The big stories going into, and coming out of, the state Republican convention in Milwaukee last weekend were a pair of resolutions straight from the 19th century.
While convention goers beat back plans to allow Wisconsin to secede from the Union and nullify federal law, it wasn’t without plenty of debate on the merits of the extreme proposals – or plenty of votes, as a third of the delegates, hardly a “fringe element,” supported them.
So Wisconsin won’t be out of the Union, but Wisconsin Republicans remained completely out of touch with the majority of Wisconsin voters as they passed resolutions — statements of their core beliefs and values — that firm up Scott Walker’s second term agenda.
To be sure, the below platform proposals that were passed last weekend are just the beginning of Walker’s secret second term agenda. After all, Scott Walker didn’t campaign for office in 2010 on a plan to eliminate collective bargaining — he campaigned on creating 250,000 new jobs. Yet four years later, Wisconsin is lagging behind the rest of the nation on job growth while Scott Walker collects six-figure checks for selling the revisionist history of how he destroyed six decades of labor peace.
Right-to-Work: Divide and Conquer
Notable in Scott Walker’s platform is a resolution to make good on Walker’s promise to a Janesville billionaire to “divide and conquer” Wisconsin workers in pursuit of “right-to-work-for-less” legislation, after Walker first spared public safety unions and private-sector unions.
The Economic Policy Institute estimates that “right-to-work-for-less” laws drive down wages for all workers by an average of $1,500 a year, whether they are in a union or not. So another round of attacks on union rights will drive down wages for working families, further weakening an economy ranked 9th out of 10 Midwest states on job creation.
Now that Scott Walker Republicans have successfully pushed out of office two lifelong moderates who opposed their statewide voucher plot, they approved a proposal to expand unaccountable voucher schools “without limits or strings attached.”
After cutting more than $1.6 billion from public schools with his first budget, Walker’s second budget failed to repair the damage and didn’t put a penny of new spending back into public school classrooms. Instead they prioritized a $94 million expansion of voucher schools.
There’s no evidence that voucher schools perform any better than our public schools. Voucher schools are not accountable to the taxpayers and are able to operate under relaxed guidelines – including allowing unlicensed teachers and being able to discriminate against students with special needs.
Walker Republicans also support the repeal of the Common Core standards in favor of a set of educational standards written by politicians, not education professionals. Weakening public schools and educational standards in the midst of a jobs crisis by funneling money to unaccountable voucher schools can only continue Wisconsin’s downward economic spiral, which has us lagging nationally in job growth.
Not content to simply strip pay equity protections for women (as well as seniors, veterans, and disabled workers) and mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, Scott Walker Republicans continued their War on Women by voting to oppose comprehensive reproductive healthcare and proposing the elimination of all funding for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin announced as a result of state funding cuts they would close the doors of their clinics in Shawano, Chippewa Falls, Johnson Creek, and Beaver Dam. The closures eliminate critical services to 2,000 patients including lifesaving cancer screenings, breast exams, birth control, annual exams, pregnancy tests, STD testing and treatment, HIV screening, and referrals to a network of community resources. In all four communities, Planned Parenthood is the only reproductive health care provider for low-income women.
Republicans also appear poised to take up radical “personhood” legislation again. By giving full legal rights to a fertilized egg, abortion would be outlawed even in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother was at risk, and would criminalize common forms of contraception and even ban certain kinds of birth control and fertility treatments. This kind of law was overwhelmingly rejected by Mississippi voters in 2012 who found it far too extreme. However, it’s long been a priority of Scott Walker’s dating back to his time in the legislature, when then-Rep. Walker first pursued “personhood” legislation and was the lead author of a Wisconsin Right to Life bill known as the “conscience bill” which allowed doctors and pharmacists to refuse to prescribe and dispense contraceptives.
When 99 percent of all women will use birth control at some point in their lives, any opposition to access to birth control is clearly far outside the mainstream.
“Family Values”: Ban on Marriage Equality, Marginalizing Gay Parents
Just over a year after Reince Priebus launched the Republican Party’s autopsy report with a pledge to be more inclusive, Scott Walker Republicans are proving why the party is in freefall.
Wisconsin Log Cabin Republicans noted that the resolution “marginalize[d] committed gay couples” and, according to WisPolitics.com, another speaker warned that the party was hurting itself with gays by continuing to oppose marriage equality when it would eventually be legal in the U.S.
Enshrining hate and discrimination in our Constitution is not only the wrong thing to do; it’s harmful to our already floundering state economy, as a marriage equality ban tells talented workers to stay out of our state if they’re gay.
Wisconsin Republicans embarrass themselves and our state by passing a resolution that doubles down on the outdated and offensive idea that gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t be free to marry and raise a family.