Posts Tagged ‘Russ Feingold’

Feingold votes against more stimulus

December 14, 2009

Russ Feingold was one of three Senate Democrats to vote against another round of stimulus supported by the Obama administration.

Feingold’s U.S. senate colegue, Democrat Herb Kohl voted yes, and he then announced almost $15-million dollars in projects and new federal aid for the Badger State – plus another 11-million for national autism education projects. Kohl’s Wisconsin earmarks included transit upgrades, new health projects in La Crosse and Eau Claire, and military construction projects at Fort McCoy and Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport.

Feelings? I don’t know how I feel myself, but I would like you to forgive me for diverting attention from this issue to another one – health care – to show that fiscal hawks like Feingold support the public option because it saves money, not simply because it’s more generous and more fair (which it is).

Feingold easily beats Thompson in new poll

November 24, 2009

According to a poll just released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a polling firm based out of North Carolina, Feingold leads former Governor Thompson 50-41 in a hypothetical senate matchup.

Russ Feingold leads former Governor Tommy Thompson 50-41 in a possible match up. He takes 88% of the Democratic vote to Thompson’s 82% of the Republican vote and also holds a 47-41 lead with independents.

Oh yeah, and and he really takes those other guys.

Feingold also holds solid leads against a couple of minor Republican candidates- 47-32 over Dave Westlake and 48-34 over Terrence Wall.

This, even as Obama’s numbers slide in Wisconsin. Can anyone touch this guy?


New challenger for Feingold?

September 24, 2009

Although it’s highly unlikely that Russ Feingold’s re-election campaign next year will be particularly competitive, the race nevertheless gained a certain level of political respectability with the announcement of a new Republican candidate today. John Nichols from the Cap Times reports:

Madison developer Terrence Wall, an economic conservative who has resources and a penchant for political infighting honed on the tough turf of heavily Democratic Dane County, has made a number of moves that position him as a possible Republican contender.

Wall is not talking publicly about a Senate run yet.

But the buzz in the state’s political community is that he has conducted at least one poll and making calls that indicate an interest in making a Republican bid.

It’s not that Wall is any less radical than Dave Westlake, self-described social conservative who has already declared. However, he has a lot of money, and with that money comes the opportunity to run a real campaign that is not based on outlandish publicity stunts to get attention, which is often the case in lopsided Congressional races, such as Tammy Baldwin’s races against Dave Magnum and Peter Theron.

According to some selective quotes provided to me by a contact in the Feingold campaign, Wall is an unabashed reactionary. He has publicly stated that “health care for all is really rationed health care,” and that Wall has advanced the “death panels” conspiracy theory.

As a columnist for “In Business” magazine and the author of political commentaries on the website of his firm, T. Wall Properties, Wall has positioned himself as a sharp critic of the Obama administration’s economic strategies.

“(We) would have been seeing a recovery around this time if the government would have stayed out of this mess, but now the country is in a terrible catch-22; massive government spending falsely marketed as stimulus is going to come back and require similarly massive taxation (or monetizing the debt by printing money) that in turn would sink any recovery.

Feingold dubious on cap and trade

September 13, 2009

Feingold, in a surprising move, is voicing skepticism of the “Cap and Trade” bill moving through Congress.

“I’m not signing onto any bill that rips off Wisconsin,” Feingold declared, arguing the bill’s mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions could put the coal-dependent Badger State at an economic disadvantage compared to other regions and nations.

That position runs contrary to both his party leadership and the Obama administration, which recently dispatched Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to Saginaw, Mich., to meet with Govs. Jennifer Granholm and Jim Doyle on the energy bill. Doyle came away from the clean energy economic forum convinced that cap and trade would “put some octane, so to speak, in the green energy economy.”

Feingold, who is generally very straightforward in discussing his positions, nevertheless was “troubled” by how many of his constituents refused to accept the science behind global warming.

Although Feingold is perhaps the most effective intellectual liberal in Washington, he has always been in very close touch with his constituents and their interests. He sticks up for dairy farmers on trade deals and was a big proponent of investing in a variety of public works in Wisconsin with stimulus money. However, this position he’s taking is too provincial. If Wisconsin is overly reliant on coal, than there’s going to be a painful day when the reliance is going to be broken, and unless Feingold proposes an alternative to reduce emissions, we might have to pay more than some other states.

Also, the point of the Cap and Trade legislation is that the United States is taking a step that some other countries probably won’t. India and China are not going to take the environmental steps that we should take to reduce fuel emissions, but as members of the developed world, it is our duty to lead, especially given our awful track record environmentally vis-a-vis other first world nations.

I hope so too, Feingold

September 11, 2009

An uncharacteristically long article in the Green Bay Press Gazette discusses the health care positions of Wisconsin lawmakers, including the predictable talking points from Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s point man on preserving the status quo. I know that’s a corny thing that a press secretary would say, but I can’t think of a more accurate way to describe it. It’s good to see Feingold put the emphasis on the public option:

“I’m glad he laid out the need and value of a public option approach,” Feingold said. “I hope he doesn’t negotiate it away.”

Refreshing yet depressing to hear Feingold openly suggest that Obama may give away the public option in an attempt to pass something and save face politically.

Paul Soglin says it’s time to move on beyond consensus-seeking. The Republicans are not going to budge.

Feingold: Not another stimulus package

September 8, 2009

What distinguished Feingold from most Congressional Democrats is not always his positions, but the way in which he expresses them: bluntly.

“This was done because we had an emergency,” Feingold told a WisPolitics luncheon this week. “I don’t like things that aren’t paid for. … We can’t just keep doing this.”

Feingold said the first stimulus bill could have been better — he remarked that small business and higher education should have been more of a priority — but said that, on the whole, it was necessary and has been effective.

As a history major, it is practically required of me to draw a parallel to past political figures. In this case I would point to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was actually a relatively reluctant convert to the aggressive Keynsian economics which defined his administration. In fact, many Keynsian advocates, such as Paul Krugman, claim that Roosevelt should have gone farther, but that he, adhering to anti-deficit doctrine, got cold feet and slowed spending after the initial New Deal programs seemed to produce beneficial effects in the economy.

Maybe we ought to just get used to a 10 percent unemployment rate. It’s what France did.

Cap Times must want Feingold for governor

August 19, 2009

Seriously, why not? Although it is nice to a have an idealist or two in Congress, the task of restoring Wisconsin politics to basic standards of decency sounds more realistic than reforming Washington D.C. It is plausible for Whitewater to elect reasonable human beings to public office, whereas it is absolutely unimaginable for the state of Mississippi to do so.

The Cap Times editorial board penned a “Memo to would be governors,” scolding Gov. Jim Doyle for being an utterly unspectacular governor, while encouraging future candidates for governor to return Wisconsin to its “bold progressive” roots. The board put down three priorities, including “real campaign finance reform,” “real ethics reform” and, perhaps the most predictably unspecific, “real ideas.”

There is only one Wisconsin politician of “gubernatorial stature” who could represent such confidence in government.

There are only two members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation who turned over complete personal financial records to the press – Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold. There is only one I can think of who voluntarily submitted to spending limits during a campaign – Russ Feingold (although he unfortunately changed course the following election). Feingold is one of a select few members of Congress who favors prosecuting government officials who broke the law, and he is a member of an even smaller elite who criticized President Obama’s decision to forgo public financing during last year’s campaign.

Would Feingold be a good governor? Hard to say. Perhaps he was born to be a legislator – or maybe just a professor. However, there is likely no potential candidate for office who knows more about the state than him. He recently held his 1200th town hall meeting since taking office in 1993. He spends an enormous amount of time touring the state, and besides being the favorite of liberal intellectuals, he is a skilled advocate for Wisconsin interests in Washington.

One thing I will say for him is that he can win. He can definitely beat Scott Walker. Walker would have to be a formidable campaigner to prevail over the trust Feingold has earned throughout the state. Neumann, who barely lost to Feingold in 1998, would still have a decade’s worth of name recognition to regain.

The only political science course I’ve taken at UW, “State Government” with Prof. Dennis Dresang, began with the near-retirement age professor discussing the slow dissent of Wisconsin politics into the culture of corruption and partisanship that defines Washington D.C., as well as other state governments. “We used to be called Squeaky-Clean Wisconsin,” he said. A government scandal when he was a kid involved a lawmaker’s child making personal telephone calls from his dad’s office. This was back when a moderate Republican Party existed in Wisconsin – before the Reaganites took over and enforced the philosophy that a stupid man who can shout “small government” is a more worthy public servant than one who understands how government actually works, or one who is interested in making government work better. The backlash against the right wing extremism of the 1980’s put equally unsavory elements of the Democratic Party in power.

OK, so Russ Feingold’s not going to run. But just for the hell of it, why don’t a few people ask him to?

Drunken state rep stands up for 4th amendment

July 29, 2009

It’s good to see Wisconsin be at the forefront of the fight for American principles – whether it’s Russ Feingold casting the lone vote against the Patriot Act (and the recent defense appropriations bill) or David Obey pushing for health care reform. However, it’s extra special when the state’s unique flavor of inebriation is injected into battles for noble causes.

Take State Rep. Jeff Wood, a Republican-turned-Independent from Chippewa Falls. In December Wood was arrested and pleaded no contest to his third OWI offense, as well as for possession of marijuana, which was found in his car by the arresting officer.

Wood is now asking a judge to reverse the conviction for pot possession, arguing that the state trooper did not have a warrant to search his vehicle. Wood is arguing that the search violated 4th amendment because the officer did not have probable cause to snoop around in his car. If the judge agrees, the marijuana found will have to be suppressed and the conviction would almost undoubtedly be overturned.

In other news, Wood is also seeking to have a 1991 OWI conviction thrown out because…it’s not explained.

Either way, this goes to show that electing drunken public servants may not be as detrimental to democratic government as many-a-Wisconsinite seems to think. Rep. Wood has the rare opportunity of truly standing up for our constitution in a way that Russ Feingold, despite all of his speeches and votes in favor of civil liberties, never will.

Feingold proposes voting rights for felons

July 27, 2009

If there’s any succinct way to described Russ Feingold, it perhaps is embodied in that corny T-Shirt that Dennis Denure sells on State St: “Spinegold”

Feingold seems to be the commander of all the political battles that other members of Congress won’t touch – civil liberties, prosecution of Bush administration officials, earmarks, and most recently, the rights of former prisoners.

In America today, more than five million citizens are unable to vote due a felony conviction, nearly three-quarters of whom are no longer in prison.  Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Rep. John Conyers’ (D-MI) bill would allow these Americans to exercise their right to vote if they are no longer incarcerated.

Wisconsin, to my knowledge, restricts the rights of felons from voting. The Journal-Sentinel advocated the repeal of that restriction two years ago. Of course, that kind of sympathy for offenders doesn’t go far in a state with a 19th century corrections system. For that type of enlightened thought you’d probably have to go to the Gopher State, where residents are imprisoned at 1/3 of the rate as they are here.

It’s hard to gauge what kind of political support Feingold and Conyers have in Congress for this kind of reform. I can safely say that plenty of Democrats will vote against it – especially in the House where there is still a large contingent of Democrats from conservative districts in the South. One thing we can be sure of is Feingold’s commitment to this goal. It is very unlikely that he will obediently put the bill on the shelf if leaders in the party pressure him to, telling him that it’s politically dangerous. He will at least get to bring it to a floor vote, and the country will be able to see which of our leaders are truly interested in treating crime and which are simply content punishing it.

Feingold defends “racism”

July 14, 2009

In case you haven’t been listening to talk radio lately, Sonia Sotomayor is a racist! As Pat Buchanan pointed out, she is a member of “La Raza,” a Latino organization whose stated goal is to work against poverty and discrimination. As Pat could probably tell you himself, Adolf Hitler was a warrior against poverty himself.

Republicans knew that in order to have a political case against Sotomayor, they’d have to have something besides abortion. Americans may be pro-life by identification, but that does not mean they are anti-Roe (By the way, Roe herself, now a prominent anti-abortion activist, was arrested today at the confirmation hearing along with a bunch of other loud pro-life protesters). Here’s the statement that expanded the opposition past the 700 Club constitutency:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

Between tough questions on executive power and second amendment rights, Russ Feingold came to Sotomayor’s defense for her now infamous statement that has got the right in a hissy-fit about the downfall of white civilization.

Feingold said Monday that opponents who have seized upon that line are taking her comments out of context. He said the hundreds of opinions she has written suggest she takes a “cautious and careful approach” to the law.
He notes Sotomayor closed that speech by saying she constantly re-evaluates her assumptions and perspectives.

Interesting how both Minnesota and Wisconsin have two senators on the Judiciary Committee. While Feingold and Kohl are not particularly surprising – Kohl has a lot of seniority and Feingold is incredibly knowledgeable of the law. However, both of Minnesota’s seats are held by very junior senators – Amy Klobucher and Al Franken. It’s frankly surprising that Franken got a seat on such a coveted committee so late in the game. OK, maybe judiciary isn’t as popular as appropriations or foreign policy, but it is a great way to get guaranteed spotlight time, especially considering how many spots on the Supreme Court will open up during Obama’s term.