Tuesday, Blue America will be officially endorsing Rob Zerban for Congress-- looks like I let the cat out of the bag-- and he'll be our special Valentine's Day live guest here at C&L (11am PT; 2pm ET).
When I spoke to him a few minutes ago I reminded him that to the Netroots and to progressive activists outside of the district, Paul Ryan is known to be one of the most extreme and dangerous members of the conservative movement. This view is shared by many in Wisconsin, of course, including in the First Congressional District, but there is a still a great deal of work to be done convincing undecided and independents. I wanted to know what Rob is doing to make sure voters in Janesville, Kenosha, Racine, the southern Milwaukee 'burbs and even Waukesha get that. He says "there are three main factors why people are energized about this race and fed up with Ryan-- Ryan's ideas, his behavior, and the movement in Wisconsin. My campaign is focusing on harnessing these opportunities, drawing clear contrasts, and delivering that message to voters." When I asked for details, they came out like a gusher:
The privatization of Medicare and Social Security is an awful idea. Let’s start there. That is something the vast majority of people understand in this district, and across the nation. Supporters of Paul Ryan’s plans have admitted it does not save money. These proposals open these programs to huge risk and cuts, and are clearly just a ploy to take money away from seniors and put it into the hands of Wall Street and private health insurance companies. (Of course, these are the same special interests funding Ryan’s political career).
Paul Ryan’s agenda is not just cuts and privatization, but also wasteful spending on big tax cuts for the wealthy. Everyone is furious that Mitt Romney is paying only 13.9 percent on his millions while many in the middle class are paying tax rates in the 30 percentile. I point out to people that Paul Ryan makes this possible. He has pushed for every tax cut for millionaires and billionaires possible including the Bush tax cuts, capital gains, carried interest, and many other loopholes. Ryan wants to protect these loopholes for Mitt Romney instead of funding our students, seniors, and economic recovery efforts.
Paul Ryan likes to sell himself as a big thinker similar to the way Newt Gingrich has done. I realized early on that his grandiose and self-promoting plans, including the Path to Prosperity, are little more than the reheated and repackaged extremism of past eras.
The second problem many Wisconsinites have with Ryan is his behavior. He is cavorting with the ultra-wealthy at every opportunity and only occasionally returns to the district. His “listening sessions” with constituents compromise of him delivering a PowerPoint presentation on topics including why students don’t need Pell Grants and why seniors programs should be privatized. He routinely kicks out anyone who disagrees with him. He behaves like people’s boss- not their representative. In my opinion, he acts like someone who does not feel he owes his district or his constituents any consideration. He is a man with a philosophy and everyone else can take his way or the highway. This makes people mad!
The third and final factor I think is playing a big role in why people are so energized is the movement in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is the epicenter of the movement by the middle class to stand up for themselves and for their futures. The recall effort of the governor is an inspiring grassroots effort to get rid of someone who has stepped far outside of the lines to attack the middle class. The crushing and coordinated political attack on working families that happened in Wisconsin was outrageous. The attack was orchestrated by outside money networks and secret coalitions, including the Koch Brothers and ALEC, which allowed for radical legislation to be quickly rammed through Wisconsin state government. It was clear to everyone that our legislators and Governor were acting as puppets for outside interests and had little understanding what they were doing.
This all-out assault on the middle class woke a lot of people up. We saw great things in Madison. The Recall has also spread to my district and had a great impact. Formerly Republican-leaning areas of the district, including Waukesha County, had record participation in the recall.
In short, things have changed here in Wisconsin! People have woken up and blue collar retirees are remembering just how unacceptable the Republican agenda is. Seniors and students are realizing the deep cuts Ryan is ramming through will hurt them and will force many in the middle class to fall into poverty.
It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows! Paul Ryan has the wrong ideas for America and we just need to keep promoting the simple truth.
Good answer! Come meet Rob Tuesday, right here-- 11am PT, 2pm ET. And if you'd like to help his campaign before then... be our guest, over at the Blue America ActBlue page.