Friday, March 22, 2019

Trump threatens Universities with Big Government funding cuts to solve imagined Free Speech attacks on Conservatives.

Wisconsin Republicans created and then inserted themselves into the imaginary issue of liberal intimidation on our University of Wisconsin campuses. While there are rules already on the books (a phrase right wingers use often) to deal with free speech on campus, Republicans like the power of "big government" to threaten and expel anyone exercising free speech rights they don't agree with.  

Trump is now using the most powerful office in the country, the presidency, to cut funding to universities on a national level, by taking one small incident and using that to severely harm any college targeted by the right wing. In other words, colleges will take the blame for an individual's actions on their campuses.

I'm going to let the words of one enlightened Republican, believe it or not, Sen. Lamar Alexander, to sum up what Democrats and others see as an obvious problem:
Trump's order, titled “Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities,” (is) aimed at “professors and power structures” who try to keep young Americans “from challenging rigid, far-left ideology.”  

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN): “I agree that colleges should punish hecklers who veto free speech, and stop coddling students to protect them from disagreeable points of view. But I don’t want to see Congress or the President or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus. The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in. Conservatives don’t like it when judges try to write laws,* and conservatives should not like it when legislators and agencies try to rewrite the Constitution.”
*NOTE: Actually, conservatives do like it when judges write laws that side with them. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Idea's for a New Camp Randall sculpture?

Note: Here's a little background, and a picture of the current sculpture...
Nails’ Tales, the towering obelisk of footballs that has amused, irked and offended visitors to Camp Randall since it was installed in November 2005, could be going away.

As part of a plan to restore the outside of the landmark UW-Madison Field House and improve the plaza along its southwest side, the university is weighing whether to keep the 50 foot controversial sculpture ... “We don’t know what’s going to happen with the sculpture,” Gary Brown, director of campus planning and landscape architecture, said Monday. “It could stay. It could go. It could be relocated. We’re still talking about the whole thing.”

Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, 5th District, who represents the site and is a member of the committee, said. “I wouldn’t miss it. I do not know that anybody would. It continues to be the same conversation as when it was first placed there. It doesn’t seem to fit very well.”

Mayor Soglin then....

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Artificially Low Unemployment Benefits another Walker Scheme!!!

No wonder we have a hard time attracting labor into Wisconsin:
In 2014 Wisconsin increased the maximum rate for unemployment benefits — calculated as a percentage of what an employee earned before losing a job, up to as much as $370 a week. Evers wants to raise that maximum to $406 a week.

Evers administration officials said Wisconsin’s jobless benefit rate currently is less than most other states.
Here's why Gov. Evers wants the change:
The department “believes that individuals who lose work through no fault of their own shouldn’t have to worry about paying their bills,” spokesman Ben Jedd said.
 But wait, Republicans don't like this one bit. They intend to make people who lose their jobs feel uncomfortable? Yes:
Critics, meanwhile, fear the state could make it too enticing to claim jobless benefits.“We don’t want to make it too comfortable to remain unemployed,” said Scott Manley, senior vice president of the state’s business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.
You know, it's that old comfort level thing so many people have when they lose their job while still trying to feed themselves or their families and keep a roof over their heads. Lot of comfort there.

Again, Republicans are now openly saying the unemployed are lazy shiftless losers who have no value to society unless they're working, and Republicans need to "push people"..:
Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah, said increasing jobless benefits is unnecessary at a time when Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is just 3 percent. “We want people in the workforce now, particularly when jobs are plentiful. Let’s push people that can be working to be working.”
Walker/Republicans dipped their hands in Taxpayer Pockets to save Business Money: Check out the comment and the highlighted words below:
WMC's Manley, one of five management representatives on the state’s Unemployment Advisory Council said the council has helped keep Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance program stable and mostly uncontroversial, but Evers’ proposal threatens that balance.
That's funny, because under Scott Walker, Republicans came up with a scheme to deceptively moved taxpayer money around to keep unemployment benefit rates artificially low in Wisconsin for employers, it's called market manipulation. I blogged about this way back in Nov. 2015:

Scott Walker and the Republican legislature bailed out businesses in 2013, because they were on the hook for replenishing the unemployment fund.

From way back on July 11, 2013: Here’s what Walker put in place on our dime:
jsonline: Under changes to the state's unemployment insurance system adopted by the Legislature's budget committee Wednesday, taxpayers would spend $26 million over two years to prop up the unemployment fund, To avoid having employers face new assessments this year, the committee voted to use $26 million in general tax dollars to pay down interest on that loan.
Think that’s bad? Taxpayers will be used to scam the federal government. Republican will borrow our hard earned taxpayer dollars to shore up the unemployment fund so the fed won’t raise taxes on EMPLOYERS, the ones who actually fund the account.
Additionally, the committee proposal would allow the state Department of Administration to lend up to $50 million in taxpayer money to the unemployment insurance fund. That loan would help the state ensure that the unemployment fund has a positive balance in 2014, which in turn would keep the federal government from raising taxes on employers by $191 million in 2015.
But did taxpayers ever get the $50 million back? And then there's this Evers proposed change:
Eliminating 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. This standard has been the subject of recent court cases in which judges found it was improperly used to deny unemployment benefits to eligible applicants.
That was also part of the scheme mentioned above:
jsonline: Tighten the definition of workplace misconduct so that fewer people would qualify for benefits. Eliminate nine instances in which a worker can quit a job and still claim benefits.
But how about penalties for unintended unemployment application errors?
Bill targets unemployment fraud by prohibiting a person from receiving unemployment benefits for seven years if they have twice been found to have lied to the state to receive benefits passed the Republican Assembly 63-34.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Republicans are Bad at Capitalism!!!

I recently came across this tweet that strikes at the heart of what should be the debate:

Building on that list:

Bad at Capitalism #1-This is one reoccurring jaw dropper that is now normalized: Republican free market capitalism uses the government, the same government they hate want to get out of the way of business, to give out taxpayer funded state revenues to private businesses?

Bad at Capitalism #2-Republicans passed liability laws protecting business from capitalism's greed, corruption, bad products, and consumer lawsuits! They limited private sector attorney's fees too. Deregulation is really just new regulation against consumer interests and protections.

Bad at Capitalism #3-Wisconsin Republicans gave so much taxpayer money to Foxconn, they didn't have enough for Kimberly Clark's demand for cash.

Bad at Capitalism #4-Republicans against government interference actually praise and idolize "Art of the Deal" god Trump, even as he distorts markets by threatening private automakers, Harley Davidson, banned foreign tech companies, raised consumer taxes in the form of tariffs, gave us the biggest trade deficit in history, and gave business a huge tax cut forcing U.S. taxpayers to pay its bills by borrowing.

Bad at Capitalism #5-This is the BIG one!!! Republicans promoted a capitalism friendly deregulated Wall Street that crashed the global economy, the Great Recession, and wiped out hundreds of major retailers that employed tens of thousands of jobs.

Bad at Capitalism #6-The old switcheroo: Republicans realizing how bad at capitalism was to business without "socialist" protections, they turned capitalism's brutality loose onto the public...
Noam Chomsky: After the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior of Wall Street led to their collapse, it is a system which provided trillions in government aid to bail them out.” In other words, we now have socialism for the rich and free market capitalism for everyone else. This is a perverse inversion of the historical norm.
Bad at Capitalism #7-Republicans are now ignoring free market energy companies moving to clean energy:
Driven by investor pressure, growing public concern and mounting scientific urgency ... the fervor around the Green New Deal is accelerating this shift and accentuating Republicans’ isolation and their internal divisions ... Virtually all executives acknowledged climate change as a pressing issue and a few, including CEOs of major oil companies like BP and Equinor, implored the industry to do more and embrace big policy changes. (Some Republicans) likening the Green New Deal to genocide and responding to a question about climate change by explaining photosynthesis.
Bad at Capitalism #8-Republicans think their tax cuts will result in roaring free market business profits that will pay for lost government revenue and produce good paying jobs...

USA Today: The bottom line 2018 deficit number is significant because it occurred during good economic times, when the federal deficit typically falls rather than spikesAccording to the Monthly Treasury Statement for fiscal 2018, the year that just ended Sept. 30, the deficit was $779 billion — a $113 billion, 17 percent increase over the$666 billion deficit recorded last year.

This was the biggest one-year increase in the deficit since 2009, when the Great Recession wreaked havoc on federal finances. 

A simple analysis of what Treasury reported shows that virtually the entire deficit increase was because the tax cut enacted in December reduced revenues substantially.

And while Republicans push supposed capitalism and bash "socialist" areas of the state like Dane County and Madison, they should be thanking them for making the jobs numbers look really good;

The truth is Scott Walker did nothing but took credit for a recovering economy. And after looking at his mind numbing tweets, we can breath a little easier.

Capitalism and Millennials: "Malcolm Harris, an editor at the online magazine the New Inquiry, begins his book Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials," had this message:
What made millennials so burned out? Why are they having fewer kids? Why are they getting married later? Why are they obsessed with efficiency and technology?

And Harris' answer, in so many words, is the economy. Millennials, he argues, are bearing the brunt of the economic damage wrought by late-20th-century capitalism. All these insecurities — and the material conditions that produced them — have thrown millennials into a state of perpetual panic. If “generations are characterized by crises,” as Harris argues, then ours is the crisis of extreme capitalism.

I spoke to Harris about the case he lays out in the book, and why he thinks millennials will have to overthrow the system and rewrite the social contract if they want to meaningfully improves their lives — and the lives of future generations.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Republican right-wing funded "institutions" float fear and resentment with fabricated Medicaid Expansion report now being laughed at by experts.

Shocker? It looks like Scott Walker and the Republicans actually did expand Medicaid, but they just didn't take the federal money...the reality is just settling in:
JS-Guy Boulton: Former Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature already expanded the Medicaid program. They just didn’t take the federal money available to states to offset much of the cost.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country that expanded eligibility for its Medicaid program — the change made in 2014 ... That decision will have cost the state an estimated $1.1 billion in federal dollars through the current fiscal year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Just as outrageous, although many suspected this all along, Republicans made a decision after Evers election that they would collude with right-wing groups and "institutes" to spew out phony research just to muddy the waters and call into question any "liberal" Democratic policies coming out of the Evers administration.

It almost worked.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (backed with millions in grants from the Bradley Foundation (and) member of the State Policy Network, a web of right-wing “think tanks”) and UW economics professor Noah Williams (also funded by the Bradley Foundation) defended their phony study. They claimed "cost shifting" to everyone else's private insurance premium? It just wasn't possible. You can't make this stuff up:
There’s also a question about the study’s time frame. The study ended with data from 2014 — before any purported cost shift to private health plans could have occurred in most states. This means that any costs shifted to private insurers wouldn’t have appeared in the cost of health plans until 2016 at the earliest.

The expanded eligibility for Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act didn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014. Insurers typically negotiate three- to five-year contracts with health systems and other providers ... the price increases would not have been set until the following year, 2015. Insurers and employers who self insure, in turn, set premiums for their health plans for the following year in September or October.
Remember when Walker thought the federal government would end up not paying the 90 percent of the cost of expanded Medicaid? What study informed in of that? The federal government never missed a payment before that. Walker had mistaken the yearly federal changes to the percentage on the fed side as reneging on their promise. Walker is not a smart man, as we're finding out from his now clueless tweets.

But wait, there's more proof the report was pretty damn phony; hospitals most affected financially disagreed with the conclusions:
But studies show that expanding eligibility for Medicaid significantly improved hospital operating profit margins, according to an issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which does health policy research.

Further, hospital associations have pushed to expand eligibility for Medicaid in states that didn’t — and they presumably wouldn’t take that position if they thought it would increase their costs and force them to raise prices.
Then there's this caveat...
Neither Flanders nor Williams contend the study is perfect. “There are invariably assumptions that have to be made in every econometric analysis,” Flanders said.
...which embolden Republicans to claim the study as factual proof. A study by the way, that will make the rounds in other conservative states now. They don't do this stuff for nothing:
The study’s conclusions didn’t evoke any skepticism by the legislators — Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin; Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville; Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield; and Sen. Dave Craig, R-Big Bend, — who held the news conference to tout them.
Here's what I've been saying since this "study" came out:
Robert Laszewski of Health Policy & Strategy Associates, a health care consultant and Wisconsin native who has been a sharp critic of flaws in the Affordable Care Act:
“Why are we even having this discussion? The data is there. The studies are there. The practical information is there. When are these people going to give up and finally admit that forcing Wisconsin taxpayers to pay something the federal government has been begging to pay for is not smart policy?”

Friday, March 15, 2019

Tavern League don's have tantrum, recommends their Licensed Businesses to hold Weddings in "Vacant Storefronts!!!" No kidding...

Wanna know just how arrogant and out of control conservative organizations have become since Scott Walker and his band of plundering pirate Legislators took control of state government and gave them everything?

Case in Point- The Tavern League: Gov. Tony Evers and AG Josh Kaul don't think wedding barns need liquor licenses because the renters of the barns bring their own stuff.

But the "don's" at the powerful lobbying group Tavern League of Wisconsin don't like spirits to flow free without first funneling cash into their organization.

In a unexpected juvenile-like tantrum, the Tavern League gave marching orders to bars and restaurants to find someone who would have the wedding event of their lifetime in a "vacant storefront" or just some empty "room or hall" someplace. Yea, that'll happen:  
The Tavern League of Wisconsin is providing advice to its members on ways to avoid regulation after Evers' decision — including hosting events in vacant storefronts.
You gotta laugh. Whine, whine, whine....
"This will provide licensed establishments with an unlicensed (area) an opportunity to be a one-stop shop ...that do not have to comply with the laws of a licensed business. Simply amend your liquor license to exempt a room or hall from your license ... you can offer private events with no regulations. The provision would also apply to a vacant storefront in your community."
You can't make this stuff up.

Remember, this all stems from a supposed legal opinion from former AG doofus Brad Schimel who shaped law around the requests of special interests. Who can forget the time he declared high capacity wells off limits to DNR oversight, to any oversight at all. Not kidding:
The decision came after the Tavern League for years pushed former Gov. Scott Walker and now Evers to require such venues to obtain licenses ... "We are not going to sit back and watch business walk out the door," Tavern League lobbyist Scott Stenger said about the new advice. "We are going to evolve and compete on a level playing field." 
Evers, unlike Walker, is not a special interest patsy...
Stenger said Evers' decision marks a "sea change" that will "provide a whole new type of business and will provide value" to his members.
Even "free market" (they aren't really) conservatives were a little surprised:
The conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) President and Chief Counsel Rick Esenberg said, "The status quo has not changed in any way. The law ... remain the same. While it is disappointing that the Tavern League continues to ratchet up their rhetoric on this issue, it is not surprising." Esenberg said bars and restaurants "can certainly own spaces for private events but doing so will not allow them to operate those places as a public facility or to sell liquor without a license.”
But despite the law...
The Tavern League's memo to bars and restaurants says bars and restaurants could provide alcohol and food for the private event because they cannot directly sell the alcohol, the memo reads.
But if that doesn't  work, the Tavern League threw in everything but the kitchen sink:
The memo also outlines rules that apply to licensed venues but not to private events, including having closing hours, adhering to the state's smoking ban and following fire code safety regulations.

Medicare-for-All explained!!! No more excuses...

There's a hope that with the Democrats in charge of the House, we're now going to get a full debate on all the different possibilities that would eventually form a Medicare-for-All system of national insurance.

And believe it or not, despite all the other industrialized countries having some kind of all payer systems, not one has resulted in a socialist collapse or communist takeover. That's right, NOT ONE, which should finally put to rest that ridiculous Republican talking point.

I have finally found a video clip that conservatives might watch, because it was on Fox Business. I know, there's still that attention span thing, but we can hope.

Medicare-for-All Explained, Finally: Guest Dr. Adam Gaffney took on every question the three Fox hosts could throw at him, even the dumb mindless illogical ones. Maybe this will finally convince conservative voters there's a better and less costly way for give everyone health care, and most importantly, save lives:

As I've mentioned before, an all-payer national insurance system would be a dream come true for every Republican, since you can keep your doctor, any doctor, and go to any hospital of your choosing, no networks. Isn't that real freedom?

Check out the answers below for even more Medicare-for-All questions, including how to pay for Medicare-for-All, the myth of "if you like your insurance plan you can keep it," a "global" payment system, the myth of having skin in the game with cost sharing, and keeping the employer side of insurance coverage payments to help pay for the national plan, in the likely event employers don't pass their savings on to their employees in the form of higher wages:
Voxcom: According to Matt Bruenig, who founded the People’s Policy Project:

1. The nature of a competitive insurance system is one of disruption where if you like your plan, you don’t get to keep it. The worst critique, the one that irritates me the most, is the argument about people losing their health care…people lose their health care all the time. They lose their health care every time they switch jobs … when their spouse dies, when they lose their job. Even if you stay in the same job, your employer might switch your health care at the end of the year. In fact, they’re supposed to be shopping around … You don’t get to decide. Your employer decides in many ways, whether to fire you or change the plan … it is objectively a bad argument to say, because people don’t like losing health care, we should maintain a system in which people lose their health care all the time.

2. Global budgeting, paying hospitals and other medical institutions a lump sum in advance instead of paying for every individual service. Canada has global budgeting, Maryland’s all-payer rate setting has global budgeting. Global budgeting may make providers less likely to overutilize health care because there’s less incentive than you would have in a fee-for-service system to just charge and charge and charge and perform unnecessary care.

3. Any tax you use is going to make low earners pay more than they currently pay because they don’t pay anything. My idea is to completely overhaul the whole payroll tax system … The first dollar of earnings is hit with the full unemployment tax, the full Social Security tax, the full Medicare tax. So let’s squeeze all of those into flat taxes. Instead of charging 6 percent on the first $7,000 of earnings, you can knock that down to less than 1 percent on all earnings. You can do that with Social Security as well. Knock that down and apply it to all earnings. Medicare would be unchanged.

That then opens up a higher Medicare tax without there being a net tax increase. Because their unemployment and Social Security tax has gone down substantially you can do a flat Medicare tax and the net effect is it’s all falling on people making more than $100,000 a year. It’s the lower-income people who don’t pay premiums — how do you protect them from a tax rise? I think fixing the payroll taxes does that.

4. The idea is if employers no longer have to provide insurance then they’ll pass through the savings to the workers or maybe they won’t, right? To moot the question, we’re going to require employers to pay contributions into Medicare-for-all that are at least on average equivalent to what they were paying now in private health insurance premiums. It’s applied on the employer side before the money is paid out to the workers. The incidence of employer-side payroll tax is supposed to be basically the same thing as the incidence of private insurance premiums.

5. You’re going to have unnecessary deaths if you have cost-sharing. You’re going to have unnecessary spending if you don’t. I don’t know how you balance that. It seems to me the best approach would be to rely very little on cost-sharing … In general, I don’t think people like going to the doctor. If you make it free, people are going to overutilize it. It’s not like chocolate cake or something.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Vos' "no tax" blockade on Wisconsin's future.

The message has been mindlessly simple for years; cut taxes, cut spending, it's our money not the governments...etc! The conservative vision of government never made any real world sense.

What Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have been pushing is another version of The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR). It's meant to create a crippling effect, an arbitrary spending limit, so Republicans can put the state economy into fiscal paralysis for years. What ever happened to "spending money to make money?" Reinvesting it in our economy, paying down debt, and upgrading a crumbling infrastructure is not their thing. 

The GOP's ratcheting down effect starts with the idea that extra budget revenue is excess, and has to be sent back, what Republicans claim "is your money, not the governments." That's what happened when George W. Bush, who was lucky enough to have inherited a balanced budget from Bill Clinton, took "surpluses as far as the eye could see" and passed them out as tax cuts instead of paying down the nation debt...which approaching $20 trillion. 

And the Trump tax cut? We now know that none of the following predictions panned out:
The most substantial tax overhaul since the Reagan years has sparked ... at least 285 companies announcing wage increases, bonuses, and higher 401(k) matches for 3 million workers. Utility companies are reducing rates in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Nope. Here's a thought that makes so much sense...:
Reductions in taxes deepen the amount of government debt and increase the leverage of the wealthy over any nations politics. Such tax cuts also straight-jacket government, reducing its ability to deliver the expected goods to popular majorities. Moreover, hikes in taxes and fees paid by the working classes are used to make up for tax reductions on the wealthy. Therefore, the more many Americans pay, the less they seem to get in return, fueling their increasing distrust and disgruntlement about the role of government in their lives. 
The GOP's Far Right Freeloader Class is Proud of their "Pay Later" Policies: Assembly leader Robin Vos continues to deny the voters changing priorities. In this video clip from Upfront, Vos' "no tax" obsession defies common sense and debate, straitjacketing the state's ability to move forward. But it does preserves the GOP's political ideology in amber, just like those pesky prehistoric insects.

There's an answer to "there's not enough money in the checkbook;" stop cutting taxes and reinvest now. While some are discussing a "basic income" for future generations that will be paid less and lack benefits, Vos is blissfully unaware of these concerns, all the while strapping our kids with even higher taxes. But then it's not his problem:

Note: Vos claims "I would prefer tax cut for everyone who pays taxes." Well, Gov. Evers' proposal to cut just the middle class tax bracket would also go to the wealthy, so Vos Republicans continue to mislead their constituents playing them for suckers. Remember when we found out rich Mitt Romney paid an effective tax rate of 14 percent tax.

I think someone can't get over his party losing the governors race. Wisconsinites now want to try it Evers' way. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Shire Walls proposed for Middle Earth!!!

As Stan Lee would say, "nuff said."

Is it Tony Evers' "Liberal" agenda, or just popular 21st Century Ideas and Solutions?

When you solve an ever day problem, have you ever classified that solution as liberal or conservative. Nope.

And that's where I've been for years, an apolitical problem solver.

Sure, you've seen me attack Republican policy because what they're doing is strictly partisan. Plus it's a criticism of right wing messaging and framing that dominates how things are reported. It's a tactic to vilify policy.

This is what I'm talking about...labeling popular and legitimate fact based solutions as "liberal" policies?

I don't recall ever reading what Walker and the Republicans did as "conservative" policy?

We are now automatically describing everything from a conservative point of view, and shuddering at the thought of extreme "liberal" ideas. The truth...

Just ask a "stand with Walker" voter to name one major state problem he solved as governor. Walker  passed every "conservative" political theory on his check list, but ignored real problems. It's a mind boggling list Walker just flat out didn't think was important to his agenda;
The veteran homes problem, polluted drinking water problem, youth prison problem, transportation problem, state parks funding problem, health insurance problem, school funding problem, rural broadband problem, dairy farm bankruptcies and over supply problems, fossil fuel problem, CWD problem, breathtaking taxpayer handouts to billion dollar big businesses problem...these are the states biggest problems.
Now a Twitter troll, Scott Walker continues to brag about his tax cuts, tax cuts that were eaten up by referendums, car repairs, tariff war prices, climate change cleanups, and rising health care costs. Thanks?

Better Than Gerrymandering, Pt 1...

Wisconsin Low Wage Island in the Midwest, while Right-wing Funded UW Professor uncovers Alternative Facts!!!

Remember Scott Walker's wasted taxpayer funded ad campaign to attract job seekers to Wisconsin
$6.8 million marketing and advertising campaign aimed at Midwestern millennial's, returning military veterans and alumni of the state’s public and private colleges … promote the state’s industry mix, recreation, education, arts, health care.
What didn't get any attention at all was this striking minimum wage reality that would make anybody think twice about coming here:

Guess we're not going to be seeing caravans of unemployed millennial's crossing the southern border of our state anytime soon.

Evers proposed gradual minimum wage hike to $15 is once again, according to Republicans, a business disaster and job killer. Yet there's living proof that didn't happen in Washington state:
Seattle, since 2014 ... shows that workers made more money— but that experienced workers made out the best. The study found that the increase added about $10 per week on average ... even while reducing weekly hours slightly...

Employee turnover decreased ... at the cost of reduced opportunity for the inexperienced," the study's authors wrote. (But)...The Economic Policy Institute says problems with the study haven't been fixed ... Since it defines "new entrant" as someone making less than $15 an hour ... the study would count someone who got hired at $16 or $17 an hour as a lost job instead of a better one.
Enter the UW's new Alternative "Facts" Research Facility? But wait, Republicans have a UW-Madison professor up their sleeve now. The talk show Upfront never mentioned this about Prof. Noah Williams, who's featured in their story on the minimum wage below:
Williams is director of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy, established in July. Funding for the center includes $240,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation and $100,000 from the Bradley Foundation ... Williams was an adviser to Walker’s presidential campaign, the Associated Press reportedWilliams published a report concluding that another existing tax credit backed by Walker helped grow manufacturing jobs in the state. 
Williams’ analysis of the controversial Foxconn plant proposal concluded that the high-tech plant could return nearly $4 for every $1 of a proposed $3 billion state tax subsidy... 
How's that Foxconn deal turning out Noah?

First, anyone notice a distinct research pattern from Williams that seems to always come up GOP positive, like this from last week trashing Gov. Evers plan to expand Medicaid (BadgerCare):
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 ... a conclusions (that) 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” ... pointed to mathematical errors and problems with the study’s conclusion that health care spending is higher in Medicaid expansion states. Friesam added most economists reject the reasoning that private sector health care costs would increase...
Getting back to the Upfront video clip, conservative special interest lobbyists at the Wisconsin Restaurant Association had the balls to whine about this...:
Wisconsin Restaurant Association: " it's always concerning to our members when they hear the government is going to artificially raise the rates..."
Hold on, wages have flat-lined for decades, yet big business just got a major Trump corporate tax cut along with multiple tax cuts for the wealthy. Nothing artificial about that government action?

I am the proud father of 2 sons, 16 and 20, and I blow a gasket every time I hear a Republican devalue their incredible lives by saying that because they lack inexperience, they aren't worth a decent wage. 

My 16 year old, who recently started a weekend food service job, registered surprise when he saw $400 in his own checking account, money he made. It was that moment when I realized; like everyone else, once you get a taste of earning an income, you want to work harder and make more. That's human nature, that's the real motivation, not a mandated government work requirement by a Republican who doesn't think young workers are worth it.  

Friday, March 8, 2019

Reasonable Gun Regulation cuts down on Mass Shootings!!!

I'd like to send out a challenge to most gun supporting conservative voters; make sense of and explain what the following ideas mean when arguing against any attempt to reasonably regulate guns.

Let's start with the real enemy of empty platitudes, "resource wasting knowledge" and studies that "don't add anything." Note: Fortunately, Lott's book "More Guns, Less Crime" wasn't titled "More Guns, Less Mass Shootings":
1. John Lott, a controversial researcher whose book “More Guns, Less Crime” downplayed the role of federally funded research ... “It’s important that we don’t waste valuable resources on studies that don’t add anything to our knowledge,” he said.
Avoid "quick fixes and simple solutions" that would saves lives now, because it would just create political anger and division? You can't make this up...:
2. The subcommittee’s ranking member Republican Rep. Tom Cole's open(ed) with a paean to “true freedom from despotism,” which he implied could only be achieved through gun ownership. And he appeared to refer to federal investigation of gun violence of the kind Democrats support as “quick fixes and simple solutions” that would only worsen political divisions.
Still, Gun Regulation isn't perfect, so lets change...Human Nature First?: That means waiting for these gun toting neanderthals like Cole and Lott to evolve. Still, "broader and more inclusive" does not include quick fixes like background checks and banning high velocity weapons:
3. “More funding for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will not, by itself, solve our systemic problems. Our response must be broader and more inclusive,” Cole said. 
A "Broader" response oddly means ignoring guns, but debating the topic of Mental Health:
4. To that end, he stressed the importance of mental health funding. Supporters of gun rights often argue that psychiatric maladies, not guns, are at fault for gun violence. Statistics, however, indicate that the only factor that correlates with America’s extraordinary incidence of mass shootings is the rate of gun ownership. Other countries with similar rates of mental illness have many fewer mass-shooting events.
New Study on Mass Shootings proves regulation saves lives:  
The new study on mass shootings, in particular, seems to call into question whether guns do make people safer. That does not appear to be the case on the whole, according to the study, “State gun laws, gun ownership, and mass shootings in the US: cross sectional time series,” published in the British Medical Journal and authored by researchers from Columbia University, New York University and other institutions.

Gun rights advocates have long held that mass shootings could only be prevented by the proverbial “good guy with a gun.” But the new study finds that, in fact...

1.  States with less restrictive gun laws are more likely to experience mass shootings, defined as a shooting in which four people or more were killed. “States with more permissive gun laws and greater gun ownership have higher rates of mass shootings,” the researchers conclude. “There is a growing divergence in recent years as rates of mass shootings in restrictive states have decreased and those in permissive states have increased.”

2. The worst shooting in American history — the murder of 58 people at a country music concert in Las Vegas — took place in a state, Nevada, with a notorious lack of restrictions on gun ownership. The second-deadliest shooting — that claimed the lives of 49 at a nightclub in Orlando — happened in another state, Florida, known for its gun-related permissiveness.

3. The researchers also find a clear correlation between looser laws, the resultant increase in gun ownership and the subsequent rise in mass shootings. “A 10% increase in gun ownership was associated with an approximately 35% higher rate of mass shootings after adjusting for key factors,” they found.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

History, Corporate Tax Incentives, and the State Constitutional Gift Clause collide with Scott Walker's economic theories.

As it turns out, history had already determined that state handouts to attract and keep businesses was a horrible idea, so bad in fact many states amended their Constitutions to prevent those mistakes from ever happening again in the future.  

After reading the Cap Times article "Where to now with Foxconn? It won’t leave Wisconsin, but it won't build what it promised," where every paragraph revealed another strange twist or failure, I had to look up why Scott Walker and his band of plundering Republicans pirates liked the idea of state corporate handouts so much. Not surprisingly, their actions weren't based on anything I found in the real world, it was simply pure ideological theory. Look at how much money we're losing, and how few jobs they're creating...

That's what $590 million buy us? 

Let's do a little research our Republican majority didn't bother to do with Foxconn or the manufacturing tax credit:
Citylab: Timothy Bartik of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, who is perhaps the leading student of incentives and economic development, has a new report that provides the most detailed assessment of incentives across states and their effects on economic development. His database contributes a useful tool for state and local economic developers and others to take a hard look at incentives, what they cost, and whether they are worth it or not ... thanks to Bartik’s tool, you don’t have to take my word for it.

“Incentives do not have a large correlation with a state’s current or past unemployment or income levels or with future economic growth,” Bartik writes. Incentives are not the result of economic or fiscal conditions but reflect state politics and past practices. In other words, some states like to give away more money to business than others—for no obvious economic reasons.
That would be the manufacturers tax credit, resulting in no noticeable new job creation and a loss of much needed state tax revenue:

State Incentives Negative Impact: Research has been telling us this for years, it's only Republicans who believe in tax cut magic:
A 2002 study of some 350 companies that received incentives found a negative effect on their ability to create jobs. Companies that received incentives expanded more slowly than others, and the overall effect of incentives was a reduction of 10.5 jobs per establishment.
My own research published on this site found virtually no association between business incentives and any measure of economic performance, including wages, incomes, and unemployment. As I wrote here in 2012:
Companies typically select locations based on factors such as workforce, proximity to markets, and access to qualified suppliers, and then pit jurisdictions against one another to extract tax benefits and other incentives. 

A 2011 Lincoln Institute of Land Policy study found property tax incentives to be counterproductive, being all too frequently given to companies that would have chosen the same location anyway. So instead of creating new jobs or spurring employment, the main effect of incentives is simply to deplete a community's tax base. Since poorer states and communities are more likely to use incentives in the first place, the end result is to undermine the resources and revenues of the places that can least afford it.

Bartik's tool can also be used his to assess the savings that would come from eliminating or reforming incentives. For example, limiting incentives to just one year would reduce the overall cost of incentives by roughly two-thirds. Getting rid of refundability—the ability of businesses to receive incentives even if they have no state corporate income tax liability—would reduce the costs of incentives by a third.
There are other reform idea's:

New Republic: There are better ways to jump-start local economies. Aaron K. Chatterji of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has proposed creating a Main Street Fund to support states that invest in choices that are smarter than incentives. Those could be seed money for startups, services to help businesses scale up, or a focus on attracting particular kinds of businesses, as Amy Liu of the Brookings Institution has suggested. But first, cities and states would have to cease offering big bucks to big business.
Walker's Foxconn Dream Extreme defied Historical Warnings embedded in our State Constitution: 

The Hill: State officials, who pledged big subsidies to Foxconn to land the project, are realizing they struck a bad bargain. The bitter irony is that the entire situation might have been avoided if Wisconsin policymakers had paid heed to sensible constraints embedded in the state constitution's "gift clause," which says that, with some exceptions, "the credit of the state shall never be given, or loaned, in aid of any individual, association or corporation." The state can "contract public debt and pledges to the payment" of its credit for "public purposes." Most states have similar gift clauses, passed to ... restrict the type of public-private partnerships that lead to the government risking money for the private benefit of a corporation.
History Repeats itself...or, living in the past (moving forward?):
Many states added gift clauses to their constitutions in the mid-to-late 19th century. The impetus for these clauses stemmed from the states' bad experiences in using their resources to promote private economic development. In the early 19th century, many state governments began borrowing funds, supplying working capital or issuing bonds in support of transportation corporations. This led to a rat race between state governments, as officials competed to make bigger and bigger promises to companies to lure business to their states.

As Rutgers University professor G. Alan Tarr has described it: "Particularly influential in promoting the states' often-reckless promotional efforts were the hope of economic windfalls ... as other states courted prosperity with speculative ventures." Predictably, the bidding war, using public resources, led to ruin. In 1837, nine states defaulted on their debts, leading officials to question their methods of promoting economic development. As a result, many states adopted gift clauses to prevent the problems associated with promising state resources to private companies. One of those states was Wisconsin, which included its gift clause in the original 1848 constitution.
...but wait...
Unfortunately, since 1848, Wisconsin's gift clause has been weakened. It was amended to allow gifts or loans for "public purposes." Wisconsin courts have interpreted "public purpose" broadly, deferring to the legislature's determination of what is or is not a public purpose. The result is a clause that has no meaning and provides no limits on public spending.

Trump Tariffs cost Americans $3 billion a Month more in spending, Trump Trade Deficit Largest in U.S. History!!! Winning?

I still can't get over the double standard #1: Wisconsin Republicans are in a panic over the "uncertainty" manufacturers would have if Gov. Evers dramatically reduced the manufacturers tax cut. These supposed "job creators" may see it as a penalty, and just leave out state forever.

I still can't get over the double standard #2: On the other hand, Trump blew up every trade agreement the world depended on, and still hasn't renegotiated and got any of them approved. Plus, tariffs are forcing farmers to lose money or go into bankruptcy, and consumers are paying about 1 percent more of their hard earned money on things they buy...yet Republicans are oddly not just cheering Trump on, but they're saying we'll all be better off when and if the art-of-the-deal is ever completed? Note:

It's the double standard of double standards!

And then this happened (anyone in right wing radio, at Fox News, or at any of the other conservative media sources and institutes paying attention?: 

President Donald Trump’s trade war cost American businesses and consumers $3 billion a month last year in higher prices, according to a study by top economists. The U.S. “experienced substantial increases in the prices of ... goods ... the president appears to be relying on a 2018 analysis of data from the 1990s, when the United States represented a larger share of the global economy and enjoyed more leverage over exporters in other countries.
But looking deeper...
...dramatic changes to its supply-chain network, reductions in availability of imported varieties, and complete pass-through of the tariffs into domestic prices of imported goods,” noted the study issued Saturday by economists from the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, and Princeton and Columbia University. “Overall ... we find that the full incidence of the tariff falls on domestic consumers.”

Here's the Public Radio's Marketwatch report: Despite Trump's claims that we're sticking it to China, here's the breakdown on how his tariffs will effect what we buy:
In a 2016 campaign speech in Pennsylvania, Trump called the trade deficit a “politician-made disaster” and promised swift change. “We can turn it all around — and we can turn it around fast,” he said.
The president, who has insisted that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” has bragged repeatedly that even as trade negotiations have dragged on, China is paying the U.S. “billions of dollars in tariffs.”
Compare Gov. Evers reduction in the Manufacturers tax cut to the following...not even close:
The trade war also cost companies an additional $1.4 billion a month in efficiency losses as they changed the way they do business to adapt to the tariffs, such as cobbling together new supply chains, according to the study.
How will the conservative voting base react to the news, if and when they stumble on this story? 
Another paper by economists and academics published Sunday concluded that the main victims of Trump’s trade war have been farmers and blue-collar workers in regions that supported Trump in the presidential election.
“Workers in very Republican counties bore the brunt of the costs of the trade war, in part because retaliations disproportionately targeted agricultural sectors, and in part because U.S. tariffs raised the costs of inputs used by these counties.’
Yup, Trump's is the biggest in the nation's 243 year history:

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that — despite more than two years of President Trump’s “America First” policies — the United States last year posted a $891.2 billion merchandise trade deficit, the largest in the nation’s 243-year history.
Oh, and One more thing-Consumer Tax Refund Psychology: With consumers paying more now thanks to Trump tariffs, it can't be good if they get a smaller tax refunds after his much ballyhooed tax cut for the wealthy. This just adds insult to injury:
A new study by the JPMorgan Chase institute, reported by the Washington Post, casts doubt on Republicans’ blasé attitude about changing refunds. It turns out millions of households really do rely on that money coming back into their pocket at that exact time:

The average refund, which amounts to nearly six weeks’ take-home pay for the typical household, is crucial to a family’s financial stability, the JPMorgan Chase Institute study found. But ... their refunds diminish by as much as 9 percent this year because less is withheld from paychecks ... families depend on the tax season windfall to pay down debt, make major purchases or cover big outlays like out-of-pocket health care expenses. “For about 30 percent of families, this ends up being the single largest cashflow infusion of the year,” said Fiona Grieg, director of consumer research for the JP Morgan Chase Institute, who worked on the study. “This is really a moment that resets their spending levels … it does play a key role in creating a savings buffer that families rely on for the better part of a year.”

Monday, March 4, 2019

Wisconsin Republicans embarrassingly clueless about Medicare-for-All and Medicaid Expansion!!!

UPDATE-March 17, 2019: Shocker, it looks like Scott Walker and the Republicans did kind of expand Medicaid, but just didn't take the federal money...our money by the way:
Former Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled legislature already expanded the Medicaid program. They just didn’t take the federal money available to states to offset much of the cost.

Wisconsin is the only state in the country that expanded eligibility for its Medicaid program — the change made in 2014 covered 147,000 adults without dependent children as of January — while not accepting the federal money available to states through the Affordable Care Act.

That decision will have cost the state an estimated $1.1 billion in federal dollars through the current fiscal year, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Walker didn't think the federal government would be good on their word about paying 90 percent of the cost, odd since they've always paid their portion before that. Walker may be under the ridiculous and wrong impression the yearly federal changes to the percentage in the rules was the federal government going back on their payments. Walker is not a smart man.

But wait, there's more, and proof the report was a phony:
There’s also a question about the study’s time frame. The study ended with data from 2014 — before any purported cost shift to private health plans could have occurred in most states.

The expanded eligibility for Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act didn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014. 

Insurers typically negotiate three- to five-year contracts with health systems and other providers ... the price increases would not have been set until the following year, 2015.

Insurers and employers who self insure, in turn, set premiums for their health plans for the following year in September or October.

This means that any costs shifted to private insurers wouldn’t have appeared in the cost of health plans until 2016 at the earliest.
Republicans not only didn't know what health care was like before ObamaCare, but they haven't even bothered to educate them about health care in general. Yes, even after all this time, the ACA and expanded Medicare is still a mystery to them!

Insurer Profits over Medicaid Expansion: It sounds like a cliche, but seriously, Republicans only care about insurance company profits, as pointed out in the video clip below. Forget about giving every American the right to health care. Profits first, said Republican Sen. Aberta Darling, who wants to keep the poor in the private-for-profit insurance system. From UpFront:
Darling: "And if we say, okay we're going to take you off that insurance and put you on government insurance, we're really going to change the private marketplace and shift a lot of the Medicaid expenses to the private insurers like you and me." 
Meaning our private insurance rates will go up! Not quite, as I described later below.

Oh by the way, and it "gets a little wonky," Darling apparently hasn't even bothered to get the facts's not 33 percent...
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expanded eligibility to all individuals earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Watch out, Republicans will Cost Taxpayers More...the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) missed this...:
States that don’t expand Medicaid are going to be in an increasingly tight spot, especially as the federal Disproportionate Share Hospital payments are reduced and phased out (because Medicaid expansion was intended to be universal, so there wasn’t supposed to be much uncompensated care to offset with DSH payments).
Duffy-Dumbing-Down: I had to include the following mindless rant from Rep. Sean Duffy on Fox News the other day.
Duffy: "This Medicare-for-All is Medicare for none. What happens is if you have your health care plan through your union, you're a welder, your a teacher and you have your health care plan through your teacher plan, GONE...there is zero private insurance. So if you have Medicaid in your state, in Wisconsin we have BadgerCare, it would be a watered down BadgerCare. So instead of shooting for the stars and have a better plan for people, improving the plans in the coverage, they go to the lowest common denominator. And they're crappy plans, for everybody, but they're all the same. 

Don't laugh, voters were dazzled by this numb nuts, and just reelected him. Duffy switched from Medicaid-for-All to...Medicaid, like these programs are interchangeable. Duffy claimed  "private insurance" (with its hefty premiums, copays, and deductibles) is much better than no premiums, copays, or deductibles? Oh, and with Medicare-for-All you still get to keep your doctor, forever, even if you get a different job. No networks to stay in, no surprise bills to pay. Crappy plans for everyone indeed.

Desperately Trying to Kill Medicaid Expansion: A laughably inaccurate "study" by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) on Medicaid expansion was pure propaganda, aimed directly at right wing resentment and victim-hood, claiming that those paying for insurance right now will end up paying higher premiums, most likely from additional fees.

But I would also like to point out how some states chose to charge hospital and insurer fees to pay the states share; and you can blame Trump for that. Fake outrage Alert: The Republican plan for high risk pools would have charged hospital and insurer fees, just like the ones they hate so much now, so this complaint rings hollow:
The Trump administration has now increased the flexibility for states to add elements in their expansion programs that will help to better control costs going forward.
Contrary evidence from opponents suggesting official regret comes from expansions that occurred prior to the ACA, when the states bore a much greater share of expansion costs. 
The Wisconsin reality...
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. 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.
I found these additional facts that should put an end to this nonsense:

This Brookings Issue Brief reviews (the) evidence, and evaluates continuing claims by Medicaid opponents that expansion is a “proven disaster” for state budgets. The strong balance of objective evidence indicates that actual costs to states so far ... are negligible or minor, and that states across the political spectrum do not regret their decisions to expand Medicaid.

1. 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.

2. Expanded Medicaid pays for various costs that states previously were absorbing outside of Medicaid. Accordingly, several credible and expert evaluations (including one in the New England Journal of Medicine) show that states such as Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, and West Virginia (among others) have actually reduced, not increased, state spending as a result of expansion.

3. Contradicting the ultra-conservative Foundation for Government Accountability claim that “each and every state that opted into ObamaCare expansion is facing a surge in Medicaid enrollment far higher than ever anticipated,” officials or agencies from Indiana, North Dakota, and Ohio (here and here) have flatly stated (and documented) that expansion enrollment, or overall enrollment, has either fallen short of, or not substantially exceeded, expectations.

4. 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.