P said...

Joshua:

Your link does not work, but I found the blogger and go to the post. Too many people are cut up in the income percentages. Yes the upper 1% have seen huge increases, however, I think income mobility is a better indicator. Are people moving up the income ladder. It would be very hard for someone to go from the lowest 20% to 1%, however, it would not be that difficult to go from the bottom 20% to the top 10% or maybe even the top 5%. I know plumbers and many tradesman that have income of over $100,000, which is the top 10%.

I am sorry that this is off topic, but I really hate class warfare issues.

Joshua Skolnick said...

I hate class warfare issues as well. I am not against successful people, however I am against obscene levels of wealth. Who needs the third or fourth yacht or mansion in Aspen while the purchasing power of the lowest 90 percent of the income distribution, many of whom actually do the work that makes it possible for the fat cats to achieve their wealth, steadily decreases.

Back in the fifties through the early seventies, a time and place in America that nobody would think of as "communism" or "socialism", there were still rich people, but the middle class was stronger and a middle class lifestyle was still achievable by working in a factory. Now it takes two incomes and often multiple jobs to maintain the same living standard. The CEOs and other top rich simply made only 20-40 times that of their workers, not the 200 to 500 times of today.

And, why is it too much to ask that they sacrifice something for the war in Iraq, something many of them are profiting from and support.

John P said...

Joshua:

I guess, who is a fat cat that you describe? I have a client (I am a CPA), who is a medical internist. He makes about $240,000 a year, which would put him in the top 5% of income earners. He has a busy practice, he regularly gets in the office at 5am and does not get home till about 6:30-7:00pm. Plus all of the phone calls on the weekends plus weekend rounds every 4th weekend. I have many client likes this, are they fat cats? or not paying their fair share? He pays almost 30% of his income in state, federal and local taxes. Bush's tax cuts did not benefit people in the $100,000 - 350,000 range that much because of AMT. Once you are out of the AMT bite, the Bush tax cuts really benefited you.

Joshua Skolnick said...

John P, just to clarify, you are citing examples of people who provide a useful good or service, such as doctors, or tradesmen, and are simply among the rich, not the extreme rich CEOs and coupon clippers that I describe. I don't begrudge these working people their compensation. And, they only make 5 to 10 times what average working folks make, which in my mind, is not excessive.

And, if the alternative minimum tax, which by the way was signed into law by a Republican, Richard Nixon, was indexed for inflation as it should have been, it would exempt adjusted gross incomes below $250,000 today.

What is really the problem is a perverted tax code. People that you cite, and also people further down the income ladder down into the $50 -60,000 range, pay higher taxes on a percentage basis of their income than a CEO who is running their company into the ground and cashing in stock options, or wealthy coupon clippers that derive their income off of capital investments (taxed at a much lower rate than wage or small business income, including self-employment taxes). Also, the FICA tax is used as a regressive tax to subsidize other government operations such as the Iraq war, and is capped at 90,000. That is just wrong. Income is income, and should not be treated differently under the tax code.

Furthermore, looking at the wealth distribution curve, these people you cite as examples have not improved their lot significantly under the Republicans. The upper 5-10 percent has been treading water, those below that, losing ground. Only those above the 95th percentile, and especially the top 1% have been making progress. So much for the rising tide lifting all boats.

John P said...

Joshua:

Why is it wrong to have an income cap on social security?, which is $103,000 and increases each year with inflation. Benefits paid under social security are progressive, meaning that lower income people received a larger benefit than people at the top end of the cap. So are you advocating lifting the tax cap, keeping the tax rate the same and have no increase in the benefit cap? How would that be fair? That would be income redistribution. That would also be a major tax increase for employers and employees who make over $103,000. If you are going raise the cap for taxes you have to raise the benefit cap also.

John P said...

Joshua:

I think that we should have had a war tax surcharge to pay for the Iraq war. We should not be paying for this with borrowed money. If the purpose of the war was to keep America safe, then we should all pay for it. I am a conservative, and I am sick of the all of the spending the Bush administration has done. He has spent more money then democratic administrations.

We are so off topic on this tread. So, I will say this, I am very skeptical of global warming, and it has nothing to do with protecting the oil companies, etc. However, I would like to see light rail be increased in Wisconsin. I live in the Lake Geneva area and I drive down to Fox Lake to hop on the Metra train to get to downtown Chicago, I love it, beats driving. I would never give up my truck (I need to tow my boat), but I would not mind having a choice on which mode of transportation I would like to take.

I disagree with the Climate Change legislation, but if it has to be done, it needs to be done on the Federal level not on a state level, and it has to be enacted by ALL countries, no exceptions for China and India

Joshua Skolnick said...

As for social security tax, I would agree with having a cap if it were firewalled off from the rest of government functions and not used as a cash cow for other programs. I would rather see the rate decreased to perhaps 3 to 5 percent, no employer contribution, and to apply it to all forms of income, including investments, dividends, etc. And, get rid of the benefit cap as well. What if you are an investor and your investments go sour later and you have no wage income to pay in benefits. Your payments in during fat times will ensure you still get something. And, it should be firewalled off to prevent other government programs to be funded off the taxes.

Joshua Skolnick said...

Jim, at least you are a conservative in the classic sense, who actually stands for conserving our resources, and for a reasonable go-slow approach to things. This is in contrast to the radical, reactionary right who really only stands for crony capitalism and wars without paying for them.

As for global climate change, and transportation, and other issues, you at least seem to be willing to listen to reason. Transportation alternatives are vital to decrease our dependency on foreign oil, on cars that are used up and thrown away in 10-15 years, causing gross waste.

Did you know that three train stations (Williams Bay, Lake Geneva and Walworth) served the Geneva Lakes area up until the 60s and 70s? That there was over 250 miles of electrified light rail service feeding into Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, Waukesha, Burlington and East Troy until the 1940's-60's? The Fox Lake line that you use once had passenger service to Walworth via the Milwaukee Road; the station there still exists and is used as a storage building. The still-existing tracks could easily be upgraded and passenger service returned to Walworth.

The worst folly was to destroy the historic Lake Geneva train station, tear up the train line north of McHenry, IL, to Williams Bay and seal the fate of excessive traffic congestion in Lake Geneva. If you think about it, if the train still served Lake Geneva, people coming for the weekend from Chicago would not have to shovel 20-40 dollars in their gas tanks and that money would be left to spend in the local economy. One of the best things we can do in light of high fuel prices and peak oil would be to restore the trains to

However, if you follow Wisconsin politics, the reactionaries (I would not call them conservative) in the State Assembly fight trains tooth and nail, the evidence of which is why all the commuter lines stop at the Illinois border, despite population densities and potential user bases in Walworth County higher than Harvard, Illinois, which still has relatively frequent Metra service.