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Baldwin slams Trump's response to BLM protests, COVID-19 in virtual town hall

Baldwin called out Trump for his photo-op in front of St. Johns church in D.C. Wednesday, telling the president it would be a huge mistake to bring the U.S. military.

Baldwin called out Trump for his photo-op in front of St. Johns church in D.C. Wednesday, telling the president it would be a huge mistake to bring the U.S. military.

Image By: Michael Makowski

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin slammed President Trump’s response to Black Lives Matter protests, trade wars early in the year and COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon.

In an interview with State Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler, Baldwin, D-Madison, set the scene in Washington D.C. last week, saying police and federal agents were “turned against” peaceful protesters, using tear gas to allow the president to visit a nearby church.

“He needs to listen, have empathy and try to understand what protesters are saying,” said Baldwin. “Don’t you dare ever conceive of having the U.S. military on U.S. soil against our own citizens who are trying to voice their opinion.”

Baldwin touted a police reform bill led by the Congressional Black Caucus as a piece of legislation that would create “meaningful change.” The bill proposes banning chokeholds, creating a national police misconduct registry, mandatory racial bias training and anti-lynching legislation, among other changes. 

Senate Republicans put out their own police reform bill Wednesday that Baldwin said “will help, but it won’t be enough.”

The GOP bill would implement some of the changes Democratic leaders are looking for, but not many. The bill wouldn’t ban the use of chokeholds or end qualified immunity for officers.

“We have to press for lasting change,” Baldwin said. “We have a lot more to do.”

Baldwin also called Trump’s trade wars “disastrous” for Wisconsin farms and businesses — and the problems it created have only been exacerbated by COVID-19.

According to the Madison Dem, Wisconsin had lost 2,180 dairy cow herds and 23.4 percent of its small farms under the Trump administration — all before the pandemic hit in March. Many countries that pulled out of dairy deals with farms in Wisconsin have found new suppliers, and Baldwin said the chances those businesses return are slim.

“It may be years before we regain the foothold we had around the world prior to those trade wars,” she said.

Republican National Committee spokesman Chris Walker fired back, saying “While Joe Biden and his Wisconsin Democrat allies are focused on policies that would destroy thousands of Wisconsin jobs, President Trump is dedicated to leading the great American comeback through the passage of key legislation like the CARES Act and the Payback Protection Program that has supported over 81,000 small businesses in Wisconsin.”

During the pandemic, Baldwin says the first round of PPP spending worked mostly for big banks and their customers. She called the application process “extremely complicated,” and said some business owners decided to forego their portion of the loans because they couldn’t understand the form.

“Dairy farms were almost completely excluded,” Baldwin said. “Basing loans on payroll doesn’t work for family farms, because many don’t have a payroll in the first place. There is no adequate oversight [for issues] because Trump refuses to hire an independent auditor.”

She said Senate Democrats are working to include more funding for community businesses and banks in the next round of funding released.

Watch the town hall here.

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