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Wednesday, 23 November 2016 13:44

This just in blog: Our election hangover

Instead of a presidential honeymoon, Americans have been given a campaign hangover.

This election season was historic, more for careening off the rails of how traditional campaigns are run than any significance the candidates might bring to the office.

Trump voters seemed as surprised as Clinton voters that the disruptive New York businessman so decisively claimed the race.

And Wisconsin was the final domino to fall in the early morning hours after the polls closed.

The Scott Walker coalition not only delivered the state for Donald Trump, but returned Sen. Ron Johnson, who had trailed in the polls through the fall, to the Senate, assuring that Republicans would have control of the House and Senate.

Now, the question is can we come together as a country?

Maybe, but we have a long way to go.

Hidden in the ugly campaign was a roadmap for the new president and Congress showing what voters want from their government.

We’re frustrated by the rapidly growing income gap.

We’re worried about the influence of unaccountable money in our electoral process.

More people have health insurance than ever before, but costs continue to rise and we don’t know why.

Terrorism remains a threat.

Although the national economy rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, a wide swath of the working class saw little change for the better.

That frustration fueled the Trump surge.

Although Trump’s transition team touched on a range of topics this past week, wage growth could solve a lot of problems.

Workers with more money feel more secure. They contribute more in taxes. Rising incomes mean people rely less on government services.

More money in people’s pockets means businesses can grow to accommodate increased demand.

Republicans surely will pitch tax cuts as a way to raise wages, but those cuts initially benefit the wealthy and businesses.

A raise in the minimum wage is unlikely, but tax reform can directly drive wage growth by giving companies incentives to raise wages or by penalizing them if they don’t.

So too with health care.

"It'll be great health care for much less money," Trump told Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" last week.

I suspect it won’t be quite that simple or easy.

Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville, finally will be able to reveal their long-alluded to replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

Frustrated voters, on the other hand, won’t have much patience for solutions that are retreads of previous proposals.

There are lots of ways to move forward as a country.

But one way that never came up in the dozens of letters to the editor that we ran in the weeks leading up to the election was that we should do nothing.

It’s commendable that our representatives stick to their principles, but the overarching principle should be to make government work for the people.

Republicans were loath to soften their positions during the almost eight years of President Barack Obama’s term.

They may need to now in the Senate to get Democrats to play along. Republicans will need 60 votes in many cases.

Sometimes that means accepting a compromise and living to fight again in the arena of public opinion. Finding ways to work together means moving away from personality and moving toward policy.

Now that the votes have been counted, our Constitution provides a process by which government can work together to tackle the country’s most serious problems.

We don’t really have much of a choice but to let that process play out.

And maybe we’ll get something done in the two years before the next election season rolls around.

Hopefully we’ll be over our hangover by then.

Dan Plutchak is the editor of CSI Media, publisher of the Janesville Messenger, Stateline News and Walworth County Sunday. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or on Twitter @danplutchak.

Thursday, 28 July 2016 12:25

Editor's blog: Welcome to our new look

Our work here at the newspaper is never really done. I’m sure our jobs are much like yours in that way.

Yes, we publish a new edition each Sunday and Wednesday, but at the same time we’re working on new stories and new ways to connect with our readers.

This just in blog, by Dan Plutchak, editor

As the presidential candidates crisscrossed Wisconsin this past week ahead of Tuesday’s presidential primary, they’ve pitched all the things they would do as president.

But, as you head to the polls to vote, remember any president can do very little without the cooperation of Congress.

It’s the role of the House and Senate to pass legislation. The president’s only duty is to either approve the law with his or her signature, or reject it by veto.

When Donald Trump says he’ll force Mexico to pay for a wall between our two counties, or when Ted Cruz says he’ll step up policing in Muslim neighborhoods, it’s unclear what sort of legislation Congress could consider, making those campaign promises little more than talking points.

No matter who you vote for Tuesday, their proposals won’t go very far unless voters also pick a majority in the House of Representatives and at least 60 agreeable senators.

Mike Zoril

Although Rep. Paul Ryan achieved his goal of getting government moving again, he raised the ire of conservatives within his party over the more than $1 trillion tax and spending measures passed Dec. 18, 2015.

Now, just a week later, Ryan may be facing a primary challenge from the right.

Mike Zoril of Beloit, a working class town of the western edge of the 1st Congressional District, announced on his Facebook page on Christmas eve that he may mount a primary challenge to the Speaker.

Zoril said that he receives enough support, he's "in it to win it."

Zoril, a longtime local activist, is chairman of Beloit's Equal Opportunities commission.

Zoril who attempted a run for Beloit City Council last spring but failed to gain a spot on the ballot because he didn't have enough valid nomination signatures, changed the name of his Facebook page Dec. 24 to "About Primary Challenge Paul Ryan - Republican Mike Zoril for Wisconsin Congress."

He describes himself in the about section as Christian and very conservative.

Ryan, who lives 20 minutes north of Beloit in Janesville, was named speaker of the House in October, and since then spent his time finalizing a deal that would fund the government and avoid a shutdown similar to 2013.

Ever since the House and Senate passed a tax package and $1.1 trillion spending plan, Ryan has been defending the plan to conservatives within the Republican party.

The deal made permanent a series of tax cuts as well as removing a decades old ban on exporting domestic oil.

However it included $700 billion in unpaid tax cuts, although Ryan maintains it simply keeps in place already approved tax measures.

Conservatives however seem most upset that the deal included neither a defunding measure for Planned Parenthood nor a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan says the House will pass a measure including both when it returns in January, and send it to the presidents desk.

President Obama likely will veto the measure, but in an interview with CSI Media last week, Ryan indicated he thought there was a chance for a veto override.

 Ryan also will face at least one Democrat in the fall 2016 election.

Tom Breu of Janesville quit his job in October at the Wisconsin Banking Commission as a consumer credit examiner to devote himself full time to his campaign.

Oh what a difference two years and a new speaker of the House make.

It was a October of 2013 when the government began a disastrous two-week shutdown after the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democrat-controlled Senate were unable to come to a temporary spending agreement.

In this season of good wishes, a special variety of kindness has broken out in some of the communities we cover with our CSI Media newspapers.

I first noticed it earlier this month in a Facebook post from the Rockton Police Department. One of our papers, the Stateline News, covers the village located just over the border in Illinois.

The post showed a photo of a Starbucks gift card with the now familiar hashtag #bluelivesmatter, which began on Twitter in support of those who serve in law enforcement.

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