Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., has often been labeled a Dane Country liberal, a politician too progressive to represent the rest of Wisconsin. Or at least this is the image her opponent, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, wants Wisconsinites to believe.
In reality, Baldwin’s commitment to progressive politics has favored the working class, both liberal and conservative, that represents the majority in Wisconsin. We endorse Baldwin in her bid for U.S. Senate.
Baldwin’s opponents are quick to point out while she may be the stronger candidate when it comes to social issues, it is the economy voters should be concerned about. There is no doubt the economy is a central issue – America’s middle class has felt the crunch of years of economic recession.
The middle class has been the focus of not only Baldwin’s campaign, but also her voting record. She was a major supporter of the Buffett Rule, which ensures millionaires and their middle-class counterparts pay a similar proportion of their incomes as taxes. Naysayers insist the plan will bog down the economy and reduce incentives but fail to note it will affect only 0.1 percent of taxpayers while bringing some equality to America’s tax system.
During her time in the House of Representatives, Baldwin voted against the Financial Services Modernization Act. This ironically-named piece of legislation effectively tore apart the Glass-Steagall Act, which prevented banks from engaging in the risky behavior that spurred the Great Depression. Critics, including Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, argue the Financial Services Modernization Act precipitated the financial meltdown that resulted in the Great Recession.
Baldwin also understands the vastly undervalued need for education in this country. She has shown she understands the need for both a quality K-12 education and student-debt reform, with support for increased Pell Grants and “pay as you earn” solutions. Her vote for the Recovery Act in 2009 delivered much-needed jobs to the Wisconsin K-12 system.
While Thompson has been building his race on the platform that national debt needs to be decreased, he has remained mum when it comes to subject student debt. His answer to national tax reform is a “pro-growth corporate tax reform,” meaning he will put corporations’ interests before those of the middle-class taxpayer who works for them.
But Thompson’s recent shift in politics – including his statement he has a better Medicare plan than the GOP’s all-star, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., only days after pledging his support for it – has proven to be a fundamental problem. The Thompson Wisconsin once knew has bowed to the extreme right that has hijacked his party.
Thompson’s platform has been inconsistent – consider, for instance, his position on health care. Thompson claimed he would “do away with Medicare and Medicaid” at a Tea Party gathering in Oconomowoc. However, his new plan, unveiled to the Wisconsin State Journal Editorial Board, gives seniors the choice between Medicare and a federal health program – the latter of which has been proven less effective than Medicare at keeping prescription costs down. In light of these conflicting claims, it is hard to tell exactly where Thompson stands. It seems he is saying one thing and doing another as he tries to walk an increasingly radical party line.
Baldwin has remained firm on the issues. She voted for the Affordable Care Act, which allows for students to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. And while some of the electorate does not put much weight on social issues, she has demonstrated a commitment to upholding gender equality in the workplace, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender issues and a woman’s right to choose – crucial rights that would be at risk if Wisconsin elected a Republican senator receiving pressure from the right.
Baldwin’s has been a lonely progressive voice in a Republican-majority House of Representatives for some time, but along with like-minded allies poised to win their races, she has the propensity to make some meaningful change in the U.S. Senate.