Enforcing court orders for child support, or any other court order, is not only essential in any nation of laws, but, as the name implies, it supports children.
For every one dollar spent on enforcement, about six dollars is colllected— making it one of the most successful government programs ever created. And considering that nearly 90% of children on food stamps have a parent that is not paying child support, it is also one of the best ways to “get people off of welfare.” Because of this, the program generally has garnered bipartisan support— including that of former President Ronald Reagan.
So, how did our newly converted Dick “Reagan conservative” Leinenkugel vote on child support enforcement when he was on the Waukesha County Board in 1998?
Before you answer, let me set the stage: Waukesha County is the polar opposite of Dane County: Republican Central. And to add to the drama, Leinenkugel was the deciding vote for a measure that needed a 2/3 majority to pass: in other words, 2/3 of the conservative board was for the measure.
If you answered that Leinenkugel voted against, you are right! Leinenkugel shocked everyone when he fought with the 1/3 minority of far-right loons to oppose the child support enforcement measure.
But, don’t feel bad, if you answered that Leinenkugel voted for it, you are also right!
By the next meeting, Leinenkugel had completly changed his position. He said he had not researched the issue, had voted wrongly at the previous meeting, and asked for another vote. Leinenkugel passionately fought for passage and went from sounding like Newt Gingrich to sounding like Bobby Kennedy in a matter of days:
“As I researched it further, I found that the ordinance is directly tied to the success of W-2 and the self-sufficiency of W-2 recipients”
“This is a very important tool to help families achieve self -sufficiency,”
“The more families we have on self-sufficiency, the more money we’ll save as taxpayers in the long run.”
“To achieve a vision is not without cost.”
It is to Leinenkugel’s credit that he changed his ridiculous initial position, but the episode spoke volumes of Leinenkugel’s kookiness. Why didn’t Leinenkugel do his homework and read up on (the pretty straightforward) issue of child support enforcement before he fought tooth and nail to kill it? If he can’t get his hands around the simple issue of child support enforcement, how can he be expected to function with far more comples issues in the U.S. Senate? Is he going to ask for a re-vote every other day in the Senate?
Ten years later, Leinenkugel would say he is a “strong supporter” of Democratic governor Jim Doyle and join his admistration, which among other things, fought repeatedly to protect child support enforcement. Then, 18 months after that, he would announce that he was leaving the Democrats and running for the U.S. Senate with hopes of joining Wisconsin’s Republican delegation in Congress— a delegation that has has repeatedly voted in lock-step to cut child support enforcement.
In fact, in 2005, the Republican-controlled Congress cut child support enforcement by 40%. Every single Democratic Senator voted against it— including Feingold and Kohl and nearly every GOP Senator voted for it. In the House, all of Wisconsin’s democratic delegation voted against it, but all of Wisconsin’s Republican delegation voted for it. In fact, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, voted was the one spearheading the 40% cut.
Incredibly, at the same time the Congress voted along the same party lines to cut taxes for the wealthy.
The Children’s Defense Fund called the votes “morally obscene” and said “Congress chose to protect the wealthiest among us at the expense of the most vulnerable among us: our children.”
Does Leinenkugel, who has been mimicing the GOP Wisconsin’s delegations talking points of cutting taxes on the rich and cutting programs for the poor, support Russ Feingold and the rest of the Wisconsin Democratic delegation on the issue of child support enforcement on or is he with the Wisconsin Republican delegation?
I guess it doesn’t really matter— he’ll change his mind again anyway.