Friday, February 22, 2019

On Job Growth, Tax Cuts and Protecting Dairy Farms, Walker's Legacy an Astonishing Failure!

Scott Walker's smoke and mirrors legacy is really starting to crumble, even as Republican legislators brag about how great the last 8 years have been. Oops?

Let's note just how bad things after Walker replaced reality based problems crying out for solutions with right wing theoretical concepts that ignored everything.

Keep in mind, this is just two months into Gov. Evers first term. Republican Rep. Robin Vos repeated Walker's ridiculous sales pitch, even as the following facts contradicted every word:
Vos: "Our state and its people are thriving. Wisconsin now has more jobs than people to fill them. It’s clear: the state of our state is strong. You might ask, how did we get here? For the last eight years, Republicans worked hard to make Wisconsin open for business. We cut taxes by more than $8 billion."
1. Walker thought Tax Cuts created Jobs...Wrong: The numbers just came out, and they're not helping Vos' argument one bit. For a complete breakdown see Jake's Wisconsin Funhouse:

Try attracting out of state workers with wages 20% lower than surrounding states. Looks like that ad campaign is just another waste of taxpayer dollars.

Tax Cuts = 30 Percent Fewer Jobs, Poverty Rates Higher, Lower Participation Rates: A study from July 14, 2017, from a researcher who calls Wisconsin his home state...:
WPT: Wisconsin Tax Cuts Did More Harm Than Good, Study Finds: A new study coauthored by Oklahoma State University Economics Prof. Dan Rickman found recent tax cuts actually hurt Wisconsin. The study, which compared Kansas to Wisconsin, found that 30 percent more jobs could have been created from 2011 to 2015 if it were not for tax cuts. The study also found that the unemployment and poverty rate would have been lower, and labor participation would be higher.

Scott Walker Legacy; he Ignored and Destroyed Dairy Farms: Walker's 8 year focus was to replace our current structure of government with a theoretical conservative system that shockingly ignored solving problems; youth prisons, veterans homes, polluted drinking water, underfunded state parks, deteriorating roads, financially squeezed schools, mass transit, CWD, etc. and...

...the one things that put Wisconsin on the map; America's Dairyland. Instead of understanding the problem and leading a reform movement to save our states dairy farms, heck the whole industry, he instinctively thought of mega corporate farmers and producing an oversupply milk. That resulted in low prices for the last 4 years:
In 2012, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced an incentive program to produce, as a state, 30 billion pounds of milk a year by 2020 a 15 percent increase

Despite record production every year since 2002, Walker urged farmers to step it up even more.

Dairy farmers ... reached 30 billion pounds in 2016 — four years ahead of schedule. By then, however, the market had turned and many dairy farmers were having trouble breaking even on their new investments. Some felt duped by the agribusiness system.

The more surplus farmers produce, the lower the price of agricultural commodities for food processors," said Kara O'Connor, government relations director for the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
Who did Walker help most? Guess...
"All of the most powerful players in the industry, except the farmer, benefit from overproduction."
Notice how Walker's program alone brought down the dairy industry in the chart below:

Walker left another major problem for the Democrats to solve:
1. By the turn of the 20th century, 90 percent of Wisconsin farms had dairy cows, and led the nation in butter and cheese production ... until 1993 when that recognition went to California.

2. For nearly 80 years, “America’s Dairyland” has been imprinted on the state’s license plates.

3. Dairy contributes more to Wisconsin’s economy than citrus does to Florida or potatoes to Idaho, and more than a quarter of the nation’s cheese comes out of the state.
But then the problem festered under Walker and his bad policy advice, along with Trump's tariffs:
4. Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018, an unprecedented rate of nearly two a day.

5. As of Feb. 1, Wisconsin had 8,046 dairy herds, down 40 percent from 10 years earlier, according to state Department of Agriculture data. 

6. Remaining dairy farmers have burned through their farm equity and credit to remain in business. 

7. Although consumption increased, they've not always kept pace with runaway production.  

8. Foreign markets for American dairy products have shrunk in response to tariffs that President Donald Trump placed on foreign steel and aluminum. Cheese shipments to China have fallen almost 65 percent, according to industry figures, and exports to Mexico are down more than 10 percent. 

9. Laurie Fischer, CEO of the American Dairy Coalition (said) “The administration has not lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian products, and in response, those countries are refusing to (ratify) the pact or lift retaliatory tariffs, impacting dairy products and other items."

And Trump's supposed farm "bailout? Horrific:
10. A 55-cow dairy farm would receive a one-time payment of $725 from the bailout but stood to lose between $36,000 and $48,000 in income last year from low milk prices, according to the Wisconsin Farmers Union. A 290-cow dairy would get $4,905 but would lose several hundred thousand dollars. 

11. Farmers have flushed milk down the barn drain because they couldn't find a processing plant to take it. 

12. Some farmers have shot calves because the newborn animals had no market value and were considered too expensive to raise for beef. 

13. The stress farmers have endured in trying to keep everything together has been overwhelming, especially on farms passed down for generations. Nobody wants to be the one to close the gates. Elizabeth Rich, an attorney from Plymouth and president of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund Foundation said, “Fifth- and sixth-generation dairy farmers are losing their farms; many are killing themselves. We can and must do better.”

14. Some farmers say the U.S. needs a milk supply management system, like Canada has, that imposes production quotas and protects farmers' income. Critics of Canada's system say it has resulted in trade barriers to U.S. dairy products. "But whether the answer is a system similar to Canada's supply management program or something completely different, we can't just sit back and continue down the same current path without trying to find something that actually works for farmers," Brad Rach, dairy director for the National Farmers Organization, wrote in a blog.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Desperate Medicaid Expansion myths backed up by predetermined outcome based research.

It costs a lot to keep Americans healthy, and Republicans have a problem with that.  

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) has recently joined forces with Republican legislators to push back against any future problems selling their backward agenda that favors profits over Wisconsinites positive health care outcomes under Medicaid expansion, despite proof to the contrary. 

As Governor, Tony Evers can now explain and compare what polling has revealed to be popular public policies, with the GOP's costly, failing, and stagnant draconian agenda claiming health care should be private, profitable, and a privilege. 

WILL thinks their "institute" of right wing propaganda backed by predetermined research outcomes will muddy the waters enough to keep conservative voters from ever catching on to their purely ideologically driven agenda. 

But discrediting reality and logic...well, that's not gonna be easy. 
A September Wisconsin LFB report showed taking full Medicaid expansion beginning in 2020 would give the state an additional $280 million to work with over the next two-year budget cycle. 
or this...
Wisconsin has missed out on $1.1 billion in federal money since 2014, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The state would save about $513 million over the course of the next two-year budget, which runs from July through June 2021, if it accepted federal money for full Medicaid expansion, the Fiscal Bureau said.
What was the dead giveaway this was a Medicaid expansion hit job? Besides the fact that the study oddly came out right before Evers planned to release his budget, Republican legislators were right there with WILL pushing this nonsense. Could they be more obvious? Seriously, you can't make this stuff up:
Less than two weeks from the rollout of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, Republican lawmakers are touting a health care study, by the conservative WILL and UW-Madison economics professor Noah Williams, (that) found expanding Medicaid in 2020 would increase private insurance consumer costs by $1.145 billion while saving state taxpayers $545 million, for a net cost to the state of about $600 million a year.

The conclusions drew sharp criticism from Donna Friedsam, health policy programs director of UW-Madison’s Population Health Institute. “This study has several methodological and analytical flaws that substantially compromise the validity of its conclusions,” Friedsam said ... pointed to mathematical errors and problems with the study’s conclusion that health care spending is higher in Medicaid expansion states.
Also, consider this logical argument:
Friesam added most economists reject the reasoning that private sector health care costs would increase because health care providers would pass on costs from low Medicaid reimbursement rates to consumers.
According to the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation research data, and contrary to WILL's spin:
1. As a whole, the large body of research on the effects of Medicaid expansion under the ACA suggests that expansion has had largely positive impacts on coverage; access to care, utilization, and affordability; and economic outcomes, including impacts on state budgets, uncompensated care costs for hospitals and clinics, and employment and the labor market.

2. Studies show that Medicaid expansion states experienced significant coverage gains, reductions in uninsured rates and health outcomes.

3. Economic measures: No significant increases in state spending from state funds as a result of the expansion through 2015 ... Medicaid expansions result in reductions in uncompensated care costs for hospitals and clinics as well as positive or neutral effects on employment and the labor market.

4. Medicaid expansion is having a disproportionately positive impact in rural areas in expansion states, where growth in Medicaid coverage and declines in uninsured rates have exceeded those in metropolitan areas.

5. No studies have found negative effects of expansion on employment or employee behavior.

6. Two studies found significantly greater increases in cancer diagnosis rates (especially early-stage diagnosis rates), and another study showed an association of expansion with an increase in the probability of early uncomplicated presentation for patients admitted to hospitals for one of five common surgical conditions.

7. Medicaid expansion is associated with Medicaid spending on medications to treat opioid use disorder and opioid overdose.

8. Found expansion to be associated with improvements in disparities by race and income, education level, and employment status

9. Significant reductions in out-of-pocket medical spending. Multiple studies found larger declines in trouble paying as well as worry about paying future medical bills in expansion states relative to non-expansion states ... significantly reduced the percentage of people with medical debt, reduced the average size of medical debt, reduced the average number of collections, improved credit scores, reduced the probability of having one or more medical bills go to collections in the past 6 months, and reduced the probability of a new bankruptcy filing, among other improvements in measures of financial security.

10. Documented provider reports of newly eligible adults receiving life-saving or life-changing treatments that they could not obtain prior to expansion. 281,282,283,284,285,286

11. National research found that there were no significant increases in spending from state funds as a result of Medicaid expansion and no significant reductions in state spending on education, transportation, or other state programs as a result of expansion during FYs 2010-2015. 307

12. A Louisiana annual report on Medicaid expansion reported that expansion saved the state $199 million in FY 2017 due to multiple factors, including the higher federal match rate for Medicaid populations that were previously funded at the regular state match rate, additional revenue from a premium tax on managed care organizations, and a decrease in state disproportionate share payments to hospitals as the uninsured population decreased. 308

13. A new study published in January 2018 found that Medicaid expansion was associated with improved hospital financial performance and significant reductions in the probability of hospital closure, especially in rural areas and areas with higher pre-ACA uninsured rates. 372 

14. Additional studies demonstrate that Medicaid expansion has significantly improved hospital operating margins.
WILL would like us to forget the other states that have already provided real life health and economic outcomes that contradict their projected problems. 

This is the same ploy Republicans have used to argue against the horrors of universal health care, even though every other country in the world depends on that system and pays only half of what we pay in the U.S..

Thursday, February 14, 2019

All White Republican Legislature removed Kaepernick from Black History Month Resolution written by Legislative Black Caucus!!!

Democrats still haven't figured out how to change their roll as the battered partner in their political relationship with Republicans. Appalling. 

Democrats let the "lily white" GOP legislature remove former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick from a resolution celebrating Black History Month written by the Legislative Black Caucus. Get this, Dems now want to change their vote after the fact?

HOW did a No-Brainer Black History Month Resolution Vote Go Wrong? Wow, Trump's nationalist agenda and phony outrage over kneeling before an NFL games has given Wisconsin Republicans the balls to show their fear and hate in a simple Black History Month resolution:
Cap Times: After compromising Tuesday on a resolution to honor Black History Month, several Democratic lawmakers have asked to have their votes changed to a "no" in the Assembly record, despite initially passing the measure unanimously.
Even black Democratic legislators voted to pass the resolution before they realized how seriously wrong it was. Kaepernick, born in Milwaukee, belonged in that Black Caucus written resolution.

Here's the thing; when he was removed by the all white Republican legislature (I can't mention that enough), why didn't the shit hit the fan?
The compromise came after hours of disagreement on ... former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a list of African-Americans being honored for having "made measurable differences in their respective industries." Kaepernick ... protested racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem before games..

Every Democrat in the Assembly voted against the amendment, but then voted in favor of passing the resolution as amended.

Shortly after the vote, Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said she had asked the Assembly chief clerk to change her vote. Several other Democrats followed suit ... (but) the official tally will remain unanimous. Myers said, "The insistence that Colin Kaepernick’s name be removed from the black history month resolution was an exercise in white privilege and one that I cannot accept."

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, who is white, thanked Myers for being "an incredible leader" and said she would also change her vote.
I'm speechless.

What were all the white Republican legislators thinking ...telling the Black Caucus who they can or cannot include in Black History Month? Wow.

Registering phony outrage, one Republican's like minded aide revealed the thinking that went on behind closed doors...note: Rep. Dittrich did not say she disagreed with the message, just that it was tweeted:
On Tuesday, Rep. Barbara Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, told reporters she was not responsible for a tweet sent from her account during the debate over Kaepernick, which read, "Colin Kapernick wore socks depicting police as pigs. Flags are flying at half-staff for a murdered policeman. Are you kidding me????" The tweet was deleted shortly after it was posted.

Dittrich said she "would never send out a tweet like that as a lawmaker." She told reporters the only person besides her with access to her account is her legislative aide, Keith Best. Best drew fire in July for a tweet he sent from the account of his previous employer, former Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, calling voter ID opponents "the true racists."

Monday, February 11, 2019

Foxconn a Trump ploy in Trade War, playing Wisconsin GOP hucksters as hicks!

The Foxconn "con" has been snaking its way to Wisconsin for a few years, and with a closer look at past comments made back in 2017, it's much easier to see the relationship between Trump's poisonous trade war and China's attempt to hold onto market share and intellectual property. 

We were warned just a few days ago what it all really meant, after Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou proclaimed after talks with Trump that Wisconsin's plant is still going forward:
Gou's candor supports a view among trade analysts that Foxconn's promise to build a flat-screen manufacturing complex in Wisconsin amounts to a bargaining chip in an economic conflict waged between Washington and Beijing — a politically sensitive trade war with hundreds of thousands of American jobs at stake...
“If you think foreign investment is one of the moving pieces (in the trade talks), it absolutely is," said Mary Lovely, an economist who specializes in international trade and investment at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C. "It’s pawns on the chess board."
The implied bargain is clear: Foxconn will keep alive its Wisconsin investment as long as Trump ensures Foxconn continues to have wide-open access to American consumers for its Chinese-made imports — and as long as Wisconsin taxpayers subsidize the project with the most expensive package of subsidies ever from a U.S. state to a foreign company.
Add to that Trump's U.S. ban on Huawei products over concerns China's government is using tech to spy, all the while Gou is assembling Apple phones in China and developing tech at the UW despite his incredibly close ties to China's government. What's going on?

Gou/Crooked Trump connection Suspicious: Here's a bullet point list of Gou's comments that tell the story with my own highlighted points of interest. From Asia/Nikkei: March 02, 2017:  
1. Gou ... has begun to work on a new panel facility in southern China ... hinted that plans to invest in the U.S. may not materialize any time soon due to labor issues and a lack of incentives.

2. The new complex could eventually create as many as 15,000 engineering jobs. The new Zengcheng campus will house an advanced 10.5-generation panel facility. Corning (which declined to build a plant in Wisconsin) and Cisco, two major U.S. companies, will also invest in the new tech. park. Foxconn's current China expansion efforts include plans to recruit some 12,000 college graduates in the country in 2017.

3. There are concerns that large-sized panels are not a wise investment. David Hsieh, a senior director at research company IHS Markit, said that Foxconn will be fighting an uphill battle in the large TV market in China. "There will be the issue of oversupply, so the key factor to Foxconn's success is whether it can manage to sell all its large panels via [Foxconn-controlled] Sharp, otherwise if they still need to sell extra panels to other brands, that would create extra competition for themselves."

4. The key Apple assembler's move to grow its China operations comes amid mounting trade tensions between Washington and Beijing ... Trump has also frequently targeted Apple, which accounts for over 50% of Foxconn's total revenue, in his attack against American companies he thought to have caused domestic job losses by outsourcing manufacturing abroad. 
Trump's Connection? Yes, and how Gou played Wisconsin's GOP hicks. 5 months after this article, a rushed Wisconsin deal emerged:
5. Responding to Trump's protectionist approach, Gou said in January that he was considering building a "highly automated" facility to make large-sized panels in the U.S..

6. Gou told reporters that he had returned earlier this week after a short trip to Washington ... raised uncertainties ... saying he was not sure whether American officials could be efficient in tackling investment challenges and regulations to attract foreign investors. "I am concerned as to whether the U.S. can resolve all the investment issues in only a few months' time," Gou said, adding America also still lacks skilled labor and a comprehensive supply chain for the display industry. Does the U.S. offer incentive programs for foreign investors?"

7. Gou has close ties to the Chinese Politburo.
Double Standard Exposed: Finally, I can't help but wonder what Republicans would be screaming at Obama if he had created this massive global uncertainty with tariffs and subsequent job losses. The political tolerance for all of this is astonishing. Remember when one single Obama regulation was enough to collapse markets and destroy jobs? Seriously: 
The scope and abruptness of Trump's trade barriers are unprecedented in the global age ... targeting all the world's biggest trading blocs and economies, including all of North America; the 28-nation European Union; Japan, Russia and India.

China, the E.U., Canada, Mexico, India, Turkey and Russia retaliated with trade barriers of their own, all squarely aimed at the U.S. The world looked on last year as one market after another began to shut out imports. Trade slowed and global economic uncertainty grew. American manufacturers from Harley-Davidson to General Motors cried out in protest, blaming the trade war for killing American jobs.

The trade war also set off alarms at Foxconn. "The people in Wisconsin have a lot at stake," said Philip Levy, who served as senior foreign trade adviser to President George W. Bush and is now a senior fellow on the global economy at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "But the forces that are buffeting Foxconn are hitting a lot of American manufacturing right now with changing costs, changing markets and a lot of new uncertainty."