Tuesday, June 15, 2021

WI GOP enjoy de-stressing perks, but stress out everyday people

Most of us had probably seen those lists of stressors and the dangers they pose even before COVID brought higher levels of anxiety into homes, workplaces, daily living and relationships just about everywhere.

So it's infuriating that GOP legislators in Wisconsin whom taxpayers generously compensate continue to intentionally raise the stresses with which everyday people and public service organizations are already burdened.

While at the same time using their offices to minimize stress or worries in their own businesses and daily living. More on that point in a few paragraphs.

But make no mistake about it: GOP legislators routinely implement (with help from conservative funders and allies) an intentionally cruel campaign of trouble-making  from a position of gerrymandered superiority to control people who already have a greater share of problems, but fewer resources with which to fight back.

All the better with which to divide-and-conquer.

This is the latest example:

Leaders of the state's five largest school districts said Tuesday the Legislature's recent budget action has created a situation where school officials are putting off plans to use federal aid intended to help students and teachers recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Superintendents of school districts in Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine in a letter to leaders of the Joint Finance Committee said the panel's action on school funding has halted districts' planning efforts because of the potential loss of $2.3 billion in federal aid. The aid is in jeopardy because the level of state spending the committee set in May doesn't meet federal standards. 

On the heels of this deliberate:

Wisconsin has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will deliver more than $70 million per month in federal food aid just weeks before the state was to begin losing out on the funding because the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID-19 emergency order.

That order came in response to a lawsuit against Gov. Evers' emergency anti-COVID public health order filed by a conservative businessman and major donor to GOP candidates. 

The use of food aid as a partisan cudgel in Wisconsin had its roots here:

On Wednesday, the Trump administration finalized a rule change that will make it more difficult for people to get food stamps — a change based around a model created by former Gov. Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans.

The changes, which will take effect next April, will reduce benefits people can receive food via the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And while Walker’s cuts four years ago already hit food-stamp recipients hard, this rule stands to take the food benefits away from another 25,000- 27,000 people, according to estimates from the state Department of Human Services. 

The 2015 state Republican cuts took food stamps away from roughly 100,000 Wisconsinites, adding work requirements and other hurdles to the program known also known here as FoodShare.  

And began all the way back to something I discovered in Walker's first budget in 2011

It's right there in the budget, on page 65, in the "Health and Human Services" section: 
"To further encourage W-2 recipients to recognize that the goal of W-2 is for participants to secure unsubsidized employment, reduce the monthly benefit check by $20."

Mind you - Walker and his wife at the same wanted to upgrade the Governor's residence kitchens to the tune of $478,000; no contradiction there. 

And raised taxes on the poor to help fund tax cuts for businesses and upper-income earners.

And you can see the same policy and legislating patterns in Republicans' denial of expanded Medicaid care coverage, wage growth, and improved transit services that keeps poor people poor, stressed, and more focused on daily survival than political actions to oust their tormentors.

And yet, these same 'austerity-for-the-masses' GOP lawmakers have their own ways of keeping stress at bay that do not involve meditation, mindfulness and regular yoga by:

* Maintaining and even boosting their own taxpayer-provided benefits, and.... 

* Using their positions to sponsor and adopt laws that keep their personal businesses running smoothly, as the Journal Sentinel had noted in 2019:

A series of sweeping laws promoting the interests of landlords at the expense of renters, local governments and even public safety have been pushed through the state Capitol since 2011 by a group of lawmakers who moonlight as landlords. 

Backed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos — a college-town landlord with 23 properties worth about $3.8 million — the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted five major bills largely benefiting landlords.  

The measures speed up the eviction process, eliminate some tenant legal defenses, limit the power of cities to police landlords and cap fees tied to building code violations. They also allow landlords to toss renters' belongings on the curb immediately after an eviction, instead of placing the property in storage.

* And now GOP-legislator-tavern owners are playing the same, me-first game, as the Journal Sentinel explains (behind its paywall): 

Bice: Two GOP lawmakers who own taverns push bill to ease credit and give other help to Wisconsin bars

Republicans continue to demonize people who might get some relief from law, or public programs like Medicaid: 

"I think the State of Wisconsin has enough resources to be able to utilize, to make sure we have all of our priorities funded and we're not going to do it by expanding welfare," said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester. 

But career politician Vos and his colleagues - when they need it - are always ready to legitimize their behaviors and advantages: 

In an interview in his Capitol office, the Rochester Republican said there was no conflict of interest in his support for bills benefiting landlords, including his own property rental company.

"The idea of having a citizen legislature where people have experience is what everybody says they want, right?" said Vos, who had held elective office since 1994 and owns an array of businesses. "They don't want professional politicians."




Minnesconsin Tom said...

As much as I think Mandela Barnes would make an exciting candidate, I’ve changed my mind about wanting him to run for U.S. Senator. He better stay right where he is as Lieutenant Governor and do everything he possibly can to help Tony Evers get re-elected. Evers in the Governor’s Mansion is the only thing keeping this state from complete annihilation by the GOP.

Jake formerly of the LP said...

I'll second that thought. I looked at that summary of how the Trump White House tried to get officials in Georgia to "investigate" the results of the 2020 election, and not allow them to send in their electoral votes. Now imagine Trump calling Scott Walker and Brad Schimel in Wisconsin asking for the same thing. There is no question those scumbags would have held up our votes and thrown out the results made by 3.3 million Wisconsin voters.

Evers is the only thing saving this state from the worst anti-democratic bills from this gerrymandered Legislature, and Barnes boosts that ticket. If he stays, Barnes also has a huge future for 2024 (Mayor of MKE or House or US Senate) or in succeeding Evers in 2026. Running for Senate would be a lose-lose for both Mandela and the state by comparison.