Feingold introduces jobs tax credit bill to boost employment

From my emailbox:

U.S. Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation today to help businesses hire workers and bring down unemployment through the creation of a jobs tax credit. The legislation creates a temporary jobs tax credit over the next two years for businesses that hire new employees, expand work hours for their current workforce, or simply raise worker pay. In a January 12th letter to President Obama, Feingold urged the president to support a jobs tax credit in his State of the Union address.

“While there’s no single way to address the challenges facing businesses, a jobs tax credit would help some firms hire workers they otherwise couldn’t,” Feingold said. “I am pleased President Obama has indicated support for a jobs tax credit as part of his overall strategy to create jobs. With the nation facing double digit unemployment, we cannot wait to act.”

The tax credit would:

  • Amount to 15 percent of the increase in eligible payroll for 2010 and 10 percent of the increase in 2011.
  • Make pay hikes for high-salary workers ineligible.
  • Be based on a firm’s total eligible payroll so it would reward firms that expand work hours or raise pay as well as hiring more workers.
  • Be calculated on a quarter over year-ago-quarter basis to avoid seasonal employment spikes. For example, wages for the first quarter of 2010 are compared with wages for the first quarter of 2009.
  • Not be eligible for the wages of firm owners and their family members.
  • Be offset so as to not increase the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report which said that a tax break along the lines of Feingold’s proposal would be among the most efficient and effective ways to spur employment. The CBO report estimated a similar jobs tax credit would boost gross domestic product by as much as $1.30 for every dollar spent, and would increase employment by as much as 18 net full-time equivalent jobs for every million dollars invested through the credit. And in laying out the jobs tax credit proposal on which this measure is based, the Economic Policy Institute projected an increase of more than five million jobs over the next two years

Will Tommy! run for the U.S. Senate in 2010?

It’s no secret former governor Tommy Thompson likes to see his name in print and hear it mentioned on the television, so it shouldn’t come as a great surprise to anyone from Wisconsin that Thompson’s name is being floated as a possible contender for Sen. Russ Feingold’s seat, which is up for election this year. While folks in Washington might think a run against Sen. Feingold by Tommy Thompson would be a great idea given how weak the Republican Senate field in Wisconsin is, it’s important to remember that Tommy Thompson certainly wouldn’t be able to assume the role of a populist candidate, given the fact that Thompson has collected millions of dollars representing Washington D.C. lobbying shops and corporate interests – including the health insurance, pharmaceutical and financial industries since leaving the Bush administration in 2005.

Addressing the possibility of a Thompson run for the U.S. Senate, Wisconsin Democratic Party chairman Mike Tate issued a statement:

“If Thompson thinks the message out of Massachusetts is that a partisan, well-connected, D.C. insider who has made millions of dollars representing corporate interests, should run for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin, then he needs to listen to more people in Wisconsin – not Washington,”

On Tuesday, conservative radio host Vicki McKenna noted listeners to her program feel, by 2 to 1, that they don’t want to see Thompson enter the race against Terrance Wall and Dave Westlake. One caller to McKenna’s show, “Dave from Oconomowoc” said, “Tommy is the consummate politician, he is a Washington insider, he’s a lobbyist and to think we can influence his decision is a little naïve.”

While Vicki McKenna and her listeners aren’t bullish on the idea of a possible run by Thompson, Cory Liebmann notes WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes isn’t opposed to the idea of a run by Thompson:

Last week WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes offered a list of Republican names that he thought would be better choices to run for U.S. Senate this year. He felt the need to offer his suggestions because he had just blasted the current lead candidate Terrence Wall. After interviewing him Sykes said “not great reviews to the debut of Terrance Wall” and that he was “not impressive.” Given all of these happenings, it was no surprise that Sykes would start throwing out names of just about anyone else to replace the bumbling Wall. I must admit, however, that I was a little surprised when Charlie Sykes included former governor Tommy Thompson in his list.

But as Cory notes, it’s surprising to hear Charlie Sykes mention Tommy Thompson as someone who’d be a better U.S. Senate candidate than Terrence Wall, given the fact that as recently as 2006 Sykes wrote a piece targeted directly at Tommy Thompson entitled, “Know when to fold ’em.” The piece was none too subtly subtitled, “It’s time for Brett Farve and Tommy Thompson to face facts”. In the piece, Sykes went on to compare Brett Farve and Tommy Thompson, noting both were “waffling prima donnas:”

“…Thompson revels in the spotlight, clearly relishing the speculation that he might answer the call to return to the governorship, a call that apparently only Thompson is hearing.”


“But both these guys have a problem with the ego thing. They are so used to thinking the world revolves around them that they haven’t noticed it’s not the ’90s anymore.”

As I’ve said before, I don’t presume to be an expert on all things political in Wisocnsin, but I’m inclined to believe Tommy Thompson won’t run for the U.S. Senate in 2010. While there’s no doubt he loves the publicity he’s getting, Tommy Thompson doesn’t strike me as the sort who’d be happy as one backbench senator among 99 other senators, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t really hold the Senate in high regard, as he told the Associated Press in 1999, “Why would I want to go to Washington and be a part of a debating society.” What’s more, in 2000, the Wisconsin State Journal reportedThompson “said his ‘time has come and gone’ to run for the U.S. Senate.”

While Tommy Thompson’s not likely to run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, the mere thought of the possibility of his candidacy should worry Terrence Wall and Dave Westlake, because I’m willing to bet Wall and Westlake would stand about as much a chance of beating Thompson in a Republican primary as Thompson would stand of beating Sen. Feingold in the general election.

Xoff has more.

Conservative “filmmaker” tries to illegally tap tamper with Senator’s phones

Remember James O’Keefe, the conservative “filmmaker” who dressed as a cartoon pimp to do an undercover sting of ACORN, in the process turning himself into a darling of the Faux News Network?

Well, apparently he’s back, and he’s got a great idea: illegally tapping tampering with the phones of a United States Senator:

The FBI said in an affidavit that James O’Keefe was among the four men who were arrested Monday. Special Agent Steven Rayes said O’Keefe was helping two others, Joseph Basel and Robert Flanagan, who were dressed as employees of a telephone company and attempted to interfere with the office’s telephone system.

Flanagan is the son of William J. Flanagan, the acting U.S. attorney for western Louisiana. William Flanagan’s office confirmed his son was among those arrested, but declined further comment.

This sounds like something straight out of an episode of Law and Order.

Liveblogging the State of the Union

Join me as I liveblog the State of the Union address, starting at 8 p.m. Central Time.

A few more Terrence Wall tidbits

Just a few Terrence Wall related tidbits to start your Wednesday off on the right foot:

  • Emily Mills has an excellent entry noting how the 2010 U.S. Senate race here in Wisconsin pitting Wall vs. Feingold is quickly becoming Wall vs. Wall. It’s worth a read, so go check it out!
  • Speaking of folks who aren’t fans of Terrence Wall, the Capitol Times has a scathing – and I mean scathing editorial about Wall. Go read it; you won’t be disappointed.
  • And finally, Terrence Wall posted an update on his Facebook page yesterday, and he’s trotting out the bogeyman of a government bureaucrat making your health care decisions for you:

    Terrence Wall Would you rather have your doctor or Washington determining your health care needs? Let me know what you think. Warning: The attached article is spooky.

    What’s really spooky is the fact that Terrence Wall seems oblivious to the fact that the “unwashed masses” he aspires to represent (rather, those of us without millions of dollars of disposable income) already have bureaucrats who make our health care decisions for us, except those bureaucrats work for health insurance companies and whose primary motivation are their companies’ financial bottom lines.

For all those “fiscally conservative” Republicans out there…

….just remember one important fact when you attack Democrats for their “tax and spend” ways:

Our nation had a $236 billion surplus when George W. Bush took office, and thanks to GWB and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, that surplus turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit by the time President Obama took office.

Then again, not a single soul should be surprised at the profligate spending of Republicans, given they’re the same folks who sent 363 tons of cold, hard American currency to Iraq with a total worth of roughly $12 billion, only to lose $8.8 billion of the money.

We told you so, or how Democrats squandered their opportunity

Peter Daou, a politcal consultant and former advisor to Hillary Clinton, has an interesting post on the Huffington Post discussing how Democrats have squandered their opportunity to govern:

It took more than half a decade, countless American and Iraqi deaths in a war based on lies, a sinking economy and the drowning of an American city to finally kill Bush-Cheney-Rove’s dream of a conservative realignment.

Democrats, controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, have managed to kill their own dream of dominance in 12 months.

How did it happen?

Theories abound, but two diametrically opposed narratives have taken hold:

The first, promulgated by conservatives, is that the new administration has moved too far to the left and alienated a large swath of independent and moderate voters.

The second, pushed by progressive activists and bloggers, is that the administration hasn’t been true enough to fundamental Democratic principles, has embraced some of Bush’s worst excesses on civil liberties, and has ditched popular ideas (like the public option) in favor of watered down centrist policies, thus looking weak and ineffectual.

The conservative argument is unpersuasive. After years of a systematic effort by the right to use Overton-style tactics to radicalize our national discourse, the center has moved so far right that the left is barely recognizable. With a military surge in Afghanistan, a denuded health insurance bill limping through Congress, Bush-era detainee policies reinforced, a deflated climate summit, and a windfall year for bankers, among other things, it’s almost ludicrous to claim that the new administration is run by a gang of lefties.

The case by progressives that Democrats are undermining themselves with faux-bipartisanship and tepid policies gets much closer to the heart of the problem. I’ve written a number of posts arguing that it’s all a matter of values and ethics. In essence: when you fail to govern based on a morally sound, well-articulated, solidly-grounded set of ideals, you look weak. All the legislative wins in the world won’t change that. People gravitate to people who exude moral authority. The vast majority of voters lack the detailed policy knowledge that would enable them to make an accurate assessment of policy differences, but they do have a visceral sense of when a candidate or an elected official believes in something and fights for it. It’s why campaigns are laden with moral arguments; politicians ask to be elected because they’ll “do the right thing.” The right thing in the current administration’s case was to be the anti-Bush, nothing more, nothing less. The ethical antidote to a radical administration. It was both politically smart and morally right. And it worked wonders for Democrats as the entire subtext of the 2008 campaign.

My take on where Democrats went wrong is simple: they spent far too much time talking about health care reform. I’m as big a proponent of meaningful health care reform as the next person, but given our nation’s economic issues, Congress should have spent its time working to create jobs and get the economy back on track. Health care reform is an issue that’s important, but I’m willing to bet it would have been an issue that would have found more support once the economy was in better shape. There’s no denying Democrats wanted a big legislative accomplishment to hang their hats on as the headed into the 2010 midterm elections, but there were any number of issues/problems Democrats could have addressed other than health care reform.

Then again, considering how ineffective Democrats have been at messaging when it comes to health care reform, perhaps they wouldn’t have been more successful in tackling another issue.

Terrence Wall’s thin skin

Clearly, Terrence Wall can’t tolerate dissent, as noted by one potential constituent who’s attended a few of Wall’s announcement events:

Some friends and I went to [Terrence Wall’s] event today in order to make a silent protest against Wall’s “pumpkin patch” tax loophole. We were at the rallies in Wausau, Eau Claire, and in La Crosse today, and we were either banned or kicked out of each of the events.

I understand Terrence Wall’s trying to put his best foot forward, given the God-awful start to his U.S. Senate campaign, but if Terrence Wall wants to be Wisconsin’s next U.S. Senator, he should learn to develop a thicker skin. If T. Wall wants some lessons on how to handle individuals whose opinions he doesn’t agree with, he could take some lessons from Sen. Feingold, who listens to – and encourages feedback from all his constituents, not just the ones who share his views.

H/T to illusory tenant.

Kolosso campaign to hold fundraiser

Todd Kolosso, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in Wisconsin’s fifth Congressional district, will be holding a kickoff fundraiser & reception on Monday, February 15, 2010 at the Oakcrest Tavern in Shorewood. Here are the details;

When:Monday, February 15, 2010 from 5:00p.m. – 6:30p.m.
Where: Oakcrest Tavern, 4022 N. Oakland Ave. in Shorewood
Suggested Contribution: $50

For more information, directions, or to RSVP, please contact Leah at (262) 255-2750 or leah@kolossoforcongress.com