Sunday, January 31, 2016

Liberal Union Loving Anti-Business Madison and Dane County comes in with the lowest Unemployment rate in State.

Those poor Walker trolls and their insulting factless name calling, they just can't get a break when it comes to the brutal truth:
AP: New data show Madison and Dane County still have the lowest unemployment rates among cities and counties in Wisconsin.
Walker WOW county conservative voters, any thoughts?

Free Speech Dollars buy corrupting political influence and special favors, just like we thought.

Stand with Walker supporters will have no problem with Scott Walker's plan to let their wealthy conservative elite take over our government, as long as they're rewarded with a whopping $1 in property tax savings. Not a good deal trolls.

The following thinking kinda proves how our conservative activist U.S. Supreme Court has been able to twist logic into a nonsensical looking pretzel:
Justice Kennedy stated that restrictions on corporate campaign expenditures "have a chilling effect extending well beyond the government's interest in preventing quid pro quo corruption." Kennedy concluded, "The anticorruption interest is not sufficient to displace the speech here in question" ... our nation's ability to protect itself from the corruption of our government is overridden by the "right" of a corporation to make expenditures in elections.
With logic like that...

So proof is in the pudding: Guess what, the governor who's going around the state holding supposed "listening sessions," appears to be listening to big money donors a whole lot more. JS:
Click to enlarge
What does a million-dollar political donor get for his or her money these days? The answer is spelled out in great detail in a handout from the super PAC supporting Republican Gov. Scott Walker's potential presidential bid.

Among the perks: Twice-a-year retreats, members-only briefings, weekly email updates, members-only conference calls, a dedicated staff contact, two private dinners with "VIP Special Guest(s)," inclusion in "all public/regional fundraising events," and a special "Executive Board Member" pin.

Those benefits are itemized in a handout from Unintimidated PAC, the committee launched by longtime Walker advisers.
Need another example? I've got one...remember this gem from last week when the Republicans revealed their plan to eventually privatize Wisconsin's drinking water? Who were they listening too...?
Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) said he introduced the bill after meeting with representatives of Aqua America and its lobbyist, Steve Foti, a former GOP legislator...
No one else was asking to make it easier for private companies to take control of our drinking water, just lobbyists. Scary as hell isn't it. I mean really, this is how quickly the state is now taking their orders from private interests. Their now on automatic pilot.  

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Republican Rep. August admits helping Aqua America lobbyists Privatize our drinking water.

Some things seem pretty obvious, like this headline in the Journal Sentinel...

Concerns raised about bill allowing purchase of municipal water systems

Republicans brag business can do things more efficiently, but that's only because it fattens their corporate bottom line, it's not to save customers money. It also brings the corporate campaign contributions too.

I don't know about you, but privatizing our water supply sounds like an evil plot from an old James Bond movie. The question I have is where were the Democrats when this came down? JS:
A bill quickly moving through the Legislature that would ease restrictions on the private purchase of municipal water systems is being pushed by a Pennsylvania company whose aggressive growth strategy has resulted in nearly 200 acquisitions in the last decade. Aqua America Inc. operates water systems in eight states, including Illinois. The company is now eyeing Wisconsin — a potential market where virtually all water and sewer systems are owned and operated by municipalities.
Small government has always been an excuse to sell it off. Water is just another high demand commodity private industry can't wait to get their hands on. Their lobbyist have totally edged out the interests of you and me, the freeloading public who have gotten used to drinking it without much thought. Rep. Tyler August even admitted he was kowtowing to the interest of lobbyists...would I kid you?
Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) said he introduced the bill after meeting with representatives of Aqua America and its lobbyist, Steve Foti, a former GOP legislator ... emphasized the decision remains in the hands of local elected officials on whether to keep or sell water operations. "It was a way to give communities an option, if they think someone else could do a better job," August said. "I really thought it was a simple change."
Heck, Aqua America has such a great record too....
The company has encountered consumer backlash in some of its markets over service, water quality and other issues. In December 2014, Fort Wayne, Ind., bought back its water system from Aqua America and paid a total of $67 million after residents complained about low water pressure and hard water that damaged appliances. Kimberly Joyce of Aqua America (said), “Just because we are an investor-owned company doesn't mean we are only focused on profits."
That quote is so insulting...and yet the bad news doesn't end there.

Big Government, One-Size-Fits-All Republicans out to Kill Off Local Control!!! That's not hyperbole. Meddling locals will be written out of having a final say, leaving the decision up to our "leaders." Sure we can vote them out, but only after the fact:
In addition to removing barriers to out-of-the-state ownership, the Wisconsin legislation would change the law on the use of referendums to approve or reject a deal. Critics say the changes will diminish the public's voice; supporters say it puts decision-making in the hands of local elected officials. The bill would make referendums optional. Citizens would have 60 days to get the signatures of 10% of the voters in the municipality to force a referendum. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities supports the bill because the organization prefers decision-making by elected officials — not by referendums.
This is sailing through the legislature folks, and there's not a thing anybody can do about it. There's more at Wisconsin Gazette and the Huffington Post

Friday, January 29, 2016

So if Guns make us Safer....?

This says more about the divisive and dangerous lie Republicans are exploiting just so they could get elected into a government they hate...

Carson mocked the concept of gun-free zones in his rally Tuesday night in Georgia, before a crowd of about 2,000. "You have people who want to kill you and you're going to say, 'Uh, why don't you come over here, none of us have guns,'" he said to laughter and applause. "I mean that is just so asinine it's unbelievable." He spoke at center stage with armed Secret Service agents standing to his left and his right.

Defunding Planned Parenthood on a lie, and the unintended consequences of doubling down.

Based on the now discredited videos vilifying Planned Parenthood, Republicans are still trying to cut their funding in the Badger state:
The Senate took up the bills reducing government payments to Planned Parenthood as a separate measure backed by abortion opponents...

Yes, Republicans are still going to do it, even after:
a grand jury indicted two anti-abortion activists from the Center for Medical Progress.
Oddly, reality is making an even better case against Wisconsin's bad legislation.

Look at the Texas disaster, where identical legislation had passed and failed:
For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. Of the 82 clinics that have closed, only a third were Planned Parenthood.
Republicans here say other health providers will be able to step in, but that flies in the face of the facts. In another attack on rural conservative voters... NPR:
So in 2013, the Legislature essentially restored the money. But finding new providers, especially in the countryside, has been slow and difficult.

The Legislature's target was abortion, but the unintended consequence was that family planning clinics that had nothing to do with abortion, especially rural clinics, ran out of money. By 2014, 82 family planning clinics across the state had closed. The consequence was calamitous. In Midland, for example, when the Planned Parenthood clinic closed, there were two aftereffects: 8,000 well-women appointments a year vanished.
Despite these indisputable facts, Republicans aren't budging from their story:
JS: Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) saidwomen can get their birth control from other providers … "Since when is birth control a rare commodity? I think it's pretty easy to find.”

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach disputed that, saying women in northern Wisconsin and other rural areas have difficulty in accessing birth control.

The federal governments Title X money will now go to other providers in Wisconsin, but Texas tried the same thing and failed...
"A lot of the funding that has been allocated has gone to organizations that do not necessarily have the expertise or the necessary training to provide the types of family planning, contraceptive, preventive reproductive health care that the Planned Parenthood clinics provided," Kari White, one of the lead researchers said.
Republicans here say there won’t be a drop in getting the same care they got at PP:
Midland Community Healthcare Services Clinic in West Texas is open, and every day it's three lines deep as women file in for treatment. The numbers are harsh. In Texas, just 22 percent of childbearing-age women who qualify for subsidized preventive health care treatment actually get it.
And as usual, Republican aren’t the slight bit concerned about losing lots of money, it’s about a belief system:
The Legislature's own researchers predicted that more than 20,000 resulting unplanned births would cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars in federal and state Medicaid support. 

Republicans don't just hate America, they even hate their own Presidential Candidates!

The following compilation of right wing pundits and candidates proves what I've been saying all along; Republicans have hit the Bizzaro World phase of their transformation. And by the way, they want to run a country:

Act 10's anti-freedom and liberty choice to be in unions cuts Membership in half.

Republican logic follows that unions can still provide services they’re not allowed to perform, without membership dues, to non-members who are along for a free ride. Any decline will prove unions were always bad.  So...
(Before Act 10) Wisconsin union members made up 14 percent of the total workforce. Last year, that number shrank to just over 8 percent.
Big surprise? Even when private sector union businesses objected to government interference, Republicans ignored their free market choice. So much for freedom and liberty, as mentioned by one right wing trolls comment below:
Clearly the people of Wisconsin have spoken with their feet exactly how useful unions are to them. Long live the liberty and freedom of the people of Wisconsin to make their own choices. Never again let us be forced to join organizations we do not support.
Last I looked no one has ever been forced to join a union, since no one is forced to work at a union company. Job seekers still have the freedom and liberty to walk away from a unionized business.

This was a big government choice to destroy a business Republicans did not agree with. And a business that challenged their campaign contributors. Kind of gets back down to money...I mean free speech. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald admitted as much in the Fox News clip below, saying without union cash, Republicans win:

Gary Chaison, a professor of industrial relations with Clark University, said Act 10 and a right-to-work law crippled organized labor. "Essentially it was an anti-union climate in Wisconsin that resulted in severe loss of membership," he said. Chaison said the decline is a major historical shift for a state that at one time was a leader of the national labor movement.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Republicans Backtrack on Cuts to Veterans Services in Wisconsin...ya think?

While Trump is oddly bragging about raising money for veterans through a phony right wing group with the ridiculous name, "Veterans for a Strong America," the Republican Party he represents is doing everything they can to punish, economically squeeze and ignore the quality of veteran services.

George W. Bush asked the veterans administration to not tell vets about their promised benefits so the nation could save money. True. Veterans in Republican states were also forgotten until something horrible happened, even after whistle-blowers were trying to get their attention.

So I wasn't surprised when Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard put out a bill to save money on the backs of veterans. Blow back was immediate. WISC:

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said a portion of a bill circulated for co-sponsorship last week related to county veterans service officers will be re-drafted.

Currently, every county in the state is required to employ a county veterans service officer. The bill changed language in state statutes saying counties "shall" have a CVSO to that they "may" have one. It also repealed language requiring counties to provide space for the veteran's office. 
Wanggaard isn't done with veterans, and he isn't done trying to attack their services, because he's proposing another one of those phony task forces that won't really listen to anyone. It just delays the inevitable. 
Wanggaard said after concerns from veteran's advocates, he said they're going back to the drawing board and create a task force to study it further with all the participants," Wanggaard said. The initial goal of the bill, Wanggaard said was to allow consolidation among counties with smaller veteran populations in order to save money and distribute resources more efficiently.
But Wanggaard left out one important fact; consolidation failed:

Bill Rosenau, CVSO for Waushara County and president of the County Veterans Service Officers Association, said only two counties have explored consolidation. Buffalo and Pepin counties had been combining services for the last year, until last week when it was decided the workload was too great to continue.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gerrymandering Myth that "Both Sides Do It" Busted in Wisconsin.

GOP myth busting continues. It nice to see the lie about Democratic gerrymandering in Wisconsin finally come to an end.

Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy brought all the pieces together. Remember one detail not mentioned; when Republicans gerrymandered in 2012, they had to take an oath of secrecy to keep their scheme from getting out into the public. Who does that? In summary...
MURPHY’S LAW: The Myth of Democratic Gerrymandering: When the Republicans need someone to spin the electorate, there is never anyone better for the job than Christian Schneider ... an August 2013 column peddling the theory that this was no different or more partisan than past efforts when Democrats held power. To buttress his claim, he pointed to the an action taken by Democratic Gov. Tony Earl, elected in 1982 ... “As was the case just last year, one party got to set legislative boundaries to their political advantage, to ensure partisan majorities,” Schnieder wrote.

This defense — the Nixonian “they all do it” — has now become Republican dogma … The Public Policy Institute of Chicago devised an “efficiency gap,” which measures the ratio of each party’s wasted votes to all votes cast. Prof. Simon Jackman of Stanford University then did a historic analysis which measured the efficiency gap for each party in 786 state legislative elections in 41 states from 1972-2014.
Here's the amazing truth:
And looking at Wisconsin’s Republican efficiency gap advantage of 13 percent in 2012 and 10 percent in 2014, he concluded that in “the entire set of 786 state legislative elections” no other two-election sequence after redistricting achieved this big an advantage for either party. The gerrymandering in Wisconsin is “virtually without historical precedent,” he concluded.

As for the idea that Wisconsin’s Republicans are only doing what Democrats before them did, that couldn’t be more untrue. The state’s highest Democratic efficiency gap since 1972 was just 2 percent in 1994, Jackman found. The current Republican advantage is at least five times larger. 

But what about that egregious redistricting by Gov. Earl? Stephanopolous reviewed the data for me and found that ... after the relatively minor changes made by Earl and the Democrats, that changed to a 2.4 percent GOP advantage in 1984. Throughout the 1980s, the Democrats never had an efficiency gap advantage.

But Schneider’s claim becomes all the more hollow when you consider a initial ruling by a three-judge federal court, of which two judges were appointed by Republican presidents, in response to a suit against the Republicans’ redistricting in Wisconsin. The ruling noted that historical data suggests “there is close to a zero percent chance that the current (Wisconsin) plan’s efficiency gap will ever favor the Democrats during the remainder of the decade.” That stands in start contrast to advantages realized in the past
Expert Partisan Republican Help:
The ruling noted that Republicans hired Ronald Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma, to help with the redistricting: “Gaddie’s model forecast that the Assembly plan would have a pro-Republican ‘efficiency gap’ of 12 percent.” Gaddie, it appears, used the efficiency gap analysis ... to instead assure a massive partisan advantage. All of which may be taken into account in the federal court’s ultimate ruling ... Republican insiders had to know about Gaddie’s role; he has done work for the conservative American Enterprise Institute and his involvement here was reported by

Republicans lied about refinancing options for Students loans, ignore UW for Dual Credit Program.

Getting college education shouldn't be this hard.

Like everything else, the Republicans Rube Goldberg political agenda just keeps making things harder to get, with hoops and big government regulations that are meant to discourage people from pursuing their life goals. Like going to college.

Check out a clip from Michael Moore's latest documentary, "Where to Invade Next," that shows us all how easy going to college can be:

Scott Walker, like all Republicans, aren't fans of letting regular Americans get a college education. That's only a good idea when it comes to the elite, our leaders, like Walker's own two college educated sons. Walker's massive cuts to the UW system and accusations of liberal indoctrination have worked wonders with their conspiratorial voters.

And while Minnesota's "Self-Refi" state program gets underway, Walker has no intention of cutting into the banking industries college loan interest bonanza. Should Wisconsin start it's own program? Are you kidding. The "accountant caucus's" know-it-all answer man Rep. Dale Kooyenga even lied about why it was a bad idea:
As for Kooyenga, he told us his "I was speaking to the fact that beginning in 2008 the federal government began purchasing the loans made by private lenders" … (but) the context of the discussion was about students refinancing their loans through the government.

Indeed, that’s why Democrats have been pushing legislation to allow federal refinancing. Backers include Baldwin and Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold. Democrats have pushed legislation to allow the federal government to offer refinancing, so that student borrowers can get lower interest rates. But that legislation has not been adopted, and the federal government does not do refinancing.

Which means Kooyenga’s claim is False.

Scott Walker’s Dual Credit Program excludes UW. Walker’s college assistance plan only applies to tech schools. Dual credit simply means you can get high school and college credits at the same time.

While Walker references research that says dual credit programs save money and make it more likely students will complete college, it only applies to technical colleges. Don't we want UW students to get their money's worth and finish too?

My gut tells me Walker’s is only interested in bumping up his job creation numbers, so technical training is the fastest way to do that. Chippewa Herald: 
Research has shown students who are exposed to college-level experiences while still in high school are more likely to complete college, according to CVTC officials. Walker has proposed an additional $3 million statewide to support dual credit programs, in addition to the $35.4 million of funding for the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, which includes dual credit initiatives. “We’d like to put even more resources into the next state budget so all 434 Wisconsin school districts can start dual credit programs,” Walker said.

Walker also proposed increasing financial aid grants for technical college students.

Oregon Standoffs "Man in a Tarp" said he'd rather die, and he did.

Suicide by cop? That's what some are saying.
According to The Oregonian, witnesses said that Finicum was “charging” at officers when he was killed. Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, the spokesman of the refuge occupation, was shot and killed after he charged police during a roadside stop north of Burns on Tuesday, according to a man on Facebook who claims to be the driver of one of two vehicles involved in the highway shooting.

18-year-old, Victoria Sharp shared her story of what unfolded outside of Burns in a YouTube video. “Finicum, drove and we all got down on the floorboards and they just started firing at us, shooting at us a bunch of times," she said, adding that Finicum reached the roadblock and his truck rammed into a snowbank. With the car running, she said, Finicum "got out of the car and he had his hands in the air and he was like, 'Just shoot me then, just shoot me.'"

"And they did," she said. "They shot him dead."
In a video clip I never posted, Lawrence O'Donnell took interest in Finicum's use of a blue tarp, and asked the on site reporter to talk to him.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

GOP trick to make Public Schools sound like Private Schools fails.

Republican lawmaker and former teacher Jeremy Thiesfeldt must think we’re stupid, and after taking a look at his plans for public education, he apparently wants to make our kids that way too.

Public Profit Bad, Private Profit Good: Thiesfeldt complained in his press release that the Fond du Lac School Districts made up for lost funding by increasing taxes and then having a surplus, what he oddly called “profit.” That’s rich coming from a guy pushing profit driven private schools:
Former disgruntled teacher!!!
The Fond du Lac School District (FDLSD) “increased its tax levy $379,407 due to private school voucher students.” A Fond du Lac Reporter article took advantage of that complexity to mislead the readers, whether intentional or not, to put the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program (WPCP) in a negative light. The districts levied beyond the costs of the WPCP, profiting from students that are no longer enrolled, or never were enrolled in district schools.
Profit is usually paid out to someone or something. The districts money will stay with the district and pay for schools. 

Below I’ve interpreted Thiesfeldt’s nonsensical list of talking points, with my comments in parenthesis:  

“Students are educated at a lower cost (education will be driven by cost, not outcomes) and access to more educational choices (the magical thinking that more choices makes things better) yields greater parent satisfaction (playing on the insecurities and fears of parents who want to do what's best for their kids) and improved outcomes (simply not factually true). 
Thiesfeldt closes with meaningless, nonsensical assumptions:
In America today, people are demanding choices (no, Republican privateers are demanding choices). In order to efficiently provide for more educational choices, we must conclude all good schools are worthy of some level of public financial support ("we must? ... 'these aren't the droids you're looking for...sorry, just more insane claptrap beyond any Jedi mind trick). 

Good schools need adequate funding as they assist parents in educating their children (but not public schools, right?); dedicated teachers need fair compensation, good training and parental support; good parents need to be actively engaged in school governance; students need parents to hold them to high standards (yes, for public schools. Try "governance" of a private school sometime)

Cooperation amongst all these entities (just give-in to profit driven private schools) will yield students that possess the skills our workforce requires, but, more importantly will sustain and advance the American tradition by passing the keys of freedom to coming generations (dripping nationalism, since when are private for profit schools traditional?).
Isn't it a little suspicious that a 21 year former religious school teacher wants to expand vouchers? Thiesfeldt's ultimate goal is like so many others in his party; a mass conversion to religious indoctrination and ultimately a more socially conservative society. Let's call it what it is, taxpayer supported Sunday school, 5 days a week.

Kewaskum’s Rep. Jesse Kremer came right out and said it, when he dragged his 3 Biblically named daughters into the debate:
An unapologetic social conservative with a deep Christian faith, Kremer enrolled his three daughters — Keturah, 12, Miriam, 10, and Michaiah, 6 — in a Lutheran school in West Bend. “I tell people who send their kids to public schools that I send my kids there because I know they are getting the beliefs that I want them to have.”
And since you don't have to test "beliefs," Thiesfeldt's opt out bill is starting to make sense:
Rep. Thiesfeldt's Test "Opt Out" Bill Passes Assembly: Rep. Thiesfeldt’s bill, guarantees parents of students in grades 3-12 the ability to receive, upon formal request, an exemption for their child from the statewide standardized test...
And magically, vouchers schools are as good as they say they are.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Packers on Saturday Night Live....

I can now finally post this great Green Bay Packers bit on SNL, which after a experiencing few more injuries during the Cardinals game, was timely:

Free Market sees no Demand for Broadband expansion to Rural Farmers, Communities and Republican Voters, they're just not worth it.

The mystery continues...rural voters just love Republicans like Scott Walker and his legislative right wing social engineers hell bend on controlling other peoples lives. For example, Rep. Jesse Kremer admitted that his agenda is “frankly, red meat for conservatives.” If that wasn't insulting enough, he's been fighting to put fire hazards like real Christmas trees in churches, along with...
...legislation that banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, would place gender restrictions on school bathrooms and locker rooms, allow concealed carry permit-holders to carry weapons on public school grounds and college campuses, put photo IDs on food stamp recipients’ debit cards and prohibit city officials from blocking police officers from asking people about their immigration status.
This isn't about job creation, this about power and institutionalizing a politically driven agenda that runs counter to their own talking points.

I'm posting this after seeing the following "in the tank" Walker troll's jaw-dropping tweet:

This is proof Republicans are still arguing against the New Deal's Rural Electrification Act of 1936.

But rural farmers and local communities are desperately looking for the kind of help their own elected officials will never provide:
State Sen. Julie Lassa: As the Senate Committee on Economic Development held a series of listening sessions around the state this past fall, we heard from business leaders in many rural communities that greater access to broadband is crucial to enable them to attract both new businesses and skilled employees. Making a real investment in expanding broadband in rural areas would be one of the most important ways we can promote job creation in Wisconsin.
As you might recall, in one of the most irresponsible partisan actions taken by Walker, he rejected a chance for Wisconsin taxpayers to get back the money they paid into the federal government to build-up our broadband job creating infrastructure:
One of the governor’s first acts back in 2012 was to turn away nearly $23 million in grant funding that would have allowed the state to expand fiber optic broadband networks to 82 schools and 385 library facilities. We lost 150 full-time jobs that could have been created by this project.
So not only did Walker refuse a return of our own federal tax dollars, he’s now going to spend tax dollars we don't have to make up for his mistake:
The most recent state budget contains only $6 million spread over four years for broadband deployment.  
Is it any wonder than why Minnesota continues to rake in billion dollar surpluses and jobs with their broadband expansion:
According to the publication Government Technology, the Minnesota Office of Broadband Development has already managed $30 million in broadband investment in that state since it launched in January 2014. The legislature there recently approved a $10 million annual investment in broadband expansion, and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed investing $100 million of the state’s nearly $2 billion budget surplus in bringing broadband to rural communities. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hell Froze Over? Walker wants Government run Health Save Money! He's just calling it "Self Insurance."

Many big companies already self insure themselves; the employer takes on the risks and pays the medical bills. When government does it, it's a called a single payer system. ObamaCare is not a government run system, but a marketplace offering private insurers.

Scott Walker wants the government to become the insurer for public employees. No, really. He's the same guy who wants to get government out of health care, which it isn't. Even worse, it's the opposite of the free market plan pushed by Republicans, who've voted 50+ times to repeal ObamaCare. Even a few state Republican appear shocked by Walker's move away from their free market "competitive" ideal. Check out State Sen. Ablerta Darlings reaction in the clip below.

Walker doesn't get it of course, and doesn't understand the difference, so now he's proving just how clueless he really is by pushing a government run plan that he says will...are you ready for this, save money:
Walker: "One area to consider for real reform is the way we administer health insurance for state employees, which some experts believe could save tens of millions of dollars," Gov. Walker announced in his State of the State address to the legislature Tuesday night.

The report Walker is basing his plan on did not appear to estimate the cost of putting the system together initially as far as I could see, but the GOP tax cutting shortfall is now a problem...
To start a self insurance plan the state would have to triple it's cash reserves, according to a report commissioned by the Wisconsin Group Insurance Board last year ... By our estimation, there is approximately $267 million in unnecessary and avoidable medical services annually in Employee Trust Fund’s program.
And Minnesota? Public employees are already self insured. If you read the report, it presents the best case for a single payer system.

Wow, who would have guessed both Scott Walker and Bernie Sanders are both talking up a single payer health care system.

Sanders' plan costs a lot to start and maintain year after year, but it's a little over a third of what we're paying now, but it covers everything, from dental, long term care, to increases in Social Security benefits. We'll pay more in taxes each year, but we'll save so much more all along the way:
A typical middle-class family would save about $5,000 a year, according to a rough analysis commissioned by Sanders' presidential campaign, while society as a whole would end up saving something like $6 trillion over the next decade. The United States currently spends $3 trillion on health care each year. This plan has been estimated to cost $1.38 trillion per year. 

In December, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found nearly 58 percent of all people in the U.S. favor the idea of Medicare-for-all, including 34 percent who say they strongly favor it. The poll also found that 81 percent of Democrats support this single-payer program. 
Note: the graph below compares the low premiums in the ObamaCare Marketplace to the current Employee Trust Fund (ETF in red) insurance program. Ready for the truth about the lower Marketplace premiums?

Republican Budget Cutters Stoke more Rural Resentment, defund UW Extension Programs for Farmers, 4-H and small communities.

If Scott Walker's $3.6 million budget cut to the UW Extension doesn't get rural Republican voters riled up, nothing will. It continues the Republican assault on their own rural constituents that keeps them frustrated and angry at their own government.

The UW Extension "provides farmers with technical assistance, nutrient management and more," but those days are slipping away, thanks to cuts signed by Walker.  WISC:

Walker's Wisconsin moving in opposite direction, Unemployment up from 4.2 to 4.3%

Live by the the unemployment numbers, die by the unemployment numbers. 

Getting what mileage he could out of the old 4.2% unemployment number he mentioned in his state-of-the-state address, you can bet Scott Walker won't be announcing the noticeable increase to 4.3% anytime soon. 

Walker's now higher 4.3% unemployment rate came from job losses in the lower wage service sector, while Minnesota's Democratically run economy saw the rate lower to 3.5%:
Jakes: Every single private-sector services area failed to gain jobs last month, with consumer-driven sectors doing the worst. This includes 1,900 jobs lost in the Leisure and Hospitality Sector (bars, restaurants and lodging) abd 4,500 jobs lost in the "Trade" Sector (which includes retail and related store-type positions). And to add insult to the injury of Wisconsin job losses. 

Take a look at what happened to the blue state across the St. Croix. Minnesota employers added 9,100 jobs in December, boosting the state’s job gains for 2015 to over 42,000. The Department of Employment and Economic Development reported Thursday that the state’s unemployment rate fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.5 percent in December from a revised rate of 3.6 percent in November.
Because Walker's Wisconsin leads the nation in a declining middle class and business startups, so consumers have less to spend, meaning lower demand and lower general tax revenues. It's one of the biggest failings of "supply-side economics." WPR:
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau says the state’s general fund will end with a balance of about $135 million in July of 2017 — $94 million less than previously predicted. The Fiscal Bureau said a drop in tax collections was the biggest factor driving the decrease ... it could make some (Republican legislators) uneasy about approving new spending during the remaining couple months of session. 
The decline in tax revenue isn't just a result of lower consumer demand. The supply-side tax credit estimates for manufacturing and agriculture, zeroing out their obligations, ended up being to way too low. Cap Times::
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.
That's a $500 million biennial hit that'll be made up by more spending cuts and deferred maintenance. 

If Republicans can't fix our roads because they refuse to fund their transportation budget, what does that say about everything else? 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Irresponsible gun owner Rep. Joel Kleefisch wants armed kids to hunt at any age. What could go wrong?

Just how many bills have been written by Republican legislators to inject guns into every nook and cranny of our lives, and how many jobs have they created? There's an unhealthy preoccupation with irresponsible gun related solutions coming out of Madison.

I've pretty much given up hope Republican voters would come to their senses, finally saying enough is enough, let's act like adults. Not even ending the minimum hunting age has set off alarm bells for right wing true believers basking in the glow of total party dominance.

GOP bill would end Wisconsin's minimum hunting age

Seriously, how confident are you your neighbor will always make the right decision when it comes to your safety? Are "responsible" gun owners always responsible decision makers? The answer must be yes, according to the numskulls pushing this insanity:
Bagged another dog!
The measure's supporters say parents should have the power to decide whether their child is ready to hunt. Opponents counter that young children aren't physically or mentally ready to wield long guns and could hurt themselves or others.

"Can that 1-day-old to 9-year-old differentiate between shoot (or) don't shoot?" Joseph Lacenski, president of the Wisconsin Hunter Education Instruction Association, said in remarks submitted to the Assembly natural resources committee. "Can they differentiate between what is killing vs. hunting? Can they rationalize the difference between video games they have been playing and the consequences of the real world?"
What's wrong with the current system?
Right now, children as young as 10 can hunt in Wisconsin without passing a safety course if they're accompanied by a mentor. The mentor must remain within arm's length of the student, and they can have only one weapon between them.
It doesn't take a genius to instinctively feel uneasy with the following...:
Under Rep. Joel Kleefisch's bill (AB411), anyone of any age could hunt without safety training alongside a mentor, and the mentor could carry his or her own weapon. The measure also will resolve conflicts for mentors who want to hunt themselves but don't have much time to spend in the woods by allowing them to teach and hunt simultaneously, he said.
So much for training, right? Hunting instructors don't agree:
Others contend that allowing mentors to hunt while teaching would diminish students' experiences because their teachers would be more focused on their own success. The instructor association warned the committee that a mentor could purchase a license for a newborn and then use it along with his own to kill two deer for himself.
Of course no one would ever game the system or break the law because they are, after all, “responsible gun owners:”
Kleefisch said mentors are honorable. "If selfishness was the motivation of the mentor, he or she would simply hunt by themselves."
Kids are bringing guns to school because they're everywhere now. Isn't it time we stop expelling honorable armed students too Joel? 

School Funding taking hit in devastated energy producing Republican states!

Oil prices are plunging, and coal is on its way out. That's bad news for energy producing Republican states that have cut income and corporate taxes to the bone. They took the irresponsible route with an "eggs in one basket" approach to funding their state budgets.

Now their social obligation bills are due, and Republicans are broke. They were warned coal and gas prices could someday tank, and energy producing red state politicians ignored the advice. Edweek:
Reeling from drastic midyear cuts after they grossly miscalculated expected revenues amid falling oil prices and troubles in the coal industry, legislators in several mineral-dependent states, including Alaska and Oklahoma, are set to debate alternative revenue sources for state school aid.

"Generally speaking, when oil money was flowing well, we decided we didn't need sales or income tax revenue, and we ended up with a sole source of revenue," said Mike Hanley, Alaska's education commissioner, who had to shutter the state's pre-K program last year after the state told him to ax a third of his department's budget.
West Virginia imposed midyear, 1 percent cuts to state school funding ... included teacher layoffs, closed schools, and consolidation of some districts with waning student populations. Wyoming in the past used revenue from its coal-mining industry to build new schools. In 2013, the state received $736 million for school construction from that source. In 2019, it is projected to receive just $26 million.
Republicans abandoned a formula that's worked for year; a state tax system where everybody can expect to pay their fair share. And Republicans want to run the country?
During the most recent oil boom, Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Mary Fallin led the state's Republican-dominated legislature through a series of income and corporate tax breaks. The state now collects in taxes just half what it did in 2007. In December, Gov. Fallin declared a "revenue failure" after tax collections fell $50 million, or 12 percent short of projections in November. School districts had to make $47 million in cuts or 1.5 percent of their total budgets last year. Fallin predicts the legislature will face a $900 million shortfall next year.

In Alaska, Independent Gov. Bill Walker is proposing the state's first income tax in 35 years after analysts predicted the state will fail to collect two-thirds of the revenue needed to fill the state's $5 billion operating budget … The state earlier this year told its education department to cut a third of its budget, which axed, among other things, its preschool services and a professional development program for administrators. Some rural districts, which have just a handful of students left, are considering closing ... legislatures are debating whether to close schools with fewer than 25 students, a centuries-long mainstay in the mostly rural state. "When you start closing those schools, you start to eliminate communities," said Bobby Bolen, the superintendent of the Bering Strait school district.

Legislators in some oil states warn them to think long-term. "Education is not a one-time expense," said North Dakota state Rep. Jeff Delzer
 LOUISIANA: Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal recommended in November cutting $1.2 million from the state’s education department. Local officials say they’re seeing a decrease in sales tax after the oil industry laid off 10,000 workers in the last six months alone. Legislators predict a $1 billion shortfall next fiscal year.

WYOMING: The state for decades has used money from its coal-mining industry to pay for school construction. In 2013, it received $736 million from that source for school construction. In 2019, it is projected to receive just $26 million. Lawmakers will have to cut $500 million from the state’s $3.5 billion budget this legislative session. The two-year budget cycle ends in June.

Walker's "Escape Wisconsin" agenda a success...

Not much to say about a state I barely recognize anymore. WBAY:
Wisconsin ranks among top states people are leaving: A newly released study says more people are moving out of Wisconsin than most other states ... In 2015, Wisconsin ranked seventh among states that lost the most residents to another state according to a study by Atlas Van Lines moving company that looked at where people were moving.
 “The Midwestern states experienced a major shift to outbound moves, with Wisconsin .. going from balanced to outbound in 2015,” the study says. In 2015, according to the study, 1,138 people left Wisconsin, while 801 people moved in, resulting in a net loss of 337 people. In other words, 58.6 percent of moves were outbound. 

In previous years, the numbers had been more balanced with roughly the same number of people moving to the state as leaving.

States that had the highest percentage of outbound moves, according to Atlas Van Lines:Hawaii (62%)New York (61.8%)Illinois (61.7%)South Dakota (60%)Wyoming (59.5%)Indiana (59.3%)Wisconsin (58.6%)

The Republican "Flint Michigan" vision of America!!!

Wisconsin's Scott Walker is similar to Gov. Rick Snyder, in that he wants to "balance" clean water with the impact it might have on business.  Now we know what to expect.

Snyder made the same kind of balancing act, by deciding to save money at the risk of letting people drink toxic leaded water, a not so surprising move I guess after Snyder usurped locally elected officials with emergency managers.

This story is a horrific glimpse at our future under the party of small ineffective government. I've been compiling the coverage as a historical marker. A time when authoritarian Republican "leaders" made all the decisions. Check out the timeline here. As for me, I'd like to start with a few fairly recent clips.

Snyder's shocking attempt to politicize and use the situation to keep the "government is the enemy" myth alive is breathtaking. From his state of the state speech...:
"Government failed you, federal, state and local leaders, by breaking the trust you placed in us."  

Erin Brockovich and Michael Moore offered up their own take on this man made disaster:

Michael Moore rips GOP Michigan governor for ‘killing’ 10 Flint citizens with poisoned water: “This is not a mistake. Ten people have been killed here because of a political decision. They did this. They knew.”

According to Moore, the decision to provide citizens of the city with polluted water from the Flint River was made as a cost-cutting move. “We need to start using the proper words when we talk about this. Ten people have been killed in Flint because of Legionnaire’s disease now that has broken out here (87 cases). And I want the media to please use the word ‘kill.’ If it was ten people killed in a tornado, you’d say ‘ten people killed.'”

Snyder's application said as much as $55 million is needed in the near term to repair damaged lead service lines and as much as $41 million to pay for several months of water distribution and providing residents with testing, water filters and cartridges.

Here's Hillary Clinton's and Bernie Sanders' response:
Detroit Free Press: “I spent a lot of time last week being outraged by what’s happening in Flint, Michigan. We’ve had a city in the United States of America where the population, which is poor in many ways and majority African American, has been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water and the governor in that state acted as though he didn’t really care. He had a request for help that he basically stonewalled. I’ll tell you what, if the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would have been action.”

Sanders said he believes Snyder should resign. “A man who acts that irresponsibly should not stay in power.”

A local General Motors engine plant stopped using water from the Flint river because parts were becoming rusted , but officials nevertheless continued to reassure residents the water was safe to drink
Here' Rachel Maddow, who's been on this story since the beginning when Gov. Snyder wiped out representative government with emergency managers:

I'm trying to imagine how any elected official, even a Republican, is okay with the following conditions:
Flint’s water contamination crisis began in April 2014 after Darnell Earley, an unelected emergency manager appointed by Snyder, switched Flint’s water source to the long-polluted and corrosive Flint River in a bid to save money. Earley is now the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. This week, Detroit’s teachers have staged a series of "sickouts" to protest the vast underfunding of the public schools, which have black mold, rat infestations, crumbling buildings and inadequate staffing. We are joined by Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the ACLU of Michigan whose work focuses on emergency management and open government. Michigan has the most sweeping emergency management laws in the country, which allow the governor to appoint a single person to run financially troubled cities.
It's just as startling to know this:
Emergency for Democracy: Unelected Manager Who Caused Flint Water Crisis Now Runs Detroit Schools
Rachel interviewed the doctor who pushed this issue to the forefront, Pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha :

Snyder also appointed a task force … the group released a scathing report that placed blame chiefly on the state’s environmental department – from failing to properly treat the Flint river to officials belittling responses to public outcry. From April 2014, eighteen months later, in the fall of 2015, researchers discovered that the proportion of children with above-average lead levels in their blood had doubled.

A group of Virginia Tech researchers who sampled the water in 271 Flint homes last summer found some contained lead levels high enough to meet the EPA's definition of "toxic waste." Virginia Tech's team were concerned that the city tested water in a way that was almost guaranteed to minimize lead readings: So the Virginia Tech researchers took 30 different readings at various flow levels. What they found shocked them: The lowest reading they obtained was around 200 ppb, already ridiculously high. But more than half of the readings came in at more than 1,000 ppb. Some came in above 5,000 -- the level at which EPA considers the water to be "toxic waste."

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Flint experienced a spike in Legionnaire’s disease — including 10 deaths — but couldn’t attribute the increase to the lead in the water.
Another amazing point? The state never spent any money on bottled water. Instead, it passed out donated supplies. Snyder's still saving money?

And then someone noticed this:
An online poster from the State of Michigan about bathing in lead-tainted Flint water featuring babies and a cutesy tone has been taken down from a state website.
Isn't it just like the Republican governor to ask for help from the American public, get them to help foot part of the bill for his negligence:
President Obama prepares to fix the republican mess in Flint MichiganPresident Barack Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency in Flint, freeing  up to $5 million in federal aid to  immediately assist with the public health crisis, but he denied Gov. Rick Snyder's request for a disaster declaration ... under federal law, only natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods are eligible for disaster declarations,  the president can commit more if he goes through Congress. Snyder's application said as much as $55 million is needed in the near term to repair damaged lead service lines and as much as $41 million to pay for several months of water distribution and providing residents with testing, water filters and cartridges.
Other Links: Raw Story, Daily News.

On the other hand, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton is upgrading the water systems in Minnesota. Priorities? 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Now that Republicans are in control: Budget Deficit Increases after 6 years of Decline.....

I think this says it all about our big talking actual paragraph from the CBO report:

Huffington Post: "The government will spend $544 billion more than it takes in this year -- a $105 billion increase in the deficit from 2015, according to the CBO. At the same time, federal spending will increase by more than 20 percent … the result of a 7 percent increase in mandatory spending, a 3 percent increase in discretionary dollars, and a 14 percent jump in interest payments on debt … including a tax extenders package attached to the omnibus appropriations bill." 

Walker’s Magical Repair Tour through Wisconsin to push “Divide & Conquer” fight between Public Employee Health and funding Public Education!

Scott Walker is in full panic mode over his low approval ratings. It's so bad that he's decided to hit the road on a statewide "listening" tour finally, you know, like Russ Feingold does all the time. Let's be clear, listening isn't a Republicans strong suit, so don't be surprised if Walker doesn't suddenly change his tune. Each of the issues Republicans changed in the short video below were opposed by the public:

But can state taxpayers afford the over-the-top security Walker thinks he'll need to protect himself from his dangerous liberal opponents? My guess is Walker will continue to hold closed invitation only appearances with friendly company supporters and their captive employee audiences.

Divide and Conquer Game Plan, again?: Walker will also be doubling down on what made him the most divisive governor in the nation, pitting Wisconsinite against Wisconsinite. These are the kind of energizing battles Walker's base falls for hook-line-and-sinker every time, guaranteeing high Republican turnout that wins them elections. Walker laid out his latest scheme, to... money by shifting state employee insurance coverage from Wisconsin health maintenance organizations to a self-insured model.
And using that possible "savings" to divide and conquer again:
“Tonight, I commit to investing every penny of savings to the general fund from these specific reforms to support public education.”
It was so obvious, even the Democrats caught onto the plan and uncharacteristically responded. WPR audio:
Democratic State Sen. Jennifer Shilling: "It sort of seems to be pitting state workers and their health insurance benefits against schools." 
Ya think? Note to Democrats, stop with the wimpy qualifiers like "sort of," "it seems like," "we're not sure but," "my respected colleague," and take a friggin' stand for gods sake:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scott Walker's "College Affordability" plan is a taxpayer Giveaway to Big Banks, while Minnesota pours saved interest back into state economy!!!

Scott Walker's playing his voter base for saps again, and they'll never know what hit them.

Playing up to big money special interests, Walker's "college affordability" initiative makes taxpayers foot the bill, so banks can continue to rake in high interest profits on sky high student loans.

Wisconsinites are now supposed to swoon over saving a possible $165 on student loan interest? If you like that, Walker's got a one dollar savings on your property tax bill he'd like to give you...oh, that's right, he's already tried that insulting voter bribe.

In a transparent sop to their campaign contributors, Republicans want to pluck another $5.2 million in state revenues, which Rep. John Macco (R) describes as "a little bit of extra money," for the purpose of saving banks a cut in their interest rates.

Democrats warned us that something like this would happen, but again no one listened. In fact, Politifact helped Walker, by playing dumb in the 2014 election claiming Walker never came right out an said he opposed a big government state refinancing program:
The group acknowledged it has no evidence that Walker opposed a 2013 Democratic proposal to create a state student loan refinancing authority. Walker may not support the idea, but he hasn’t fought it, either -- as the group claimed.  We rate the statement False.
Of course Walker's incredibly short sighted tuition freeze gimmick can't last forever either, but he'll never tell you that:
As reported by US News:“[This is] why such tuition freeze promises don’t last long – they generally don’t work… Opponents say tuition freezes are fine for a short-term fix, but shouldn’t be extended for long periods and don’t really solve the problem with the high cost of college.”
Minnesota's common sense plan even convinced many Republicans to create a state refinancing program. They reasoned that putting saved interest back into their states economy was just smart government:
Nearly 500,000 Minnesotans carrying large amounts of student loan debt could be eligible for a new state-run refinancing program, "SELF Refi," intended to cut interest rates and potentially save a borrower tens of thousands of dollars. The state is fifth in the nation (WI is 3rd) when it comes to the debt students accumulate over their college years, and the average student graduates with about $30,000 in debt. 
"It makes it just so much more difficult for them to do so much more in our economy, whether it is buy a house or start a small business or buy a car." Lt. Governor Tina Smith said. "If we want to have an economy that works for everyone in Minnesota, we cannot allow these high debt loads to put a crunch on our competitiveness."
On the flip side, Walker wants to get government out of the way. Look at the potential student savings in Minnesota, cash Walker is willing to give up:
Under the plan, a student who took out a $40,000 loan at 8 percent could reduce monthly payments by $200 to $300 and total interest costs by $25,000. In another example, a student who carries $70,000 in debt at 9 percent could save $52,000 refinancing.
Fox11 interviewed Walker:

States with refinancing of student loan programs like Minnesota's will no doubt cut into the obscene profits banks were making on interest, but that doesn't mean the banks will stop contributing massive amounts of money to Republican lawmakers everywhere to block or kill these programs eventually. 

Funny thing, a banks political spending to maintain higher interest rates for struggling students - Good; Union political spending supporting struggling students - Bad: Go figure: