After four plus years of Governor Walker and his Republican control of state government we have the most divisive governor in our history. We have seen the greatest decline in our middle class of any of the fifty states.
Their message and their media: it’s not that there are not enough jobs—the unemployed are lazy.
Cutting SNAP and denying poor children school lunch because their parents can’t afford it is the right thing to do because it makes them tougher thus more self-reliant.
The rich deserve more because they work harder and are more responsible thus better than us—so they should be able to do whatever they want and pay no taxes.
Believing that everyone should be able to be treated by a doctor is a communist plot.
There is no income equality so we should all just shut the hell up.
Workers should not have freedom to organize for better wages or safer working conditions.
If you don’t agree with them they will do everything they can to make it more difficult for you to vote.
In Wisconsin the top 1% pays just 6.9% their income in state and local taxes while the Wisconsin middle class pays almost 11% of theirs.
Last year a Republican billionaire said the number of votes you get in the election should be tied to amount you pay in taxes—meaning someone who pays a million dollars in taxes should be able to cast a million votes—as if the wealthy don’t have enough sway over our government already. Maybe if we based the number of votes you could cast upon the percent of income you pay in taxes we might see more rich folks agreeing to pay their fair share.
Well that is NOT the kind of Wisconsin or the kind of America I grew up in. And that’s not the kind of state or country I want for my kids or grand kids…or yours.
Despite what the 1% have to say, income inequality is real. Their agenda of trying to sell tax cuts for the rich and corporations and smaller government as the solution to every problem is as bankrupt creatively as it is morally and financially.
I believe a government of the people, by the people and for the people can and should work to level the playing field.
That’s why Rep. Ginrich, Green Bay, Rep Cory Mason, Racine and Senator Bob Wirch, Kenosha and I introduced legislation aimed at reducing income equality and rebuilding the middle class. Including:
Restore tough enforcement of equal pay laws so women receive the same pay for the same work as men
Raise the minimum wage and index it to the cost of living so people don’t fall behind.
Refinance student loans at lower interest rates like you and I can do with home or mortgage loans.
Create a private state-run pension plan so people in the private sector can have a similar type of retirement plan that public workers and elected officials have.
But we can do more—Change the state law that caps at $23,000 above which a salaried employee can no longer collect overtime and raise the cap to $69,000, which would keep the cap at the same level it was set at in 1975. Thousands of salaried workers would qualify for overtime thus putting more money in their pockets, more food on their table and more money into our economy.
And we should ban any company receiving taxpayer assistance and then outsourcing jobs from applying for any taxpayer help for at least five years.
It may not be a popular thing to talk about right now, but this is our democracy.
It is our government. It belongs to all of us—not just the privileged few. And the people who are trying to steal it from us want us to believe it doesn’t matter.
The people are starting to see through Walker’s Tea Party agenda. They are seeing him for what he is:
A career politician who will say and do anything to further his presidential ambitions.
A college dropout who is anti-education.
A servant to the rich who would rather give millions of our tax dollars to build an arena for billionaires in Milwaukee than gave one taxpayer dime to someone who is down and out,
Someone who thinks we are so blinded by his charisma that we would leap with joy at a $5 property tax cut while ignoring his desecration of our public schools.
It is no wonder that 68% of the people have an unfavorable view of him.
Now that people are seeing him for who and what he is, we have the ability to change our state and country for the better. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day. I’m convinced if we work together toward a positive agenda that will make the lives of everyday Wisconsinites better; we can and will make a difference.
But if we remain silent believing there is nothing we can do to stop them—or worse—continue trying to be a less offensive version of them, soon we won’t be able to recognize what it is that made Wisconsin and America the best place in the world and the Democratic party the true party of the people.
And that is something I can’t let happen—not to my kids and not to my grandkids—and not to yours.
Excerpted from his 8th CD speech April 25, 2015 by Garrett U. Cohn, Chair Door County