Kohl: Downgrade a wakeup callIn the wake of a government showdown regarding national debt and a downgrading of the nation’s debt rating, Superior Rotarians heard some commonsense talk — from of all things — a politician.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
In the wake of a government showdown regarding national debt and a downgrading of the nation’s credit rating, Superior Rotarians heard some commonsense talk — from of all things — a politician.
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, stopped by the Barker’s Island Inn on Wednesday to speak to the Superior Rotary Club. He pointed out that both the nation and individuals have been borrowing to maintain a standard of living that’s beyond their reach, and the bubble has burst. Fixing it will require a plan to build the economy, create more jobs and deal with the country’s deficit, but all that hinges on politicians working together.
“The government needs to put down ideology and do what’s best for the country,” said Kohl, who will not seek reelection in 2012. “It’s terribly important that we come together.”
In the long run, the United States needs to be more productive and better educated to keep pace with other countries. They have caught up with us, “the world is flat.” Kohl said.
The recent downgrading of U.S. credit by Standard & Poor’s is a wake-up call for the country, according to the senator, and highlights the biggest issue of all.
“Everybody understands, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, for our country to move ahead successfully, we have to get a handle on the deficit and debt,” Kohl said.
To do so, the senator prefers a balanced approach that includes cutting spending and raising income. He is even in favor of paying more taxes.
“Many people like myself are more than happy to do it, want to do it,” Kohl said.
In Washington, a group of 12 legislators will be assembled to give recommendations for U.S. debt reduction by Thanksgiving. Kohl said he hopes a jobs bill will be part of it, and is in favor of ending tax cuts for the country’s wealthiest 2 percent.
Before taking office, Kohl helped build his family-owned business, Kohl’s grocery and department stores. Due to this, the senator said he has been able to direct all his efforts on what the people want, instead of raising campaign funds.
“I’ve tried to represent every legitimate interest in Wisconsin,” he said. “Regardless of what political persuasion a group is, they deserve to be heard.
“I just think about what’s best for Wisconsin and that’s served me as well.”
Wednesday, Kohl pointed out a positive example of government in action — the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Funded equally by the federal government, state government and small businesses, the program helps these businesses become more productive and grow. MEP has made an impact on a number of Superior businesses, including Rob’s Custom Cabinetry and Genesis Attachments.
MEP began working with Genesis, a manufacturer of excavator attachments for the scrap processing, demolition and material handling industries, seven years ago.
“They are the prime example of how you can turn around a manufacturing company,” said Kelly Sullivan, the MEP representative for Wisconsin’s northern counties. “When we first started working for them, it took ton average about 43 days to complete a shear. Now they’re at about 11 days.”
According to Genesis operations manager Tom Cavallin, MEP is an example of a program that really works.
The Rotarians were impressed with what the senator had to say.
“He sounded pretty nonpartisan,” said Tom Wondolkowski.
Jann Brill said he offered some practical, commonsense solutions to the current issues.
The senator even had some good news for basketball fans.
“The Bucks are going to be better this year,” said Kohl, who owns the team. “I think we’re going to do fine.”