By Kirsten Adshead | Wisconsin Reporter
Campaign financing reports for congressional candidates came out this week, while U.S. Senate candidates here are making a campaign issue of the proposed review of the Federal Reserve.
State senators convened Tuesday for the largely ceremonial task of swearing in newly elected Sens. John Lehman, D-Racine, and Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, after the June 5 recall elections that put both men in the Senate and gave Democrats a 17-16 edge in the chamber.
Democrats are calling for a special or extraordinary session on jobs before the November elections. Otherwise, lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to session until January.
“I call on the governor and Assembly Republicans to join us on taking action,” Senate Majority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, said. “It is time to move Wisconsin out of the bottom tier and get out people back to work.”
But Republicans still control the Assembly and governor’s office, and they hope to take back the Senate in November – giving them little incentive to return to session before next year.
“Look, I think there’s a lot of common ground, but we are in the middle of an election season,” said Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, who stymied the Republican mining bill last session by siding with the Democratic Party. “That makes it very difficult to get people together, to come back here, and you know, for that reason, I rather suspect we won’t be back.”
Ryan brings the cash
Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan hasn’t been in a close race in a decade but continues to take in the lion’s share of Wisconsin’s congressional campaign contributions.
Federal campaign finance reports for Wisconsin’s congressional candidates show they raised a cumulative $3.6 million in the second quarter. Ryan, who outraised all other Wisconsin congressional hopefuls, took in just under $1 million in the second quarter, leaving him with a war chest of $5.4 million.
“The message I am hearing from voters is that they demand leaders who are willing to address the challenges we face as a nation. They want the president’s health care law repealed, the crony capitalism halted, and our tax code reformed,” Ryan said in a statement. “Voters are fed up with the endless borrowing, spending, and taxing in Washington and want to get back on a path to prosperity.”
Ryan’s national rock-star status among Republicans brings the whiplash from Democrats calling out Ryan’s policies. Rob Zerban, Ryan’s Democratic challenger in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, raised $355,643 in the second quarter, making him the top Democrat among Wisconsin congressional candidates. Zerban now has $557,522 cash on hand.
Democratic candidates for the Madison-area congressional primary — which is expected be more competitive than the general election — show state Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, raising nearly twice as much as state Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, D-Madison, in the second quarter.
Congress eyes the Fed
Congress, including a majority of Wisconsin representatives, is calling for an unprecedented audit of the Federal Reserve, which turns 100 this year.
“Because of its status as an independent agency, much of the Federal Reserve’s actions are secret and not subject to scrutiny. It is important the agency maintains its independence so that its actions are not influenced by political considerations,” Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said in an email. “However, regular audits of the Federal Reserve’s operations and balance sheet should be conducted to ensure accountability for prior actions. It is not healthy for any organization to be free from accountability.”
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act, or House Resolution 459, would “require a full audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks” by the end of 2012.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke calls that a “nightmare scenario.”
The bill’s 272 co-sponsors in the House include Wisconsin Democrat U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Distirict 2, and Republican Reps. Tom Petri, of District 6; Jim Sensenbrenner, of District 5; Sean Duffy, of District 7; and Reid Ribble, of District 8.
Unemployment up again
Wisconsin’s private sector shed about 11,700 last month, and unemployment ticked up to 7 percent, according to numbers released Thursday from the Department of Workforce Development.
Unemployment in May was at 6.8 percent, but even in June, Wisconsin’s unemployment was less than the national average of 8.2 percent.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration continues to take issue with the fact that the month-by-month unemployment rates are determined by a sample of about 3.5 percent of Wisconsin businesses and often need to be revised later.
Nevertheless, the report isn’t good news for a governor who ran on the pledge of creating 250,000 jobs during his first term.