For 50 days, Wisconsin has lived under a public health emergency due to coronavirus. Despite Governor Evers’ “Safer-at-Home” mandated social distancing measures from the state which have lasted since March 25, 308 people have died as of Wednesday afternoon, and more than 6,500 people have tested positive for the deadly virus.
Yet in those 50 days, Democratic Governor Tony Evers and top leaders from the Republican-led Assembly and Senate have not substantively met to create a bipartisan solution to build a plan to solve both the medical pandemic and the dramatic effect on the Wisconsin economy due to steps taken to close businesses in keeping people safe. Instead, the process has turned into executive orders from Evers and a lawsuit from Republicans.
“They’re talking past each other…I just got a text…’At what point can the people of the state of Wisconsin bring a class action lawsuit against the Governor and the Legislature for damage to our economy?’ ” – WTMJ’s Steve Scaffidi
What will it take to solve this? What will it take for the two sides to get together and come up with a bipartisan solution in a pandemic?
Both Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki and Republican strategist Brian Fraley joined Steve Scaffidi in the call for the two sides to get in the same room and hammer out a deal. We share their full words in podcast, with partial comments.
Zepecki was the first to join the show.
Zepecki on our partisan divides in Madison and among the populace:
“It’s not a surprise, but it is incredibly disheartening. Unfortunately, this is not just the leaders or the elected officials. When you look at public polling, focus group information…people are retreating to their partisan corners, which is absolutely infuriating and disheartening at this time.”
“If you look at the Governor’s plan, which had metrics and gating criteria and lets the testing lead…that is an intelligent, rational plan. 50 days into this, legislative Republicans don’t have a plan. They have a lawsuit and a litany of complaints shared by every single person in the state of Wisconsin.”
“No political party, or membership in a political party, should dictate what you think as an ordinary person. Political party membership is not for life. It’s really, really disheartening to see so many people deciding what they think or who they believe based on partisan blinders, as opposed to common sense and credible information.”
Zepecki on government executive failure:
“The Governor has laid out a plan. What’s frustrating to me is, while legislative Republicans in Madison want to take shots at Governor Evers, the person they should be taking shots at is Donald Trump.”
“We are 50 days in…and we still do not have the tests we need. We have lost 60,000 American souls in less than 100 days. That is more lives lost than in the entire 20 years of the Vietnam War. Rather than do his job or even pretend to do his job, the President is, at 11 p.m. at night, tweeteing out insults.”
Zepecki on when Wisconsin can return to regular business activity:
“Until people feel safe, and are willing to resume being consumers in a consumer-driven economy, it’s just not going to happen. There is no magic button here.”
“You have to have things like fewer people getting sick.”
“This is going to take a while to get back to normal.”
“I’d rather open up once in a smart way than say ‘Let’s just pick a day out of the clear blue sky to open up the economy’ and then, if we have another rash of outbreaks.”
Zepecki on whether he believes a solution will finally come:
“I’m an eternal optimist so I will continue to hope that legislative Republicans, even if they have their own plan, will have improvements.”
“He’s the Governor. Set a meeting. If they need to use my zoom meeting, I’ll give him the password.”
“The Speaker and the Senate President have said ‘We could come up with a plan, but it would be our plan vs. your plan.’ The suit is not about the guts of the plan. The suit is about the governor’s authority.”
“Regardless of what happens with that suit…it’s irrelevant. You guys are going to have to get down in a virtual room eventually and come together on a consensus plan. The only way it’s going to work is if it’s going to be bipartisan.”
“They should be meeting every day at least an hour and a half, every single day.”
“A willingness to talk, I guess that’s good, but setting up a meeting, being the leader, the head of the state requires a bit more than ‘Sure, I’ll take your call.”
Fraley on what an eventual solution should involve:
“It needs to be reasonable to designate regions by county level, certain case loads get certain legislation.”
“It needs to be staggered.”
“It needs to be flexible to understand that if hotspots emerge, we need to put in safeguards.”
“You have to be regional, staggered, flexible.”
“It needs to be data based. Here’s the hospital caseload and number of infections, so people can see that.”
Fraley with his final call to legislators and Governor Evers:
“This is different. This is a pandemic.”
“It’s going to require putting the big boy pants on, listening to one another, separating the politics…and getting to a good plan.”
“Stop with the posturing. Stop with the nonsense.”
“Figure this thing out.”
“You can’t solve all problems, but you can give people hope that you are at least trying.”
“It is almost 10 a.m. on Thursday. By 5 p.m. today, I would love to see a joint press release with (all three names) at the top that says “We had a conference call today…and we will talk every day for the next two months.”
And as Scaffidi said himself in the end: “Just get in a room and figure this out.”