Earlier this year, former State Senator Jim Sullivan was one of four Democrats to enter the race for Scott Walker's old position as Milwaukee County Executive. Of the four Democrats, Sullivan is the only candidate voted out of office in the past midterm. So, one question immediately comes to mind: if the voters threw Sullivan out of office just three months ago, what makes him think they want him back as Milwaukee County Executive? The guy was a big spender and a union sock-puppet to boot, so in what world would Sullivan be a good fit for a county in deep fiscal trouble?
When Jim Sullivan was in the State Senate, he voted for the biggest tax increase in Wisconsin history supporting a defunct health care bill that most Democrats disavowed during their campaigns. The bill was euphemistically called "Healthy Wisconsin", but it was riddled problems including costly loopholes and infrastructural red flags. Healthy Wisconsin, as it was written, would have provided fully-covered health care insurance to the immediate family members of those "gainfully employed" in Wisconsin. In theory, the children of a parents who work in Wisconsin, but lived in California, would have been fully insured under Wisconsin law. The phrase "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . ." particularly comes to mind.
One of the more scary oversights of Healthy Wisconsin was who would have been in charge. The bill would have created a regulatory body called "Healthy Wisconsin Authority" (HWA) authorizing them to "establish and administer” the program. Technically, HWA would not be a state agency, and the members of the board would not be state employees. This would have allowed HWA the frredom to operate outside the budgetary and statutory restrictions typically imposed on state employees.
More interestingly, members of the Healthy Wisconsin Authority would have been selected from a pool of labor unions and business organizations. The bill required that at least five members to be selected from state labor unions, but did not require any of them to be health care professionals. This, of course, would have been a big problem as the union representatives would have the authority to overrule medical experts on important treatment plans.
Union representatives would have also had the power to determine what medical facilities can or cannot be covered, the power to set limits on how much health care providers can charge for their services, and the power to raise income taxes in order to cover anticipated costs. The most troubling outcrop of the legislation was the mandate to join Health Wisconsin’s program. This would have placed more limits on the power of choice in the health care industry while displacing those who were already satisfied with their coverage. Healthy Wisconsin was essentially Obamacare on steroids, and Sullivan voted for it nonetheless.
According to Sullivan's Campaign Finance Reports filed on Wednesday, the International Unions of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) - based out of Maryland - donated $2,500 to Sullivan's campaign. IUPAT is also affiliated with the AFL-CIO, the largest umbrella union organization in the United States. Even unions based out in the state of Maryland have an invested interest in the race for Milwaukee County Executive, and it is really suprise why conservatives are calling Jim Sullivan the union-darling of the race.