Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dumb Ron Johnson pushes shopping for health care "products" and costly taxpayer supported high risk pools.

I've been blogging about health care lately because Republicans are trying to give the impression they have a plan to replace the Affordable Care Act if the supreme court knocks down the federal exchanges.

Their plan is the same old plan they've had for years, minus many of their previous positions now included in ObamaCare. While no civilized industrial country has a free market plan, and there’s a good reason for that, Republicans are ready to gamble our lives away proving their theory works.

Republicans have been pushing the false premise; Health care is a consumer product.

Dumb Ron Johnson made that very clear the other day:
Sen. Ron Johnson said this weekend that the best replacement for President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act is free market competition. “We've separated the consumer of the product from the cost of the product,” Johnson said. “We pay for insurance — we don’t pay for the products and services that insurance covers.” He claims that moving the funding of health care services to third party payers prevents free market price controls from working.
The other false premise is just as insulting: People just don’t understand how expensive health care is. That’s right, there just aren't enough car washes and bake sales to help save kids without insurance at your local elementary school, or that the majority of bankruptcies are due to medical event. And employees don’t really notice their checks getting smaller as they pay more for their employer coverage. The public just doesn't get it?

Johnson likes having it both ways; He’ll complain of ObamaCare high deductibles, but promote health savings accounts. Maybe he doesn't know that that's what a health savings account is; they are catastrophic high deductible plans! 

Even worse, they promote self-rationing, which is supposedly better than insurance or government rationing?
The senator pointed to health savings accounts as an example of how health care could be handled in a more free market-like system.
The public is wary of Johnson’s cluelessness:
When asked how he would handle people with pre-existing conditions, Johnson cited high risk pools as a solution. Johnson said the ACA effectively ended high-risk pool programs.
High risk pools cost people even more money than regular insurance. The pools pay for all the risk insurance companies don't want, with taxpayer support and higher premiums for anyone with insurance. So technically, we're all paying for it, while allowing insurers fatter bottom lines.

Here's the scoop on "high risk pools" that should make any conservative angry, because I know liberals are:
1 - Established by state governments to serve the medically "uninsurable" population … helping to keep the individual insurance markets viable for companies to continue to compete in. (me - seriously, dropping people to keep companies in business and profitable)

2 - Generally, the programs operate as a state-created nonprofit association. (as defined by Republicans, this is government run)

3 - All state risk pools inherently lose money and need to be subsidized. While the individuals in risk pools pay somewhat higher premiums, roughly 50 percent of overall operating costs need to be subsidized. Subsidy mechanisms also vary from state to state -- some states assess all insurance carriers; others provide an appropriation from state general tax revenue; some states share funding of loss subsidies with the insurance industry using an assessment of insurance carriers and providing them a tax credit for the assessment, or other states have a special funding source, such as a tobacco tax, or a hospital or health care provider surcharge. 
That's Dumb Ron Johnson's plan: High deductible insurance, government run high risk pools, and shopping for care "products" from your hospital bed.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

Paul Ryan says GOP Irresponsible if they don't come up with ObamaCare alternative. Hear that Scott Walker?

I'm still a little confused how the Obama administration struggled to defend the subsidies for federally established state exchanges. Nothing could be easier.

It was amazing to see just how activist our conservative supreme court justices were when they tried to say the government did not intend to give subsidies to the federal exchanges, because of one short line that contradicted the massive law.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the government gave out tax credits when the law went into effect immediately...because that was the intent of lawmakers. 

It would be another thing if Obama had added the credit later, then opponents would have an argument. This isn't brain surgery.

Having said that, Paul Ryan is now telling Republicans to have a detailed plan in place by June in case the court strikes down the federal exchanges tax credits. Don't stop there Paul, that should go for GOP Governors as well. Ryan is right for once; it would be irresponsible:
Washintgon Times: Administration officials say the law is fine as written, and there is no need to put a Plan B in place to deal with an adverse ruling. Mr. Ryan said Republicans cannot take a similar stance.

“We need to have an alternative. That is the responsible thing to do,” he said. The president is saying that he had no back-up plan. I just don’t think that’s responsible.”
Here's hoping Ryan demands Scott Walker come up with alternative plan, like a state exchange, in case the Congress drops the ball again. It the only responsible thing to do.

Ryan rips Seniors, says they don't understand high cost of health insurance...after 50 years of paying into it?

This will be my second post on Paul Ryan's not-so-original reform plan for Medicare. This is from an article he wrote for the Kenosha News.

First, Ryan insists on pounding the idea of privatization with his cutesy “patient-centered” lie, a meaningless term where patients are still handed over to insurance companies. Yea, but the patient is at the center, or something like that right?
“Our plan would start to move us to a patient-centered system.”
Ryan's next revelation is already a part of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Ryan is embarrassing himself and showing everyone how little he knows about ObamaCare. It’s obvious he’s never looked into the current system; it's already transitioning doctors and hospitals into managed care plans. What he's describing accurately below, is the Obama plan, not his.  
“Doctor payments would depend more and more on results. Our plan would set up one streamlined program that would reward doctors who met performance goals and improved seniors’ health. Over time, Medicare would reward quality over quantity, and seniors would get better care because of it.”
While Obamacare critics complain about deductibles, Ryan wants to create a whole new one for seniors. Because Medicare has co-pays and deductibles, they require everyone to have “supplemental” insurance (Medigap). Seniors on a fixed Social Security income will have to pay about $147 a month extra to insurers just to cover co-pays and deductibles (add to that the $105 monthly fee for Part B).

Ryan apparently doesn't think the price of supplemental insurance, $147 a month, is painful enough for seniors seeking care in our already costly U.S. health care system. He wants seniors to pay another fee of $147 per year so they shop more wisely. Ryan incorrectly assumes health care is a consumer product we shop for (and insurance isn't health care):
Our plan would discourage unnecessary doctor visits and give seniors an incentive to seek the most effective care. Many seniors have “Medigap” insurance — that is, a private plan that helps pay for costs Medicare doesn’t cover, like co-payments and deductibles. These plans insulate people from costs and, experts believe, encourage the overuse of healthcare. Beginning in 2020, this agreement would prohibit Medigap plans from covering the first $147 of out-of-pocket spending, so cost is once again a consideration in healthcare decisions.
That's right, seniors who've paid insurers for nearly 50 years don't understand the cost of insurance. Condescending comments like this should piss off every American. He's also not that smart either.

Really, Duke this desperate to find excited fans...

This is insane...
Wisconsin fan Kristen Yarows got a surprise when she saw a tweet from Microsoft search engine Bing predicting that Duke would defeat Gonzaga in the Elite 8 which featured the UW student in Duke colors.

Scott Walker brags Americans worried about Health Care, thanks to GOP attempts to take it away!!!

Voters need to wake up to the fact their deepest fears about health care were created by the Republican attempts to kill the Affordable Care Act. If the Supreme Court strikes down the federal exchanges tax credits, over 10 million Americans will not be able to afford health insurance.

So Scott Walker blatantly made my point with this campaign trick:

Keep in mind, the conservative activist justices will claim congress only wanted to give tax credits to  state exchanges, not all exchanges, like lawmakers did when the rolled out the law. Which proves what congress intended, right?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Affordable Care Act may soon give us lower drug prices.

There are many little known benefits packed into the Affordable Care Act that never get the attention they should. One major change that will again lower the health care cost increases will also save lives.

Drug prices are driving up the cost of health care. The profit margins are huge, and thanks to GOP efforts, they're protected from competition by laws meant to increase bottom lines but hurt Americans. Medicare Part D cannot negotiate prices, a gift from George W. Bush and the Republican majority.

Despite the GOP's inability to name one country that proves "free market" health care works by lowering prices, they're hell bent on experimenting nationwide on our most vulnerable Americans.  

Obama’s Affordable Care Act made changes that to some extent will lower the cost of drugs:
AARP applauds the FDA’s approval of the first biosimilar prescription drug product in the U.S. It is a welcome step toward a workable approval process that will provide consumers with much-needed access to safe, effective biosimilar drugs, as envisioned by the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act in the Affordable Care Act. Today’s announcement marks the beginning of what will be a robust market that will offer consumers access to lower-cost alternatives to very expensive biologic medicines. Biologic drugs are often used to treat health conditions that affect older populations – diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Derived from living organisms, biologics have an estimated average cost of $35,000 a year, which is far more than that of traditional, chemically derived drugs.
But Big Pharm has been out there lobbying on a statewide level to block cheaper drugs from cutting into their profits. They're doing it by oddly making the party of supposed smaller deregulated government, bigger and more regulated. Republicans are more than willing to embrace big everything if it coincides with increased donations:
New state legislation that would make substituting interchangeable biosimilars for brand-name biologics considerably more difficult (druggist/doctor approval). It is unclear, however, why extra precautions are needed for biosimilars when the FDA is already safely approving and regulating their brand-name counterparts.
Republicans are good at throwing everything against the wall, hoping most of it will stick, but that also helps distract Americans from noticing the smaller things.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Judge Daley: Justice Bradley the center...the key to the courts dysfunction. Forcing a man to choked her was the last straw.

What is it about the media in Wisconsin?

For months now supreme court challenger Judge James Daley has been blaming the victim, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, for the abuse she suffered at the hands of Justice David Prosser. And no one outraged?

Personally, I found Daley's comments from tonight's debate breathtakingly misogynistic. If only women knew their place, and didn't provoke others with their opinions. This is insane behavior:

And the Journal Sentinel's Jason Stein said nothing.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bizarro World: Walker wants Government Run Health Care Plan for State Workers, with Big Price Increases.

Let me get this right:
A Walker administration proposal for self-insurance in 2013 was put on hold last year…
That would be a government run health care plan.
Walker's secret plan...

It was also surreal to read Walker would like state employees to pay more out-of-pocket cost, like higher co-pays and deductibles, the very thing Republicans hate about ObamaCare.

Now they want to increase the price of health care? Am I missing something?

Republicans also want free market competition from private insurers...but not this time?
Self-insurance — in which the state would pay benefits directly instead of buying insurance from 18 HMOs — could save $50 million to $70 million a year beginning in 2017, said a report from Atlanta-based Segal Consulting.
Consider flipping the following statement around; state workers will pay $42 million more, instead of the state. Republicans hate that:
Introducing deductibles for state workers, increasing out-of-pocket maximums, charging more for brand-name drugs and other changes that could save at least $42 million next year.
This is like Paul Ryan's "reform" plan for Medicare. You can check it out here. See if this sounds familiar; creates a marketplace to buy insurance and provides premium support help.

Walker promises nation a declining middle class, lagging job growth and the highest minority unemployment.

Remember when someone in the Bush administration bragged that reality is what they said it was? It was a shocking but clarifying insight into conservative thinking. It expands on the concept of Humpty-Dumptyisms:
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.' -Through the Looking Glass
For example, if the middle class is said to be shrinking in Wisconsin, Scott Walker says that's a signal "we're headed in the right direction:"
WSJ: Despite a new report showing Wisconsin has the fastest-shrinking middle class in the U.S., the Gov. Scott Walker administration says the state is headed in the right direction. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick noted Monday that the Pew report covers the period from 2000 through 2013 and includes only the first three years of the Republican’s first term.
This is all unsettling head-in-the-sand logic. Any report showing a decline in the middle class should warrant a deeper, more critical look. But Walker wants to brush it off as a distraction to more important presidential things. But a number of studies tell a different story, and back up the decline:
But UW-Madison economist Laura Dresser said income growth in the state for decades has been concentrated among the top 1 percent. She said that would explain the decline in the percentage of families considered “middle class” by federal standards, even if incomes have risen recently. Dresser’s report showed that in 2012, Wisconsin reached a milestone with a record share of income going to the top 1 percent.

The Pew Charitable Trusts report reflected those figures, showing that in 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell into the middle class category, but that has fallen to 48.9 percent in 2013. All other states showed some decline in middle class families but none as great as Wisconsin’s 5.7 percent decline since 2000.
That's not all. Walker is attempting to create a desperate minimum wage working class by taking away their ability to buy food unless they work for less. And forced labor disincentivizes employers from having to raise wages.
Wisconsin also continues to lag the nation in job growth, with the latest figures putting the state 40th on that key measure.
But we're heading in the right direction. Solutions to lagging job growth and a declining middle class are contained within the tax cuts for the wealthy. Another signal we're heading in the right direction?
Unemployment among African-Americans in Wisconsin last year was the highest of any of the 50 states, according to a study released Thursday by the center-left Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

At 19.9% — or 1 in 5 working-age people — the black unemployment rate in Wisconsin is nearly three times higher than the highest state white unemployment rate (7% in Nevada) and significantly higher than the national black unemployment rate of 11%, the think tank found.

Dane County; a Growing threat against Red State Authority!

My original story title was, "Liberal Dane County Hell keeps Growing, attracting more people than the Conservative Utopias of Waukesha, Washington and Ozaukee counties." A little long.
Big surprise, there’s something about clean, well run government and services that attracts the best people. Dane County smoked Waukesha County…
Dane County grew by the widest margin, gaining 6,257 people to reach a population of 516,284. Half of Dane County's population increase came from migration, and it's one of only two counties to have experienced significant positive migration for the past five years. In total, Dane has grown by 27,277 people since 2010 — a 5.6% increase.

Waukesha County grew by 1,178 to 395,118 people, and Washington and Ozaukee counties increased by 505 and 375 people, respectively.
Rural conservative strongholds are losing people too, although probably not enough to affect elections:
Nearly half of all Wisconsin counties declined in population from 2013 to 2014 … continued population decline in Wisconsin's rural counties. 

Walker cuts funding to cleanup rivers and lakes, and return them "to a healthy condition."

Is this just another case of a group of egg-headed scientists meddling in the affairs of hunters and fishermen who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors, algae blooms and all?

Scott Walker thinks so, and in a shocking move, is trying to defund them out of the budget picture. The key phrases in the WPR story below, “cleanup project” and “returning our waters” tells us we've got a problem now. These aren't predictions by a group of tree hugging alarmists:
A cleanup project for the western Wisconsin’s Red Cedar and St. Croix rivers could be in jeopardy due to a line item cut proposed in the state budget. Tainter-Menomin Lake Association President Ron Verdon told the Joint Finance Committee, "UW-Extension staff members play a critical role in providing support, knowledge, leadership and resources to address issues we face in returning our waters to a healthy condition." 
The idea of local control is a mirage Republican like to market under the banner of freedom...until they're in power. This is just one shining example of that. 

Do Republican voters believe as Walker does, that cleaning up our rivers and lakes is an option we just can't afford right now? 
In 2013, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Department of Natural Resources and counties formed a set of farmer-led councils aimed at reducing farm runoff into the Red Cedar and St. Croix Rivers that contributes to toxic algae blooms. However, the proposed state budget would cut $770,000 from that and other efforts in the state.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ryan Medicare reform says Seniors living on $1000 a month must pay more for health care, "so the cost is once again a consideration."

After extensive research into the workings of Medicare, I came away wondering why most people aren't just as outrage as I am. Here's what I posted a few weeks ago:
Seniors slipping into poverty: Seniors on Social Security average $1,305 a month; minus $105 a month fee just to have Medicare; minus $140 to $200 a month for supplemental insurance (Medigap) that pays for co-pays and deductibles charged seniors.
Many people don't know there are co-pays and deductibles in the Medicare program, or that they are forced to buy "optional" supplemental insurance to pay for all of the out-of-pocket costs.

That leaves most seniors with the below poverty level income of just $1,000 a month. 

Bad, but that's not horrific enough for Paul Ryan!!!

Ryan's concerned that many of these low income seniors have been "insulated" from the true cost of health care due to their costly supplemental insurance plans that prevent them from losing it all.

The following is so sick, so unmistakably cruel, that any criticism pales in comparison to the sinking feeling you'll have after reading his twisted logic:
Many seniors have "Medigap" insurance — that is, a private plan that helps pay for costs Medicare doesn't cover, like co-payments and deductibles. These plans insulate people from costs and, experts believe, encourage the overuse of healthcare. Beginning in 2020, this agreement would prohibit Medigap plans from covering the first $147 of out-of-pocket spending, so cost is once again a consideration in healthcare decisions. It would give seniors the security they deserve. And above all, it would be a firm step toward a patient-centered healthcare system."

Paul Ryan takes ObamaCare innovation and makes it his own? Not so fast.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. 

Paul Ryan’s not very original, and by my own estimates, not to smart either. In his recent editorial describing how he would privatize Medicare, he outright stole an ObamaCare feature. A feature he’s been trying to kill for years. Ryan even stole the failed marketplace idea and tax credits. And you thought Republicans hated ObamaCare?

And no one is calling him out on his hypocrisy, because politicians and the media don’t understand the Affordable Care Act. Ryan might have gotten away with it, but I’m here to expose this ghoulish phony. 

Ryan is taking credit for “managed care,” a reform idea that's now an integral part of ObamaCare, the marketplace, and Medicaid expansion. Yes, he's really trying to steal it, without ever saying "managed care:"
"Our plan would strengthen Medicare by encouraging better care and rewarding doctors for better results. Right now, Medicare pays doctors for every single treatment they perform … It rewards quantity, not quality, of care. We would … depend more and more on results. Our plan would … reward doctors who met performance goals and improved seniors' health. Over time, Medicare would reward quality over quantity, and seniors would get better care because of it … our plan would discourage unnecessary doctor visits and give seniors an incentive to seek the most effective care."
1. Wow, what an idea!!! If only the states tried doing this…
States are increasingly turning to Medicaid managed care as a key .... in many states under the Affordable Care Act. 
2. If only insurers began to adapt to all the changes in managed care... 
It’s important to understand that today, just about all health coverage plans are some type of “managed care” plan. Gone are the days of traditional “fee for service” … Under managed care plans pay doctors or hospitals directly … physicians may be paid a fixed annual per-member (“capitation”) rate, regardless of how many times the covered individual visits the physician. The health plan goal is to take away financial incentives to prescribe too much care.
3. If it sounds exactly like the Affordable Care Act...Ryan just loves to talk about "patient-centered health care," a tricky way to usher in privatization, and to say "you're on your own suckers," with no way for Americans to pay for their care. But the term means something completely different in the ACA:
TheAffordable Care Act is expected to impact access to care, change the way accountable care organizations are used. An ACO seeks to provide patient-centered treatment programs and manage the continuum of care across the healthcare delivery system, which includes everything from wellness to chronic disease.

Walker's tax cut for special interest Factories and Farms Guts Budget, will get worse....

It's policy stuff like this that'll make Scott Walker a great president.

The original Legislative Fiscal Bureau's estimated of one big tax cut was really really low, despite warnings by those who couldn't believe the numbers:
“Critics have called the manufacturing and ag tax credit little more than a straight giveaway to some of the wealthiest individuals in Wisconsin.”
Democrats were right, and they were attacked by Republicans as out of touch tax and spend liberals. That was the extent of the thought that went into the following tax cut monstrosity:
Cap Times: Factory owner tax cuts cost $275 million more — twiceoriginal projections: A measure tucked into Gov. Walker’s 2011 budget that effectively eliminated state income taxes on owners of factories and farms in Wisconsin is costing way more than predicted and contributing mightily to the current budget shortfalls.
Supply side geniuses don't believe demand creates jobs. They think if you give companies lots of money, those companies will hire people out of the goodness of their heart, even if they don’t need them:
The Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit was hailed at the time as a job-creating effort that would let businesses invest the savings in new hires and equipment.
Give credit to Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a policy and numbers wonk, who warned everybody when he ran for governor:
“I always believed that the credits would cost significantly more than the original projections.”

Harris also warned us when he appeared on Sly's afternoon radio show:

TWICE AS MUCH!!! HOLY COW: And for fun, take the top tax bracket and change it to zero:
But recent figures from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau show the credit will cost the state at least $275 million in additional lost tax collections over the next biennium, or more than double what was originally estimated. Top bracket taxpayers who qualify will see their state income tax rate fall from 7.75 percent to zero by 2016, when the credit fully kicks in.

Initial projections from Fiscal Bureau said the credits would amount to about $130 million in lost tax collections annually when fully implemented in 2016. But the Fiscal Bureau is now putting the cost at $224 million in 2015-16 and $284 million in 2016-17.
Give credit to Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz for at least pointing out how the Walker administration’s “very poor choices” created the budget crisis. And Walker won’t budge, even if we have to give up the UW, parks and borrow for transportation:
Hintz asked Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler if the tax credit phase-in could be delayed by two years to restore some of the cuts in Walker’s budget … Chandler said Walker would not support a delay in the credit’s full implementation and defended borrowing in other areas like transportation to cover the cost of the tax cuts.

Scott Walker's right-to-work promise of jobs empty rhetorical nonsense! Tea Party platform not a business plan.

Right wing free market theories and supply side carrots used to attract and encourage businesses to Wisconsin may play well to the bubble world base, but doesn't do squat in reality. The ideologically driven pursuit of establishing a business nirvana with talking points has hit the brick wall of corporate self interest - money before people:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Walker Saves Big Money for Menard's.....

We're finding out again, that dark money had coincidentally changed environmental rules in Wisconsin, and the sad thing is, we completely unaware of it. If conservatives truly believe in open government, why aren't they questioning Scott Walker's intentions to hide money when he asked donors to contribute to the Club for Growth? It's being used for dark reasons.

Not only did John Menard Jr., the 75 year old billionaire owner of Menard's get WEDC tax credits for expansion, he got a pass from the DNR via weaker environmental regulations. That made Menard very happy:
George Meyer, a former secretary of natural resources under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, said the hardware baron made no secret of his views on environmental enforcement. “He told me he just didn’t believe in environmental regulations,” said Meyer. “He was upfront about it.” 
So why someone like Menard, a true supply side believer, want to remain anonymous in support of the governor? What does he think would happen if the public knew what he was up to?
John Menard Jr. ... found the perfect way to (donated to Walker) without attracting any attention: He wrote more than $1.5 million in checks to a pro-Walker political advocacy group, the Wisconsin Club for Growth, that pledged to keep its donors secret, three sources directly familiar with the transactions told Yahoo News … seem to have paid off for the businessman and his company. 

In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs ... Walker’s appointees have sharply scaled back enforcement actions by the state DNR, a top Menard priority. 
Menard is your typical trash the environment conservative billionaire, who's disregard for things, like drinking water, parks, rivers and lakes is actually legendary:
The DNR had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes.

George Meyer said he had intense confrontations with Menard during the late 1990s over state environmental laws. In one instance, he said, state officials caught the billionaire store owner on videotape personally dumping arsenic-laden hazardous waste ashes from one of his lumber plants in a state landfill.

“I swear to God, he would have his employees bag up [the ashes] in plastic bags, and he would take them home and put them in his personal garbage,” said Meyer, who is now executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “They were going to a regular landfill, not to a hazardous waste facility. We were trying to get the attorney general to file criminal charges. If it had been you or me, it would have happened, but it didn't to John Menard.” Instead, Menard and his company settled and agreed to pay the $1.7 million civil fine, then a record in Wisconsin. 
And despite being the chairman of WEDC, Walker had nothing to do with giving Menard taxpayer help:
Laurel Patrick, Walker’s press secretary, strongly denied that the governor had provided any special favors for Menard and said Walker was “not involved” in the decision to award his firm tax credits, approved by the WEDC (Walker is chairman).
Here's even more from Rachel Maddow, and her interview with Isikoff:

Guilty Walker aide described as "First Political Prisoner."

Now a real contender, Scott Walker's run for president has made defending his past authoritarian misdeeds an almost surreal experience, even downright breathtaking. 

The Wisconsin Reporter may be the most outrageous attempt to date, with the sad story of lawless Walker aide, Kelly Rindfliesch. "Reporter" M.D. Kittle goes for broke defending illegal campaign emails by Rindfliesch. 

Kittle's Onion-esque title is pictured here, with a Tweet of support from another victim of liberal harassment, right wing radio host Vicki McKenna. 

Jaw dropping and ridiculous, Kittle is trying to make the case that conservatives should not be prosecuted by liberal DA's, even if they're caught breaking the law...just a little bit. 

Described as a "secret war on conservatives," Rindfliesch is laughably portrayed as "the first political prisoner." You really can't make this up any better than these right wing spin-meisters. You'll notice in the article that the secret router used to illegally campaign is never mentioned. Just an oversight I'm sure: 
Fox News: Kelly Rindfliesch could become the first political prisoner in what many see as a Democrat-led secret war on conservatives. Rindfleisch, was convicted in 2012 on a nebulous charge of misconduct in public office for answering campaign emails while serving as an aide to Gov. Scott Walker ... The charge, like the prosecutors' sweeping search of Rindfleisch's computers and smartphones, appears to have been expansive and ill-fitting her "crimes." 

"This started with them (Milwaukee County District Attorney's office) trying to get something on Scott Walker while he was running for governor, and their aggressiveness increased with the passage of Act 10, and it was no holds barred," Rindfleisch said. "They were going to do whatever they had to do to get him, even if it destroyed other people." 
You gotta love this....
Her attorney, Frank Gimbel, tells Wisconsin Reporter he will file a habeas corpus petition with the United States District Court for the Eastern District in Milwaukee. It’s a rather unusual move.

“We are challenging the state official that will have custody of Kelly on the grounds of this has gotten to the point where her liberty was taken away from her. And because she was deprived of due process, we’re asking the federal court to release her,” Gimbel said.
Stunningly bad reporting and outrageous spin.

Monday, March 23, 2015

State Republicans to bring back 7 Day work week...completely voluntary?

Ed Schultz talked to John Nichols and Wisconsin Jobs Now's Jennifer Epps-Addison about the GOP's not so clever way to workaround raising the minimum wage, by allowing labor to give up their weekends for more pay.

Both Senate and House Republican balanced Budget proposals Increase Taxes on Families and Businesses, Despite the Denials.

Funny thing about Republicans, they're crazy deficit exploding tax cuts and increases have never gotten much notice before, until now. They're in charge of congress, so now the truth is coming out....
AP: FACT CHECK: Higher taxes to balance GOP budgets: The new House and Senate Republican budgets make a big boast: They both balance the federal budget within 10 years, without raising taxes. Their own numbers, however, say millions of American families and businesses would have to pay more in taxes to make the math work — about $900 billion more over the next decade.

Both budgets also claim big savings by repealing President Barack Obama's health law. But at the same time, they rely on more than $1 trillion in tax revenue from the health law that would supposedly be repealed.
So how do they explain keeping the ObamaCare tax revenue? Why they're going to...change...the tax code...yea, that's the ticket:
The House Republican budget repeals all of Obamacare — including the Obamacare tax hikes while calling for fundamental tax reform. A revamped tax code could raise just as much revenue as the system in place today, but without the harmful tax policies embedded in current law (like the Affordable Care Act)."

Cruz supplies Presidential Comic Relief....

My conservative friend called me and asked if I had seen Ted Cruz' announced run for president. I'm not sure if he was kidding:

Idiots!!! Republicans crash and burn on every ObamaCare prediction, and still no apology? Now, about supply side economics...

Sorry for this long post, but it covers everything I've been collecting for a few weeks on the Affordable Care Act. All I can say is "holy crap" if the Supreme Court trashes the federal tax credit.

First: Business is now a part of the ACA marketplace. The reason you haven't heard anything about it is because businesses haven't complained one bit.
Five years after employers were considering terminating health coverage due to costs and other issues related to the Affordable Care Act, companies have largely changed their tune as fears have not been realized, according to a new analysis. Just three percent of employers are now likely to terminate health plans for active employees, according to Mercer, one of the largest employee benefits consultancies and a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan MMC +0.61% Companies (MMC).

“The percentage of large employers that say they are likely to terminate coverage and send employees to the public exchange has fallen each year since the ACA was signed into law – from 9% in 2010 to just 3% in 2015,” Beth Umland, Mercer’s director of research for health and benefits, told Forbes. (See graphic) ...employers with 100 or more workers in January were required by the Affordable Care Act to offer 70 percent of their full-time workers coverage. In 2016, employers with 50 or more full-time workers have to start offering coverage. Employers see offering health benefits as important to keeping the best workers.
This headline, "5 years later, ‘Obamacare’ critics can’t believe their lying eyes," says it all. MSNBC-Steve Benen:
Failed Prediction #1: Americans won’t enroll in the ACA - among some on the right, this was a foregone conclusion – Americans wouldn’t trust “Obamacare.” We now know, of course, that the opposite is true and that millions of families have eagerly signed up for benefits through the ACA.

Failed Prediction #2: The ACA won’t meet its enrollment goals: In reality, both this year and last year, enrollment totals exceeded the Obama administration’s preliminary projections. 

Failed Prediction #3: Insurers will want no part of the ACA system: This also proved to be the opposite of the truth, as insurance companies have been eager to compete for Americans’ business.

Failed Prediction #4: The economy will suffer terribly because of ‘Obamacare’:’ In reality, 2014 was the best year for American job creation since the ’90s; the unemployment has shown sharp improvement; and there’s literally no evidence that the ACA had an adverse effect on economic growth at all.

Failed Prediction #5: Even if Americans enrolled, they won’t pay their premiums: It was, however, completely wrong.

Failed Prediction #6: Even if people pay their premiums, the flawed ACA structure will send premiums soaring: This just hasn’t happened and the ACA model has proven to be quite effective.

Failed Prediction #7: The ACA won’t reduce the uninsured rate because it will only help those who already have coverage: This was a GOP favorite for quite a while, right up until the evidence proved the right had this backwards, too.

Failed Prediction #8: The ACA will lead to a “net loss” on overall coverage: This line was pushed by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for a while, As it turns out, his actual beliefs were ridiculously wrong.

Failed Prediction #9: The ACA will lead to higher deficits and a weaker fiscal footing for the nation: The GOP assumed the non-partisan budget analyses were wrong and proceeded to tell the country the law would make the deficit larger and “bankrupt” the country. According to the CBO, however, Republicans got this backwards, too. In fact, the overall price tag of the ACA is now smaller than previously projected.

Failed Prediction #10: Americans will end up hating the coverage they receive through the ACA: Customer satisfaction rates came as a huge surprise to Republicans, who expected the opposite results: 71 percent said their coverage through the exchanges was good or excellent, according to a Gallup poll released Friday. Another 19 percent said the coverage was fair.”

ACA critics were wrong about the “death spiral,” “rate shock,” young people wouldn’t enroll, assertions that Medicare patients would suffer. None of these predictions – literally, none of them – stood up to scrutiny. None of the prominent figures in Republican politics who were wrong are willing to take responsibility for their failed predictions … to explain their abysmal predictive powers and fact-free critiques (or offer a credible alternative). 
Check out the BS in this fund raising letter from Gov. Scott Walker, who has no idea...

Patriotic Texas Republicans now say "price tag" is too high for promised free college education for veteran's kids.

It felt so good at the time.

I remember when Republicans here decided to give veterans a free college education – even to their kids – so they could look like real heroes too. But instead of showing their patriotism with a little cash, they skipped the check and told the UW to absorb the cost. I’m still shaking my head over that one.

Well, check out what Texas Republicans are doing to honor their vets...the same thing:
Lawmakers: Funding education for Texas veterans is too high:  For decades, veterans went to public universities and colleges under the Hazlewood Exemption, which kicks in after federal benefits under the G.I. Bill are exhausted. But the price tag has increased seven fold since 2009, when legislators in Texas — which has the country's second-highest veteran population, 1.7 million — allowed the benefit to be passed on to veterans' children under a legacy provision.
They’re crying alligator tears…
"Everybody's heart was in the right place when we added all the other beneficiaries," said Republican Sen. Kel Seliger, chair of the Senate's higher education committee. But, he added, "it just got too high of a price tag."
Just like Social Security and Medicare, we apparently over promised our veterans benefits too.

GOP selling Chumps on School Choice.

How is it that kids in Wisconsin's failing public schools continue to rank second nationwide on the ACT college readiness exams? Surprise, our schools aren't failing. It's all marketing. Advocates will tell you enrollment is increasing, but that's a distraction from what really counts, their overall student test scores. Again, it's just marketing.  

A recent report found that urban charter schools did better than their public counterparts in Milwaukee, more so in math than in reading. But there's a reason they topped MPS:
jsonline: The study notes that traditional public schools in Milwaukee serve about 6% more children with special needs than charter schools … students with disabilities generally have lower achievement … there was still potential for more motivated parents to wind up in the charter school side … Todd Ziebarth, senior VP for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, also said "…you have buy-in from families and staff" in charter schools that is often harder to create in traditional urban schools”.
Despite these important caveats, a few Republicans were quick to reshape and propagandize the study:
Charter schools are helping to expand access to quality education, by Republicans Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. Dale Kooyenga: Stanford's Center for Research on Education Outcomes recently found that students in Milwaukee charter schools are outperforming their peers in Milwaukee Public Schools. We should be expanding access to quality schools — not trying to regulate them out of business. 
Instead, Darling and Kooyenga want to regulated public schools our of business. The 2 to 1 gains for charters in urban regions suggest that if we just got rid of special needs students, and only accepted students pushed by motivated parents, we’d be in pretty good shape. Still, who's comfortable with three parallel school systems watering down a serious investment in education?

Both Darling and Kooyenga are also hoping you don’t read much, because there are two new studies about education that will prove it's all about commercializing education and commodifying our kids, not improving it. 
Study #1: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), looks at the international tests that rank students worldwide in reading, math, and science … the report shows that in schools with less than 25 percent poverty rates, American children scored higher in reading than any other children in the world. In. The. World. Our middle-class and wealthy public school children are thriving. Poor children are struggling with all the well-documented handicaps; poor prenatal care, developmental delays, hunger, illness, homelessness, emotional and mental illnesses, and so on.

Study #2: The United States is, by far, the wealthiest and best-educated of the nine G-7 countries studied by the Horace Mann League and National Superintendents Roundtable, yet it posts some of the worst measures of economic inequality, social stress, and support for young families. For policymakers, the report says, “Celebrate the success of schools while helping address some of the out-of-school issues that challenge educators, communities, and young people every day. Encourage rather than withhold funds for research in the social, behavior, and economic sciences to advance the well-being of the nation’s people.
And unlike Scott Walker, who successfully vilified educators and parents who were protesting Act 10, we should instead be listening to those closest to our kids:
If policy makers were to listen to educators – and to students and parents – they would hear that the real crisis in public education is the loss of our collective commitment to the common good. If we continue to make the kinds of choices that steer resources away from our neediest students, the false narrative of failing public schools will become a sad reality.
If businesses exist to make a profit, then why wouldn't education take a back seat to those profits? That’s exactly what’s happening, big surprise:
The new charter school movement is a compilation of money, marketing and the mistaken use of the free market theory … The word has gotten out that charter schools are huge money making machines. Corporate and education management companies are raking in millions from the taxpayer … you might want to start paying attention to the huge amount of taxpayer dollars these companies are consuming with no transparency and no accountability. Your hard-earned dollars are disappearing into a black hole.

Simply google “Charter school issues in Michigan 2015” or “Charter school issues in Ohio 2015” to find out why these states are trying to change a trend that includes low-performing charter schools and out-of-control charter management companies. Money, money, money is controlling the new movement.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Secret Scott Walker Agenda: it's gotten to the point that Staff and Legislators don't even know.

I'll admit, it's difficult to blog three or four stories a day without getting really depressed.

Let's face it, two thirds of Wisconsinites who are not part of the Borg-like Republican authority don't have a say anymore.

Conservative radio talk hosts are outraged people would protest and speak out against government policy. I'm serious. The other day I heard WIBA's Vicki McKenna blast and belittle stunned Wisconsinites fighting to keep our state parks and public university accessible to all. It seems the 1st Amendment is damn awful annoying to them lately. Who protests anymore, when sugar daddy billionaires are buying our politicians.

My conservative friend in Milwaukee shocked me yesterday when I asked him about Scott Walker's latest budget surprises, you know, dumping the UW and state parks. Ready for this? He didn't know what I was talking about. He follows Benghazi, Hillary's emails, and Obama's lawlessness, but Walker's inflicted pain on Wisconsin? Hey, it's gonna be baseball season he said.

So just in case he reads this, here's what John Torinus, chairman of Serigraph Inc in West Bend said the other day:
The budget surprises and gaffes demonstrate the staff's isolation from the citizens, from the cabinet and even from legislative leaders, who were also out of the loop on some major budget bombshells. 

Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, admitted to being surprised by the governor's budget proposal to strip the Natural Resources Board of its traditional policy-making role. She also does not appear to have been directly involved in the major decision to zero out the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund that conserves select lands.

Similarly, Kitty Rhoades, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, was caught flat-footed by the budget proposal to completely revamp the state's Medicaid program for long-term health care of the elderly and handicapped. It's a $2 billion program, so this is not a trivial matter.

Before the bombshell budget came out, Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb had gone public with a call for a lot more money for road building, The secretary must have been embarrassed. Instead, Walker proposed in his budget a major bonding program that avoids a tax hike now but will probably raise taxes down the road.
Torinus, who my conservative friend has liked and listened to in the past, also brought up...
Whacking the University of Wisconsin System, trimming K-12 education, jacking up public park fees and cutting state support for parks and killing stewardship. 
So for anyone else like my disconnected conservative friend, think about this: 
Gov. Walker said his primary focus after election would be governing Wisconsin, because that would be the best credential if he were to run for the presidency.

How's that working out for us?

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Law intentionally blocking abortions declared Unconstitutional by Federal Judge.

This is big....
jsonline: A federal judge on Friday struck down a Wisconsin law requiring doctors performing abortions to get hospital-admitting privileges, concluding that the measure was enacted primarily to provide an obstacle for women seeking abortions.

U.S. District Judge William Conley, who earlier had put the law on hold, ruled that the 2013 law is unconstitutional. He issued a permanent injunction blocking its enforcement. "The only reasonable conclusion is that the legislation was motivated by an improper purpose, namely to restrict the availability of abortion services in Wisconsin," Conley wrote.

Lester Pines, a Madison attorney who argued the case for Planned Parenthood, said it was clear from the 93-page decision that Conley did not consider the matter a close call. "This was an overwhelming victory for the rights of women in this state," Pines said late Friday.
Of course Scott Walker will appeal the decision.

Walker trampled 1st Amendment and will do it again.

Think Progress's Josh Israel brought back an old Scott Walker oldie and a baddie from 2001, and a now frightening idea considering what might happen if he were to ever become president.

While Republicans have pushed religious freedom to ridiculous levels, Hobby Lobby comes to mind, Walker awhile back took that 1st Amendment right and wanted to crush it. The Wiccan religion,
which celebrates nature and the Earth, wasn't popular enough he said. That's hardly constitutional:
On September 28, 2001, a group of Wisconsin legislators introduced a resolution memorializing (Sept. 11th) “the unity and patriotism of the American people, who hold diverse religious beliefs and represent diverse ethnic heritages.” Six weeks later, one of the resolution’s co-authors — then Wisconsin Assemblyman Scott Walker (R) — posted an alliterative press release, titled “Walker Questions Need for Wiccan Witch of Waupun.” He was chairman of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Committee on Corrections and the Courts and was upset that the Rev. Jamyi Witch had been hired as a full-time chaplain at the maximum-security Waupun Correctional Institution. His reason: her Wiccan faith.

The warden who hired her told the local press at the time that her interviews, references, background and extensive knowledge of a wide array of alternative religions made her the clear choice for the job: “Jamyi is an outstandingly approachable person, somebody that I wouldn’t mind approaching on spiritual matters myself. Witch’s hiring raises both personal and political concerns. Not only does she practice a different religion than most of the inmates, she practices a religion that actually offends people of many other faiths, including Christians, Muslims and Jews.”

She recalled “Walker came out saying he would do whatever it took to have me removed from my position.”

Walker’s stated objection were entirely based on her religion. Walker said, “I can’t imagine that most of the inmates would feel particularly comfortable going to that individual … I would think, in some ways from a religious standpoint, it might actually put inmates in a position that talking to [a Wiccan] is contrary to what some of their own religious beliefs might be.”

Selena Fox. Rev. Fox, whose Lady Liberty League works to defend the rights of Wiccans told ThinkProgress that Walker’s actions demonstrated a lack of understanding of the U.S. Constitution … Witch noted that his effort did “stir up right wing conservative religious fundamentalists.” A state legislative employee put out a press release, she recalled, with the language “burn the witch” … she endured multiple death threats, harassment of her school-aged children, slashed tires, and a silver cross painted on her door. 

Witch urges voters to “beware.” “If we get a man in the White House who is okay with actively seeking to have people removed from their positions because they are not of a faith he approves of… we’ve been down that road before.” Rob Boston, director of communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State echoed that point. “The incident with Rev. Witch was a test of tolerance for Scott Walker and a chance to show true leadership. He failed it miserably.” 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Who didn't see this coming..."Sodomite Suppression Act" allows gays and lesbians to be "put to death by bullets to the head."

Is America becoming a radicalized right wing despotic country? Yes, with a little ISIS envy thrown in. Here's what attorney Matthew Gregory McLaughlin thought California, heck, the country needs to keep God on our side:

A group of California legislators has filed a complaint against a lawyer who is proposing a statewide ballot initiative that would allow gays and lesbians to be "put to death by bullets to the head."

Matthew Gregory McLaughlin, an Orange County attorney, filed the so-called Sodomite Suppression Act on Feb. 24 with the state's Office of the Attorney General. McLaughlin's proposed law would also ban gays — whom he refers to as "sodomites" — from holding public office. Under his proposed law, people found guilty of spreading "sodomite propaganda" would be fined $1 million or see jail time.

McLaughlin faces an uphill task … The initiative must gather the number of signatures equal to 5 percent of those who voted in the last election for governor — or about 366,000 valid names. 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's Phil Coulson from Manitowoc Wisconsin....

Phil Coulson is coming back to Wisconsin with his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in tow, to fight "Cal" and his team of villains seeking revenge in Coulson's hometown of Manitowoc. Here's a series of pictures leading up to the moment:

It's not surprising, since H.Y.D.R.A.'s Midwest leader Scott Walker has been in charge. I liked the description of the HYDRA polo shirt being offered online:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Parents Statewide angry over Walker's cuts to Schools, while teacher applicants way down or they're just leaving Wisconsin.

Scott Walker's budget was so dramatically out of line with expectations of state residents, that it's hard to know what he was thinking. This is an all or nothing proposed downsizing or rejection of everything "government." Many Walker voters are suddenly feeling the full effects of their own policy. Beloit Daily News: 
BRILLION, WI: The overwhelming message dozens of educators, parents and school board members delivered to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee Wednesday was simple: Fund public schools and stop the expansion of taxpayer-subsidized vouchers.

"I'm not just concerned, I'm appalled that education cuts are even on the table. … Our schools are not failing as you have been repeatedly told. They are struggling to succeed with the little resources that you offer them," Kathryn Carley, who has children in the Green Bay Area Public School District, told the committee. Hundreds of community members attended the day-long public hearing at Brillion High School, most of them voicing concerns on varying aspects of Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.

Don Hietpas, Appleton's chief financial officer: "We cannot sustain excellent student programming and student activities if our revenues continue to be frozen," Hietpas said.
Scott Walker's Act 10 union busting "tools" are all worn out. Vilified teachers leaving state:
Beloit area schools are having a harder time recruiting teachers: Superintendent of the Beloit Turner School District Dennis McCarthy said there has been a sharp reduction in applicants for teaching positions for the past several years. “We have posted numerous positions with little or no applicants … there are simply far less quality candidates available.”

McCarthy said a technical education teacher position in 2009 yielded 17 applicants, but the same position had 5 applicants in 2013. A fifth grade teacher yielded 259 applicants in 2009, yet there were only 28 applicants in 2014 for the same position … down 30 teachers from the four years ago … anticipates $5 million in cuts this year. Tasha Bell, equity coordinator for the district, said “This year we have gone to fairs in Illinois hoping to net some bilingual and candidates of color.”

Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell, associate dean of teacher education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said there has been a decline among students pursuing education at the university. “It hasn’t been significant, but it’s going down,” Hanley-Maxell said.

Hanley-Maxwell said those who do become teachers are choosing more often to leave the state, estimating a 10 percent increase in students who leave Wisconsin after graduating from UW-Madison … enrollment in California teaching programs is down 53 percent