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Excerpts from recent Wisconsin editorials

June 11, 2018

Wisconsin State Journal, June 10

Trump’s trade wars will hurt Wisconsin’s economy, consumers and even our beer

Dairy products, boats, cranberries and even Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

President Donald Trump’s trade wars with some of America’s closest allies will raise the cost to sell and buy countless consumer goods at home and abroad.

Wisconsin’s congressional delegation and the rest of Congress should demand the president stop slapping tariffs on American imports, which will result in retaliatory fees on vital state exports.

It’s bad for business, consumers and the economy — and it must end.

President Trump doesn’t seem to care much about the fate of Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers and laborers as he improvises his strategy on American trade policy with little concern for the consequences. Real people’s lives and occupations are at stake.

Rural Wisconsin favored Trump in the last presidential election. Yet rural areas will be hardest hit if trade disputes escalate further because those areas rely more on agriculture exports.

Not long ago, free trade was a cornerstone of conservative politics. Now, with Trump in the White House, the Republican president is siding with protectionists who seek to wall off American industry and workers from competition.

But that won’t work. Wisconsin and America need access to growing markets and an expanding middle class around the globe to compete and prosper.

Free trade isn’t a zero-sum game, as Trump, many progressives and tea party activists imagine. It’s a fluid exchange of products and services in which countries produce and sell what they do the best, and buy what they need the most.

Free trade lowers prices for people around the globe and raises incomes.

Trade deals sometimes hurt domestic industries that face increased competition from overseas producers. But overall, all nations involved in trade deals, as well as their citizens, benefit from greater exchange — even if the flow of products and services isn’t equal in both directions, as some critics demand.

Trump’s big-government tariffs and intervention in the economy won’t help Wisconsin succeed in the 21st century. Wisconsin Republicans need to stand up to their president on this vital issue for our state’s economy and future.

Virtually any product here or abroad could be affected by Trump’s trade wars if they continue.

Trump recently slapped risky tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from our closest allies, including Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Our trading partners now are placing or threatening retaliatory fees on such stalwart Wisconsin products as ginseng, paper, cheese and motorcycles.

Not even Wisconsin beer in immune from these international disputes. Trump’s tariff on aluminum imports will add cost to the beer that’s sold here in aluminum cans.

Instead of picking fights with our allies, America should be pressing for calm and respectful trade negotiations that update deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada to better reflect changing technology.

Trump’s attempt to bully his way to better trade deals isn’t working, and Wisconsin consumers and businesses will pay for his naiveté.

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Kenosha News, June 10

Poor roads may cost Walker election

There are many items which are rightfully placed in the “win” column for Gov. Scott Walker. Economic development, check. Lower tax burden on individuals and businesses, check. Low unemployment, check. Educational opportunities and workforce development, check.

So why, then, would a successful governor with all the positives, up for re-election, blow it by not announcing a plan to address and pay for the horrible roads we have in Wisconsin?

While there are three planned projects in Kenosha County during 2018, there are no active projects listed on the 511 Wisconsin Construction Projects.

The final report of a regional freeway system reconstruction plan was completed in 2003, a variety of funding options have been offered up and discussed, but here we sit.

Does Walker not understand that we are discussing roads at the dinner table? Does he not see vehicles bouncing down the road? Does he not see motorcycles swerving to avoid one obstacle after the next?

We think he will lose this election if he doesn’t present a comprehensive plan that fixes our roads, along with a plan to pay for it. We think he must be getting bad advice if he is being told the at-a-boys outweigh the road problems.

We need good roads to move the goods we are manufacturing. We need good roads to impress our many tourists who spend time and money in our state. And, most importantly, we need great roads to serve the taxpayers who expect safe and adequate travel.

We continue to borrow and wait on federal grants as the situation gets worse. We need leadership and that starts in the governor’s office. Pick a funding source, lay the plan out and present it to the state of Wisconsin with the same excitement as the $100 per family tax credit announced months ago.

We know new roads will cost big money. We know the funds will come in the form of gas tax, tolls or some other tax. We get it, but what we are not understanding and don’t appreciate is the inactivity on this critical issue.

Governor, present a plan to fix our roads now, or someone else probably will put the plan together when you lose the election.

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The Journal Times of Racine, June 11

Why did so many die in Puerto Rico after Maria?

Natural disasters are just that, acts of nature. Such events are going to occur once the factors that cause an individual tornado, flood, hurricane or volcanic eruption are set in motion.

Governments can’t do anything to stop that event from happening.

Governments can, however, and must respond once an event has taken place. A recent report suggests that the federal government’s poor response after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico may have cost thousands of people — American citizens — their lives.

The latest estimate is that about 4,600 Puerto Ricans died in the wake of Maria, many of them from delayed medical care, The New York Times reported May 29.

Residents of Puerto Rico died at a significantly higher rate during the three months after the hurricane than they did in the previous year, according to the results of a new study by a group of independent researchers from Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions.

The researchers say their estimate, published May 29 in The New England Journal of Medicine, remains imprecise, with more definitive studies still to come. But the findings, which used methods that have not been previously applied to this disaster, are important amid widespread concerns that the government’s tally of the dead, 64, was a dramatic undercount.

An analysis of vital statistics by The New York Times last December found that 1,052 more people than usual died across the island in the 42 days after the storm. Other news organizations also have challenged the government’s figure, finding evidence for hundreds of excess deaths in the weeks after the hurricane.

Researchers for this latest study visited more than 3,000 residences across the island and interviewed their occupants, who reported that 38 people living in their households had died between Sept. 20, when Hurricane Maria struck, and the end of 2017. That toll, converted into a mortality rate, was extrapolated to the larger population and compared with official statistics from the same period in 2016.

Because the number of households surveyed was relatively small in comparison to the population’s size, the true number of deaths beyond what was expected could range from about 800 to more than 8,000 people, the researchers’ calculations show. The toll exceeded previous estimates, researchers said, in part because they looked at a longer time period.

About 10 percent said that a household member had trouble using breathing equipment, which often relies on electricity. Fewer than 10 percent reported closed medical facilities and 6 percent said doctors were unavailable. The study estimates that about a third of the deaths were caused by a delay in medical care or the inability to obtain it, the Times reported.

This tragedy happened to American citizens, and it happened needlessly, due to the inadequate response of the federal government.

Would we accept that so many Americans died after a disaster due to inadequate medical care on the continental United States?

Would we accept that so many Americans died this way in Alaska or Hawaii?

When Hurricane Harvey inundated Houston and surrounding areas with water last August, would we have considered it acceptable if the Federal Emergency Management Agency had not marshaled all the resources at its disposal to bring relief to our fellow Americans?

We believe the answer to each of those last three questions is a resounding no. Given that, we’re left to wonder why our government’s response in Puerto Rico to Maria was so tragically inadequate.

It can be coldly asserted that nothing done now will bring back the dead, but homicide trials don’t bring back the dead, either. Neither disaster-response investigations nor homicide trials are about bringing the dead back to life; they are about justice.

We need to know how and why so many Puerto Ricans died in the aftermath of Maria, apparently so many more than in the hurricane itself.

As with a homicide trial, Congress should investigate our government’s response to Puerto Rico’s Maria disaster in pursuit of justice.

Our government must be prepared to prevent this particular kind of large-scale tragedy from happening again. It won’t be unless we develop a thorough understanding of how this one happened.

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