Thursday, January 25, 2018

Scott Walker no friend of Rural Conservative Voters, unless he wants to get reelected.

Rural conservative voters see something in Scott Walker and his band of plundering Republican pirates I can't. Whether it's a simple (R) next to the name or one issue voting, things in rural Wisconsin aren't getting better, and they may be getting worse.

Farm Bankruptcies most in Nation: This just hit the news today. It seems Walker was oblivious to the harsh reality of his own voters:
New federal court data shows the Western District of Wisconsin had the highest number of farm bankruptcies in the country last year. The Western District had 28 Chapter 12 bankruptcy cases filed in 2017, a chapter specifically for family farmers or fishermen. The district includes 44 counties and covers more than half of the geographic area of the state.
Walker went after Rural Farmers Estates to Fund Medicaid:
WSJ-Dee J. Hall: The state Department of Health Services has new powers under the state budget to recover money from the estates of people whose loved ones have received Medicaid funding for long-term care … the Legislature’s own nonpartisan legal and financial agencies have warned that the changes … could violate federal law. Critics say the changes could prompt some elderly couples to divorce and make it harder for children to inherit the family farm or business. A couple’s home is exempted … But proceeds from the sale of that home could be taken by the state to repay Medicaid used to pay for a spouse’s nursing home or other long-term care. An elder law attorneys said, “It greatly expands the types of property the state can go after … In the past, the state could not go after the property of the (non-Medicaid receiving) spouse.”
What? Walker Proposes $50M In Rural Economic Development, but...: It seems during this reelection year Walker is doing another 180, after cutting help for rural farmers. I wrote this back in Jan. 2016:
Scott Walker's $3.6 million budget cut to the UW Extension should get rural Republican voters riled up. It continues the Republican assault on their own rural constituents that keeps them frustrated and angry at their own government. The UW Extension "provides farmers with technical assistance, nutrient management and more," but those days are slipping away, thanks to cuts signed by Walker.

UW-Extension, which applies research and expertise across the state in myriad areas, has been forced to restructure ... cut $1.2 million from county-level programs, $1.7 million from campus programs and state specialists and $700,000 from the administration.

Monticello dairy farmer Bryan Voegeli's concern is that farmers who rely on Extension staffers to provide answers for myriad issues won’t receive the one-on-one assistance that has been an Extension trademark for decades. He said the Extension was a tremendous help when he modernized and expanded his picturesque operation ... that now includes more than 200 Brown Swiss milking cows ... a new freestyle barn in 2005 and converted its old barn that is more than 100 years old into a milking parlor. Instead of county offices fully staffed with agriculture, child development, economic development and family living agents, the Extension announced that it plans to open regional offices covering multiple counties.

Ag agents that survive the purge will be covering multiple counties and that will likely mean more time traveling and communicating with farmers via email rather than face to face. He said that’s difficult in an age where many farmers still don’t have computers.
Walker is flip-flopping again, in the hopes the following bride, and much-needed help, makes farmers forget:
Walker Proposes $50M In Rural Economic Development: The initiative would include low-interest loans for dairy businesses, more money for state marketing efforts, and a new college scholarship program for students to take agriculture classes at state colleges. Walker announced creation of a $200,000 scholarship fund to encourage students to take agriculture courses at a state technical college or the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture.
Hard Core Rural Conservative voters will Pay more for Health Insurance: I found this health care research unsettling, because it may also apply to other rural government services:
Samuel Trachtman, U of California, Berkeley Abstract: Political scientists have only recently begun paying attention to the ways that individuals’ politics affect their participation in government programs. In particular, it has been shown that Republicans are less likely to enroll in Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance than Democrats ... these decisions are consequential not only for the coverage of individuals, but also for the cost of plans. Due to adverse selection, partisanship-motivated enrollment decisions result in the average Republican enrollee being less healthy than the average Democratic enrollee. I provide empirical evidence demonstrating that insurers have responded to these differences in enrollee composition by increasing prices at a faster rate in areas with more Republican voters. These findings have implications for the design of public policies in an environment where politics can influence uptake decisions.
Just a note:
"I linked this mechanism to political geography, arguing that as insurers receive claims data prices should rise more quickly in areas with more Republicans. To support the hypothesized causal mechanism, I demonstrated a link 29 between county-level Republican vote share and composition of the marketplaces by income, a strong proxy for health status. I then provided evidence of a robust relationship between Republican 2012 vote share and premium growth. The main analysis was corroborated using alternative data, and off-marketplace premium growth was used as a placebo check to support causal identification."
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