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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 12:11 PM
Original message
Senator Kohl's priorities for 2008 session of Congress
U.S. Sen. Kohl: Outlines priorities for 2008 session of Congress
1/23/2008

Contact: Lynn Becker or Rohit Mahajan
Phone: (202) 224-5653

WASHINGTON - As the U.S. Senate reconvened for the 2nd Session of the 110th Congress this week, Senator Herb Kohl discussed a number of his national and Wisconsin-specific legislative priorities for 2008. Kohl is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which he serves as Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations panel, and the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which he serves as Chairman of the Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights panel. He is also the Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, which focuses on issues affecting senior citizens, older workers and the federal governments response to the upcoming wave of Baby Boomers entering retirement years.

With the presidential election season in full swing, a fierce partisan air in Washington and a divided executive and legislative branch, it will take more determination than ever to reach across the aisle to get things done for the American people, Kohl said. The best ideas arent the exclusive property of one party or the other, but a result of many minds working with our countrys best interest at heart. I look forward to a busy and productive session in the Senate.

Among Kohls priorities for the upcoming session are:

Strengthening the economy:

The President is expected to detail his economic stimulus proposal in the State of the Union address next week, and other possible proposals concerning what should be included in the package will be debated in Congress in the coming weeks. Kohl believes that the priority should be getting tax rebate money into the hands of middle-income working families as quickly as possible. Kohl is also reviewing proposals to extend unemployment benefits and food stamps, implement tax incentives for small businesses to encourage investment, and provide funding for states for increased Medicaid costs and the housing crisis. Kohl and a group of bipartisan Senators have requested additional funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program as part of the stimulus package.

Addressing the mortgage crisis:

The rise in foreclosures continues to affect communities and the economy, and new foreclosure rescue scams have emerged. Congress will likely consider legislation that would improve lending standards and protect future homeowners from receiving predatory loans. Kohl is considering proposals that would allow bankruptcy judges to restructure mortgage loans for those who have filed for bankruptcy, encourage lenders to work with troubled borrowers and counseling organizations to create affordable and sustainable loan solutions, and place a temporary moratorium on foreclosures.

Ending the war in Iraq:

Kohl has voted repeatedly to withdraw troops from Iraq in a responsible manner and shift the burden of security to the Iraqi people. After five years of occupation and over $800 billion, the military has been stretched to the breaking point. Kohl believes we need to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq and refocus on destroying Al Qaeda and bringing Osama bin Laden to justice.

Reining in the costs of health care:

Kohl is the author of legislation to end the collusive arrangements between brand name and generic drug companies that keep lower priced drugs off the market.

Kohl is also the sponsor of legislation to bring full disclosure to the practice of pharmaceutical, medical device and biologics manufacturers providing payments and gifts to doctors. It is estimated that drug companies spend $19 billion annually to lobby physicians. Recent studies show that the more doctors interact with drug marketers, even through receiving small gifts and modest meals, the more likely doctors are to prescribe the expensive new drug that are being marketed to them when a more affordable generic would do. Consumers lose out with unnecessarily high drug costs while drug manufacturers and doctors may benefit.

Continue oversight of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans to ensure that the healthcare needs of participantsnot the financial interests of insurance companiesare the priority.

Defending Wisconsins interests in the Farm Bill negotiations:

Extend and improve the MILC program Allow interstate commerce in state-inspected meat and poultry products Restore the Wetland Reserve Program so more wetlands and wildlife habitats in Wisconsin will be protected

Continuing to provide federal funding, through the Appropriations Committee, to strengthen:

Food safety and import inspections Nutrition programs that help young people, older Americans and those in need Housing programs to address the housing needs of low-income families Safe and efficient transportation networks

Protecting the Great Lakes:

With reports of water levels decreasing and the continual threat of invasive species, ensuring the sustainability of the Great Lakes is a priority in 2008. Kohl is a cosponsor of the Clean Water Restoration Act, to restore the original protections of the nations rivers, streams, and wetlands. Over the years, there have been attempts - some successful - to chip away at the original protections of the Clean Water Act that Congress passed in 1972. Passage of this bill will be a priority in 2008.

Strengthening education:

Congress is slated to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), to provide reform of the nations public schools and opportunity for students to succeed. One of the key components to the success of NCLB is making sure funding is sufficient to meet the laws goals. Kohl, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee with jurisdiction over the U.S. Department of Education -- will continue to support full funding for NCLB programs and investments.

Bolstering crime prevention and juvenile delinquency prevention programs:

The Senate will debate the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Bill this year. Kohl, a long-time proponent of crime prevention and anti-gang programs, will work to increase funding for state and local law enforcement officials and address the problem of juvenile offenders.

Increasing consumer protection:

End the collusive arrangements between brand name and generic drug companies that keep lower priced drugs off the market Help captive shippers like many small businesses and farmers by eliminating the railroads antitrust exemption End the pernicious practice of secret court settlements when public health and safety is affected Preserve discount price stores in the wake of the Supreme Courts decision in Leegin Protect retirement security by cracking down on so-called senior financial advisors who prey on the retirement savings of older Americans, and by requiring the simple and clear disclosure of investment fees to the more than 50 million Americans with 401(k) plans.

Preserving manufacturing jobs:

Kohl is the Senates main proponent for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, a nationwide network of centers that helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers compete by producing advanced products, using emerging technology, and streamlined processes. Kohl increased the authorization level for MEP by $19 million, including $122 million for MEP in FY2009.

Improving long-term care in America:

Push for a nationwide system of comprehensive background checks for all long-term care workers in order to keep those with a record of abuse or a criminal history from working close to vulnerable seniors in nursing homes.

Allow consumers timely access to accurate information on nursing homes, including the results of government inspections, the number of staff employed at a home, and information about the homes ownership.

Strengthen the governments system of enforcing nursing home quality standards and ensure that regulators are able to intervene quickly in order to protect the safety of residents.

http://www.wispolitics.com/index.iml?Article=116266

:thumbsup:
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MessiahRp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 12:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. Hmmm...
Edited on Wed Jan-23-08 01:01 PM by MessiahRp
I am just not a Kohl fan. I hated his vote on the Bankruptcy Bills and he's been pretty good at screwing votes that push Dubya on the war.

This line sucks: "Kohl, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee with jurisdiction over the U.S. Department of Education -- will continue to support full funding for NCLB programs and investments."

NCLB has been a failure and a horribly conceived idea at that. Yeah, let's keep supporting that.

My son's elementary school is a part of the Milwaukee Public Schools system. It is woefully underfunded and only knows if it has a music teacher for the year a couple of weeks into that year (based on attendance levels) and even then they get a scrub who no-showed a poorly put together Holiday program (done in the gym, during a school day, where kids sang one song per grade and when their grade was done they went back to class).

They have inadequete art programs, no extracurricular music programs and the sports programs they have are based mostly around 'let everyone play' concepts which are fine but don't teach these students any basic principles of the sport. I was pretty disappointed when my son was in basketball last year and was never taught what a layup was, how to rebound, and had barely any passing drills.

The schools being woefully underfunded aren't totally the fault of NCLB, there have been some pretty dismal State budgets (thanks to the jagoff Republicans in the Assembly) but it forces focus to only a few testing subjects; mainly reading and math.

My son has Social Studies classes in which he learns behavioral respect lessons. He hasn't had a single history or geography lesson (two parts of the Social Studies classes I remember). He has very limited science classes as well. Hell he's in third grade and hasn't even begun to explore States or their Capitals, cursive writing, playing the recorder, etc. Basic things I had started learning at the same grade as him.

I taught him the multiplication table this Summer on my own to make sure he would learn that in a reasonable fashion.

I feel bad for him. My girlfriend's nephew is in the Academy of Accelerated Learning. There it seems, MPS blew it's wad because the things I am griping about Chris not learning in 3rd grade, AAL taught her nephew in 2nd. (Her niece who is in K4 at AAL was taught about spheres and cylinders, etc. My son just started learning geometry down here this year. He learned about geometric shapes in 1st grade in Oshkosh).

I know some of this is my responsibility to teach him as a parent but I very clearly remember having a better education at school. Music was a huge part of my learning experience and the longer I keep him in MPS the more I fear I am setting him back as far as his education goes and hindering him from being on a normal track for college. My gf who attended MPS through high school said she felt horribly unprepared for the difference of education once she got to UW-Milwaukee and she was an Honor Society Student.

I am not religious and would prefer to not put him into some Christian school which pushes their religion onto him but are there any better options for him to attend on the South Side of Milwaukee?

Rp

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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 01:16 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It sounds like most people would rather repeal NCLB
than fund it. That's what all the progressive house candidates are saying, because not only do parents hate it, teachers do too. The legislation seems to have lowered the quality of education and brought the military into the schools for recruitment - which was probably was the real purpose.

And the statement on the war is a little misleading - Kohl sure hasn't led the way in trying to bring the troops home, but he seems to have finally turned the corner. The idea that the Iraqis need to or can "take responsibility" while the US is still stirring things up over there has never seemed right to me.

That said, this is a better statement than I'd expect from Kohl and it reminds me that he does get involved in a lot of issues, especially for seniors. He's not one to draw attention to himself.
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ThisIsMyCountry Donating Member (88 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jan-23-08 10:28 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. You can't repeal it...
I've done a lot of research on NCLB and the part to remember is that you cannot complete repeal the act. NCLB is just another name for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was first passed in 1965. ESEA is the bill the funds programs like Title I. ESEA is supposed to be reauthorized every five years. One of those reauthorizations gave the bill the new name, NCLB. Repealing NCLB means repealing Title I funding. What you really want to say is that you want to repeal the additions to NCLB that were made by the Bush administration. Just for the clarification...
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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jan-24-08 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks TIMC, you're right
Edited on Thu Jan-24-08 07:19 AM by undeterred
I started looking into this more yesterday and found out that nobody is going to touch it this session of Congress.

I found one House Bill and one Senate Bill (although there are probably many more):

National School Boards Association
http://www.nsba.org/site/page.asp?TRACKID=&CID=895&DID=...
They have a bill HR 648 mostly sponsored by Republicans.

Senators Feingold and Leahy also have a bill:
http://feingold.senate.gov/~feingold/releases/07/09/200...

The teachers organizations are not happy with it.

American Federation of Teachers
http://letsgetitright.org /

National Education Association
http://www.nea.org/esea/posagendaexecsum.html

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