Tag Archives: Tammy Baldwin

Democrats’ bill would require presidents, nominees to release tax returns

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is cosponsoring legislation introduced by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden that would require the president-elect to release his recent tax returns in order to give the public honest insight into his actions, values and foreign business dealings.

“President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns makes it clear he has something to hide from the American people, ” Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said in a statement released on Jan. 4. “The public deserves to know if their president has taken advantage of tax loopholes or put his income or profits in off shore accounts in order to pay a lower tax rate than Wisconsin middle-class families.”

She added, “People also deserve to know how President-elect Trump will personally benefit from foreign deals or his own tax cut proposals. Either President-elect Trump releases his tax returns or he explains to the people he works for why he believes he is entitled to keep secrets.”

The Presidential Tax Transparency Act would require a sitting president to release his or her most recent three years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics.

The legislation also would require that within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention, presidential nominees must release their most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission.

Should a sitting president or future candidates refuse to comply, the treasury secretary will be required to provide the tax returns directly to the OGE or FEC respectively for public release.

For nearly 40 years — since the Watergate crisis — candidates from major political parties have voluntarily released tax returns during the campaign.

Senate cosponsors of Wyden’s Presidential Tax Transparency Act include Baldwin and  Michael Bennet of Colorado, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Dianne Feinstein of California, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

On the Web

Click here for a summary of the bill.

The bill text can be found here.

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger: Military must pursue alternatives to burning munitions

With President Barack Obama’s signature on the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, a nationwide grassroots campaign to ensure the safe disposal of conventional munitions stockpile secured a key victory.

The amendment, written by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., will benefit hundreds of communities across the country where open air burning of hazardous waste is routinely conducted by the Departments of Defense and Energy, according to a news release.

“I have been working on cleaning up the Badger Army Ammunition Plant since I first entered Congress, so I was proud to fight for this reform to help other communities facing similar challenges,” Baldwin said, according to the release. “This provision will assist the military in using safer and more environmentally-friendly technologies to properly dispose of munitions to ensure that other sites are not contaminated the way that the Badger site was.”

“I was proud to support and help shepherd through the Senate, the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act which includes a provision important to Madison County and the Blue Grass Army Depot community allowing the Army to use cost-competitive technologies to safely and efficiently dispose of stockpiles of legacy conventional munitions,” added U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The new act requires the Secretary of the Army to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to conduct a study of the alternatives to the current practice of open burning the conventional munitions stockpile of the U.S. Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense manages conventional ammunition that includes items ranging from small arms cartridges to rockets, mortars, and artillery to tactical missiles.

As of February 2015, the stockpile of conventional ammunition awaiting demilitarization and disposal was approximately 529,373 tons.

By fiscal year 2020, the stockpile is expected to more than double, making the proper management and disposal of such large quantities of explosive materiel critical. 

“Open burning and detonation of munitions causes the uncontrolled dispersion of toxic heavy metals including chromium and lead, energetic compounds, perchlorate, nitrogen oxides and other munitions-related contaminants to the environment,” said Laura Olah, executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger in Wisconsin and an organizer with the Cease Fire Campaign – a national grassroots coalition of 60 environmental, labor, veterans and social justice organizations calling for safer alternatives. 

Sites like the Holston Army Ammunition Plant in Tennessee are currently permitted to open burn as much as 1,250,000 pounds net explosive waste per year — ignoring a 2012 Army Corps of Engineers study that concluded there are cutting-edge technologies that could be successfully deployed at Holston to replace open burning.

“There are over 100 hazardous chemicals released from open burning waste explosives and explosives-contaminated construction demolition debris that can be toxic and carcinogenic,” cautioned Connie & Mark Toohey with Volunteers for Environmental Health and Justice and residents living downwind of Holston. “Dioxins are highly toxic and cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system and can interfere with hormones.”

Also, for more than 60 years, the U. S. military used the offshore Island of Vieques, Puerto Rico for training exercises with live bombing, experimental use of conventional and non-conventional weapons, testing with napalm, agent orange, uranium and open burning and open detonation (OB/OD),” said Myrna Pagan with Vidas Viequenses Valen. “For over 10 years now there is a process of cleanup and restoration underway where OB/OD continues to contaminate this small island.”

“OB/OD is a dangerous, toxic and outdated method that feeds a health crisis of alarming rates of cancer and other catastrophic diseases,” Myrna added.  “Our little children, our teen agers have more than three times the probability of dying from cancer than their peers in the rest of Puerto Rico. We citizens depend on responsible action from the government to protect our rights to good health in a safe environment. We deserve the use of reliable, alternative, advanced technologies to repair this disaster.”

The National Academy of Sciences study is due to Congress in 18 months. 

Baldwin: Russia’s interference in our elections cannot be dismissed

Yesterday, President Barack Obama said that the United States will respond to Russian cyberattacks that the intelligence community has concluded were part of an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

I support this response, as I do the order President Obama has given to the U.S. intelligence community to conduct a full review of Russian interference, including cyberattacks, before Inauguration Day.

Our intelligence community is highly confident that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in espionage meant to interfere with and impact our election, so it is important that their assessments are appropriately declassified and made public, so the American people know more about Russia’s online attacks.

In July, Donald Trump encouraged Russian interference in our elections and according to media reports he has known for the past 4 months, through intelligence community briefings, of direct links between Vladimir Putin’s government and cyberattacks against America.

Russia’s interference in our elections cannot be dismissed or ignored. Congress has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this. That is why we need nonpartisan efforts in the Senate to investigate how Putin and the Russian government intervened in our election and sought to influence it.

Baldwin scores leadership position ahead of 2018 election

Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin landed a leadership position Wednesday ahead of her re-election campaign in 2018.

Democrats are preparing to play defense with Republican Donald Trump as president and the GOP in control of both houses of Congress come January.

Baldwin, who was named as Senate Democratic Conference Secretary by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was first elected in 2012. She is looking ahead to the midterm election, when keeping her in office and trying to win the governor’s race will be the two top priorities for Wisconsin Democrats.

The path to victory is typically more difficult for Democrats in Wisconsin during midterm elections, but Democrats are hoping to benefit from a voter backlash after two years of Trump’s presidency and Republican control.

Baldwin issued a statement saying she was proud of the appointment but did not mention her upcoming re-election campaign.

No Republican has officially announced plans to challenge Baldwin, but U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy and Madison businessman Eric Hovde are mentioned as the most likely possible candidates.

Duffy, who was re-elected to a fourth term last week, lives in Ashland and was an early and outspoken supporter of Trump, whose victory in Wisconsin was fueled by strong returns among rural voters in the northwest part of the state. Tapping those voters, as well as conservatives in suburban Milwaukee counties, will be vital for any Republican who takes on Baldwin in 2018.

For Duffy to challenge Baldwin, he would have to give up his House seat. That may be tough for him, especially with Paul Ryan, of Janesville, returning as House speaker.

“Congressman Duffy has worked tirelessly to get Republicans elected up and down the ticket so that we can get things done, and he’s excited to continue to fight for Wisconsin families,” chief of staff Pete Meachum said. “He is keeping his options open for the future in order to determine the best way to serve Wisconsin.”

Hovde’s first run for office was his Senate bid in 2012, during which he came in second in the Republican primary to former Gov. Tommy Thompson in a four-person race. Baldwin beat Thompson by 5.5 points.

Hovde is chief executive officer of Hovde Properties, a real estate development and management company. He has less to lose than Duffy if he takes on Baldwin, given that he’d have his business to fall back on in defeat. Hovde did not immediately return a message.

2018 outlook: Trouble ahead for Senate Democrats?

A look at the Democratic senators facing re-election in 2018 from states where President-elect Donald Trump won or nearly won on Election Day:

States Trump won, with margin of victory according to early and unofficial returns:

Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin, Trump by 1 percentage point.

Sherrod Brown, Ohio, Trump by 9.

Bob Casey, Pennsylvania, Trump by 1.

Joe Donnelly, Indiana, Trump by 19.

Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota, Trump by 36.

Joe Manchin, West Virginia, Trump by 42.

Claire McCaskill, Missouri, Trump by 19.

Bill Nelson, Florida, Trump by 1.

Jon Tester, Montana, Trump by 21.


States Democrat Hillary Clinton won narrowly:

Angus King, independent who aligns with Democrats, Maine, Clinton by 3.

Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota, Clinton by 2.

Tim Kaine, Virginia, Clinton by 5.

Democrats urge DOJ to assist in overseeing Wisconsin elections

Dear Attorney General Lynch: As you are aware, Wisconsin, which we represent, is among 14 states that have adopted new voter restrictions in advance of the November 8 election.

The state’s 2011 voter identification law, one of the strictest in the country, has been repeatedly challenged in federal court due to its discriminatory effects on vulnerable populations’ voting rights.  Due to the law’s contentious nature and poor implementation, coupled with a political environment that is becoming increasingly intimidating, we are requesting the Department of Justice’s assistance in overseeing the state’s monitoring of the election, including by providing poll-monitoring services in Wisconsin.

In 2014, a U.S. district court noted that more than 300,000 Wisconsinites lacked the newly requisite form of identification, and that this population disproportionately included persons of color. Judge Lynn Adelman further observed that state officials “could not point to a single instance of known voter impersonation occurring in Wisconsin at any time in the recent past,” casting serious doubt on the official rationale for the policy.

A second federal court determined earlier this summer that even the “safety net” built into the law to help voters who have trouble obtaining ID was a “wretched failure” that “disenfranchised citizens” who are “overwhelmingly African American and Latino.”

Deeming the provision unconstitutional, Judge James Peterson mandated changes in practice and public education to ensure that that process better serves all Wisconsinites with documentation challenges in obtaining identification so they can vote. Concurring with Judge Adelman, Judge Peterson also expressed “misgivings about whether the law actually promotes confidence and integrity,” and observed that prior to 2011, “Wisconsin had an exemplary election system that produced high levels of voter participation without significant irregularities.”

Unfortunately, since that court order in late July, we have continued to see how Wisconsin’s voter ID law puts the franchise of many Wisconsinites, particularly people of color, in real jeopardy. Over the last month, press reports have revealed that on numerous occasions, Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicle employees provided erroneous and incomplete information to potential voters who are unable to obtain IDs due to a lack of required documentation (like a birth certificate), despite their eligibility for alternative credentials.

These revelations led Judge Peterson to remark on October 12, “I’m very disappointed to see that the state really did nothing in response to my order,” noting that voters are “at the mercy of the DMV, and its staff wasn’t trained well enough to guide people through it.” We are deeply troubled by the prospect of such misinformation contributing to voter disenfranchisement in this election. While further scrutiny by the federal court has prompted state officials to institute additional training and public education efforts at the DMV, there is entirely too much at stake in the limited time left before the election to let this continue without additional oversight.

In addition to misinformation, we are also concerned about potential voter intimidation at the polling places, particularly in light of recent, high-profile rhetoric that alleges “election rigging.” National figures have suggested that there is widespread voter fraud in our country and have encouraged private citizens to monitor the voting behaviors of certain communities for potential misconduct.

Given the flawed efforts thus far by state officials to properly implement this law, with proof of demonstrably false information having been disseminated to voters just days before the election, we fear that irreparable harm may result—particularly to voters of color, who disproportionately bear the brunt of these policies and any Election Day intimidation efforts.

We ask the Department to provide any resources or assistance it can in order to help our state navigate these unsettling circumstances.  For example, the Department has historically provided poll monitors on Election Day to help ensure that all eligible voters will be permitted to register and exercise their fundamental right to participate in our democracy. We therefore urge the Department of Justice to utilize any available election monitoring resources to ensure voters in Wisconsin are able to safely access the polls.

The right to elect our public representatives is unrivaled in its importance to a fully functioning democracy.  With few days remaining until the election, it is imperative that we do everything in our power to limit the amount of harm caused to our state’s voters.

Thank you for your consideration of this request and for the Department of Justice’s ongoing efforts to ensure the fairness of all elections in our country.

Hillary for Wisconsin launches Wisconsin Women for Hillary

Hillary for Wisconsin on Sept. 7 announced the launch of Wisconsin Women for Hillary, a  statewide coalition of “women uniting around Hillary Clinton’s record of fighting for women and girls her entire career.”

“Hillary knows that America is strong when a woman is positioned to make her best contribution to our country and when our daughters and granddaughters know their ambition must stop at nothing, even to serve as president of the United States,” said former Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton in a news release. “Her record of leading the fight to empower women and girls speaks for itself.  Hillary will be a true champion for women’s rights in the White House, and I’m proud to join Wisconsin Women for Hillary in supporting her historic candidacy.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin also issued a statement: “We’ve come so far in expanding opportunity for women and securing fundamental rights, but Hillary Clinton knows that our fight is far from over.We need a leader who grasps the importance of closing the pay gap, of making paid family leave a  reality and protecting a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions — Donald Trump is on the wrong side of all these issues. The enthusiasm from women across the state tells me one thing: we will be sending Hillary Clinton to the White House this fall to continue fighting for women and girls.”

The effort also involves U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee, who said, “The choice for Wisconsin women is clear: we can either elect someone with a record of disrespect for women or someone who has spent their career helping women shatter the barriers that hold them back. She’s the champion we need in the White House for the issues that touch our lives each day, from raising the minimum wage, to expanding access to health care, or closing the pay gap. It’s an honor to join women across the state in helping Hillary Clinton shatter a barrier this fall.”

Events were taking place across the state on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.

Baldwin cosponsors bill requiring presidential nominees to release tax returns

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., is co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon directing presidential nominees to release recent tax returns in order to give the public honest insights into the candidate’s actions and values.

The bill is the Presidential Tax Transparency Act and it would require that, within 15 days of becoming the nominee at a party convention, a candidate must release his or her most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission.

Should the candidate refuse to comply, the treasury secretary would provide the tax returns to the FEC for public release.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has refused to release his returns, despite repeated calls from his political rivals and the news media.

Baldwin, in a statement, said, “Wisconsin has a strong tradition of supporting open government, transparency and accountability. For nearly 40 years presidential candidates from major political parties have respected this tradition and voluntarily released tax returns during the campaign.”

She continued, “I believe this legislation will strengthen the public’s right to know and prevent candidates for commander in chief from keeping their finances and personal tax returns in the dark.”

A one-page summary of the Presidential Tax Transparency Act is available here.

The bill text is available here.

Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker introduce bill to address poverty

Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced legislation this week to fight poverty through transitional jobs and expanded tax credits.

Titled “The Stronger Way Act,” the bill would create a new transitional jobs grant program at the Department of Labor, expand Earned Income Tax Credits and make changes to the Child Tax Credit.

“The idea is that if you are working full time that you should not be in poverty in the United States,” Baldwin said.

Community backers of the bill hope that it will overcome the partisan divide in Congress by incentivizing work instead of adding benefits for the unemployed.

“There’s not a penny of welfare in this. This is all based on work,” said David Riemer, senior fellow at the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee. “You don’t get any of this money unless you’re a worker.”

But the lack of corresponding cuts for the estimated $560 billion tax reduction over 10 years could be a sticking point for some Republicans, who control both houses of Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has advocated expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit but has proposed paying for it by eliminating other programs.

Baldwin pointed to tax cuts for the wealthy that haven’t been funded, and community advocates said the changes would reduce the financial burden on the welfare system overall.

The bill would increase the Earned Income Tax Credit’s rate of return for working families with children, thereby allowing lower-income families to get larger refunds.

It would also expand that tax credit for childless workers, a group the progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says is the lone group the federal government taxes deeper into poverty. The act would make more of them eligible for Earned Income Tax Credits and increase the amount they can receive, benefiting an estimated 20 million childless workers.

The bill would also adjust the Child Tax Credit system to benefit the lowest income families, allowing them to capture more of the $1,000-per-child maximum refund.

“There are minimum wage workers right now that are taxed into poverty. This will allow us to reverse that,” Baldwin said.

The legislation would also create a grant program for transitional jobs programs, but Congress would have to pass additional legislation to allocate funding to the program.

“Transitional jobs are I think a key ingredient for any broad anti-poverty strategy and one that we have, at the moment, really failed to put enough resources behind,” said Indivar Dutta-Gupta, director of the Project on Deep Poverty and a senior fellow at the Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Dutta-Gupta said states had to develop the programs from scratch during the last recession. When the next recession hits, he said, it will benefit employers, workers and taxpayers to have programs already in place. Baldwin said there are at least 20 states, including Wisconsin, with transitional jobs programs and bipartisan support.

“We’ve found something that really works, that is very, very effective,” Baldwin said. “We need to scale that up nationally if we’re going to make a true dent in poverty that centers around the dignity of work.”

Baldwin said each of the components of the bill have enjoyed bipartisan support at the national level, so she hopes the combined bill will garner similar support. A spokeswoman for Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, said he will review Baldwin’s proposals when they are available.

Sen. Baldwin to open PrideFest in Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s PrideFest will open June 10 with ceremonies featuring U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., along with other elected officials.

PrideFest, the start of the city’s summer festival season, is in its 30th year. The festival offers the nation’s largest line-up of LGBTQ talent and is the world’s only Pride festival with a permanent festival park.

This year, PrideFest will kick off June 10 with opening ceremonies taking place underneath the dance pavilion at the Summerfest Grounds. Baldwin is scheduled to speak, along with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Gabriel Sanchez of “The Prince Experience” will lead the national anthem.

PrideFest, set for June 10-12, also will:

• Salute the LGBTQ community and the U.S. Armed Forces with an Armed Forces Pride promotion, welcoming active duty servicemembers and military veterans to attend for free, along with guests.

• Celebrate The Healing Center through the PrideFest Plus One campaign, which asks each ticket buyer to add on a minimum $1 donation. These dollars enable The Healing Center to offer additional counseling, advocacy, legal services and community education for local survivors of sexual violence and their families, free of charge.

• Back the commitment of the United Ethnic Festivals to support the Hunger Task Force and AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin food pantry through the Fests Feed America campaign.

• Welcome a wide variety of both national and local musical acts to its numerous stages, including Blondie, Sarah Silverman & Friends, Big Freedia, DJ Hector Fonseca, Crystal Waters, Deborah Cox, Coco Montrese, GGOOLLDD, Tigernite, REYNA, Lex Allen and more.

On June 10, PrideFest will offer free entry 2:30-4 p.m.

Those planning to attend the opening ceremonies should arrive at the main gates by 2:30 p.m.

PrideFest has been owned and operated by volunteers since 1987. The festival’s heritage traces back to 1974, when 350 people attended the Gay People’s Union Ball, the first “Pride” celebration of its kind in Milwaukee.