Tammy Baldwin is no stranger to Madisonians. She's been our representative to Congress for more than a decade and had a long career of service in public office before that. And most politically aware people know that her signature issue has been public health-care policy.
This, indeed, is her time, as the title of this week's cover story attests. Washington is now embroiled in what is probably the most titanic public policy conflict since Social Security legislation in the early '30s. Like then, the nation is in economic crisis, one party (the Democrats) has the control to pass its agenda, and the forces economically and philosophically opposed are battling it as if it were Armageddon.
So where has Rep. Baldwin been during the ramp up to this climax, and where is she now? This is the task staff writer Joe Tarr took upon himself to ascertain. He talks to people who have relied on Baldwin to be the standard bearer for health-care reform, some of whom feel she has been disappointing. Others see the conviction of the entrenched opposition and the magnitude of the task and have a more measured assessment of Baldwin's performance. But all feel that this is the best chance ever for at least a start to health-care reform and expect her to be leader in the fight. Tarr gets Rep. Baldwin's report on the state of the struggle.
We had planned to bring you a second iteration of our Get Smarter supplement for 2009 this week. Because of the economic situation, the supplement has become a section. Get Smarter is about continuing education, and continuing education is often about finding a new career. In "When Work Is Play," David Medaris reports on a course of study at Madison Area Technical College that could lead to what some people would regard as a dream job.