Feingold stumps in Superior

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold is making his way around the state to learn what's on people's minds. Monday, he stopped by the Superior-Douglas County Senior Center to talk with people. "When you want to become ... senator now, having been one be...

Russ Feingold talks to seniors Monday afternoon at the Superior-Douglas County Senior Center in Superior on Monday afternoon. Feingold is running for U.S. Senate, a seat he held for 18 years, before he was defeated in the last election by Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Jed Carlson /

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold is making his way around the state to learn what’s on people’s minds.

Monday, he stopped by the Superior-Douglas County Senior Center to talk with people.

"When you want to become … senator now, having been one before, I’d better darn well know more about what people are thinking right now better than anybody else," Feingold said Monday. "I was able to do that when I was in the Senate. I held town hall meeting in Douglas County, every county, every year, 1,044 town hall meetings."

Feingold said he started that again last year, visiting all 72 counties, and he’s been to all 72 counties again this year, and is making his way through the state.

Monday’s visit was the second stop in Superior since the end of May.


"My philosophy has always been that being a representative is a different thing than other jobs … frankly, it’s not the same as running a business," Feingold said. "You’re an agent for people who cannot personally vote on these issues."

Feingold said his travels throughout the state have revealed some common themes among Wisconsinites.

"Overwhelming, the thing people most said, consistently throughout all 72 counties, is that middle-income and working families are having a hard time paying the bills, in a way that feels different than other times," Feingold said. "In 2010, everyone was feeling the pinch. What people are saying now is ‘why is it that everyone on the top are doing so well; why is it that I’m working hard and I can’t put it all together.’ It seemed to be the main thing."

Feingold said he interprets that to mean that people want an economy that works for everyone.

A plan Feingold has addresses the economy highlights numerous ideas he has for making the economy work.

"The roads and the bridges in this state are not where they should be - the fourth worst roads according to some reports," Feingold said. "I like to kid, I know, I can feel it after going 50,000 miles."

He included infrastructure - traditional and digital - in his economic plan.

Feingold said concern he’s heard from Wisconsinites about high-speed broadband is "off the charts."


He said in places like Prairie du Chien and Antigo students are going home for dinner but gather back at the school afterward to get on WiFi so they can do their homework.

"I think we will need legislation to break up the stranglehold that largely three companies have - that’s AT&T, Time-Warner and Charter - by allowing others, making sure states can’t prevent municipalities, rural electrics or other co-ops from providing competition," Feingold said.

In addition to students, high speed internet holds tremendous opportunity for business, Feingold said.

"I am committed to this issue," Feingold said.

He said discussions with employers have demonstrated a need for investing in apprenticeships and technical education, and aligning those programs around employer’s needs.

Feingold said while some regulations are necessary, the burden can be reduced by allowing businesses to challenge them. If elected he said he would have a staff member dedicated to helping businesses address those regulations that don’t make sense, such as a prohibition-era regulation that prevents a Sarona distiller from using land he owns.

Other concerns he said he’s heard is the impact of student loans, the high cost of prescriptions, threats to Social Security and Medicare, and minimum wage and family leave.

Feingold also has a 32-point plan to work on the nation’s fiscal fitness by doggedly pursuing "dumb stuff" that is costing taxpayers money and tax reform to ensure the tax code doesn’t hurt small businesses while corporations get preferential subsidies - tax breaks that do not apply to other industries.


"Some of this stuff is controversial," Feingold said. "Some of this stuff will make people scream … For example, the labor union of the Tennessee Valley Authority is not happy with me. They said ‘I thought you were pro-labor.’ I am pro-labor. I’m just not pro-dumb-stuff that doesn’t make sense anymore," Feingold said about his proposal to sell the authority’s electric power assets and privatize its non-power functions. Feingold said the authority made sense in the 1930s, but should be privatized to save taxpayers money.

"I am ready to work on this tomorrow, today with specific ideas," Feingold said. "My record in the senate was - my nickname in the senate was ‘deficit hawk.’"

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