Press-Gazette endorsement: Baldwin is right choice for U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate race between Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin will go down as one of the most contentious and one of the most expensive in state history. Too bad it won’t be one of the most substantive.

Outside groups have poured millions of dollars into negative television ads because both national Republican and Democratic groups see the Wisconsin race as crucial for control of the U.S. Senate, where the Democrats hold a slim 51-47 going into Tuesday’s election.

The latest barrage concerns 9/11 and subsequent actions by both candidates. The problem is, both ads are smokescreens. They don’t address the issues this nation faces. Instead, they appeal to the outrage factor that drives some voters.

But when you consider the candidate who has a better grasp of the issues and has more potential upside, the Green Bay Press-Gazette endorses Baldwin for the U.S. Senate.

It’s not lost on the editorial board that it endorsed Romney and now backs one of the more liberal members of Congress. However, two years ago we endorsed then-U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold over Republican businessman Ron Johnson after having endorsed Republican Sen. John McCain for president in 2008. The editorial board decides by examining issues and choosing the person it thinks will do the best job; not by political party.

The choice wasn’t easy. Thompson, 70, knows Wisconsin and “Tommy” has instant name recognition in the state where he served as governor for 14 years.

Among his stances, he calls reining in spending, including a 5 percent spending reduction by every federal agency, reforming the budget process and repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

In a meeting with Gannett Wisconsin Media editors, Thompson talked about being a “doer.” However, he also exhibited some of the same bluster that fuels the politics of outrage, referring to those who serve in Washington as “losers” and tossing out asides about his opponents — “she doesn’t understand budgets.” When asked by a voter if he was too old for the job, he offered to do 50 pushups and vowed to the editors present to “match you pushup for pushup.”

During an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, he distanced himself from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s Mecicare plan and touted that his — stay on Medicare or receive same health plan as members of Congress and federal employees —would save money. He said the Congressional Budget Office had rated it, but later backtracked and said it hadn’t been scored yet and he wasn’t sure if it would save money.

He criticizes his opponent for raising taxes, yet he presided over the Medicare Part D prescription drug program as secretary of U.S. Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. The program, though valuable, was an unfunded mandate, or, in other words, a tax increase. A huge one.

Once a moderate Republican, Thompson seems to have tailored and changed his views to appeal to the hard right, which is disconcerting for a gridlocked, partisan Congress.

Baldwin, 50, may be easily dismissed as a Madison liberal. She has served the left-leaning Madison-area Congressional District for seven terms. But her track record in the House shows someone who is willing to reach across the aisle, a trait that’s needed in this race.

She and U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Sherwood, authored a bill to protect the paper industry in the state from unfair trade practices by China. She and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, worked to keep the Milk Income Loss Contract program in the farm bill, which stalled in the House, where “partisanship trumped Congress,” she said. She worked with Republicans on national breast and cervical cancer detection program for the uninsured and underinsured.

One of the most popular parts of Obamacare, allowing parents to insure their children up to the age of 26, was written by Baldwin.

She opposes changes to Social Security, including privatization, and supports tax cuts tied to job creation and investments
in infrastructure, education and research.

We don’t agree with all of her stances , but we believe at this time she’s the best choice.

Thompson has done a lot of good things for this state, but we don’t see him as a good choice at this time. The bristling and showmanship seem like his ego talking, when what we need more is a more balanced approach that doesn’t brush aside critics as losers, but tries to work with them. Baldwin has shown that side.

For that reason, we endorse Baldwin for Senate.

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