Friday, July 20, 2018

Opinion

Group’s point difficult to disregard

There is no mistaking the political bent of One Wisconsin Now. After all, the organization stopped in Eau Claire on Tuesday as part of the “Scott Walker Farewell Tour.”

The Madison-based progressive organization visited to tout its “Tomorrow Wisconsin” plan. At the core of the effort are five key issues: student loan debt refinancing, paid family and medical leave and sick days, affordable child care, job security and livable wages, and access to the state pension system.

Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now executive director, said that even if Gov. Scott Walker is re-elected the group hopes to bring the topics, which his group deems critical for members of Generation X (generally those born from 1966 through 1980) and Millennials (those born in the 1980s or ‘90s), to the forefront of political discourse.

“It’s time for us to start talking about issues that aren’t just one generation’s issue,” he said.

• • •

At least some of the aforementioned talking points are a concern regardless of one’s political persuasion. You may not support student loan debt refinancing, but the fact that the total is now about $1.48 trillion in this country can’t be ignored. A new television game show on TruTV, “Paid Off,” even rewards winning contestants by eliminating their student debt.

It also disproportionately affects women, who hold more than 60 percent of that debt, according to a recent report by the American Association of University Women. Assessing data from the 2015-16 school year, the report found that women graduating with a bachelor’s degree on average owe $2,700 more than their male counterparts.

“It’s a real problem and it’s a problem with a distinct gender component,” Anne Hedgepeth, AAUW’s federal policy director, told CBS News. “It (also) is taking women longer to repay their student debt for a number of reasons, like the gender pay gap in the workforce.

“Obviously, it has an impact on women’s economic security, so it can certainly have an influence on their ability to pay rent or their health care.”

The story also cites a study that found that more than half of 1,858 men and women in a survey planned to have fewer children than their parents. Often, the chief concern was financially based. Another found that college-educated women earn 90 percent as men at age 25 and 55 percent at age 45.

•  •  •

Political headlines today are dominated by such terms and phrases as “Foxconn,” “tax cuts,” “climate change” and “tweet,” while too often policies that could positively affect our daily lives fall by the wayside.

Many economic indicators currently are on a positive trend. But it’s hard to imagine that’s sustainable in the long run considering hard-working families are faced with stagnant wages, costly child care, suffocating health care costs, shackling debt and retirement concerns.

“Middle-class spending in a community is what drives the economy,” Ross said.

Although these aren’t inherently partisan issues, how one gets to the solution often is. You certainly don’t have to agree with the strategies championed by groups such as One Wisconsin Now, but that doesn’t negate the core problems.

We live in a time of almost unprecedented political hostility, when each party is guilty of condemning almost any effort from the other. The casualties, unfortunately, are real concerns felt on both sides of the aisle.


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