A source close to the toy industry has once again leaked a copy of Santa’s perks list for Wisconsin politicians and newsmakers. Here’s what the good boys and girls in Madison and Washington will reportedly find in their stockings this Christmas. But they better not pout and they better not cry if an alert district attorney asks why gifts were delivered down chimneys after midnight.
Gov. Scott Walker – Let’s see, what to get the governor who has everything? How about a convincing re-election victory over a solid Democratic opponent. Done that. Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature? Got that, too. How about a killer Christmas shopping season that chips away at a projected state budget deficit through robust sales tax receipts? Santa’s gift to Walker is other people buying lots of gifts.
The Wisconsin Legislature – “Now Fitz, now Farrow, now Shilling, she’s no Nixon! On Robin, on Barca, on 63 Republicans primed for friction! To the top of the budget! To the top of the wall! Pass a state budget before summer becomes fall!”
U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan – As the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the congressional tax-writing panel, Ryan will deal with some of the nation’s biggest issues – taxes, trade, Social Security, Medicare, health care and more. But it’s a two-year job that comes with a catch: A new House rule dictates that committee chairmen must give up their gavels if they run for another office… let’s say, president. Santa’s present to Ryan is an Escape Clause (or Claus).
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson – The Wisconsin Republican will become chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and cybersecurity is among issues on his plate. If Johnson’s past cyber-comments are any clue, he’ll push for industry-driven cyber standards and legal protections for companies wanting to share information. Santa’s gift to Johnson is free advice from home-state hackers on how to think like an attacker.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin – The Madison Democrat’s holiday gift came early when she won a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, a panel on which her predecessor, Herb Kohl, served for nearly 20 years. Perhaps Baldwin herself can now play Santa… unless the federal budget turns into one gigantic lump of coal.
Congressman-elect Glenn Grothman – He was one of 33 members in the Wisconsin Senate and will soon become one of 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives, a much bigger pond. Swimming against the tide is rarely a problem for Grothman, however, given his knack for commenting on homosexuality, women in the work force, liberals and Kwanzaa. Perhaps Santa can hire Grothman an extra press secretary for mop-up duty.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett – Getting things built in Milwaukee is rarely a slam dunk… and speaking of dunks, the Milwaukee Bucks want a $400-million arena that includes some public financing. The Milwaukee Tax Bucks? Also pending is Barrett’s $124-million streetcar proposal, which would link downtown to the city’s lower east side. While Barrett’s streetcar may be desired – by him – it may take some heavy lobbying by Santa’s elves to persuade a skeptical City Council.
UW President Ray Cross – It’s tough enough to have 17 bosses on the UW Board of Regents, but Cross seems to have picked 132 more in the Wisconsin Legislature. A stocking stuffer for Cross is a copy of “My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide.”
Marquette Law School poll director Charles Franklin – He’s on a roll with nine straight election polls that have predicted the winner and the margin. Cosmic luck? No, just a system that accurately predicts who will vote versus who will stay at home and later gripe about the results. Santa’s gift to Franklin is an “I lie to pollsters” T-shirt.
Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley – At first, Bradley’s expected bid for a third 10-year term on Wisconsin’s highest court sounded more like a family law case than an election race. Her potential opponent was Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Bradley – no relation – until Bradley No. 2 dropped out. Bradley No. 1’s main competition is now Rock County Circuit Judge James Daley. Daley recently suggested that a longstanding ethics case against Justice David Prosser, who Bradley No. 1 once accused of choking her, be transferred to Minnesota. Santa’s gift to Bradley: Boxing gloves for Round 2.
For Wisconsin’s rising political stars: In an era when sharp personal attacks and partisanship drive more good people away from politics than it attracts, it’s reassuring to know that some quality office-holders continue to be attracted to public service. That’s a gift to Wisconsin citizens. Happy holidays, everyone!
Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.