Friday, May 24, 2019

Republican Sen. Kapenga against "full inclusion," says Special Needs Kids should be in a separate schools...unless you've got a better idea he doesn't have time for now...

I don't know what it is, but Republicans just love to divide people up in our state into warring groups.

Republican State Sen. Chris Kapenga also loves those anecdotal random comments from like minded constituents that will eventually form future Wisconsin legislation, and maybe law. Who needs research or opposing opinions? 

Take the issue of "full inclusion" of special needs kids in our classrooms. The research is in?:
Mr. Know-it-All doesn't
have time for you!
"I have had teachers and parents come to me who have concerns that they consistently have," Kapenga said. "I have had one teacher who's said, 'A few times a week, I have to actually remove my kids from the classroom because this child continues to be disruptive in the classroom.'
He might claim otherwise, but...
In an hour-long town hall meeting attended by dozens of people May 22, state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) attempted to clarify comments attributed to him about special education students that caused an uproar on social media ... people on Facebook claimed he had said (It is uncertain where the posts originated, made at a Wisconsin Association of School Boards meeting in Madison this spring): 
"They don't deserve to be in the classroom. They take away from the learning of other students. It might make them feel good to be in the classroom, but it shouldn't happen. They belong in separate schools."-Kapenga 
Kapenga thought this would clarify what he meant?
But Kapenga told the standing-room only crowd on Wednesday the quote twisted his words, making his comments sound "absolutely horrible."
They were of course. And then he said it again, essentially confirming the Facebook quote. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up:
Kapenga also said that some people favor full inclusion, while others want the old system of separate schools set up for special needs children. Kapenga said the "far left spectrum of full inclusion" is not working, which drew chuckles of disbelief from some in the crowd.

"So let's start talking about solutions — and I'm open to doing that — but not if people are going to twist my words into something that's not," Kapenga said.
So Kapenga knows what "some people" tell him absolute fact, and that's good enough for now, because he's a busy man:
Hartland-Lakeside School Board members Val Wisniewski and Tom Harter encouraged Kapenga to visit the district ... before the end of the school year, Kapenga demurred, saying he could not commit because of his busy schedule, but offered to visit before the start of the next school year.

The exchange led some audience members to ask Kapenga to clarify his position on including special education students in mainstream classrooms, but Kapenga declined to do so, saying he had already stated his position earlier in the evening. He then abruptly ended the meeting, as it was over the hour-long allotted time that had been set.

Vos uses arriving troops to trash Evers in mad ruthless power play that turned out to be wrong!!!

They are mad with power. After Republicans controlled the legislature for 8 long years, is it any wonder they're so arrogant? Talk that "divides" Wisconsinites and stirs up resentment just keeps spewing from their mouths.  

Rep. Robin Vos, acting GOP governor of Wisconsin, is like most other Republicans; they form all their ideas and policies from random anecdotal comments made by their constituents:
JS: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos kicked off the Memorial Day weekend by falsely accusing Gov. Tony Evers of forcing troops to wait hours to greet him. The allegation is not true, according to the Wisconsin National Guard ... The Republican leader on Friday acknowledged he had his facts wrong but didn't delete a tweet making the false accusation.

Well, that's what he heard anyway...hearing is believing. But... 
The schedule was set by the Wisconsin National Guard. "The governor’s office did not request any accommodations nor did we delay anything, in fact we were able to work with the airline to get the second flight home earlier than scheduled so the troops could return to their families sooner."

Vos couldn't stop trying to walk back his irresponsible comments. Here's what I thought about Vos' jaw-dropping tweets:



...and Vos setting an example for Evers? Again, you can't make this stuff up...:


Trump banking on being a War Time President?


Trump "winning" in number of Lies!


Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Best Health Care System in the World! Here's a list of problems...

Did you ever wonder what was wrong with the US health care system, while a mod of profiteers pound their chest saying it's the best system in the world?

The Senate came up with a list of reforms that highlighted what is currently wrong; nightmarish gaming of the system robbing Americans of their hard earned money.

Remember, the cost, the maze of procedures, and the constant oversight would not exist under universal health care. Think of the savings:
The Senate health committee released its draft legislation to tackle healthcare costs, with provisions that read like a road map of how hospitals and insurers use contracts to dominate their competitors, consolidate their business and keep patients in the dark; mend loopholes exploited by hospitals, insurers, and manufacturers; and cut some fat out of the healthcare industry through simple reforms.
1. The ban on surprise medical bills.

2. Force air ambulances to separate out medical charges from the transport costs in the bills they send to patients and health plans.

3. Mandate patients receive their full bill within 30 business days. If the bill comes later, the patients wouldn't be obligated to pay.

4. Hospitals, physicians and health insurers would have to give patients "good-faith" estimates of their out-of-pocket costs within 48 hours of a request.

5. Insurers' provider directories would have to be kept up to date.

6. Provisions would correct hospital and insurer manipulations of contracts, which play a big role in setting the prices patients must pay and determining where they have to go for care.

7. A ban on gag clauses that some hospitals include in their insurer contracts. Hospitals could no longer prevent patients or any other party from seeing all hospitals' cost and quality data.

8. Put a stop to "anti-tiering" or "anti-steering," where hospitals through their insurance contracts keep patients from choosing treatment at competing health systems.

9. There would be no more "all-or-nothing" clauses where hospitals force insurers to contract with all their facilities by saying if they don't contract with all of them they can't contract with any.

10. Hospitals could also no longer hide certain anti-competitive contract features from the employer plans they contract with.

11. The Government Accountability Office would be mandated to investigate profit-sharing between hospitals, contract management groups, specialty physicians and specialty physician contractors.

12. Dominant health plans would no longer be allowed to use their market leverage to hold local hospitals and physicians hostage for the best payment rates, to the detriment of competing companies.

13. Pharmacy benefit managers would have to send quarterly reports on the costs, fees and rebates to the employer plans they contract with.

14. Spread pricing of the rebates PBMs collect from manufacturers would be banned.

15. PBMs could no longer profit off health plans or patients by demanding higher drug prices than they paid the manufacturers, and they would have to pass along 100% of the manufacturer rebates or discounts to their plan sponsor.

16. Drug pricing, to stop manufacturer gaming of exclusivity periods and boosts for more generics and biologics.

17. Public health by seeking to boost vaccination rates.

18. Check the U.S.'s dismal maternal mortality rates. It also incorporates a number of health IT provisions.

Pro-Lifers will Kill if they must?

Pro-lifers will kill anyone that gets in their way. I'm serious. And that's their disconnect with reality and what makes everyone of them look so clueless...they look dumb.

The arrogance of the religious right and its narrow vision of pro-life has always baffled me. Thankfully, everyone is now listing actual pro-life issues like health care, clean air, clean water, safe food, vaccinations, and climate change into the discussion, dumbfounding these one issue misinformed zealots who don't seem to understand the consequences of their actions. 

This Piers Morgan moment says it all, and should made standard practice for anyone confronted by such emotionally disconnected people:  


Speaking to pro-life guest Becky Gerritson, host Piers Morgan questioned her about why she doesn't believe a rape victim should have the right to terminate a pregnancy. He added: "Do you support the death penalty?"

When Becky said that she did, Piers continued: "So you aren’t actually pro-life then. You take life left, right and center. Life is life. Alabama legally takes people's lives when they do things wrong."

Becky responded, "One is in punishment for a crime and it’s justice, it’s completely different. I have a right to carry a gun and I do carry a gun at times and I hope that I never have to use it."

Piers Morgan asked, "You would shoot someone if you had to?"

Becky said she "absolutely" would.

Piers: "People in Alabama would take life with guns, they would take life with executions, and yet they want us to think that if a woman is to have an abortion if they are raped or get impregnated through incest is because you are pro-life, I get it."

The Rise of Faux Think Tank Research in the rubble left by Scott Walker and Trump!

Faux research and analysis now has market in Trump believers everywhere. The alternative world of resentful politics is expanding in Wisconsin. Thinking they were pretty damn smart, the GOP lawsuit mill Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty took their legal successes in front of right wing activist courts and decided to make even more money as a think tank pushing fake research and policy "ideas" that don't make any sense.

Unable to start, compete, and grow on their own, WILL in the beginning accepted a political special interest handout that made them a think tank arm of the right wing Bradley Foundation: 
With the help of a $500,000 grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, WILL launched as a law firm ... now includes research and advocacy arms and employs 18 attorneys, researchers, writers and other staff, plus two contracted advisers ... receiving a $1 million grant from the Bradley Foundation to launch its Center for Competitive Federalism. 

SEVEN REFORMS TO LOWER COSTS AND INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

Let's takes a look at WILL's "nibbling around the edges" ideas, that will do nothing to lower health care costs. Eventually, everything below would be exploited by insurers and the health care industry to increase profits on the sick and dying. My comments are in red:

1. Direct Primary Care – (DPC) offers one of the best avenues to cut out the costly insurance middlemen and allow patients and doctors to decide on care through transparent, up-front prices. In this system, clients pay a monthly fee to a DPC provider for the majority of their health services. 
Reality: This assumes you'll always be in the area where your DPC's are located. Seriously? 
2. Create a Dental Therapy License – The creation of a dental therapy license (less than a dentist but more than a dental hygienist) could increase access and lower the cost of routine dental care, particularly in rural Wisconsin where access to dental care is lacking.
Reality: Plain and simple, this lowers standards and care for the sake of lower prices. Yup, nice trade off there.
3. Free Speech in Medicine – Doctors and patients deserve to have all the information necessary when deciding care but the FDA prevents pharmaceutical companies from freely providing information on off-label uses of prescription drugs. 
Reality: For profiteers! This would allow drug companies to claim almost anything to sell more drugs, make more money. It also assumes doctors don't already know about off-label uses, which is just not true. 
4. Take full advantage of Short-Term Limited Duration Plans –The Affordable Care Act created uniform insurance regulations that eliminated much of the variety of insurance coverage. But not everyone needs, or even wants the same coverage. Short-term limited duration health plans are a flexible, low-cost alternative that consumers deserve access to. In some cases, these plans can be offered for 90 percent cheaper ...Wisconsin should match the federal government and allow consumers to purchase up to three years of coverage.
Reality: This brings back preexisting conditions, and if you get sick on your cheap insurance, get ready to payout that huge deductible first before any insurance payout. WILL is pushing what the industry calls JUNK POLICIES. What a "reform" plan.
5. Take full advantage of healthcare freedom in U.S. Territories –Other US states are subject to the same onerous restrictions as Wisconsin under Obamacare ... since 2014, US territories have been exempted from many of the more onerous parts of Obamacare ... Wisconsin citizens ought to be able to purchase those insurance plans if they happen to fit their needs.
Reality: "Freedom" and "Onerous restrictions?" Oh, you mean getting rid of mandating coverage for preexisting conditions? Last time I looked, Republicans copied the Democrats and ran on protecting preexisting conditions...until now of course. "Onerous."   
6. Reform Retroactive Eligibility for Medicaid – Controlling the cost of Medicaid without compromising care is critical. Wisconsin should remove any incentive for those eligible for Medicaid to avoid enrollment until after a medical procedure. Nearby states such as Iowa and Indiana received waivers from the federal government to implement this change. While this could potentially lead to a savings for the state—Iowa estimates it’s savings at $36 million in the first year—the more important reason is that enrollment could get people to the doctor sooner for more preventative care that could improve health outcomes.
Reality: This is intentionally cruel and a solution looking for problem. Let me understand this; people wait to get free BadgerCare until their sick, because...it's free? I can't wrap my head around this Republican "savings" on  the backs and lives of Wisconsinites. A WTF moment is there ever was one. 
A few Final Thoughts:

1. WILL pretends we didn't go through this all before the ACA became law. 

2. Cheap insurance reduces what insurance companies make...how long do you think they will stay cheap? I experience this in my 20's and 30's, and premiums skyrocketed and deductibles increased. 

3. Cheap insurance means everybody else with full coverage plans will pay more to make up difference. 

4. Nothing above actually lower insurance, or health care prices, or covers people who travel in state or out of state. 

5. Does nothing about increased high deductibles for employers either. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cruisin' with the Walker's, Dairy Farmers losing under Trump's Tariffs, Low GOP State Revenues, Student Debt, and European Socialism.

If you haven't noticed, it's sometimes taken me a week to eventually crank out a few blog posts. There are so many bad things going on, so many problems, and so much gas lighting that it's now almost impossible to focus on just one thing.  

If anything, Scott Walker gave bloggers here in Wisconsin a head start on what the real Republican agenda was all about; in your face raw naked power. Surprisingly, we found out Republicans never wanted to solve our growing local and national problems, they simply wanted to roll out their alternative vision of reality, where unproven theories solve everything.

The "Scott Walker" name is now a brand that he's marketing like Trump, pushing the same cliche'd horrors and fallacies their cult like voters lazily accept as gospel. Think Walker's cruise is another free-be for him and his family?
________________________________________________________________________________________


Digging through the avalanche of stories, here are a few that need so much more attention...

1. Dairy Farmers: I've been harping on this for years, wondering why rural voters supported Republicans when they got nothing back and no support under the excuse of "small government." Walker, who had no clue about dairy farming, even advanced laws that exacerbated the over supply of milk now, allowing larger corporate farms (CAFO's) that disadvantaged small dairy, record bankruptcies, suicides, and no solutions in of all places, "America's Dairyland." This borders on criminal.


Here's another story...:



Or the idea that farmers care more about
securing corporate intellectual property than their own family businesses and generational farms...seriously? These red state governors in Nebraska, and Missouri are gas-lighting their constituents and should pay the penalty: 



2. Walker/GOP Economic Hype: Sure, if you think making one of the countries largest cuts to education is a good idea, trashing environmental regulation including banning references to climate change, and letting our transportation infrastructure go to hell, well then Republicans saved some money. Of course voters taxed themselves just to keep schools open, but go ahead, ignore that tax increase:


3. Student Debt Relief, Finally? Let's hope the following story isn't being too optimistic:


4. Justice and Liberty: Only in the alternative world of conservative politics can this be a dangerous piece of legislation:
AP- Democrats in the House approved sweeping anti-discrimination legislation, the Equality Act, Friday that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said it will bring the nation "closer to equal liberty and justice for all."

Sexual orientation and gender identity "deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations," Pelosi said.

Sexual orientation and gender identity "deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations," Pelosi said.
What denies religious freedom or "requires acceptance"? Individuals can always think what they want, but can't infringe on others, right? Of course, it's the end of the world according to the upside down thinking of one Republicans:

Republicans said the bill would jeopardize religious freedom by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexuality and sexual identity.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., called the legislation "grossly misnamed" and said it is "anything but equalizing." The bill "hijacks" the 1964 Civil Rights Act to create "a brave new world of 'discrimination' based on undefined terms of sexual orientation and gender identity," Hartzler said. The legislation threatens women's sports, shelters and schools, and could silence female athletes, domestic abuse survivors and other women, she said.
5. Trump/GOP war on Health Care: Rural Towns and Farmers Lose Hospitals: The greatest health care system in the world? Guess what...this is happening to conservative Trump voters. And who saw this problem coming, Democrats. It was requested in 2017 by then-Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and then-Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn:


"Babies are going to be dying," said longtime resident Darlene Doherty, who was at the coffee gathering. "This is a disaster." 

James Cosgrove, who directed a U.S. Government Accountability Office study about rural hospital closures, said the nation needs a better understanding of what the closures mean to the health of people in rural America, where the burden of disease — from diabetes to cancer — is often greater than in urban areas ... a follow-up study later this year on the fallout from rural hospital closures.

In 2002 when Mercy decided to build a new hospital, residents raised $1 million for construction. Another $1 million was given by residents to the hospital's foundation to upgrade and replace hospital equipment. But today, Mercy is a major health care conglomerate with more than 40 acute care and specialty hospitals ... Fort Scott's hospital is the second one in Kansas that Mercy has closed.

The GAO report found states that had expanded Medicaid had fewer of them. The GAO report also found that residents of rural areas generally have lower household incomes than their counterparts in bigger cities and are more likely to have chronic health conditions — such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity — that affect their daily activities. The county's premature birth rate is also higher than the 9.9% nationwide.
6. Rural Areas "Under-performing" thanks to lack of Broadband and Tariff affected Farmers:
Data revealed Thursday at MadREP’s “State of the Madison Region Economy” The findings included lessons that shouldn’t be lost on the rest of Wisconsin: “Our rural areas are significantly under-performing compared to Dane County,” said MadREP President Paul Jadin, who presented the region’s next five-year economic development strategy.

There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is the lack of robust broadband connections in parts of those counties, a farm economy that is suffering in some sectors – and a mix of opportunity and social factors that have contributed to rural out-migration in America for a century or more.
Democratic Socialism, the real Story: I've been meaning to post this story for a long time, so here's the link. Some of the concepts and individual parts could work in the US, benefiting Americans first, not just business. Some I like, some seem problematic knowing our system. Again, these are ideas...:

First, the Northern Europeans are focused on building strong national and local institutions that can make markets and drive societal benefits, not just change policy. Cities like Copenhagen and Hamburg, for example, have created public asset corporations that dispose of publicly owned lands and buildings in ways that spur large-scale urban transformation, particularly around historic harbors and downtowns. The revenue from such regeneration is then used to fund infrastructure, affordable housing, and other societal benefits. These regeneration efforts show a mature balance between public- and private-sector interests—a stark contrast to the tax-break scramble over landing Amazon’s HQ2, or New York City’s Hudson Yards private megaproject.

Denmark and Germany have pioneered publicly owned and professionally managed corporations that are self-governed and self-financed and act in the interest of the broader public rather than a small group of private shareholders. 

The Northern Europeans ... use the nation-state to provide a platform for local market realities, political priorities, and social needs. The knowledge and decision-making capacity of the public sector is robust, with a steady supply of highly educated public servants across technical, environmental, social, and business fields. The supply stems from the free tuition public sector educational system (which also greatly benefits the private sector).

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Strict Constructionist Conservative Activist Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices ignore Constitution? Yup!

This was easy, at least for the radical left wing justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who seem focused on...the actual "constructionist" written language of the State Constitution. Go figure...:
Two of the liberal-backed justices on the court, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet, welcomed the plaintiffs’ argument the Legislature did not convene legally because no law existed giving them such authority. Dallet contended the only law that governs when the Legislature may meet refers to regular sessions, not extraordinary sessions. “Where is the law that tells us you can call this extraordinary session?” Dallet said. “And if you wanted such a law, why can’t the Legislature pass one?”

The state constitution says lawmakers can meet only when called into a special session by the governor or as "provided by law." State law does not explicitly describe extraordinary sessions.
Not a law. Pretty simple.

Still, Republicans seem to think legislative "scheduling," or being in a "non-stop meeting," or "they can hold meetings at anytime," or "have the power to establish a schedule that is 'broad and amorphous' if they want," is just like having a law:
Legislators are allowed to hold extraordinary sessions ... they can hold meetings at any time ... lawmakers effectively were in a nonstop meeting for two years, with the lame-duck session an extension of a meeting that began in January 2017.
Strict Constructionist Activist Conservative Justice Exposed, and now confused? Constructionist's always argue they aren't political. So why don't supposed liberal judges claimed they're strict constructionists? Put another way, our conservative activist Justices, who wouldn't think twice about overturning decades of settled law, are now whining that after so many years it would seem crazy to declare extraordinary sessions unconstitutional...you can't make this stuff up:
As League of Women Voters attorney Jeffrey Mandell stood to begin his arguments in the case, he was cut off immediately by conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley. "You are asking this court to rule that the Wisconsin Legislature has been acting unconstitutionally for over four decades," Bradley told Mandell. "How can that be? Don't you find it extraordinary that nobody has raised this issue before this court in over four decades?"
Real strict constructionist thinking there huh? Also, I found it extraordinary and not so "constructionist" to overturn a century of Second Amendment law and giving corporations First Amendment speech and religious rights, but that's me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Farmers won't be "biggest beneficiaries" of Trump's Tariff Trade War.

"Our Great Patriotic Farmers" never had anything to do with the US trade war with China. Farmers were thrown into the front lines of this tariff war via politics so China could hurt Trump's voter base.

This was all Trump's fault, and the press isn't shining a bright enough light on this. 

And yet, not even Trump seems to be aware this, as revealed here in one of his latest tweets. No, they will not "be one of the biggest beneficiaries."


Socialist Farm Subsidies? Yes: So our tax dollars are now going to be distributed again to farmers because they vote Republican? Remember, most of the subsidies went to large corporate farms, and what subsidies did go to smaller farmers were a drop in the bucket compared to their actual debt. Here are some of the twitter comments...
1. The Chinese buyers will find other suppliers so Trump better be ready to pay off the farmers forever! 

2.  You made it worse for the farmers not better! RESIGN. ... Meh. Farmers voted him in. Let them reap what they sowed. Maybe they’ll do a little research before they cast their next vote.

3.  “Patriot Farmers?” Or as the GOP would have called them if the Democrats had created this mess “Welfare Kings.”

4.  1. U.S. companies pay for tariffs; then taxpayers pay tariffs when those companies pass on the costs to consumers. 2. Hoping to be seen as a savior, you've now created a Socialist program for farmers that taxpayers will also pay for. And here's the rub: Trump pays NO taxes. 

5.  I just checked: China owns more than $1.1 Trillion in U.S. Govt debt. In other words, they are lending us the money (at interest of course) to pay Welfare for Farmers.
Note: Tariffs have also hiked farm equipment prices to unsustainable levels do to tariffs on steel and aluminum:
Brent Bible, a farmer, has nowhere to sell his soybean and corn crops. And that situation just got worse, because the futures trading market started planning for higher tariffs earlier this week, Bible said. "Just in the last three days of trading, we've seen the price reduction that equates to about a $50,000 loss for us," he added.

Bible isn't just running a business, he's also a consumer, and increased tariffs on steel and aluminum have raised prices on tractors and farm equipment he needs. As both a supplier and a consumer, he says tariffs are hitting him on both ends.
Trump, friend of the farmer voter base? Not so much:
Trump’s budget cuts would lower federal subsidies for crop insurance and small growers. The spending plan for 2020 he submitted for Congress would reduce subsidies for crop insurance premiums to 48 percent from 62 percent and limit current subsidies for growers who make less than $500,000 annually.
Trump will leave farmers with...?
"If the trade conflict with China continues much longer, it will likely leave lasting scars on the entire agricultural sector as well as the overall U.S. economy," Amanda Countryman, an associate professor of agricultural economics at Colorado State University, wrote for the Conversation in 2018.
And then there's this:
This latest round of tariffs will add another $500 a year in costs for the average American household, says Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis. And that could grow. "Once the tariffs go onto cellphones, I mean then you're going to see people scream," she says.
More...
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office list “covers essentially all products” not already affected by punitive tariffs … It includes laptop computers, saw blades, turbine parts, tuna and garlic. The USTR noted it excludes pharmaceuticals and rare earths minerals used in electronics and batteries.

Friday, May 10, 2019

GOP limits on Unemployment Insurance Benefits helped lower rate artificially, at workers expense.

On unemployment, we've got a problem. Our meddling career politician Scott Walker, who still can't get over losing his job, has been doling out horrible advice to Gov. Tony Evers and the Rhode Island governor. He can't stop bragging about the unemployment numbers he got thanks to Obama's recovery plan after the Republican Great Recession.

Oh, and Medicaid isn't a "welfare" program, it's a national health care insurance plan:


Making Unemployment Insurance Impossible to Get or Keep: Walker did everything he could to discourage and drop workers from their unemployment benefits. Other states went even further. Here's public radio's Marketplace report exposing the scheme to lower unemployment numbers, something Scott Walker exploited:



Here's are a few changes Walker put in place that are now being targeted by Gov. Evers for elimination or change:
1. One-week waiting period to qualify for unemployment benefits. 

2. A provision that makes people ineligible for benefits if fired for what the law defines as “substantial fault,” or failure to conform to a “reasonable” employer job policy ... recent court cases found it was improperly used to deny unemployment benefits to eligible applicants. 

3. The administration has authority to define the types of job offers a person can reject and remain eligible for benefits.

4. Eliminating requirements adopted in 2015 that applicants submit to drug testing to receive jobless benefits. The most sweeping of those requirements has not yet taken effect due to federal delays.

5. If someone has more than one job and quits one of them, they are now ineligible to collect unemployment for the next year if they’re laid off from another job.
The changes were part of a scheme to cut business contributions into the insurance program and artificially make the numbers lower to look like we didn't have a problem in the eyes of the federal government. It worked too. Here's a link to Wisconsin efforts and other state's cuts to unemployment eligibility.

With a minimum wage of $7.25 and tough unemployment insurance requirements that include work requirements and drug testing for food and housing benefits, is it any surprise Wisconsin has a labor shortage and out migration problem. 

Wis GOP hands out Taxpayer money for Corporate Welfare without any expectation of creating Jobs!!!

If the WEDC were handing out social "welfare" benefits, Republicans would be demanding either the end of the agency or major cuts to staffing and funding. 

But the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), another Scott Walker idea that he was actually removed from, is corporate welfare at it's most irresponsible, what's not to like. And a big taxpayer money loser too. Remember that Friday on May 22, 2015...

Scott Walker gets Pink Slip, booted as WEDC Chairman by GOP Legislature!

Call it bad optics, but Scott Walker just got fired by his own party in the legislature. He's out as the WEDC chairman, a dysfunctional agency that bumbled job and business creation. Not a great story for someone hoping to run the whole damn country. WKOW's Greg Neumann:



Things haven't changed much at the WEDC. Gov. Tony Evers proposed ending it once, but the GOP lame duck session took his power away, allowing right wing think tanks to call it a broken promise. 
During his campaign for governor, Evers said he planned to dissolve the quasi-public agency and return to a fully public model. A set of laws passed by the Republican Legislature during a lame-duck session in December gave lawmakers greater influence over WEDC and gave the WEDC board, not the governor, the authority to appoint the agency's CEO. Evers' power to appoint a CEO will be restored in September 2019.
Here are just a few new details from the Legislative Audit Bureau, an agency the Republicans wanted to eliminate because it continually made them look bad. It still is...:
1. The economic development corporation in recent years gave $61,000 to one entity for creating 261 jobs that were filled by people in 36 other states, none of them bordering Wisconsin, according to the review.
2. In another case, WEDC gave $462,000 in tax credits to an employer that lost 17 jobs, even though it was supposed to create employment under its deal with the state. Auditors did not name the company or others they mentioned in their report.

3. WEDC failed to determine how many jobs were created by companies that got state funds and tax credits, the audit found.
4. WEDC could have recovered $414,000 in tax credits and $4 million in loans for those projects but didn't, the audit found. "These taxpayer funds could then have been used to support other projects," the auditors wrote.
Kinda makes tells you what the agency was tasked to do all along, doesn't it:



Walker falls for Wall Street Journal opinion spin on Business Tax because of Medicaid Expansion.

Well if you believer everything you read in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal, like Scott Walker, than you're not just a sucker and easily mislead, but you're more likely to post this ill conceived Tweet:


Can't believe he was governor...

This fits into Walker's one-sided view that businesses, not people, come first.The flaw in Walker's "thinking" is this; money, not people, come first for business. So employees lose both ways, kind a what we're seeing in Wisconsin right now.

It's the free market version of socialism. In other words, Walker is blaming Medicaid expansion for raising taxes on big businesses...who shifted the cost of insuring employees to state taxpayers all the while Republicans make it harder to get Medicaid. This is convoluted enough where your typical low information Republican voter won't bother thinking about it. Here's what happened:     
Provindence Journal: The report estimates the cost to the state of ensuring the Rhode Islanders working for the companies on the list is $44.4 million per year. Many of the biggest corporate names in Rhode Island ... has the most workers on public insurance

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to charge large companies a 10-percent tax (up to $1,500 per worker) on the wages of each employee receiving Medicaid. Nonprofit organizations and government employers would be exempt from the charge.
Pharmacy chain CVS, big box retailer Walmart, school bus company First Student and supermarket chain Stop & Shop. Rhode Island Hospital has more than 300 workers on Medicaid, as does Burger King, Krispy Kreme and Newport Creamery restaurants, (and) staffing agency Employment 2000.
"Free Market" Businesses Also Reacting to Skyrocketing Cost of Employee Insurance: Walker's narrow purely ideological focus prevents him from seeing the big picture, the real market pressures on business and their struggle paying for employee health plans year after year. Businesses have to increase deductibles just to hold onto employee insurance policies. From the looks of it, employer insurance is also on the verge of collapsing. From NPR:


A quiet revolution that's happened with health coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have coverage through an employer. These are the people who've seen deductibles rise astronomically — rising four times in the last dozen years from about $350 on average to $1,350 on average. In some cases, people are seeing $4,000, $5,000, even $6,000 deductibles that they have to pay out of their own pocket before their health insurance kicks in.

We talked to a 27-year-old chef in western Virginia trying to start a family with his young wife. His wife had a miscarriage. They got such huge medical bills he had to take two extra jobs and was working from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. some days. These are people with health insurance.

The growth of online charities and crowdfunding sources like GoFundMe is being driven in large part by people seeking to pay medical bills. And one of the amazing things about those people is that many of them have health insurance.
While Walker is backing up Sen. Scott Fitzgerald's and Rep. Robin Vos' refusal to take Medicaid expansion, Republican Rep. John Nygren has now dusted off the racially charged claim that health care is "welfare?"
Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, asked, “Why would we want to grow our welfare rolls? It makes no sense to me.”

But if the headline above doesn't change your mind, maybe the following will. It was no coincidence Republicans had a partisan report released just when Governor Evers took office claiming private insurance would increase. A clever trick since most research didn't include the private sector rates. Well...
A new report by an independent actuarial firm says expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin would lower premiums on the individual health insurance market between 7 percent and 11 percent.
ACA Inusrers give back after Excess Premium Increases: The following is a result of the "badly written" Affordable Care Act:

Individual market insurers are expecting to return to consumers a record total of about $800 million in excess premiums for 2018, a year in which the insurance companies posted their best annual financial performance, finds a new KFF analysis.

The rebates to more than 3 million eligible individual market consumers must be issued by September 30. They are the result of the insurance companies not meeting the ACA’s medical loss ratio threshold, which requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium revenues on health care claims or quality improvement activities. On average, premiums per enrollee in the individual market grew 26 percent from 2017 to 2018, to $559, while per person claims grew only 7 percent, to $392. 
 A final few notes;
Claims that the costs of Medicaid expansion have far exceeded expectations are overstated, misleading, and substantially inaccurate, based on a review of the credible evidence from either academic or government sources. Initially, states expected more “pent up demand” for delayed care than they actually experienced, and thus they paid Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) substantially more than was necessary. These excess capitation payments produced an initial jump in costs, but the government subsequently recouped almost $9 billion of that excess through contractual provisions with their Medicaid MCOs, and the federal government now estimates that per person costs for newly eligible recipients will decrease almost 20 percent from their 2015 payment levels. Newly expanding states will be able to contract based on this more solid actuarial data, and can learn from the contracting techniques piloted by other states.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Colorado school shooting 6th grader said: "...at least half the kids in my class broke into tears when it started happening."

Just when I thought Republicans won, and finally got the country desensitized enough to accept the inevitable next school shooting, this story and interview happened. 

Must Watch: Note the 6th graders reactions, something that should hopefully open a few peoples eyes. And remember that an 18 year old threw himself in front of a bullet to stop the shooter. It's heart wrenching stuff Republicans everywhere don't care about in the least. Phony freedom and guns, that's what counts. Thank the conservative activist Supreme Court for reredfining the 2nd Amendment:
Nate Holley, a 6th grader at STEM School Highlands Ranch on Wednesday spoke with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin about the moment two shooters opened fire at his school, describing how he kept his hand on a metal baseball bat because he “was going to go down fighting.”

In the heart-wrenching interview, Holley and his father Steve Holley, spoke about Tuesday’s shooting in Douglas County, Colorado, which claimed the life of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo — who lunged at one of the gunman as other students fled to safety — and injured eight others.
Nate Holley said this...
"It was incredibly scary during it, and at least half the kids in my class broke into tears when it started happening." 
That was not something I was expecting to hear...what is wrong with our country?




Freedom? Republican Rep. Thiesfeldt: "Some families know more about this (vaccines) than the Doctors do."

Of all things, Republicans have been taking "freedom" and weaponizing it into something dangerous.

It's nothing new for those who, like little children, don't like being told what to do. They've been doing this by denying climate change, rolling back environmental protections, ignoring 39,000 gun deaths a year, and now...leaving the spread of communicable diseases up to parents who of course know better than their DOCTORS about the "dangers" of vaccinations?

We're pushing "freedom" now instead of public health? No wonder gun deaths, pollution, and repealing health care doesn't even faze Republicans, who have some whacked out idea of "freedom." And those victims who lose all their freedoms?

Republican Rep. Jeremey Thiesfeldt, who opposes Rep. Gordon Hintz’s bill that would repeal the personal waiver exemption for vaccinations, actually said this...go to 2:25 into clip near the end. Upfront:
"...these people are very well studied on this stuff. Doctors, you know I said I'm not a doctor, but when these people talk to me, and they way more about this stuff than I do, and for me to be able to tell them, you are forced to get this, even though you have this vast knowledge on this, I suspect some families know more about this than the doctors do." 

No, families don't know more than their doctors, especially those who sought out and found alternative "facts" backing up their crazy idea's on Google from fellow anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists. This is what passes for governing?

Thiesfeldt, an anti-choice conservative, had the balls to say this...
Thiesfeldt: "I am not anti-vaccination, but I am pro-parental rights and responsibilities. One of the hallmarks of our medical society is informed consent, and being able to control your own health care decisions, and I believe this is going the wrong direction. We already have taken too much responsibility away from parents. There are few things more sacred than  being able to control your own health care, and I think this is a step too far." 
Or this important issue tossed off as irrelevant by Thiesfeldt:
Host Adrienne Pedersen: "What do you think about that theory that it is a parents choice, but not getting your child vaccinated is possibly making a choice for another person's child?"

Thiesfedlt: "As a parent, my responsibility is for my own children ... Having the government come in and force me to put something in my body or in  my child's body that I believe to be harmful ... There are too may variables involved for us to just look at it as a requirement that everybody needs to do this."
Pumping the "freedom" and resent level up a few notches, Thiesfeldt came out defending whiny parents who feel victimized for own irresponsible decision. Hey, decision have consequences:
Thiesfeldt: "And predominantly, when I have had families come in and talk with me about this particular situation, they will come into me and tell me the stories of how they have been characterized as uncaring, uneducated, labeled as anti-vaxxers, and nothing further from the truth could be the case.
Here's one uneducated and uncaring victim of his own and father's dumb ass decision, which by the way, raises the issue of Trump new enforcement of the "conscience clause"...

Jerome Kunkel, 18, a student at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Assumption Academy, said he has deeply-held beliefs against being inoculated with the chickenpox vaccine, NBC News reports. He sued the health department in March, and lost.

“The fact that I can’t finish my senior year in basketball, like, our last couple of games, it’s pretty devastating,” Kunkel said at the time. “I don’t believe in that vaccine at all and they are trying to push it on us,” Kunkel’s father, Bill Kunkel said. He noted the vaccine was created from the tissue of two aborted fetuses. "As Christians we’re against abortion,” he added. He also bragged that as children, “we used to go to chickenpox parties.”
Well, the Catholic Church gave it's blessing, with this sound reasoning:
National Catholic Bioethics Center notes: One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them.
Imagine if Trump's religious freedom/conscience clause denied you immediate needed treatment?
President Donald Trump during remarks on the National Day of Prayer, (announced he) finalized a new 440-page rule strengthening protections for healthcare workers who refuse to provide care that violates their religious or moral beliefs ... provides enforcement tools for 25 laws passed by Congress that are already on the books. "The regulation will allow anyone from a doctor to a receptionist to entities like hospitals and pharmacies to deny a patient critical — and sometimes lifesaving — care."
And no, doctor groups don't back Thiesfeldt's position:
Adrienne: Are you talking to any medical groups endorsing this? 

Thiesfeldt: "The doctors were in my office the other day at the capitol, as well. I have heard them in the past, as well. The impression is that all doctors agree on this. Most of them do, certainly, but they all do not. I have talked to doctors who have had vaccination issues with their own children and have doubts."
Do doctors have doubts? Sure they do, but do they think putting "freedom" ahead of public health is a sane idea?

Public Sanity Crisis, Vaccines Pushed by Communists: Reseachers have looked at how anti-vaxxers got so convinced. Surprise, it all starts with the juvenile attitude someone is telling them what to do: 
"Public confidence in vaccination is waning, driven in part by the manufacture of doubt by anti-vaccination activists and websites," writes a research team led by Isabel Rossen and Mark Hurlstone of the University of Western Australia. Their study aimed to determine who is vulnerable to anti-vaccination persuasion, and why. Rejecters and fence-sitters both scored high on the liberty foundation, meaning that both groups consist of people who really dislike being told what to do. The findings largely confirm those of a 2017 study in Nature Human Behavior, which found that parents who were very wary of vaccination were twice as likely to endorse the moral foundations of purity and liberty than those who accepted the practice.

The parents who are worried or sure about grave risks from vaccines reflect a broader horror that has flickered or flared in everything from the birther movement to “Pizzagate,” that nonsense about children as Democratic sex slaves in the imagined basement of a Washington pizza joint. Their recklessness and the attendant re-emergence of measles aren’t just a public health crisis. They’re a public sanity one, emblematic of too many people’s willful disregard of evidence, proud suspicion of expertise and estrangement from reason.

A Republican state Rep. in Arizona said on her Facebook page that pressure on parents to vaccinate children “is not based on American values but, rather, Communist.”

They fly ever more stubbornly in the face of sophisticated research and hard-earned knowledge. Beneficiaries of wisdom that prior generations lacked, they toss it away, wasting and mocking progress itself.
There’s also a man in the White House, at the Resolute Desk, who makes grand pronouncements based on random conversations; implores Americans to distrust traditional institutions and conventional sources of information; and promotes conspiracy theories. He has specifically echoed and validated the apprehensions of anti-vaxxers. Whether he’s symptom or cause doesn’t matter. He’s dangerous either way.

Times Magazine's Jonathan Mahler noted “a radical new relationship between citizen and truth.” He wrote that millions of people “are abandoning traditional sources of information, from the government to the institutional media, in favor of a D.I.Y. approach to fact-finding.” They turn to the internet, which is both a hall of mirrors and an overstuffed bazaar. It lets them customize their input and thus tailor their reality, which is reinforced by the like-minded company they keep online. They become surer that climate change is a hoax, that the deep state plots against the bold warriors who threaten it ... and they open the floodgates to so much fiction that fact is swept away.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Get ready for "Wisconsin's Lost Decade" thanks to Walker, Vos, and Fitzgerald: No Green New Deal, Pot, or Regional Business Corridor.

The Bad News: Scott Walker's Wisconsin will be with us for another very long 2 years, thanks to Republican control of the legislature, and their strict adherence to legacy or dying industries that depend on fossilized energy policies. We'll look back on these 10 years as "Wisconsin's lost decade."

It all came flooding back to me when I saw this headline:


The proposed law has common sense stuff in it, all things Wisconsin will miss out on for god knows how long:
Adults 21 and older to legally buy cannabis for recreational use from licensed dispensaries … possess up to about an ounce (30 grams) of marijuana ... non-residents about half an ounce (15 grams) … automatically expunge some marijuana convictions … a $20 million low-interest loan program to help defray the costs of starting a licensed cannabis business for “social equity applicants” in impacted areas with high rates of poverty, arrest and incarceration for marijuana offenses … $170 million from licensing fees ... 35% of revenue from legal cannabis would go to the state’s general operating fund, while an additional 25% would go into a new Restoring Our Communities fund.
Rep. Robin Vos, Wisconsin's self-anointed 2nd governor, does not want to join 10 other states, including Michigan and bordering country Canada. This is a new industry that would help stimulate the economy with new retail outlets and jobs.

Yes, fear mongering continues long past the laughable but apparently still relevant Reefer Madness way of thinking;

Scary stuff zombies, and we'll probably lose another 5-10 years of revenue and jobs, just like we did with hemp:
February 23, 2010 – Steps to legalize industrial hemp in Wisconsin are facing Republican oppositionAll Republicans on the Assembly Agriculture Committee recently voted against a measure passed by the Democratic majority, which would allow Wisconsin farmers to apply for permits to grow hemp.

Make no mistake, Republicans didn't have any science-based reasons for their opposition...just a lot of mindless excuses like..."dilute the agriculture industry? You can't make this stuff up:
State Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) says there are worries about the drug connotation of hemp, which could tarnish Wisconsin’s image. He says there’s also no infrastructure to support a market for the product. Ott says he understands farmers are struggling in the tough economy, but he doesn’t feel it’s time to dilute the agriculture industry.
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That's not all...Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Rep Robin Vos hated green energy until....

It's Ironic? Green New Deal/AOC/Democratic Agenda good for Capitalism after all?



In a previous blog post I wrote: The State Journal's conservative Tom Still revelation that clean green energy is "A-Ok" for capitalism was a stunner...Check out this line:
The irony is that parts of AOC’s “Green New Deal” already seem A-OK with trends well underway in the nation’s capitalist markets.
What the hell? I swear Still is messing with us...and it's working, especially after this:
Renewable energy sources; conservation strategies in manufacturing, construction and other sectors; “smart” power grids and transportation hubs; and the wise use of natural resources are all part of the U.S. economy’s general movement toward sustainability. It is happening, in large part, because it makes good business sense but also because government and academic research is generating new products and processes for market adoption.
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Walker Abandoned Regional Hub...Now it's a good Idea? Just yesterday, Tom Still once again changed his mind and
joined the Democrats with this incredible revelation:


NOTE: Remember, Walker and the GOP killed the high-speed rail corridor that would have created a business hub connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and eventually the Twin Cities. NOW, it's a good idea. Throw Foxconn into the mix, and how it too could have benefited...a Walker "legacy" fail:
JS: Gov. Scott Walker's election reversed some 20 years of planning, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, to extend Amtrak's Chicago-to-Milwaukee Hiawatha line to Madison, as part of a larger network of fast, frequent trains linking Chicago to the Twin Cities and other Midwestern destinations, leading to the loss of an $810 million federal stimulus grant. More recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation rejected the state's bid for $213 million for upgrades to the existing Hiawatha line.
After 8 years Tom Still now sees thing differently, agreeing with Democrats, but this time replacing high-speed rail with interstates:
My name for the region that includes Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and spurs north and west is the “I-Q Corridor.” The “I” stands for the interstate highways the “Q” suggests quality which aims to bring world-class digital innovation and expertise to the region. One glaring challenge is perception, which for some people is still trapped in Rust Belt imagery.
Evers' Foxconn renegotiation Destroys Credibility? Rep. Robin Vos said:
"He is not doing no harm. He is doing harm," Vos said. "Because if you are an investor that is thinking about building a hotel or bringing in a supplier to Foxconn, why would you ever consider doing it now that the governor has started saying the project is being undermined?"
Oh really, does anyone remember train manufacturer Talgo's CEO in Milwaukee said after Walker and Republicans canceled their contract...


Not only that, the track maintenance Walker and conservative media whined about...
Urban Milwaukee: $50 million could have covered more than 30 years of estimated annual operating costs to run the new trains between Milwaukee and Madison ... Plus, the trains went to Talgo as part of the settlement, so Wisconsin ended up with exactly zero new train service, zero rail line construction jobs scheduled in the thousands, zero long-term train assembly jobs, along with 50 million bucks – – Walker’s need for partisan, self-serving headlines and anti-Milwaukee suburban votes ... helped him win the 2010 gubernatorial election.

All of which looks worse, as I pointed out the other day, since the Foxconn mega-factory ... cannot offer high-tech workers lured from Madison an easy, road congestion-free ride to Racine County’s convenient Sturtevant Amtrak station. Nor can Chicago residents who might be hired at the plant ride the Metro commuter train with a transfer to Racine at the end of the existing line in Kenosha, because Walker and Assembly Leader Robin Vos also killed Wisconsin’s coordinating regional transit authorities and a commuter train from Kenosha to Racine and Milwaukee – – all in service to the the road-builder lobby and a parallel, pro-car, anti-transit ideology.
Note: About Italian train manufacturer Talgo...this is what Walker said about giving Wisconsin taxpayer money to a foreign business...an attitude that changed dramatically with Foxconn:
Walker, along with Super Steel Chairman Fred Luber, who happens to have donated $13,000 to Walker over the years, attacked Barrett, with Walker accusing Barrett of using taxpayer money to “stab Wisconsin companies in the back,” while Luber added, “Mayor Barrett and Gov. Doyle don’t understand the damage they have done to Wisconsin companies like ours. They’ve used the very same tax dollars our company and employees pay to dole out work to foreign companies.”