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Quotes of the week, Jan. 12-18

I read those comments later last night and the first thing that came to my mind was very unfortunate, unhelpful…
– Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, at a WisPolitics.com luncheon Friday bemoaning President Trump’s vulgar comments about African nations. Ryan later went on to call immigration a “thing to celebrate,” after referencing his family coming to the U.S. from Ireland.

See more from the luncheon in a WisPolitics.com story.  

When you enter the public realm, I don’t care what your past was, I don’t know what kind of salty language he might have used, you stop doing it. You have a certain responsibility, a certain decorum you have to conduct yourself in public with.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, on Trump’s comments, according to a transcript of an interview with Wisconsin Public Television that his office provided. Johnson also said the “the best thing” Trump can do “is just admit it and apologize for it and move on.”

The real question is why we allow presidents from sh*thole companies like the Trump Organization.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, on Twitter.  

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson this week said Medicaid is partially to blame for the rise of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The Oshkosh Republican during a hearing in Washington, D.C. Wednesday morning said the program needs further investigation, as he highlighted the results of a recent report drawing a link between Medicaid and the opioid crisis.

“This is a government program-wide phenomenon where American taxpayers are providing well-intentioned funds into some of these programs, and those funds are being utilized to divert drugs, sell on the open market and in some cases fuel some pretty interesting criminal enterprises or just support a lifestyle of non-work, which is not healthy,” Johnson said.

The report, which Johnson released this week, finds Medicaid contributed to the opioid crisis “by establishing a series of incentives that make it enormously profitable to abuse and sell dangerous drugs.”

Specifically, the document notes at least 1,072 people since 2010 have been convicted or charged nationwide for improperly using Medicaid to obtain prescription opioids, and that the number of people convicted between 2014-17 was 18 percent higher than the four-year period preceding the Medicaid expansion.

The report was from Republican staffers on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Johnson chairs.

Still, Johnson said during the hearing he’s not claiming the opioid epidemic was a direct result of the Medicaid expansion, nor did he say he’s arguing that Medicaid doesn’t help “an awful lot of people,” or that Medicaid is the primary cause.

Instead, he said, it could be an “unintended consequence” and that Medicaid “maybe enables something that shouldn’t be enabled.”

Johnson on Wednesday also shared the report with Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, as he asked in a letter for further information on Medicaid fraud, spending on opioids through the Medicaid program and more.

Meanwhile, the report has garnered criticism from some drug addiction experts who argue it is unfair to single out Medicaid and add there’s no proof Medicaid actually causes opioid abuse.

It’s also drawn fire from the committee’s ranking member U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who contended the document is not supported by concrete evidence, according to national media reports.

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, raised $2.8 million over the final three months of 2017, padding a significant financial edge over her GOP rivals.

Baldwin’s campaign says she finished 2017 with $7 million in the bank.

Republican Kevin Nicholson, a business consultant and former Marine, says he raised $800,000 during the fourth quarter, while Leah Vukmir, a GOP state senator, says she pulled in more than $400,000. Their campaigns said each finished 2017 with about $500,000 in the bank.

Baldwin’s $7 million puts her ahead of where U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Dem challenger Russ Feingold were at the beginning of 2016. Johnson, who won their 2016 rematch, raised $1.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2015 and finished that year with $4.4 million in the bank. Feingold pulled in almost $2.7 million that quarter and had $4.8 million in his warchest.

Baldwin’s campaign said the $2.8 million she raised between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 and the almost $10 million she raised overall in 2017 broke Wisconsin federal fundraising records for quarter and annual totals in an off year.

— Baldwin has introduced a bill that aims to protect pension plans.

The bill, called the Pension Stability Act, would charge banks a fee to get a waiver from the Department of Labor in order to oversee retirement plan funds. That new revenue would then be injected into the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, which insures various employer pension plans.

“We must keep our promise to workers and retirees by making sure they receive the pensions they have earned,” Baldwin said in a statement. “I am introducing this reform to address the financial challenges of the pension insurance program and to generate new revenue to fund worker pensions.”

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher has introduced a resolution that would condemn the UN for criticizing the United States’ recent recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The resolution from Gallagher, along with Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., comes in the wake of President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will move its embassy to Jerusalem as soon as possible.

“For over twenty years, it has been U.S. law to recognize the self-evident reality that Jerusalem is, and always has been, the capital of Israel,” Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said in a statement. “This resolution makes clear that the United States stands proudly beside our ally and will not shy away from asserting our rights as a sovereign nation.”

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, a backer of a bill to delist the gray wolf, is hopeful the legislation will hit the House floor soon. 

The federal bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee in October and was placed on the House docket earlier this month, according to his office.

The update comes as the state is making moves on a bill that would ban police from enforcing state and federal law aimed at managing Wisconsin’s wolf population. That bill cleared an Assembly committee on Wednesday.

Duffy spokesman Mark Bednar said the Wausau Republican is hopeful the federal bill “will be brought to the House floor soon so that Wisconsinites can responsibly manage the state’s gray wolf population.”

Posts of the week

ICYMI

WisPolitics.com: Ryan says immigration should be celebrated as he bemoans Trump comments on Haiti, African nations

WisPolitics.com: ‘UpFront’: Grothman doesn’t trust Durbin’s account of Trump comments

Ron Johnson links Medicaid to opioid crisis during hearing

Ron Johnson: Donald Trump should apologize for ‘shithole’ remark

Ron Johnson: Trump’s comments unfortunate, but immigration, DACA deals are up to Congress

Millions more spent to defeat Tammy Baldwin than all other incumbent Democrats in Senate combined

Wisconsin Senate race: Tammy Baldwin raised more than $2.8 million in fourth quarter of 2017

6th Congressional district: Glenn Grothman raised $241,000 in fourth quarter of 2017

Rep. Grothman accused of ‘malign[ing] a civil rights leader’ at MLK event at RC

Grothman Hoping Federal Government Shutdown Can Be Avoided

Rep. Sean Duffy: DACA deal still possible even after ‘sh—hole’ comment

Congressman Mike Gallagher reacts to possible government shutdown  

Wisconsin officials push for broader dairy farm safety net


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