Tax cuts in hand, the right wing goes after those “job-killing” regulations

So, an exploratory committee has been launched to explore recalling Sen. Bob Jauch over a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin – and from this effort comes one of the better political laugh lines of the week.

“I know people will think this is partisan,” said Shirl LaBarre, spokesperson for Northern Citizens for Responsible Government. (And maybe that’s because it is. LaBarre is a former Sawyer County Republican Party chairwoman who has run losing races three times for state Assembly. So why doesn’t CRG just be honest and admit that the “R” has always stood for REPUBLICAN? And does anybody want to bet 10 grand on whether LaBarre read the proposed mining legislation before launching the recall effort?)

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans introduced a bill Thursday that would make it easier for the mine to move forward. The proposal limits legal challenges and exempts companies like Gogebic Taconite from some wetlands and other water protections. And since the GOP has the numbers in both houses of the legislature to pass their bill and a governor to sign it, it’s hard to believe that Sen. Jauch is what’s holding up Gogebic Taconite’s proposal for a $1.5 billion, 700-job mine. But the company has already threatened to abandon the project if the state doesn’t pass a bill easing permitting requirements and Jauch is already threatened with recall, even though no votes on the legislation have been held.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. issued a 12-month layoff notice to 74 employees in central Wisconsin working in two aging coal-fired power plants, citing the uncertain effect of existing and future environmental regulations on their operating costs.

“Put simply, 74 people will likely lose their jobs because of too many government regulations,” says Congressman Sean Duffy (although he doesn’t mention exactly what the regulations are, how long they have been on the books or what the overall outcome of removing them might be.)

In 2005, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan called Wisconsin Energy’s Oak Creek power plant proposal “an outdated, environmentally destructive plant design that Illinois has banned for more than 30 years.” Of course, it got approved anyway and in October, a bluff collapse at the site sent coal ash and debris into Lake Michigan (something that we haven’t heard a whole lot about since):

http://www.jsonline.com/news/milwaukee/authorities-investigate-bluff-collapse-at-we-energies-plant-132929538.html

The same “less regulation and less taxes create jobs” theme was sounded in the GOP presidential debate Saturday night. The thinking is pretty simple: that we can’t afford to protect the environment or expect the people who have benefited the most in this economy to pay a nickel more in taxes and still have jobs. And if it goes as unchallenged, then we’ll be able to look back in a decade or two and see more of the same results we’ve been seeing up to now: more wealth at the top and lower standards for everyone else — (standards for the environment and your standard of living, too.)

There is no mystery as to why politicians try to associate everything they do with jobs. It was the number one issue on people’s minds well before the recession began and it has only increased in magnitude as an issue since then. But just saying something is all about jobs doesn’t make it so.

So I’m thinking that it’s okay for people like Bob Jauch to ask a few pertinent questions on the front end instead of just rushing headlong into another policy initiative that enriches a few at the expense of everyone else. People need to understand the tradeoffs that will be made and the potential consequences. And maybe instead of joining CRG, the people of the Northwoods would be better off joining the Sierra Club or Jauch’s re-election campaign. Because what we really need is a level playing field that ensures public policy choices are being made in the public interest. Just tossing out the “regulations cost jobs” mantra without identifying what we’re really talking about won’t get that done.

Badger Democracy encapsulates the idea that these themes are part of a larger strategy in which the conclusions are established first and then the “evidence”  to support it is manufactured later:

“The Koch brothers have perfected “shadow spending” to influence politicians and the electorate. Their methods (practiced for decades) can be summarized in three steps. Establish and fund third-party, biased media (such as MacIver Institute in Wisconsin); establish and fund conservative “think tanks” to promote favorable research outcomes; and establish and fund legal groups to write scripts for lawmakers and file favorable briefs on behalf of right-wing interests.”

And in a totally unrelated matter, former county Republican Party officer and 55 Radio talk show host Pat Snyder welcomes Koch founded and funded Americans for Prosperity back on his show this morning to talk about how “complying with federal regulations cost American businesses $1.75 trillion in 2008. The best stimulus package for the American economy consists of reining in President Obama’s power to spend and impose regulations to control our lives, families, and businesses.” (Congressman Duffy’s former chief of staff, Matt Seaholm, runs the Wisconsin chapter of AFP.)

Hey Pat? You remember who was President in 2008, don’t you?

JR

Attempt to recall Jauch is a fool’s mission:

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/john_nichols/john-nichols-attempt-to-recall-sen-jauch-a-fool-s/article_37279635-2e76-5e22-8a5a-c3070ec728fb.html

UPDATE, May 11, 2012:  Jauch recall effort “suspended.”  (Translation: It failed): http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/group-suspends-effort-to-recall-sen-jauch-um5cpge-151158545.html

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