Daily Cardinal: Green Is Costing College Students

U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Wis., is certainly not pinning his gubernatorial hopes on the votes of Wisconsin’s college students.

Green, one of the Republicans challenging Gov. Jim Doyle in November’s election, voted earlier this month to slash student aid subsidies by an unprecedented amount. Green’s Feb. 1 vote against students allowed the budget to pass the House by the narrowest of margins, a 216-214 vote. President Bush happily signed the student aid cuts into law a week later, which marked the largest cut to federal student aid in the program’s history.

Thanks to Mark Green—and other Republicans in Washington—student loan subsidies will now reduced by nearly $12 billion over the next five years. How will these cuts be achieved? The interest rate cap that parents pay on many of their students’ college loans will rise from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent. Student and parent borrowers will also be required to continue paying excessive, above-market interest rates on other student loans in many cases.

Still, the main concern for students should be that a man who wants to be our next governor cares more about giving tax breaks to the very richest Americans than he does about helping students afford a college education. Usually when politicians cut money from popular programs, they cite budgetary constraints as their justification. However, Green can’t even do that with this decision.

Fortunately, there are leaders who are addressing the financial situation facing students, rather than making it worse. In his State of the State address last month, Gov. Doyle proposed the “Wisconsin Covenant,” a plan to provide students from less fortunate economic backgrounds with college educations.

Green, who openly opposes the Wisconsin Covenant, has made his legislative priorities quite clear to college students. Fortunately, Gov. Doyle will be on the ballot again next November, giving us the opportunity to re-elect a leader who understands how to help college students.

Read the rest here.

Jef for Winnebago Receives Winnebago Labor Council Endorsement:

I am proud to have received the endorsement of the Winnebago County Labor Council. Here is their press release, followed by my statement requesting the endorsement:

Here's the Labor Council release:

Press Release
Winnebago County Labor Council AFL-CIO
Contact: Stephen Dedow

Winnebago County Labor Council Endorses Candidates for April Elections

The Winnebago County Labor Council, the local AFL-CIO chapter, held its annual candidate forum on Thursday, February 23rd for the purpose of endorsing individuals running for local offices.

The following candidates were endorsed by the WCLC:

City Council: Mark Madison

Oshkosh School Board: Dennis Kavanaugh, Lee Wilson and Amy Weinsheim.

Winnebago County Board District 17: Jef Hall

The forum questions included individual positions on the Tax Payers Bill of Rights (TABOR), tax incentive accountability and economic development, new ideas for attracting and maintaining good paying jobs, the right to organize, shared revenue reductions, privatization, gender equity, and prevailing wage laws.

Candidates in attendance included: Burk Tower, Amy Weinsheim, Wayne Traska, Kent Monte, Dennis Kavanaugh, Brian Poeschl, and Mark Madison. Michelle Monte and Jef Hall requested and submitted questionnaires for consideration, while Paul Esslinger and Dan Becker respectfully declined the invitation to attend.

Council President Stephen Dedow stated that "All the candidates in attendance gave thoughtful, honest and considerate answers to our questions. I believe that the intentionally loose format of the forum created an atmosphere of openness which allowed all those who participated to exchange ideas freely. Most of the
candidates had similar view points such as the nearly unanimous opposition to TABOR. The individuals we ended up endorsing simply were closer philosophically to our overall position as organized labor and as such would represent our concerns effectively".

The current endorsements follow earlier recommendations in support of Peg Lautenschlager for Attorney General and Karen Siefert for Judge in Branch 4.

Here was my statement and request for endorsement:

Mr. Dedow,

As you know, I am a candidate for the Winnebago County Board in District 17. This letter is to request the Winnebago County Labor Council endorsement.

I have enjoyed working with the Winnebago County Labor Council over the past years, and look forward to continuing to in the future. I am pleased that through co-operation with the Labor Council, Winnebago County was the 2nd County in Wisconsin to endorse the Wisconsin Health Care Plan. As a County Supervisor, I will work to continue such co-operation.

I am running for this seat because I feel that we need to ensure fairness and balance in the funding and delivery of services to the residents of Winnebago County. I also believe that we can do this while still upholding a quality of life for both the taxpayers and the hard-working county employees that they fund.

To often people demand a cut in their taxes on the backs of county and municipal workers. To often people turn to privatization schemes to save money simply by hollowing out the pay of workers.

I believe that Winnebago needs to fund the services on which working people rely, and provide a fair wage for those county workers that provide these services.

This is not to say that there will not be cuts and funding decisions to make in the upcoming budgets. I pledge to work in the best interest of Winnebago County when we look at what services we will provide. And in the same token, fight to ensure that these services are funded through a fair and progressive system.

I believe that the greatest statement of the morals of an organization is where it chooses to expend its resources. I will not balance the budget on the backs of workers and the poor. I will not add to the misery of the vulnerable to fund breaks for the comfortable.

I will also continue to be a voice for our issues at a local, county and state level.

These are the reasons I respectfully request the Winnebago County Labor Council endorsement for Winnebago County Board. Please feel free to contact me anytime at 920.203.6883 or
jef@jefhall.com with any questions.

Thank you,

Jef Hall
Candidate for
Winnebago County Board
District 17
224 A Scott Ave
Oshkosh, WI 54901


Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance or Wisconsin GOP or Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce?

Rep. Mark Pocan has some interesting stats on this group:

Here’s the proof. Of their current Board of Directors, ten of sixteen are either current or former WMC Board members – a whopping 63 percent! And what were their campaign donations since 1993? Well, of the $292,000 donated, 90.2 percent went to Republicans and 9.8 percent went to Democrats.

Bush Lowers Family Income

Average American Family Income Declines

Average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually fell from 2001 to 2004, and the growth in net worth was the weakest in a decade, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

Average family incomes, after adjusting for inflation, fell to $70,700 in 2004, a drop of 2.3 percent when compared with 2001. That was the weakest showing since a decline of 11.3 percent from 1989 to 1992, a period that also covered a recession.

The average incomes had soared by 17.3 percent in the 1998-2001 period and 12.3 percent from 1995 to 1998 as the country enjoyed the longest economic expansion in history.

Net worth, the difference between assets and liabilities such as loans, rose by 6.3 percent in the 2001-2004 period to an average of $448,200, after adjusting for inflation. That gain was far below the huge increases of 25.6 percent from 1995 to 1998 and 28.7 percent from 1998 to 2001, increases that were fueled by soaring stock prices.

The 2001-2004 performance was the worst since net worth actually declined by 9.9 percent in the 1989-1992 period.

A quick synopsis - Bushs (I & II) bad, Clinton good.

A Good Point on the Printing of the Muhammed Cartoons:

Altercation on why so many conservatice papers are re-printing them instead of describing them:

(If you can’t accurately describe a cartoon, you really shouldn’t be allowed near a printing press.)

Why don’t they have sweatshirts printed up with the cartoons on them and wear them around town? That’ll show them.


Great Letter in the Northwestern

Letters: Legislature has double standard for hate laws
On Feb. 12, both houses of the Legislature passed Senate Bill 525, a bill to put reasonable limits on protests outside of funerals. As you may know, Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas have been protesting at the funerals of Wisconsin soldiers who have tragically died in Iraq. He and his followers feel that these soldiers are dying because of America's support for its gay and lesbian citizens. During their debate on this bill the legislature rallied against the anti-gay hate speech of Fred Phelps and company.

I find this incredibly ironic that the legislature deplores this "church's" anti-gay hate message at funerals and then this same body of legislators introduces a bill to ban civil unions and same sex marriage. Hate is hate. The hate Phelps represents when he protests military funerals is just as inappropriate as the introduction of hateful legislation like the constitutional amendment to ban civil unions and gay marriage. The hate doesn't come any less tolerable just because it's preached by the legislature while wearing suits instead of carrying signs and using a bullhorn protesting funerals. I hope the people of Wisconsin remember that the Phelps and Co. whom the legislators rallied against with this protesting bill is the same Phelps and Co. they will be walking hand and hand with next November when they support the discriminatory amendment to our constitution.
Michael Kahl Oshkosh

Mark Pocan has a similar post here.

On TPS - The Bride of TABOR!

It is becoming unanimous...

The Oshkosh Northwestern:
Consider the essence, rather than the source, of this comment by state Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, on the unveiling of the TPA bill: "After generations of trying to rein in out-of-control spending …" Did you catch the blame game? Supposedly, politicians of decades ago now are to blame for the modern problem of "out-of-control spending."

The way to happiness in Wisconsin is to vote in November. Vote in a way so that the politicians who say the spending is out-of-control have no more control over our spending.

The Appleton Post Crescent:
New? Yeah. Improved? Some. But at its core, the proposed amendment to the state constitution remains an example of wrong-thinking government.

What it also does is allow the Legislature to abdicate its responsibility to make spending decisions on their relative merit, instead of some formula.

Government is supposed to be a tough business. We elect representatives — at both the state and local level — to make choices about public priorities. Going to the lengths of amending the state constitution to change that is akin to state legislators throwing up their hands and saying, "I can't do it. I don't want this responsibility."

If that's the case, they should find a new line of work.

Or if massive cuts threaten the quality of life in their districts, lawmakers can throw up their hands and say, "I can't do anything about it. It's written in the state constitution."

If that's the case, why do we need them?

The Marshfield News Herald:

The magic cure-all offered by those who favor minimalist government is a constitutionally mandated tax freeze. And Republican state legislators were back at work last week on their latest version -- now called the Taxpayers Protection Amendment, or TPA.

This time, though, they're running into inconvenient facts that reveal the real ingredients of this odious unguent.

Perhaps its most relevant conclusion is this: Property taxes aren't out of control, and neither is government spending. In relation to personal income, state and local government taxes are lower today than they were 10 and even 20 years ago.

Perhaps we've been told that our paychecks are disappearing down a government rathole so many times that we've come to believe it. But Reschovsky cuts through all the politics and focuses on the unintended consequences of a freeze:

* Because TPA would limit growth of government revenue to inflation, it would result in ever-shrinking government services. Why? Inflation measures increasing prices among all consumer goods and services -- groceries, day care, refrigerators, clothes, you name it.
But government spends most of its money on goods and services such as health insurance and gasoline, with price increases that have far outpaced inflation. So TABOR would result in massive program cuts.

"(The) impact of the amendment would be to continuously reduce the level and quality of public services provided to the residents of Wisconsin," Reschovsky concluded.

* In Portage County, Plover is booming, with new homes and businesses sprouting everywhere. In Wood County, Wisconsin Rapids has seen a rash of job layoffs and growth is slow at best. Wausau and Marshfield are holding steady, with a fair amount of new construction and new jobs.
TPA would treat them all the same and subject everyone to control by a Madison-based Politburo.

"This is a diverse state with varied preferences for public services, great variation in economic conditions and social conditions," Reschovsky wrote. And the best people to address those variations are local officials most familiar with them -- and most responsive to voters.

It's vital that we ask ourselves some questions: Do our schools provide the launching pads that send our kids into the world well-equipped to succeed? Do we go to bed at night secure in the notion that if trouble arises, police and firefighters will respond? Are our roads plowed and in good repair, allowing safe travel and reliable commerce?

Are we getting what we're paying for?

Reasonable people can disagree about the role of government. But that should be an honest debate.

When lawmakers promise painless tax freezes, watch out. Don't buy that snake oil.


Quote of the Day (Lawton Turns Up the Heat Edition):

This is from the Dodge/Jefferson County President's Day Dinner Sunday night - I was there and Barbara Lawton was amazing. The Watertown Daily Times covered it:

“We are not going back to a time when justice was served by the executioner and disputes were settled with concealed weapons,” she

Here's some more:

Times are changing and life is not as simple as it used to be and the Republicans want Democrats to be distracted and fight wars over difficult issues like abortion, gay marriage or stem cell research, Lawton said.

She added almost everyone knows someone who is facing difficult life issues that could be saved if stem cell research was supported.

“Or we know somebody from the gay and lesbian community who has every right to dream of committed relationships and a family like everybody else in this country,” Lawton said.

“As Democrats we refuse to engage in war and instead we're building a vision of possibility and prosperity for everyone,” she added. “It is not sectioned off just for some.”

“We are here to strengthen families, build communities and limit politics from the realm of war and have it be a healing force and a building force in our state of Wisconsin,” Lawton said.

“Because after all, politics are about the dignity of daily life and that is the Democratic difference of which we are so proud of.”

And Peg Lautenschlager added:

“We believe that everybody on this Earth, particularly in the country, ought to be given opportunity and equality of opportunity and everybody ought to be given a fair shake,” Lautenschlager said. “We as Democrats also believe that government and democracy is about ensuring that it happens.”


Vatican: Intelligent Design Belittles God

Read it all here:

Catholic experts have also joined the movement.
"The intelligent design movement belittles God. It makes God a designer, an engineer," said Vatican Observatory Director George Coyne, an astrophysicist who is also ordained. "The God of religious faith is a god of love. He did not design me."

Radio add about Green Ethics

I haven't heard it, but there is a new radio add out asking Green how he could be so close to so many scandals and crimes without knowing anything about it.

I think it is a good question to ask.

Here's the text. You can listen to it here:


Narrator: There are none so blind as those who will not see.

When it comes to scandal and the need to clean up corruption, Congressman Mark Green has his eyes wide shut.

Washington and Madison awash in scandal. Play-for-pay, extortion, shakedowns. Dick Cheney’s top aide and House leader Tom DeLay indicted. Congressman taking huge bribes. Green’s own staff taking favors from lobbyists. Powerful state lawmakers convicted of corruption, misconduct.

And Mark Green says he knows nothing about any of it.

While Mark Green was Republican Assembly caucus chairman for four years, the caucus staff was deeply involved in doing campaign work on state time, former GOP leaders David Prosser and Scott Jensen told the court.

The caucus director said under oath that illegal campaigning was rampant. Green, the caucus chair, says he knows nothing about it.

Tell Mark Green to open his eyes. Ask him, if he can’t see a scandal right before his eyes, how would he ever clean up the mess?

Paid for by Greater Wisconsin Committee


Come See Bryan Kennedy and Help Beat Sensenbrenner!

Email I just sent out, in case you are not on my list:

Hello Members and Friends of the Democratic Party!

Bryan Kennedy will be having 2 ‘Breakfasts with Bryan’ this week. One will be in Fond du Lac, and the second in DePere.

Bryan is doing a great job in his second run for Congress. Bryan has received many early endorsements and has been profiled both statewide and nationally.

I urge you to come out and meet Bryan at either event:

Fond du Lac
Special Guest: Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 7:00 – 8:30 am
Cool Beans & Bagels 131 S. Main Street Fond du Lac

De Pere
Invited Guests: 8th Congressional district Democratic candidates
Dr. Steve Kagen, Nancy Nusbaum, and Jamie Wall
Thursday, February 23, 2006 7:30 – 9:00 am
Luna Café 300 Main Avenue De Pere

If you are unable to attend, please considering making a contribution to Bryan here:


More information on Bryan can be found here:


Thank you,


p.s. on March 4th the Winnebago County Democratic Party will be hosting our second annual Indigo Dinner on March 4th, 2006 at Eddie’s Sky Club East, 1229 Gillingham Rd in Neenah. Please go to our Indigo Dinner webpage at: http://www.jef4wi.com/indigo.html email me at jef@jefhall.com or call me at 920.203.6883 if you can attend.

Jef Hall
Chair, Winnebago County Democratic Party
2nd Vice Chair, Democratic Party of Wisconsin
224A Scott AveOshkosh, WI 54901

On Leadership - Darfur & Slovenia

From Kristof in the NYTimes:

With Mr. Bush saying little about Darfur, presidential leadership on Darfur is coming from ... Slovenia. The Slovenian president, Janez Drnovsek, has emerged as one of the few leaders who are actually organizing an international effort to stop the genocide.
"You ask, Why Slovenia?" he told me. "I can ask, Why not Slovenia?"
Mr. Drnovsek came to the United States recently to talk about Darfur with Kofi Annan, Bill Clinton and Chinese officials. But he says that President Bush declined to see him; if Mr. Bush were more serious about Darfur, he would be hailing Slovenia's leadership — indeed, emulating it.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bush spoke movingly at the funeral of Coretta Scott King. I hope he'll look at these photos and ruminate on an observation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Man's inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad, it is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good."

Sara Vowell on Pessimism:

In the NYTimes, read it all here:

Alas, I see my initial worries about the current administration as the greatest betrayal in my whole life by my old pal pessimism. I attended the president's inauguration in 2001. When he took the presidential oath, I cried. What was I so afraid of? I was weeping because I was terrified that the new president would wreck the economy and muck up my drinking water. Isn't that adorable? I lacked the pessimistic imagination to dread that tens of thousands of human beings would be spied on or maimed or tortured or killed or stranded or drowned, thanks to his incompetence.
I feel like a fool. All those years of Sunday school, and still the apocalypse catches me off guard.