Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by

Many Republicans are falling over themselves to show that they care. Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson wants the Senate to “listen” to Professor Christine Blasey Ford who said Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her three decades ago. Johnson, who earlier said that “30 years ago he (Kavanaugh) would have passed unanimously”, now wants to “look at the evidence …”. Caveat – Johnson single-handedly blocked UW-Madison Law Professor Victoria Nourse from being considered by the Senate for a seat on the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals. He wouldn’t even meet with her.

Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker also wants to show a softer side: “The Senate should absolutely take this seriously (sexual assault accusation against Kavanaugh). … I’m glad we’re going to hear from her.” Meanwhile, Trump tweets personal attacks against Ford: “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have immediately been filed …”. Shameful! And, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will “plow right through” to confirm Kavanaugh. No tweets of protest from Johnson and Walker. Their position seems to be let Ford vent and offer tissues, then confirm Kavanaugh quickly.

Wisconsin GOP “caring” also extends to health care. Walker has trumped Trump by giving the go-ahead to Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel to file a lawsuit to have the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) declared unconstitutional, including coverage of preexisting conditions. But in his 2018 State of the State Address Walker said: “We want to guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers said that if Walker really cared he should “drop Wisconsin from this lawsuit today because actions speak louder than empty political promises.” The millions of Wisconsinites that have strong consumer protections under the ACA do not want to go back to when the health insurance carriers were in the driver’s seat.

Along the same lines Walker’s replacement for the ACA would be Trump’s short-term insurance scheme or as Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin says “junk insurance plans”. They offer puny coverage that excludes preexisting conditions. Baldwin has introduced legislation “to overturn the Trump administration’s expansion of junk insurance plans.” She is strongly supported by the American Cancer Association, American Heart Association and national physician groups. Moreover, GOP Governors Larry Hogan (Maryland) and Phil Scott (Vermont) have approved legislation limiting short-term insurance to three months or less. Substandard insurance is not comprehensive coverage.

Finally, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson has expressed sympathy for 25,000 Wisconsinites (1.5 million nationally) who could lose their hard-earned pensions because of underfunded pension plans such as the Central States Pension Fund. Johnson “listens” but does not act. He has no legislative solution, unlike Senator Baldwin. A bipartisan House-Senate committee must propose a solution by November 30.

Many of the retired truck drivers voted Republican. I hope that they and moderate (McCain) Republicans will decide to elect Democrats to tackle our problems. Tony Evers, to Walker’s chagrin, has support from two Walker appointees.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.


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