Foxconn And Great Lakes, Competition For State Frac Sand Mines, Republicans Firing Up The Base

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Frac sand mines in Texas are on the rise and creating stiff competition for Wisconsin operations. A WPR reporter joins us to discuss industry trends and what they mean for frac sand mining in Wisconsin. We also hear how the incentives being offered to technology manufacturer Foxconn would affect the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement made to regulate the use of water from the lakes. After the failure of health care legislation, President Trump and Paul Ryan are trying to re-energize the Republican base. We look at the issues they’re pushing and whether they can gain traction in Congress.

Featured in this Show

  • Politics Professor: GOP Not Doing Great When It Comes To Legislation

    In spite of being in control of both houses of Congress and the White House and having wide latitude to shape the judicial branch nationwide, things might not be going as well for Republicans as they may have hoped.

    “I think there’s cause for the Republicans to be concerned,” said Susan Johnson, an associate professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and director of UWW’s Center for Political Science and Public Policy Research.

    The GOP is “in a bit of a different state than they thought they would be at this point. I think that there was an expectation that six months in or so (to President Donald Trump’s first term), that there would be significant policy victories to point to,” Johnson said.

    The Republicans recently failed to pass legislation on one of their biggest issues: health care.

    Another major thing the Republicans have going against them is the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between Russia and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, which began to dominate the news even before Trump was sworn into office. There has been major pushback from the White House on media coverage of the investigations, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan tweeted a video of himself listing some of Congress’ accomplishments.

    “The reality is that there is some very important work getting done here to improve people’s lives,” Ryan said in the video.

    Trump’s historically low approval ratings are also a reason Republicans might have reason to worry, Johnson said. And with the impending 2018 midterm elections, the need for the party to prove itself feels more urgent, she said.

    That may explain Trump’s and other Republicans’ recent actions and statements that appeal to the base, she said.

    Trump’s declaration on Twitter that transgender individuals would no longer be allowed to serve in the military and his support for a newly restrictive immigration policy could be viewed as a reaction to extensive media coverage of the Russia investigations and the GOP’s legislative struggles, Johnson said.

    The same could be said of Paul Ryan’s recent ad promoting a construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, she said.

    Ryan’s ad, and Trump’s recent comments to an audience of police officers and relatives of crime victims, is returning to Trump’s campaign rhetoric, Johnson said.

    “It clearly is playing to that idea of law and order that we can go back a full year ago to the convention when that was the theme of the convention and his speech,” Johnson said.

    “In terms of a certain core base within the Republican party, it still plays very well. Because if it didn’t, you wouldn’t have Paul Ryan making that video and you wouldn’t have President Trump still talking about it (the border wall),” she said.

    However, the Republicans are still in control, and although they’ve had trouble passing legislation, they have had significant victories in other branches of government, Johnson said.

    “Administratively there’s been quite a bit done,” she said.

    At the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, administrator Scott Pruitt has had success rolling back some Obama-era regulations, Johnson said. Similarly, the Justice Department will be able to return to more tough-on-crime policies with Jeff Sessions as attorney general, she said.

    And although support for Trump has fallen since he took office, Johnson cautioned against relying too heavily on polling, as it’s difficult to get at the nuance of voters’ thinking.

  • How Foxconn Could Affect The Great Lakes Compact

    Foxconn has been everywhere in Wisconsin’s news lately. The Taiwanese electronics giant is building an LCD factory somewhere in southeastern Wisconsin. One of the questions swirling around this development is what demand that factory might make on the resources of Lake Michigan. We talk to a guest from WisContext about how Foxconn might affect the Great Lakes Compact.

  • Wisconsin Frac Sand Mines Facing Texas Competition

    Eleven frac sand mines are being developed in Texas, in close proximity to the state’s oil and gas fields. A WPR reporter is with us to talk about how this industry shift could make it difficult for Wisconsin’s frac sand operations to compete.

  • Trump And Ryan Renew Their Appeal To Their Voting Base

    President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have made moves to appeal to their bases — we’ll look at the latest policy proposals, and the politics behind them.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Producer
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • Susan Johnson Guest
  • Scott Gordon Guest
  • Rich Kremer Guest