Well, perhaps those three state senators singled out by fellow Republican and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos this past week aren't "terrorists" but, let's be honest here, they sure are experts at throwing bombs.
Vos knows how to lob a few bombs himself, so it's fair to say that it takes one to know one. Still, he falls short when compared to the likes of Republican Sens. Chris Kapenga of Delafield, Duey Stroebel of Saukville and Steve Nass of rural Whitewater. The three have solid reputations for being among the biggest partisan bullies in the Legislature, famous for their "it's my way or the highway" mentality. They haven't a clue what the word compromise means, nor do they want to.
Take Nass, for example. Goaded on by his mouthpiece, staffer Mike Mikalsen, Nass has taken it upon himself to make the University of Wisconsin miserable. Keeping an eye on a big institution like the UW can be a good thing. But Nass has made a career of slamming the university without so much as relying on any facts. And should the UW push back on his often ill-informed claims, he throws his ultimate bomb — a threat to cut the school's funding even more.
Stroebel is the legislator who owns bundles of real estate and isn't shy in pushing legislation to make it more difficult for local government and school districts to do anything that would raise property taxes — like building or fixing a school, for instance. While he's able to get taxpayer-paid subsidies on much of the land he owns, he's been the leading GOP force behind eliminating the state's historic prevailing wage provisions, a bomb that effectively cuts construction workers' wages.
Kapenga is famous for endorsing one-time GOP presidential candidate and now secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson's proposal to bar Muslims from being president and Carson's statement that Islam is inconsistent with American values. He's also a leader in backing ALEC-sponsored legislation and is pushing for a constitutional convention to enact a federal balanced budget amendment. He reserves his big bombs, though, for demolishing Planned Parenthood.
The three Senate amigos got under Vos' skin for holding the state budget hostage unless Scott Walker made select vetoes that favored pet parts of their agendas — limiting school referendums, providing for the immediate repeal of the state's prevailing wage law and allowing the state Department of Transportation to ignore federal rules on allocating funds.
The DOT changes were particularly important to Vos, and he's still fuming that Walker would give in to the three senators' demands, especially after the Assembly and Senate had agreed to a final budget.
The liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now and others have pointed out that the Walker deal with the senators is nothing more than "log rolling," a practice of trading legislation for favors that's considered a felony under Wisconsin law. OWN has actually filed a complaint with the Dane County District Attorney's Office, asking it to investigate.
Since this all involves fellow Republicans, Vos won't go that far, but he probably should.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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