Saturday, June 12, 2021

Imagining Wisconsin Republicans in a 2020s Q & A

6/13/21 1 p.m., updated. 

If a panel of historians someday held a retrospective 2020s Q & A with Wisconsin GOP officials, I imagine the transcript might read something like this:

Q. 2020 saw high-profile killings of African-Americans by police officers, and Democratic Governor Tony Evers Wisconsin Governor proposed several reforms to address that reality. How did you handle those proposals?

AWe immediately adjourned.

Q. The Governor had also asked you to pass some very popular gun safety measures. How did you deal with his public safety proposals?

A. We adjourned immediately. But we did hold a prayer meeting and news conference first

Q. You had complained loudly about the way Gov. Evers managed the state's unemployment compensation system that he inherited after decades of funding neglect. How did you handle his request for an infusion of funds to upgrade the system.

AWe immediately adjourned.

Q. Overall, how long was your 2020 adjournment?

A. About nine months. Maybe ten. Until the pandemic began to abate.

Q. Did you manage to take or facilitate any actions to address the pandemic?

A. We drove out the State Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

A. Actually, she was only the acting Secretary, because we never gave her a confirmation hearing.

A. Remember, we could outright fire anyone we wanted because we set up the Legislature with a permanent Republican majority even though Democrats get more votes statewide. And just because the Governor appointed someone doesn't mean they get the job. 

A. Unless a different Governor made the appointment; then the appointee got to stay as long as he wanted.

A. Or an elected official who might break a promise about stepping back from another term was free to pull a stay-put maneuver, too.

A. Rules: we make 'em and we break 'em. That's how we owned the libs.

Q. Back to public health actions. Did the pandemic help sway you towards extending Medicaid coverage as Gov. Evers' proposed to 90,000 low-income Wisconsinites residents who continue to lack medical care coverage? After all, the federal government was going to supply more than a billion dollars to cover the costs, so all state taxpayers would benefit, too.

A. No. We adjourned immediately.

Q. Any special motivation for that action?

A. No, because we'd been turning down that kind of welfare for several years. We're the party of personal responsibility and consistency. If people want health insurance, they should get off their couches and get a private sector job. Not like ours.

A. Had you made private sector employment more attractive in Wisconsin by increasing the minimum wage from its long-standing level of $7.25 per hour, or funding childcare or transportation costs which often kept low-income people out of the workforce?

A. No. We weren't liberal, Progressive Marxist socialists here, like that Joe Biden.

Q. Did all of you promote or take the highly-effective COVID19 vaccine?

A. No.

Q. Weren't you afraid of getting the virus, or worse, inadvertently passing it on to a neighbor?

A. Excuse me, but you must have me confused with someone who gives a s**t.

A. I actually put up a video on YouTube with important COVID facts of my own

AI publicly advised my kids to refuse the vaccine.

A. We also sued to get the Governor's anti-virus health orders rescinded.

A. Because he was a dictator, and we recognized only one King

A. We also told everyone it was "incredibly safe to go outside" as the pandemic gained strength.

Q. And did you go outside?

A. Well, sure, with all the right equipment and protections. Because we're the party of personal responsibility - and good connections, so we got the right gear.

Q. But I read that more than 675,000 Wisconsinites had caught the virus and over actually 8,000 died.

A. Well, those weren't necessarily all "regular folks."

A. Or people who'd taken the time to learn our customs, ways and dedication to personal responsibility.

Q. Switching gears, another big issue at the time was climate change. I'm sure you've noticed the increases in greenhouse gas emissions, reduced snowfall, more heat emergencies and ozone warning days. 

A. We added extra registration fees on electric and hybrid vehicles.

Q. Because?

A. Libs who complained about that were free to switch to a traditional gasoline-powered pickup. It's a free country.

A. And we added more fees to home solar energy hookups.

Q. Because?

A. Even state-approved monopoly utility companies deserve a bonus from time to time. Remember, corporations are people, too, my friends. Homeowners who didn't like the fee were free to stick with natural gas or fuel oil. It's a free country.

A. We also cut bus funding by 50% to Wisconsin's two largest cities. 

Q. Because?

A. Hey, this is America, not France. And screw their roundabouts, too. We like our traffic accidents like we like our steaks: T-boned.

AAnd for years we'd fought urban trolleys, killed an Amtrak extension, banned regional transit authorities and blocked a commuter rail line connecting Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha where a Chicago commuter train makes a stop.

A. We also sued the Federal government to weaken clean air standards.

Q. Why?

A. It better matched up with our weakened clean water policies. You can't have one without the other. Along with certainty and personal responsibility, we're the party of predictability, too.

A. Which is why we got the EPA to relax clean air standards over densely-populated southeastern Wisconsin so a major Taiwanese corporation we picked as a winner, and were subsidizing by the multiple billions could build big-screen TV panels for shipment in a special highway lane built for driverless trucks headed for a new export zone at Milwaukee's airport. 

A. Plus, we'd also weakened Wisconsin wetland protections and gave the company special permission to pipe in Lake Michigan water because big-screen-flat-panel production finishing requires millions of gallons of fresh water every day.

Q. So, you gave them water, wetlands, legal exemptions, air pollution permissions and billions in subsidies in exchange for flat-panel screen production. How did that work out?

AThey never built a single one.

A. And the special highway lane for the special trucks to get to the special export zone.

A. None, never, nada. 

Q. Because?

A. C'mon: no one had a crystal ball!

A. But we had a magic piece of paper, so we figured magic beans jobs would grow on the Mt. Pleasant prime ag lands that got bulldozed.

Q. Anything else I've missed? That you're particularly proud of?

A. We're particularly delighted to have encouraged the feds to strip away education dollars we can do without. Why pay teachers to indoctrinate our kids with Critical Race Theory? I'm telling you, Act 10 didn't far enough.

A. We voted to end a $300 per month Federal payment to people who'd lost their jobs during the pandemic because slackers needed to get off their couches and get a job. 

A. Just in case people didn't get that message when we cut off $70 million a month in Federal food aid money.

Q. But when you were on that long 2020 hiatus you collected your full salaries, correct?

A. Of course.

Q. You even got mileage and meal reimbursements without submitting receipts if you drove to and from the Capitol, correct - so isn't your opposition to that $300 payment even more hypocritical?

A. Not at all. Were we expected to drop everything and drive to the Capitol when we're on vacation to vote and then adjourn on empty stomachs?



George Wagner said...

Excellent article. Other items to remember:
1. Taxpayers' dollars to fine tune gerrymandered districts in 2011 in their favor. Ten years later, they're doing it again.
2. Taxpayer's dollars to pursue right-wing conspiracy claims about the "stolen" 2020 presidential election.
3. Stripping gubernatorial powers from Governor Evers a month after he was elected in 2018.
4. Using taxpayers' dollars to hire outside counsel when they disagree with Attorney General Kaul's prosecutorial direction.
5. Voting to slash Evers' education budget putting over a billion dollars in federal aid in jeopardy.

James Rowen said...

I added a couple of your reminders. Thanks.