Monday, December 31, 2018

Population growth 80 year Low!!! Trump wrong time, wrong president, sets US up for failure.

This is that moment where we say to Republicans, "Just get away from our government, please back away, don't touch anything." But we can't.

The worker shortage is the beginnings of a problem Republicans are making so much worse every day. It's like everything they touch dies. Let's start counting the ways.

1. Worker Shortage Blind Spot: It's hard to know where to start...let's start with the shortage in Wisconsin, and Scott Walker's desperate realization that we need labor just after bashing them with union busting, right to work, and banning local raises in the minimum wage. Business-friendly, but worker friendly? Nope:
AP: Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker ... launched a nearly $7 million national marketing campaign to persuade millennials and military veterans to move to his state to help with a worker shortage ... targeting millennials who live in the Twin Cities and Detroit media markets.
How bad is it in Wisconsin? Let's just say it continues the tradition of Democrats having come in and clean up the GOP mess again: 
The hiring outlook (in Wisconsin) doesn’t take into account any companies moving into the state that plan to hire, including Foxconn (that) could employ up to 13,000 people in Wisconsin in the coming years. And 46 percent of employers across the country report having trouble finding workers. Retiring baby boomers and low unemployment are two factors making it difficult for companies to recruit.

2.  Throw in a Population Shortage: The timing couldn't have been worse:
The U.S. Census Bureau released its population change estimates for the year ending in July 2018 ... the national rate of population growth is at its lowest since 1937 ... declines in the number of births, gains in the number of deaths, and that the nation’s under age 18 population has declined since the 2010 census ... geographic mobility within the U.S. is at a historic low ... nearly a fifth of all states displayed absolute population losses over the past two years ... The delayed impact of the Great Recession ... the aging American population is the broader cause, a factor that the nation will have to cope with for years and decades to come.

3. Build the Wall/Stop Immigration-The final Straw: Just by coincidence Trump Republicans want to shut down the border. Seriously, you couldn't devise a worse economic plan. And voters want Republicans in charge of the economy when they just naturally go off in the wrong direction?
This leaves immigration as an ever-more-important contributor to national population growth. Because of the recent decline in natural increase, immigration now contributes nearly as much to population growth, and is projected to be the primary contributor to national population growth after 2030 as natural increase continues to decline. Thus immigration—its size and its attributes—will be an important contributor to the nation’s future population that is growing slowly and aging quickly.
4. Mobility Ends, Boomers pass bill off to next Generation: Putting everything off, like infrastructure, energy and health care, the next generation is going to struggle to pay for anything. Especially with tax hikes? Republican attempts to bring back the 1950's? Just the opposite: 
Geographical mobility hits a postwar low: If there is one demographic indicator that might be expected to pick up in a rebounding economy, it should be geographic mobility within the U.S. Yet the latest data for 2017-2018 released by the Census Bureau shows that the percentage of Americans changing residence is at a post-World War II low of 10.1 percent—continuing a slowdown observed last year (See Figure 3). This is less than half the rate the nation experienced in the highly mobile 1950s and substantially lower than in the 1990s.
Trump won't care, and the next Decade will Pay for the "built the Wall" mentality: The takeaway is this;
Policymakers must place increased attention on caring for a larger and more dependent aging population, and dealing with the realities of a slower-growing labor force. In particular, it requires a more serious discussion of U.S. immigration policy because of the future contributions that immigrants will make to growing America’s society and economy.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Preventing 4,700 heart attacks, 130,000 asthma attacks, 11,000 premature deaths too costly to justify, says Trump!

Let's get 3 things straight: 
1. There is no "balance" between business and the environment...

2. ...because it's still pollution, no balance, and... 

3. ...Republicans/conservative voters are willing to let people die for money and business. It's that simple.
Hyperbolic? No, because there's no wiggle room here, Republicans will let people die. It's the price of capitalism, no balance:

The Trump administration proposed major changes to the way the federal government calculates the benefits, in human health and safety, of restricting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants ... declaring rules imposed on mercury ... are too costly to justify ... ignoring or playing down other health benefits. The administrator “has concluded that the identification of these benefits is not sufficient, in light of the gross imbalance of monetized costs.”
In other words, by narrowly focusing in on mercury, which is no small matter either...
...the costs to industry in installing pollution controls ranged from $7.4 billion to $9.6 billion annually, while the health benefits of cutting mercury ranged from $4 million to $6 million annually. In other words, it said that the costs of the rule outweigh the benefits.
Weakening mercury regulations effects all other pollutants: Not too difficult to understand. Besides mercury, it allows all other particulates in the air that will hurt and kill thousands of Americans prematurely a year:
The Obama administration cited an additional $80 billion in health benefits a year ... the rules would prevent 11,000 premature deaths not from curbing mercury itself, but from what is known as a co-benefit, the reduction in particulate matter linked to heart and lung disease that also occur when a plant reduces its mercury emissions. 

Trump’s revised procedures would essentially ignore co-benefits and count only the direct potential benefits of cutting mercury ... the current limits can no longer be justified as “appropriate and necessary” under the law.
The Energy Industry Opposes Trump's Coal Industry Special Interest Rollback: Another longtime Republican Party platform decision opposed by the energy industry moving quickly into alternative clean energy sources:
The vast majority of utility companies have said the proposed changes are now of little benefit to them, because they have already spent the billions of dollars needed to come into compliance, and have urged the Trump administration to leave the mercury measure in place.
Let's be very Clear about Trump's EPA Coal Industry backed death sentence for thousands of Americans: Note-just damaging the brain and nervous system of children is reason enough, right?
1. Mercury is a neurotoxin that can damage the brain and nervous system in young children, leading to lower I.Q. and impaired motor skills. 

2. The Obama administration estimated that the measure would prevent 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks as well as 11,000 premature deaths by also eliminating fine particulate matter linked to those ailments.

3. Business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others argue the earlier numbers inflated the benefits of the rule, underestimated costs and improperly justified cutting mercury by relying largely on the benefits of reduced particulate matter. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.
A few dollars in health benefits? Ah, the mind of a great justice. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

GOP removal of Mandate/Fines made no difference in ACA signups, undercutting ruling ACA unconstitutional!!!

Universal Health Care or Medicare for All is the money saving solution to our hugely complicated and expensive for-profit U.S. model. 

Let's hope the new Democratic House majority won't run away from the growing popularity for universal health, even though we've already seen them take a few steps backward. The time is now, and almost everyone can see that.

Unconstitutional? Surprise, Nope: The numbers are in for the 2019 ACA signup, and guess what, not having a "penalty" for skipping insurance didn't collapse the ACA after all. Note: Also keep in mind the signup period was shortened and advertising disappeared:
ModernHealthCare (subscription):Even though the Republican-led Congress repealed fines for being uninsured effective Jan. 1 ... The drop — from 8.8 million to 8.5 million — was far less than experts forecast.

The numbers are likely to change policymakers' understanding of how the law actually works. It could also undercut a Texas federal court case in which a Republican-appointed judge, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor recently declared the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional since the fines no longer exist ... With the fines gone, the coverage requirement can no longer be considered constitutional, he reasoned ... because it can't be separated from the coverage requirement.

But steady sign-up numbers are factual evidence that in the real world the coverage mandate doesn't drive the health care law. "The argument that it's somehow inseparable from protections for pre-existing conditions is a lot weaker," Levitt said.

Friday, December 21, 2018

"My little Boy..."

This sadly was the top story for the year...

Being the father of two older teenage sons, it kills me inside when I hear another father describe the son he lost in the Parkland shooting as "my little boy." It's true, as a parent, I'll always see them that way, and that's what makes it so much harder to hear:

This problem is not anywhere on the Republican Party's radar as we approach 40,000 gun related deaths.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Taxpayer Sucking Foxconn Con slipped through WEDC and smart business minded Walker and Republicans? No...

Even though the holidays have kept me busy and away from posting new and outrageous stories about our radicalized state Republicans, I've also been thinking about the creeky nature of government under Scott Walker, Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald. How can any society advance when we work so hard to stay in one place, or heck, even go backward?

The latest Foxconn outrage is all part of Scott Walker's "legacy." Not only did Walker wake up to "technology," but he put our future in the hands of a company that wants to lead the world in automation and robots. Thank you? Walker's supply-side fantasy land of economic magic missed a very real detail in the Foxconn contract:
The Legislative Audit Bureau released a review that found the state jobs agency is operating under rules that would allow officials there to award tax credits to Foxconn for workers who aren't in Wisconsin. The bureau recommended the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. change its practices to prevent taxpayers from spending money on jobs that aren't in Wisconsin.
Cap Times reporter Jessie Opoien wrote a whole article about this. Never once in her reporting did she ask how this rule slipped by everyone, especially Scott Walker's WEDC, the agency Sen. Fitzgerald and Rep. Vos purposely prevented Gov. Evers from replacing. 
WEDC written procedures allow tax credits to be awarded for some employees who do not live in Wisconsin as long as they are directed from and paid in the zone that encompasses the Foxconn campus in southeastern Wisconsin.
Yikes, that can't be good. As JS's Molly Beck writes, Fitzgerald thinks it's no big deal, just a few people...maybe more, and more, and more...:
(Fitzgerald said), "I talked to WEDC chief operating officer, Mark Hogan yesterday about this and I kind of asked him specifically, Mike, are we talking hundreds of people or are we talking like onesies, twosies, somewhere in the country? And his description was it is a very small number ... 
First, what is a small number, and second, does that sound like good financial management?

Ready for This: Remember, WEDC needed constant auditing because of its incompetent Chairman (Scott Walker who was fired), bad books and forgotten loans. But Fitzgerald even turned lousy bookkeeping into a huge positive...would I kid you? 
"WEDC in the history of the state -— I don't think there's been any agency as audited or as scrutinized as WEDC," Fitzgerald said. "Whether I like it or not it's going to continue specific to even what happens to the agency and obviously it's all being driven by Foxconn. So it's going to be bird-dogged all the way through the entire process."
 If you'll believe that...missing this huge con is now a sign of good GOP government? Republicans know Democratic Governor Evers will be able to showcase his more popular plans for the state that got him elected, so when something this bad turns up, thank god Republicans caught it? Really:
Audit committee co-chair Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, said the report is "reassuring" to residents near the Foxconn project and throughout the state "to know that this evaluation is setting a baseline for compliance to the terms of the contract."

"Once again, the diligent work of the Legislative Audit Bureau has uncovered a discrepancy that had the potential to cost Wisconsin taxpayers money. This audit has given the Legislature and WEDC the ability to identify this issue and correct it prior to any tax credits being awarded," said committee co-chair Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Ways we know Trump Republicans Wheels falling Off!!!

This is only Monday...

This is so far removed from any basic understanding of the Constitution that it defies explanation. The last time I looked, conservative media made up 92 percent of the public airways, but that was okay because that kind of programming sells. And isn't that what freedoms all about, profit?

ObamaCare Unconstitutional? Leave it to conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin to clearly make the case, Trump Republicans can no longer hide their lies, like the one about those "activist judges" "legislating from the bench." Was Republican Sen. Roy Blunt on something when he said, "that doesn't mean that legislators can act like judges..." What the...?
CHUCK TODD: But didn’t this federal judge act like a legislator? And he decided, on his own, what the law is going to be? Isn’t this a form of judicial activism? He said, “Well, I’ve decided that Congress said this is a zero tax. I’ve decided it’s no longer a tax.” That’s the definition of a judge writing legislation, is it not?

BLUNT: That doesn’t mean, that doesn’t mean that legislators can act like judges, just because, just because judges sometimes act like legislators.

TODD: So you acknowledge, in this case...

BLUNT: No...
Will Medicare Go Away? Yes, because now everyone will have health care!!! The media is driving me crazy letting Republicans frame "Medicare-for-all" as the horrifying end of Medicare? No, we won't need Medicare or Medicaid because surprise, now everyone has health care! Seriously, is it that difficult? Will someone please stop this idiotic talking point before it starts making sense to the drooling Trump base.
BLUNT: You know, the one thing I think we would be able to unite on is Medicare-for-all would wind up meaning Medicare for none. If Democrats want to take that view to the American people, and seniors, particularly, people who are now covered by Medicare, understand the ramifications of that. There is no way that will happen. And there’s no way voters will let it happen.
Chuck Todd did not correct this lunacy. What is wrong with media reporters who hear this and then don't think right away that it doesn't make any sense? 

Energy Industry leaving GOP fossil fuel policies behind...

While my Trumpian friend wallows in the orange god's lies about coal, and how bad clean energy is for our economy, the rest of the world is laughing, albeit uncomfortably:

WaPo: President Trump’s top White House adviser on energy and climate stood before the crowd of some 200 people and tried to burnish the image of coal, the fossil fuel that powered the industrial revolution, and is now a major culprit behind the climate crisis world leaders are meeting here to address.
“We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security in pursuit of environmental sustainability,” said Wells Griffith, Trump’s adviser.
Mocking laughter echoed through the conference room. A woman yelled, “These false solutions are a joke!” 
Energy Industry Proves Trump Republicans very very Wrong: You know you've got a major problem when the industry you think you're headed in the complete opposite direction. That's right, Republicans now look even dumber* than before with climate denial. Let's count the ways:
1. A report to the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC) from PacifiCorp confirmed that the bulk of its coal units cost more to run than to close and replace … that despite White House efforts to support coal, consumption is decreasing and the fuel is … data showing early coal plant retirements could bring hundreds of millions of dollars in net benefits to customers." Energy Innovation's Mahajan added. "It also shows the economics are shifting, and any forward-thinking utility will want to minimize coal."

2. Xcel Energy's "Steel for Fuel" strategy: The utility owns and ratebases the wind or solar project just as it would a coal or natural gas unit, but without the fuel price volatility risk" … the strategy are appearing across the country. 
3. Ohio's American Electric Power initiated development of 900 MW of ratebased wind and solar in September and then announced the closure of 1,590 MW of coal.
4. Northern Indiana Public Service Company plans to retire 1,800 MW of coal in favor of renewables within ten years. 
5. Unregulated utilities are also seizing the opportunity. Texas' Vistra Energy shuttered 4.2 GW of coal in favor of renewables and natural gas investments in February.  
6. A July study found electric cooperative Tri-State Generation and Transmission could save customers $600 million through 2030 with new renewables, even if it continues running its coal plants.
For added fun, Democracy Now gets the award for the longest and most exhausting pursuit of a question...ever:

 * I've decided ridiculous disproven talking points should be called just that, dumb. We can't keep repeating the same arguments over and over, purposely boring people, by repeating really dumb debate points. 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Add Walker's wacky Venn Diagram to his legacy, one where he took credit for the nations rising Economy.

Scott Walker went out on a lower than expected note today, signing without vetoes, legislation removing many of the powers he had for incoming Governor Tony Evers and AG Josh Kaul.

Why lower? Apparently, Walker didn't know what a Venn diagram was, and neither did his staff of incompetents. The common gubernatorial powers would be in the middle, and the powers the Republican lame duck session repealed would be listed on the outside.

Walker was making this argument verbally for days, listing only the powers the governor would keep, which is irrelevant to the debate. His base will eat this stuff up and believe.

As I tweeted, "Wow, Evers/Kaul Blocked, must support Scott Walker policies, no vetoes curbing his Democratic successor's power!" 

What a small petty man:

This will keep Walker's name in the news for at least the next year, just what he wanted, and add to his authoritarian image as the desperate career politician who is never willing to let go.
“The overwhelming executive of authority I have as governor today will remain constant with the next governor,” he said.

The chart, however, didn't show any of the powers that had been stripped from Evers.
Here's how the Washington Post's  Philip Bump covered this loser:

With a better chart...

There's more...

Holden Mirror tweeted...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Republicans shape "facts" around desired outcome: Eliminating Professional Licensing? Have confidence in your Barber, hiring a "plumber," or "electrician?"

Who would fit "facts" around their desired outcome? Walker Republicans of course.

Just like "push polling," which is defined as "attempting to manipulate or alter prospective voters' views/beliefs under the guise of conducting an opinion poll," the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) is also gently "altering" how professionals should answer a survey blatantly encouraging them to "eliminate" occupational licenses.

DSPS is now completing a "comprehensive study" and "report" of Wisconsin's occupational licenses. Believe it or not, right there in the DSPS email to credentialed professional license holder in the state, they actually came out and said what their desired outcome would be: 
"The report from the DSPS must include the department's recommendations for the elimination of occupational licenses based on the following..."
Gulp! Below is the exact wording to "alter" and "manipulate" the license holders views, which I've highlighted. So is this shaping the facts around the Republicans desired outcome? Ya think?
- The department's evaluation of whether the unregulated practice of the profession, occupation, or trade can clearly harm or endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the public, and whether the potential for the harm is recognizable and not remote or speculative. 

- The department's evaluation of whether the public reasonably benefits from the occupational license requirement. 

- The department's evaluation of whether the public can be effectively protected by any means other than requiring an occupational license. 

- The department's analysis of whether licensure requirements for the regulated profession, occupation, or trade exist in other states. 

- The department's estimate of the number of individuals or entities that are affected by the occupational license requirement. 

- The department's estimate of the total financial burden imposed on individual or entities as a result of the occupational licensure requirement, including education or training costs, examination fees, private credential fees, occupational license fees imposed by the state, and other costs individuals or entities incur in order to obtain the required occupational license. 

- The department's evaluation of the tangible or intangible barriers people may face in obtaining an occupational license. 
Eliminating Licensing Completely? Yes: You say it can't happen? Remember this:
Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma) came up with the (following) measure.

"Anyone with a bachelor's degree could be hired and licensed to teach sixth- through 12th-grade English, math, social studies or science in Wisconsin And any person with relevant experience — even a high school dropout — could be licensed to teach in any other non-core academic subject in those grades." 
Bottom Line? 
According to The Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance: "This totally destroys any licensure requirements that we have in Wisconsin. It's very concerning."

Tim Slekar, dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, said:“Softening teacher license policies or doing away with the license altogether will kill the profession and turn teaching into a low-wage service sector.”
Deregulation Insanity. You can bet this won't happen under the Evers Administration thank god. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Wisconsin can thank Walker/Republican Voters for unaccountable Brazen Power Grab!

While many of us marvel at the outrageous behavior of Scott Walker and his band of Republican pirates plundering what's left of Wisconsin, we shouldn't lose sight of their real enablers...conservative voters. 

Conservative voters automatically elect Republicans, even when the destructive things below happens over and over again. What are we talking about? These now empty and meaningless phrases; "will of the people" and "deficits matter."

Scott Walker/Vos/Fitzgerald Power Grab Embarrassing but Necessary: Republicans have a higher calling so they can do almost anything they want because they're saving the country from those radical, traitorous, liberal leftists, right?

Chuck Todd says of Wisconsin GOP's legislative coup: "Democrats have done this in the past to Republican governors in lame duck sessions in other states." This is objectively, provably false.
Nope. Democrats haven't done this in other states. In fact, it's just the opposite, as PolitiFact Wisconsin pointed out below. Scott Walker actually wanted to limit the power of outgoing Governor Doyle, even before he took office:

On Nov. 10, 2010, Walker delivered a letter to Doyle’s administration with five requests:
1. Delay implementation of the new Affordable Care Act in light of Walker’s plans to challenge it in court

2. Suspend negotiations with the state employee unions so they could be considered in the context of the upcoming budget

3. Don’t finalize any permanent civil service personnel because these appointees "should be required to go through the same application process as any other civil servants."

4. Pursue shifting a power plant’s fuel from bio-fuel to natural gas

5. Delay implementing any new administrative rules — Walker added, "I feel strongly that if new or updated rules were urgently needed, they would have been completed prior to now."
Not a problem for Republican voters. It all makes perfect sense to limit the radical "left-wing" agenda that won over Wisconsinites and made Tony Evers our next governor. Go ahead Scott Walker, sign the GOP bills, who's gonna remember 2 years from now anyway?

Higher Deficits and Lower Taxes, Paul Ryan's Voodoo Economic Spell over Voters:  Wisconsin's own notoriously brutal Paul Ryan conned voters by selling himself as an economic genius, spouting numbers and theories that made voodoo supply side economics seem like magic. Well, Voxdotcom has big news for his loyal voters who just elected Ryan clone Bryan Steil, who astonishingly won his last-minute campaign not having to know anything about the issues. Steil redefined "generic," and added new meaning to "robotic." But I digress...

$343 billion. That’s the increase between the deficit for fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2018— that is, the difference between the fiscal year before Ryan became speaker of the House and the fiscal year in which he retired. If the economy had fallen into recession between 2015 and 2018, Ryan’s record would be understandable. But it didn’t. In fact, growth quickened and the labor market tightened — which means deficits should’ve fallen. Indeed, that’s exactly what happened in each of the five years preceding Ryan’s speakership; from 2011 to 2015, annual deficits fell each year.

As he prepares to leave office, Ryan says that debt reduction is one of those things “I wish we could have gotten done.” Ryan, the man with the single most power over the federal budget in recent years, sounds like a bystander, as if he watched laws happen rather than made them happen. To understand the irony and duplicity of that statement, you need to understand Ryan’s career.

“It’s time politicians in Washington stopped patronizing the American people as if they were children,” he wrote. “It’s time we stop deferring tough decisions and promising fiscal fantasies.”
Those tough decisions would negatively impact the economic and physical health of every American, but not the corporate or the rich. 

Best for Last; The Elusive Democratic Argument for everything, especially Universal Health Care:  Incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got right to the heart of our upside down political system. What's striking is her lack of hesitation and her ability to ask the basic question voters have been craving for years;
Cortez: "...we write unlimited blank checks for war, we just wrote a $2 trillion check for that tax cut, the GOP tax cut, and nobody asked those folks how are they going to pay for it.

So my question is why is it our pockets are only empty when it comes to education and health care for our kids. Why are our pockets empty when we talk about 100 percent renewable energy that's going to save this planet and allow our children to thrive. We only have empty pockets when it comes to the morally right things to do. But when it comes to tax cuts for billionaires and when it comes to unlimited war, we seem to be able to invent that money very easily. And to me, it belies a lack of moral priorities that people have right now, especially the Republican Party."

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Behold the Republicans Scorched State Tantrum!!!

My Trumpian conservative friend in Milwaukee said he wasn't buying what Republican Rep. Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald were saying about their outrageous power grab against incoming governor Tony Evers and AG Josh Kaul. He's as outraged as Democrats. 

The only saving grace is the fact that Republicans have definitely overstepped their legislative powers, which seems to be the only way out of this mess. 

Here's Tony Evers CNN interview:

Biggest Issue in Governor and AG Race, GONE: Republicans will apparently win this by any means possible. Later they'll say Evers failed to fulfill a campaign promise. Onion too:

JSThe legislation would hamper Evers and Kaul from withdrawing the state from a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides for coverage of pre-existing conditions ... a central (issue) in both their races as Democrats hammered Republicans over the state's participation in the lawsuit that Walker authorized. Puts lawmakers in charge of litigation, allowing them to keep alive a lawsuit.
Kill ObamaCare and Coverage for Preexisting Conditions: And who was surprised by this...Republicans voted against their only ballyhooed solution to protecting preexisting conditions... high-risk pools? Yes, they did:
2. State senators failed to deliver on a campaign promise from Walker to approve legislation that protecting health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. All Democrats and two Republicans voted against that legislation ... The Republican caucus refused to support revisions to the bill from Craig and Kapenga that would have created a high risk-sharing insurance pool. Democratic senators voted against the bill because the legislation allowed insurers to impose lifetime caps on coverage.

Who cares about the Environment and Low Wages? Not Republicans
: Killing transportation funding for smaller highway projects isn't just a job killer, but will probably kill smaller construction companies depending on federal funding. Thank the bald bizarro Sen. Duey Stroebel for this piece of genius legislation:  
Legislation to concentrate federal money into a smaller number of road projects so that other projects could avoid having to comply with federal environmental and wage laws. Another provision slightly decreased income tax rates.
Much Needed Internet Sale Tax Revenue Thrown Out: Will we ever start spending state revenue on the backlog of desperately needed repairs and updating?
Modestly lowers the state’s income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes from out-of-state retailers that Wisconsin recently began collecting.
The following are HUGE changes as well and not secondary to everything listed above. This is the overreach that will hopefully win a court challenge by the new administration: 

1. Bars judges from giving deference to state agencies’ interpretations of laws when they are challenged in court. That could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging how environmental regulations and other laws are being enforced.

2. Broadens lawmakers' powers to block rules written by the Evers administration to implement state laws.

3. Requires the Evers administration to report if the governor pardons anyone or his aides release anyone from prison early.

4. Forces Evers to get permission from the Legislature before asking the federal government to make any changes to programs that are run jointly by the state and federal governments. That would limit the governor's flexibility in how he runs public benefits programs. If the Legislature’s budget committee determined the administration was not implementing recent changes to those programs, it could reduce funding and staffing for state agencies.

5. Gives lawmakers — instead of the attorney general — control over how court settlements are spent.

6. Makes it easier for lawmakers to hire private attorneys at taxpayer expense when they are accused of violating the open records law or other statutes.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Wisconsin Republicans decide to Eliminate Governors Office? Sure...

Poof!!! So much for the con "elections have consequences" argument pushed by Republicans.

Republicans are eliminating the Governor's office! Would I kid? 

In what will probably be challenged to the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, like the GOP's losing attempt to limit the State Superintendent, Republicans want to not just limit the governor's powers, but the Attorney Generals as well. Will Republican voters go along with this blatant government overreach or gaming the system? Are you kidding? I can hear them shouting now, "In your face libtards!!!"

Like not having a Governor at all: What Republicans Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos are attempting to do right now is make the governor's office mostly ceremonial. No, they really are...Journal Sentinal:
1. The sweeping plan would remove Gov.-elect Tony Evers' power to approve major actions by Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul and give that authority to Republican lawmakers. 

2. That could mean the campaign promise made by Evers and Kaul to immediately withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act would likely be blocked. Evers' agencies would have less freedom to run their programs.

3. Compel Evers to implement a work requirement for some in the BadgerCare Plus health care program. 

4. Make it tougher for Evers to alter a new program to keep premiums down for people who get insurance through Obamacare’s marketplace for individuals.

5. The governor also would no longer be able to choose who leads the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., which oversees taxpayer-funded incentive packages provided to businesses in exchange for job creation. Lawmakers would have more control over the jobs agency, which Evers has promised to disband and replace with a state Commerce Department. The WEDC board would choose the agency's leader instead of the governor. 
Seems like overreach? Ya think? Republican Sen. Scott Fitzgerald thinks resentful sore loser conservatives won't even notice all that confusing "inside baseball kind of legislative stuff:" 
The 141-page plan goes further than what Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos suggested lawmakers would take up during the so-called lame-duck legislative session before Evers takes office. "It’s real kind of inside baseball, kind of legislative stuff that it’s hard for me to believe people will get too excited about," Fitzgerald said three days before the plan was released.
Some of that "legislative stuff" wipes out "the will of voters"...
1. Restrict early voting to two weeks before an election. Currently, some communities provide as many as six weeks of early voting. The plan would be all but certain to draw a legal challenge given that a federal judge in 2016 struck down a similar law limiting early voting that he found "intentionally discriminates on the basis of race."

2. The measures would strip many powers from Kaul and eliminate a powerful office within the Department of Justice that was created in 2015 under Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel and handles high-profile cases on appeal. The Legislature — not the attorney general — would have control of how to spend money from court settlements. Legislators would gain the power to intervene in any litigation when a state law is challenged, and they would have the ability to appoint their own private attorneys — at taxpayer expense — to handle the case instead of the attorney general. Legislators would also have the ability to sign off on court settlements.

3. Separating the 2020 presidential primary election from an April spring election to reduce voter turnout in an effort to boost the election chances of a conservative Supreme Court justice. 

And while putting infrastructure, education, and energy advances on hold for another decade or so due to lack of funding...
4. Lawmakers will consider using new revenue from online sales taxes to slightly reduce the individual income tax rate.
Evers and Kaul Push Back: Even the Mr. Rogers of Governors Tony Evers could not hold back his frustration:
Evers and Kaul said Republicans were ignoring the voters who elected them just three weeks ago. "I’ve said all along I’m committed to working across the aisle, but I will not tolerate attempts to violate our constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers by people who are desperate to cling to control. Enough is enough," Evers said in a statement.
Here's Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes reaction, which pretty simply sums it up:

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Updated: Our Dairy Farmer National Crisis ignored by Republicans!

UPDATE: 12/1- Since this post covers a lot of ground proving Republicans aren't really "farmer-friendly," I had to include this additional big government regulation job killer:

Earlier this week, outgoing Attorney General Brad Schimel suggested in a legal analysis that barns rented for events are subject to the state’s liquor laws. His analysis came at the request of Rep. Rob Swearingen, a Republican from Rhinelander. On Wednesday, a state legislative committee tasked with examining the state's alcohol laws echoed Schimel, saying it interprets current laws to require venues like barns to obtain licenses to serve alcohol.
Guess what, Rep. Swearingen stands to profit personally...go figure:

The thrust of Wednesday's committee discussion was that such new legislation actually isn't needed; the requirement exists in current law and should be enforced immediately.

It's also worth noting that Swearingen chairs the legislative committee. He is a former president of the Tavern League and the owner of a supper club — exactly the kind of business that would see wedding barns as competition, and unlicensed wedding barns serving alcohol as unfair competition.
Will rural voters continue to get behind Republicans, who might have eliminated a few environmental regulations, all the while they're being crushed and ignored by their party? Time will tell.

There's one big difference between the parties; Republicans never think to fix huge problems smacking them in the face, and Democrats do. It's that simple. Guns, pollution, health care costs, climate change...big problems that never move the needle for Republicans.

Dairy farmers are seeing this first hand, and if nothing is done, we'll have even more and bigger problems in the future...that Republicans won't want to fix.

And you can blame the cult-like tribal Republican Party loyalty under Trump for making this worse. What else could explain voting for a disconnected millionaire who's doing everything he can to make farmers lives miserable?

Not only are dairy farmer losing sales and established business relationships, but he's going after their workforce with ICE raids:

In September U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted a four-day operation in Wisconsin. They visited 14 Wisconsin counties and arrested 83 people they referred to as "immigration violators" and "criminal illegal aliens."

John Rosenow is a dairy farmer in Buffalo County. He hires immigrant workers to do everything, from driving and fixing tractors to milking and delivering cows. He said without their help, he would go out of business. "I would no longer be able to milk cows. It would destroy my life," he said.
Trump is actually getting further away from actual immigration policy, now that he's threatening to close off the border completely, making all this devasting:
According to the American Immigration Council, nearly 5 percent of Wisconsin residents are immigrants, and 22 percent are working in the farming and fishing industry.
Don't worry, Trump's got the farmers back again. Heck he's passing out other peoples hard earned tax dollars to his rural voting base for votes, but forgot to tell them it wasn't going to be much;
Just $838 million has been paid out to farmers since the first $6 billion pot of money was made available in September.
And tariffs aren't hurting Trump one bit either! But if you're a dairy farmer, he's killing you and he's probably already forgotten how important you are to the economy:

The program’s limitations are beginning to test farmers’ patience. The trade war shows no signs of easing,

The milk federation expects dairy farmers to lose $1.5 billion from the tariffs in the second half of this year and it has received only $127 million in aid.

“This was supposed to make sure farmers were not the victims of this trade policy,” said Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation. “I think most agriculture producers feel that the payments have not come close to making up for the damage for the tariffs.”
And without a national plan to save the dairy industry, like Canada, generations of farmers will be gone leaving corporate farms with a lock on an entire industry.
The most recent downturn in dairy farming – now in its fourth year — was one of the worst he'd seen. For many farmers, the price they've received for their milk hasn't covered their expenses. Some have lost thousands of dollars a month, and there’s not much relief in sight as the marketplace is flooded with the commodity they produce.
As of Nov. 1, the dairy state had lost 660 cow herds from a year earlier, and the number of herds was down nearly 49 percent from 15 years ago — nearly half the size it was just 14 years ago. Meanwhile, the number of dairy cows has increased 2.6%. That’s because the remaining dairy operations are, in many cases, much bigger. But even some of the bigger farms have not survived.
And Rural Life continues to Change for the Worse:
Entire communities are falling apart as small farms go under, said John Peck, executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a Madison based advocacy group.

Grain mills, car dealerships and hardware stores suffer. The local tax base erodes. Churches and schools struggle or close.

“The multiplier effect on the rural economy is huge. It’s why you are seeing all these boarded-up small towns,” Peck said.Wisconsin is on track to lose more dairy farms this year than in any year since at least 2003, according to state Agriculture Department figures for dairy producer licenses.
Like the sad pleas by families for Health Care support, Farmers are now reaching out with Go Fund Me:
There are now more than 2,500 U.S. dairy farms on the website, with some farmers urgently appealing for help after their finances were ruined by three years of low milk prices.

“I have never asked for a handout, but I can’t keep borrowing money to pay for things,” one Wisconsin farmer wrote. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for even considering helping us continue our journey.”
California Dairy Struggling Too:
Dairy producers feel like collateral damage in a war they had nothing to do with. Wisconsin may bill itself as “America’s Dairyland,” but California is the leading dairy state in the union, with the most cows and highest production. California dairies had made great strides in opening new foreign markets, in part by exploiting the benefits of NAFTA and by focused approaches to China and other Asian markets. “These are markets we’ve been working on for years,” says Annie AcMoody, chief economist for the trade group Western United Dairymen. Dairy producers fear that while they’re shut out of the markets, competitors from Europe, Australia and New Zealand will take the opportunity to strengthen their foothold. “Once you lose a market, it takes time to get it back,” she says.

The number of California dairies has shrunk to 1,331 at the end of 2017 from nearly 1,600 as recently as 2012. Expectations are that by the end of this year the number will fall below 1,300.
Here are a few other images I've featured in the past:

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Health Insurance Companies think we're Stupid, and maybe they're right?

Medicare sign up time is now, and so I attended a seminar by one of the big insurers.

What was clear? Our U.S. health care system is really really bad, because it's designed by for-profit insurance companies and hospitals. I learned this at that recent "seminar." The insurance company representative stood in front of us describing a Rube Goldberg process of different copays and deductibles, procedures and limits, that no one in their right mind could begin to understand, and he knew it. That's why we needed their companies to help.

Even though I wasn't buying the sales pitch, the crowd of Medicare insurance buyers surprisingly just assumed this was all normal. Really?

I interrupted and pointed out that what he just described was the best argument yet for universal health care, where every doctor and hospital is your doctor and hospital with no copays or deductibles or surprise bills in the mail months later.

The crowd turned on me. Yes, believe it or not.

Arguing for Bad complicated Insurance? You bet: The current bad system has been around so long that everyone thinks what we have now is normal. In the end, one person asked why I was complaining, when Medicare itself was the ultimate government-run system? A good but ridiculous question.

I said Medicare is designed to force people to buy private "supplemental" insurance or Medicare Advantage policies run by private insurers, requiring another "extra premium" taken out of our shrinking Social Security check every month. That's after having already paid into Medicare all our lives. Crazy?

Takeaway? We like a complicated health care insurance system because we're used to it, and it gives us a sense of control, that we're making decisions and that it's our fault if things don't work out.

We've never had the discussion about wiping the slate clean. Imagining a society where employer-based insurance, individual market insurance, group-based insurance coops, Medicare, Medicaid, and self-insurance would just...disappear. No bills, no surprises, no medical bankruptcies, and no networks. Just lots of time to live our lives to their fullest and concentrating on what really matters, our families, whether children or aging parents.

The Challenge: Everybody gets mailers inviting them to insurance presentations and even a free meal. Go sometime and watch in stunned amazement how convoluted and insane their rules and regulations are, policies they say we need. You'll quickly understand how corporate numbers crunchers and ghoulish CEO's have covered every inch of greed and profit from the sick or dying. The question you have to ask yourself; do you have the stomach for it?

Vacation ending....

Had to take a break from posting, recharge, and distance myself.

But now, it's back to work...

Friday, November 16, 2018

Oh, did you know Congress is Broken? WI Republican Gallagher just noticed as Dems take power...

Like state Republicans trying to "reform" an all too powerful governor as Democrat Tony Evers takes over, now a "both-sides" Republican is blaming Congressional dysfunction on "theater used by both parties..." now that Democrats are about to control the House. Nope. Not buying it. 

So let's just talk about reforming the system instead of governing and setting the Democratic agenda so voters know what Democrats stand for. Oh, and it doesn't matter if Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher wrote this just before the election because let's face it, they knew they were getting blown out by the "blue wave." 

Let's just call it what it is, insulting:

Congress is a toothless, dysfunctional body that has evolved into a “theater used by both parties to stoke the outrage of their base.”
That damning verdict doesn’t come from a pundit or political scientist, but a sitting member of the Republican majority in the U.S. House, freshman Mike Gallagher of Green Bay. In a colorful and scathing critique for The Atlantic magazine, Gallagher argues that the House, which will be led by Democrats next year, is ripe for reform.

“If you are among the 11 percent of Americans who believe that everything in Congress is going swimmingly, then save some time and stop reading right now. (But first, please share whatever experimental drugs you are on). But if you are among the 87 percent of people who are concerned about what is going on in Congress, then I have an important message for you: It’s much worse than you think,” writes Gallagher, who also floated some proposals for making the place work better, including sending some of the power so tightly held by House leadership back to members.
And with Republicans groveling at the feet of Trump granting his every mindless request, let's talk about "genuine intellectual combat?" You can't make this up:
“I want to be able to walk into the House floor and have a sense (that) this is like a genuine arena of intellectual combat, right? I don’t want it to all just be us throwing bombs on cable news.”
Because that's what Democrats are doing?