Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Desperate Medicaid Expansion myths backed up by predetermined outcome based research.

It costs a lot to keep Americans healthy, and Republicans have a problem with that.  

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has recently joined forces with Republican legislators to push back against any future problems selling their backward agenda that favors profits over Wisconsinites positive health care outcomes under Medicaid expansion, despite proof to the contrary. 

As Governor, Tony Evers can now explain and compare what polling has revealed to be popular public policies, with the GOP's costly, failing, and stagnant draconian agenda claiming health care should be private, profitable, and a privilege. 

WILL thinks their "institute" of right wing propaganda backed by predetermined research outcomes will muddy the waters enough to keep conservative voters from ever catching on to their purely ideologically driven agenda. 

But discrediting reality and logic...well, that's not gonna be easy. 
A September Wisconsin LFB report showed taking full Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020 would give the state an additional $280 million to work with over the next two-year budget cycle. 
or this...
Wisconsin has missed out on $1.1 billion in federal money since 2014, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The state would save about $513 million over the course of the next two-year budget, which runs from July through June 2021, if it accepted federal money for full Medicaid expansion, the Fiscal Bureau said.
What was the dead giveaway this was a Medicaid expansion hit job? Besides the fact that the study oddly came out right before Evers planned to release his budget, Republican legislators were right there with WILL pushing this nonsense. Could they be more obvious? Seriously, you can't make this stuff up:
Less than two weeks from the rollout of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, Republican lawmakers are touting a health care study, by the conservative WILL and UW-Madison economics professor Noah Williams, (that) found expanding Medicaid in 2020 would increase private insurance consumer costs by $1.145 billion while saving state taxpayers $545 million, for a net cost to the state of about $600 million a year.

The conclusions drew sharp criticism from Donna Friedsam, health policy programs director of UW-Madison’s Population Health Institute. “This study has several methodological and analytical flaws that substantially compromise the validity of its conclusions,” Friedsam said ... pointed to mathematical errors and problems with the study’s conclusion that health care spending is higher in Medicaid expansion states.
Also, consider this logical argument:
Friesam added most economists reject the reasoning that private sector health care costs would increase because health care providers would pass on costs from low Medicaid reimbursement rates to consumers.
According to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation research data, and contrary to WILL's spin:
1. As a whole, the large body of research on the effects of Medicaid expansion under the ACA suggests that expansion has had largely positive impacts on coverage; access to care, utilization, and affordability; and economic outcomes, including impacts on state budgets, uncompensated care costs for hospitals and clinics, and employment and the labor market.

2. Studies show that Medicaid expansion states experienced significant coverage gains, reductions in uninsured rates and health outcomes.

3. Economic measures: No significant increases in state spending from state funds as a result of the expansion through 2015 ... Medicaid expansions result in reductions in uncompensated care costs for hospitals and clinics as well as positive or neutral effects on employment and the labor market.

4. Medicaid expansion is having a disproportionately positive impact in rural areas in expansion states, where growth in Medicaid coverage and declines in uninsured rates have exceeded those in metropolitan areas.

5. No studies have found negative effects of expansion on employment or employee behavior.

6. Two studies found significantly greater increases in cancer diagnosis rates (especially early-stage diagnosis rates), and another study showed an association of expansion with an increase in the probability of early uncomplicated presentation for patients admitted to hospitals for one of five common surgical conditions.

7. Medicaid expansion is associated with Medicaid spending on medications to treat opioid use disorder and opioid overdose.

8. Found expansion to be associated with improvements in disparities by race and income, education level, and employment status

9. Significant reductions in out-of-pocket medical spending. Multiple studies found larger declines in trouble paying as well as worry about paying future medical bills in expansion states relative to non-expansion states ... significantly reduced the percentage of people with medical debt, reduced the average size of medical debt, reduced the average number of collections, improved credit scores, reduced the probability of having one or more medical bills go to collections in the past 6 months, and reduced the probability of a new bankruptcy filing, among other improvements in measures of financial security.

10. Documented provider reports of newly eligible adults receiving life-saving or life-changing treatments that they could not obtain prior to expansion. 281,282,283,284,285,286

11. National research found that there were no significant increases in spending from state funds as a result of Medicaid expansion and no significant reductions in state spending on education, transportation, or other state programs as a result of expansion during FYs 2010-2015. 307

12. A Louisiana annual report on Medicaid expansion reported that expansion saved the state $199 million in FY 2017 due to multiple factors, including the higher federal match rate for Medicaid populations that were previously funded at the regular state match rate, additional revenue from a premium tax on managed care organizations, and a decrease in state disproportionate share payments to hospitals as the uninsured population decreased. 308

13. A new study published in January 2018 found that Medicaid expansion was associated with improved hospital financial performance and significant reductions in the probability of hospital closure, especially in rural areas and areas with higher pre-ACA uninsured rates. 372 

14. Additional studies demonstrate that Medicaid expansion has significantly improved hospital operating margins.
WILL would like us to forget the other states that have already provided real life health and economic outcomes that contradict their projected problems. 

This is the same ploy Republicans have used to argue against the horrors of universal health care, even though every other country in the world depends on that system and pays only half of what we pay in the U.S..

Thursday, February 14, 2019

All White Republican Legislature removed Kaepernick from Black History Month Resolution written by Legislative Black Caucus!!!

Democrats still haven't figured out how to change their roll as the battered partner in their political relationship with Republicans. Appalling. 

Democrats let the "lily white" GOP legislature remove former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick from a resolution celebrating Black History Month written by the Legislative Black Caucus. Get this, Dems now want to change their vote after the fact?

HOW did a No-Brainer Black History Month Resolution Vote Go Wrong? Wow, Trump's nationalist agenda and phony outrage over kneeling before an NFL games has given Wisconsin Republicans the balls to show their fear and hate in a simple Black History Month resolution:
Cap Times: After compromising Tuesday on a resolution to honor Black History Month, several Democratic lawmakers have asked to have their votes changed to a "no" in the Assembly record, despite initially passing the measure unanimously.
Even black Democratic legislators voted to pass the resolution before they realized how seriously wrong it was. Kaepernick, born in Milwaukee, belonged in that Black Caucus written resolution.

Here's the thing; when he was removed by the all white Republican legislature (I can't mention that enough), why didn't the shit hit the fan?
The compromise came after hours of disagreement on ... former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a list of African-Americans being honored for having "made measurable differences in their respective industries." Kaepernick ... protested racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before games..

Every Democrat in the Assembly voted against the amendment, but then voted in favor of passing the resolution as amended.

Shortly after the vote, Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said she had asked the Assembly chief clerk to change her vote. Several other Democrats followed suit ... (but) the official tally will remain unanimous. Myers said, "The insistence that Colin Kaepernick’s name be removed from the black history month resolution was an exercise in white privilege and one that I cannot accept."

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, who is white, thanked Myers for being "an incredible leader" and said she would also change her vote.
I'm speechless.

What were all the white Republican legislators thinking ...telling the Black Caucus who they can or cannot include in Black History Month? Wow.

Registering phony outrage, one Republican's like minded aide revealed the thinking that went on behind closed doors...note: Rep. Dittrich did not say she disagreed with the message, just that it was tweeted:
On Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told reporters she was not responsible for a tweet sent from her account during the debate over Kaepernick, which read, "Colin Kapernick wore socks depicting police as pigs. Flags are flying at half-staff for a murdered policeman. Are you kidding me????" The tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted.

Dittrich said she "would never send out a tweet like that as a lawmaker." She told reporters the only person besides her with access to her account is her legislative aide, Keith Best. Best drew fire in July for a tweet he sent from the account of his previous employer, former Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, calling voter ID opponents "the true racists."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Foxconn a Trump ploy in Trade War, playing Wisconsin GOP hucksters as hicks!

The Foxconn "con" has been snaking its way to Wisconsin for a few years, and with a closer look at past comments made back in 2017, it's much easier to see the relationship between Trump's poisonous trade war and China's attempt to hold onto market share and intellectual property. 

We were warned just a few days ago what it all really meant, after Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou proclaimed after talks with Trump that Wisconsin's plant is still going forward:
Gou's candor supports a view among trade analysts that Foxconn's promise to build a flat-screen manufacturing complex in Wisconsin amounts to a bargaining chip in an economic conflict waged between Washington and Beijing — a politically sensitive trade war with hundreds of thousands of American jobs at stake...
“If you think foreign investment is one of the moving pieces (in the trade talks), it absolutely is," said Mary Lovely, an economist who specializes in international trade and investment at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C. "It’s pawns on the chess board."
The implied bargain is clear: Foxconn will keep alive its Wisconsin investment as long as Trump ensures Foxconn continues to have wide-open access to American consumers for its Chinese-made imports — and as long as Wisconsin taxpayers subsidize the project with the most expensive package of subsidies ever from a U.S. state to a foreign company.
Add to that Trump's U.S. ban on Huawei products over concerns China's government is using tech to spy, all the while Gou is assembling Apple phones in China and developing tech at the UW despite his incredibly close ties to China's government. What's going on?

Gou/Crooked Trump connection Suspicious: Here's a bullet point list of Gou's comments that tell the story with my own highlighted points of interest. From Asia/Nikkei: March 02, 2017:  
1. Gou ... has begun to work on a new panel facility in southern China ... hinted that plans to invest in the U.S. may not materialize any time soon due to labor issues and a lack of incentives.

2. The new complex could eventually create as many as 15,000 engineering jobs. The new Zengcheng campus will house an advanced 10.5-generation panel facility. Corning (which declined to build a plant in Wisconsin) and Cisco, two major U.S. companies, will also invest in the new tech. park. Foxconn's current China expansion efforts include plans to recruit some 12,000 college graduates in the country in 2017.

3. There are concerns that large-sized panels are not a wise investment. David Hsieh, a senior director at research company IHS Markit, said that Foxconn will be fighting an uphill battle in the large TV market in China. "There will be the issue of oversupply, so the key factor to Foxconn's success is whether it can manage to sell all its large panels via [Foxconn-controlled] Sharp, otherwise if they still need to sell extra panels to other brands, that would create extra competition for themselves."

4. The key Apple assembler's move to grow its China operations comes amid mounting trade tensions between Washington and Beijing ... Trump has also frequently targeted Apple, which accounts for over 50% of Foxconn's total revenue, in his attack against American companies he thought to have caused domestic job losses by outsourcing manufacturing abroad. 
Trump's Connection? Yes, and how Gou played Wisconsin's GOP hicks. 5 months after this article, a rushed Wisconsin deal emerged:
5. Responding to Trump's protectionist approach, Gou said in January that he was considering building a "highly automated" facility to make large-sized panels in the U.S..

6. Gou told reporters that he had returned earlier this week after a short trip to Washington ... raised uncertainties ... saying he was not sure whether American officials could be efficient in tackling investment challenges and regulations to attract foreign investors. "I am concerned as to whether the U.S. can resolve all the investment issues in only a few months' time," Gou said, adding America also still lacks skilled labor and a comprehensive supply chain for the display industry. Does the U.S. offer incentive programs for foreign investors?"

7. Gou has close ties to the Chinese Politburo.
Double Standard Exposed: Finally, I can't help but wonder what Republicans would be screaming at Obama if he had created this massive global uncertainty with tariffs and subsequent job losses. The political tolerance for all of this is astonishing. Remember when one single Obama regulation was enough to collapse markets and destroy jobs? Seriously: 
The scope and abruptness of Trump's trade barriers are unprecedented in the global age ... targeting all the world's biggest trading blocs and economies, including all of North America; the 28-nation European Union; Japan, Russia and India.

China, the E.U., Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey and Russia retaliated with trade barriers of their own, all squarely aimed at the U.S. The world looked on last year as one market after another began to shut out imports. Trade slowed and global economic uncertainty grew. American manufacturers from Harley-Davidson to General Motors cried out in protest, blaming the trade war for killing American jobs.

The trade war also set off alarms at Foxconn. "The people in Wisconsin have a lot at stake," said Philip Levy, who served as senior foreign trade adviser to President George W. Bush and is now a senior fellow on the global economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "But the forces that are buffeting Foxconn are hitting a lot of American manufacturing right now with changing costs, changing markets and a lot of new uncertainty."

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Walker Foxconn Legacy in Shambles, Gov. Evers to clean up another mess.

No one could tell clueless Scott Walker and his self-serving know-it-all Republican majority how quickly technology changes. For them Foxconn was their first look at the wonders of electronics. But...

What Foxconn offered Walker and the panting Republicans was well beyond their limited view of tech as things undeserving poor people had, like flat panel plasma TV's and Obama cellphones. Tech things were used more as epithets than real things that created jobs and grew economies.

But tech TV's and phones do change and it changes fast enough to sink Walker's Foxconn vision of a Manufacturing Renaissance:
Foxconn's decision to suspend work on the two plants because of "weakening macroeconomic conditions and the uncertainties brought by the trade war" and in Wisconsin, "as a result of negotiations with new Gov. Tony Evers."
That's right, just a year after the deal, tech has changed so much already that Foxconn had to suspend construction of their new plant here and in China for 6 months. Believe it or not, Foxconn is wondering what to do now:
Foxconn's Thursday statement hinted at its new focus for the Wisconsin plant, saying the global market had "necessitated a reconsideration of which technology will best suit the needs of its customers." Louis Woo, in the interview, said about three-quarters of Foxconn's eventual jobs will be in R&D and design—what he described as 'knowledge' positions—rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs."
That's far different from the now wacky prediction by WEDC CEO Mark Hogan. But seriously, it sounded dumb then too. Remember this, Republicans blocked Evers from getting rid of WEDC because they're business geniuses. From Upfront with Mike Gousha
Gousha: "What would be the message if for some reason this deal got bogged down, and didn't happen..."

Hogan: "'s not going to happen Mike...but I don't see that'll get through the Assembly, it'll get through the Senate because they want it, they want the right thing to happen."

If everything in the Foxconn deal came true...
A legislative analysis said the state wouldn't financially break even on the deal until 2043... 
Now, just a year later, the market changed a lot, and many taxpayers have already seen their local government spend lots of money...

I'm just guessing here, but even if Foxconn misses a few deadlines, if they eventually make good on their agreement, they get all the incentives they missed, meaning Wisconsin can't spend that money on other things for the life of the contract.

Walker Gives UW Intellectual Rights away to Foxconn, worth billions: Don't be surprised if Wisconsin misses out on billions of dollars of IR rights. While Trump tries to protect U.S. corporate intellectual rights in China, Scott Walker was actually giving them away:  

Urban Milwaukee: Who would have the IP rights? “The cooperation agreement lists three different types of research agreements ... two agreement types grant Foxconn the intellectual property that comes of research.” That seems like a problem for UW faculty,” the story reports. “The fruits of research at UW belong to the people of Wisconsin, not to a private corporation,” the UW-Madison Teaching Assistants Association declared in a statement to the State Journal.
Worse still...
Does Foxconn also have its eyes on the intellectual property of area businesses? Louis Woo, a top assistant to Gou, told the Business Journal: “We will be working with a lot of technology-related companies, if not only in Wisconsin, then around the Midwest ... partners in that effort could include Wisconsin businesses such as Rockwell Automation.”

One tech industry insider tells me he talked to Foxconn representatives who said Rockwell CEO Blake Moret met with Foxconn leaders about Rockwell doing contract manufacturing for Foxconn. But Foxconn eventually noted it would get intellectual property rights to any products it made. “Moret blew up and walked out of the meeting,” the source says.
Robin Vos blames Evers for Foxconn: Even after just a month as Governor, Tony Evers is now being blamed for Foxconn? Sure, why not. Note: Vos is claiming economic uncertainty from Evers? Even though the national economy is still running hot after Trump broke all trade deals, levied tariffs, shut down the government, lashed out and asked for boycotts of Harley Davidson and other companies, and is threatening to take everyone's health care away. It's gonna take a lot of uncertainty to hurt Wisconsin's economy?
What have Republicans had to say about the Foxconn story? They are blaming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. In a statement, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said this: "We don’t blame Foxconn for altering plans in an ever-changing technology business. It’s also not surprising Foxconn would rethink building a manufacturing plant in Wisconsin under the Evers Administration. The company is reacting to the wave of economic uncertainty that the new governor has brought with his administration.”
 Not Really Evers Problem, Yet: Consider this...
“Robin Vos and legislative Republicans grabbed control of the agency in charge of the Foxconn deal and slashed accountability after losing the Governor who cut this horrible cocktail napkin deal,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher. “The question now is: what did they know about Foxconn’s plans to drastically cut back their end of the bargain, and when did they know it?”
Suddenly Foxconn Related Tweet about Wealth Tax: I had to include this growing tweet storm over Walker's dumbest analogy yet:

Ousted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) opened himself up to a deluge of ridicule and scorn on Twitter Thursday afternoon after attacking Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for a proposal to increase taxes on the wealthy. Less than 24 hours later (Foxconn deal suspended news) the former governor — who notably dropped out of college — was attacking Warren, a former college professor who specialized in bankruptcy law — about economics

Friday, January 25, 2019

The Brutal Underlying Trump Attitude over the Government Shutdown.

As I was finishing this post, Trump announced an agreement to end the government shutdown for 3 weeks!!!

Just add another unforgettable Trump moment burned into our national consciousness. And Trump's legacy of horrors is still getting a big thumbs up from Republicans voters who are to simpleminded to sweat the details.

What Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the other day, without question, is how the Trump administration talks behind closed doors. Tell me again why we shouldn't put in place a "Wealth Tax" and/or a 70 percent tax bracket for the rich. These people feel so invincible that they're outright using Americans as hostages to sacrifice for their cause.

It's impossible for most of us to think like this, unless of course your total worth is around $8 billion like Ross':
Ross: “Put it in perspective: You’re talking about 800,000 workers and while I feel sorry for individuals who have hardship cases, 800,000 workers if they never got their pay ― which is not the case they will eventually get it ― but if they never got it, you’re talking about a third of the percent on our GDP. So it’s not like it’s a gigantic number overall.”
Or this gold nugget of wisdom, suggesting government workers have a lot of spare time to apply for a temporary loan (if they even qualify) and then spend a few months paying it back with interest:
Andrew Ross Sorkin: “There are reports that there are some federal workers who are going to homeless shelters to get food.”

Ross: “Well, I know they are but I don’t really quite understand why because ... the obligations that they would undertake say borrowing from the bank or credit union are in effect federally guaranteed,” Ross responded. “So the 30 days of pay which some people will be out ― there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it.”
Here's the video clip that will mark a specific low point in American history where money and power started exacting its toll on human life and our economy without conscience:

Trump's reaction? Glad you asked...

US Director of the Economic Security Council Larry Kudlow thinks volunteer federal workers are there out of the kindness of their hearts without pay. Wow. Like one person said on Twitter:
"Wilbur Ross doesn’t understand why fed employees don’t just go get a loan. — Trump literally does not understand mortgages. — Kudlow thinks feds are working out of respect like they are serfs."

I put together a few selective cuts from NPR audio of government workers telling their story. The consequences are devastatingly diverse and heartbreaking.

Republicans push "Academic Right Wing Freedom" at the UW, criticizing Trump class discussion of his failures!!!

Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans pushed and passed legal protections for academic freedom at the UW. Academic freedom is nothing more than a protection racket that is meant to intimidate professors and defended right wing ideas and their guest speakers.

For instance:

It all sounded innocent enough:
Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, leveled criticism in a letter to UW-Madison professor Kenneth Mayer, who is teaching “The American Presidency” this semester.

The syllabus’ first page includes a two-line paragraph saying Trump supporters “rejoice in his contempt for what they insist is a corrupt D.C. establishment.” It then includes an 11-line paragraph that begins: “To others, he is a spectacularly unqualified and catastrophically unfit egomaniac who poses an overt threat to the Republic.”
Wait a minute, since when does Prof. Ken Mayer have the freedom to present a few negative facts and opinions held my a majority of Americans about Trump. Trump has been the best president in history, ever, right?

Mayer also included a few other facts and questions that when said out loud sound really bad:

Despite all the positive things Trump has done; like loosen pollution standards; push coal; take health care away; ban Muslims; separate kids from parents with no way to identify and reunite them; and economically destroy government workers lives with a government shutdown, Rep. Murphy could only focus on Mayer's plans to discuss Trump's negatives...
Murphy said, referring to an 1894 Board of Regents statement on academic freedom enshrined in bronze outside Bascom Hall, “If the course description already tells basically what the bias is going to be in the course, it’s pretty hard to sift and winnow that,” .
Fierce Advocate of Academic Freedom, GOP Rep. Dave Murphy...Criticizes Freedom? What fascinated me most about this story was Murphy's specific criticisms. Notice the contradictory statements and loony tunes logic, "sparking a dialogue" with a UW professor about what is "appropriate?" 
Murphy, who wrote in his letter that he is a fierce advocate of academic freedom, said his intention is to spark a dialogue on what is, and is not, appropriate for a course syllabus
…and throw in a little "stop by my office" intimidation:
He issued Mayer an invitation to his office and encouraged the professor to show some good faith and invite a Trump administration official to speak with students.
Rep. Dave "Academic Freedom" Murphy has encouraged similar freedoms before:
In late 2016, Murphy asked UW-Madison to cancel a course titled “The Problem of Whiteness” because he said it was inappropriate and a waste of money. School officials defended the course. Two years later it is still listed as a course offered in the spring 2019 semester.
Again, this is what Republicans view as "academic freedom:" Here's part of Murphy' letter to Mayer:

I especially like Murphy's suggestion to students to drop his class:
It is unfortunate that students who enrolled in your course expecting to learn about the overall American presidency may now have to choose between dropping the course and taking a course that is a bait and switch, focused instead on a critique of the Trump presidency. 
Mr. Politician and Academic Freedom advocate Murphy then suggested a better way to teach, heck, even waiting decades before passing judgment on Trump:
It may have been more appropriate to design a new course with a more accurate title and permit another less biased instructor to teach sections of Political Science 408. Although utilizing current event examples in learning is clearly valuable, the level of focus on the current presidency in a course designed to survey the American presidency seems wholly misguided. For example, teaching this course with such a lens during the Watergate scandal, without any of the historical record and perspective, would have provided students with an incomplete and academically unsound account of the Nixon presidency and its relationship to the function of the office of the president. This lack of perspective is a slap in the face to the sort of academic rigor that should be a central focus at an institution such as UW–Madison.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The "Wall" distracts from debate over Future Job Losses via Robotics and AI.

While our poor excuse for a president keeps our national attention on "the wall," we're allowing ourselves to be purposely distracted from the real job of governing, planning for the future.  

I'm going through a mild panic thinking about the Robin Vos/Scott Fitzgerald threat to protect, at all cost, policies they put in place over the last 8 years. Having already neutralized Gov. Evers and AG Josh Kaul's biggest campaign promises, Republicans are promising to maintain their biggest failures while ignoring America's future.

I've written about the need to take seriously the idea of a "basic income," knowing robotics and changing consumer norms will no doubt turn the marketplace upside down. We now have research that bears this out. Strikingly, none of this is on the GOP's radar, and to be honest, just barely on the Democratic agenda.

Rural Jobs Most Affected: The party least interested in change will negatively impact their rural voting base in a big way, and they won't even know it.

cnet: A new report from the Brookings Institution adds some additional projections to the pile of stats on whether we'll all be replaced by robots one day. Among the report's main findings;
1. 25 percent of US employment will face what the report authors called "high exposure" to automation in the next few decades. That translates into about 36 million jobs.

2. Another 36 percent (52 million) will face medium exposure.

3. Rural communities are more vulnerable. There are demographic implications, as well. Hispanic and black workers are also have greater exposure.

4. Among the most vulnerable “high risk" jobs are those in office administration, production, transportation, and food preparation ... with over 70 percent of their tasks potentially automatable, even though they represent only one-quarter of all jobs ... occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree runs to just 24 percent, less than half the 55 percent.

5. At the community level smaller, more rural communities significantly more exposed to automation-driven task replacement— and smaller metros more vulnerable than larger ones. The average worker in a small metro area with a population of less than 250,000, for example, works in a job where 48 percent of current tasks are potentially automatable.

6. Male workers appear noticeably more vulnerable to potential future automation than women do, given their overrepresentation in production, transportation, and construction-installation occupations—job areas that have aboveaverage projected automation exposure. 

7. By contrast, women comprise upward of 70 percent of the labor force in relatively safe occupations, such as health care, personal services, and education occupations. 

8. The young facing the most disruption ... between the ages of 16 and 24 face a high average automation exposure of 49 percent, which reflects their dramatic overrepresentation in automatable jobs associated with food preparation and serving.
There are a number of ways to protect ourselves...

I just discovered this graphic heavy presentation of this research, HERE.

Here are a few sources I've been meaning to sort through, that will give you some idea just how complex and important these future economic issues are: Paying for Infrastructure, 4 Wiser Ways for Infrastructure Investments, A Distributed Government, Politicians cause Pay Collapse

Forgotten list of lost Powers taken from Governor Evers?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Vos leaves out Maternity, Newborn Care, and Prescription Drug coverage from Preexisting Condition Health bill.

I'm going to get to the jaw dropping bottom line just spewed out by Robin Vos and the Assembly Republicans on their bill to cover preexisting condition and mandated coverages. Really, this is alright with conservative voters? WSJ:

Assembly Republicans unveiled late additions Tuesday to a bill protecting insurance coverage for some with pre-existing health conditions if the federal healthcare law is repealed or struck down in court ... the bill will not include Evers' other request: that insurers be required to cover a list of essential health benefits such as maternity or newborn care or prescription drugs. 

Vos: (Those benefits) "are not part of what we talked about. Unfortunately if people want to try to throw other things into the mix to stop the deal from happening, I think that's the cynicism that people do not want in politics."

Got that, it's those cynical and supposed political "other things," like maternity and newborn care, that will "stop the deal"? Not so "pro-life" after all.

Well if it's not important, then let's remove maternity, newborn care and prescription drugs coverage from those legislators government provided health care benefits, alright? 

Remember, Vos and his plundering Republican pirates also didn't think to originally include the following without a huge push by Gov. Evers...
Changes to the Assembly GOP bill would add to state law … prohibitions on insurers imposing lifetime or annual limits on coverage for people with serious health conditions. That's one of two key provisions Evers said the measure needs to include for him to support it.
But our complicated Rube Goldberg health insurance nightmare prevents the government from helping...
...people on private self-insured health plans, which a UW-Madison expert estimates is about 1.5 million Wisconsinites. That's because such plans cannot be regulated under state law. "For people that are self-insured, the state of Wisconsin has no control over them whatsoever," Vos said.
Note; Universal health care, or Medicare for all, would make every doctor your doctor, every hospital your hospital; with no surprise bills, no paperwork, no co-pays or deductibles. Although I'm not against a very small yearly premium of $50 to $100 for higher income earners so we can afford to include dental, hearing and vision. 
By at least one measure ... about 2.4 million Wisconsinites (have a preexisting condition).
UPDATE: Journal Sentinel:

Ideology vs Will it Work? It won't work: JS looked at the plan from a more practical view point, will it work? No it won't:
(It) would result in much higher premiums and fewer insurance companies selling insurance, said Scott Harrington, a professor of health care management and insurance and risk management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

“You will end up with an extremely unbalanced risk pool, where the bulk of people who are willing to buy coverage in the individual market would be relatively less healthy than average — and that would push up premiums dramatically. So, it might sound well in principal, and people probably will say it is great to do this, but in reality, if the law is declared unconstitutional and nothing is done at the federal level, this would be a Band-Aid at best.”
One more thing...

That’s what happened in states such as Kentucky and Washington that required insurers to cover pre-existing conditions before the Affordable Care Act. Leanne Gassaway, senior vice president of state affairs for America’s Health Insurance Plans, the largest trade group for health insurers, was more blunt: “Their market was a complete disaster before the Affordable Care Act.”

Monday, January 21, 2019

Not kidding; Wisconsin Republicans against Clean Drinking Water!!!

Here's the scoop, and another strike against Scott Walker's Legacy:
WPR: The overarching question is whether a state law passed in 2011, known as Act 21, which "states agencies like the DNR can't create regulations, rules or other requirements for permitees or those seeking permits unless they're specifically laid out in state statute," overrules a prior state Supreme Court action known as the Lake Beulah decision issued in 2011 … that says the DNR was able to consider cumulative impacts on groundwater when considering new high-capacity well applications.
Walker passed Act 21, so the Department of Natural Resources can't regulate...our natural resources?

This is what Republicans call balancing business interests against the cost of saving our drinking water. Here's the reality; you can't "balance" acceptable pollution levels, that's an insane concept.  

Oh, it gets worse. Walker's twisted version of the DNR can't prevent manure-contaminated water: 
1. Attorneys for the DNR have argued the law overrules the previous Supreme Court decision and therefore, the agency doesn't have authority to limit the number of cows on the Kinnard Farms properties or require groundwater monitoring wells to measure whether manure from the farm is leaching into groundwater.

2. Similarly, the DNR has argued Act 21 bars them from considering cumulative impacts for the high-capacity wells sought by farmers in the Central Sands region.

We're in real trouble if our activist conservative State Supreme court decides against any and all oversight of our drinking water. Interestingly, they're in no hurry:
Justices from the state's high court haven’t said whether they'll take up the cases.

Wis Republicans says, "make sure renewable's are reliable and affordable"...uh, which they are already!!!

Unlike the few strong Democratic legislators who's voices are often ignored by the press, Gov. Evers will not suffer that same fate. 

And Republicans are panicking. Look how fast they tried to reframe the idea of middle-class tax cuts and protections for preexisting conditions. Same old out-dated policies. Only now the public will see how stagnant and empty their rhetoric has been for 8 years.

Alternative Energy Ignorance Exposed: Thankfully, you can't hide stupid. Check out what one arrogant Republican legislator said about the prospects of turning Wisconsin into a job-creating renewable energy leader:
1922 cover. Not exactly a new idea
At the annual conference held by the group RENEW Wisconsin, (a) panel following Evers' remarks, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R- New Berlin) said he wants to make sure electricity generated from renewables is reliable and affordable, and expansion is driven by the free market.
Wow, where do I start? It's hard to believe anyone could be this out of touch. "Making sure" is code for delaying any change, a tactic that assumes we just don't know enough about wind and solar energy yet (see at bottom what we do know, and what we're missing).

 Let's clear up a few easy points:

1. Wind is now cheaper to produce than coal, so it's affordable, okay? This is not a secret.

2. Try reading a newspaper sometime. Surprise, many big energy companies are committed and "driven," having promised a massive conversion to solar and wind (they don't have to ship fuel or pay for it). Hello?

3. Reliable? Would we be importing unreliable clean energy from outside Wisconsin? Why not be someone else's source of reliable energy by producing it here? And the use of recycled batteries to store energy for later use has already made an impact.

Time to bring in "Alternative Legislators" pushing Alternative Energy: The sad reality of gerrymandering makes it almost impossible to change Wisconsin's direction on energy...or anything for that matter. We'll be stuck in this same place for years, even decades trying to catch up.

So let's be clear about what Wisconsin Republicans are choosing to take a pass on...
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ #1 and #2 fastest growing jobs in the U.S. are solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians. These jobs are good, solid middle class jobs with annual salaries pushing close to six-figures. Beyond construction, the plants (particularly wind farms, with their many moving parts) offer good jobs in the long term.

Not only do wind and solar power bring jobs, they increase the local tax base for revenue-starved public schools and other districts. For example, Nolan County in Texas has seen its tax base increase almost eight fold to nearly $3 billion dollars since the West Texas wind rush began.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A little late, but here's the more PC version of "Baby its Cold Outside!"

I just discovered this video sent to me by my brother just before Christmas. Can we say we've now ended the ridiculous debate over this controversial song, please?

Taking Stock of Trump!!!

Vos bypasses Medicaid Expansion/Jobs/New State Revenues to protect Insurer Profits!!!

Fulfilling campaign promises is so important to Republicans that they would shut the government down to keep one.

Yet when Democratic Gov. Tony Evers tried to do the same thing, promising to expand Medicaid, he's accused of trying to "score political points?" And that's what snarky Republican Rep. Robin Vos said about Evers proposal.

Medicaid Expansion No Brainer: WPT's Here and Now presented a few important points, including the not so surprising admission by public servant Vos that he's out to protect insurance profits, and not provide health care to constituents.

First, here's what Gov. Evers sees as a win-win for Wisconsinites and the economy with Medicaid Expansion. The math is inescapable, and another revealing horror from Scott Walker's "legacy:"

Yes, Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald walked away from $1 billion because government would just spend, spend, spend...on roads, schools, broadband expansion, pay of debt, etc.??!!!

In fact, Evers is so sure about Medicaid Expansion, that he's taking it directly to Republican rural voters who have been ignored by Walker and the legislature for years, under the guise of "small government." The days of rural resentment might be over.
Tony Evers: If Republican legislators who come from small town Wisconsin that understand that the success of those small town hospitals and clinics depend upon having access to greater resources, they may change their mind. So we’re going to take this directly to the people of Wisconsin in a respectful way.

Uh-oh, Wrong Argument Robin...: For Vos, it's not about helping and strengthening rural communities and farmers, nope, it's about protecting those city slicker insurers.

Vos claims insurers will be forced to pay into Medicaid Expansion, and then increase insurance rates on those buying policies in the private sector, something I can't confirm after extensive research (but I did find job creation and higher state revenues-shown later below).

Still, and ironically, those terrible "higher insurance premiums" Vos is complaining about, well they're a major funding source for the Republicans much touted "high risk pools." Seriously? Good luck selling that plan now:
Robin Vos: Every person that’s on BadgerCare is subsidized by somebody who’s in the private insurance market. So the more people that we take from the private insurance market to put into the public market, the higher the rates are going to go for those people who have private sector insurance. So granted, there might be a short one-time savings for the state, but that is more than offset by the cost in the private sector for what they have to pay to subsidize those people who are already on BadgerCare.
Wisconsin's Far Right Legislature nothing like other Red States: Vos is also wildly wrong about "a short one-time savings for the state." In fact, expansion pays for itself and so much more, and research proves it:
Forbes: Republican-leaning states like Montana have used the economic argument to help win over skeptics ... which expanded Medicaid in 2016 to more than 90,000 people. A study out this month from the University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research shows the expansion of Medicaid generates a half-billion dollars a year in healthcare spending. Of that, 70%, or $350 million to $400 million, is “new money circulating in Montana’s economy.”
The gerrymandered Republican majority at the Capitol will now have to argue against real jobs and economic numbers. Other red states are also moving forward:
The Montana report comes as Missouri, Nebraska, Idaho and Utah are working to put Medicaid expansion on this November’s general election ballot and as legislatures in other states like Virginia and Utah are moving Medicaid expansion bills forward.

It’s new money into the economy,” University of Montana’s Bryce Ward, the study’s author, said of Medicaid expansion in an interview. “In 2020, the state has to pay its full 10% share, but you get the 90% from taxpayers in other states.”

“Medicaid expansion has a positive fiscal impact on the state budget. Medicaid expansion reduces state spending in some areas (e.g., traditional Medicaid). It also increases economic activity and, as such, increases state revenue,Ward and fellow researcher Brandon Bridge wrote in their University of Montana study. “Combined, the savings and increased revenues are sufficient to more than cover the Montana’s share of Medicaid expansion costs (10% in 2020 and beyond).”

Last year, the University of Michigan said “ripple effects” from Medicaid expansion created more than 30,000 new jobs, including 85% in the private sector.

“We are employing more people,” Ward, of the University of Montana, said of Medicaid expansion. “You can see it.”

Friday, January 18, 2019

Desperate GOP Lame Duck Laws Struck Down: Early Voting and Politician Twitter Block!!!

Wisconsin's hard core Republican extremist legislature needs a little continuing education in civics and constitutional law.

Power didn't just corrupt, it also made Republicans forget who they were elected to serve. Oh, and gerrymandering also made it impossible for Republicans to claim the voters chose them when in fact it was the other way around.

The GOP's lame duck legislation is coming apart at the seams in the courts. 

And Scott Walker's legacy? Well, he signed off on this illegal stuff, and he'll be remembered for it:  

It's a big victory for now Attorney General Josh Kaul, who at the time, represented One Wisconsin Institute and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund. Is there any question at this point Republicans don't want people to vote, or even believe in the idea of elections themselves? 

Moving swiftly, a federal judge struck down limits on early voting that Republican lawmakers approved last month in a lame-duck session. In a five-page ruling, U.S. District Judge James Peterson concluded the new limits on early voting are invalid because they so closely mirror ones he struck down as unconstitutional in 2016. His decision also threw out parts of the lame-duck laws affecting IDs and other credentials that can be used for voting.

"This is not a close question: the three challenged provisions are clearly inconsistent with the (2016) injunctions that the court has issued in this case," Peterson wrote. Peterson also ruled that temporary voting credentials will be valid for 180 days instead of 60 days, as Republican lawmakers wanted. The credentials are given to people who have difficulty getting state ID cards because they lack birth certificates or other documents. Peterson's ruling also requires the state to allow students to use expired college IDs to vote. Republican lawmakers wanted college IDs to be accepted only if they had not expired.

No Brainer First Amendment Violation: A judge overturned a Twitter block by 3 Republicans legislators. Thanks to Trump, twitter accounts by politicians are now public and subject to the First Amendment. Irony? 

Federal District Judge William Conley ruled that three Wisconsin state legislators - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Burlington, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and former Republican Rep. Jesse Kremer of Kewaskum - violated the free speech rights of a liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, when the lawmakers blocked the group from their respective Twitter feeds.

Scot Ross, the group's executive director, called the decision a victory for "open, transparent and accountable government. Elected officials can’t exclude people from public forums just because they don’t agree with their political views or don’t want to hear what they may have to say," Ross said in an email.

Conley wrote that the case presented a "novel question of law for this court: is the interactive portion of a government official’s Twitter account a designated public forum?
While there is no settled law on whether a government actor’s social media account is a designated public forum, two federal district courts have now held that government officials’ social media accounts can constitute public forums," Conley wrote, adding that the lawmakers presented no reason for blocking One Wisconsin Now, "except by vague innuendo or by claiming that they must have had a valid reason but can no longer remember why they did so."

Conley's ruling follows a decision from a federal judge in New York, who in May said President Donald Trump is not permitted under the U.S. Constitution to block people from his Twitter feed. In that case, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, determined that Trump's Twitter account is considered a "public forum" under the Constitution because it is an interactive space where Twitter users can dialogue directly with him and other users. She also found that by blocking people from it, Trump was discriminating against them based on their viewpoint.

Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty loves short term Junk Insurance policies, and a Desperate Public!!!

The Cap Times column, State Debate, pointed me to an article that was so nonsensical, that I just had to pass it along.

This represents the brain trust of right wing "fellows" at the lawsuit mill Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). WILL has been furiously raising funds in preparation to challenge almost everything Gov. Evers and AG Josh Kaul will put forward as policy.

First up, Covering Preexisting Conditions: Perhaps WILL Research Director Will Flanders thought most readers would just give up and default to his bigger point about gladly buying junk insurance policies if he just wrote a bunch of words that sounded pretty darn official.

Let's look at the "institutes" case for short term junk insurance policies, a big part in Trump's health care reform plan. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers isn't buying into this horrific scheme:
Among the executive orders signed by Governor Tony Evers in his first week was a directive for DHS and DATCP to “provide recommendations on how to…. Protect against attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act marketplace with short term plans that do not comply with Affordable Care Act requirements...” 
Flanders went on to explain why short term plans are nothing more than junk insurance policies that don't cover preexisting conditions:
Short-Term Limited Duration (STLD) healthcare plans were originally designed as a stop-gap measure for people who would be lacking insurance for (appropriately enough) a short time …Critically, such plans were exempted from many of the mandates of the ACA, including language on preexisting conditions...

Down the Rabbit Hole: To be clear, if you get sick while on a short term insurance plan, you are now strapped with a preexisting condition, and you can't get another short term policy. Again, Evers is against short term junk plans. 

But Flanders doesn't get that. In an incomprehensible word salad explanation, Flanders somehow ended up blaming Evers for "exacerbating the problem? I know, you've got to read it to believe it:
One result of placing greater limitations on such plans is that people may be left entirely without coverage options if they get sick while on a STLD … individuals who enroll in short term plans and get sick during that plan may not have coverage options when those plans come to an end. This serves to exacerbate the problem of uninsured that people like Evers purport to be so concerned about. 
Junk Insurance, a Necessary Evil: But wait, Flanders isn't done embarrassing himself. He still wants these junk policies in Wisconsin because...the "public is desperate." Of course they are, isn't that how we want people to feel? You can't make this sick stuff up:  
The second, and perhaps even more critical, problem is that limiting the time frame of these plans removes a viable healthcare option for Wisconsinites who may be struggling to afford insurance coverage. Short term plans represent a viable alternative for a public desperate for affordable options.

Rather than being concerned about protecting the viability of the ACA, let’s consider the healthcare needs of Wisconsin’s low- and middle income families, who perhaps don’t want or cannot afford Obamacare plans.
Note: Evers and Democrats aren't simply "protecting the viability of the ACA" for political reasons, they're trying to give everyone affordable access to health care short of universal care.  

Let's hope Evers tells the insurance commissioner and specifically Cari Lee at enforcement, to examine and negotiate lower rates in Wisconsin: 
Wisconsin’s’ average insurance premiums are among the highest in the nation in both urban and rural parts of the state.