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  This morning, the Eau Claire Leader Telegram published my column on the efforts being made by the One Wisconsin Institute to build public awareness of America's $1 trillion student loan debt crisis.  An earlier column by fellow board member Kristen Dexter (linked here at the Capital Times in Madison) introduced the topic to Wisconsin readers.  Today's column includes ways to advance the issue to ensure relief goes to middle class borrowers first and not to the "too big to fail" crowd.

   The column starts below the fold.

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  My column in the Sunday Chippewa Herald describes the good people who attended Rep. Ron Kind's listening session this past week, people who understand that education, opportunity and assistance don't create victims, they create citizens... while the "victims" who decry government are quite often just martyrs seeking to protect advantages of power, wealth or loopholes.

   You'll find it below the squiggle.

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  As we move to headlines beyond Boston and Texas, the past week will also be remembered in political and economic circles for the spreadsheet snafu heard ‘round the world, the debunking of a sacred formula advanced by Paul Ryan and all the other austerity hawks who have been trying for years to sell the nonsensical notion that we can cut our way to prosperity.  
   It will be a week when the nerds fought back and won a round or two.  More below the fold.

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    It was a good week for the message magicians.  For example, instead of focusing on Mitch McConnell's trickery, the media emphasized the way we learned about the story in the first place.  Similar distractions kept us from looking at the strengths of the President's budget proposal or the ways our tax dollars have to make up for what Wall Street's billionaires aren't paying.
     Fortunately, our senior senator in Wisconsin failed at a couple attempts to distract from his political shortcomings.  Details below the fold.

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    It seems we are living in the age of Tantalus.  
     Having angered the gods of Greek mythology, this once favored son was strung up so that food and drink were forever just beyond his reach.  Doesn’t that sound exactly like the alleged spring weather we should be enjoying by now?  What great sin did we commit to make springtime so elusive?
     Equally beyond our grasp, in a country filled with people who recognize the values of common sense and compromise, is a set of politicians who will stop squabbling long enough to fix our broken economy.  I know that normal April weather will assuredly come our way.  I cannot say the same about a few good leaders who want to see Americans back at work.

     More below the fold.

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    Do fantasy football players know something that many voters do not?  
     Around 24 million Americans obsess over football players they will never actually control. Their activity costs the economy an estimated $6 billion a year in lost productivity, and they warmly embrace the term “fanatic.”  They are fans even though their games have no impact on the real world.
     I am starting to see parallels with certain fanatics of a political stripe.  (And this pains me to make the comparison, being an occasional fantasy sports player myself.)
     Beyond the jump, new polling that shows Republican voters more marginalized but also more energized since they have a powerful sports lesson working in their favor.  Progressives would do well to remember this for the 2014 midterms.

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Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM PDT

Keeping the Waters Muddy

by Pat Kreitlow

   We won’t see muddy waters in and around northern Wisconsin’s Bad River anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean anyone clearly understands how Governor Walker’s plans will play out in the years to come.  This week’s news stories illustrate how cloudy politics play right into Republican hands when it comes to mining, budgets, social issues and more.

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Fri Mar 01, 2013 at 08:12 AM PST

Big Cuts, Small Voices

by Pat Kreitlow

  The sequester cuts are being minimalized by people who say they won’t be all that bad.
   That’s because Julie doesn’t have her own radio show.  She’s not a talking head on cable TV.  She doesn’t work for a special interest group that can buy political ads.  Julie is a mom who’s been struggling since she had to drop out of college 31 years ago.  Now, a new generation is facing a tougher adulthood because of politicians who dismiss the impact that a little cut can have on creating a lifetime of need instead of prosperity.
   More about Julie's story, today's college work-study cuts and the latest figures on student debt in America after the scribble.

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Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:20 AM PST

Gates or Koch: Choose Your Legacy

by Pat Kreitlow

  It has become more likely that our grandchildren will not think of computers when they hear the name Bill Gates.  
   When the Microsoft founder was interviewed by the “Today Show” in 1992, he predicted we would one day communicate through desktop computers using something called “electronic mail.”  This morning, on the same program, Gates, mostly retired from his high tech pioneering, was just as excited about the achievements a foundation he and wife established to attack global health concerns.  In one amazing example, India has now gone two full years without a single new case of polio.
   If only some other American moguls used their fortunes to improve the health of our children or even our politics.  More below the doodle.

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     For all their talk about providing targeted tax relief to the middle class, Governor Scott Walker and legislative Republicans once again find themselves defending a move that made for good sound bites but brought virtually no tax benefit to taxpayers in outstate Wisconsin or the small businesses here they claimed to be helping.

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  For two guys who each won 53 percent of the vote in Wisconsin at some point in 2012, President Obama and Governor Scott Walker have few other similarities, as evidenced by their recent speeches where the President gave an inspirational inaugural address for a second term and Walker gave the inaugural pitch for his second term campaign.  

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