Friday, December 15, 2017

My stack of must read Stories...

As I try to keep up with the  Republicans unfolding political disaster, here are the stories the I never got a chance to explore. I may add to them in the future, but regardless, important must reads...

While Madison gets ripped for its liberal bias, it also leads the state in jobs, tech and everything else:

Without liberal Dane County, Scott Walker's jobs record would look pathetic. 
Student loan debt is ridiculous, so how are some students making it all work...thank you Republicans for defunding universities:


The myth that public university students who are conservative have to hide in the shadows, fearful speaking their minds busted:


Basic Income idea is taking off, and Republicans are missing it. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have found success doling out a basic income from their casino earnings: 


GOP Final Tax Cut plan....

Just a few of the details....

The final tax rate cuts expire...?
Here's the report from CNN:





FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai wants to Laugh in your Face!!!

So what does repealing net neutrality mean to Americans? That's simple, ISP's can now do what they couldn't do, with no restrictions until of course they get caught. That's why we have regulations, protections, that prevent bad things from happening:
Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. 
If you thought your internet phone connection was your lifeline to help, it isn't anymore, thanks to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's repeal of Title II. Soon you may not be able to afford it:
They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers.
After Ajit Pai slam dunked the repeal of net neutrality, he taunted the losers with an in your face condescending Christmas message. He even used the ultra right wing's fake news propaganda network The Daily Caller. PC Gamer:

Smirking FCC chairman posts video mocking net neutrality supporters.




Pai's bad judgement didn't stop with the video. He also didn't mind appearing next to a conspiracy drenched "alt-righter:"
One of the people who appears in the video, during the "You Can Still Ruin Memes" bit, is Martina Markota, a video producer for The Daily Caller. Markota's website includes links to a video called "Come to Pepe," the alt-right frog mascot, and another on Pizzagate, the infamous conspiracy theory about a child sex ring run by the Democratic Party out of the basement of a Washington DC pizzeria. That video has since been removed...
...that's not entirely true:



Another Republican fiasco...:
Moments before the FCC voted to overturn net-neutrality regulations, the hearing room was briefly evacuated over a potential security threat ... a security team scanning the empty room with bomb-sniffing dogs. “On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess,” Chairman Ajit Pai told the room before the evacuation. Security advised those in their room to leave their belongings behind; reporters waited in the hallway until the room was cleared for re-entry. The commission eventually voted 3-2 to end the Obama-era rules.
The Fight Continues: This might be a temporary win...:



Thursday, December 14, 2017

Paul Ryan to Retire, tells Americans to have "People" (babies), missed the Rise of Robots and a Basic Income!!!



As the story goes, Ryan wants to raise campaign money for other candidates, win reelection, and then step down. That assumes voters are that dumb? He's denied the story, but in the weakest way.

People should have...People (babies): Paul Ryan's latest stunning condescending statement about labor? He foresees a shortage of "people," and because we're all dumb as boards and can't make these decisions on our own, he's got some advice; give birth to "people."



Funny thing about having more people...they're going to need jobs. Paul Ryan assumes we're going to see future labor shortages...behind the times Paul. Robotics, automation...:
"Artificial intelligence and automation is going to have a lot of impact on the workforce," said Steve Jahn, executive director of Momentum West, an economic development group in northwestern Wisconsin. "There is forced automation because of forced challenges with workforce."

The implications extend from farming and manufacturing to fast food servers being replaced by kiosks, or taxi drivers and truck drivers being replaced by self-driving vehicles.

Loan officers, financial advisers, retail clerks and workers in dozens of professions face likely replacement due to automation, according to a 2013 Oxford University studyThe Oxford University study found such jobs as lawyers, journalists and teachers to be least likely to be replaced by automation.

"It's getting very competitive out there," GEA regional equipment sales representative Rudy Sennhenn said. "It means he either pays up now (to automate) or he's going to lose a good employee to another farmer or he's going to end up paying (the worker) more."

The loss of low-skilled, manual jobs to automation is a well-worn tale, especially in a state like Wisconsin with its concentration of agriculture and manufacturing.

Wisconsin has 2.5 robots per thousand workers, the 10th highest concentration among the 50 states, according to an analysis of Moody's Analytics data by the Brookings Institution. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of industrial robots grew 124 percent in Wisconsin, only 36th highest in the country.

Demand for robots is expected to accelerate as a result of the state's growing worker shortage. In the past few years, (many companies) raised hourly wages from $8 to $10 an hour, but workers are asking for as much as $14 an hour now, a sign of the tight labor market and the economic reality of how difficult it is to live on less.
Basic Income Coming: Which brings us back to the oncoming debate over a "basic income." Heck, even Nixon wanted to provide a subsidized income once:
The idea is not exactly new—Thomas Paine proposed a form of basic income back in 1797—but in this country, aside from Social Security and Medicare, most government payouts are based on individual need rather than simply citizenship. Lately, however, tech leaders, including Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, have begun pushing the concept as a potential solution to the economic anxiety brought on by automation and globalization—anxiety the tech industry has played its own role in creating.

If robots and offshoring take all the jobs, or at the very least displace the low-skilled ones, the thinking goes, there may come a time when there simply aren’t enough jobs to go around. What then? In "What Happened," Hillary Clinton writes that she considered rolling out a basic income policy during her 2016 campaign. In September, Silicon Valley congressperson Ro Khanna introduced a bill calling for a $1.4 trillion expansion of the earned income tax credit, which would effectively create a small basic income for low-income working people via tax credits. And the mayor of Stockton, California, recently announced that beginning in August 2018, the city plans to give some of its 300,000 citizens $500 a month, an experiment being funded by Hughes’s organization, the Economic Security Project.
And maybe what Republicans keep referring to as "bad public schools" would do much better if poverty didn't hammer kids down and set them down the wrong path. A basic income solves the crime problem as well:

In two studies, one published in 2003 and a follow-up in 2010, Jane Costello, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, compared children who were lifted out of poverty after the casino opened to those who had never been poor. She scored them based on the presence of emotional disorders, as well as behavioral disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Before the casino opened, Costello found that poor children scored twice as high as those who were not poor for symptoms of psychiatric disorders. But after the casino opened, the children whose families’ income rose (casino payments) above the poverty rate showed a 40 percent decrease in behavioral problems. She found something else: The younger the Cherokee children were when the casino opened, the better they fared compared to the older Cherokee children and to rural whites. This was true for emotional and behavioral problems as well as drug and alcohol addiction.

One fear about basic income is that people will be content living on their subsidies and stop working. But a 2010 analysis of the data, led by Randall Akee, who researches public policy at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, found no impact on overall labor participation.

Akee also looked at the effects of the money on education and found that more money in the household meant children stayed in school longer. The impact on crime was just as profound: A $4,000 increase in household income reduced the poorest kids’ chances of committing a minor crime by 22 percent.

All of this amounted to substantial financial benefits for the community as a whole. “This translates to fewer kids in jail, fewer kids in in-patient care,” Costello says. “Then there are the other costs you can’t calculate. The cost of people not killing themselves? That’s a hard one.”


One fear about basic income is that people will be content living on their subsidies and stop working. But a 2010 analysis of the data, led by Randall Akee, who researches public policy at UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs, found no impact on overall labor participation.

Akee also looked at the effects of the money on education and found that more money in the household meant children stayed in school longer. The impact on crime was just as profound: A $4,000 increase in household income reduced the poorest kids’ chances of committing a minor crime by 22 percent.

All of this amounted to substantial financial benefits for the community as a whole. “This translates to fewer kids in jail, fewer kids in in-patient care,” Costello says. “Then there are the other costs you can’t calculate. The cost of people not killing themselves? That’s a hard one.”
Note: Spell correct nailed me on "Stash," which should have been "Stache." Heck, just elect Randy  Bryce.

Local Control Gone!!! These are Walker's Values and "Principles, and they are good."

Freedom, liberty, and free markets are supposed to be dangerous to the consuming public.

Stone Cold Brutal treatment of Americans: Remember Sandy Hook, remember the Las Vegas shooting...Republicans did nothing. Republicans chilling indifference was stunning.

How about the Republicans "free market" health care plan that would drop 30 million from coverage. Preventable deaths will increase again dramatically, people will suffer, die...no problem.

Local Control Myth...GONE!!!: So lets scratch another GOP lie off the list, along with "free markets" (Foxconn) and Corporate Tax Cuts (lousy jobs numbers).

Remember the posted list documenting the massive attack on local control by Scott Walker Republicans by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau? Here's my own detailed jaw-dropping list. 

One of the worst attacks seemed to come out of nowhere. Walker wanted to let new apartment buildings be built without putting fire sprinklers in. It had a strained ridiculousness about it, until you found out it was a gift to the Wisconsin Builders Association;



So from the party of bankrupt values, that endorsed Roy Moore and sexual assaulter Donald Trump, here's the overriding principle behind killing local control:
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.
More Dangerous Reckless Deregulation: George Lakoff said once, regulations are "protections." Get rid of the protections, and the risk levels skyrocket. "As is" consumerism basically. Caveat Emptor, "buyer beware." The end of local control is upon us... "these are our principles and they are good." Check out this extremely detailed example, a list from the Oshkosh city manager.
Two bills sponsored by Republicans Sen. Frank Lasee and Rep. Rob Brooks focus on tenant-landlord rights and development. They would also require:
1. Mail notice to landlords before charging for ordinances related to maintaining a property ... a city couldn’t clear icy sidewalks before providing mailed notices to property owners.

2. Prohibit systematic building inspections for rental properties and make such inspections complaint-based. Currently, Madison does rotating, systematic building inspections of high-density rental areas with each area inspected every seven to 10 years, building inspector George Hank and others said. Inspectors check the exteriors of all buildings in the area, and the interiors of residential rental properties. “It’s the broken window thing,” Hank said, noting that wooden porches or foundations in older properties can badly deteriorate without maintenance. “When one property starts to go bad, it can start a race to the bottom. It’s to preserve neighborhood values.” Curt Witynski, deputy executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, said, “This change in the law protects irresponsible landlords while jeopardizing the health and safety of students, families, and other vulnerable individuals living in potentially dangerous conditions who decline to file complaints to avoid being evicted.”

3. Require municipalities to let private property owners use materials that have a “substantial similar appearance” to original material when making repairs or replacements to landmarks or properties in historic districts.

4. Prohibit municipalities from creating or enforcing ordinances related to storm water management unless in strict conformance to uniform statewide standards.Limit rental inspection fees to the actual and direct cost of performing the inspection.

5. Prohibit municipalities from regulating the aesthetics of the interiors of homes.

6. Limit rental inspection fees to the actual and direct cost of performing the inspection.

7. Exempt properties that retain at least 90 percent of stormwater from any new or additional stormwater service charges.

8. Prohibit municipalities from stopping people from working on private construction projects on weekends.

9. Impose new, unfunded reporting mandates.

10. The bill “seeks to lower the cost of new development at the local level by further restricting the use of impact and park fees, requiring housing affordability audits, incentivising higher density and more affordable housing,” Lasee and Brooks said in a memo.

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities opposes both bills. In the past six years, landlord-friendly changes to state laws have given Wisconsin housing providers more power to reject prospective tenants and easier ways to oust current ones.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Narcissist Prayer.


Trump Economic all time highs...BS!

Like Scott Walker, Trump likes to brag endlessly (I wish Obama had done this) about how certain parts of the economy are growing. Trump's numbers are just a continuation of growth that started under Obama, nothing more and nothing less. 

But when I saw this...well, I had to set the record straight. 


What's missed in all this are the massive jobs losses and business closings. 

Donald Trump has presided over massive job losses due to outsourcing and plant closings, despite promising to keep jobs stateside, after years of job growth under President Obama: Donald Trump has presided over job growth (that) has dropped to a six-year low. Since January of this year, 243,108 employees have received notices of plant closings and layoffs.

-12,241 notices about plant closing and layoffs were handed out in Florida. 10,396 workers got the bad news in Ohio. 6,564 notices went out in Michigan.

-In Indiana, 8,313 Americans received the bad news from their employers about losing their positions. Many of those people were employees at Carrier, where Trump made grandiose promises about keeping jobs slated to be outsourced in America ... jobs being sent overseas have reached the highest rate in five years.

-At the same time, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics revealed that job growth is down. America experienced job growth of 250,000 per month in 2014, 226,000 per month in 2015, and 187,000 per month in 2016 — but that measure is down to 163,000 a month under Trump.
Check out trumpeconomy.com for even more.

"Dumb" rule for Airlines to tell customers about baggage fee when booking flight dumped by Trump!

Caveat Emptor, "Buyer Beware," is back with a vengeance. The concept is irrational, unsettling and destructive because someone is going to get hurt, but hey, at least you were warned.

Sold "As Is?" Apparently, Republicans want to make America great again by creating a market system that sells things "as is." Gulp. Think of it as an almost unimaginable low bar, that can only get lower.

Trump's vengeful repeal of anything Obama continues...
DOT Suspends Proposed Rule That Would Force Airlines To Show Baggage Fee At Booking
Why? 
The department said in a notice posted online ... the rules would have been “of limited public benefit.” The DOT also withdrew a rulemaking to require airlines disclose profits on ancillary fees.
The Republican vision of a deregulated American future is here now...
Airlines are already exempt from all state and local consumer protection, much antitrust law, most other federal regulations and tort law. The DOT is their sole regulator. If the DOT refuses to correct abuses or enforce existing regulations, and repeals existing regulations, airlines will be the first US industry to have stripped the public of all economic protections from unfair predatory practices. 
 The right wing is loving it, providing this insightful back-to-basics observation...
Gary Leff of website View from the Wing wrote this as part of his explanation as to why the department formally dropped the proposed regulation: "Because it was dumb."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Farmers Shocked by Proposed AG Cuts" by their own Republican politicians.

The biggest enemy against Wisconsin's 4 major economic driving forces; parks, clean drinking water, recreational camping, and hunting, is Republican Rep. Tom Tiffany, who said recently that his constituents in rural areas are always complaining to him about big government job-killing regulations.

Well, Tiffany's recent answer to that is to prevent those same constituents from having any say on the impact of local mining on their quality of life and local infrastructure.

Republicans Back Stab Rural Towns and Farmers: Rural conservative Republican voters are now on the receiving end of small government...like they didn't think they were next on the chopping block:
Congress and Farmers Are Shocked By Proposed USDA Cuts: The U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't even try to act enthusiastic as they unveiled details of their agency's proposed 2018 20 percent cut in the USDA's discretionary budget. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "It's my job to implement that plan."
Trump/Republican Anti-Jobs Plan: Ironic isn't it?
The Trump administration wants to cut: agricultural research, food aid for the poor, and programs that benefit small rural communities ... also includes a surprise that's particularly unwelcome to big Midwestern farmers ... new restrictions on government-subsidized crop insurance, a program that is a particular favorite of grain farmers. 
Alligator Tears!!! Really, it was okay to go after liberal big cities and states, but now it ain't okay to be on the receiving end?
The American Farm Bureau Federation said that "this budget fails agriculture and rural America." Similar criticism came from the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association. 
Of course, conniving Republicans want you to believe just the opposite, an easy sell job to their true believer voter base:
The Republican chairmen of the agricultural committees ... promised to "fight to ensure farmers have a strong safety net."

1. Reduces funding for the Agricultural Research Service by $360 million, or 26 percent. This would mean closing the doors at 17 research centers.

2. Limit the ability of large farmers to take advantage of those programs and cut government subsidies by more than $2.5 billion each year.

2. Completely eliminates the country's flagship program of international food aid, called Food For Peace. The current USDA budget includes $1.7 billion for that program.
Liberal U.S. enemies of the state, you know - Democrats, had the nerve to suggest...:
Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) said in a statement that "this budget is going nowhere on Capitol Hill but it is still a statement of priorities and should be of concern to all rural Americans." Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) called it "harsh and short-sighted."
Get back to work you lazy kids, seniors and disabled? Yes, that's what Republicans are saying:

Cut SNAP spending by $4.6 billion in 2018, increasing to more than $20 billion annually by 2022. Ag. Sec. Sonny Perdue said "We want to provide the nutrition people need, but we also want to help them transition from government programs, back to work, and into lives of independence.

Nearly two-thirds were under 18, over 60 or disabledaccording to the USDAAbout 44 million people participated in SNAP each month in 2016, at a cost of $70.9 billion. 
Wait a minute, I thought Republicans wanted food stamp "free loaders" to only buy healthy foods: "Healthy" is a relative term, apparently, since Republicans trashed healthy school lunch guidelines for the more traditional "American," salty, starch laden junk foods we loved 50 years ago. Remember, this is now the Food and Nutrition Service run by Republicans, who include this caveat: "...respond to the changing economic conditions while ensuring we remain vigilant stewards of taxpayer dollars:"
Perdue would, among other things, eliminate the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which establishes dietary guidelines and studies what it costs to follow them. That work instead would fall under the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Walker's Foxconn cash handout Unconstitutional? Right Wing Lawsuit happy "Institute" might kill Deal.

Sweet irony: The conservative lawsuit mill Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty might put a stop to taxpayer handouts to Foxconn and other corporate crybabies begging for money. 

And don't expect the partisan and incompetent DOJ to make a coherent legal argument either to stop this train wreck from happening. This is what happens when Republican ideology collides with contradictory and convenient...Republican ideology. Excuse my gloating. 
Esenberg
The $10 billion Foxconn factory in Racine County could be “imperiled” by a lawsuit challenging an economic development project in Eau Claire, according to the state Department of Justice. At issue is whether local economic incentives can result in cash payments to a private developer or company — which in the Eau Claire case include $1.5 million, but in the Foxconn case total $100 million.

The state wants in to intervene in the lawsuit, Voters with Facts v. City of Eau Claire, filed on behalf of some Eau Claire taxpayers who say the city abused Wisconsin's tax incremental financing law that includes cash payments to a private developer or company.

The lawsuit brought by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of the taxpayers is currently before the state Supreme Court. Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin says that if the court were to side with the plaintiffs, it "would imperil numerous projects critical to Wisconsin's economic growth, including the Village of Mount Pleasant's recent agreement with Foxconn Technology Group." That project includes $100 million in cash incentives.

The case is now before the state Supreme Court after both the district court and an appellate court ruled in favor of the city.
Rick Esenberg, the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Eau Claire lawsuit, is arguing that the $1.5 million direct payment plus half of the redevelopment payment are an illegal property tax rebate for the property owner, which would violate the state Constitution’s requirement that property taxes be assessed in a uniform manner, known as the uniformity clause. Esenberg said it’s possible the argument could also apply to Foxconn.

Schimel botches smear campaign against Scott Walker "opponents" in John Doe investigation!!!

First things first: My first general impression of AG Brad Schimel, before he was elected, was right on the mark:


Schimel Incompetence: Schimel's latest partisan attack against Walker's supposed enemies is a disaster, especially his attempted smear of a Journal Sentinel reporters wife. Let's start at the dubious beginning.

Schimel's already Botched "get even" Investigation: As a shot across the bow to anyone else even thinking about questioning the Walker Authority, Schimel is asking a judge to move ahead with "contempt proceedings" against investigators in the Scott Walker John Doe probe. A still unknown source leaked documents to The Guardian. ("Contempt" simply means "being disobedient to a court that defies their authority.")
In a 91-page report the Republican attorney general sharply criticized the probe's leaders ... "The systemic and pervasive mishandling of John Doe evidence likely resulted in circumstances allowing the Guardian leak in the first place." Special prosecutor Francis Schmitz and the team he led ... handled seized material after courts told them they could not review it further or had to get rid of it.
Republicans Off the Hook - have Citizen rights Above the Law: I'm still waiting for a reporter to please ask Schimel why the courts orders don't apply to the Republican operatives:
Despite secrecy orders ... Schimel investigated the leaks to the Guardian but not ones that were critical of the probe and appeared to be leaked by its targets. Schimel said ... Eric O'Keefe, the head of Wisconsin Club for Growth and a target of Chisholm's probe, had leaked information because "he has a right as a citizen to say whatever he wants. It would smack frankly of authoritarian countries” if someone were barred from saying his or her home had been raided, Schimel said.
DOH!!! Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Demands Schimel Correction: Just how bad is Schimel's "investigation?" You can't make this stuff up:
State Attorney General Brad Schimel said Thursday he will correct a court report in which he falsely implied a reporter’s wife had provided information to the Journal Sentinel while working for the state Supreme Court ... reporter Daniel Bice's wife, Sonya, did not work for the Supreme Court in the year stated in Schimel's report or even in the building he referred to.
So Schimel Lied to Judge: Yup, he lied, according to Journal Sentinel Editor George Stanley:

The reasons Schimel gave for deleting the inaccurate information were as false as the footnote itself. "The Journal Sentinel did not identify sources, nor did the Justice Department ever have any 'other evidence' to support its false footnote," said Stanley.
The Journal Sentinel sets the Record Straight: Calling into question Schimel's entire smear investigation, here's how wrong Schimel got it in his simple bogus footnote:
Schimel’s report included a footnote that stated: “Although DOJ did not announce its visit to the Supreme Court, and was otherwise inconspicuous, the visit was reported by the Journal Sentinel Reporter Daniel Bice, whose wife works in the same office space. DOJ has undertaken no action to determine why a member of the court staff would have reported this visit.”

Sonya Bice had not worked for the Supreme Court for more than a year by the time of the visit from investigators. She never worked in the office space at 110 E. Main St.

In addition, while Sonya Bice worked as a lawyer in the state Capitol for Supreme Court Justice Patrick Crooks, from 2008 until his death in 2015, she did not handle any matters related to the John Doe investigation.
Similarly, Daniel Bice did not report on any matters before the Supreme Court during the years his wife worked for Crooks.
Even radio propagandist Vicki McKenna got this one right: While it was pretty obvious Schimel was an idiot, even McKenna couldn't keep her typical low information Republican from voting for him. Be amused...:



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Ryan declares cuts Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the real reason we have deficits?

Even before they increase the deficit with their tax cut bill, Republicans are still blaming spending and our social safety nets for the higher US debt. Check out what Bruce Bartlett and Jess McIntosh had to say about cutting "entitlements..."


There's really not much I can add to this jaw-dropping ballsy anti-American voter agenda. They really believe this stuff. WashingtonPost:
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that congressional Republicans will aim next year to reduce spending on both federal health care and anti-poverty programs, citing the need to reduce America's deficit.
“We're going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit. Frankly, it's the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements — because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.” -Paul Ryan
Ryan: “I think the president is understanding that choice and competition works everywhere in health care, especially in Medicare ... This has been my big thing for many, many years. I think it's the biggest entitlement we've got to reform. What it is we really need to convert our health care system to a patient-centered system, so we have more choices and more competition. Choice and competition brings down prices and improves quality; government-run health care is the opposite of that. So I think these reforms that we've been talking about, that we're still going to keep pushing, that will help not just make Medicaid less expensive ... but it will help Medicare as well. We have a welfare system that's trapping people in poverty and effectively paying people not to work. We've got to work on that.”

Top Republicans aim to cut government spending next year. Republicans are close to passing a tax bill nonpartisan analysts say would increase the deficit by at least $1 trillion over a decade. Senate Republicans have cited the need to reduce the national deficit while growing the economy.“You also have to bring spending under control. And not discretionary spending. That isn't the driver of our debt. The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said last week.

While whipping votes for the tax bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) attacked “liberal programs” for the poor and said Congress needed to stop wasting Americans' money. “We're spending ourselves into bankruptcy. Now, let's just be honest about it: We're in trouble. This country is in deep debt. You don't help the poor by not solving the problems of debt, and you don't help the poor by continually pushing more and more liberal programs through.”

Liberals have alleged that the GOP will use higher deficits — in part caused by their tax bill — as a pretext to accomplish the long-held conservative policy objective of cutting government health-care and social-service spending, which the left believes would hit the poor the hardest.

“What’s coming next is all too predictable: The deficit hawks will come flying back after this bill becomes law,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the finance committee, during a speech on the tax debate. “Republicans are already saying 'entitlement reform' and 'welfare reform' are next up on the docket. But nobody should be fooled — that’s just code for attacks on Medicaid, on Medicare, on Social Security, on anti-hunger programs.”

Paul Ryan get Tax Cut backing from Fake Economist, a convicted forger, a low-level Tax Department office assistant at the New York State...

Any thinking person would try saving and funding our social programs the normal way, step by step, until they're improved, leaner, more effective, and fully funded. Then they would have every right to talk about tax cuts or tax increases.

The Cult of Conservatism: It's a strong belief in nothing really until it's convenient, then they'll back that up with the Second Amendment. Take a look at this outrageous Paul Ryan con. The Intercept-Lee Fang:
GOP’S LIST OF ECONOMISTS BACKING TAX CUT INCLUDES GHOSTS, OFFICE ASSISTANTS, EX-FELONS, AND A SPRINKLING OF REAL ECONOMISTS
Will this be enough, finally, to boot Paul Ryan to the curb? How much further out of touch with every day struggling Wisconsinites does someone have to get before cutting them lose? 

House Speaker Paul Ryan released a letter this week signed by 137 economists who say they strongly endorse the Republican legislation. But a review of the economists listed on the letter reveals a number of discrepancies, including economists that are supposedly still academics but are actually retired, and others who have never been employed as economists. One might not even exist ... Gil Sylvia of the University of Georgia ... a university representative told The Intercept that no one with the name Gil Sylvia is employed there.
Wait, there's more...
Another signatory to the RATE letter, Seth Bied, is not an economist. He is a low-level office assistant at the New York State Tax Department, whose spokesperson said Bied does not remember signing the economists’ letter.

Other names on the economists’ letter may raise eyebrows. John P. Eleazarian is listed as an economist with the American Economic Association. Eleazarian is a former attorney who lost his law license and the ability to practice law in California after he was convicted and sentenced to six months in prison for forging a judicial signature and falsifying other documents.

Others on the list are part of advocacy groups that have made tax cuts their biggest legislative priority. James C. Miller III, one of the signatories, is an official with Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers-run advocacy organization hellbent on passing tax cut legislation. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, another signatory, is head of the American Action Forum, the sister group of the American Action Network, the dark-money group aligned with Ryan’s political team.
NOTE: I keep telling people about how George W. Bush threw away the surplus with his tax cuts after telling Americans that any time there's extra tax revenue, they should get it back...instead of paying down the debt. Well, here's Lee Fang with a little more:

In 2001, while debating former President George W. Bush’s tax cut package, GOP leaders widely distributed a column by economist R. Glenn Hubbard claiming that the legislation “won’t hurt the surplus.” That prediction, of course, turned out to be laughably false.

Two Ways Republicans are defunding Public Education.

It may sound cliched, but Republicans have a national plan to destroy public education while shoveling lots of tax-free money to the wealthy. It's a two-step con game that steals money from all public schools and colleges while penalizing Democratically populated higher tax states, those "playpens of the left:"
On the K-12 side, cuts that impact the source of public school funding are coming hand in hand with special tax benefits for families with means to put aside money for private school tuition.

On the higher education side, Stephen Moore, a conservative economist and adviser to the Trump campaign, told Bloomberg that Republicans are going after university endowments because "universities have become playpens of the left." A recent Pew poll showed 58 percent of Republicans say colleges have a negative effect on the country, while 72 percent of Democrats say they have a positive impact.
That's right, nearly 60% of Republicans blame colleges for our problems. And then they complain that liberals think they're stupid. Hey, if the dunce cap fits...it's not like we don't have proof:


Letting lower-income Americans more easily Drain their College Savings...suddenly no college:

1. Taxpayers can currently save money for college through a 529 plan, where earnings grow tax-free. Republicans want to let taxpayers use 529s to pay for K-12 tuition at private and religious schools, too. Families can already do that; Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, but these have low contribution limits and aren't open to high-income Americans. "I think the only taxpayers who will be in a position to benefit from the 529 change are very rich people," says Nora Gordon, an economist. 

2. Republicans are proposing another change that could hurt funding for the nation's public schools ... getting rid of the income and sales tax deductions ... "make it more painful for residents to increase local property taxes to pay for public schools." Nora Gordon of Georgetown said, "They're states with higher cost of living, higher property values, and states that spend more on their state and local government."

3. NOTE: According to a recent analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, after adjusting for inflation, "twenty-nine states provided less overall state funding per student in the 2015 school year than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

No One Read the Bill: Republicans "accidentally nullified all of their corporate donors' favorite deductions."

Oddly, I haven't seen this story reported on cable news anywhere. 
Seems like a really HUGE deal, right? Put another way...
While Republicans were manically outlining their plans to take from the poor to give to the Trumps, they also, accidentally, nullified all of their corporate donors’ favorite deductionsThe Senate bill brings the normal corporate rate down to 20 percent — while leaving the alternative minimum rate at … 20 percent. The legislation would still allow corporations to claim a wide variety of tax credits and deductions — it just renders all them completely worthless. Companies can either take no deductions, and pay a 20 percent rate — or take lots of deductions … and pay a 20 percent rate.
And you can thank Dumb Ron Johnson, who New York Magazine named specifically:
Last Thursday, the Senate tax bill already cost about that sum, and then McConnell started making expensive promises to his few holdouts. Susan Collins wanted a $10,000 property tax deduction for Americans in high-tax states; Ron Johnson wanted a 23 percent business-income deduction for the company that his family owns. This left the Senate Majority Leader searching under the tax code’s couch cushions for new sources of revenue.

Eventually, he came upon the corporate alternative minimum tax (AMT). The GOP had originally intended to abolish the AMT. But on Friday, with the clock running out — and money running short — Senate Republicans put the AMT back into their bill. Unfortunately for McConnell, they forgot to lower the AMT after doing so (AMT prevents companies from paying any less than 20 percent on their profits).
There's a reason Republicans don't like government; they can't manage their way out of a paper bag and they're ruled by anecdotes and wildly fanciful theories that have failed over and over.
Senate Republicans rewrote the American tax code over lunch — and passed their (partially handwritten) legislation around 2 a.m. the following morning. Mitch McConnell never subjected his blueprint for restructuring the world’s largest economy to a single hearing. His caucus never invited experts to offer insight into the bill’s implications for housing, health care, higher education, outsourcing, or tax evasion. 

This haste had an upside for the Senate GOP: It allowed the party to pass deeply unpopular changes to the tax code before the public had time to learn about them. But approaching major legislation like an Adderall-addled sophomore approaches an overdue term paper came with a minor drawback: It forced the party to pass a tax bill before they had time to read it.
GOP Sinks Future Economy by discouraging major research and development:
As The Wall Street Journal reports: The biggest consequence could be the research credit, often used by manufacturers, technology firms and pharmaceutical companies ... Under the credit, companies get money back from the government for what they spend on innovation, often for wages of scientists and engineers.
I think the following comment sums up the GOP tax cut bill, and it's unintended consequences very well:
… Robert Murray, of Murray Energy Corp., an Ohio-based firm and the largest privately held U.S. coal-mining company, complained ... the Senate tax plan would raise his company’s tax bill by $60 million. “What the Senate did, in their befuddled mess, is drove me out of business and then bragged about the fact that they got some tax reform passed,” Mr. Murray said in an interview Sunday. “This is not job creation. This is not stimulating income. This is driving a whole sector of our community into nonexistence.”

Walker/Trump Coal Revival Dead, thanks to Big Energy/Changing Market.

Is the coal industry the victim of liberal green energy attacks? Nope.

One publication headline read, "Tweedle Dumb" to describe a recent tweet by Trump. Yup. Which brings me to Trump's promise to not just bring coal back from the dead, but to bash liberal Democrats and Hillary Clinton for trying to kill coal industry jobs.

Reality - like the facts - just keep getting in the way: "Free market" guys Scott Walker and Trump want to bring coal back, by using big government deregulation so they can kill green energy jobs.

Their grand scheme has been exposed...by market forces. Go figure...:
For decades We Energies' coal-fired power plant in Pleasant Prairie ... announced it was closing the plant permanently as the company moves to cheaper natural gas and other energy sources. The decision is the latest sign of coal’s diminishing status as a source of electric generation as utilities turn to natural gas, surplus wholesale power and renewable sources such as wind and solar.
That's not all folks, you can' make this up:
Another Coal-fired Plant Will Close in Wisconsin: WEC Energy Group continues to move away from coal-fired power in its portfolio ... Wisconsin Public Service (WPS), a WEC subsidiary, to close the Pulliam Power Plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as early as next fall.
Will Republican voters notice they've been played? Duped? Will they want to believe these con artists again?

Monday, December 4, 2017

Grassley shines a light on Crazy GOP Estate Tax Thinking....

This is weird. I had saved this odd Chuck Grassley comment from NPR but never found the inspiration to post it. Now I can.

Grassley lit up Twitter with his bizarre reason to repeal the estate tax...

“I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing — as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” Grassley told the Des Moines Register

That was surreal. Here's my audio clip of Grassley on NPR backing the investor class, and ripping those living paycheck to paycheck spending everything they have, you know, consumerism that boosts demand, the economy and creates jobs. That's investing in America to me. Investors who don't spend? Grassley wants to reward them:
Grassley: "...show appreciation for people who have lived frugally early in their life, delayed spending so they could save. Seems to me there ought to be some incentive and reward for those who work and save and invest in America, as opposed to those who live day-to-day. You could take the same $100,000 income for two people, one of them, they spend it, have it all spent by the end of the year, and the others have saved a fourth of it and invested and create jobs, and leave something for the future.

The first person leaves nothing for the future...I'm giving you a philosophical reason for recognizing savings, vs those who want to live high on the hog and not save anything and invest in the commodities."

Here Grassley can't think of any farmers who would have to pay an estate tax, but is the issue legitimate? Well, you'd have to ask the farmers...anecdotal proof:


Walker targets workers in Chicago and elsewhere, bypassing hard hit Milwaukee, Racine and rest of State.

Scott Walker has washed his hands of every out of work Wisconsinite, giving up on them (too much work I guess) while seeking an outside labor force from Illinois. Wow, what an idea; take the easy way out after trashing public education, without ever lifting a figure to train, retrain, or coordinate employers with schools to encourage apprenticeship programs statewide. Oh, and with low unemployment, we're going to need an Illinois Foxconn workforce that bypasses the struggling Milwaukee/Racine jobless. 
Gov. Scott Walker’s announcement of a $6.8 million marketing and advertising campaign aimed at Midwestern millennials, returning military veterans and alumni of the state’s public and private colleges … promote the state’s industry mix, recreation, education, arts, health care.
Walker has had only one agenda; push a manufacturing renaissance and not an “industry mix.” Just as bad, he's defunded state parks and deregulated hunting (“recreation”), cut “education” especially the “arts,” and opposes a right to “health care.”

Big Corporate Special Interest Panics Walker: Oops, it'll be interesting to see how Walker spins his concentrated jobs effort in southeastern Wisconsin to all those resentful "forgotten" rural Republican voters who appear to have drawn the short straw again:
"Walker says German candy-maker Haribo was concerned about its ability to find workers for its planned Wisconsin gummy bear factory that will employ 400 people in Pleasant Prairie after news broke that Foxconn Technology Group was building a massive facility nearby. Walker met with company officials to calm their fears. Foxconn plans to employ between 3,000 and 13,000 workers 13 miles away in Mount Pleasant."
"Cheesy Image of State Needs an Update?" In the paper edition of the Wisconsin State Journal, this brutally honest headline (changed and softened online) exposes the Republicans unabashedly elitist view that the states major nationally known industries are an embarrassment that we need to run from:


Remember, our corporate whiny elitist snobs want to change our state license plate logo from Americas Dairyland to something generic or perhaps Walker's latest tourist roadside attraction:


After changing the online headline from an insult to "Fighting misperceptions about Wisconsin in the hunt for workers," right-wing business columnist and "wordsmith" Tom Still failed miserably to frame the GOP's distaste for Wisconsin image of cheese and farmers. Sounding whiny, petty and outright elitist...:  
It’s no secret that Wisconsin is a secret when it comes to most things other than cheese, farms and the Green Bay Packers. That branding dilemma…Job diversity means choosing between careers in curds, Colby or Cheddar.

The combination of a looming worker deficit and the impending arrival of high-tech manufacturers such as Foxconn has created a moment in which Wisconsin must finally get serious about attracting more people and selling itself as a well-rounded place to live, work and play.

Wisconsinites Moving Out: Never mind that Republicans have trashed the liberal out-of-touch science tech jobs leader Dane County and those elitist tech researchers at the University of Wisconsin. With no increase in the minimum wage and right-to-make-less labor laws...
WSJ: Despite a new report showing Wisconsin has the fastest-shrinking middle class in the U.S., the Gov. Scott Walker administration says the state is headed in the right direction.

March 24, 2015: Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000, according to a new report. The Pew Charitable Trust report showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the percentage of families considered "middle class."

A declining population, particularly when residents are moving out of state, often can be traced to a lack of job opportunities or a low quality of life. Between 2010 and 2015, 14,210 more people moved out of the state than moved in, equivalent to a net population loss of 0.2% over that time. Wisconsin is one of just 14 states with a net negative migration over the last five years.
Even more incredible, after Walker just appeared in a campaign ad supporting Ill. Gov. Rauner's reelection effort, our backstabbing governor is begging Chicagoans to move to Wisconsin. No really, this is nuts: 
Reach out to Millennials in Chicago and nearby on the theory that they’re reaching an age in which starting a family and leading a more balanced life is better than living in a tiny apartment and fighting rush-hour traffic. 

For example, multimedia ads would pose illustrated choices such as:
1. “An hour in traffic … or an hour with friends?”

2. “One-hour commute … or one-hour bike ride?” (MY GOD, Walker passed a "provision that prohibits local jurisdictions and the state DOT from condemning property to 'establish or extend' recreational trails, bicycle commuter paths, bike lanes or sidewalks.")

3. “Shoebox on the third floor … or loft in the Third Ward?”
Of course, Tom Still couldn't help but bash the state's reputation one more time, while ignoring Walker's admitted "divide and conquer" agenda where he once praised the statewide partisan anger pitting neighbor against neighbor as a healthy debate:
A point yet to be addressed is how to overcome a belief, which surfaced in the 2015 perception survey, that Wisconsin isn’t very tolerant. Part of persuading people to relocate is assuring them they won’t become strangers in a new land ... maybe this time the state will recognize it must cut a big block of cheese if it hopes to attract and retain tomorrow’s workers.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Wisconsin's Walker and Ryan can't be bothered with Sexual Assault....

Inaction by Republicans and Paul Ryan, not to mention a sleepy-eyed shrug from Scott Walker, will forever brand these guys as family values failures, and an "anything for power" political monster.

Here's audio of Paul Ryan's jaw-dropping juvenile attempt to make it seem like Trump's assault charges aren't his problem. NPR:


Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep asked Ryan about the differences between the allegations against Moore — which the House speaker reiterated he believed were "very, very credible" — and the accusations against Trump.

The speaker said he was "focused on Congress" because that's where Moore wants to go. "My job here as speaker of the House is to help make sure that Congress is an institution that we're proud of and that's what I'm focused on," he said. Asked again about the differences, Ryan said, "I haven't spent my time reviewing the difference in these two cases."
Scott Walker was asked about Trump and, well, the answer is pretty much another empty GOP talking point; it's over, we had an election...but he still takes it very seriously: