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."


  1. Editorial: Stop the California bullet train in its tracks
    Mercury News & East Bay Times Editorial Boards
    PUBLISHED: January 25, 2018 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: January 25, 2018 at 10:55 am
    Categories:California News, Editorials, Latest Headlines, News, Opinion, Politics, Transportation

    A full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the state Capitol in 2015.
    Click here if you’re having trouble viewing this photo gallery on your mobile device.

    The latest $2.8 billion cost overrun is yet another reminder that the Legislature should apply the brakes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy-seeking bullet train fiasco.

    If the California High-Speed Rail Authority could deliver the $45 billion Sacramento-to-San Diego system that voters were promised in Proposition 1A nearly a decade ago, we’d be supportive. But it’s not even close. And the numbers keep getting worse, as the authority continues throwing good money after bad.

    At the very least, the Legislature should seek an immediate independent review by the state auditor, as Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, requested this week.

    Map of California high- speed rail plan. (Source: California High-Speed Rail Authority.)
    Map of California high-speed rail plan. (Source: California High-Speed Rail Authority.)
    This should be a no-brainer. Even the governor’s biggest bullet train promoter, rail authority Chairman Dan Richard, told us he and Brown are on board with an audit. It’s long overdue.

    During his State of the State address on Thursday, the governor will likely again urge fiscal restraint. It’s wise advice that should be applied to high-speed rail as well as state services.

    California faces huge financial uncertainty with shifting federal tax and health-care laws, tens of billions in pension debt and the likelihood of a long-overdue recession. California already is shorting teacher salaries, public universities and our crumbling roads and other infrastructure.

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    It makes no sense to continue wasting billions on a high-speed rail system that will probably never be completed and certainly will never live up to its billing.

    Voters in 2008 were promised a system stretching from San Diego to Sacramento that would cost $45 billion. Now the plans are for linking Los Angeles and San Francisco at a price of $64 billion, estimated in 2016. That tab will likely increase when the rail authority releases new numbers in March.

  2. I allowed this editorial comment unrelated to the blog post because it shows how fighting change can be rationalized and put on the back burner. You know, why do anything. I'll bet the railroad ran into cost overruns as well. Should have stopped?

  3. No - there is gridlock in California. Look at China. We need cleaner and faster transportation.