Friday, March 31, 2017

Goal to become Low Tax State, not Fund Public Schools, says Sen. Duey Stroebel. Will Penalize Parents for Raising their own Taxes.

It seems the longer Republicans stay in office, the more their ideology replaces real world problem solving.

Scott Walker and his band of plundering Republican pirates dramatically cut taxes and funding for public education, which in turn resulted in a statewide wave of approved school referendums from concerned parents.

Goal-Get Out of the Top Ten High Tax States, no matter what: Paying bills, maintaining infrastructure, funding education...forget all that. Wisconsin Republicans have one goal; change our reputation as a high tax state. 
4th Highest - Wisconsin: While most of the states with the highest tax burdens are in the Northeast or the West, Wisconsin and Illinois are the exceptions to that rule. The tax burden in Wisconsin is 11% and per capita taxes are more than $4,700 ... property taxes in Wisconsin tend to be high, though incomes tend not to be, which is part of why it is a high-tax burden state.
School Referendums Cancel Out Walker Tax Cuts, a no-no: The simpleminded Republican goal to cut taxes has found the simplest mind in Sen. Duey Stroebel, who won't let public school funding destroy his rabid ideological goal. WSJ-Molly Beck:
Sen. Duey "Voldemort" Stroebel: “I believe there is more harm being done to our tax climate via school referendum than anyone realizes. If everything passed, next year property taxes in Wisconsin would be $63 million higher just from operating (referendums) this election and voters would have approved a total of over $2 billion in school debt in the past thirteen months.”
The operative phrase here; "voters would have approved...!" Can't have that? Gerrymandering doesn't work here.

Stroebel wants to Punish Responsible Districts for Funding Public Schools, Reward Districts that Didn't: See if you can spot the "small government" part of Stroebels disciplinary actions against parents and their communities:
1. Stoebel would eliminate what are known as recurring referendums — ballot questions that raise property taxes permanently.

2. Cap any referendum for operating costs at five years. 

3. Reduce state aid for districts that exceed their revenue limits through a referendum. The reduction in aid would be equal to 20 percent of the amount the district raises property taxes above their revenue limits. 

4. That state aid would then be redistributed to the rest of the state’s school districts through the state funding formula. Stroebel said, “If you as a local community think you have a need and an ability to spend more on education, then we need to re-prioritize to other districts who haven’t done that.” 

5. When school boards could ask voters to approve spending and building projects would be limited to spring and fall general elections.

6. School boards also would be required to vote on seeking a referendum at their regular meetings, and boards could only vote on referendums that issue debt at their annual meetings.
Nope, our small government Madison legislator isn't done yet:
7. Districts also would be required to include the cost of debt and interest payments in the total referendum amount presented to voters, which is currently not required,

8. A bill would provide 50 percent matching state funds for school districts that set aside money they receive under their revenue limits in a fund for maintenance and construction projects. If the district seeks a referendum within 10 years of using the matching funds from the state, the money is reimbursed to the state through a reduction in the district’s state aid.
But we're still in the top ten of high tax states because voters are raising their own taxes, unbound by every Republican politicians "No Tax Pledge" to Grover Norquist, who came up with the idea when he was 12 years old. 

GOP politicians screw over Rural Conservative Communities...again. When will they learn?: 
Dan Rossmiller, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said: 
“Now they’re changing the rules and saying, essentially, we don’t trust our local voters, perhaps, and we should step in here and take certain discretion away from local voters.”
Kim Kaukl, executive director of the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, said the proposals don’t serve rural schools. 
“There is not a single author from rural Wisconsin, where these bills will have the most serious impact. This is a case of how many of our legislators in the Fox Valley and southeastern Wisconsin are disconnected with the needs of the rest of the state. If they truly want to limit the number of referendums occurring, they need to take a look at the cuts that have occurred to public education since 2011 and provide adequate funding to meet present needs.” 
State Superintendent Tony Evers, who oversees the Department of Public Instruction, said the proposals fly in the face of consistent support from voters to increase taxes to fund schools. 
“Through tight budgets and changing political winds, Wisconsinites have consistently voted to raise their own taxes to support their local public schools. Instead of restricting local funding options for schools, our focus should be on how we can work together to increase state support to take some of the pressure off.” 

The Unlikable Arrogance of Paul Ryan; "I worry we'll push the president into working with the Democrats."

The Affordable Care Act tried desperately to include Republican to participate from the very beginning, and failed. It was ironic too because the ACA was nothing more than a revamped Republican/Heritage Foundation plan all along.

Wisconsin embarrassment and extremist policy wonk Paul Ryan arrogantly thought his devastating plan to toss 24 million people from health care coverage was still better than the ACA. Let's take a look at that, starting with the dramatic drop in the uninsured under ObamaCare:

Will AHCA improve people's Lives, or end them?

Oh, but don't worry, just wait until the GOP gets the 60 votes needed to pass phase 3 of their plan. That will turn all of these horrifying numbers around? Seriously?

Now in power, Paul Ryan's one party system will no longer tolerate suggestions from the Democratic Party or three quarters of the country that didn't vote Republican. In fact, it's a repugnant thought. Ryan said in an interview that aired on “CBS This Morning:

“I don’t want that to happen. About 90 percent of our members are for this bill. We’re not going to give up after seven years of dealing with this, after running on a plan all of last year, translating that plan into legislation, which is what this is. We had been an opposition party for 10 years, and I’ve been long saying, if we’re going to be successful, deliver for the American people, improve people’s lives, we’ve got to become a proposition governing party.”

If we don’t do this, then he’ll just go work with Democrats to try and change Obamacare, and that’s hardly a conservative thing. This is a can-do president, who’s a business guy, and he wants to get things done. I know he wants to get things done with the Republican Congress, but if this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president into working with the Democrats. He’s been suggesting that as much.”
 When Trump supporters found out ObamaCare was actually the ACA, and that 24 million people would not only lose their insurance but end up buying worse coverage with higher deductibles, the shit hit the fan:

Thursday, March 30, 2017

EPA's Pruitt says Coal keeps Prices Low...not in Walker's Coal loving Wisconsin!!!

Scott Walker's Wisconsin has been very good to our coal burning energy companies. Urban Milwaukee:
His administration continues to have no interest in solar and wind power. Indeed the state now gets 63 percent of its energy from coal, up from about 55 percent when he took office. That’s largely because the Kewaunee nuclear power plant was closed, but it’s also because the state has been asleep on solar and wind power for six years.
It's cheap and...wait a minute... 

The analysis, published by the state Public Service Commission, found that 2015 marked the first year that Wisconsin's rates for residential, commercial and industrial electric customers ranked higher than Michigan as well as six other nearby Midwestern states...
Side-by-Side Comparison about Coal and Solar: How could the costs be so high, coal is so cheap in Wisconsin? And what about the "high cost" clean energy, since coal is now more expensive than natural gas and on a par with wind:
Bloomberg: Solar power is now cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. In less than a decade, it’s likely to be the lowest-cost option almost everywhere.

You'll never hear this from Scott Pruitt, the new secretary and enemy of the EPA. He's still pushing the same lie Scott Walker is; wind and solar are "creating double digit increases across the country," and supposed cheap coal is "lowering electric rates for consumers across the country." Maybe 20 years ago. Pruitt appears totally out of touch with the market...and world:

Pruitt's "degree of ignorance" is embarrassing, and will hold the U.S. back worldwide in wind and solar manufacturing and installation...that's not job creation:
In 2016, countries from Chile to the United Arab Emirates broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power. Now, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Mexico are planning auctions and tenders for this year, aiming to drop prices even further. Since 2009, solar prices are down 62 percent, with every part of the supply chain trimming costs. That’s help cut risk premiums on bank loans, and pushed manufacturing capacity to record levels. “These are game-changing numbers, and it’s becoming normal in more and more markets. Every time you double capacity, you reduce the price by 20 percent. It’s also driven by economies of scale and manufacturing experience since the solar boom started more than a decade ago, giving the industry an increasing edge in the competition with fossil fuels.
Thanks to Wisconsin's popular Focus on Energy program, consumers were able to lower their energy bills...
An analysis of the state's energy situation released Thursday found that residential electric bills in Wisconsin actually rank below the Midwest average, because customers here are using far less power on average than those in other nearby states.
...but Walker had this head scratching plan back in March of 2016...
Bill would cut funding for Wisconsin energy efficiency program: An independent 2015 study showing more than $3 in direct savings and more than $6 in net economic benefits for each dollar invested in the Focus on Energy program between 2011 and 2014. “This change is going to hurt customers, they’ll have less opportunity to take advantage of the programs that Focus on Energy offers, and those programs help customers lower their bills,” said Mitch Brey, campaign organizer of the citizen group RePower Madison. “This seems like a program we should be increasing funding for, not decreasing,” said Brey.
Meanwhile the cost of these (solar and wind) power sources have plummeted. “The average long-term contract price for wind power paid by utilities has dropped 60 percent since 2009,” reports. “The solar price drop has been even steeper, falling 65 percent.”
Climate change denial never made any sense to me. The overwhelming consensus supporting climate change should have at least made deniers feel compelled to play it safe, you know, just in case.

But my biggest argument targeted people on a more personal level. A while back I wrote: How can Walker say he's pro-life, when he opposes policy that could save 3,500 Americans from premature deaths a year. That's one 9/11 a year. There's more too: 
Reducing carbon emissions also will cut levels of other dangerous pollutants such as fine particles and ozone by more than 25%. Thus the plan brings substantial and measurable public health benefits ... worth from $55 billion to $93 billion per year by 2030, an amount that greatly exceeds the estimated compliance costs of $7.3 billion to $8.8 billion a year.
 Finally, here's PolitiFact explaining away the Republican myth about the cost of emission control:
In the days leading up to the EPA’s June 2 announcement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a study saying the regulations -- which hadn’t even been made public at that point -- would hurt jobs and economy ... but the study’s authors made several critical assumptions that turned out to be incorrect ... (1) they assumed Obama would want to decrease carbon emissions by 42 percent — not 30 percent — before 2030. (2) The chamber also predicted that by 2022, the EPA would have to require natural gas plants to install carbon capture and storage, a much more costly technology, to reach the 42 percent threshold. The EPA already said last year that new natural gas plants would not need to include carbon capture in their facilities.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Democrats won't let Trump "Explode" ACA!!!

Trump's tantrum over his failure to pass his TrumpCare health plan may be over, but Democrats aren't waiting around to find out.

Democrats are attacking Trump for saying he would let the ACA blowup/fold. And they're not going to let up.

With Republicans in retreat from their aborted effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are now in hot pursuit, demanding that the administration cease any effort to “explode” the health care law … proposing tweaks to the ACA and calling on GOP colleagues to put forward their ideas … extending subsidies for people who have higher incomes but don’t qualify for tax credits; restoring risk corridors; enabling the health and human services secretary to negotiate lower prescription drug prices; fixing the individual market; and extending reinsurance.

The most aggressive proposal so far has come from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison. They’re calling for party members to embrace a Medicare For All program.
The researchers at The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities aren't going to let Trump undermine the ACA without keeping the public informed:
Sabotage Watch: Tracking Efforts to Undermine the ACA: Following the failed Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Trump said that, politically, the best thing to do would be to let the ACA “explode.”
Below is a gif that shows what happened to ACA signups that were well ahead of last years signups when Trump pulled the ACA signup ads (click to enlarge):

Evers defends Public Education from another right wing Privateer, Holtz.

With almost no fanfare whatsoever, there was an important debate in Wisconsin yesterday:
Incumbent Superintendent Tony Evers and challenger Lowell Holtz, sparred over Wisconsin’s teacher shortage and the effect of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget would have on the state’s professional development Tuesday in Milwaukee.
Evers once again defended the teaching profession, which is a really odd thing to have to do if you just think about it:
Evers blamed the state's shrinking teacher supply on Act 10. Evers said a key to refilling the teacher pipeline is making sure high school students understand the importance of the profession.

"We have to change the rhetoric. We have to honor the profession. We have to make sure that our teachers are elevated in the right place. We have lost a generation of young people going into the profession. We can change that and I think we have to pay our teachers more."
Holtz had already said that instead of working with the 400 school district that have adopted Common Core, he would work with the legislature, an anti-education body that has for years tried to break up public education.

Now he said he backs Trump's plans for choice...
Holtz, who has courted conservative support, argued the GOP-backed Act 10 is not the problem ... teachers' frustrations with the state's evaluation system ... and that he didn't have many reservations about President Trump's proposed budget.
But Trump's proposed budget should have raised concerns, big time reservations, over the departments budget cuts. EdWeek: 
Private and charter schools were considered the big winners in President Donald Trump's budget blueprint, which sought new money to expand student options, while slashing other K-12 spending. Private and charter schools would be squeezed by the proposed cuts, just like regular public schools.

The Trump administration's budget blueprint would include $1.4 billion in new money for school choice, but it would get rid of Title II, the $2.3 billion main federal program for improving teacher quality, and the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, a $1.1 billion program which helps finance afterschool and extended-day programs. Private and charter schools receive funding, or at least services, from both programs. Here's a breakdown of how that works: 
Private Schools: Private schools benefit from federal dollars, particularly Title II, although the process is a bit more complicated … Here's how it works: District receive money from Title II—which can be used for class-size reduction, professional development, retention bonuses and more. But private schools with high-poverty populations are supposed to be able to take advantage of the dollars too. And districts have to consult with private schools in their area about how they want the dollars used—they can't just make the decision for them.

And the amount of Title II funding going to private schools isn't chump change, at least in places that have embraced school choice in a big way. In Wisconsin, for example, home to a long-standing voucher program, nearly 25 percent of the state's roughly $25 million in Title II funding goes to private and parochial schools, or about $5 million total, said Tony Evers, the state chief.

The cuts, particularly to Title II funding would hit private schools the same way it would hit public schools.

Charter Schools: Some states treat charter schools or networks of charters as separate school districts. That means, if they qualify for federal grants, like Title I, Title II, career and technical education money, or something else, they get it, under the same set of rules as traditional public schools.

The share of Title II dollars going to charters isn't trivial. In California, for example, it's about 10 percent of funding, or an estimated $23 million of the state's roughly $234 million in Title II funding. The newly passed Every Student Succeeds Act which passed in 2015, puts a special focus on using the money to replicate high-performing charters. If the new dollars are approved by Congress and directed to those efforts, existing charters might not see much of it.

Balanced Budget Amendment Disaster pushed by Wisconsin's Clueless CPA Caucus' Chris Kapenga!!!

While doing research on what it would mean to have a balanced budget amendment, I turned up this interesting statement from 2012 at the National Memo:
The Lie: Republicans have a plan to balance the federal budget and care deeply about fiscal responsibility.
Backing that statement up was easy:
The Truth: The last Republican president who ever balanced the budget was Dwight Eisenhower.

Between 1998 and 2000, President Bill Clinton’s Treasury Department paid off more than $360 billion in debt. As a result of 115 straight months of economic expansion that began after an increase in the top income tax rate — which was virulently opposed by the right — the huge deficits left by 12 years of Republican rule had been transformed into a surplus.

Within months after taking office George W. Bush had begun to turn that surplus back into deficits that grew and grew, despite funding two wars on emergency supplemental bills that were not figured into the budget.

Vice-President Cheney laughed off the promises that the Bush tax breaks would pay for themselves and the budget would be balanced: “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” But deficits do matter to Republicans…whenever there is a Democratic president.
Hey Look Everybody, We're good with Money, We want to Balance the Budget!!! Phony baloney Wisconsin Republicans are now ballyhooing their attempt to become the 30th state to ask for a balanced budget amendment via a constitutional convention. It's all show, especially when you consider all the cuts Republicans want to make locally and on a federal level that will just end up costing taxpayers much more money in the long run. Penny wise, pound bet. 

It should be embarrassing that CPA caucus loudmouth Rep. Chris Kapenga thinks the balanced budget amendment is a good idea. It calls into question his credibility, first, and says more about his blind ideological positions: 
The Senate sponsor of the resolutions, Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, called them “one step further to putting our nation’s house in order. Debt was the downfall of most civilizations. We’ve never seen this type of debt before.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has signed on to the resolution requesting a constitutional convention.
The arguments against one of the dumbest political movements isn't connecting logically with Republicans:
Opponents, Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning advocacy groups as well as the John Birch Society, a far-right advocacy group say a balanced budget amendment would make it harder for the federal government to respond to economic downturns and natural disasters.

"It's like the economy has cancer and you won't let the economy get chemotherapy or radiation, it's like the economy has diabetes and you won't give the economy insulin — you'd be killing the economy," said Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Many economists say federal deficit spending can be necessary to fund wars, combat economic recessions or respond to natural disasters. A balanced budget requirement could severely hamstring the federal government’s ability to respond to those situations, critics say.
Scapegoats and Someone to Blame: Besides the Republican driven deregulation of Wall Street that gave us the Great Recession, these "concerned" flip-floppers are the ones that built up our deficits:
Using the deficit as a battering ram, the GOP pushed for the rapid adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, which would ignore the true causes of the deficit—tax breaks, the wars and an unfunded Medicare expansion—and demand huge cuts to Medicaid, Pell Grants and every service the government provides.
Keep in mind, it took me under an hour to uncover many of the reasons why a balanced budget amendment would be an economic disaster for the country. Why didn't our Republican "CPA Caucus" spend a little time boning up on the issues? You can't tell me the following list of bad outcomes doesn't raise some extremely serious questions?:
When the economy slows, federal revenues decline or grow more slowly and spending on unemployment insurance and other social programs increases, causing deficits to rise ... the amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both. That would launch a vicious spiral of bad economic and fiscal policy ... The fact that states must balance their budgets every year makes it even more important that the federal government not also face this requirement and thus further impair a faltering economy. 

Raise other problems ... Social Security could not draw down its reserves from previous years to pay benefits in a later year but, instead, could be forced to cut benefits even if it had ample balances in its trust funds, as it does today. The same would be true for military retirement and civil service retirement programs. Nor could the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation respond quickly to bank or pension fund failures by using their assets to pay deposit or pension insurance, unless they could do so without causing the budget to slip out of balance.

The amendment’s proponents often argue that, because states and families must balance their budgets each year, the federal government also should do so. But this analogy is a false one. Families borrow — they take out mortgages to buy a home or student loans to send a child to college. They also draw down savings when times are tight to cover expenses that exceed their current incomes. The proposed constitutional amendment would bar the federal government from making worthy investments in the same way.
And then there's the enforcement mechanisms...
Suppose the budget is out of balance. What happens? Would the President have the unilateral power to impose balance? Suppose, for example, that a reconciliation bill designed to balance the budget is defeated at the end of the congressional session. Can the President unilaterally declare that it is law nonetheless? Can he instead make across-the-board cuts in all spending, including Social Security, Medicare, and defense, without congressional action? Can he select which programs to cut unilaterally? Can he impose across-the-board, or selected, increases in tax rates? How about across-the-board or selected reductions in tax expenditures?

What about the Supreme Court? If the budget is not balanced, can the Court declare a defeated reconciliation bill to be law? Can it override a presidential veto of a reconciliation bill? If it cannot enact a defeated or vetoed law, can it declare that a bill allowing a deficit as having been enacted if it received a majority vote but not a three-fifths vote? Alternatively, can it invalidate appropriation bills, in reverse chronological order? If that seems arbitrary and unworkable, can it order across-the-board cuts in all appropriations, or entitlement programs, or tax expenditures? Can it impose across-the-board surtaxes? Can it hold Congress or the President in contempt and possibly jail them if they ultimately do not act?

If federal courts award claims or judgments against the United States, as they often do, but the costs would unbalance the budget and require an increase in the debt limit, what action would the courts take?

Republicans trash Constitution by targeting and defunding Sanctuary Cities.

Our tea party pocket constitutional scholars seem to think our founding document is whatever you think it should mean. Take the threat of defunding sanctuary cities and  states:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the U.S. government planned actions—most notably the pulling of federal funds—against so-called sanctuary cities and states for undocumented immigrants.

Sessions slammed the cities and states that flout federal orders by refusing to arrest or detain undocumented immigrants. Sessions painted a picture of violent criminals on the loose, stating that "countless Americans would be alive today" if it weren't for sanctuary cities and states. "Such policies cannot continue. They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on the streets."
How "less safe?" And from who? When you look at the numbers below, ICE's target might be off? 

The immigrant problem is really nothing more than Republicans blaming someone for their problems:
In the spirit of America’s founding principles as a nation of immigrants, sanctuary cities act as a protective shield, standing in the way of federal efforts to pinpoint and deport people at random. “My opponent wants sanctuary cities,” Trump bellowed to a chorus of boos. “But where was sanctuary for Kate Steinle? Where was sanctuary for the children of Mary Ann, Sabine and Jamiel?” 

Trump left out one critical detail. Neither mother’s tragic loss actually took place within a sanctuary city.
Unconstitutional: Trump and AG Jeff Session's are determined to not let the Constitution get in the way:
As reporter Danielle Karson tells NPR from Los Angeles, California's Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León says the state won't go along with what he calls "blackmail.""Singling out cities and states with punitive threats is unconstitutional," de León said. "Withholding federal resources is unconstitutional. We'll not hesitate to fight him, and settle the matter in court."

Explaining part of the potential legal fight, Karson adds, "Legal experts say the Constitution's 10th Amendment forbids the feds from 'commandeering' state and local governments to enforce federal mandates."

By threatening to withhold as much as $4.1 billion in federal grants, Sessions targeted cities and towns refusing to honor detainment orders unless the orders also include a warrant or court order that establishes probable cause. Sessions said "They make our nation less safe by putting dangerous criminals back on our streets." Several studies have shown immigrants to be less likely than native-born Americans to commit a crime.
The Supreme Court has made it perfectly clear withdrawing funding is unconstitutional, take the late Antonin Scalia's word for it:
Sanctuary cities refuse to facilitate deportation both because city leaders believe it to be harmful and unjust, and because local law enforcement officials have concluded that it poisons community relations and undermines efforts to combat violent crime. They also recognize that mass deportation would have severe economic costs.

Under the Constitution, state and local governments have every right to refuse to help enforce federal law. In cases like Printz v. United States (1997) and New York v. United States (1992), the Supreme Court has ruled that the Tenth Amendment forbids federal “commandeering” of state governments to help enforce federal law. Most of the support for this anti-commandeering principle came from conservative justices such as the late Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion in Printz.

The Supreme Court has long ruled that conditions on federal grants to state and local governments are not enforceable unless they are “unambiguously” stated in the text of the law “so that the States can knowingly decide whether or not to accept those funds.” In sum, the Trump administration can’t cut off any federal grants to sanctuary cities unless it can show that those grants were clearly conditioned on cooperation with federal deportation policies.

But are these defunding threats coercive? Leave it to crackpot Sheriff David Clarke:
A live-streamed panel on "When Did World War III Begin?" and which dealt with "Threats at Home," was moderated by the Daily Caller's Ginni Thomas, wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., on that panel, said he has a way to put a stop to sanctuary cities … “you charge one mayor, one governor, one council president that adopts these laws, this stuff is going to end right away." 
Clarke, who recently asked U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security, to give Milwaukee County Jail corrections officers the authority to enforce immigration laws under the 287(g) program, said that if other officials support the application, he will “work with ICE to have Milwaukee taken off the list.”

He specifically mentioned Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, writing in the Facebook post: “If this criminal illegal alien-supporting trio does not write a letter of support, I will support the cut in federal funding for Milwaukee."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Republicans give up their Voters privacy, offer up your Surfing to Businesses that are always getting Hacked!!!

Where are conservative radio fear mongers now? Am I dreaming or are these typically paranoid small government "leave me alone" voters okay with having their internet surfing stolen and spread out to businesses that are always getting hacked? 

Heck, thanks to Republican sellouts and Trump, anyone can get your information now for a few bucks, all your information open for the hackers.

Maybe the Republican and Democratic Party can get this public information and target you everywhere you go, or threaten you from running for office or voting differently with incriminating information.
The House on Tuesday voted in favor of blocking internet privacy rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year, sending the bill to President Trump, who is expected to sign it into law.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, Your broadband provider knows deeply personal information about you and your family – where you are, what you want to know, every site you visit, and more. They can even track you when you’re surfing in a private browsing mode. You deserve to be able to insist that those intimate details be kept private and secure.”
Republican voters are good with this? Really?
ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Giuliani said, “It is extremely disappointing that Congress is sacrificing the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies including Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.
In a major down-the-rabbit-hole twist on logic, defending "economic growth" known as profits....
“Today’s action is another step to remove unnecessary rules and regulations that handicap economic growth and innovation, and moves the country one step closer to ensuring that consumers’ private information is protected uniformly across the entire internet ecosystem," countered Jonathan Spalter, CEO of USTelecom.
But Pelosi countered with this...
“Americans learned last week that agents of Russian intelligence hacked into e-mail accounts to obtain secrets on American companies, government officials and more,” Pelosi wrote in letters to 11 companies.

“This resolution would not only end the requirement you take reasonable measures to protect consumers’ sensitive information, but prevents the FCC from enacting a similar requirement and leaves no other agency capable of protecting consumers.”

Monday, March 27, 2017

Trump focused on his reelection, not horrific and Deadly GOP health care law.

We knew going in that Trump was a sociopath with the attention span of an ant, according to the author of his book, "The Art of the Deal:"
If he could do it over again, however, Mr. Schwartz said the book would be titled “The Sociopath.”

“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is. I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”
Well, on a smaller scale, at least in this country, Trump would have pared down civilization.

It's about Trump, NOT Health Care: I'm going to call it the Trump rule, where everything coming out of the White House is for the benefit of the great and wonderful wizard Trump. The following sociopathic statement from Trump even shocked the tea party ghouls pushing profits over human life:
Politico: It was Thursday afternoon and members of the House Freedom Caucus were peppering the president with wonkish concerns about the American Health Care Act—the language that would leave Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” in place, the community rating provision that limited what insurers could charge certain patients, and whether the next two steps of Speaker Paul Ryan’s master plan were even feasible—when Trump decided to cut them off. "We’re talking about one-fifth of our economy," a member told me afterward ... according to multiple sources in the room:

"Forget about the little shit, let's focus on the big picture here."
Trump wanted to emphasize the political ramifications of the bill's defeat; specifically, he said, it would derail his first-term agenda and imperil his prospects for reelection in 2020. The lawmakers nodded and said they understood. 

Gravel Roads supporters want to reelect Scott Walker.

Maybe if town leaders just gave up they're iPhones they could afford to pave their roads?

"Have I got a pothole for you..."
Scott Walker and his band of plundering legislative pirates are still planning on cutting taxes, even though we're paying more just so we can pay less. I'm already on the hook for costly front end repairs on my van because of our disintegrating roads. We don't pay for our parks anymore, K-12/UW funding is ridiculously low, the DNR has ceded control to Madison legislators, and local control has given way to one size fits all regulation.  

And if rural resentment gave us the Republican majority, than the added resentment over property value killing gravel roads will keep voters coming back for more...or will it? The easy and obvious solution to increase the gas tax isn't an option for our career politician and governor. WPR:
Wisconsin roads are in rough shape and some roads in northern Wisconsin communities are being turned from pavement to gravel. Town of Lakeside Chairman Tom Johnson said the town has about four miles of road that were previously blacktop.
“Probably in a couple years, we won’t have any blacktop. We have maybe two-and-a-half miles remaining of blacktop and that’ll be all gravel.” 
Town of Clover Chair Beverly Steele said the town also worries about the potential for lawsuits. 
"Pavement increases the value of properties along the pavement. If we de-pave a road, it’s possible that a property owner or owners could sue us for not maintaining the road in the condition that it is.”
Town and village leaders say they’d like to see the state increase the gas tax or licensing fees to help provide more road funding. 

Forget guns, Walker says, blame murders on "crime," "domestic dispute, mental issues." He does know people can hear him, right?

Did Scott Walker NOT get the memo or read the paper when his party gave the mentally ill the right to own guns? It was a big story nationally:

The House of Representatives voted to overturn an Obama-era rule that banned Social Security beneficiaries from buying guns if their disability payments are handled by an outside party due to their “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease.”
Can't Use Guns/Mental Illness Talking Point Anymore!!!! Walker's sociopathic nonchalance about gun carnage should be more disturbing to voters:
WPR: Gov. Scott Walker said guns were not the issue in this week's high-profile shootings ... Four people, including a police officer, were killed Wednesday just outside Wausau (in) a domestic incident. In Milwaukee, a city housing inspector died Wednesday afternoon, during what police say was an attempted carjacking.

"I think the problem in both those cases isn't about the firearm. It's ultimately about crime, or in the case of north central Wisconsin, it was a domestic dispute ... there's "obviously more work" to do if the Wausau-area shootings are linked to mental health issues.
I am seriously waiting for the day Walker and his fellow Republicans shift the blame to the real reason behind gun violence: guns!!! But what's behind the use of guns to solve problems? Well, mental illness is less of reason for the gun carnage than this; "intermittent explosive disorder." In other words, a lack of anger management:
The one relevant diagnosis is intermittent explosive disorder, a disorder of anger management. Violent crimes committed by people with severe mental illnesses get a lot of attention, but such attacks are relatively rare. 

Paolo del Vecchio of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has said, “Violence by those with mental illness is so small that even if you could somehow cure it all, 95 percent of violent crime would still exist” ... with significant encouragement from the gun lobby, the public has begun to seize on the wrong explanation for tragic, violent events. They focus not on the IED-diagnosed patients but on those with other diagnoses, schizophrenia in particular, ignoring the fact that what the perpetrators have in common in every single one of these cases is a loss of control of their anger. 

No effort is being made to address the much broader cultural problem of anger management. This broader problem encompasses not just mass murders but violence toward children and spouses, rape, road rage, assault, and violent robberies. We are a culture awash in anger. Uncontrolled anger has become our No. 1 mental health issue. We have sought scapegoats in minority cultures, racial groups, and now the mentally ill. 
But it all gets back to the freedom and liberty every American is craving for; the freedom to buy guns.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Ryan's Unforgettable TrumpCare Failure!!!

As it turned out Freedom Caucus Tea Party Republicans, who wanted no real replacement to help Americans buy insurance, resulted in moderate Republicans voting no on Paul Ryan's TrumpCare monstrosity. Take note, every Wisconsin GOP Representative would have voted for the final version of this cruel inhumane joke.

The fact that Paul Ryan never came up with, or tried to put together, an agreeable GOP plan in seven years cannot be lost in all of this. TrumpCare finally exposed this self-righteous fraud.
Trump: "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with the winning.”

Ryan Comment #1: "Moving from an opposition party to a governing party...?" No, really, you think?

Ryan Comment #2: "Are we willing to say yes to the good, the very good even if it's not the perfect?" 24 million losing their health care is "very good" and "not the perfect?" Like it's close, right?

Ryan Comment #3: "I'm really proud of the bill we produced. It would make a dramatic improvement in our health care system, and provide relief for people hurting under ObamaCare." My god what is wrong with this guy...see picture -----------------------------

Ryan Comment #4: "So I don't think the architects of ObamaCare...I'm sure they may be pleased right now,  but when they see how bad this thing gets...I don't think they're going to like that either." Sneaky. Ryan is promising not to lift a finger to fix the ACA in the future. And repeal still hangs over insurers, who may see no future in staying on the exchanges. That makes this the GOP's fault. Modern HealthCare:
Experts expect HHS Secretary Tom Price to try to pare down those mandates through rule-making. 

Insurers have complained that the huge uncertainty caused by the GOP effort to repeal and replace the ACA has made it difficult or impossible for them to make plan and rate decisions for 2018. Some say they're weighing whether to withdraw from the individual market. And that was before House Republicans and the White House last week unveiled their proposal to erase the ACA's minimum essential benefit requirements. “This is adding even more uncertainty to an already-uncertain situation, making it unlikely insurers would continue to participate,” said Cynthia Cox, associate director of health reform and private insurance for the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Trump wont fix ACA, also set it up to die from uncertainty for insurers, and then blamed the Democrats? Here's Trump's promises, his failure and MSNBC's Joy Reid showing Democrats just how to drive the point home over and over again, never letting Republicans off the hook:

Changes proposed to attract additional Republican votes for the party’s bill will narrow the amount of deficit reduction by more than half, according to the nonpartisan CBO.
Many Republican governors were relieved they wouldn't have to make really really unpopular cuts:
The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found in a study this week that trying to maintain the existing levels of Medicaid coverage would have taken cuts equal to one-fourth of some state governments' education budgets to keep the coverage without raising taxes, the report found.
Trump Denied ever saying Repeal and Replace? Well....

NJ Democrat Frank Pallone nailed Republicans for voting yes...should have gotten more press:

Important Health Care Points:
There also were concerns that eliminating the federal benefit rules or delegating benefit determinations to the states could drive up premiums for people with chronic conditions. In addition, removing the essential benefits requirement would essentially neuter the ACA's ban on insurers setting annual and lifetime caps on benefits, since they could set limits on services that are not required benefits. Removing the basic benefits mandate also would make it harder for consumers to shop and compare plans.
Oops, Ad's thanked Republicans for ACA repeal! Premature victory laps are embarrassing enough, but don't be surprised if the GOP starts congratulating itself for not repealing the ACA...that's next:

Basketball fans in several Republican-adjacent TV markets are enjoying a series of ads, prematurely bought by the American Action Network PAC, inviting viewers to call their representatives to thank them for repealing Obamacare today—something that did not happen.

Ads praising Virginia’s Barbara Comstock; it ran during the Wizards-Nets game ... ads for Fresno’s David Valadao and Des Moines’s David Young; both ran on CBS stations before March Madness coverage. Money well-spent, we think.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

ObamaCare troubles a Republican Creation!

The Affordable Care Act is in trouble because Republicans refused to tweak the system as problems cropped up. 

Another problem is the introduction of competition in the insurance marketplace. Consumers finally had a chance to compare insurer plans side-by-side, forcing insurance companies to provide lower premiums to get their business. But that hurt their bottom line, and they left the exchanges. Real comparison shopping for insurance in the individual private market is impossible, which is why many sought out insurance agents for advice.

The three other biggest reasons? Republican Sabotage:    

1. See, Insurance Companies are Leaving the Exchanges…ObamaCare Failed? 
Rep. Marco Rubio severely limited the supposed "bailout fund" in the Affordable Care Act for what are called called risk corridors, a temporary aid for insurers to adjust premiums.

Rubio helped persuade Congress to prevent Health and Human Services from being able to cover expenses in its own budget. But experts have said Rubio is wrong to call the program a bailout, and that the program is supposed to pay for itself through fees from insurers.
2. See, since CBO wrongly estimated ACA enrollment, can't believe 24 million will lose insurance? Only 32 states expanded Medicaid, instead of all 50 states after the Supreme Court struck down the coverage mandate. That blew a hole in the CBO estimate:

3. See, Medicare is Going Broke, so now we have to Privatize to Save It: 
A key Ryan change would repeal a Medicare tax on high earners a year earlier than originally proposed. Obamacare imposed an additional payroll tax of 0.9% on individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000 (among other changes to Medicare) … leading to about $10 billion of lost revenue. “Here you have a bill where Congress is voting to actively undermine the trust fund, and it’s singularly for the purpose of providing tax breaks for the wealthy,” says Stacy Sanders, federal policy director for the Medicare Rights Center.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Insurance Industry Insider Shreds GOP's RyanCare plan.

There is one shining spot for insurers in the GOP health care plan (remember, insurance has nothing to do with providing health care).
The Republican plan does allow insurance companies to offer coverage that pays for a lower share of a person's health care costs — just half of all costs rather than the 60 percent to 90 percent mandated under the ACA.
Funny thing though, according to a former insurance industry insider, Republicans don't know what the hell they're doing. I know I've said this same thing before, but now I've got backing. From NPR:

Scott Horsley, NPR News: There is some political irony here. The people and places most likely to be hard hit by the change - older, rural, lower income - are the same ones that helped to elect the president. That's why some Republican senators who represent those areas are now talking seriously about possible changes to the GOP bill.
But there are also many Republicans who want to prevent the government from helping anyone buy insurance. And they would try their grand experiment on the entire U.S. population…which should make you wonder if they’re not the most reckless irresponsible people ever elected into public office.

What never gets enough attention are the dramatically reduced services in the GOP’s insurance policies. This is big, because it’s what made many Americans not even bother to get insurance before the ACA. It’s another big reason health care bankruptcies skyrocketed, destroying families along the way.
NPR: Republicans have said repeatedly that they want insurance companies to be able to offer cheap, stripped-down policies that don't cover as many services as those under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. That way, consumers will have the choice to spend less on premiums if they don't want comprehensive coverage.

The problem is Republicans have a three-part strategy to reshape health care. The first is the American Health Care act, which essentially repeals Obamacare's individual mandate, taxes and subsidies, and replaces them with smaller tax credits to help people buy insurance.

Then they intend to make changes in regulations and pass additional legislation to reduce the benefits insurers have to offer and allow more competition between insurers. They say their ultimate goal is to reduce the cost of insurance so more people will buy coverage.
Stripped down coverage. Want to pay a monthly premium, that increases every year, for that? Just to be clear, if the plan below sounds good to you, well, maybe the GOP has a bridge you’d like to buy too:
The Republican plan does allow insurance companies to offer coverage that pays for a lower share of a person's health care costs — just half of all costs rather than the 60 percent to 90 percent mandated under the ACA. 

John Oliver on Trump's America Busting Budget.

The best look at Trump's recently release morally bankrupt budget, what he thinks will make America great again (besides wearing his hat), is nicely delivered by John Oliver.

Funny thing, after I post Oliver's look at health care, right-wing trolls wondered "who the heck is John Oliver?" You mean the former reporter from the Daily Show...?
Tonight with John Oliver. He is the recipient of five Primetime Emmy Awards and two Writers Guild Awards
Eh, so what!

Here's Oliver's take of a CNN video clip of Trump's defense spending along side a long scrolling list of cuts:
Oliver: "You know what, it's sort of fitting the list of budget cuts scroll by like the end credits for America. Thanks for helping us out Agriculture Department, hope you find a gig with the next country that rises from our ashes."

Free Market Medicine: Hospitals to Prioritize, take Privately Insured over Medicare and Medicaid Patients.

TrumpCare/RyanCare is "free market" voodoo: The CBO analysis may have freaked Republicans out, but that bad news only scratching the surface. There are so many moving parts in health care, that it's like a game of whack-a-mole.

The GOP's "free market" voodoo gives insurers and hospitals unlimited control over 17.8 percent of the economy. With that much money on the line, what do you think will happen?

Profit over People: Hey, it's business:
Dr. John Noseworthy, the chief executive of the Mayo Clinic, recently told his employees that the prestigious health system will prioritize the care of privately insured patients over those on Medicare and Medicaid.
That's bad news for the massive number of baby boomers moving into Medicare.
That bold pronouncement reflects the growing unease among hospital executives who are watching profits shrink due to steady increases in the number of government-insured patients. Noseworthy said...
“We’re asking … if the patient has commercial insurance, or [if] they’re Medicaid or Medicare patients and they’re equal, that we prioritize the commercial insured patients enough so … we can be financially strong at the end of the year.” 
While we were concentrating on the huge number of people losing their insurance in the individual market, Medicare patients are getting pushed aside by hospitals as well:
“There is this thought that hospitals treat whoever comes to their door, but this is a statement that lays out what happens,” said Christine Spencer, a health economist at the University of Baltimore. “It’s a surprise to hear it out loud like that."
Hospital Power Play: This isn't a new concept either, and its created inflated insurance premiums in the past in regions where hospitals have monopoly power. 
The health system’s market power gives it the ability to charge more for its services and command high payments from commercial insurers, a clout it can’t wield with the federal government. So, in prioritizing those commercially insured patients, it is following the money.
According to Harold Miller, chief executive of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform:
“It’s a very lucrative thing for them to do." While it makes sense from business perspective, it doesn’t help to solve the underlying problem of America’s sky-high medical costs. “True leadership would be to figure out how to deliver high-quality services at the lowest cost possible. If institutions are simply going to say, ‘I’m not going to serve patients unless I get paid more,’ that’s only contributing to the problem.”
While Republicans feign concern over the poor, and play them for saps by giving them a false sense of security with bare bones catastrophic junk insurance policies, hospitals are aiming for much higher:
The hunt for higher-paying patients plays out in all sorts of ways, experts said. A medical center may locate its satellite offices and target its advertising in wealthier suburbs. Hospitals might reduce emergency room services so they do not have to handle the chronic yet untreated issues — such as diabetes or high blood pressure — that regularly bring people without insurance to the hospital.
Regulation is another way of saying Protection: Word smith George Lakoff came up with this simple interpretation. Once I had a chance to absorb the concept, I immediately saw how it works for "free markets" and "social" programs.

In reality, government doesn't get out of the way in a free market system, it actually establishes regulations - or protections - that let businesses do things.  "Socialism" also provides regulation - protections - but for the public good. So which side do you want to protect more?    

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Blind Obedience of Trump Voters, an Update!!!

Many Trump voters aren't really paying attention to the Paul Ryan health care sausage being made in D.C., because to them, they believe a multi-millionaire who can't stop lying, and campaigning, is going to take care of the forgotten little guy. Yes, now they want help from the government.

Like Captain America's Chris Evan explained:
Esquire: "I feel rage. I feel fury. It's unbelievable. People were just so desperate to hear someone say that someone is to blame. They were just so happy to hear that someone was angry. Hear someone say that Washington sucks. They just want something new without actually understanding. I mean, guys like Steve Bannon—Steve Bannon!—this man has no place in politics. Some people say, 'Don't you see what's happening? It's time to yell.' 

Yeah, I see it, and it's time for calm. Because not everyone who voted for Trump is going to be some horrible bigot. There are a lot of people in that middle; those are the people you can't lose your credibility with. If you're trying to change minds, by spewing too much rhetoric you can easily become white noise."
With that, here are two recent clips featuring Trumpian followers. In the first video, one fan was asked what Trump could improve on:
Fan: "Yea, health care, he needs to rewrite that Paul Ryan plan because honestly it's terrible. (audible laughter)...straight up terrible."

The clip below starts with Trump voters, and continues with HHS Sec Tom Price's empty promise of a 3 part plan. Like that'll happen. In fact, the clip ends with Rand Paul saying what I've been saying all along about the high risk pools paid for by taxpayers. I thought Republicans didn't want to pay for someone else's health care?:
Paul: "We're certainly not for when you get sick, the taxpayer takes over the tab for the insurance company. It's a terrible situation. What you do is socialize the insurance company losses, but you privatize the billions of dollars that they make. I'm not for giving a gift to the insurance companies, and that's what this house plan does." 

My own plan is simple; the universal "Every Doctor-Every Hospital Act"  

Trump: "All of these no's, or potential no's, are all yeses. Every single person in this room is now a yes. We met with pretty much 12 no's or semi-no's....."

There was a time when George W. Bush clips were a laugh riot. Well, Trump matches that, but with a repetitive, scary, dark, unsettling undertone bordering on stupidity.

Superintendent Tony Evers' challenger Holtz a drooling anti-Common Core tool of the Legislature.

You're in big trouble if you're running for state superintendent and you're still complaining about the "federal intrusion" of Common Core and the now discontinued Badger Exam (based on Common Core).

Tony Evers' challenger Lowell Holtz used the common trick of pointing out a district opposed to CC. Usually the problem is based something else, like convoluted local district policies and requirements that teachers are opposed to. Common Core standards have no such requirements but are blamed anyway.

And instead of working with the 400 school district that have adopted Common Core, Holtz said he would work with the legislature. Amazing.

The normally laid back Tony Evers had had enough, asking him what Common Core standard he didn't like. "Federal intrusion" was Holtz's answer, which of course has nothing to do with Common Core and is not a federal program. From Upfront with Mike Gousha:

Ryan: ObamaCare won't exist in 10 years, so CBO can't compare it to his Plan?

The CBO simply projected what seniors would be paying on ObamaCare 10 years out, and what they would be paying for Trump/RyanCare 10 years out.

Trying to calculate projected costs is nothing new. But that didn't stop Paul Ryan from saying that because ObamaCare was collapsing and wouldn't be around, it was wrong to make that comparison. Uh, no.

I wish Ryan hadn't filibustered Fox News' Chris Wallace, who was trying to confronted Ryan on his trip down the rabbit hole of reasoning.

Even former governor Jan Brewer was repulsed:

“It just really affects our most vulnerable, our elderly, our disabled, our childless adults, our chronically mentally ill, our drug addicted. It will simply devastate their lives and the lives that surround them. Because they’re dealing with an issue which is very expensive to take care of as a family with no money.”