By Rob Zerban
Everywhere I go during my campaign -- parades, farmers markets, even the local deli -- I keep hearing the same thing from Wisconsin voters. "We need real representation," they tell me, "representation that's focused on the people and what we need."
A lot of these folks are lifetime Republicans who voted for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan every time his name appeared on a ballot. But they're all telling me the same thing: They can't do it anymore, because they just can't get behind a plan to gut Medicare and end essential tax relief for working families.
These are ordinary Wisconsinites, men and women concerned about the real, tangible impact of Ryan's budget. They worry about paying an extra $6,500 per year for the same health benefits after his budget kills Medicare. They wonder how they'll be able to afford a tax increase after it ends the child tax credit. And they don't see the fairness in slashing Pell Grants and Stafford Loans while Texaco and Shell continue to benefit from gaping tax loopholes, and millionaires and billionaires get another tax write-off.
All of these people understand something that Paul Ryan fundamentally doesn't. They see that government budgets are more than just figures on a balance sheet, more than mere numbers on a page. If Congress slashes funding for student loans, fewer of our young people get the chance to attend school and build a small business, like I did. If Congress votes to scale back investment in scientific research, laboratories across our state close up -- forcing people out of work and reducing our chance of finding the next medical miracle to cure a dreaded disease. These are the real consequences of budget decisions, and that's what's at stake in this election.
Ryan just doesn't understand that. His budget sees Wisconsinites, real people, as numbers on a balance sheet. That's why it pushes drastic cuts onto the most vulnerable in our society, like working families, students and seniors, while asking nothing in return from those best positioned to lead our country out of the fiscal hole. There's nothing fiscally responsible about that.
The bottom line is this: We need new representation based on the values and priorities of real Wisconsin voters. I've lived the American Dream, and built two successful small businesses after attending one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the world. And that's why I want to ensure that opportunity remains for everyone.