When Dave Schumacher, 51 years old, lost his job in 2009 in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, he wasn’t alone. Schumacher drove trucks for a supplier company that served the General Motors SUV plant, the economic heartbeat of this blue-collar town. GM consolidated production in Texas and Mexico.
When the four-million-square-foot GM plant on the Southern part of town closed in 2009 after a series of layoffs, it took with it the jobs of some 2,800 employees, the single most significant economic blow inflicted upon any Wisconsin community since the economic collapse of 2008. But it wasn’t just GM workers who lost their jobs, the closure caused a ripple effect of business closings and layoffs in the area, leaving an ill-equipped safety net supporting the workers who remained in the community.
After he lost his job, Schumacher began making calls so that he could begin receiving unemployment benefits and training, but for two months he was unable to get a person on the line. He turned to Ryan for help. While visiting the Congressman’s office, Ryan told him he would receive a call. Schumacher warned Ryan that he would come back to his office every day until he received help, but an hour after he left, he got a call from the unemployment office.
Since then, Schumacher like others in Ryan's district, has faced hurdle after hurdle in finding employment and training, most significantly a stubborn unemployment rate in Rock County -- the rate has hovered around 9 percent, after a peak of 13.9 percent after the plant closing.
While Ryan did connect him with the unemployment benefit office, Schumacher is not impressed with the Congressman.
“Is it my fault the Republicans let the economy go to shit? No,” he said. Schumacher largely blames Republicans for their role in the global financial meltdown which has hit Janesville hard. Ryan voted along with the majority of both political parties for the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, which created the “too big to fail” institutions that played a critical role in collapsing the economy and the subsequent bailout (also supported by Ryan). Ryan has also been a supporter of every free trade deal to cross his desk including the 2000 China free trade deal that has cost Wisconsin some 56,900 of jobs and the 2005 Central American Free Trade Deal (a NAFTA expansion to the region).
According to Schumacher, those who pushed damaging economic policies have an added responsibility to help him pick up the pieces and aid him in finding “a job that I can support my family on.”
After the GM closing and the closing of another auto plant in Ryan's district in 2010 (Kenosha Engine which displaced another 800 highly paid auto workers), families and communities were kept afloat by unemployment benefits. While Ryan supported the $800 million TARP bailout for big banks and convinced others in his party to swallow the bitter pill and vote for TARP, he has been less supportive of programs to help the unemployed.
Ryan has called the social safety net “a hammock that ends up lulling people in their lives into dependency and complacency” and has a history of voting against extending unemployment benefits. Some Janesville residents argue that statements like these, coupled with his voting record, illustrate a disconnect between Ryan and the community he represents.
Bert Weeks, a 59-year-old former veteran and great-grandfather of nine, agrees with Ryan on most things, but not on the value of unemployment benefits. Week’s stepdaughter had depended on unemployment checks in the past, and it was crucial for her to get through a rough patch in life, he told the Center for Media and Democracy while standing outside the Rock County Jobs Center.
“Maybe some people might take advantage of these benefits, but for most people on them they are making about one-third of what they use to make in the past. That’s no way to live. That ain’t security,” he said.
Another Janesville resident, Karina Glowacki, a 20 year-old who works as a shift leader at a local Taco Bell also parts ways with Ryan when it comes to issues like unemployment benefits. Glowacki at one point in her life was depending on unemployment benefits and said it was crucial in helping her secure housing and her ability to feed herself.
“While this community is still struggling from the plant closings, we would have been a lot worse if it weren’t for unemployment benefits,” she said.
Even the GM workers who stayed in the Janesville area and found work are making a fraction of what they used to make at the high-wage United Auto Workers (UAW) plant.
Don Heritage, a former GM employee, is making half of his former pay working 3rd shift as maintenance for a candy company -- a job which took him two years to find. Heritage views Ryan as “anti-union” and said, "Ryan, as far as I know, is not welcome at the GM plant or any factory.”
According to Heritage, “He’s not for the working person, the blue collar, he's for the upper bunch.” This is an argument that was also made by others who point to his proposed federal budget which would preserve the Bush tax cuts for high-income households and cut taxes for the wealthy and shift more of the tax burden onto middle class families.
While Ryan voted for the $800 billion TARP bank bailout, he voted against President Obama’s $800 billion economic stimulus bill. Ryan supported TARP and his floor statements painted a picture of impending doom for the financial sector. Yet on the day of the vote on a stimulus plan to stop catastrophic job loss Ryan said “this is not a crisis we can spend and borrow our way out of.” Ryan continues to aggressively campaign against the stimulus bill characterizing it as a “wasteful spending spree."
Yet if there are any “green shoots” in Janesville today, it is because of federal support for this hard-hit region. The feds have several economic development projects underway. These include the “Janesville Innovation Center,” a business incubator project providing commercial space to private employers and funding for a new manufacturing plant for a “medical tracer," a device that detects heart disease and tracks the progression of cancer formerly produced outside the United States.
According to Victor Grassman, Janesville’s Director of Economic Development, Ryan has not been helpful in securing federal aid.
“Since GM left, Paul Ryan doesn’t do earmarks any more. He’s really only functioning at the national level. If you need help with Social Security, or something like that [his staff] responds. But he doesn’t do earmarks to bring it back home to Janesville and Rock County,” he said.
“We’ve been supporting workers and laid off folks from General Motors. We received some federal funds, but there is still obviously a lot of distress,” he said. “We’ve just received an economic development administration grant, but that came through the Obama contingent. We received $1.2 million for business incubator, clearly through President Obama’s staff. [We apply through] the EPA, and other departments and we were granted some additional assistance by the federal government. We didn’t ask for [Ryan’s] help because we didn’t expect anything to happen if we went through that route.”
Ed Sadlowski, staff representative for AFSCME Local 40, largely represents constituents in Ryan’s district. "I have one question for people. Ask yourself, in this district, are you better off than you were 14 years ago? Do you have more rights? Has your standard or living improved? He's been your representative in the Federal Government for 14 years, what has he been doing for 14 years?"
For over 120 years, one of Janesville's great prides was the Parker Pen Company. Founded by George Parker in 1888, Parker Pen became the largest manufacturer of high-quality pens in the world and supplied pens to Congress and the White House for bill signings.
In 2009, the Janesville plant succumbed to wage pressure from the global trade agreements Ryan was so fond of. 150 workers lost their jobs when manufacturing and distribution operations were moved to Mexicali, Mexico.
In 2010, Ryan and his wife purchased the 5,786 square foot “Parker Mansion," and are raising their family in the remnants of a more prosperous age.
Down the road from the Mansion Hill district where Ryan lives, the formerly vibrant downtown of Janesville is a hollowed-out shell of its old self. Unemployment benefits have ended and there are too few new jobs to give job seekers hope.
Link to original article from PR Watch
CMD's Mary Bottari, Harriet Rowan and Jonathan Rosenblum contributed to this article.
Trying to make sense of all the different court rulings in Wisconsin on their partisan Photo ID voting laws? We'll try to unpack that for you.
The short version: Two different state trial courts found the GOP's Photo ID restriction on voting to be a violation of the state constitution's right to vote. A federal trial court (aka U.S. District Court) similarly found the law to be a violation of various parts of the U.S. Constitution.
The partisan WI state Supreme Court recently overturned the decisions in the two state cases ---...
Ernest A. Canning | The Brad Blog 28 Aug 2014 Hits:177 Wisconsin
Wisconsin taxpayers would have saved $206 million over two years — 73% more than previously estimated — if officials had fully expanded its main health care program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act, a new nonpartisan report shows.
If officials decide to change course and expand the program in the next state budget, state taxpayers would save another $261 million to $315 million through June 2017, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The bureau serves the Legislature and is widely respected by lawmakers from both sides of the...
Patrick Marley | Journal Sentinel 17 Aug 2014 Hits:261 Wisconsin
Wisconsin's cuts to state aid for K-12 education since the start of the recession is the 7th largest in the country, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The report from the center, which calls itself "fiscally conservative but socially liberal," calculates that Wisconsin cut its state aid to K-12 public schools by 15.3% since 2008, a reduction that out-paced the cuts made by all but six other states during that time.
When measured in dollar amounts rather than percentages, Wisconsin's cuts to state aid since...
Erin Richards | JS Online 14 Sep 2013 Hits:546 Wisconsin
“The Fight for Voting Rights, 50 Years Later” (editorial, Aug. 28) correctly states that the voter suppression measures taken in states across the country make clear “the need for comprehensive and lasting protection of voting rights.”
While it is important to reform the Voting Rights Act, the best way to ensure full protection of our voting rights is to include a guaranteed right to vote in our Constitution.
Contrary to popular belief, although the Constitution prohibits discrimination in voting based on race, gender and age, it does not explicitly...
Mark Pocan | The New York Times 12 Sep 2013 Hits:517 Wisconsin
There's one way to unite conservative Republican Sean Duffy and liberal Democrat Mark Pocan.
In separate interviews Wednesday, the two congressmen from Wisconsin both expressed intense skepticism about granting President Barack Obama the authority to use military force against the Syria government.
"I am leaning strongly no," Duffy said when asked how he might vote. "But I am going to a security briefing on Monday when I get in (to Washington, D.C.), so I'll keep an open mind. But from where my constituents are at, I'm strongly no."
Pocan said he hasn't been...
Bill Glauber | JSOnline 05 Sep 2013 Hits:477 Wisconsin
The ongoing protests in Wisconsin's Capitol turned violent Monday when police tackled and forcefully restrained a demonstrator while carrying out what has become a daily round of arrests in the rotunda.
A video of the incident shows several Capitol Police officers talking very briefly to protester Damon Terrell before they aggressively take him down. Terrell is a regular protester at the so-called "Solidarity Singalong." Police have engaged in a crackdown on progressive protesters in the building since last month, when they began to enforce a requirement for large groups to receive permits for...
Ryan Rainy | Huffington Post 26 Aug 2013 Hits:654 Wisconsin
Milwaukee, WI - A coalition of anti-war groups held a rally against U.S. intervention in Syria June 21. Over a dozen activists chanted, "Money for jobs, not for war!" at the corner of Humboldt and Locust Street in Riverwest. They received support in the form of honks and peace signs from drivers of passing cars.
The rally was followed by a teach-in on the Syrian conflict, relating it to the recent U.S. intervention in Libya and other U.S. wars and occupations. A homeless veteran joined the teach-in in the park and...
Fight Back! News.org 15 Aug 2013 Hits:494 Wisconsin
If you support Wisconsin’s outstanding public schools, Milwaukee might be the place to be on Saturday, Sept. 21, for the second “Public Education is A Civil Right March and Rally.” Or just maybe, your community might want to plan its own event.
Either way, now is the time to stand up for the public schools and public school children in every corner of Wisconsin.
Organizers of the Milwaukee event are looking for support, but they are also more than willing to lend a hand to event to others around the state. Contacts...
Tom Beebee | Institue for Wisconsin's Future 10 Aug 2013 Hits:652 Wisconsin
MADISON – Concerned Wisconsinites packed halls in Milwaukee and Madison this week to testify against Governor Walker’s regressive 2013-15 biennial budget proposal. Over the course of three hours, residents spoke out during public hearings hosted by Democratic members of the state Joint Finance Committee in opposition to key elements of Walker’s budget proposal, including the proposed expansion of school vouchers, the politically motivated rejection of federal Medicaid dollars, and Walker’s anti-middle class tax plan.
At the hearing held Tuesday in Madison, Edgewood College Student and United Wisconsin member Zach Madden testified...
United Wisconsin | Press Release 27 Apr 2013 Hits:1754 Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Lawmakers from the Joint Finance Committee are holding a public hearing in Greendale Thursday, April 4th to discuss Gov. Walker’s proposed budget and to get feedback on a wide range of issues from taxes, residency rules, BadgerCare, education and mass transit.
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Angelica Duria | Fox6Now 09 Apr 2013 Hits:713 Wisconsin
Television spending in this year’s race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court topped $1.1 million, with nearly 70 percent of spending coming from conservative interest groups, according to estimates released by the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake. Incumbent Justice Pat Roggensack, who is part of the Court’s conservative wing, defeated Marquette law professor Ed Fallone in the April 2 election, maintaining the Court’s 4-3 conservative majority.
Television spending for this year’s Supreme Court race was lower than in recent years, where contentious races put Wisconsin fifth...
Brennan Center for Justice 04 Apr 2013 Hits:912 Wisconsin
As parents of children with special needs, it is critical to explain the facts behind Senate Bill 486 and Assembly Bill 110, which would allow students with disabilities to attend a public school outside their district or a private school with a taxpayer subsidy. These bills will erode the rights and protections for children with special needs that have been fought for by the people in Wisconsin. There are countless reasons that there is not one group that advocates for individuals with disabilities...
Jenny Stonemeier, Jenni Hofschulte, Adam Stonemeier, Jasmine Alinder, Anna Moffit and Terri Hart-Ell | JS Online 16 Jan 2013 Hits:712 Wisconsin
One Percent Rubs Affluence in Face of Wisconsin's Middle Class and Working Poor
This Monday, November 5th the doors will open at 7:30 for the Milwaukee Victory Rally with “Paul and the GOP” at Sterling Aviation on South Howell at Mitchell Field. The event will begin at 9:30. These are the folks who are the “job creators”, the ones whose “Pathway to Prosperity” for the 1% requires the “pathway to Austerity” for the 99%. It is unbelievable that they can say that they understand the middle...
Keith Roberts | Uppity Wisconsin 06 Nov 2012 Hits:1134 Wisconsin
On Oct. 25, Oshkosh Corp. announced that 450 employees will find themselves without jobs in January. While the national debate rages over economic recovery and job production, hundreds of Wisconsin families are left in uncertainty, with unemployment and hardship waiting to greet them in the new year.
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Mike Helbick | JS Online 02 Nov 2012 Hits:963 Wisconsin
Update: Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said Friday that protesters have the right to march on State Street and refuse to pay for police services the Police Department recommends, though they could encounter inconveniences, such as traffic from buses.
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Sandy Cullen | Wisconsin State Journal 06 Oct 2012 Hits:733 Wisconsin
What a time it is to be living in Wisconsin and to be engaged in politics. The Milwaukee County chapter of Progressive Democrats of America celebrated its one-year anniversary recently by attending and representing PDA at Fighting Bob Fest. It was just a year ago – when I had the pleasure to sit down and meet with Conor Boylan, Tim Carpenter, Jim Carpenter (my PDAMC Co-Chair), Thom Hartmann and others – that the seeds were planted to form our PDA chapter in Milwaukee County. Since then we...
Robert Hansen | MilwaukeeDems.org 01 Oct 2012 Hits:680 Wisconsin
WASHINGTON -- The Democrat hoping to defeat Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan in his other race is alarmed by a matter close to the congressman's heart: his obsession with Ayn Rand.
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Jennifer Bendery | Huffington Post 27 Sep 2012 Hits:1264 Wisconsin
Madison - Two Wisconsin state agencies have failed to follow federal law and their own policies in issuing economic development grants, the U.S. government said in a strongly worded letter sent to Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
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AP/JSOnline 27 Sep 2012 Hits:820 Wisconsin
A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers, ruling the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The action comes after a lawsuit brought by unions for Madison teachers Milwaukee city employees. A Walker spokesman said they will appeal. Stay tuned.
Common Dreams Staff 14 Sep 2012 Hits:565 Wisconsin
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is declaring September 17 as “Read the Constitution Day.”
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And over the last couple...
Matthew Rothschild | The Progressive 14 Sep 2012 Hits:1156 Wisconsin
It’s nearing sunset on Aug. 27 and a festive atmosphere is evolving at the intersection of 7th and Ring Street in Milwaukee's central city area. People are arriving in cars, waving hello and exchanging greetings through their windows. Soon more than two dozen vehicles and 80 people are gathered in the normally quiet area, chatting in the cerulean glow of a perfect late-summer evening. Laughter hums in the air with the mosquitoes.
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Louis Weisberg | Wisconsin Gazette 14 Sep 2012 Hits:800 Wisconsin
De Pere, Wis. (WFRV) - A group of protesters were also in De Pere outside of Paul Ryan's town hall meeting Wednesday.
The rally drew people from across the state…
Representative Paul D. Ryan at a campaign event on Wednesday in De Pere, Wis., where he emphasized his local roots. Both parties see the state’s 10 electoral votes…
Sign the PETITION!
November is coming up quickly. And with that come the political ads, yard signs, and phone banks.
But for you, and Wisconsin’s 1st District,
this election cycle will be missing…
Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General is fighting to get vote-suppressing laws in place for the November election, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reinstate the voter ID law that has been…
When Dave Schumacher, 51 years old, lost his job in 2009 in U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, he wasn’t alone. Schumacher drove trucks for a…
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is now running for vice president, after presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney announced him as his pick on Saturday morning. But Ryan is technically…
After the announcement that Republican Mitt Romney chose Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, Gov. Scott Walker and Republican officials throughout the state lauded the choice,…
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Although Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived his June 5 recall election, Democrats won control of the senate when John Lehman (D) prevailed over incumbent Sen. Van Wanggaard …
PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
From the Capital Times (2011):
“These days, a lot of it is health-related. ALEC, a strong believer in state's rights, federalism, and the free-market, is fighting federal health care reform tooth and nail. (It also opposes various state efforts to crack down on the health insurance industry and expand coverage.) Since 2005, 38 states have passed legislation crafted by its Health and Human Services Task Force, according to the ALEC guide. Wisconsin promises to soon be one of the star performers. 'There have been boilerplate bills that have similar characteristics to what has been passed here in Wisconsin,' Fitzgerald says. In December, he says, he and 20 to 30 other Wisconsin GOP lawmakers attended ALEC's national meeting Washington D.C. (emphasis added), where a key topic of study and conversation was federal health care reform. The 'State Legislators' Guide to Repealing Obamacare' was handed out at this meeting, and its model legislation discussed. 'A good example of that is a bill Joe Leibham is working on right now,' Fitzgerald says. "Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, and Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, introduced the bill Fitzgerald is talking about on Thursday. The 'Health Care Freedom Amendment' would change the Wisconsin constitution to prohibit the government from forcing anyone to participate in any public or private health care or insurance program. The amendment is meant to block the implementation of federal health
Information from Sourcewatch: