An interview with Todd Kolosso

Todd Kolosso
Image courtesy Kolosso For Congress
I recently had an opportunity to sit down and chat with small businessman Todd Kolosso, the Democratic challenger Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner in Wisconsin’s fifth Congressional district. As we spoke, two things became abundantly clear: Todd Kolosso is passionate about making his community a better place and he’s passionate in his belief in the importance of small businesses to our economy.

Kolosso spent his formative years in Slinger, and following his graduation from Marquette University High School, he studied at Marquette University for two years before graduating with a B.A. in International Relations from American University’s School of International Service. During his time in college, Kolosso also studied at universities in Germany and Austria, and following his graduation from college, he went to work as a property manager in his family’s business, where he grew the business before eventually taking it over. In talking about his background and upbringing, Kolosso noted he grew up in a family of Republicans, and that he himself was a Republican until the years of the Clinton presidency, when he began his metamorphosis into a moderate Democrat.

Discussing his evolution from a Republican to a Democrat, Kolosso cited his education at Marquette University High School, an education that emphasized social justice, as being the beginning of his transformation. He noted that after high school, he went to Washington, D.C., and while in Washington he saw a fundamental contempt for individuals and families that needed help the most. It was during that time period Kolosso began to realize, “we ought to be on the ground helping people.” Kolosso went on to note his transition from being a Republican to a Democrat began in earnest during the years of the Clinton presidency, when he found himself drifting away from the beliefs of the Republican Party in favor of a more independent view. Kolosso noted that while President Clinton had a pro-business philosophy, that philosophy also “helped the little guy.”

While Kolosso’s shift from identifying as a Republican to identifying as a Democrat began during the years of the Clinton presidency, Kolosso himself noted it was the election of George W. Bush in 2000 that cemented his shift to the Democratic Party. He noted his opposition at that time to the Iraq War as a potential “economic boondoggle,” and he also noted what he perceived to be fear-mongering on the part of the Republican Party.

However, despite his shift to the Democratic Party, Kolosso was quick to note he’d consider himself to be a moderate Democrat. He noted that while he may not be as conservative as some Blue Dog Democrats in the House, he sees himself as being a moderate Democrat, noting that while he may be left of center on many social issues, he is pro-life and generally pro-business.

Asked to list his priorities for the fifth Congressional district if elected to serve, Kolosso listed three areas he’d focus on:

  • More small business development – loan/grant programs, which in his opinion have been underfunded.
  • A real emphasis on small businesses as an economic catalyst
  • Tax cuts for the middle class

When asked why he feels he’d be a more effective Congressman than his opponent, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, for the fifth Congressional district, Kolosso noted the incumbent simply “doesn’t get it.” Kolosso noted Rep. Sensenbrenner’s clout in Congress has dropped significantly in the past few years, and he went on to add that Rep. Sensenbrenner is viewed as being not very approachable, hindering his ability to create coalitions to find common ground between Democrats and Republicans. Kolosso added he believes that while there are issues the left and right won’t ever agree on, there is certainly some common ground to be found by legislators from both parties. He went on to say everyone wants their neighbors, their district, and the nation to succeed – the two parties just disagree on how to bring about that success, and he pointed out that just because an individual happens to be from another political party doesn’t make that individual your enemy.

Kolosso also cited his experience as a small businessman, noting he lives the stuggle of small business owners who need to pay bills, pay health care premiums, and manage their businesses. Kolosso went on to noted that given the important role small business play in ensuring a strong economy, he feels he would be more effective in Washington D.C. because he knows what’s going on with small businesses.

Asked to describe the response to his campaign by voters in the fifth district, Kolosso said he’s gotten a good response, noting the response to his campaign by volunteers has been “overwhelming.” Kolosso also made a point to note he’s been spending time talking to Republicans and independents as he’s been campaigning across the fifth district, and he noted he’s received campaign contributions from some Republicans. Kolosso added many of those he’s talked to have indicated they just want competent, credible representation in the House.

Having spent time interviewing Todd Kolosso, it’s clear he’s a thoughtful, intelligent, and passionate candidate for the United States House of Representatives, and the voters of Wisconsin’s fifth Congressional district would certainly be well-served with Todd Kolosso as their voice in Washington D.C.


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27 thoughts on “An interview with Todd Kolosso

  1. I’ve heard Todd speak and he is a decent replacement for Sensenbrenner, who I think has outlived his position. F. Jim’s vote on the Medicare Drug bill in 2003, which passed $780 billion of taxpayer money to the drug industry, of which he owns $5 million in stock, was just one of his many moves that protect his wealth at the expense of the public.

    1. While I don’t agree with all of Todd Kolosso’s ideological beliefs, I think he’d be a welcome change from Rep. Sensenbrenner, whose shelf life seems to have expired.

  2. You say he stresses the importance of small businesses to our economy. I wonder if he could cite what the Democrats, whom he fell in love with at Marquette and beyond, have done to help small businesses. I think the list of things they have done to hurt them would be far, far longer.

        1. There are so many it’s hard to keep track. But here are just a few things that state Democrats have done in the budget and want to do this year that hurt small businesses:

          Increase capital gains tax
          Increase income tax rate
          Combined reporting
          Increase wage claim lien cap
          Increase state minimum wage higher than federal min wage
          Changing prevailing wage law
          Increasing auto insurance costs
          Changes in joint-several liability law
          Climate change bill that will drastically increase utility rates

  3. Not sure everything on that list actually hinders the growth and development of small business…but in case you didn’t notice one of the largest cuts in income taxes came out of the Obama administration last year. And I think your wage law is being counted twice here. But I don’t remember any major fall out from raising the minimum wage…and actually very few jobs were paying less than the current level even at the time it was raised…and don’t count your cap and trade eggs until they hatch…and why are you hiding behind a pseudonym?

    1. sorry my list only focused on state democrats.

      “don’t count the eggs until they hatch”? Well the point about the items that haven’t yet passed, Democrats have still proposed them and WANT them to pass. If they didn’t desire the harmful things to become law they wouldn’t initiate them, so I think it is fair to count them.

      If you don’t think they are all harmful, which of those HELPS small business? And where is your list — all the good things state or federal democrats are doing to help out small business.

      1. I don’t think you understand how this works. You made the claim that Democrats had passed legislation that hurt small business…it is your responsibility to support that…which you partially did by providing a list but you didn’t say how those laws on the list actully hurt small business. I didn’t claim that Dems have harmed small business nor did I make a claim that they helped. I have nothing to prove.

        OTOH: Why did you select Wisconsin legislation when we are talking about Mr. Kolosso who is running for the US House of Reps, not something in Madison?

        1. It should be obvious to you how each and every one of those items hurt small businesses. They add to their cost of doing business, with excessive government regulation and mandates.

          You asked for some examples so I provided them, and you seemed to be implying with your “don’t be bashful” comment that I was off-base. If you don’t think Democrats are harming, or necessarily helping, do you believe they are neutral? If you are going to contest every comment I make about this topic, at least take a stand. THAT’S how this works.

          I could come up with federal examples too, but some of the state ones came to mind because they have been acting on some of them the last couple weeks. Are you saying Mr. Kolosso is only running on the National Democratic Party? Because there isn’t such a thing, nor is their state agenda radically different from what they are doing at the federal level. The article says he “saw the light” and became a Democrat in Wisconsin, as in the party as a whole, not merely identifying with those in the U.S. Congress.

  4. LOL! No it isn’t necessarily obvious to anyone but you! And that’s why I asked for the details.

    Mr. Kolosso is not a career politician, he is a small business owner who thinks he can help other small business owners and family farmers in the WI 5th. And when elected to the US House, he will have reponsibility to the 5th and probably very little influence in Madison. I am inclined to believe a small businessman who says he has a vision to help small business people over an anonymous poster whose background I don’t know.

    1. Well if he has such a vision to help small business, maybe he should not be part of a party that is hostile to families and their businesses.

      As far as your problem with anonymous posters, why don’t you take it up with the likes of MadCityMan, liberalsavetheworld, Anon, et al.

  5. Representative Sensenbrenner hasn’t done anything that has been a boon to small business and I’ve never heard him support family farms.

    And when I have a conversation with other anonymous posters I will in fact bring it up that hiding behind a pseudonym discounts their veracity. Fun for silly games or nonsense message boards, but counterproductive in serious discussion.

  6. Eh, I suppose I’m semi-anonymous, given that I don’t post my last name here or anywhere else I post comments, but I’m pretty sure most everyone knows my name by now. I understand why some folks choose to post anonymously, and I disagree that choosing to post anonymously in some way discounts a person’s argument. If someone has a good argument, it’s a good argument, regardless of what screen name they chose to use on the internet.

  7. I don’t know where Kolosso’s head will be should he win, but Sensenbrenner has clearly outlived his usefulness. He’s used congress very effectively, and has driven his personal wealth from $5m (inherited) to over $30m today … with votes like the Medicare Drug program that is a $780 billion giveaway in which he has $5 million in pharmaceutical stock ownership.

    But I think it’s important for Todd and Barrett and all Dems to try to pick up the pieces that Obama has left behind with some of his stupid decisions (like health care), which were controlled by the special interests that fund the elections.

    ALL Dems must get behind The Fair Elections Act at

    We MUST get corporate control out of our government, though if a Dem is getting corporate money he cherishes over the voters, he should be cast aside.

    Nothing is going to change until we have public funding of campaigns. As it is, the rich fund the elections and the politicians write the laws (or deregulate) to benefit the rich.

    If politicians are going to be beholden to their funders, those funders should be the taxpayers. And at $5 per taxpayer per year it would be a bargain. Even at 100 times that.

    Jack Lohman —

  8. You can see my disclosure here:

    I’m typically a Republican though I am more pragmatic than ideological. At this moment I dislike them both. I think both the R’s and the D’s are trashing our country and stealing from my kids and grandkids, and I don’t like it. So I don’t know what kind of hack that is.

    1. Jack you are so right. I am wondering if/when a politican will have the courage to sit the country down at the proverbial kitchen table and go over the books and say we are in a tight spot that requires tough decisions. I doubt Congress would ever do that so it comes down to a president. Remember all those liberals up in arms over deficit spending/debt/”have your cake and eat it too” attitude in 2007 and 2008? I wonder where they disappeared to on Jan 20, 2009? Obama continues down the same path of giving benefits, ADDING more benefits, and saying we can borrow without having to pay for it. Obama deficits are Bush deficits on steroids. Unfortunately to get out of the mess requires benefit cuts and/or tax increases. And who is going to do that?!

  9. The president can’t (and won’t) do it alone. Hell, Obama took $20m from the insurance industry and kept the only reasonable health care reform off the table in return. Single-payer Medicare-for-all would provide Cheney-Care to 100% of our people and save the country $400b overnight. But it would eliminate the $800b going to the private insurance industry and cover the uninsured and unemployed (whom we pay for anyway through cost-shifting and bankruptcies). Insurance profits, executive compensation and costs are total middle-man waste.

    People shouldn’t get health care for free; they should have to volunteer 20 hours per week shoveling sidewalks or whatever, until they got a job.

    But we have other serious problems that will never be solved as long as the politicians remain on the take. Yea, bribed! Only public funding of campaigns will fix the system.

    I’m a supporter of zero taxes on corporations that manufacture in the states and adhere to “reasonable” compensation to their CEOs. I think labor has created its own bubble and are driving jobs out of the country, but having been a CEO myself, I don’t think there’s a CEO in this country worth over $1m per year total compensation. Yea, we have elitists who feel entitled to more, and they’ve finagled control of their boards to get more, but they aren’t worth it. I’d say that in 100% of the cases the companies are better run by their 2nd tier executives. The politicians must give the control back to the shareholders and let them make the decisions. It’ll sort itself out.

    We need smaller government in many ways. I can’t help but wonder if the cash were not being applied on the politicians by the defense industry, would we be spending so damned much on wars. I doubt it. But our Pols get a piece of the action and likely don’t want to give that up.

  10. And let me say that when you tax corporations in the first place, they just add those taxes to their product price and we consumers reimburse them at the cash register. But in the process we also make their products non-competitive and we drive jobs overseas. The VAT and sales tax and taxing ‘consumption’ only drives consumption down. Duh!!!

  11. The value added tax (VAT) essentially has the same result as corporate income taxes (CIT). It raises the price of the product to the consumer and isn’t anymore visible to the consumer than the CIT. Whether it’s effect on prices and consumption is greater or lesser than CIT depends on the effective rates and the amount of processing or value added to a good between raw materials and the end consumer. It’s biggest advantage to government and businesses is the fact it actually is invisible to the consumer where sales taxes are very apparent and shown as separate line items on a purchase.

  12. Ed, I don’t think hiding a tax behind a VAT name is going to help. It still increases consumer prices. Best to have a more progressive tax on income (not just wages).

  13. I was simply responding to your suggestion that a VAT was somehow more equitable and or palatable than corporate income taxes. I see it as six of one, half dozen of another.

  14. So we only tax ‘bad’ corporations? And who makes that determination? LOL!

  15. That’s a tough call, but we clearly have corporations that have been a drain on society (like the bankers) and others that have been contributors (like US manufacturers). The problem is, as is the case with virtually every political issue, is that our own board of directors — congress — is corrupt as hell. As long as corporate money is allowed to flow to politicians, I’d not trust my representatives (Sensenbrenner and Kohl especially) to join in the selection process.

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