Government and Political Roundup: Thompson gets Chamber of Commerce endorsementWisconsin News
-- A Senate Republican and a top U-S Chamber official said Tommy Thompson had a great pro-business record as Wisconsin’s governor – and he’ll build on it if he’s elected to the U-S Senate.
A Senate Republican and a top U-S Chamber official said Tommy Thompson had a great pro-business record as Wisconsin’s governor – and he’ll build on it if he’s elected to the U-S Senate. The national Chamber-of-Commerce endorsed Thompson yesterday over his Democratic opponent Tammy Baldwin. Chamber senior vice president Rob Engstrom and Missouri Senator Roy Blunt appeared with the Republican Thompson at a factory in Milwaukee. The U-S Chamber has already spent one-point-six million dollars on T-V ads which attacked Baldwin. Engstrom said Baldwin has only supported business 13-percent of the time in her House votes in 2010-and-’11. Wisconsin Manufacturers’-and-Commerce president Kurt Bauer criticized Baldwin’s support of the Obama health care act, and her opposition to the Keystone Pipeline which would bring Canadian crude oil to the U-S. Thompson said he would boost the economy by pushing for a balanced federal budget and reducing the deficits. He also wants to end a 35-percent tax on off-shore investments, saying it would generate a trillion-dollars in new business capital. Baldwin’s campaign issued a statement claiming that Thompson’s ideas would send more U-S jobs overseas – and that Baldwin has a strong record of helping small businesses and middle-class families.
Candidates for Wisconsin’s only open U-S House seat zeroed in on the economy when they debated each other last night in DeForest. State Assembly Democrat Mark Pocan and Republican businessman Chad Lee hope to replace Madison Democrat Tammy Baldwin. Both highlighted their small business experience. And they displayed contrasting political philosophies in line with what their parties’ presidential candidates chewed over during their debate last evening. Pocan said he supports President Obama’s health care reform act – and he says both spending cuts and tax increases are needed to balance the federal budget. Lee said Americans cannot afford the extra taxes from the health package – and he would be against tax hikes to wipe out the federal deficits. Pocan says his years in the Legislature, and as the owner of a print shop, will help him fight for the middle class – something he says Congress is not doing now. Lee said “life-long politicians” are the problem in Washington – and he said his business experience would make him more effective at bringing both major parties together. He said business owners must work with people – and more people like that are needed on Capitol Hill.
An advocacy group says Wisconsin taxpayers are learning less about the money they’re giving to businesses to help them grow and create jobs. The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group said it checked information about 251 companies that got state tax breaks and other subsidies in 2009 and 2010. But full data was available for only two companies on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s Web site. The state often requires companies that get tax breaks to provide certain numbers of jobs. And a state law passed in 2007 requires the data to be online so taxpayers can see if their money’s being well spent. Tom Thieding of the Economic Development Corporation said an annual update on the data will come out soon. He said there’s a lag in reporting some of the numbers – which come from a half-dozen agencies. Thieding says some awards are not financial in nature, such as Brownfield grants that cover environmental clean-ups of polluted business sites. He said it all comes down to the requirements of each program – and they all have to be considered separately. But Bruce Speight of the Public Interest Research Group says taxpayers should not have to be auditors, and dig through tons of data to see if their business grants are getting quote, “bang for the buck.” Speight also said the public-private nature of the new economic development agency makes public information less forthcoming. But Thieding said his agency is putting out the same data as the former, totally tax-funded Department of Commerce.