Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Democratic Counties big on Jobs and Business, Trump Counties big on keeping their guns.

It's crazy, isn't it? If it wasn't for the Obama economy, steady jobs and business growth, Republicans would have nothing to brag about? Wisconsin's Democratic cities and counties have been propping Scott Walker up for years, and the Dems here have been letting him get away with. The right-wing "mainstream media" machine keeps trying to spin history...but it just sounds crazy, like this from the Washington Times

Loyal panting Trump voters love to keep waiting for the new tariff uncertain economy to improve, eventually reaping big dividends for farmers while paying higher prices for everything. In the meantime, they're losing jobs and income based on a few empty promises from their grifting President. Thank god they'll always have their guns:

WaPo: On average for the year-ended this May, 58.5 percent of the job gains were in counties that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an Associated Press analysis of monthly government jobs data by county.

Despite an otherwise robust national economy, the analysis shows that a striking number of Trump counties are losing jobs. The AP found that 35.4 percent of Trump counties have shed jobs in the past year, compared with just 19.2 percent of Clinton counties.

The jobs data shows an economy that is as fractured as the political landscape ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. As more money pools in such corporate hubs as Houston, San Francisco or Seattle, prosperity spills over less and less to smaller towns and cities in America’s interior. That would seem to undercut what Trump sees as a central accomplishment of his administration — job creation for middle class and blue-collar workers in towns far removed from glitzy urban centers.

For Trump’s core supporters, cultural issues such as gun rights, immigration and loyalty to the president have become dominant priorities.

Chip Kohser, the county Republican chairman and the bristle-bearded founder of a farm share company, said his party members are rallying around their staunch opposition to gun control. “Our No. 1 motivating factor,” he said, “is Second Amendment issues.” Democratic calls for stricter gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings, he said, are fueling more zeal among his Republican volunteers than are the $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that Trump signed into law last year.

Wages Down thanks to inflation, dwindling Unions, Temporary labor, and Independent contractors.

The promise that tax cuts would lead to higher wages has always been pretty empty, especially when Republicans continue to destroy unions and pass right to work laws. Yet, we have been trained to act surprised when nothing happens while being told to wait just a little longer. Nope.

Reality now says workplace raises outside of Democratic Party induced minimum wage hikes is not going to happen, all because we've seen a major power shift toward corporations. They can wait till people have starved to death thanks to new work requirements for food and healthcare, and this time waiting a little longer makes sense.

Wages aren't rising enough to offset inflation and are actually lower than wages were a year ago. Temp and contract work has also shifted the costs onto hired labor from employers.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE: That's the biggest puzzle that we're trying to figure out ... and we've been for a while waiting for the wages - oh, they're about to go up. But they kind of haven't - still haven't been going up that fast. And the real wage which the economists call the real-wage year - how much your wages went up minus how much inflation went up - at best it's pretty stagnant.

NPR's CHRIS ARNOLD: The short version is the decline of unions might be playing a role or other ways that employees just don't have the power that they used to to negotiate better pay. Productivity growth is slow. And workers might be getting compensation like we heard about - health care, bonuses, gym memberships and other stuff like that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

New Doctors back Single-Payer, and Medicaid Expansion lowers cost for Diabetes and treats Opioid Abuse.

Those baby boomer kids learned a life lesson seeing their parents deal with expensive health care issues as they grew up, and are now poised to change things. 

The days of stable long-term jobs and comprehensive affordable employer-provided health care insurance are gone. Thankfully, the next generation of doctors are now on the front line advocating some kind of single-payer system, in direct contradiction to the American Medical Association's 80 opposition:  
Kaiser Health: When the American Medical Association met in Chicago this June, its medical student caucus seized an opportunity for change. Though they had tried for years to drop its decades-long opposition to single-payer health care, this was the first time it got a full hearing. The debate grew heated — older physicians warned their pay would decrease, calling younger advocates na├»ve to single-payer’s consequences. But this time, by the meeting’s end, the AMA’s older members had agreed to at least study the possibility of changing its stance.

“We believe health care is a human right, maybe more so than past generations,” said Dr. Brad Zehr, a 29-year-old pathology resident at Ohio State University, who was part of the debate. “There’s a generational shift happening, where we see universal health care as a requirement.”
Democrats on Board with single-payer, Medicare-for-all or option to buy into the Medicare program: The only thing I can add to this is a plea for someone to come up with what the added tax would look like, and the actual savings Americans will see ditching those skyrocketing monthly insurance premiums:
At least 70 House Democrats have signed on to the new “Medicare-for-all” caucus.
Fact: Medicaid Expansion Saves Money,  Fights Diabetes and Opioid Epidemic, so where's Scott Walker? 
As a career politician, Walker has never had to live in the real world. His pursuit of a purely ideological agenda shoved reality aside in Wisconsin, leaving the deadly opioid epidemic to grow and diabetes treatments to fall costing everyone more money as a result:
California Healthline: Low-income people with diabetes are better able to afford their medications and manage their disease in states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and saves public money (a $6,394 reduction in health care costs in 2017 dollars), a new Health Affairs study suggests. More than 114 million adults in the U.S. have diabetes or prediabetes, making the disease one of the country’s most formidable health challenges.

The study found a roughly 40 percent increase in the number of prescriptions filled for diabetes drugs in Medicaid programs (significantly reduced out-of-pocket spending for insulin) of the 30 states that expanded eligibility in 2014 and 2015 … states that didn’t embrace expansion saw no notable increase ... more than 2 million people who live in non-participating states would have qualified for Medicaid.
That’s your argument? Profit, profit, profit? Those poor old monopolistic drug companies that get so much help from the National Institute of Health can’t stop whining, and free market institutes keep proving just how bad capitalist abuses are to the average American:
Michael Cannon, director of health policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, said Medicaid pays a fraction of a drug’s list price, so pharmaceutical companies may hike prices for everyone if they don’t feel they’re being compensated fairly. That, in turn, could drive up everyone’s premium costs or lead those with private insurance to pay more out-of-pocket. “As prices rise, fewer people will be able to afford diabetic medications.”
More Doctors taking Medicaid Patients Too: Paul Ryan's fear mongering...wrong:
Health Affairs (no link-my email newsletter): New research, led by Hannah T. Neprash, a professor of health policy at the University of Minnesota, concludes that doctors are not taking fewer Medicaid patients at the same time the program is expanding under Obamacare ... chose to expand ... from 10.2 percent in 2013 to 13.6 percent in 2015. In non-expansion states, there was no notable difference either way, according to the study. 
Medicaid Helps reduce and treat Opioid addiction but Work Requirements Block Access: 
The same has been found in other studies of major public health issues, like opioid abuse, which disproportionately affects low-income Americans. A study published last month in the Journal of Health Economics found admission to treatment facilities increased 18 percent in expansion states, largely due to a 113 percent increase in admissions for opioid treatment by Medicaid beneficiaries.

Adding eligibility requirements creates additional barriers to Medicaid coverage for those patients dealing with chronic health issues, whereas expansion of Medicaid helps more people address those conditions before they get worse — and even more costly. Let's not forget that additional medical costs, whatever they may be, may fall on the taxpayer.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Downloadable Printable Plastic Guns a Future threat!

This is all about the nonsense argument that downloadable plastic guns are an overblown outrage by people who don't know what they're talking about and not a real threat. That may not be true 5 years from now...or sooner. The avalanche of stories calling all of us ignorant about guns, it's their fallback talking point, was pretty much insulting and the last straw for me.

When the right wing argues that we have inherent God-given rights, not just the ones protected by the Constitution), they're trying to broaden the Constitution beyond its limits. God gave people, those in his image, his stand your ground power over life and death. No one can make a law that regulates God's guns.
Yahoo: Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson recently said he views having a gun as a “fundamental human dignity” and “human right.” By working to make guns available to anyone without government approval, Wilson wants to shatter people’s faith in the ability to regulate firearms, dealing a fatal blow to gun control arguments.

Dana Loesch: "These are rights that were inherent to us, being American citizens, born on this soil, these are rights that we immediately come out of the womb with." 
But common sense actual rights that sustain life? That's a privilege, like health care, food, shelter, and clothing:
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson: “I think it’s probably (health care) more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right?" 
Plastic printable Guns: We have a right to bear arms, but there is no right your choice of gun or a variety of guns, downloadable or not. Here's the real plan backed by the NRA:

The technology is still relatively primitive right now, and people are already making homemade weapons without much trouble, so this isn’t worth worrying about, the argument goes. Nor can you easily print out lethal plastic bullets. The technology isn’t there, at least not yet.

That kind of circular reasoning is textbook NRA, meant to ensure that we do nothing to address the problem until it’s too late, said Robert Spitzer, a professor at SUNY Cortland who’s written five books on gun policy.
“You go down six months, two years, five years, when these things do start to appear, and then they sort of shrug their shoulders and say you can’t regulate these things, the horse is out of the barn. The public policy question is are these worthy of regulation or even prohibition or restriction in the first place, and if they are, what better time to do it than before they become widely in circulation?”
Here's Cody Wilson's carefree attitude toward public safety:

Friday, August 3, 2018

Trump's Economy? Skyrocketing Budget Deficit and GOP "Free-lunchism."

NPR's report on Trump's growing budget deficit couldn't be clearer, and still my Trumpian friend in Milwaukee will say I'm just mad about losing the election:

Corporate tax receipts are down for the year, while government spending is up. Even with a fast-growing economy, the Treasury Department expects to borrow more than $750 billion to pay its bills during the last six months of this year. "The federal budget deficit is ballooning, skyrocketing, soaring, whichever way you want to describe it," said longtime fiscal watchdog Stan Collender, who blogs about federal finances as "The Budget Guy."

Even the White House's own rosy forecast acknowledges that the deficit will exceed 5 percent of the overall economy next year — a level it's previously reached only after deep recessions, when unemployment topped 10 percent. Today, the economy is near full employment. But the government is still acting like a spendthrift family, piling up credit card bills even though times are good.

"Let me be 100 percent clear about one thing: The tax cuts are never going to pay for themselves," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "They can grow the economy, but not enough to come anywhere close to offsetting the cost of them." MacGuineas blamed an outbreak of fiscal "free-lunchism" for the growing mountain of government debt.

The growing deficit also means higher borrowing costs. So far this fiscal year, growth in Social Security, Medicare and defense spending have all been eclipsed by rising interest on the debt.

The Amazing Lying Leah!!!

As State Sen. Leah Vukmir battles it out with a primary opponent who trashed his own parents for exercising their right to max out their campaign donations to Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Vukmir just got caught in a lie; she appears to have been against Trump, before she was for Trump.

Lying must be a campaign thing now made readily acceptable by Trump and his grunting unquestioning voters. Here are 3 clips, together, showing her major jaw-dropping flip-flop:
A new video has emerged of Wisconsin U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir holding her nose when describing how she and others would feel voting for then-likely GOP presidential nominee now President Donald Trump and saying that Trump is “offensive to everyone.” Vukmir herself was also exposed as mocking Trump supporters ... as “Trumpkins.” And she appeared on Fox Business Channel with Stuart Varney on Tuesday, who pressed her on whether she supports the president. In the video appearance, she lied again:
I have always been there with him, I have stood with him, I continue to stand with him,” Vukmir said, leaving out when she refused to endorse Trump after he became the likely nominee for president.

Trump's Warped Gas Guzzler Fantasy!

There's nowhere to go now but...crazy. Trump lies so much now that when he tells the truth, that's news alert stuff.

But lying is only half of Trump's appeal to his devoted obsessed base. They pant even louder when he makes something ridiculous up that can't possibly be true in the real world...unless Trump says so.

Gas Guzzlers Safer, keep us Off the Roads? Enjoy the clip (until MSNBC pulls it) of Brian Williams dryly lays out Trump's latest brain burp:

Just in case you don't have time for the video, here are the video captures that tell the whole story. Every Trump mouthbreather will think this makes sense. And even if it doesn't, they won't care:

Maybe Trump's cheap stripped-down out-of-Marketplace health care plan, with almost no coverage, will force people to live healthier lives? Don't laugh...
A textbook for a required fitness class at UNC-Chapel Hill is under review by the university after criticism about its content, including statements calling cancer and diabetes “diseases of choice.” It maintains that “many if not most women” who are obsessed with weight have become habitual dieters.
And hell, why not include this bubble world fantasy...
And it describes a theory by Holocaust survivor and Austrian psychotherapist Victor Frankl about concentration camps: “The people in the camps who did not tap into the strength that comes from recognizing their intrinsic worth succumbed to the brutality to which they were subjected.”
Remember, health care is a privilege, for the privileged, or so says Wisconsin's Dumb Sen. Ron Johnson. The Republican Party of ghouls has been telling us this for years, it's just that they didn't come right out and say it. Oh, and add to that the privilege of food and clothing:

I think it’s probably more of a privilege. Do you consider food a right? Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point everything else is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us to afford those things.

“Sen. Rand Paul talked about this on the floor of the Senate. He’s a doctor. He said the minute you consider health care a right, well, who’s going to satisfy that right? And those people who have the skills to satisfy that right, what does that make them if they’re forced to provide you with that rightful product or service?”

Don't pick a Trade War with Wisconsin...

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Medicare for All would cost $32 Trillion over 10 years...LESS than what we're paying now. Pt 2

Note: This is part 2 of Medicare for All (M4A). See part 1 here. 

Medicare for All (M4A), or universal health care, is the one major driving force in the upcoming elections for Democrats. Modern Healthcare (subscription): 
In the House, progressive Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal founded a Medicare for All caucus to try to hammer out a comprehensive, streamlined platform over the next conference. More than 60 House Democrats have joined Jayapal's group.
I thought the analysis below added a few more interesting points. It’s extremely important to note that none of the arguments presented by this report even mentioned the elephant in the room; saving lives. Odd?

Co-pays and Deductibles: I also believe an income-based office visit fee would help bring down the cost further (not "skin in the game"), somewhere in the range of $1 to $30. The report suggests...
“It would likely lead to a huge spike in overall healthcare utilization because it bans any co-pays or deductibles.”
With that said, check out the list of possibilities:
Libertarian think tank Mercatus Center of George Mason University senior research strategist Charles Blahous alleged that the Medicare for All plan backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders would put the brunt of the proposal's costs on provider pay cuts
1. Reduce provider payments by $384 billion in the first year, and by nearly $660 billion in 2030.

2. The plan could save the United States more than $2 trillion over 10 years in national healthcare spending ... Increase the federal government's costs to nearly $33 trillion above current levels. 
3. “To the extent that the cost of M4A is financed by new payroll taxes, premium collections, or other revenue increases, the net effect on the federal budget deficit would be substantially less."

4. The healthcare system would save billions every year on drug spending … allows the HHS secretary to negotiate prescription drug prices with the manufacturers. 
5. The paper acknowledged that phasing out employer-sponsored health care would translate into a huge increase in taxable wages, as it would free individuals, families, and employers from hefty healthcare spending. States would also no longer have to fund Medicaid, consistently their largest budget item.

6. Benedic Ippolito, a health economist with the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute says (that) while the U.S. health care system does need to grapple with the "right price to pay for health care," how it will impact provider behavior—investments in equipment and buildings, patient access and health outcomes.

7. Blahous cited the CMS' Office of the Actuary's projections that current payments would lead to negative operating margins for nearly half of hospitals by 2040. By 2019, over 80% of hospitals will lose money treating Medicare patients. A dramatic structural change to reimbursement structure could shutter many provider doors. 
The Republicans continue to push health care plans the will cost more money with none of the savings upsides. Anyone think high deductible HSA’s makes sense?
The latest House Republican push to leverage health savings accounts to cut spending on superfluous services … runs counter to (the report) … passed a packet of bills originally projected to cost more than $90 billion to expand use of HSAs. HHS Secretary Alex Azar praised HSAs as a way to lower unnecessary spending, saying that from his own behavior when he had an HSA he was much more cautious about the number and manner of services on which he was willing to spend a limited number of dollars.
That’s called self-rationing, where Americans delay or don’t get the treatments they need, costing them their health, lives, and money.  
But Ippolito said the new paper highlights that single-payer proponents will need to acknowledge the political fight on their hands. "In my time of listening to these single-payer proposals, a lot of emphasis is on administrative savings—they appeal to that because they don't rile up constituencies," he said. "But going after provider payment rates means taking on one of the most well-organized constituencies in domestic policy.”

Monday, July 30, 2018

Medicare for All would cost $32 Trillion over 10 years...LESS than what we're paying now. Pt 1

The price tag for universal health insurance in the U.S. is in, and it comes out to $32 trillion over 10 years. $3.2 trillion a year. Wow, that's crazy, isn't it? It may sound like a lot but that's what we're paying now, even with high deductibles and tens of millions of uninsured. Americans are tired of the uncertainty:

Ya gotta like this too...
The plan could save the United States more than $2 trillion over 10 years in national healthcare spending,

So a national health plan sounds like a better deal because everyone gets covered and everyone as a gigantic group pays a whole lot less.   When you consider a universal single-payer program would 1) cover every single American, eliminating uninsurance and 2) provide much more robust benefits, covering more services than getting covered right now, then it starts to look like a good deal. More people covered. More services covered. Same price, more or less. Medicare for All (M4A) would expand the range of services covered by federal insurance (for example, dental, vision, and hearing benefits).

Mercatus is projecting a $32 trillion increase in federal spending ... In terms of overall health care spending in the United States over the same period, however, they are actually projecting a slight reduction ... the country is going to spend about the same. "Lower spending is driven by lower provider payment rates, drug savings, and administrative cost savings."

A brand-new estimate from the libertarian-leaning Mercatus Center at George Mason University ... (and) the left-leaning Urban Institute came up with the exact same number in 2016.

Conservatives hopped all over the figure. But there are a lot of ways to think about $32 trillion — and one might be that it's actually kind of a bargain. Many Americans still hold real reservations about making Big Government any bigger ... but a closer look at these new estimates reveals "$32 trillion" isn't quite as much as you might think.

The Mercatus Center scholars assume (as the Sanders bill dictates) that hospitals and doctors would be paid at Medicare rates, a cut from private insurance rates but an increase from Medicaid rates ... Still, this seems like a reasonable estimate from a group that we would expect to be pretty skeptical of single payer — and it still looks like kind of a good deal. 

Single-payer supporters are going to have to come up with a persuasive case that, yes, the federal government is going to spend more, but overall spending won't go up. Taxes are going to rise for somebody, but many or even most Americans could end up saving money on their premiums or on out-of-pocket costs.

It could be a winnable case, given evolving attitudes about a person's right to health care. But polling shows many people's opinions on this are still malleable. Persuasion is necessary.
Paul Ryan's Shop-for-Healthcare doesn't Work: Why do we need Medicare for all? Because supposed "patient-centered" free market insurance doesn't work. Here's why:

Shopping for Health Care Simply Doesn’t Work. So What Might? It’s often too complicated. And even when it isn’t, almost no one does it.

A body of research — including randomized studies — shows that people do in fact cut back on care when they have to spend more for it. The problem is that they don’t cut only wasteful care. They also forgo the necessary kind. This, too, is well documented, including with randomized studies.

People don’t know what care they need, which is why they consult doctors. There’s nothing inherently wrong with relying on doctors for medical advice. But it runs counter to the growing trend to encourage people to make their own judgments. 

Some care is elective, and so potentially “shoppable.” Scholars have estimated that as much as 30 or 40 percent of care falls into this category. It includes things like elective joint replacements and routine checkups. And yet very few people shop for this type of care, even when they’re on the hook for the bill. Maybe it’s just too complex. Even when price transparency tools are offered to consumers to make it easier, almost nobody uses those them.

A National Bureau of Economic Research working paper published Monday adds a lot more to the story. Even if 40 percent of health care is shoppable, people are not shopping. What seems likelier to work is doing more to influence what doctors advise.

For example, we could provide physicians with price, quality and distance information for the services they recommend. Leaving decisions to patients, and making them spend more of their own money, doesn’t work.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Walker throws taxpayer funded lifesaver to ACA Marketplaces while readying torpedoes to Sink ObamaCare. You Can't make this stuff Up.

This is so Republican; spend, spend, spend on ACA Marketplaces using taxpayer dollars in the most inefficient way, with no cost controls and no sustainable workable structure.

Gee, thanks Scott for saving us from your own Trump Party's dismantling of the Affordable Care Act? It's another desperate election-year scheme that never would have happened otherwise:
President Trump finally made good on his promise to yank funding from a key set of Obamacare subsidies. The administration would immediately stop supporting the cost-sharing subsidies that reimburse insurers for reducing the deductibles and co-pays of lower-income Obamacare enrollees. Trump has been paying the subsidies on a month-to-month basis, unnerving many insurers.
But Walker Voters are Okay Spending their Tax Money Anyway? So penny-pinching conservative voters are okay spending their tax dollars shoring up the Marketplaces right after their elected politician just tried to destroy them...raising premiums? My head is starting to hurt.
Walker gave Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel permission to join with attorneys general from other states to file a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act.
Don't forget, this is another costly rescue, thanks to another Republican created problem that didn't exist before! It would be a mistake not to call this TrumpCare since the ACA is no longer recognizable after GOP "reform." Flip-flopping Walker was against taking federal dollars for Medicaid before he was for taking federal dollars for the Marketplace: 
The Trump’s administration has signed off on Gov. Scott Walker’s $200 million reinsurance plan to lower Obamacare premiums ... consumer costs are expected to go down by 5 percent next year for individuals through the marketplaces established by Obamacare (TRUMPCARE).

Wisconsin taxpayers will spend $34 million on Walker's plan. The remaining $166 million will come from federal taxpayers (that includes Wisconsin taxpayers). Sunday’s announcement gives Walker a chance to tout lowering insurance premiums as he seeks re-election.
...for actually NOT solving a problem he and Trump created? Amazingly, the Journal Sentinel was all too happy to use Walker's own skewed estimates:
According to estimates conducted for the Walker administration, the plan will lower monthly premiums in the state's Obamacare marketplaces to a projected $721 per consumer per month next year. That would be a reduction of more than 5 percent from the monthly fee of $762 now being charged.
Nope! Here's what Trump Republicans ADDED to TrumpCare costs per Congressional District, even with Walker's plan. These are the excess costs. Thank you Scott Walker and Trump:
The Urban Institute’s projections account for individual states’ efforts to stabilize the individual market through reinsurance programs, coverage mandates, and regulation of short-term plans.

 $200 million here, $10 billion there...imagine saving all that with National Health Insurance for all: With state and local government pensions straining and coming up short for retiree health care, not to mention the heavy burden on businesses, piecemeal health insurance needs one single universal plan. And how about veterans? We could take this off the table as well..:
Politico: Trump signed into law an updated version called the "VA Mission Act" that took away those specific parameters and made seeing a doctor in the private sector easier for veterans … giving veterans more choice in their health care. The program will then need close to $10 billion for each of the next two years to keep running. Veterans advocacy groups': "We are very concerned that without assurance of sufficient funding, reform and modernization of the VA health care system – which millions of ill and injured veterans rely on – could be delayed or endangered."
Without expanding health care, we could return to this pre-ACA 2013 map of uninsured Wisconsinites:

Or try expanding coverage...because the ACA was working:

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Wages still suck in Walker's Wisconsin, while Madison ranks high in nation for Tech Jobs!!

Angry Wisconsin voters resent being forgotten, and worse, living paycheck to paycheck in what they've been told is a "roaring" economy. That's what voters liked about Trump's campaign rhetoric, as bizarre as it was. He said he'd help those who always say they don't want help...that's so Republican. 

Alternet describes Alissa Quart's view of this from her new book “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America.”
Today, with their incomes flat or falling, these Americans scramble to maintain a semblance of what their parents enjoyed. Trained to be educators, lawyers, librarians, and accountants, they do work they can’t stand to support families they rarely see. Petrified of being pushed aside by robots, they rankle to see financial titans and tech gurus flaunting their obscene wealth at every turn. Headlines gush of a humming economy, but it doesn’t feel like a party to them ... Their new reality: You will not do as well as your parents. Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich.
And there's good reason to worry:

The share of children with higher inflation-adjusted incomes than their parents—declined from around 90 percent for children born in 1940 to just 50 percent for those born in 1984. This seems to have become steadily harder to achieve for those born into middle-class families in particular from 1950 onward.
Scott Walker's War Against the Minimum Wage: While Walker hands out billions of dollars to big business, employee wages are still oddly controlled by "free market" forces. Wisconsin's wages were climbing back up when Walker came in, enacted Act 10 and steered clear of raising the minimum wage:

Walker said $7.25 just fine, thinking he was making a strong case in front of a panel of reporters. More than anything, they were amazed at Walker's surreal interpretation of the statement, "people want the minimum wage increased" You'll laugh, you'll cry...Oh, and I cut out Walker's word salad non-answers:

Scott Walker: "The left claims that they're for American workers and they've just got really lame ideas — things like the minimum wage. Instead of focusing on that, we need to talk about how we get people ... the careers that pay far more than the minimum wage."
So Walker did just that, talked, and never got anyone "far more than the minimum wage."
International Business Times: The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and issued a statement saying: "Governor Walker wants jobs in Wisconsin that pay two or three times the minimum wage.
It's no surprise that what Walker "wants" doesn't help "700,000 state residents making less than $11.36 an hour, the amount needed to keep a family of four out of poverty." Walker held firm to $7.25.

Walker's fanciful "Manufacturing Renaissance" failed until Foxconn. Now Walker's discovered Tech?: Well, better late than never. But no one would be so irresponsible to put all their future state budgets into the Foxconn basket?

In the supposed anti-business Liberal hellhole Madison, they discovered that tech talent "secret" long ago, now see what happened: 
“Tech companies continue to see Madison as a place to tap into quality talent and real estate at costs much lower than in the major national markets,” said Chase Brieman, of CBRE’s Madison office.
1. The Madison area is ranked 3rd, tied with Orange County, California, on a list of 50 metropolitan areas in North America by the Scoring Tech Talent Report issued by CBRE, a major commercial real estate services and investment firm based in Los Angeles.

2. Madison’s tech talent labor force grew 10.6 percentage points faster in 2016 and 2017 than it did from 2014 through 2015.

3. Ottawa, Ontario, and Los Angeles were listed as the top two in rising tech talent.

4. Madison’s tech labor pool has grown 39.5 percent since 2012, second only to Nashville.

5. The Madison area ranks highest in its concentration of millennials26.4 percent — as a portion of the urban population.

6. Madison is No. 2 in educational attainment with 59.6 percent of urban residents age 25 or older holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. Seattle was No. 1.
Walker Finds "No Need, No Reasonable Cause" for Minimum Wage Hike: Remember this now infamous Walker gem:
Under pressure to raise the state's minimum wage, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker confidently declared that there was no need. Low-wage workers had filed a complaint charging that the state's minimum wage -- $7.25 -- did not constitute a "living wage" as mandated by state law. But the Republican governor's administration, after examining the issue, announced on Oct. 6 that it found "no reasonable cause" for the workers' complaint.

The only economic analysis that the administration released in response was one from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association -- a group that lobbies against minimum wage increases. The restaurant association's study argued that a minimum wage increase would harm the state. It did not actually address whether workers can survive on the $7.25 minimum wage. "It's outrageous that Walker's administration only thought to consult the restaurant industry, and not the workers themselves," said Dan Cantor, the national director of Working Families.
The Alissa Quart book "Squeezed" also included the following, as food for thought:
Some are waking up to the fact it is the wealthy and their purchased politicians who have systematically and deliberately stripped them of power. Deprivations like paltry employee rights, inadequate childcare, ridiculously expensive health care, and non-existent retirement security didn’t just happen. Abstract words like deregulation and globalization become concrete: somebody actually did this to you by promoting policies that leave you high and dry. As Quart indicates, understanding this is the first step to a change of consciousness, and her book is part of this shift.

Michelle Goldberg recently announced in the New York Times that “The Millenial Socialists are Coming,” indicating the intense dislike of traditional politics in urban centers. These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don’t accept that it can’t be done in America.

Republicans rush to Purge Voter Rolls...

This is what a conservative activist Supreme Court can do in just a few years. Money is speech, corporations have religious rights, gun deregulation, and this...
A key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority voters from state disenfranchisement, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, allowing states to begin making changes affecting voting without first getting federal approval.
Then the US Supreme Court recklessly and mistakenly did this...
In 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court recently approved Ohio's method for purging voters from the rolls. The Obama Justice Department had supported the challengers in the early stages of the court fight, but the Trump administration switched sides and supported the state.
Today? Who could have guessed...oh, not the US Supreme Court who's actions seem strangely removed from reality:

The nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice found that the mostly Southern jurisdictions that had once been required to get changes to voting policies pre-approved by the Justice Department had higher rates of purging than jurisdictions that were not previously subject to pre-clearance. A key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was designed to protect minority voters from state disenfranchisement, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013, allowing states to begin making changes affecting voting without first getting federal approval.
Under the Trump administration, "the Department of Justice has abdicated its responsibility to protect against bad voter purges. They've actually been encouraging jurisdictions to purge more aggressively."
The latest ruling was that last nail in the voting rights coffin:
In 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court recently approved Ohio's method for purging voters from the rolls. The Obama Justice Department had supported the challengers in the early stages of the court fight, but the Trump administration switched sides and supported the state.
The proof is out there for anyone to see just who Republicans are targeting:

Dissenting Justices pointed out the obvious:
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in one of the Supreme Court’s dissenting opinions, agreed. “As one example, amici point to an investigation that revealed that in Hamilton County, ‘African-American-majority neighborhoods in downtown Cincinnati had 10% of their voters removed due to inactivity’ since 2012, as ‘compared to only 4% of voters in a suburban, majority-white neighborhood,’” Sotomayor wrote, citing a brief from the NAACP.

Justice Stephen Breyer, in a dissent joined by the other liberal justices, said, “Using a registrant’s failure to vote is not a reasonable method for identifying voters whose registrations are likely invalid.” Since people tend not to send confirmation notices back to the government, it is not a reliable way to determine whether someone has moved away, Breyer added. Writing for the dissenters, Justice Stephen Breyer said that the majority had misinterpreted the law. He noted that federal statute does not allow someone to be purged from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote. In my view," added Breyer, "Ohio's program does just that."
Breyer claimed the postcard resulting from not voting violated the intent of the original law since it did not say anything about additional follow-up. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

TrumpCare sabotage sees Skyrocketing Premium Increases in Wisconsin!

Don't spend it all in one place? Forget that little piece of advice.

Scott Walker's meager tax cut savings will now go straight into the gigantic increase in health insurance premiums coming in 2019, thanks to Trump's attempts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has seen so many dramatic changes, that it has rightfully earned the name TrumpCare.

Those changes have affected all insurance premiums in the Marketplaces.
CAP: The Trump administration has worked tirelessly to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The U.S. Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate penalty and actions to expand the availability of skimpy short-term plans are raising premiums for middle-class families. The Trump administration also slashed funding for enrollment assistance by 72 percent and halted payments for risk adjustment, the federal program that discourages plans from avoiding sicker enrollees. Last year, Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing assistance payments resulted in staggering increases in 2018 marketplace premiums.
So how bad is it getting?
Based on rate information to date, the Center for American Progress estimates that an unsubsidized 40-year-old will pay an extra $970 in marketplace premiums on average in 2019 because of the end of the mandate and the expansion of short-term plans.
Here's a breakdown of the Trump Party's reforms resulting in ADDITIONAL premiums increases per Congressional District. Tax credits will soften the blow for those who still qualify:
Further attacks on the marketplaces, such as the Trump administration’s threat to halt risk adjustment payments and slash funding for enrollment assistance programs could force insurers to raise rates yet higher.
These estimates are based on projections by the Urban Institute of 2019 premium increases due to the Trump administration’s decision to allow for short-term junk plans and Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate. The Urban Institute’s projections account for individual states’ efforts to stabilize the individual market through reinsurance programs, coverage mandates, and regulation of short-term plans. To download the tables with the estimated premium increases attributable to ACA sabotage by congressional district, click here.

Trump, Amazon, Bezos and the endless Twitter lies...

This blog post is going to be easy. From Trump tweets about the Post Office to responding twitter comments, it's all right here...a few things first
Gizmodo: The country’s highest office is spewing misinformation for the apparent purpose of perpetuating a petty personal vendetta. So, here’s what you should know:

Amazon collects and pays a shitload of state taxes. Unless you live in Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, or Oregon, you are paying a sales tax whenever you make a purchase on Amazon. It is likely paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes to state and local governments each year. In total, according to its Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Amazon paid $412 million in taxes in 2016 and, according to CNBC, has a provisional tax expense of around $200 million last year. Let’s not forget, Amazon now owns every Whole Foods store in the country, so that’s even more state and local taxes.
Even worse, Trump came up with this wild one...

"Internet Taxes" aside, here's Trump's latest Amazon/Bezos twitter stream of lies, later disproved by a much smarter twitter community. Note: Amazon is already trying to create its own delivery service, which Trump completely missed because he's not really curious and not a big reader:
CNN (fake news): The company wants to help launch small businesses in the United States dedicated to taking its packages on the last step of their journey: from local Amazon sorting centers to the customers who ordered them ... which ships 5 billion packages a year globally. Amazon uses the USPS for an estimated 40% of its last-mile deliveries, paying bulk pricing. Trump has said he thinks it is a bad deal for the government.

Amazon's new "Delivery Service Partners" and their staff members won't be employed by the tech company. The initial $10,000 costs will go to helping them start an independent business that has to begin with at least five delivery vans and ramp up to 20 vans over an undisclosed period of time. It's also setting aside $1 million to specifically recruit and help military veterans become partners. 

Drivers will be full-time workers instead of contractors, and Amazon will require business owners to give them paid time off and other benefits. Amazon would not say if it was requesting a set minimum wage for the drivers. The company has been building up its own fleet of 7,000 of trucks and 40 airplanes to cover the "middle mile" of delivery. They haul goods between shipping centers and bear Amazon logos, but don't show up at customers' doorsteps. At the moment, that step is mostly handled by one of the many third-parties the company works with, such as FedEx (FDX), United Parcel Service (UPS), and the USPS.
Here's Trump:

The Response:

And the Trump base loves him for it....

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Who's the Commie Now...Trump!!! Trump like "Commissar, bribing rural voters hurt by tariffs!!!"

Can't disagree with Ron Johnson over Trump's continued debt digging $12 billion handout to farmers who were hurt by Trump's own tariffs...another costly and reckless self-inflicted wound with no plan B:
JS: Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson ripped the Trump administration's plan ... likening the measure to a Soviet-style economy. 
"This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here: Commissars deciding who’s going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they’re going to sprinkle around benefits."
Johnson's just waking up...
“Time and time again I’ve heard from farmers that they want trade, not aid,. Instead of throwing money at a problem we’ve helped create, the better option is to take action to make it easier for our farmers — and manufacturers —to sell their goods at fair prices to consumers around the world."
Like Scott Walker's $100 Bribe to Voters, Trump Pays Off Farmers: The $12 billion hole is just the start...funny too, Republicans are now supportive of federal taxpayer bailouts, based on their own dreaded "uncertainties," why not? Just in time for the midterm elections. Uncertainties are only bad under the Democrats.

Let the spending begin:
The plan also includes (1.) purchases of surplus agricultural commodities for distribution to food banks. And (2) the government will fund trade promotion to find new export markets for U.S. agricultural products. Asked if he would support the aid to farmers, Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) said, “I don’t generally like federal bailouts, but if we’re going to have these uncertainties in the agricultural industry…we just have to look at it.”
More naturally, Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin wants to help protect farmers from Trump's completely chaotic actions.
WSJ: Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin backed an aid package to farmers. In a letter to top administration officials, she said: 
“I am calling on the Trump administration to develop a plan that would provide immediate support to farmers unfairly hurt by retaliatory tariffs and include a strategy to maintain the strength of agriculture exports.”
George Will wrote this recently, click here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Democrats have to discover Populist Resentment soon...

There's an unexplainable mental block that keeps Democratic candidates and politicians from learning anything from the past. If Democrats want to win over conservatives and moderates who actually support most of the Democratic party platform anyway, you don't do it by focus on abortion; or promise to kill the Foxconn deal and jobs, instead of promising to negotiate a better deal for taxpayers. Paul Soglin recommends cutting off Foxconn payments to bring them back to the table.

The Politics of Populist Resentment: The politics of resentment plays off the idea that someone is getting something you're not. That's the ugly side of GOP politics. But there's a good side too.

What we haven't seen is a pronounced Democratic move toward "populist resentment" focusing specifically on the class divide; health care, tax cuts, wage disparity, abortion, and the privileged elite. Democrats need to brainstorm ways to reframe every social issue as a class issue. It's not a scheme or a ploy, it's an honest comparison, nothing like the GOP's agenda.

To drum up right-wing resentment, Republicans had to create myths about the Democrats like how they want the government to make all our decisions for us, or replacing capitalism with socialism blah blah blah.

Since the idea is fairly new to me, I didn't have time to come up with a few quick examples. Thankfully, I've found one created by an actual Democratic candidate on the abortion issue. "Resentment" here is defined as "progressive populism:"
In West Virginia, the leader of that state’s teacher strike, Richard Ojeda (oh-JEH-da), is waging a strong campaign to take an open House seat long held by Republicans. Ojeda, a Democratic state senator who voted for Trump himself, is running as an out and out progressive populist

Ojeda is so good that he manages to redefine social issues as class issues. Speaking at a pro-choice rally in Charleston, Ojeda told the crowd that he didn’t really like abortion, but that if it were outlawed, rich women would still get abortions. West Virginians knew exactly what he meant. Indeed, many other supposed social issues, such as pay equity and parental leave, are really class issues if narrated well. Deft Democratic candidates promise hard-pressed voters a better deal on economics, but reflect the views of their districts on hot button social issues.
One more thing...
When Mr. Ojeda graduated from high school, he said he had just three options: “Dig coal, sell dope or join the Army ... I’ve got 13 names on my back of brothers that did not come home,” he told a gathering of teachers and other union members, referring to some of his many tattoos. “They did not die so we could come home and find children struggling, people dying of the opioid crisis and companies and groups greasing people’s pockets.” Ojeda is known for his big personality ... He is George Patton with an Appalachian twang and minus the profanity.
The Economy: Populist resentment can also work well with the countries economic future. Baby Boomers have showered themselves with tax cuts for today, while leaving future generations with a massive bill to pay, despite stagnant wages, increased automation, consolidation, fewer jobs, huge health care costs, a downsized public education system, and crushing student loans that put off home purchases and starting a family. And how will the next generation deal with the now shredded trade policies in a dog eat dog global economy? Our once stable framework is gone now, and the U.S. is on the outside, instead of taking the lead.

Note: There's a certain irony over Scott Walker's Foxconn deal; While it may be a tech company, the deal Republicans made with Foxconn was based on an old 20th-century concept of long-term manufacturing and steady generational employment. That's why it leaves a knot in most peoples stomachs. Industries and jobs are set to change every 10 to 15-year. Without beginning a dialog about a national broadband push to encourage entrepreneurs, converting to green energy, a universal basic income, and national health care, I'm not sure we'll be able to take the shock that comes with a faster-moving global economy.