National Security Policy In 2016 Senate Race, Wisconsin’s Economic Future

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Wisconsin business leaders are holding a summit focused on the state’s future economic outlook, growing job opportunities and workforce needs. Our guest gives us a recap of the meeting and tells us his vision for Wisconsin’s economic future. We also discuss the issue of national security and how its playing out in the campaigns of Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold here in Wisconsin.

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  • National Security Policy Splits Johnson, Feingold Even Further Apart

    When it comes to Wisconsin’s upcoming U.S. Senate race, it can seem like the two candidates — Republican incumbent Ron Johnson and Democratic rival Russ Feingold — couldn’t be more different. And there’s one issue in particular that stands out in recent days: national security.

    While the issue of national security and foreign policy largely took a backseat five years ago when the two candidates first squared off, they will be front and center this time around in wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris and California.

    This rematch could offer the sharpest, starkest debate over war, terrorism and U.S.’s role in the world of any Senate race in the country in 2016, according to Craig Gilbert, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Washington bureau chief. He said concern about the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, is one of the key areas of focus in the campaign.

    “There’s clearly a difference about how they talk about military force,” Gilbert said. “Ron Johnson has explicitly said significant numbers of U.S. troops could go into Iraq and Syria to try to displace ISIS and try to take their territory away.”

    Feingold, on the other hand, is absolutely opposed to the idea, said Gilbert, and was a vocal opponent to the Iraq War in 2003 when he was a senator. Moreover, Feingold was against the troop surge in Iraq and continually called for a quicker withdrawal from the area.

    The two also fundamentally disagree on the Patriot Act and just how wide the data collection and phone records surveillance net should be cast upon Americans.

    A bill passed over the summer with bipartisan support scaled back the government’s surveillance powers. Johnson voted in favor of the measure, but has stated that he supports a proposal being floated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to restore those powers in order to prevent terrorist attacks.

    In contrast, Feingold was the lone vote against the Patriot Act when he was a senator during the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    Gilbert said both Johnson and Feingold have significant platforms to offer their visions to voters. Johnson is chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee and also serves on the Foreign Relations Committee. Gilbert said Johnson will likely paint Feingold as not taking national security serious enough.

    Feingold wrote a book about the U.S. response to 9/11 and served as a diplomat in the Obama’s State Department. The former senator, said Gilbert, will likely portray Johnson as a knee-jerk reactionist who hasn’t learned lessons from the Iraq War and far too willing to put troops in harm’s way

    What remains to be seen is just big a role national security will play in the election. Regardless of world events during the next 10 months, Johnson is widely considered one of the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the country and has consistently trailed Feingold in polling. Gilbert added that Wisconsin Democrats typically see better results in presidential elections — another advantage to Feingold as the two enter the primary season.

  • How National Security May Define 2016 Senate Race In Wisconsin

    When it comes to Wisconsin’s upcoming race for senate, it would seem that two candidates, Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold, couldn’t be any more different. And there’s one issue in particular where we really see that playing out: national security. A reporter looks at the major differences between the two candidates’ approaches to foreign policy.

  • Charting Wisconsin's Economic Future

    Recent reports have shown Wisconsin to have the fastest shrinking middle class in the country, with a decline in manufacturing jobs contributing to that slump. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce is hosting its second Future Wisconsin Economic Summit to look at what the job and industry possibilities in the state.

  • Summit Broaches Wisconsin's Structural Economic Challenges

    Wisconsin’s economy is frequently judged through a political lens of, “how many jobs did who create in what amount of time?” But many of the economic challenges facing the Badger State are more fundamental than quarterly jobs numbers or income reports can show.

    Wisconsin’s population is aging and its growth of 1.24 percent in the past four years puts it in the bottom quartile of the nation. Baby boomers are set to retire at a rate that will far outpace the inflow of new workers to the labor market.

    The economy also looks bleak from the supply side of the labor market. This year, a Pew report showed that between 2000 and 2013, Wisconsin had the fastest-shrinking middle class in the country. Adjusting for inflation, the median household income fell $8,877.

    As Wisconsinites retire, grow old, and require more medical care, industry and labor alike will face a growing tax burden. Things don’t look great from either side, and the trends extend back decades, across different political administrations.

    Many of those structural issues were in focus at the Future Wisconsin Economic Summit held by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s main business lobby, on Wednesday.

    “Quite frankly, if we do double our over-65 population and don’t have a net in migration of people to fill the jobs that we’re going to have open in the state, it’s going to have an impact across the board on healthcare, on property ownership, on sales taxes and everything else,” said Jim Morgan, president of WMC.

    For Morgan, the crux of the issue is retaining young Wisconsinites and attracting more from out of state.

    “We’ve got to begin to sell ourselves both within the border of Wisconsin and to people outside,” he said.

    He said that people not only have the incorrect assumption that there are no jobs in Wisconsin, but that potential transplants are dissuaded from moving by decades-old stereotypes about the state.

    “Often the way that we’re branded is either by a sitcom that’s 20 years out of date or a football game where its 40 below zero and there’s some guy who’s sitting there on TV with his shirt off,” he said.

    As businesses and government agencies look to attract newcomers, according to Morgan, the state should promote its education, wildlife, and sense of community.

    While the summit broached a topic that is often politically tense in Wisconsin, he said that a diverse group of interests were present and contributed to the conversation.

    “If we don’t all get together on this one and figure it out, it’s not gonna be your end of the boat that’s sinking and mine’s OK. Both ends are going down,” he said.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer
  • Craig Gilbert Guest

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