What better after a hearty shot of news than a chaser of cool, refreshing analysis?
Welcome to The Chaser. A periodic podcast featuring Nik Nelson of OpenBox Strategies and myself.
This week we tackle the Iowa Republican presidential debate which aired on Fox News.
We play some clips and offer our quick takes. Who won? Who lost? What were the best moments?
So now Republicans are now proposing a one week sales tax holiday?
What a dumb idea.
A one week sugar high for consumers?
If lawmakers really want to provide consumers relief when buying retail goods in Wisconsin, repeal the damn minimum markup.
Now, there is no one lobbying against the sales tax holiday and a lot of orgs like the price fixing MM, but still.
Minimum markup repeal would bring long-lasting, free market relief that won’t reduce state tax revenues.
This sales tax holiday is dishonest pandering. We should be better than that.
And I believe for many, this proposal is a CYA move over their failure to repeal the dumb minimum markup law.
But I bet this fast-tracked proposal gets a public hearing…
Unlike the Vukmir/Ott Minimum Markup Bills that have languished in committees since October.
This is shameful.
Lobbyists get a bad rap. No, stick with me here, they do. A decade ago I was a lobbyist for a few years. I’ve also worked as a legislative aide and as a senior executive who’s retained lobbyists. A good lobbyist isn’t a power broker or puppet master (although for many, they market themselves as such). No, at their core, a good lobbyist is a conduit of information. A good lobbyist advocates for their client, using facts and reasoning to persuade. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, and sometimes their cause survives to be discussed at another day.
Lawmakers can not possibly know everything about everything. Our system relies upon advocates (some paid lobbyists, others just passionate individuals) to help make sure their decisions are educated ones.
I know dozens of outstanding men and women, liberal and conservative, who are solid professionals in the government relations industry. Some even admit to being my friend.
That being said, the public is growing weary over the behind-closed-doors aspect of governing. Public discourse is the life-blood of a healthy democracy. When the public believes lawmakers are led by lobbyists, (or the oft-used ‘special interests’ ) faith in government plummets. I believe that’s why approval ratings for all levels of government are at record lows right now.
It’s not a partisan thing. The public’s disdain is not driven by loyalty to party. People feel like only the insiders matter. That’s a huge problem if you’re a fan of representative democracy.
The problem is not lobbyists. The problem is lawmakers who think the public good and the desire of their constituents is the same as what they’re hearing from their ‘team’s’ lobbyists.
Lawmakers bring the public’s disdain upon themselves. It’s not necessarily because of what they vote for or against. But how they go about it.
Whether they are advanced quickly or over the course of years, the best legislative initiatives are explained, promoted, voted upon, and their success is promoted after the fact. The worst are shoved down our throats (or killed in back rooms) without regard to the public.
When lawmakers in control of the levers of government fear public discussion of their work, we all are worse off.
The lobbyists don’t have the power. Constituents lease power to lawmakers.
When things are done or not done, don’t blame the lobbyists. Blame the lawmakers.
Just because the newspaper doesn’t cover something, doesn’t mean it isn’t news.
Here’s my conversation with WTMJ’s Charlie Sykes:
Here’s my conversation with WISN’s Jay Weber:
I think this issue is newsworthy, and I am glad these two gentlemen think so, too.
The GAB / John Doe Witch Hunt was worse than you think.
The level of domestic spying done by disgraced former special prosecutor Francis Schmitz, Milwaukee Co. DA John Chisholm, the soon-to-be-disbanded Government Accountability Board and their staffs is far more broad than previously reported.
Well, what do you know. The soon-to-be-history Government Accountability Board and their hackneyed John Doe investigation of Wisconsin conservatives had me in their sights all along.
Yesterday, my former employer let me know that disgraced former Special Prosecutor Francis Schmitz sent me a letter informing me that four years of my emails, online calendar, and all documents stored in the Google Drive cloud had been seized during the John Doe witch hunt.￼ More…