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Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011

Issue of the Week: Fake Jobs, Real Session

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Last week Gov. Scott Walker announced his new jobs bill, along with a special session of the state Legislature in which to fast-track it.

But don't be fooled by Walker's sudden concern for the state's jobless. He couldn't be less sincere.

Walker's bill has been roundly panned by Democrats and their allies for its lack of valid solutions for the state's stubborn unemployment problem. While Walker did make the politically smart move of including a few Democratic proposals, his bill was mostly made up of tax breaks that wouldn't result in any significant hiring.

Walker's bill is so unfocused on jobs that it includes "tort reform" to shield manufacturers of defective medical devices from lawsuits. Perhaps it'll save jobs at negligent manufacturers' workplaces, but is that really good public policy?

Walker also proposes to lower large manufacturers' energy bills. But that only means that other ratepayers would have to foot the bill.

Even worse, Walker's alleged jobs bill would help ease the way for a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin. True, Wisconsin has a proud history of mining. But Walker's proposal has been criticized as a way to promote his donors' and allies' business interests at the expense of Wisconsin's common good. The issue is too important to be included as an afterthought in a larger bill.

Even though Walker's jobs bill is a sham, the rubber-stamp Republican majorities in the state Legislature are more than likely going to do his bidding. They're going to ram through the rest of Walker's wish list while he's still in office. With Walker dogged by high disapproval ratings and questions surrounding a John Doe investigation, the clock is ticking.

Although Madison Republicans are likely to give Walker everything he wants, no matter how little it will do for the state's unemployed, congressional Republicans are refusing to work with President Obama and his far more serious, far more productive job-creation package. Obama has proposed to give tax breaks to workers, not billionaires; invest in infrastructure repair and public employees; and help folks who have been out of work for more than six months. The president has his priorities right. Why doesn't the governor?

Heroes of the Week

Dominican Center for Women Volunteers

The Milwaukee nonprofit group Dominican Center for Women (DCW), founded in Minneapolis in 1990 by Sister Ann Halloran and Sister Anne-Marie Doyle, continues its mission of breaking the cycle of poverty and improving living conditions for program participants.

Volunteers play a vital role in DCW's success. Based on the notion that a proper education is key to economic well-being, the Adult Education Program offers one-on-one tutoring for basic reading, writing and math skills, as well as computer instruction. Also, because those living in poverty are often unable to afford upkeep on their homes, resulting in potentially unsafe environments, DCW volunteers help participants with needed improvements to make living quarters healthy and safe.

Readers interested in tutoring or donating their skills to the Housing Rehab Program are encouraged to call 414-444-9930 or visit www.dominican-center.org.