Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Wisconsin Version of ObamaCare?

We are all very familiar with the health care debate raging in our nation’s capitol and in town hall meetings across the country. The issue of whether or not the federal government should grab control of our current system and create its own socialized brand of medicine has been making national headlines for months. But, I wonder how many people remember what happened right here in Wisconsin just two years ago.

If you recall, Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature were running around the state holding public hearings touting an Obama-like government-run health care plan. For the most part, no one really knew anything about it. You may vaguely remember they had a plan, but folks are sure to be soft on the details and likely know little of the plan’s potential impact on our economy or the size of state government.

Despite minimal public input at the time, the Democrats tried to ram this through as part of the state budget. Every Democratic senator in Southeastern Wisconsin, in fact, every Democrat in the Wisconsin State Senate, voted to make their beliefs of what your health care should be, part of the last state budget.

Their plan would have implemented a tax on Wisconsin business to pay for a government-run health care model. Much like the plan being tossed around in Washington, the Senate Democrats would place your health care decisions in the hands of bureaucrats. Luckily for us, Republicans, who controlled the State Assembly at the time, were able to purge the plan from the budget. But what happened to the Democrat’s plan? Where is it now? Is it dead?

No, it’s not dead.

Democrats here in Wisconsin know the public is furious about the national plan and don’t want to take the flack their Washington cohorts are taking so they’ve decided to sit back and watch the carnage. If their friends in D.C. get the job done and force us all into a socialized health plan, then state legislative Democrats can slowly back out of the room, pretend like they had no input on the deal and come out clean as a whistle. If the national Democratic Party fails in their quest, however, look for the Wisconsin plan to be resurrected.

Despite their inactivity, legislative Democrats still believe in the government-run model. They still believe that your government should be involved in your health care decisions. They still believe businesses need to be taxed in order to pay for their employee’s health care and the care of people that don’t currently have insurance.

Their plan, or course, would be devastating to Wisconsin businesses and our economy. People without insurance from the across the Midwest and the entire country would flock to Wisconsin for free health care and businesses would move out of state as quickly as they could; taking jobs and families with them. We would have a net gain of people dependent on government and a net loss of producers, job creators and taxpayers. It would complete our state’s death spiral.

If we are really going to prevent the government from intruding into our lives and impacting personal decisions between our loved ones and our doctors, we not only have to keep up the pressure on Democrats who represent us in Washington, D.C., we have to keep up the pressure on our representatives in Madison who still believe in the socialist dream and are coyly waiting in the wings for their turn to pounce.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time change for the Brookfield Town Hall Meeting

The Wednesday, September 2nd, Town Hall Meeting at the Brookfield Safety Building on Calhoun Road will now begin at 3:30pm.

Town Hall Meeting Schedule

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings

Town Hall Meetings are an important opportunity for me to listen to concerns and get input from constituents. I hold these events several times a year and invite you to stop by and share your thoughts with me. Meetings will be held at the various times and locations listed below:

September 2, 2009

9:00-9:30am - Sussex Village Hall, N64W23760 Main Street, Sussex
10:00-10:30am - Merton Town Hall, W314N7624 Highway 83, Merton
10:45-11:15am - Merton Village Hall, 28343 Sussex Road, Merton
12:00-12:30pm - Richfield Village Hall, 4128 Hubertus Road, Hubertus
1:30-2:00pm - Lannon Village Hall, 20399 W. Main Street, Lannon
2:15-2:45pm - Brookfield Safety Building, 2100 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield

September 3, 2009

10:00-10:30am - Hartford City Hall, 109 North Main Street, Hartford
11:00-11:30am - Menomonee Falls Public Library, W156N8436 Pilgrim Road, Menomonee Falls
1:00-1:30pm - Pewaukee Village Hall, 235 Hickory Street, Pewaukee
2:00-2:30pm - Waukesha State Bank, Community Room, 100 Bank Street, Waukesha

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Richfield Days

Richfield Days is this weekend. There is always a lot to see and do. Fish Fry on Friday night, fireworks on Saturday night and a big parade on Sunday. Because of a very busy weekend, I will only be able to go for the parade. If you can make it I would love it if you stopped by to say hi.

The parade starts at high noon.

For more information on the Village of Richfield and Richfield Days you may follow the link below,

See you there~{82FAA517-DA7D-4BF8-BAAC-C09CDD721D5E}

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Zoo Interchange

I have been talking about the need to reconstruct the Zoo Interchange for years. It is the most heavily travelled interchange in the entire state, including the Marquette Interchange, and work to rebuild it must be accelerated.

Governor Doyle has repeatedly delayed the reconstruction project and we are paying the price.

Here is a link to a JS Online story in today's newspaper.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

August Showdown for Brewers

Well Gang, this is it. The Brewers have an easy schedule in August and need to make it happen. The old adage is that you can't win without pitching and the Brewers are going to need to patch it together for the next month and win with what they have. Can they do it? Only time will tell.

My prediction is two or three games back in the Central come September 1. However, the bad news is that their September schedule is pretty tough. This might not be the Brewers' year, but the bandwagon should be full for a while...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When Did We Vote ‘YES’ on Trains?

My new column on trains:

Have you noticed a steady increase in the number of news reports about trains? Over the past several months and weeks, newspapers have been covered in stories about light rail, high speed rail, federal stimulus money for trains, Spanish train manufactures, KRM, regional transit authorities, a loop around downtown Milwaukee, and routes to Madison, Minneapolis and Green Bay.

When did all of this happen? At what point did Wisconsinites decide we were all in on the train game?

Since the beginning of the year the legislature has been focused on one thing, the budget, and rightly so, it’s the most important vote of every two-year session. Right now, the whole budget mess seems like a Jedi mind trick, a slight of hand, to get our attention focused on billions of dollars of new taxes and not on what was going on with trains.

While the rest of the people in the state were distracted with real world problems like trying to keep their jobs and paying bills, the liberal elites like Governor Doyle and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett were off cutting deals on trains. As Wisconsin companies were leaving Wisconsin for greener economic pastures, Governor Doyle was in Spain making new friends. Those friendships led to a foreign train manufacturer landing a $47 million no-bid contract to build high speed rail cars for use between Milwaukee and Chicago. Sounds like a sweetheart deal for the Spanish company, but now taxpayers have to pay for track upgrades to make the new cars truly “high speed”.

That’s the thing with trains, the start up costs are just the beginning. Cars, new tracks, track upgrades, maintenance, future route expansions all cost money, and lots of it.

For a state that raises taxes year after year and is carrying over a $2 billion deficit into the next budget, I have one question: Should we be spending money on things that could end up costing us hundreds of millions of dollars down the line? If we can’t afford to pay for transportation priorities, like reconstructing the Zoo Interchange, can we afford to take on another huge financial burden?

These are questions that need answering. The issue of transportation, including rail, needs to be debated and voted on. After all, when did we vote “yes” on trains?

Where is the strategic plan on rail? It appears there are independent plans on rail systems offer by individual interest groups, but how do these plans link together? The fact is, there is no twenty-year plan on rail. These issues have never been debated. The individual proposals were negotiated by two groups sitting on the same side of the table. The same thing is going on behind the scenes of other rail related headlines.

Just last week, Governor Doyle traveled to Chicago and put Wisconsin in the middle of a mad grab for federal cash targeted at train projects. The only chance to get a piece of the pie was to tout our own big plans for rail and to sit down with the Mayor Daley to cut a Chicago-style deal. Those deals rarely benefit anywhere but Chicago. The Daley-Doyle deal was no different. The Governor agreed to support Chicago-centric proposal paid for by federal stimulus money in the hopes that Wisconsin might get some of the leftover pocket change to chug north.

If any federal money does make its way here, it will never cover the long term costs of the project. Wisconsin taxpayers will be paying the bills in perpetuity.

If, at some point in the future, we determine this is what the state needs then so be it, but we need to think it through. We need to debate the issues, lay out the facts and make an honest decision if rail is the right way to move our state forward. Before we get “all aboard,” we need to ask ourselves if the way we are spending money will give us a solid return on our investment.

We can’t afford to get it wrong. The stakes are too high.