Thursday, May 30, 2019

It's just business! Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, allow Lung Damaging Smog via Foxconn and Steel Mills!!! And Let them Drink Lead?

Trading lives for business? You bet. That's the attitude of Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Trump, and Wisconsin's GOP "leadership."

This is only one of two huge developments that might even stun the senses of die-hard Scott Walker fans.

We're finally finding out that beyond Foxconn's ever changing plans, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Trump, and EPA's Scott Pruitt decided to ignore EPA scientists and game the system to benefit business over peoples lives. This is what Republicans are talking about when they say they're trying to "balance business with the environment." It's an absurd concept.

Trading your Life for Business Special Interests: Now you know how you rate in the eyes of Walker and the Republicans, and it's behind polluting business interests:

Chicago Tribune: The Trump administration exempted parts of the Chicago area last year from federal limits on lung-damaging smog, it delivered a huge financial break to steel mills, chemical plants and other industries that are some of the region’s biggest polluters.

Scott Pruitt, who at the time headed the EPA, also freed the Foxconn Technology Group from spending millions of dollars on pollution-control equipment in an area with some of the region’s dirtiest air.

Newly released emails show EPA scientists strongly objected to Pruitt’s decision, which they said could not be supported with data despite political pressure from Trump administration officials and Paul Ryan ... an EPA staff analysis concluded Wisconsin is at least partially responsible for its own smog problems, and documents filed with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources show Foxconn will be a major new source of smog-forming pollution.

“I do not see a sound technical basis for the areas we are being directed to finalize in Wisconsin,” Jennifer Liljegren, an EPA scientist, wrote to colleagues in an April 11, 2018, email. “I am still in disbelief.” “Our final (metropolitan) area designation for Chicago is not the result of an analysis with any technical support,” Eric Svingen, an engineer in the EPA’s Chicago office, wrote in an April 24, 2018, email.

By dramatically reducing the size of areas required to crack down on dirty air, Pruitt overruled the agency’s career scientists...

In a few densely worded paragraphs buried at the end of a 63-page document, attorneys for the EPA and Justice Department asked a federal appeals court this month for what, in legal terms, amounts to a do-over ... they can see EPA data showing the region’s smog problems are getting worse, not better, and that polluters in four counties singled out by Pruitt for special treatment are contributing to chronically dirty air breathed by millions of people.
Republicans say leave the Lead in the Drinking WaterApparentlyRepublicans don't seem to care how many children are poisoned by lead. In fact, they seem more concerned about dividing rural and urban voters over gets funding for getting the lead out.
Shepherd Express: Toxic rhetoric reached a new low this spring when Republican legislative leadership indicated they would not support a proposal from the new Democratic governor to replace lead pipes across the state because too much of the money would be going to Milwaukee ... Wisconsin Republicans are playing politics with something that quite literally is poisoning children in the state’s largest city.
Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), a powerful member of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, said on Wednesday, April 10, (I thought we'd) provide assistance at the local level, rather than people from Marinette funding lead replacements in Milwaukee. I’m not sure that that’s necessarily fair from a taxpayer standpoint. My understanding is that the proposal, a vast majority of it, is going to Milwaukee. 

The infrastructure bringing water into people’s homes is a public safety threat, one that puts children and pregnant mothers at particular risk. Gov. Tony Evers is proposing to add a $40 million budget item to begin the process of replacing the 200,000 lead lateral service lines in Wisconsin, 77,000 of which are in Milwaukee. I’m not sure that that’s necessarily fair from a taxpayer standpoint.”

Data actually show the opposite. Milwaukee is subsidizing Marinette. Tax revenues ... going to the state are greater than the amount of money coming back to Milwaukee from the state.
Republicans reacted that way, knowing just how bad the lead poisoning problem is...from May 10, 2018:
A 2016 report by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families relied on a 2015 Wisconsin Department of Health Services report, which reported on blood tests of children under 6 years old statewide ... noted that the statewide percentage of children tested who were diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels was 4.6 percent, a figure close to Flint’s 4.9 percent.

However, 2016 data show that the proportion of children tested who were lead poisoned in Wisconsin jumped to 5 percent — higher than Flint’s. That same year, 2.4 percent of Flint children tested had elevated blood lead levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter ... Milwaukee’s rate is even higher — four times higher than in Flint. In 2016, DHS data show 10.8 percent of Milwaukee children who were tested had elevated levels of lead in their blood. Those children accounted for nearly 60 percent of the 4,348 Wisconsin children found to be lead poisoned that year. DHS reports that half of all of the children with elevated blood lead levels that year were black.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Trump's not even trying to secure U.S. Elections from Foreign enemies!!!

You may not have heard about it, but the International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy, and Democracy is meeting in Canada to do something about things like interfering in other countries elections, like Russia's successful effort to install Trump. But Trump's America isn't interested.

You can thank this Republican Trump appeaser:

The special counsel’s report concluded that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election “in sweeping and systematic fashion,” leading to the indictment of 34 individuals and three Russian businesses on charges ranging from computer hacking to conspiracy and financial crimes. Those indictments led to seven guilty pleas.
Fox News Alert: Another Trump appeaser, Bret Baier, announced today to Fox viewers just what the Mueller investigation was all about. Really, you're bringing that up now?

Trump not Involved; Election Integrity, Security, and Foreign Interference? Forget it: Here's why I'm posting this; check out this jaw dropping, incredibly irresponsible inaction to save our own representative democracy's electoral system from enemy countries.
The International Grand Committee on Big Data, Privacy, and Democracy, a unique collaboration between lawmakers determined to bring greater accountability to large online platforms, convenes in Ottawa this week ... events from Russia’s online influence campaign ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the live-streamed massacre at two mosques in Christchurch, have spawned a global “techlash.” 
1. The members ... hail from a number of countries concerned about the effects of information technology on their nations’ social and political life, including Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. Not one of the 130 U.S. lawmakers asked to participate in today’s grand committee meeting accepted the invitation.

2. Just two weeks ago, the U.S. refused to sign onto the “Christchurch Call,” a non-binding agreement between governments and tech companies to better police the harmful content that too often makes its way online. With the U.S. on the sidelines, other countries have become the de facto regulators of American tech companies, introducing new rules governing online advertising and digital privacy, taking a tough approach to protecting competition in the technology sector, and issuing fines against companies that exploit their market power to entrench their dominance.

3. With many of these countries confronting upcoming elections, their lawmakers gather to question representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter on data security, user privacy, and foreign influence campaigns ... an international chorus has declared the end to an era of self-regulation. 
4. While Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom among others have passed new laws regulating online privacy and harmful content, commissioned reports on disinformation and journalism in the digital age, and levied steep fines against tech firms, the United States remains notably absent from this international movement. 

4. As online platforms use journalistic content to attract and engage users, (these) platforms threaten the economic viability of media organizations whose content they circulate ... reports commissioned by Australia’s competition enforcement agency and the British government argue that online platforms pose a serious threat to the provision of news and propose ways to sustain journalism. U.S. lawmakers, meanwhile, have not focused on the industry’s survival in the digital age.

5. A new report by Brookings' Clara Hendrickson and Senior Fellow Bill Galston outline the major political and economic threats posed by today’s largest online platforms ... For years, U.S. lawmakers feared intervening in one of the most dynamic sectors in the economy. However, few can deny the mounting evidence revealing large technology platforms exacerbate political vulnerabilities that threaten a healthy democracy and the tech sector’s concentration slows and stifles innovation. As U.S. lawmakers and enforcers consider regulatory and antitrust action of their own, they can draw on the experience of other democratic governments around the world. The “Big Tech Threats: Making Sense of the International Backlash Against Online Platforms” paper released today, can serve as a guide.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Senior Prank on Catholic School Spanish Teacher echoes Trump's "You're fired" and that Mexicans are drug dealers.

Christian conservatives see something wonderful in the cult of Trump, and his brutal, resentful, racist attacks on immigrants who they say keep lowering wages and taking advantage of taxpayer services.

Even working American's of Mexican descent.

Trump's Wisconsin is now a dangerous territory thanks to Scott Walker's 8 years of politically motivated anger and coded race bating, pitting us against "them," whoever he defined as "them" at the time.

It's now playing out in Wisconsin Rapids. Receiving almost no press state or nationwide, this is just another symptom of the Trump infested hated spreading everywhere. Here's what some students often quote from Trump, as explained by Spanish teacher Olga Meza: 
Olga Meza: "...they said 'Oh well, all Mexicans are criminals, and all Mexicans are drug dealers,' and I'll say no, it's not true.  Like I'm Mexican American, my parents are from Mexico, and they didn't come here to do that."

WAOW: A Spanish teacher at Assumption Catholic School said an incident on Thursday was her turning point. Olga Meza is a Spanish teacher and first-generation American. She said her parents came from Mexico, she was born in Chicago, and she grew up in Wisconsin. Now, she’s a proud mother of two.

On Thursday, Meza walked into her classroom at Assumption Catholic School to see photos of Donald Trump plastered across the room and the phrase “you’re fired” on the whiteboard. She said they also changed the screens on 22 different iPads to show Trump’s face.

School Administration called it a “senior prank.” Meza said, “I mean, I don’t even have any seniors… and they have so much hate against me and I don’t understand why.”

It’s not the first time Mr. Trump has been brought up in the classroom. She said students often quote the president in class. “They say Mexicans are criminals and all Mexicans are drug dealers and I was like that’s not true. I’m a Mexican American, my parents are from Mexico and they didn’t come here to do that, they taught us.”

Meza said as soon as other teachers at the school heard about what happened, they offered support. “They actually offered to clean the room up because they felt horrible,” she said.

Assumption Catholic School president Daniel Minter told news nine that they had no comment.
Christians don't care what Trump does because he's passing divisive religion based exemptions based on belief and conscience that allow for discrimination. While Christians don't like being singled out by comedians, Trump's praise for N. Korea is perfectly acceptable.

Christian's enjoyed Trump's praise of N. Korea's Kim Jung Un for saying presidential candidate Joe Biden had a low IQ. Do they know about N.Korea's 50,000 Christians locked in labor prison camps? Who didn't love the commemorative coin too?

Just like in Wisconsin Rapids, the Catholic branch of Christians, especially white, have been moving toward Trump:
Catholics voted for Democrats (50%) and Republicans (49%) in 2018 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives. White Catholics are more likely to vote Republican, while Hispanic Catholics overwhelmingly back Democrats.
Hat tip to Jim Buss for passing along the Wisconsin story above.  

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Dumb Old Vos/Fitzgerald Tax Cuts Killing Wisconsin Jobs and Progress...

Don't forget, it's not the governments money, it's your money, right? But wait, we're the government, so it's still our money, right?

But for those who are easily convinced it's their money, money they deserve back via a tax cut, thanks for making life in Wisconsin a backward nightmarish hell for everyone else.
(Republicans want to) pass an income tax cut that the governor has all but promised to veto. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said passing the tax cut now would make sure it would happen. "We've got to continue to nip away at Wisconsin's high taxes."
Concept vs Reality: So what's at stake when Republicans push the concept of cutting "high taxes" when reality continues to rack up higher bills that support change and social/business progress? The main section of today's Sunday Wisconsin State Journal should have given everyone a strong reality check on this tax cut lie:

1.  The Health Care Nightmare Maze Grows: Here's just one line from a story screaming for universal health care that will require a tax increase, yes, but reduce a persons total spending and wasted time:

As health care becomes more complicated — and as patients pay a larger share of their bills and adult children take care of a growing elderly population, often from far away — private patient advocates are helping people manage the system. Many health care organizations, insurance companies and government agencies employ patient representatives or navigators ... The health care system “is designed to get health care widgets at a profit, not to get health,” she said. “It’s not so intuitive. It requires more people to get help.”
2. Regional Youth Prison Costs: The state might have to make sure localized youth prisons are funded in the future, jeopardizing their typically irresponsible calls for more tax cuts:

Two counties, La Crosse and Fond du Lac, have backed out of plans to build and operate regional youth prisons, intended to replace Wisconsin’s only youth prison in Irma, citing uncertainties about the cost of operating the facilities without more state support ... “There needs to be a vehicle by which counties can access funds if there’s an operations deficit.” Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, said “That is is not something the state’s going to pick up.”  If losses were fully covered by the state, he said, they would feel no need to rein in costs ... where’s the skin in the game for the counties?” Schraa said.
3. Republicans Ignore Venture Capital Funding, Push Tax Cuts: Conservative business columnist Tom Still's sudden realization that everything he once opposed is now the greatest thing since sliced bread continues. Pathetic but welcome. Yet Republicans would rather cut taxes than spend on a new high tech economy that will create new jobs and businesses:

For reasons that range from the region’s share of U.S. economic clout to the talent produced by the region’s colleges and universities, more investors are discovering the Midwest. The only question is whether Wisconsin policy-makers will be late to the party.

Some have been aggressive about underwriting state funds, matched by private dollars, that co-invest in young companies and other funds. Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and, most recently, Indiana’s Next Level Fund, have followed that approach in the belief a rising investment tide will lift all states in the region.
Wisconsin has a toehold called the Badger Fund of Funds ... a $25-million investment. However, investments in funds established in other Midwest states average hundreds of millions of dollars per state and those dollars are magnets for much more in private investment ... the paybacks are significant in tax dollars, economic growth and good-paying tech jobs. Is Wisconsin primed to step up? Yes, but it will require political will to build upon a tech economy infrastructure that is already growing.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Republican Sen. Kapenga against "full inclusion," says Special Needs Kids should be in a separate schools...unless you've got a better idea he doesn't have time for now...

I don't know what it is, but Republicans just love to divide people up in our state into warring groups.

Republican State Sen. Chris Kapenga also loves those anecdotal random comments from like minded constituents that will eventually form future Wisconsin legislation, and maybe law. Who needs research or opposing opinions? 

Take the issue of "full inclusion" of special needs kids in our classrooms. The research is in?:
Mr. Know-it-All doesn't
have time for you!
"I have had teachers and parents come to me who have concerns that they consistently have," Kapenga said. "I have had one teacher who's said, 'A few times a week, I have to actually remove my kids from the classroom because this child continues to be disruptive in the classroom.'
He might claim otherwise, but...
In an hour-long town hall meeting attended by dozens of people May 22, state Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) attempted to clarify comments attributed to him about special education students that caused an uproar on social media ... people on Facebook claimed he had said (It is uncertain where the posts originated, made at a Wisconsin Association of School Boards meeting in Madison this spring): 
"They don't deserve to be in the classroom. They take away from the learning of other students. It might make them feel good to be in the classroom, but it shouldn't happen. They belong in separate schools."-Kapenga 
Kapenga thought this would clarify what he meant?
But Kapenga told the standing-room only crowd on Wednesday the quote twisted his words, making his comments sound "absolutely horrible."
They were of course. And then he said it again, essentially confirming the Facebook quote. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up:
Kapenga also said that some people favor full inclusion, while others want the old system of separate schools set up for special needs children. Kapenga said the "far left spectrum of full inclusion" is not working, which drew chuckles of disbelief from some in the crowd.

"So let's start talking about solutions — and I'm open to doing that — but not if people are going to twist my words into something that's not," Kapenga said.
So Kapenga knows what "some people" tell him absolute fact, and that's good enough for now, because he's a busy man:
Hartland-Lakeside School Board members Val Wisniewski and Tom Harter encouraged Kapenga to visit the district ... before the end of the school year, Kapenga demurred, saying he could not commit because of his busy schedule, but offered to visit before the start of the next school year.

The exchange led some audience members to ask Kapenga to clarify his position on including special education students in mainstream classrooms, but Kapenga declined to do so, saying he had already stated his position earlier in the evening. He then abruptly ended the meeting, as it was over the hour-long allotted time that had been set.

Vos uses arriving troops to trash Evers in mad ruthless power play that turned out to be wrong!!!

They are mad with power. After Republicans controlled the legislature for 8 long years, is it any wonder they're so arrogant? Talk that "divides" Wisconsinites and stirs up resentment just keeps spewing from their mouths.  

Rep. Robin Vos, acting GOP governor of Wisconsin, is like most other Republicans; they form all their ideas and policies from random anecdotal comments made by their constituents:
JS: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos kicked off the Memorial Day weekend by falsely accusing Gov. Tony Evers of forcing troops to wait hours to greet him. The allegation is not true, according to the Wisconsin National Guard ... The Republican leader on Friday acknowledged he had his facts wrong but didn't delete a tweet making the false accusation.

Well, that's what he heard anyway...hearing is believing. But... 
The schedule was set by the Wisconsin National Guard. "The governor’s office did not request any accommodations nor did we delay anything, in fact we were able to work with the airline to get the second flight home earlier than scheduled so the troops could return to their families sooner."

Vos couldn't stop trying to walk back his irresponsible comments. Here's what I thought about Vos' jaw-dropping tweets:

...and Vos setting an example for Evers? Again, you can't make this stuff up...:

Trump banking on being a War Time President?

Trump "winning" in number of Lies!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Best Health Care System in the World! Here's a list of problems...

Did you ever wonder what was wrong with the US health care system, while a mod of profiteers pound their chest saying it's the best system in the world?

The Senate came up with a list of reforms that highlighted what is currently wrong; nightmarish gaming of the system robbing Americans of their hard earned money.

Remember, the cost, the maze of procedures, and the constant oversight would not exist under universal health care. Think of the savings:
The Senate health committee released its draft legislation to tackle healthcare costs, with provisions that read like a road map of how hospitals and insurers use contracts to dominate their competitors, consolidate their business and keep patients in the dark; mend loopholes exploited by hospitals, insurers, and manufacturers; and cut some fat out of the healthcare industry through simple reforms.
1. The ban on surprise medical bills.

2. Force air ambulances to separate out medical charges from the transport costs in the bills they send to patients and health plans.

3. Mandate patients receive their full bill within 30 business days. If the bill comes later, the patients wouldn't be obligated to pay.

4. Hospitals, physicians and health insurers would have to give patients "good-faith" estimates of their out-of-pocket costs within 48 hours of a request.

5. Insurers' provider directories would have to be kept up to date.

6. Provisions would correct hospital and insurer manipulations of contracts, which play a big role in setting the prices patients must pay and determining where they have to go for care.

7. A ban on gag clauses that some hospitals include in their insurer contracts. Hospitals could no longer prevent patients or any other party from seeing all hospitals' cost and quality data.

8. Put a stop to "anti-tiering" or "anti-steering," where hospitals through their insurance contracts keep patients from choosing treatment at competing health systems.

9. There would be no more "all-or-nothing" clauses where hospitals force insurers to contract with all their facilities by saying if they don't contract with all of them they can't contract with any.

10. Hospitals could also no longer hide certain anti-competitive contract features from the employer plans they contract with.

11. The Government Accountability Office would be mandated to investigate profit-sharing between hospitals, contract management groups, specialty physicians and specialty physician contractors.

12. Dominant health plans would no longer be allowed to use their market leverage to hold local hospitals and physicians hostage for the best payment rates, to the detriment of competing companies.

13. Pharmacy benefit managers would have to send quarterly reports on the costs, fees and rebates to the employer plans they contract with.

14. Spread pricing of the rebates PBMs collect from manufacturers would be banned.

15. PBMs could no longer profit off health plans or patients by demanding higher drug prices than they paid the manufacturers, and they would have to pass along 100% of the manufacturer rebates or discounts to their plan sponsor.

16. Drug pricing, to stop manufacturer gaming of exclusivity periods and boosts for more generics and biologics.

17. Public health by seeking to boost vaccination rates.

18. Check the U.S.'s dismal maternal mortality rates. It also incorporates a number of health IT provisions.

Pro-Lifers will Kill if they must?

Pro-lifers will kill anyone that gets in their way. I'm serious. And that's their disconnect with reality and what makes every one of them look so clueless...they look dumb.

The arrogance of the religious right and its narrow vision of pro-life has always baffled me. Thankfully, everyone is now confronting these phonies with a list actual pro-life issues like health care, clean air, clean water, safe food, vaccinations, and climate change into the discussion, dumbfounding these one issue misinformed zealots who don't seem to understand the consequences of their actions. 

This Piers Morgan moment says it all, and should be made standard practice for anyone confronted by such emotionally disconnected people:  

Speaking to pro-life guest Becky Gerritson, host Piers Morgan questioned her about why she doesn't believe a rape victim should have the right to terminate a pregnancy. He added: "Do you support the death penalty?"

When Becky said that she did, Piers continued: "So you aren’t actually pro-life then. You take life left, right and center. Life is life. Alabama legally takes people's lives when they do things wrong."

Becky responded, "One is in punishment for a crime and it’s justice, it’s completely different. I have a right to carry a gun and I do carry a gun at times and I hope that I never have to use it."

Piers Morgan asked, "You would shoot someone if you had to?"

Becky said she "absolutely" would.

Piers: "People in Alabama would take life with guns, they would take life with executions, and yet they want us to think that if a woman is to have an abortion if they are raped or get impregnated through incest is because you are pro-life, I get it."

The Rise of Faux Think Tank Research in the rubble left by Scott Walker and Trump!

Faux research and analysis now has market in Trump believers everywhere. The alternative world of resentful politics is expanding in Wisconsin. Thinking they were pretty damn smart, the GOP lawsuit mill Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty took their legal successes in front of right wing activist courts and decided to make even more money as a think tank pushing fake research and policy "ideas" that don't make any sense.

Unable to start, compete, and grow on their own, WILL in the beginning accepted a political special interest handout that made them a think tank arm of the right wing Bradley Foundation: 
With the help of a $500,000 grant from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, WILL launched as a law firm ... now includes research and advocacy arms and employs 18 attorneys, researchers, writers and other staff, plus two contracted advisers ... receiving a $1 million grant from the Bradley Foundation to launch its Center for Competitive Federalism. 


Let's takes a look at WILL's "nibbling around the edges" ideas, that will do nothing to lower health care costs. Eventually, everything below would be exploited by insurers and the health care industry to increase profits on the sick and dying. My comments are in red:

1. Direct Primary Care – (DPC) offers one of the best avenues to cut out the costly insurance middlemen and allow patients and doctors to decide on care through transparent, up-front prices. In this system, clients pay a monthly fee to a DPC provider for the majority of their health services. 
Reality: This assumes you'll always be in the area where your DPC's are located. Seriously? 
2. Create a Dental Therapy License – The creation of a dental therapy license (less than a dentist but more than a dental hygienist) could increase access and lower the cost of routine dental care, particularly in rural Wisconsin where access to dental care is lacking.
Reality: Plain and simple, this lowers standards and care for the sake of lower prices. Yup, nice trade off there.
3. Free Speech in Medicine – Doctors and patients deserve to have all the information necessary when deciding care but the FDA prevents pharmaceutical companies from freely providing information on off-label uses of prescription drugs. 
Reality: For profiteers! This would allow drug companies to claim almost anything to sell more drugs, make more money. It also assumes doctors don't already know about off-label uses, which is just not true. 
4. Take full advantage of Short-Term Limited Duration Plans –The Affordable Care Act created uniform insurance regulations that eliminated much of the variety of insurance coverage. But not everyone needs, or even wants the same coverage. Short-term limited duration health plans are a flexible, low-cost alternative that consumers deserve access to. In some cases, these plans can be offered for 90 percent cheaper ...Wisconsin should match the federal government and allow consumers to purchase up to three years of coverage.
Reality: This brings back preexisting conditions, and if you get sick on your cheap insurance, get ready to payout that huge deductible first before any insurance payout. WILL is pushing what the industry calls JUNK POLICIES. What a "reform" plan.
5. Take full advantage of healthcare freedom in U.S. Territories –Other US states are subject to the same onerous restrictions as Wisconsin under Obamacare ... since 2014, US territories have been exempted from many of the more onerous parts of Obamacare ... Wisconsin citizens ought to be able to purchase those insurance plans if they happen to fit their needs.
Reality: "Freedom" and "Onerous restrictions?" Oh, you mean getting rid of mandating coverage for preexisting conditions? Last time I looked, Republicans copied the Democrats and ran on protecting preexisting conditions...until now of course. "Onerous."   
6. Reform Retroactive Eligibility for Medicaid – Controlling the cost of Medicaid without compromising care is critical. Wisconsin should remove any incentive for those eligible for Medicaid to avoid enrollment until after a medical procedure. Nearby states such as Iowa and Indiana received waivers from the federal government to implement this change. While this could potentially lead to a savings for the state—Iowa estimates it’s savings at $36 million in the first year—the more important reason is that enrollment could get people to the doctor sooner for more preventative care that could improve health outcomes.
Reality: This is intentionally cruel and a solution looking for problem. Let me understand this; people wait to get free BadgerCare until their sick,'s free? I can't wrap my head around this Republican "savings" on  the backs and lives of Wisconsinites. A WTF moment is there ever was one. 
A few Final Thoughts:

1. WILL pretends we didn't go through this all before the ACA became law. 

2. Cheap insurance reduces what insurance companies long do you think they will stay cheap? I experience this in my 20's and 30's, and premiums skyrocketed and deductibles increased. 

3. Cheap insurance means everybody else with full coverage plans will pay more to make up difference. 

4. Nothing above actually lower insurance, or health care prices, or covers people who travel in state or out of state. 

5. Does nothing about increased high deductibles for employers either. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Cruisin' with the Walker's, Dairy Farmers losing under Trump's Tariffs, Low GOP State Revenues, Student Debt, and European Socialism.

If you haven't noticed, it's sometimes taken me a week to eventually crank out a few blog posts. There are so many bad things going on, so many problems, and so much gas lighting that it's now almost impossible to focus on just one thing.  

If anything, Scott Walker gave bloggers here in Wisconsin a head start on what the real Republican agenda was all about; in your face raw naked power. Surprisingly, we found out Republicans never wanted to solve our growing local and national problems, they simply wanted to roll out their alternative vision of reality, where unproven theories solve everything.

The "Scott Walker" name is now a brand that he's marketing like Trump, pushing the same cliche'd horrors and fallacies their cult like voters lazily accept as gospel. Think Walker's cruise is another free-be for him and his family?

Digging through the avalanche of stories, here are a few that need so much more attention...

1. Dairy Farmers: I've been harping on this for years, wondering why rural voters supported Republicans when they got nothing back and no support under the excuse of "small government." Walker, who had no clue about dairy farming, even advanced laws that exacerbated the over supply of milk now, allowing larger corporate farms (CAFO's) that disadvantaged small dairy, record bankruptcies, suicides, and no solutions in of all places, "America's Dairyland." This borders on criminal.

Here's another story...:

Or the idea that farmers care more about
securing corporate intellectual property than their own family businesses and generational farms...seriously? These red state governors in Nebraska, and Missouri are gas-lighting their constituents and should pay the penalty: 

2. Walker/GOP Economic Hype: Sure, if you think making one of the countries largest cuts to education is a good idea, trashing environmental regulation including banning references to climate change, and letting our transportation infrastructure go to hell, well then Republicans saved some money. Of course voters taxed themselves just to keep schools open, but go ahead, ignore that tax increase:

3. Student Debt Relief, Finally? Let's hope the following story isn't being too optimistic:

4. Justice and Liberty: Only in the alternative world of conservative politics can this be a dangerous piece of legislation:
AP- Democrats in the House approved sweeping anti-discrimination legislation, the Equality Act, Friday that would extend civil rights protections to LGBT people by prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The protections would extend to employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said it will bring the nation "closer to equal liberty and justice for all."

Sexual orientation and gender identity "deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations," Pelosi said.

Sexual orientation and gender identity "deserve full civil rights protections - in the workplace and in every place, education, housing, credit, jury service, public accommodations," Pelosi said.
What denies religious freedom or "requires acceptance"? Individuals can always think what they want, but can't infringe on others, right? Of course, it's the end of the world according to the upside down thinking of one Republicans:

Republicans said the bill would jeopardize religious freedom by requiring acceptance of a particular ideology about sexuality and sexual identity.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., called the legislation "grossly misnamed" and said it is "anything but equalizing." The bill "hijacks" the 1964 Civil Rights Act to create "a brave new world of 'discrimination' based on undefined terms of sexual orientation and gender identity," Hartzler said. The legislation threatens women's sports, shelters and schools, and could silence female athletes, domestic abuse survivors and other women, she said.
5. Trump/GOP war on Health Care: Rural Towns and Farmers Lose Hospitals: The greatest health care system in the world? Guess what...this is happening to conservative Trump voters. And who saw this problem coming, Democrats. It was requested in 2017 by then-Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and then-Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn:

"Babies are going to be dying," said longtime resident Darlene Doherty, who was at the coffee gathering. "This is a disaster." 

James Cosgrove, who directed a U.S. Government Accountability Office study about rural hospital closures, said the nation needs a better understanding of what the closures mean to the health of people in rural America, where the burden of disease — from diabetes to cancer — is often greater than in urban areas ... a follow-up study later this year on the fallout from rural hospital closures.

In 2002 when Mercy decided to build a new hospital, residents raised $1 million for construction. Another $1 million was given by residents to the hospital's foundation to upgrade and replace hospital equipment. But today, Mercy is a major health care conglomerate with more than 40 acute care and specialty hospitals ... Fort Scott's hospital is the second one in Kansas that Mercy has closed.

The GAO report found states that had expanded Medicaid had fewer of them. The GAO report also found that residents of rural areas generally have lower household incomes than their counterparts in bigger cities and are more likely to have chronic health conditions — such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity — that affect their daily activities. The county's premature birth rate is also higher than the 9.9% nationwide.
6. Rural Areas "Under-performing" thanks to lack of Broadband and Tariff affected Farmers:
Data revealed Thursday at MadREP’s “State of the Madison Region Economy” The findings included lessons that shouldn’t be lost on the rest of Wisconsin: “Our rural areas are significantly under-performing compared to Dane County,” said MadREP President Paul Jadin, who presented the region’s next five-year economic development strategy.

There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is the lack of robust broadband connections in parts of those counties, a farm economy that is suffering in some sectors – and a mix of opportunity and social factors that have contributed to rural out-migration in America for a century or more.
Democratic Socialism, the real Story: I've been meaning to post this story for a long time, so here's the link. Some of the concepts and individual parts could work in the US, benefiting Americans first, not just business. Some I like, some seem problematic knowing our system. Again, these are ideas...:

First, the Northern Europeans are focused on building strong national and local institutions that can make markets and drive societal benefits, not just change policy. Cities like Copenhagen and Hamburg, for example, have created public asset corporations that dispose of publicly owned lands and buildings in ways that spur large-scale urban transformation, particularly around historic harbors and downtowns. The revenue from such regeneration is then used to fund infrastructure, affordable housing, and other societal benefits. These regeneration efforts show a mature balance between public- and private-sector interests—a stark contrast to the tax-break scramble over landing Amazon’s HQ2, or New York City’s Hudson Yards private megaproject.

Denmark and Germany have pioneered publicly owned and professionally managed corporations that are self-governed and self-financed and act in the interest of the broader public rather than a small group of private shareholders. 

The Northern Europeans ... use the nation-state to provide a platform for local market realities, political priorities, and social needs. The knowledge and decision-making capacity of the public sector is robust, with a steady supply of highly educated public servants across technical, environmental, social, and business fields. The supply stems from the free tuition public sector educational system (which also greatly benefits the private sector).

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Strict Constructionist Conservative Activist Wisconsin Supreme Court Justices ignore Constitution? Yup!

This was easy, at least for the radical left wing justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court who seem focused on...the actual "constructionist" written language of the State Constitution. Go figure...:
Two of the liberal-backed justices on the court, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet, welcomed the plaintiffs’ argument the Legislature did not convene legally because no law existed giving them such authority. Dallet contended the only law that governs when the Legislature may meet refers to regular sessions, not extraordinary sessions. “Where is the law that tells us you can call this extraordinary session?” Dallet said. “And if you wanted such a law, why can’t the Legislature pass one?”

The state constitution says lawmakers can meet only when called into a special session by the governor or as "provided by law." State law does not explicitly describe extraordinary sessions.
Not a law. Pretty simple.

Still, Republicans seem to think legislative "scheduling," or being in a "non-stop meeting," or "they can hold meetings at anytime," or "have the power to establish a schedule that is 'broad and amorphous' if they want," is just like having a law:
Legislators are allowed to hold extraordinary sessions ... they can hold meetings at any time ... lawmakers effectively were in a nonstop meeting for two years, with the lame-duck session an extension of a meeting that began in January 2017.
Strict Constructionist Activist Conservative Justice Exposed, and now confused? Constructionist's always argue they aren't political. So why don't supposed liberal judges claimed they're strict constructionists? Put another way, our conservative activist Justices, who wouldn't think twice about overturning decades of settled law, are now whining that after so many years it would seem crazy to declare extraordinary sessions can't make this stuff up:
As League of Women Voters attorney Jeffrey Mandell stood to begin his arguments in the case, he was cut off immediately by conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley. "You are asking this court to rule that the Wisconsin Legislature has been acting unconstitutionally for over four decades," Bradley told Mandell. "How can that be? Don't you find it extraordinary that nobody has raised this issue before this court in over four decades?"
Real strict constructionist thinking there huh? Also, I found it extraordinary and not so "constructionist" to overturn a century of Second Amendment law and giving corporations First Amendment speech and religious rights, but that's me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Farmers won't be "biggest beneficiaries" of Trump's Tariff Trade War.

"Our Great Patriotic Farmers" never had anything to do with the US trade war with China. Farmers were thrown into the front lines of this tariff war via politics so China could hurt Trump's voter base.

This was all Trump's fault, and the press isn't shining a bright enough light on this. 

And yet, not even Trump seems to be aware this, as revealed here in one of his latest tweets. No, they will not "be one of the biggest beneficiaries."

Socialist Farm Subsidies? Yes: So our tax dollars are now going to be distributed again to farmers because they vote Republican? Remember, most of the subsidies went to large corporate farms, and what subsidies did go to smaller farmers were a drop in the bucket compared to their actual debt. Here are some of the twitter comments...
1. The Chinese buyers will find other suppliers so Trump better be ready to pay off the farmers forever! 

2.  You made it worse for the farmers not better! RESIGN. ... Meh. Farmers voted him in. Let them reap what they sowed. Maybe they’ll do a little research before they cast their next vote.

3.  “Patriot Farmers?” Or as the GOP would have called them if the Democrats had created this mess “Welfare Kings.”

4.  1. U.S. companies pay for tariffs; then taxpayers pay tariffs when those companies pass on the costs to consumers. 2. Hoping to be seen as a savior, you've now created a Socialist program for farmers that taxpayers will also pay for. And here's the rub: Trump pays NO taxes. 

5.  I just checked: China owns more than $1.1 Trillion in U.S. Govt debt. In other words, they are lending us the money (at interest of course) to pay Welfare for Farmers.
Note: Tariffs have also hiked farm equipment prices to unsustainable levels do to tariffs on steel and aluminum:
Brent Bible, a farmer, has nowhere to sell his soybean and corn crops. And that situation just got worse, because the futures trading market started planning for higher tariffs earlier this week, Bible said. "Just in the last three days of trading, we've seen the price reduction that equates to about a $50,000 loss for us," he added.

Bible isn't just running a business, he's also a consumer, and increased tariffs on steel and aluminum have raised prices on tractors and farm equipment he needs. As both a supplier and a consumer, he says tariffs are hitting him on both ends.
Trump, friend of the farmer voter base? Not so much:
Trump’s budget cuts would lower federal subsidies for crop insurance and small growers. The spending plan for 2020 he submitted for Congress would reduce subsidies for crop insurance premiums to 48 percent from 62 percent and limit current subsidies for growers who make less than $500,000 annually.
Trump will leave farmers with...?
"If the trade conflict with China continues much longer, it will likely leave lasting scars on the entire agricultural sector as well as the overall U.S. economy," Amanda Countryman, an associate professor of agricultural economics at Colorado State University, wrote for the Conversation in 2018.
And then there's this:
This latest round of tariffs will add another $500 a year in costs for the average American household, says Katheryn Russ, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis. And that could grow. "Once the tariffs go onto cellphones, I mean then you're going to see people scream," she says.
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office list “covers essentially all products” not already affected by punitive tariffs … It includes laptop computers, saw blades, turbine parts, tuna and garlic. The USTR noted it excludes pharmaceuticals and rare earths minerals used in electronics and batteries.

Friday, May 10, 2019

GOP limits on Unemployment Insurance Benefits helped lower rate artificially, at workers expense.

On unemployment, we've got a problem. Our meddling career politician Scott Walker, who still can't get over losing his job, has been doling out horrible advice to Gov. Tony Evers and the Rhode Island governor. He can't stop bragging about the unemployment numbers he got thanks to Obama's recovery plan after the Republican Great Recession.

Oh, and Medicaid isn't a "welfare" program, it's a national health care insurance plan:

Making Unemployment Insurance Impossible to Get or Keep: Walker did everything he could to discourage and drop workers from their unemployment benefits. Other states went even further. Here's public radio's Marketplace report exposing the scheme to lower unemployment numbers, something Scott Walker exploited:

Here's are a few changes Walker put in place that are now being targeted by Gov. Evers for elimination or change:
1. One-week waiting period to qualify for unemployment benefits. 

2. A provision that makes people ineligible for benefits if fired for what the law defines as “substantial fault,” or failure to conform to a “reasonable” employer job policy ... recent court cases found it was improperly used to deny unemployment benefits to eligible applicants. 

3. The administration has authority to define the types of job offers a person can reject and remain eligible for benefits.

4. Eliminating requirements adopted in 2015 that applicants submit to drug testing to receive jobless benefits. The most sweeping of those requirements has not yet taken effect due to federal delays.

5. If someone has more than one job and quits one of them, they are now ineligible to collect unemployment for the next year if they’re laid off from another job.
The changes were part of a scheme to cut business contributions into the insurance program and artificially make the numbers lower to look like we didn't have a problem in the eyes of the federal government. It worked too. Here's a link to Wisconsin efforts and other state's cuts to unemployment eligibility.

With a minimum wage of $7.25 and tough unemployment insurance requirements that include work requirements and drug testing for food and housing benefits, is it any surprise Wisconsin has a labor shortage and out migration problem. 

Wis GOP hands out Taxpayer money for Corporate Welfare without any expectation of creating Jobs!!!

If the WEDC were handing out social "welfare" benefits, Republicans would be demanding either the end of the agency or major cuts to staffing and funding. 

But the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), another Scott Walker idea that he was actually removed from, is corporate welfare at it's most irresponsible, what's not to like. And a big taxpayer money loser too. Remember that Friday on May 22, 2015...

Scott Walker gets Pink Slip, booted as WEDC Chairman by GOP Legislature!

Call it bad optics, but Scott Walker just got fired by his own party in the legislature. He's out as the WEDC chairman, a dysfunctional agency that bumbled job and business creation. Not a great story for someone hoping to run the whole damn country. WKOW's Greg Neumann:

Things haven't changed much at the WEDC. Gov. Tony Evers proposed ending it once, but the GOP lame duck session took his power away, allowing right wing think tanks to call it a broken promise. 
During his campaign for governor, Evers said he planned to dissolve the quasi-public agency and return to a fully public model. A set of laws passed by the Republican Legislature during a lame-duck session in December gave lawmakers greater influence over WEDC and gave the WEDC board, not the governor, the authority to appoint the agency's CEO. Evers' power to appoint a CEO will be restored in September 2019.
Here are just a few new details from the Legislative Audit Bureau, an agency the Republicans wanted to eliminate because it continually made them look bad. It still is...:
1. The economic development corporation in recent years gave $61,000 to one entity for creating 261 jobs that were filled by people in 36 other states, none of them bordering Wisconsin, according to the review.
2. In another case, WEDC gave $462,000 in tax credits to an employer that lost 17 jobs, even though it was supposed to create employment under its deal with the state. Auditors did not name the company or others they mentioned in their report.

3. WEDC failed to determine how many jobs were created by companies that got state funds and tax credits, the audit found.
4. WEDC could have recovered $414,000 in tax credits and $4 million in loans for those projects but didn't, the audit found. "These taxpayer funds could then have been used to support other projects," the auditors wrote.
Kinda makes tells you what the agency was tasked to do all along, doesn't it:

Walker falls for Wall Street Journal opinion spin on Business Tax because of Medicaid Expansion.

Well if you believer everything you read in the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal, like Scott Walker, than you're not just a sucker and easily mislead, but you're more likely to post this ill conceived Tweet:

Can't believe he was governor...

This fits into Walker's one-sided view that businesses, not people, come first.The flaw in Walker's "thinking" is this; money, not people, come first for business. So employees lose both ways, kind a what we're seeing in Wisconsin right now.

It's the free market version of socialism. In other words, Walker is blaming Medicaid expansion for raising taxes on big businesses...who shifted the cost of insuring employees to state taxpayers all the while Republicans make it harder to get Medicaid. This is convoluted enough where your typical low information Republican voter won't bother thinking about it. Here's what happened:     
Provindence Journal: The report estimates the cost to the state of ensuring the Rhode Islanders working for the companies on the list is $44.4 million per year. Many of the biggest corporate names in Rhode Island ... has the most workers on public insurance

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to charge large companies a 10-percent tax (up to $1,500 per worker) on the wages of each employee receiving Medicaid. Nonprofit organizations and government employers would be exempt from the charge.
Pharmacy chain CVS, big box retailer Walmart, school bus company First Student and supermarket chain Stop & Shop. Rhode Island Hospital has more than 300 workers on Medicaid, as does Burger King, Krispy Kreme and Newport Creamery restaurants, (and) staffing agency Employment 2000.
"Free Market" Businesses Also Reacting to Skyrocketing Cost of Employee Insurance: Walker's narrow purely ideological focus prevents him from seeing the big picture, the real market pressures on business and their struggle paying for employee health plans year after year. Businesses have to increase deductibles just to hold onto employee insurance policies. From the looks of it, employer insurance is also on the verge of collapsing. From NPR:

A quiet revolution that's happened with health coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have coverage through an employer. These are the people who've seen deductibles rise astronomically — rising four times in the last dozen years from about $350 on average to $1,350 on average. In some cases, people are seeing $4,000, $5,000, even $6,000 deductibles that they have to pay out of their own pocket before their health insurance kicks in.

We talked to a 27-year-old chef in western Virginia trying to start a family with his young wife. His wife had a miscarriage. They got such huge medical bills he had to take two extra jobs and was working from 5 a.m. until 11 p.m. some days. These are people with health insurance.

The growth of online charities and crowdfunding sources like GoFundMe is being driven in large part by people seeking to pay medical bills. And one of the amazing things about those people is that many of them have health insurance.
While Walker is backing up Sen. Scott Fitzgerald's and Rep. Robin Vos' refusal to take Medicaid expansion, Republican Rep. John Nygren has now dusted off the racially charged claim that health care is "welfare?"
Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, asked, “Why would we want to grow our welfare rolls? It makes no sense to me.”

But if the headline above doesn't change your mind, maybe the following will. It was no coincidence Republicans had a partisan report released just when Governor Evers took office claiming private insurance would increase. A clever trick since most research didn't include the private sector rates. Well...
A new report by an independent actuarial firm says expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin would lower premiums on the individual health insurance market between 7 percent and 11 percent.
ACA Inusrers give back after Excess Premium Increases: The following is a result of the "badly written" Affordable Care Act:

Individual market insurers are expecting to return to consumers a record total of about $800 million in excess premiums for 2018, a year in which the insurance companies posted their best annual financial performance, finds a new KFF analysis.

The rebates to more than 3 million eligible individual market consumers must be issued by September 30. They are the result of the insurance companies not meeting the ACA’s medical loss ratio threshold, which requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium revenues on health care claims or quality improvement activities. On average, premiums per enrollee in the individual market grew 26 percent from 2017 to 2018, to $559, while per person claims grew only 7 percent, to $392. 
 A final few notes;
Claims that the costs of Medicaid expansion have far exceeded expectations are overstated, misleading, and substantially inaccurate, based on a review of the credible evidence from either academic or government sources. Initially, states expected more “pent up demand” for delayed care than they actually experienced, and thus they paid Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) substantially more than was necessary. These excess capitation payments produced an initial jump in costs, but the government subsequently recouped almost $9 billion of that excess through contractual provisions with their Medicaid MCOs, and the federal government now estimates that per person costs for newly eligible recipients will decrease almost 20 percent from their 2015 payment levels. Newly expanding states will be able to contract based on this more solid actuarial data, and can learn from the contracting techniques piloted by other states.