Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New GOP Senate "last ditch" replacement for ACA injecting Chaos in 50 state capitols for the next 2 years!!!

Every Republican plan to replace the ACA seems to make our health care system even worse than before ObamaCare. You would have thought after finding out every Republican plan would end up dropping 23 million people from insurance coverage, they would stepped back from their promise and rethink their approach.

Heck, when the insurance industry thinks it'll be too costly and lose too many customers, you've got a problem: 

The health insurance industry came out forcefully on Wednesday against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that its state-by-state block grants could create health care chaos in the short term and a Balkanized, uncertain insurance market. America’s Health Insurance Plans was even more pointed. The legislation could hurt patients by “further destabilizing the individual market” and could potentially allow “government-controlled single payer health care to grow.” Without controls, some states could simply eliminate private insurance, she warned.
The most incredible part of the Republican style of health care plan...?

Many within the industry are worried that the next two years will be chaotic, with little support for the current market while states scramble to come up with a new way for individuals to buy policies. “It’s just basically injecting chaos in 50 state capitals for the next two years,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University.
The CBO doesn't have time to do a complete score, and debate before the bill is voted on will be just 2 minutes long...that's right, just 2 minutes maximum. What was that about "ramming" ObamaCare down our throats after about 8 months of give and take debates and amendments? They are the party of "principles" alright.
Many within the industry are worried that the next two years will be chaotic, with little support for the current market while states scramble to come up with a new way for individuals to buy policies.“It’s just basically injecting chaos in 50 state capitals for the next two years,” said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University.
Read The Graham Cassidy plan for real Americans:
The new Senate Republican bill could reduce funding, coverage and consumer protections even more sharply than the GOP's previous repeal bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

Here's how: 

1. Establishes fixed state block grants that cap federal subsidies for coverage. The BCRA would have continued Obamacare's guaranteed subsidies to qualifying individuals.

2. Ends all federal subsidies in 2026, compared with no subsidy cutoff under the BCRA.

3. Ends Medicaid expansion entirely in 2020. The BCRA would have phased out enhanced funding in 2024 and let states continue expansion using standard federal match funds.

4. States could give insurers unlimited ability to consider pre-existing conditions to set premiums. The BCRA didn't allow that.

5. Eliminates the federal insurance exchange, which states could keep under the BCRA.

6. Offers $25 billion for two-year state reinsurance program. The BCRA offered $182 billion over a decade.

7. No dedicated funding for substance abuse treatment. The BCRA granted $44 billion to states for addiction and recovery care. 

8. Doesn't require states to use federal block grant money to help lower-income people buy coverage, unlike the BCRA requirement that subsidies go to lower-income groups.

9. Allows states to waive coverage for preventive services. The BCRA continued ACA's first-dollar coverage for preventive care.

10. Redistributes federal subsidies from Medicaid expansion to non-expansion states—with 20 states receiving about 35% to 60% less than under Obamacare—versus smaller redistributions between the states under the BCRA.

Sources: Kaiser Family FoundationCenter on Budget and Policy Priorities

Walker now leaving rotting Car-Killed Deer on road sides, and it may get worse.

I drive around Dane County all the time as part of my other job, and recently noticed a major uptick in almost completely decomposed deer carcasses along our highways, like I-90 and Hwy 73 (pictured here). That's flat out neglect.

These aren't fresh kills either, since the carcass is sun baked and flat. A similarly unsightly decomposed deer was on the side of I-90, visible to everyone, when I came back to Madison.

This was Scott Walker's plan by design way back in April 2015:
Governor Scott Walker doesn't want the state to pay to remove deer carcasses along state highways, which means counties could have to foot the bill. Last year the DNR removed nearly 24,000 deer carcasses from state highways across Wisconsin.

The Governor's proposed budget eliminates$700,000 a year for the DNR to remove the carcasses statewide. Under the proposal, responsibility for clearing the deer would fall to whatever government agency is in charge of the roadway. Or they may be left uncollected. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau cautions, "dead and decaying deer on the roadside are unsightly ad can dampen Wisconsin's reputation as a tourist destination."
Walker just posted the following budget veto, because thanks to tax cuts, we don't have enough money to fund removal of these disease spreading carcasses:

Republicans Secret Propaganda site "Free Telegraph" under Scott Walker control, creating his own Pravda!!!

The Soviet Union had the right idea. 

It was supposed to be a secret, and the Republican Governors Association Chairman Scott Walker did what could to make it untraceable. Why would he do that?

Daily Dot
AP: The website was registered July 7 through Domains By Proxy, a company that allows the originators of a website to shield their identities. An AP search did not find any corporate, Federal Election Commission or IRS filings establishing The Free Telegraph as an independent entity. As of early Monday afternoon, The Free Telegraph’s Twitter account and Facebook page still had no obvious identifiers tying the site to RGA.

“It’s propaganda for sure, even if they have objective standards and all the reporting is 100 percent accurate,” said Republican communications veteran Rick Tyler, whose resume includes Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Democrats say Republicans are laying the groundwork with headlines that will appear in future digital and television ads, while also providing individual voters with fodder to distribute across social media.
See the GIF below, it says right there it's a Media/News Company. Not one bit deceptive. Think about this too:

Political communications expert Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a University of Pennsylvania professor who has studied political advertising for four decades, said The Free Telegraph commits a form of “identity theft” by “appropriating the integrity of news” because “the form of news carries credibility” that blatantly partisan sites do not.

Jamieson was particularly critical of RGA’s initial failure to disclosure its involvement. “What we know about audiences is they factor in the source of information when judging that information,” she said. “If you are denying the reader, the listener or the viewer information you know the reader uses, the question is why do you feel the need to do this?”

Duey Stroebel's Humpty Dumptyisms on Local Control, Hybrid Tax, and White Privilege!

Wisconsin's 20th District voters are an embarrassment. First they voted for Glenn Grothman over and over and over again, and then replaced him with the mentally challenged Duey Stroebel. What in gods name were they thinking...maybe "thinking" is to strong a word here.

Duey's Humpty Dumptyisms: Defined as "The act of misusing or misinterpreting a word, phrase, or article of text to suit one's own meaning or purpose." And oh boy to we have a few Stroebel Dumptyisms today.

Duey says Local Control isn't Really ever Local Control:  Asked by a morning caller on WPR about Republicans taking away local control, Duey said he thought getting rid of a state moratorium on metallic mining (all the while not giving local communities a say over where a mine is located) was giving back local...wait, no it isn't. Also, Duey believes that if even a little state money is spent locally, Big Government Republicans can step in and call all the shots. 

Taxing Hybrids a better idea 15 years ago: Wow, kinda late on this one guys, by 10 to 15 years. Since hybrids were introduced, regular non-hybrid vehicles (41 in headline below) have improved their mileage substantially to 40 plus mpg, bringing near "equity" to all vehicles.

Here's a pretty big list of hybrid/electric cars many Wisconsinites will be force to pay...hey, they're mostly liberal anyway so who cares.

Stroebel makes the ridiculous claim hybrids don't pay a "road tax" like all other vehicles, a total fabrication. Cars and light trucks pay the same fees...hybrids are not exempt from anything.

NOTE: Walker and his band of plundering Republican pirates are perfectly fine penalizing loyal Wisconsinites with a higher fee, making us fix the roads for out of state cars and trucks driving through. This is fair? Democrats...anyone pointing this out?  

ALERT: Stroebel Shamelessly protects White Privilege. It's Political Correctness's Fault: Our Voldemort lookalike Senator thinks political correctness is unfairly picking on guys like him benefiting from white privilege. So what's wrong with Republican politicians telling the University of  Wisconsin what they can or cannot teach, especially when the truth makes them look bad?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Big Energy begs irresponsible Republicans not gut all EPA regulations...that's how bad it's gotten.

I'm not trying to be partisan here, but when big energy has to tell the decidedly radical Republican Party that they want to keep some climate regulation in place, we've got a huge problem. 

Politico: The Trump administration is opening the door to offering its own replacement for former President Barack Obama's landmark climate regulation — rather than just erasing it altogether.

A mend-it-don't-end-it approach on Obama's 2015 rule could appease power companies that say the EPA needs to impose some kind of climate regulation — even if it’s much weaker — to avoid triggering courtroom challenges that would cloud the industry in years of uncertainty. But it would run afoul of demands from some conservative activists, who have pressured EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reject the idea that climate change is a problem requiring federal action.

Kevin Poloncarz, a lawyer with the firm Paul Hastings who represents energy companies supporting the Clean Power Plan, said if EPA simply rescinded the Clean Power Plan without announcing plans to consider a replacement, power companies could face nuisance lawsuits, so issuing the notice could be a compromise position. While it's in place, "the industry should feel some degree of comfort that they're insulated from those lawsuits."
But where do the coal companies stand on all of this?
Even coal-heavy power companies have said they support EPA issuing a replacement rule. American Electric Power, a Midwestern power company that gets slightly less than half of its electricity from coal, would back a new proposal "consistent with the EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act," spokeswoman Tammy Ridout said. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

DeVos says Education unchanged since 1970's? Maybe in private schools.

If you want to know just how out of touch Trump's education secretary Betsy DeVos is, and you'll know what I mean if you've ever met your kids teachers, this comment makes it very clear. EdWeek:
In DeVos' view, education hasn't changed much over the past five decades or so. That's left many kids stuck in a "mundane malaise," she said.
Really, hasn't changed since I was in school, in the 1970's? Stunning and wrong beyond words.

And how about one of the first lessons in English, don't end sentences with a preposition. She has no idea "where its at..."
Food same as 1960's too?
She thinks there are some schools operating in a "wide-range of settings [using] unique and creative ways to really meet students where they are at.
"I take this as another really excellent example of schools that are specifically meeting the needs of students where they are at."

Big Stories on the Radar....

Let's face it, there's so much Republican sh** that hitting the fan that it's almost impossible to cover it all. Much of it has to do with administrative regulations created and enforced by big bad government agencies. Republicans hate regulations so much they decided to replace almost all of them with their own set of convoluted, Rube Goldberg-like bureaucracies. Here are the headlines and links of stories that will affect and complicate our lives for decades to come under the guise of "small government."

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Woman knocked down during protest by Police charged with "Interfering?" First Amendment...Gone!!!

It started with Scott Walker's book, "Unintimidated," where he portrayed protesters as ISIS like thugs trying to "intimidate" him. To anyone else, it looked like a First Amendment right to redress our government.  

Walker's mischaracterization continues to fester and swell, portraying American protesters as anti-American. Oh my, that troublesome First Amendment.

Tell me if you think the woman in the video below should be charged with obstruction after being pushed to the ground by police, remaining on the ground until those same policeman cuff her and charge her with "interfering." Lesson: Protesting is now illegal in this country:

The St. Louis Metrololitan Police Department Department tweets, "Woman knocked down during demonstration shown in FOX 2's video failed to obey officers' orders and was charged with 'Interfering.'
To one right wing observer who said he "was there," tweeted that while she was being pushed back and stumbling uncontrollably...

Yea, that's the ticket. Obstruction lying the pavement behind the police line. This nation is in serious trouble:
The video stirred outcry online, where some accused the officers of assaulting the woman. “They could have broken her hip like that,” one Twitter user wrote. “Who is that evil?”

The police department eventually responded to the backlash with a tweet, saying: “Woman knocked down during demonstration shown in @FOX2now's video failed to obey officers' orders & was charged w/ ‘Interfering’.”

The First Amendment and Boobs...nothing sexist here!!!

So what are your average conservative talk radio hosts talking about these days, and why do we have a major problem with sexism? We have an answer to both.
CNN’s Brooke Baldwin ended a segment Friday after a panelist, Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis, expressed his love for the “First Amendment and boobs.”
“I’m a first amendment absolutist and believe in two things completely — the First Amendment and boobs.”
And despite former senior ESPN editor Keith Reed's spot on description of the juvenile misogyny of Clay Travis, host Brooke Baldwin had had enough:
“I’m not talking about that on television because it’s irrelevant to the topic. It shouldn’t be brought up here,” former ESPN editor Keith Reed responded.

“Why not?” Travis asked.

DQ sign at door "politically incorrect" statement from resentful rural Americans?

I couldn't let this story fade into the ether. This is how conservatives drum up conspiracies and victimhood and make these issues seem real; they take a firm stand on fabricated controversies created by the paranoid right wing news entertainment sites.

What drives me crazy it the notion that Republican bigots, racists and anti-government zealots think their being "politically incorrect," when in fact, they're creating another version of "politically correct" speech but their perspective.

Nothing on the DQ sign is a real issue. What is true is the effort by Republicans to push an unconstitutional government endorsed of a national Christian religion:

CBS 58: A sign on the door of a Kewaskum Dairy Queen, calling the restaurant 'politically incorrect' is generating business and conversation.
DQ owner Kevin Scheunemann said,"I felt the sign was appropriate to hang in terms of being transparent about the views of the owner and staff supporting God and country.  It just seems that those kinds of values and principles are becoming controversial in society."
Controversial only because Scheunemann and his right wing party of whiny victims have made is so.
The sign reads: "This restaurant is politically incorrect." It warns potential customers that staff may say things like "Merry Christmas," "Happy Easter." It also says "In God We Trust." The sign was posted close to four years ago, after a customer was upset when he heard Christian music inside the restaurant. Scheunemann decided to post the warning, and said he hasn't had many problems since then.
Of course Scheunemann is expressing his paranoid, conjured up, victimhood, phony-wedge issue free speech thing. And if you don't like his sign, somehow you're against free speech, where Schunemann is victimized again. Got that liberals?
Other business owners in town say they support Scheunemann's right to run his business the way he sees fit. "He posted it on the door so you see it before you walk in," said April Serwe, who owns local bar PJ Magoos. "You don’t have to walk in if you don't agree with it."
Funny, that kind of logic never came up for anti-union conservatives applying for a job at a union shop. "You don't have to walk in..." right? But hey, it's a phony divisive values issue:
In fact, some people in town told us there isn't even a need for a sign like that -- because most residents in Kewaskum share the same values. "In this small community, I don't think it's a problem," said resident Liz Torrison. "We're all just liking each other and having fun."
It's fun targeting and trashing liberals in a completely phony cartoonish way.
Dairy Queen sent us this statement in response: "American Dairy Queen Corporation does not encourage our independently owned and operated franchisees to post non-business related messages in their locations or on their external reader boards. This sign expresses the views of this independent owner only and does not speak for ADQ Corporation or any of our other independent franchise owners. We expect our franchisees and employees to treat every person who walks through our doors with the utmost dignity and respect. Nothing less is acceptable."
Let's have a "conversation?" Boy, I can't tell you how tired I am of this new talking point, "let's have a conversation." It basically allows bigots, racist and religious zealots to make everyone have a conversation about their loathsome bigotry, racism and religious zealotry, without every changing anything.
But Scheunemann, who also happens to be the Kewaskum Village President, says he's happy to sit down and have a conversation with anyone to make them feel comfortable about what the sign says.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Walker's Big Government Budget wipes out Local Control again, taking with it Public Safety!!!

Republicans hate liberal big government policies. That doesn't mean they hate big government though. How would you like an overbearing, know-it-all, one party, dictatorial, authoritarian state? Coming right up. 

Heck, why don't I let a Republican explain the concept:
Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield: “There are certain values that the state upholds. If the values aren’t consistent at the local level, there is an opportunity for the state to come in and say these are our principles and they are good.”
Kinda takes your breath away...or at least it should.

Former Republican State Sen. Mary Lazich redefined "local control" this amazing way:

Question of Balance? Totally destroying the idea of local control, Republican weasel Rep. Robin Vos resorted to the old standard, "it's just a question of balance," to do away with local control:

GOP Making Liberal Big Government Look Really Really small: This authoritarian one party vision has been rolling along for the last seven years. Take a look at the Republicans latest takeover bid that would kill the spread of those liberal-leaning walking/bike trails that takes cars off our now crumbling roads:
A provision added to the 2017-2019 state budget denies cities, villages and towns the ability to use condemnation — acquiring private property from unwilling sellers for public use — to expand or build new sidewalks, bicycle lanes and trails.

An incensed Madison Mayor Paul Soglin blasted GOP lawmakers: "We happen to think it's important that children going to school not get run over. But obviously we've got legislators who just don't give a damn about issues of safety. This is driven by bitter people who hate the rest of the state.

It's just one more example where with millions of people in this state there's one or two property owners upset about the ability to condemn for public safety. And now we've got a Legislature that disregards the safety of millions of people from one end of the state to the other."

Soglin also labeled the lawmakers supporting the provision as "anti-economic development," noting that Amazon recently issued a request for proposals for cities interested in being home to a new $3.7 billion headquarters facility. The specs include bike accessibility. Not only would the provision put Wisconsin out of the running, he said, but "nobody would be able to put bicycle paths or sidewalks into the Foxconn deal." 

The city intends to file an open records request to get any correspondence about the provision and “the special interest that’s going to be at work here,” Soglin said.“We really have not learned and had a good explanation from the perpetrators of this as to their motivation and what they’re trying to solve,” he said. Madison City Engineer Rob Phillips said the measure allows a single property owner who doesn't want to sell a right-of-way to kill several bike path projects, some in the works and some planned for the future. It's unclear who inserted the provision into a transportation budget amendment before last week's committee vote. 
Mining Taking control of Local Governments:  Right now, the legislative Republican environmental bulldozer Sen. Tom Tiffany is trying again to trash small local communities. Is it any wonder rural voters hate government:
• Limit public opportunities to contest DNR decisions, eliminate an automatic hearing with an administrative law judge and rolls back a judge's authority to halt mining activities if such a hearing was granted.

• Ends DNR authority to require a mining company to provide evidence that its solid waste disposal process will protect ground water indefinitely.

• Repeal a law requiring the DNR to deny a mine's request for a high-capacity well that would unreasonably harm the ability of others to have drinking water or enjoy lakes and streams. Instead require the mine to replace a dried-up water supply or temporarily shore up the water level in an affected lake or stream.

•  Eliminate rules that address the specific problems that a mining project can cause by disturbing the flow of water above and below the surface.
Here's something that ignored and affected a whole bunch of local communities:
WPR: Wisconsin residents can no longer challenge state Department of Natural Resources permits for a high-capacity well if state officials failed to look at what the well might do to overall groundwater in the area. Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker got rid of the cumulative impacts challenge when they passed the state budget a year ago. 
Here's a great, but now outdated, list that was posted awhile back:
Wisconsin Republicans Consolidate Power, Erode Local Control Republicans Add to List of 100+ Measures that Harm Local Decision-Making; Republican legislators continue to propose even more bills that would tie the hands of local governments. “Republicans say they are the ‘Party of Local Control’ but their actions show the opposite,” Democratic Rep. Shankland said. 
Reporter Matthew DeFour wrote this nice summary:
Since consolidating control of state government in 2011, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature have enacted a series of laws that upend a bedrock of their party’s conservatism: the principle of local control. The GOP has wrested from local government’s control of cellphone tower siting, shoreland zoning restrictions, landlord-tenant regulations, public employee residency requirements, family medical leave rules for private companies and large soft drink bans, among other things. It instituted a statewide voucher program opposed by many school boards and has kept tight property tax caps on school districts and municipalities. The latest and perhaps most disconcerting example for many local officials is a bill introduced by Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, that would limit a municipality’s ability to regulate certain aspects of frac sand mining operations, such as blasting, damage to highways, and air and water quality.

“Many (municipal leaders) will tell you how terrible it is and how it’s the worst they’ve ever seen,” said Dan Thompson, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. UW-Madison political science professor emeritus Dennis Dresang. “But boy, recently, that’s really going out the door. What we see from the tea party types and the radical right types is, ‘I've got an idea, I've got an agenda, and it really ought to apply across the board."

UNEMPLOYMENT INCREASES, 5,200 JOBS LOST last month under Walker, just before desperately signing 3,000 Job FoxConn scheme.

I heard this story just yesterday on the radio, and today, I had to use Google to dig it out of our state media. Any wonder Scott Walker is confident in his reelection?

Bad Optics: If only the media juxtaposed the uptick in unemployment (from 3.2 to 3.4) and the loss of 5,200 jobs (between July and August) at the same time Walker is doling out $3 billion to Foxconn over 15 years just to create a measly 3,000 jobs.

   Remember this old cartoon...we were warned:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Sanders Medicare-for-All plan! Democrats finally put it out there...

The biggest problem Bernie Sanders is going to have over his Medicare-for-all plan is paying for it. I heard one radio caller, who claimed to be conservative, call for a national 1 percent sales tax to help pay for the cost. A good idea.

But what so many pundits are missing is Sanders plan is a full throttled dream plan. And for once, Democrats aren't starting in the middle like so many of their past the ACA.

Sanders plan is more comprehensive than most universal systems around the world, and that's why the cost is so high, no matter how much money it will save Americans right from the beginning. 

Mind Bending Opposition Reasons Defy Logic: The insurance industry just came out with the most ridiculous list of reasons universal care "cannot work," despite the fact every other industrialized country in the world has made it work, and saved money to boot. Let's take a look: 
“Whether it’s called single-payer or Medicare For All, government-controlled health care cannot work,” David Merritt, executive vice president of America’s Health Insurance Plans. “It will eliminate choice, undermine quality, put a chill on medical innovation, and place an even heavier burden on hardworking taxpayers."

The statement touted private market solutions.
Because the private market worked so well in the past? Didn't think so.

1. Ever Doctor, Every Hospital is your doctor, you hospital: I've heard it so many times before and not one reporter has ever called it into question, how does universal care eliminate choice? Having only one health insurance plan with only one network of doctors and hospitals seems to "eliminate choice" in so many more ways, right? Free market my ass.

2. Chill Medical Innovation? Who seriously thinks creators and innovators will walk away from life saving medical discovery's and equipment because they won't be able to make obscene amounts of money? There is one truth; if someone can't cut it in the marketplace, someone else will step in to take their place. That's the free market.

3. Heavier Burden on Taxpayers? Sure, taxes will go up, but every single American will not have to pay for ever rising insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles, the uncertainty of being dropped, and those surprise medical bills from doctors not in your network.

The Bernie Sanders Plan: There are a couple of great articles at Voxdotcom that provide a no nonsense look at his plans. First there's a comparison between what the Democrats want to do and the Republicans. Eye opening (below the Sanders plan listed here).

Second, Vox looks deep at what Sanders wants to do and the mounting cost of doing it. Surprisingly, it's not just the U.S. that seems to think dental and vision are not two of the most important parts of our body that need constant care. The U.S. and other countries believe it should be separate, mostly for cost containment.
The plan is significantly more generous than the single-payer plans run by America’s peer countries. The Sanders plan does not subject consumers to any out-of-pocket spending on health aside from prescriptions drugs. This is out of line with international single-payer systems, which often require some payment for seeking most services. Medicare, employer coverage, and these other countries show that nearly every insurance scheme we’re familiar with covers a smaller set of benefits with more out-of-pocket spending on the part of citizens. Private insurance plans often spring up to fill these gaps.

A single-payer health plan would have the authority to set one price for each service; an appendectomy, for example, would no longer vary so wildly from one hospital to another. Instead, the Sanders plan envisions using current Medicare rates as the new standard price for medical services in the United States.

Single-payer systems change who pays for health care, often shifting more of the burden onto wealthier individuals to create a more progressive system. A proposed 9 percent income tax would be far more expensive for the $100,000 worker than the $30,000 earner.
1. It would bar employers from offering separate plans that compete with this new, government-run option. 

2. It would sunset Medicare and Medicaid, transitioning their enrollees into the new universal plan. 

3. Four years to transition into the new coverage. In the interim, they would have the option to buy into Medicare or another publicly run option that does not currently exist.  

4. It would cover hospital visits, primary care, medical devices, lab services, maternity care, and prescription drugs as well as vision and dental benefits.

Now here's the Republicans latest scheme...and they're not kidding:

This was an amazing almost surreal twitter post by Fox News. Ironic, a gaffe...because the ACA was a conservative Heritage Foundation idea. Sweet disconnect huh?

Here's a detailed look at how Sanders plan might get its revenue, which will be no easy task. I can't even summarize it. Here's the last few paragraphs by co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research Dean Baker:
There is also a question of what the policy would be if progressives actually took power. What would a Democrat who ran on a single-payer plan like the one pushed by Sanders do if she actually was in the White House? Would she be able to back down and offer less than promised? Perhaps, but this is something worth considering. It’s not clear that it is a good thing for progressives to gain power if they are committed to a program that really is unworkable policy. That has generally not proven to be a good long-term strategy for advancing progressive goals.

There are many steps that can be taken to rein in costs and extend coverage that are short of a big leap to single payer. Lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 55, as the new Sanders plan proposes, would be good a start, along with allowing a buy in for people at younger ages. We can also look for some of the cost savings envisioned under single payer, most notably public funding of research for prescription drugs and medical equipment so these items can be sold in a free market without patent protection. And, we could be looking to get the pay of our doctors and dentists down to the levels in other wealthy countries, which would save us close to $100 billion a year from our health-care bill.

The target of eliminating almost all out-of-pocket expenses may also be too ambitious. If we set the target at 1.4 percent of GDP, the same as people in Canada and the UK now pay, instead of the 0.3 percent in the Sanders’s plan, it reduces the annual shortfall by $250 billion, apart from any impact on utilization. And it wouldn’t really mean much hardship for most of the population. For example, if a family earning $100,000 a year was expected to spend $1,600 annually on various health-care expenses, it is hard to see this imposing a great burden.

In short, the current political environment is presenting a great opening for progressive health-care reform. This opening could be wasted if progressives are not willing to work for a wide range of reforms that would extend coverage and reduce costs and, instead, insist on a single-minded focus on single payer. The new proposal that Sanders put forward with 16 Senate co-sponsors offers the sort of flexibility needed to structure a workable incremental approach. This is a huge step in the right direction.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A few tough questions and Paul Ryan rambles, lies and bumbles way through interview.

Not only did our warrior for the working man Paul Ryan not know what the minimum wage was in Wisconsin (guess it's not a topic brought up often by Scott Walker), but he lied and avoided the tough questions on trickle down and the corporate hoarding of money. This guy is no wonk, he's an economic bullshitter:

I included a few comments onscreen...
September 7, 2017. While interviewed at the New York Times TimesTalk, Paul Ryan wasn't able to answer a very simple question without help.

Walker's desperate 15 year grab for 3,000 jobs and forced budget cuts to get reelected.

Funny thing about the Foxconn debacle to attract only 3,000 jobs, is the underlying problem. A labor shortage and low unemployment.

Wisconsin's 3.2 percent unemployment rate in July is near a record low That's well below what economists consider to be "full employment." Between 2010 and 2025, the 65-and-older population is expected to have increased by two-thirds, while the working-age population is expected to remain flat. By 2023, 65-year-olds are projected to outnumber 18-year-olds for the first time.
Only now are the stories hitting the front pages of our papers.

So where will Foxconn find 13,000 employees? Or the 10,000 construction jobs...or the 22,000 indirect jobs?
Those numbers are mystifying to Anthony Snyder, CEO of the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board. "We have businesses that are screaming for labor. One employer wanted 300 people tomorrow and we are racking our brain trying to find these people," Snyder said. "I don’t know where they’ll find 10,000 people to fill those jobs."

Erik Anderson, president of Basin Precision Machining in Jefferson said, "I’m like: 'Better fly (the workers) over from China, because they’re not here.'"The disaster we know as WEDC warned: As half of the construction workers and Foxconn workforce could come from other states, primarily Illinois where unemployment and underemployment are higher than in Wisconsin. 
That should sink the whole Foxconn deal right? Nope...
The Walker administration disputes that figure.
Well, let's see what Foxconn is telling us...oh wait:
Foxconn,  isn't divulging details about its wages. According to an economic impact analysis commissioned by the company, about 2,400 employees will be highly skilled engineers, 820 employees will provide business support and the majority, about 9,800 employees, will be hourly operators and technicians. 
Let's create worker dorms like in China:
Walker said he has discussed with Foxconn the possibility of building housing at an affordable cost near the plant to further entice workers to move from other states. 
Even cry baby conservative lobbying groups are sounding the alarm:
Workers Wanted: Wisconsin's Looming Crisis:  Wisconsin businesses grapple with a growing worker shortage. Wisconsin is expected to need 45,000 workers in seven years but it simply lacks the people to fill them … expected to worsen over the next decade, according to Wisconsin State Journal interviews with dozens of employers, economists, advocacy group experts and state political and economic development officials. "We are right at the brink of the crisis," said Ann Franz, director of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance in Green Bay. "I would call it Wisconsin's mega-issue," said Kurt Bauer, president of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business group, which recently found 77 percent of members surveyed had difficulty finding workers, up from 53 percent two years ago. "All other issues, they may be important, but they are subordinate to workforce."
Walker's record of lost manufacturing job over the years, stubborn opposition to raising the minimum wage, and failed promise to create family supporting jobs is a big reason why he wants Foxconn to pass:
"We have the potential of losing some of our business sector to other places where skilled labor is stronger, where there's greater population base," said Susan May, president of Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. "The more we lose our economic base, it affects education and transportation and everything else. … It really presents a scary future for our state."
Eh, that's not so scary, turning lemons into lemonade:
"It's a good problem to have, but it's a challenge for sure," Gov. Scott Walker said in an interview.
The other facts around the worker shortage aren't encouraging:
Wisconsin has certain characteristics that may intensify the shortage, such as an already high workforce participation rate, a broad manufacturing base that, as it increasingly automates, replaces high school graduates with more highly skilled workers, and a comparatively poor record of attracting college graduates. The Job Center of Wisconsin website lists about 100,000 job openings daily, and more than 15,000 are for jobs located in other states.

The state's median hourly wage is $17.43, or about $35,000 a year. A United Way study found the basic wage needed to survive in Wisconsin is $54,804 for a family of four and $23,196 for a single adult — and that 42 percent of households live below that level. More than half (51 percent) of the jobs that listed a low-end wage listed hourly pay levels below the United Way's survival wage for a single person.
And with the advent of disposable employees, business has only themselves to blame:
Many employers around the state express frustration about the quality of the available workforce. They complain about new hires lacking minimal "employability" traits such as showing up for work on time, dressing appropriately and basic communication. Some describe applicants who won't return phone calls yet continue to apply for jobs elsewhere, possibly to fulfill the state's new requirements for receiving unemployment benefits.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trump markets presidency like Apprentice and Survivor reality shows.

The story floating around somewhere in the bizarro-sphere is Trump's not so subtle return the same marketing plan he used on The Apprentice, shock value, but this time for his presidency. Michael Hirschorn, President and CEO of ISH Entertainment, and former "Survivor" contestant Eliza Orlins nailed it:

Democurmudgeon would like to welcome the return of former Isthmus political cartoonist Brian Strassberg, with this....

This is even beyond the hackneyed story line of Idiocrisy, which oddly turned out to be closer to reality than anyone would have wanted:

Daily Telegraph: Trump is Camacho. Trump is a big investor in wrestling and once fake-punched a competitor on WrestleMania. Both Trump and Camacho reflect the worrying confusion of entertainment and politics. Trump is popular because he’s well-known, and he’s well-known because he hosted The Apprentice.

He “wins” debates in the sense that he dominates them, and he dominates them by shouting and ranting and saying what’s on his mind. In an era where ratings are confused with quality, producers think that Trump must be onto something and so they boost him. Never mind that if you actually dig down into his ideas they are a confusing nonsense.
Here's the unedited movie clip...

And because I have so many videos showing Trump's bold face lying to his trusting herd of followers, here's Mr. Entertainment himself entertaining himself, and lying:

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Republican Rep. Rob Hutton's message to Towns threatened by Metallic Mining: "What do you know about Mining?"

The public is quickly, too quickly, becoming less relevant to their own government under the strict "anti-government" Republican rush to replace us with private business. That may sound "liberal" of me to say, but the Foxconn giveaway in Wisconsin was that shot heard around the country. An article at Moyers and Company put it this way:
State lawmakers in Wisconsin have now just taken the first step toward approving Foxconn’s biggest subsidy deal yet. The state Assembly has given the green light to what appears to be the biggest subsidy ever handed out to a foreign firm by a US political entity.
We should be so proud.

This "deal" exposed Republican politicians as fake patriots, who used to believe in the now quaint idea of a representative government.

A Republican Really Did Say That: A morning newscast on Wisconsin Public Radio floored me a few mornings back, when it featured a statement from Republican Rep. Rob Hutton pretty much trashing public comment periods. Hutton was referring to a bill to allow metallic mining interests to plunder our state with little or no consequences. And I'm paraphrasing (WPR decided to not post the report and its audio):
Hutton: "After all, what does the public know about mining?"
Which begs the question, what a does a politician know about mining?

The bills list of jaw dropping metallic mining industry giveaways couldn't sound more criminal, dangerous and just outright irresponsible. But then, "what does the public know about mining?"  And we can't forget the human environmental bulldozer himself, Sen. Tom Tiffany, who co-wrote this mess.
The repeal of Wisconsin's so-called mining moratorium (requires companies prove they have run nonpolluting mines before they can start excavating here) would relax wetland and ground water protections, constrain the time regulators have to review mine plans, limit challenges to state mining permits, and exempt mine companies from fees that cover costs of ensuring safe handling of hazardous waste. The legislation would:
• Speed up DNR permits for bulk sampling, a step where thousands of tons of rock are excavated and analyzed … the DNR has had its budget and staff cut. 

Limit public opportunities to contest DNR decisions, eliminate an automatic hearing with an administrative law judge and rolls back a judge's authority to halt mining activities if such a hearing was granted.

Ends DNR authority to require a mining company to provide evidence that its solid waste disposal process will protect ground water indefinitely.

• Repeal a law requiring the DNR to deny a mine's request for a high-capacity well that would unreasonably harm the ability of others to have drinking water or enjoy lakes and streams. Instead require the mine to replace a dried-up water supply or temporarily shore up the water level in an affected lake or stream.

•  Eliminate rules that address the specific problems that a mining project can cause by disturbing the flow of water above and below the surface.

Republican through and through, and No Voter Blowback: The "new advocacy group, The Natural Resource Development Association, directed by former Republican Party of Wisconsin communications director Nathan Conrad," which must know more about mining than the town folk opposing the destruction of their community, "was launched last month to 'work with state and local policymakers to promote the safe and clean economic development of our natural resources.'" 

Yup, it screams "safe and clean," doesn't it? 

Goodbye Local Control, welcome Truck Traffic, Blasting and smaller Setbacks: But Republicans weren't done yet, sneaking more destructive mining language in of all things, the transportation bill:
The state Legislature's budget-writing committee inserted language into the transportation spending plan that would: 
1. Restrict how local governments regulate sand mines, quarries and gravel pits that supply material for public works projects after April 2018.

2. Bar counties, cities, towns and villages from restricting things like truck traffic, blasting and setbacks. 

3. Block local governments from setting their own air and water quality standards beyond those enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Local governments have opposed efforts by Republican lawmakers, the frac sand industry and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce to restrict local control of mines and quarries over the past several years. The state's business lobby, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, opposes the latest restrictions on local government control of nonmetallic mines because they don't go far enough.
What does go far enough? Remember what I said about the public quickly becoming less relevant:
General counsel and director of environmental and energy policy Lucas Vebber said he plans to lobby lawmakers in the state Senate and state Assembly to expand the restrictions on local regulations of sand mines, gravel pits and quarries to include all industry in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Transportation Funding Debacle just a peek into the jumbled, confusing, unprincipled, scattershot thinking of the Republican Party in Wisconsin.

To be honest, I'm not even sure how anyone can explain the Republican legislatures schizophrenic, outrageously irresponsible in your face hypocrisy. As confusing as it may be, having it both ways is now normal GOP policy, and a "we won" reward for voters who don't seem to give a damn. Like my conservative friend in Milwaukee, who texted me the following after I mentioned the story below...
"yeah yeah who the hell knows what they're doing?"
While Republicans unashamedly grovel at the feet of Foxconn handouts...
The GOP transportation plan would fund ... more than $250 million in new state borrowing as part of Wisconsin's Foxconn bill.
....they're trying to sabotage Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's street car project. Do Republicans hate Milwaukee so much that they'll kill the street car tourist attraction that basically runs right past the new sports arena paid for by taxpayers?
Under the GOP deal, Milwaukee could not spend any of its state transportation aid money to operate the streetcar. In addition, a City of Milwaukee tax-incremental financing district and Milwaukee County could not fund the operation of the streetcar.
...while crippling transportation upgrades in the states biggest city and business hub...
The state won't move forward with an expansion of Interstate 94 west of Milwaukee between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges, a project that many southeast Wisconsin Republicans and business leaders wanted.
...while Republicans delay major road repair/replacement projects statewide, they've decided to make things even worse...?
Allow for more overweight trucks on Wisconsin highways, which is significant because heavy trucks do considerably more damage to roads than cars. The GOP plan would let trucks weighing more than twice the legal limit travel on stretches of state highway in Ashland and Vilas counties they're carrying raw forest products and lumber. It would also allow some garbage trucks to exceed state weigh limits and extend a state law that lets agricultural vehicles exceed weight limits.
All the while turning down hiking fees on trucks, Republicans aren't afraid to attack very light electric or hybrid energy saving cars because what the heck, their owners don't vote Republican:
They will create a new $100 annual fee for electric cars and a $75 fee for hybrids.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Republican Deregulation forces Houston area residents to Evacuate Homes near Chemical Plant!

"Regulation" is just another way of saying "protection," because that's what regulations are.

I hope Republican voters can now plainly see what can happens when "protections" are lifted at the request of industry lobbyists and special interests. As for their Republican representatives, corporate money will take precedent every time.

Exhibit A, proof Republicans can't govern without pockets full of special interest cash and a purely ideological agenda. I wonder what residents within a 1.5 mile radius of the plant who were told to evacuate thought of their abrupt change in living conditions short and long term. Guess they didn't contribute enough for Republicans to care:

The French company that says its Houston-area chemical plant is spewing "noxious" smoke — and may explode — successfully pressed federal regulators to delay new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants, those rules — which would have taken effect on March 14 — were blocked by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma Attorney General demanded the rule be withdrawn. The move was a big win for the chemical industry that has spent more than $100 million supporting federal lawmakers since 2008. Among those who have received more than $100,000 from the industry are powerful Texas lawmakers including Sen. John Cornyn (R), Rep. Joe Barton (R), Rep. Pete Olson (R), Rep. Gene Green (D), Rep. Pete Sessions (R) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R).

Harris County ordered the evacuation of residents in a 1.5-mile radius of the plant that makes organic chemicals. Rowe said the company was "comfortable" with the size of the evacuation zone.

ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical, Koch Industries and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), a Saudi government-owned firm with multiple locations in the Houston area, including its North American headquarters, all lobbied on the legislation, which set the stage for Trump's administration to block the rules.

Richard Rowe, CEO of the North America unit, told reporters that chemicals on the site will catch fire and explode if they are not properly cooled, and that Arkema expects that to happen within the next six days as temperatures rise. He said the company has no way to prevent that because the plant is swamped by about six feet of water.

Corporate Welfare obliterates GOP's myth about "free markets."

Researching the latest wave of extreme corporate welfare now that Trumpian Republicans are in charge of so many state houses, revealed a few interesting side notes.

Don't get me wrong, I think some government help makes economic sense, but it's the hypocrisy that's driving me crazy.

Socializing the "free market:" Republicans are currently pushing Americans into a "competitive" free market health care system, all the while doing just the opposite by subsidizing all those supposed free market business with taxpayer handouts.

Scott Walker/Trump's deal with Foxconn should top the list for decades, but it's hard to predict how much worse it'll get:
Republicans on Monday advanced a $3 billion incentive package to encourage Foxconn Technology Group to build a display panel plant in southeastern Wisconsin that could employ thousands.a $10 billion plant that would employ 3,000 initially and as many as 13,000 in the coming years ... the incentive package could lead to Wisconsin taxpayers paying nearly $53,000 per Foxconn job (over 10 years for the first 3000 employees).
From 2014, one conservative contributor at Forbes screamed corporate welfare bloody murder:
The February 24 Good Jobs First report, “Subsidizing the Corporate One Percent,” by Philip Mattera, says that three-quarters of all state economic development subsidies went to just 965 corporations since the beginning of the study in 1976. The Fortune 500 corporations alone accounted for more than 16,000 subsidy awards, worth $63 billion – mostly in the form of tax breaks. Think about that. The largest, wealthiest, most powerful organizations in the world are on the public dole. Where is the outrage?

The system is antithetical to the idea of free markets. A quarter of a million times, state governments decided what is best for producers and consumers. That should make us cringe ... those 514 economic development programs are almost all the result of insidious cronyism. Free markets be damned. And that outrage should be reflected in how we vote.
From 2016, Salon list a few more corporate welfare recipients of taxpayer money. Next to the Foxconn deal, they seem almost insignificant:
1. Sagamore Development: The real-estate developer owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank won a $660 million deal from the Baltimore Development Corporation ... When completed, this $5.5 billion “mini-city” will include two light rail stations and lots of residential and commercial properties, a new 50-acre global corporate campus at the site.

2. Continental Tire, the Americas, LLC: The Fort Mill, South Carolina-based subsidiary of the German automotive parts manufacturer Continental AG won a $596 million deal from the state of Mississippi to build a tire plant in Hinds County. The $1.45 billion factory will create 2,500 jobs ... nearly $240,000 in taxpayer subsidies for each job. 

3. Walt Disney: The media and entertainment giant, one of the world’s most profitable companies, received a $267 million gift from state taxpayers for a planned luxury hotel in Anaheim, California. It’s the city’s largest corporate tax break in history, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Burbank, California, company had said it would not build the hotel without the subsidy.
Charles Pierce at Esquire found another one:
From Bleeding Heartland: The Iowa Economic Development Authority and the city of Waukee refused to release details about the deal with Apple until shortly before the authority's board rubber-stamped $20 million in state tax incentives, plus about $194 million from the suburb west of Des Moines. In return, Apple has promised its $1.375 billion data center will come online by 2020, with 50 full-time employees earning at least $29.12 per hour.

The editorial board of The Des Moines Register: News of the project broke Wednesday, but documents spelling out the amount of incentives were released about 90 minutes before the state economic development board met Thursday. The meeting's agenda included a 10-minute public comment period before approval. The city of Waukee declined to provide the public any information before its council voted to give Apple more than $194 million in property tax abatement and water and sewer infrastructure improvements. Reforming a system that favors out-of-state corporations over Iowa-based businesses? Will any state leader look beyond the hype and seriously examine what we've gained in jobs and economic growth from attracting data centers? A few warehouses full of servers do not make us a hotbed of innovation.
The good news? Disclosure is about to hit the corporate welfare fan...CNN and GoodJobsFirst:
Time to upend conventional wisdom on 'corporate welfare:' Taxpayers are about to gain hard data on economic development tax breaks. The accounting rule is Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 77 on Tax Abatement Disclosures. GASB is actually not a government body, but rather a professional standard-setting body that controls Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, or GAAP, for the public sector. Governments adhere to GAAP for three main reasons: Some states mandate it, Wall Street likes GAAP accounting when it gives credit ratings, and some federal aid requires it.

GASB 77 took effect for calendar 2016 and beyond, so as governments close their books and report the prior year's spending, most will include a note, pursuant to Statement 77, disclosing how much revenue they lost to each economic development tax-break program. Because most cities, counties and school districts are on fiscal years ending June 30, most of this new data will arrive late this year. Governments won't be required to name company names; they will only report one dollar figure per program per year. And in all but one state, the data will reside in individual governments' financial reports,
In all 50 states, the GASB 77 data will likely spawn a whole new cottage industry of journalists, academics and nonprofits "wrangling" the data, then analyzing it from many perspectives. Taxpayers will be enriched by the ensuing debate.
Good Jobs First is also soon to launch Subsidy Tracker 2, where we will collect and publish GASB 77 data. (Our longstanding Subsidy Trackerdatabase collects company-specific incentive data.)