Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Going Nowhere By Design

The few items the Assembly and Senate plan to work on in 2008 is mostly stuff that both houses know is going nowhere.

Republican Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch says the GOP-controlled Assembly will tackle proposals that benefit business and other wealthy campaign contributors, like tax credits, capital gains breaks, providing more money to startup technology businesses and making health savings accounts tax deductible. Even though some of these pro-business items were tossed to them by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle, the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, doesn't seem enthused about anything in that pot.

The Senate Democrats plan on pushing a revision of their universal health care plan that was ditched during the budget because the Republican Assembly and Doyle didn't like it and it doesn't seem they like it any better now.

But working on stuff that goes nowhere has it rewards for both Democratic and Republican legislators.

The host of powerful special interests including business, manufacturing, health care providers, insurance and others that want the tax breaks and more state dollars or oppose broad health care and campaign finance plans contributed $3 million to Assembly Republicans in their last two election cycles, from 2003 through 2006. That's 71 percent of the $4.3 million in large individual and political action committee contributions Assembly Republicans accepted during the four-year period. And that doesn't count the additional millions of dollars spent of their behalf by special interests on independent expenditures and phony issue ads.

For Senate Democrats, labor, which is their biggest contributor at $475,720 from 2003 through 2006, numerous advocacy groups and left-leaning political organizations want universal health care. In addition to the direct contributions, labor and the Greater Wisconsin Committee probably will spend generously on independent expenditures and phony issue ads to help the Senate Dems keep their majority in November.

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