Pro-Business Cato Institute Calls Johnson's IRB's "Corporate Welfare"

Wisconsin Republicans, bow before your new welfare queen!

The free-market, pro-business, Republican-leaning, Cato Institute, in a report entitled, "The Poltical Economy of Corporate Welfare:  Industrial Revenue Bonds," not only calles IRBs "corporate welfare," but says they are bad for the economy:

 Industrial revenue bonds tend to distort, rather than fàcilitate, the market process. Both consumer sovereignty and production efficiency are compromised when IRBs are used to support failing or inefficient business enterprises. Further, the increasing use of IRB finance alters relative prices, which makes it more costly for consumers and producers to make accurate decisions regarding resource uses. The entrepreneurial process whereby resources are put to their most highly valued uses is disrupted.

Did Walker sandbag everyone?

So how did the close GOP race for governor we've been hearing about turn into a huge Scott Walker victory?

Here's one theory:  It never really was close, but the Walker campaign successfully sold everyone a bill of goods and lowered expectations.  That's always great political strategy if you can pull it off.

Just a few weeks ago, the Walker people were quietly telling reporters they hoped to get 60% of the primary vote.

But suddenly there was talk of a tight race, although there were no public polls to substantiate it, just second- and third-hand reports about concern in the Walker camp.  Mark Neumann's campaign was happy to go along with that scenario, as he went from being considered an also-ran to a real contender, breathing some life into his campaign and giving his backers some hope and reason to vote.

Supposed evidence of Walker's worries was that he turned his guns on Neumann in negative commercials.  I suggested that might be more about running up the margin than any real concern, but there was no way to know because of lack of reliable public polling.

If that's what happened, the Walker campaign pulled off a real PR coup.  Suddenly what had been a predictably big victory became a surprise,

Quote, unquote

The loan program is run by the government. Johnson applied for the loans with the government. Government approved the loans for Johnson. Government issued the bonds and loaned the proceeds to Johnson’s company. Government signed an agreement for the loans with Johnson. Government subsidized the loans at below market rate for Johnson.

Johnson paid government back for the loan. And had Johnson defaulted on the loan, his agreement with government gave government the authority to take control of the company, operate it, and apply the profits to the amount owed.”

 -- John Kraus of Russ Feingold's campaign, on Johnson's claim that a taxpayer-subsidized industrial bond his business received is not a government program.

The Tea Party's corporate populism

Wisconsin's Tea Party movement, while presenting itself as a populist groundswell of people who are fed up with government, taxes, and helping anyone else, is actually a well-funded corporate enterprise with an experienced career political operative running the show.

Michael Horne writes about it at length for Milwaukee News Buzz. Here's a brief excerpt:

[Americans for Prosperity] wants to be seen as a grassroots group, but its lobbying arm pays its leader, Mark Block (pictured), to operate as a high-powered lobbyist. Mark Block has served as its sole Madison lobbyist since January 2009. In the last legislative session, he billed AFP $56,967 for lobbying issues.

Block has lobbied on issues – most of which never find their way into legislation – and which are often rallying points for tea partiers and the candidates who rise from their ranks to run for public office. According to The New Yorker, a Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of the Koch brothers, says of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground.

Wisconsin AFL-CIO Labor 2010 Program Reaching Tens of Thousands of Wisconsin Workers Each Week

Wisconsin labor unions are mobilizing hundreds of union volunteers across the state, as part of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Labor 2010 Program, to educate tens of thousands of workers each week about their choice in the mid-term elections.  The Labor 2010 Program – launched by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and participating unions in July – is one of the largest voter mobilization efforts in the state, reaching union households daily through telephone, direct mail and worksite leafleting. 

“Union members have really stepped up to the plate to help get the word out on the choice Wisconsin workers face in November,” says Wisconsin AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Sara Rogers.  “Our hope is to reach every union member in the state of Wisconsin.” 

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO currently has multiple call centers located around the state, making hundreds of calls a week to union members.  Volunteers are also knocking on thousands of union member doors across the state and handing out flyers at worksites in order to communicate with fellow members what is at stake this election season.



Statewide Mail Targeting Ron Johnson on his record of anti-worker, anti-union policies.

Milwaukee, WI- The Wisconsin AFL-CIO is beginning its direct mail effort to its membership this week with a massive statewide mailing targeting Senate candidate Ron Johnson.  The mailing points out that Johnson is wrong for working families.  It highlights Johnson’s history of anti-union policies in his own business, his desire to gut worker pensions and his refusal to extend unemployment benefits. Click here to download the piece.

Thousand of union volunteers across the state are mobilizing through the Wisconsin AFL-CIO Labor 2010 Program, to educate tens of thousands of workers each week about their choice in the mid-term elections. The Labor 2010 Program - launched by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and participating unions in July - is the largest voter mobilization efforts in the state, reaching union households daily through telephone, direct mail and worksite leafleting. 

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO represents 250,000 workers across Wisconsin to fight for working families, economic justice in the workplace, and to achieve social justice for all Wisconsin workers.

How Can Johnson Be a "Job Creator" If he Didn't Create PACUR?

In a comedy of errors, Johnson's campaign is now distancing itself from a 1979 government grant (about a quarter of a million dollars in today's dollars) that paid for a rail line to be built from a new plastics facility in Oshkosh to the nearest rail road. 

The new company would be built by Johnson's brother-in-law, Pat Curler, with the strong backing from his father, billionaire plastics titan, Howard Curler.  The company would be named after company President Pat Curler and be called PACUR and the company's primary customers would be others businesses controlled by the Curler family-- something that hasn't changed in the 30 year life of PACUR.

Humorously, at the same time Johnson is running an ad attacking Feingold for "never being a job creator" he is at the same time saying that he never created PACUR-- "the job creator" -- and, therefore, cannot be held accountable for getting the government loan that helped build PACUR:

This grant was secured in March of 1979 by Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies in exchange for a substantial business investment for the City of Oshkosh.  Ron Johnson moved to Wisconsin in June of 1979.

Of course what the Johnson campaign does not mention is that Wisconsin Industrial Sh


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