Sometimes it pays to read the documents posted on the Wheeler Report, the long-time reporting service for state politics. That’s where I ran across this gem, a letter from the Assembly Republicans to the head of the Office of Refugee Settlement. In a self-satisfied and self-serving letter they ask that Wisconsin not be required to accept Syrian refugees.
Ironies abound in this letter. Let’s parse the language.
- Among other reasons for rejecting Syrian refugees, the Republicans say “it is not a time to open our doors to individuals who may pose security risks or instill an unnerving sense of fear in our citizens.”
I do have to ask, where is this concern for an “unnerving sense of fear in our citizens” when this same group of legislators pass laws giving more people the right to carry concealed weapons? Where is this concern when members of the Republican caucus seek to remove the UW-System’s authority to prohibit concealed carry on campus? One must conclude that only some citizens’ fears count to them.
- The letter goes on to extol Wisconsin’s excellent schools (note, not public schools), and the care we take of our “most vulnerable” citizens, “while encouraging self reliance.”
From what I’ve seen, the Assembly is certainly complicit in prioritizing the needs of others over the needs of Wisconsin residents in many areas. CAFOs get preference over the need for clean water. Politicians’ desire for contributions is preferred over the public’s right to know who is contributing to their campaigns. Manufacturers get preference on taxes.
- The Republicans opine, “The federal government should not prioritize the needs of others over our own residents.”
In the instance of refugees, the federal government is precisely the entity who has the power to prioritize the needs of others over the needs of Wisconsinites.
Most amazing of all, though, are these sentences:
- “In the Wisconsin State Assembly, our main focus has been moving our state forward by training workers for high demand skilled positions and preparing our children for higher education and the workforce.”
Let’s get a count of the bills considered by this assembly and see just where the focus has been. It has not been on job preparation and education.
- “As representatives of Wisconsin, our job is to be good stewards of our state tax dollars.”
Extraordinary sessions? WEDC? More bonding for highway construction that will be paid out of general tax revenue? Refusal of Medicaid money? That is not good stewardship.
- “Our decisions are based on what is best for all of Wisconsin and we do not welcome any additional strain by the federal government on our state budget.”
If their decisions are based on what is best for Wisconsin, then why are 20 percent of Wisconsin’s wells polluted by nitrates? Why are lakes and streams drying up? Why did the populace oppose by a wide margin the changes in election finance making it so much more difficult to follow the money? Why don’t the Republicans actually consider putting money into local road repair, rather than superhighway construction? Why won’t they consider accepting more Medicaid money?
It doesn’t take much digging to get to the smug and self-satisfied, but ultimately hollow, values in the Wisconsin Republican leadership. It’s like they never learned to share when they were kids, and make decisions based on selfishness: What’s mine is for me, mine and my contributors, not for you, and definitely not for “others.”