Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 6, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and his power-grabbing health chief issued yet another emergency order Tuesday— this time limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent capacity. The order also applies to ticketed events, “if any member of the public or any member of a group of people can get a ticket,” the edict states.
It’s another bureaucratic beating for bars, restaurants, retailers and so many other Wisconsin businesses hit hard by the pandemic, and harder by state and local restrictions.
Order #3, issued by Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday. It is to remain in place until Nov. 6 — three days after the election. That is unless the Republican majority calls the Legislature back into session and stops Evers’ latest COVID-19-related edicts via joint resolution. A St. Croix County judge also is deliberating on whether to issue a temporary restraining order against the governor’s statewide mask mandate and the health order behind it.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Republican leadership didn’t appear interested in settling the matter, to the anger of some of their members.
State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said there are three people responsible for what he called the “constitutional crisis” that “grips” state government: Evers, Palm, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).
“Evers and Palm are now openly abusing the rule of law for politically motivated purposes related to the November election,” Nass said in a statement. “Assembly Speaker Vos continues to enable the illegal conduct of this administration by blocking the Legislature from meeting to put an end to the improper emergency declaration and emergency orders issued under it.”
State. Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) said the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling in May that struck down Palm’s extended order locking down Wisconsin made clear that the governor cannot act without the Legislature’s consent.
“Governor Evers is not supposed to act unilaterally, yet here he is again,” the senator said in a statement.
The Evers administration argues that it can declare as many emergencies as it likes to meet the “crisis” of rising COVID-19 numbers. While courts, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court, have repeatedly ruled that crises do not justify governments trampling on individual liberties, Team Evers and their political allies believe otherwise.
“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Evers said in a statement. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus. Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this difficult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back.”
There’s no doubt reported COVID-19 cases have climbed, and hospitalization rates are up in portions of the state. The Wisconsin Hospital Association on Tuesday noted that “Wisconsin now has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest rates of COVID infection in the country.”
But is the fact that more people are testing positive for a disease that the vast majority of people recover from reason to put business out of business? To take someone’s livelihood? Her dreams?
As Evers pushes crisis politics in the days before the presidential election, Wisconsin’s economy has taken a beating. And things could get a lot worse.
As Empower Wisconsin reported this week, the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show the Badger State’s gross domestic product dropped 32.6 percent on an annualized basis, the highest recorded decline since 2005 — when the agency began tallying state quarterly data.
Wisconsin posted just over $314 million in total economic output in the second quarter — between April and June. That’s down from $348.47 million in the same quarter last year.
Economic analysts say state lockdowns in the spring and restrictive health orders after are much to blame for the GDP declines. Tragically, what we have learned over the past seven months is that lockdowns have done little to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“If lockdowns really altered the course of this pandemic, then coronavirus case counts should have clearly dropped whenever and wherever lockdowns took place. The effect should have been obvious, though with a time lag,” according to National Review, which compared states with and without stay-at-home orders and restrictions, reported this week. “To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus.”
Evers’ hoped to mitigate his devastating order by announcing the release of $100 million in Wisconsin Small Business and Economic Stablization funding. He made the announcement not long before he issued Order #3.
The money is funded through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).