Patti Wenzel
Election 2012

Jeff Fitzgerald stops at Milwaukee Press Club

By - Mar 22nd, 2012 04:00 am
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State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (Photos: Patti Wenzel)

Jeff Fitzgerald describes himself as one of the three most popular conservatives in Wisconsin for his work as the state Assembly Speaker. The other two on his list – Gov. Scott Walker and Fitzgerald’s big brother, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

It is that popularity that Jeff Fitzgerald plans to use to get past former Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Congressman Mark Neumann and business owner Eric Hovde in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate .

He told members of the Milwaukee Press Club yesterday that his leadership and plan for Wisconsin would easily travel to Washington, where the national debt is out of control, entitlements need to be trimmed and partisan bickering is at a fever-pitch.

“The problems in Wisconsin are a microcosm of our national problems,” Fitzgerald said. “And the status quo is no longer acceptable either here or in Washington.”

Fitzgerald said his plan for Washington is to put people back to work by making America more competitive in the world by lowering corporate taxes from a global high of 35 percent to possibly 15 percent, more in line with Canada.

The panel at the Milwaukee Press Club

Much of what Fitzgerald had to say was similar to Thompson and Neumann’s remarks on the stump. Fitzgerald favors less regulatory oversight of businesses, supports the Keystone Oil Sands Pipeline, would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), and cut spending.

Fitzgerald pledges to look at every agency, program and line, to find waste in the federal budget. He vowed not to raise taxes parroting the same line his fellow candidates are using – “we don’t have a tax problem, but a spending problem.”

Defense doesn’t get a pass; Fitzgerald said he would be willing chop outdated weapons systems and military practices. He also said the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan without any end game in sight.

Fitzgerald said he would replace Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts, allowing patients to have more control over medical decisions and using market pressure to reduce health costs. He cited lasik surgery as an example of the market lowering costs, with the original surgery costing more than $3,000 per eye now having dropped to under $1,500 for both eyes. As the demand grew, the price dropped, which Fitzgerald said would happen with HSAs.

For those with pre-existing medical conditions, Fitzgerald would support Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to develop state-based high risk pools, and supports Ryan’s Medicare overhaul.

Fitzgerald also demands honesty about Social Security.

“We need to be truthful about entitlements,” he said. “My generation doesn’t believe it will be there when they retire. We need to look at raising the age to keep it solvent. And we have to explain, either we do nothing and you get nothing or we make changes so you can receive something at a later date.”

Returning to state politics, Fitzgerald said the claim that unions knew nothing of the administration’s plans to target collective bargaining in Act 10 is false. He said Marty Beil, Executive Director of the Wisconsin State Employees Union, knew workers were going to be expected to pay more for benefits.

“In fact, in the last session Gov. Doyle wanted state workers to pay more and the Democratic-controlled legislature wouldn’t pass it,” Fitzgerald said. “And after the 2010 election, the unions begged to get the Doyle plan passed in special session, but then-Assembly Speaker Russ Decker said no. They knew we would go after it.”

Fitzgerald added the bill to limit collective bargaining wasn’t just about getting more buy-in from state employees, but also a way to eliminate entrenched corruption that had been bargained into statewide contracts.

“There was a lot that was unfair under collective bargaining,” he said. “The WEAC Trust was stealing millions in health premiums through no-bid contracts. It is amazing the millions school districts have saved by being able to negotiate and bid health coverage this year.”

And for the question on everyone’s mind – no, there were no farm animals at Fitzgerald’s appearance. He did say he would begin looking for a large elephant to accompany him at future appearances.

Eric Hovde will appear at the final Senate Newsmakers Luncheon sponsored by the Milwaukee Press Club on April 11. For more information, click here.

Categories: News, News & Views, Politics

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