Dem U.S. Senate candidates in a virtual forum offered solutions to the nation’s economic woes such as adding manufacturing jobs, increasing the minimum wage and helping small businesses.

In the more than two-hour Dane County Democratic Party event last night, seven of eight candidates offered ways to address a variety of economic issues. All of the candidates responded to different questions, but most answered at least one focused on the economy and inflation. They will face off in a Dem primary next month. The winner will go on to face U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who is seeking a third term.

None of the candidates made any direct attacks on others during the event.

As many across Wisconsin struggle with rising fuel prices, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski said she would tackle part of that inflation by going after oil companies.

She said she would fine oil companies $2 million per day for profiteering, support a gas tax holiday and work to lower prescription drug prices.

“But the other thing that we’ve got to do, I will say as a mom, is look at how we can ensure people can participate in the economy,” she said. “And right now things like child care and senior care are unaffordable. We’re in child care and senior care deserts.”

Alex Lasry, on leave from his job with the Milwaukee Bucks, said he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and repeal Trump-era tax cuts he says raised taxes on the middle class. He criticized Johnson for what he called a lack of action to address inflation.

“He’s actually in a place to pass policies and try to help,” he said. “And unfortunately, he’s doing nothing right now and for the last 12 years has done nothing but pass a tax cut for himself and make it easier to ship jobs overseas and raise taxes on the middle class.”

Intellectual property rights attorney Peter Peckarsky said raising the minimum wage to over $20 an hour would help more people be able to afford having children. Forcing businesses to pay what he says is a fair wage would also help level the playing field for workers, he added.

“And this is not a world in which $20 an hour makes it for anybody,” he said. “If you’re working 40 hours a week, that’s roughly 2,000 hours a year. That’s $40,000. Forty-thousand dollars does not support two parental units and two kids in some kind of normal environment.”

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said he wants to make sure small Wisconsin farms maintain a strong stake in the state’s agriculture industry while other parts grow too. He said keeping the market competitive is key.

“Our industry is booming. It is rich,” he said. “We have so many more amazing opportunities, but if we continue to go in this route, we continue this direction of monopolization, the family farm will be lost forever in this state. In the same way that we need to support our small family farms employ people this is what’s happening with small businesses as well. “

Businessman Kou Lee said he also wants to keep markets competitive by holding big corporations accountable and strengthening antitrust laws. That would lead to lower consumer prices and more innovation, he added.

“Big corporations are practically profiting in the billions,” he said. “And that is just unfair because these corporations are not using these profits to share with the consumer or to invest in innovations or research that would actually benefit all of us. Instead, they use this money to buy back their stocks to protect their companies, and also to increase the bonuses for CEOs.”

Outagamie County Exec Tom Nelson said better trade deals with countries such as China would help improve America’s economic security and increase jobs. He said he wants to negotiate deals “from the perspective of the American worker.”

“The Chinese have eaten our lunch. We’ve had awful trade deals,” he said. “And it’s not just because of what international competitors like what China does, but it’s what our own representatives do and how they have not served us. Trade deal after trade deal, Democratic administrations and Republican administrations have hurt the American worker.”

Millennial Action Project founder Steven Olikara in his closing remarks called to put a price on carbon emissions, adding he wants to ensure clean energy entrepreneurs get the resources they need to make the U.S. a leader in the industry.

“R&D is some of the smartest investment that the United States government can make,” he said. “And we need to help commercialize those technologies too from the Department of Energy labs into the private sector.”

— Darrell Williams, on leave from his post as Division of Emergency Management administrator,  said he does not expect he would get a response if he dialed 911 at 3 a.m.

Williams, also at the Dane County Democratic Party event, when asked what kind of changes he wants to see police make, said he doesn’t support defunding them, but they need to work more with communities. He also said communities will have to work more with police. But right now he said police do not have the resources to take every call.

“So we have got to work together as one because at the end of the day, someone breaks into my house at three o’clock in the morning, I’m dialing 911,” he said. “And I don’t expect I would get a response.”

Williams was not asked a question directly related to the economy.

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