Feingold: Parties work as one to find solutions

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Mike DuPre'
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
— Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat and Janesville native, urged bipartisan remedies Monday to what he sees as five problems facing the nation.

He used a speech at the Janesville Noon Rotary Club to outline the problems and what he thinks are the solutions:

Problem: Wasteful spending through congressional earmarks for pet projects.
Remedy: “I call it the Janesville line-item veto,” Feingold said, because he and Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican and another Janesville native, co-sponsored the legislation to give the president power to excise specific spending from federal budgets.

The Feingold-Ryan bill differs from earlier line-item veto legislation that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court because it gave too much power to the executive branch of government.

The Janesville legislators’ bill would require both the House and Senate to approve a president’s decision to eliminate specific spending.

Problem: Lack of affordable health-care for all Americans.
Remedy: State-based health-care reform that would launch pilot programs in several states.

While Feingold said he favors a single-payer system, he acknowledged that a system such as Canada’s is controversial. Therefore, Feingold said, he teamed up with Sen. Linsey Graham, R-S.C., to introduce the state-based pilot program.

“It doesn’t have to be one size fits all,” Feingold said of health-care reform.

Problem: The No Child Left Behind Act.
Remedy: Reforming testing mandates and using multiple measures of assessment.

Both Republicans and Democrats have blasted President Bush’s educational reform law, and among the bipartisan concerns are using testing mandates and undermining local control of public schools, Feingold said.

He and Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., have introduced a bill to reform the law.

Problem: Presidential campaign financing.
Remedy: Update the system to make public, rather than private, financing more appealing to candidates.

Feingold is working with two Republicans and a Democrat to provide public matching funds earlier in the campaign cycle, increase the amount of public funding available, eliminate state-by-state primary spending limits and to significantly raise the total spending limits for primaries and the general election.

Problem: Restoring teeth to the Clean Water Act.
Remedy: Make clear to the Supreme Court that Congress wanted the original law to protect all the nation’s waters from pollution, not just navigable waterways.

The court has ruled that the law applies only to navigable waterways, such as rivers, but not other places where water gathers such as wetlands, Feingold said.

A Republican and Democrat introduced in the House a companion measure to Feingold’s bill in the Senate.

Feingold pushes for timetable on Iraq war

As it enters its fifth year, the Iraq War is a “great sinkhole sucking the life out of our economy and everything else,” Sen. Russ Feingold told the Janesville Noon Rotary Club on Monday.

Feingold, a Democrat and Janesville native, noted that the war now costs the United States $10 billion a month.

“Iran’s got the sweet deal now,” Feingold said in response to a question. “We lose the lives and spend the money, and they get the political benefit.”

Iran, Iraq’s traditional rival, is making political hay out of a non-Islamic country occupying an Islamic country, said Feingold, the first senator to call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

As long as the United States maintains a military presence in Iraq, other countries in the region, such as Syria, have no incentive to help stabilize Iraq despite the hordes of Iraqi refugees who have fled the violence for safety in other Middle Eastern countries, Feingold said.

A questioner raised the prospect of a timetable giving terrorists in Iraq a period to lay low, regroup and re-emerge.

“People say it (timetable) will be chaos. It’s chaos now,” Feingold said, citing the refugees.

He cited experts in the military, government and think tanks that say a timetable is necessary to prod the Iraqi government to reform itself and become politically stable.

Last updated: 7:01 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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