Saturday, May 31, 2014

WISGOP Store Shelves Bare, Devoid of Ideas, and thankfully, Clearance Priced.

Talk about living in the past! Here's what you can buy from the P.T. Barnum's of American politics, the Republican Party:

Keep in mind, these guys are "helping" reelect Walker.

Don't embarrass easily? Try one of these "party of ideas" buttons?

WISGOP Store Shelves Bare, Devoid of Ideas, and thankfully, Clearance Priced.

Talk about living in the past! Here's what you can buy from the P.T. Barnum's of American politics, the Republican Party:

Don't embarrass easily? Try one of these "party of ideas" buttons?

Big Government Authoritarians Ryan, Senesenbrenner and Duffy vote to federally prosecute anyone carrying out state medical marijuana laws in 26 states.

Not only would Representatives Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner and Sean Duffy try to stop progress, but they would also like to make medical decisions for everyone else. I thought they were against government interference in medical decisions? Roll Call:
STATES’ RIGHTS, MEDICAL MARIJUANA: The House adopted an amendment to HR 4660 (FISCAL 2015 COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCEBUDGET) that would prohibit federal law-enforcement authorities from interfering with the administration of state medical-marijuana laws. Marijuana possession, cultivation and distribution are prosecuted as criminal offenses under federal law. But at least 26 states and the District of Columbia allow the drug to be used legally for medicinal purposes, and two states have legalized it for recreational use as well.

A yes vote was to bar federal intervention in the administration of state marijuana laws: Pocan, Kind, Moore, Petri, Ribble
Voting no against a nationwide movement of marijuana acceptance and to make medical decisions for Americans by Washington bureaucrats? Those bureaucrats are…Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy.

Wisconsin Congressmen voted to basically eliminate legal representation for the Poor and Kill Jobs Nationwide!

Wisconsin Congressmen voted to eliminate legal representation for the Poor, twice.

In a massive job killing effort to make it almost impossible for those in poverty to get a lawyer:
The vast majority of LSC’s funding is used to support local nonprofit organizations via grants for the delivery of civil legal assistance to low-income Americans.
Badger state representatives voted to kill the service completely, before passing a much smaller increase:
The 2015 Appropriations bill would cut current funding by $15 million but is $50 million more than allocate last year. The bill passed at 1:15 a.m. after lawmakers turned back two proposed amendments, one to restore funding to the current level of $365 million, and another to eliminate funding  altogether. Rep. Austin Scott’s (R-Ga.) amendment to eliminate funding for LSC failed by a vote of 116-290.  This is Scott’s third attempt to defund LSC.  

The vote to eliminated funding backed by our state congressional representatives went like this:
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION: The House defeated an amendment to abolish the Legal Services Corporation by eliminating its $350 million budget from HR 4660. With 800 offices nationwide, the LSC provides free legal representation on an as-available basis to individuals and families with incomes below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The LSC’s proposed $350 million budget for next year is $90 million below its fiscal 2010 budget.

A yes vote was to eliminate the Legal Services Corporation: Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Tom Petri, Sean Duffy, and Reid Ribble.
I guess it must be time to take the country back from the…poor? 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ryan's New Tax Plan Gives more to Wealthy Parents with Kids, raises Poor and Middle Class Tax Bracket.

Paul Ryan has a new plan to combat poverty; penalize, tax them and vilify every family out of the public conscience. If enough people hate them, then their sad stories will fill fewer newspapers and disappear forever.

And that "no tax" pledge? Forget it. If it's directed at the poor and middle class, well, it's about time they have a little skin in the game. Got kids? Even worse:
Salon: The right’s new horror show: Forget the talk about modernizing conservatism and making it less nutty. The future's more dangerous than you think.

The so-called reform conservatives released a book of policy proposals last week to much fanfare … the biggest horror show of all is the tax reform proposal, which is nothing more than the usual screw-the-poor pablum.

Their proposed welfare state expansion consists of adding a $2,500 child tax credit to the existing $1,000 child tax credit and personal tax exemption for children …. the restrictions on who can claim these benefits leaves poor families totally out in the cold.

Under the proposal, a family making $70,000 per year who had twins would receive more than $7,000 per year in child welfare payments via the tax code. A family making $10,000 or $15,000 per year who had twins might receive a few hundred dollars in child welfare payments, if any at all. They’d also have the pleasure of seeing their current federal income tax rate of 10 percent bump up to 15 percent. 

Walker steers WEDC money to Donors, with no expectations of job creation.

Scott Walker is proving that being a career politician makes him a lousy business man. If "stand with Walker" supporters like him as governor, they should at least see how he does as chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. It's his baby, and he's botched it up badly:
Too much to ask?
report released today by One Wisconsin Now raises serious questions about who is really benefiting. 

The report found that owners or employees of 30 percent of businesses receiving WEDC assistance contributed to Gov. Walker's campaign or the Republican Governors Association (RGA). Meanwhile these same businesses received almost 60 percent of WEDC economic development funds - $570 million in total. 

WEDC economic development dollars are not resulting in promised job creation. 
Job development is joke, meant to handout even more corporate welfare.

Please, Please, Please Give us the Republican alternative to ObamaCare!!!

What a gift that would be. Not only would it show how flawed the GOP's plan is, but:
1. It would make taxpayers and the insured pay for high risk pools (for preexisting conditions) so insurers can make all the profit.

2. Dump employee coverage at work forcing millions to lose their doctor and the plans they so love.

3. Provide a similar tax credit (like on the exchange) that forces many conservatives to pay for someone else’s coverage.

4. If conservatives didn't like the high co-pays and deductibles in the exchanges, they’ll have a fit over the GOP’s plan to expand Health Savings Accounts, the culprit that brought us those high deductibles in the first place.

5. Or if you or a family member is harmed or dies from a medical error, your family will only get limited compensation (putting a price tag on human life), so insurers don’t have to pay out so much money.
Please, please, please release your plan soon.

And this isn't the first time they've offered up something. I've numbered the points I made above to the GOP plan below. Fox News:
House Republicans are aiming for a vote this year on a GOP health care alternative ObamaCare, in part to show that the party has a position beyond merely repealing the law. The plan would (2) scrap the present system, where workers don’t pay any tax on employer-sponsored care, replacing it with a (3) tax break for the purchase of health policies by all individuals and families. The RSC plan would also (4) expand health-savings accounts, boost (1) federal support for state high-risk pools aimed at helping cover those with pre-existing conditions, while also (5) overhauling medical liability laws.

Introducing a health care alternative would open Republicans to fresh scrutiny, but could also broaden the party’s appeal by allowing them to draw a direct contrast with ObamaCare.
Yes, and I would welcome that contrast, but "broaden the party's appeal?" Nothing appealing about it. None of these ideas are new. Missing, but still in the works, is their ultimate idea to buying insurance across state lines, free from any basic coverage mandate. A la carte basically. 

My conservative friend in Milwaukee is big on this "buy what you can afford" insurance plan. I asked him what would happen if he came down with something he didn't have coverage for. His answer was priceless and typically big government conservative; he would mandate people still get medical treatment. Who pays for that? Isn't that a government mandate? Isn't that just crazy?

The party of responsibility’s message? You don’t have to be responsible. Doh!
The RSC plan would not be the first GOP proposal this year. In January, three GOP senators proposed a health plan in the Senate that would eliminate requirements for individuals to obtain health care and restrict the tax breaks workers get on their employee benefits. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

As Republicans Cut Funding for Public Universities, Tuition went through the roof.

One of the biggest lies pushed by Republicans? The government student loan program is making tuition's skyrocket. That's simply not true. As college funding gets cut by the enemies of public education, the Republicans, tuition rises to make up for the losses. 

For fun, here's a recent video clip of Dumb Ron Johnson spinning that old talking point like it made any sense:

WSJ: He also criticized federal spending on higher education, saying it has caused tuition to increase well above the rate of inflation.

“We have poured money into higher education. … All of our good intentions trying to make college more accessible, we’ve made it less accessible because we’ve made it so much more unaffordable,” he said.
Taking the government out of the student loan program would mean higher interest rates and wonderfully large bank profits. Ya think Johnson knew that?

In a Urban Milwaukee article by Bruce Murphy, Millennials are moving into cities partly because they can't afford houses or cars due to high student loan debt. 

Murphy details the reason for the high cost of tuition; Republican defunding of our public universities:
Young people raised in the suburbs seem to find cities far more interesting places to live. But another factor that may make cities more attractive for young people is the rising level of student debt. For decades, state governments have been decreasing support of public universities, forcing them to jack up tuition. Since 1978, as a story in Bloomberg reported, the cost of college tuition has risen 12-fold — by 1,120 percent!

The average 2014 graduate holding student loans owes $33,000, the Wall Street Journal has reported, up from $10,000 for the 1993 graduating class.

Walker Sabotages Wisconsin's Economic Future, forcing our kids to pay the bill for Upgrades.

Scott Walker is like so many other Republicans; living for the moment. Their lack of vision is applauded by their rabid “small government” supporters (small liberal government, but BIG conservative government).

Ignoring Millennials desire for Mass Transit. Killing high speed rail and Milwaukee’s planned street cars were two huge mistakes that Wisconsin will be paying for many decades to come. Republicans incredibly put off creating a regional metroplex by connecting Chicago to Kenosha to Racine to Milwaukee with high speed rail. This delay only sticks the price of these projects onto the next generation, the very kids the GOP is supposedly so worried about. And high speed rail would have connected that regional hub to Madison and eventually Minneapolis. 

I know when I rode the "L" (Chicago Transit Authority) from Rosemont to and around Chicago, on the blue and red lines with my family, I suddenly realized how much easier and fun getting around could be. If you've never experienced it, than I can see why you might not be excited about the possibility. But it changed my perspective completely.

Which leads me to Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy. His column hits on this growing trend in a way that should make a lot of voters think long and hard about who they have planning what looks like a stuck-in-time future.
As a recent New York Times story noted, … young people raised in the suburbs seem to find cities far more interesting places to live … the proportion of these households with money owed on an automobile dropped from 44 percent to 32 percent. And for technology-oriented young people, using their mobile phone to check when the next bus or streetcar or subway train is arriving, or to order a ride from an Uber driver, is a simple, convenient way to live.
An April 2014 survey of Millennials in 10 U.S. Cities by the Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America found that 60 percent of Millennials want access to better transit options and the ability to be less reliant on a car. About 54 percent said they would consider moving to another city if it had better transportation options, and 46 percent said they would seriously consider giving up their car if they have a range of transportation options available.

WISPIRG study of Wisconsin’s Millennials found similar results: 84 percent said that it was either “very important” or “somewhat important” for them to have transportation options other than a car to get around and 60 percent said they would be “somewhat more likely” or “more likely” to stay in Wisconsin after graduation if they could live in a place where they could get around without driving. 

As the statistics suggest, this is about more than just economics ... It’s about a different way of viewing the world, seeking more urban, more connected and more green ways to live. Yet it’s not at all clear that our politicians and policymakers are taking note of this trend, and how it should shape our decisions on transportation and a host of other issues.

MSNBC's Hayes Dissects the Randa/Walker Ruling.

The giddy right wing trolls that tweet my blog never seem to have any real answers to the stories that quite frankly should trouble them. Possible corruption of a federal judge is good if they rule in favor of Scott Walker? Corporately sponsored junkets of a judge doesn't influence the decisions before them? Seriously? All in with Chris Hayes asked a similar question last night:
Who is the Judge who ended Walker probe? Judge who ended Walker probe attended junkets financed by Koch, Bradley, and other conservative foundations.
While conservative think tanks work on discrediting the judicial branch of government, by criticizing bad activist judges (in their opinion), they're perfectly fine with massaging their own partisan judges with money. What could go wrong? Hayes is joined by NY Times reporter Nicholas Confessore.

Daily Kos: An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms.

The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical. Many of these interests have long opposed limits on money in politics … The content of the seminars has a decidedly pro-corporate bent, and the expensive gifts raise concerns about improper influence when corporate sponsors have a stake in a case before a judge. (Some reports have directly connected the trips to judge's decisions).

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis victim of Abbott's Supporters Abortion Barbie Poster.

I’m beginning to think we no longer have an actual opposition political party. Instead of the Republican Party, we have a politically active gang of immature bullies playing a game of chicken with the country. These aren't really adults, are they?

The following is too bizarre to be taken lightly. This can’t be the next step in campaigning, or the way one party expects to run a country:

Karli Wallace, Campaign Organizer, Democracy for America: We're not talking about a relatively tame little sketch here. We're talking life-sized pictures of a mostly naked Barbie doll with Wendy's face plastered on it -- complete with a pair of scissors and a plastic baby stuck in its belly. I can't remember a political attack as vulgar and sexist as this one. There are no words for how disgusting this is: Last week, allies of Greg Abbott's increasingly desperate campaign covered bus stops and phone booths with posters depicting Wendy Davis as "Abortion Barbie."

Scott Walker negotiating John Doe 2 Deal? There’s no honor among thieves!

This guy is toast...if the rumor is true. As spelled out in the Wall Street Journal:
jsonline: "We've learned that Steven Biskupic, who represents Friends of Scott Walker, has been negotiating with Wisconsin special prosecutor Francis Schmitz to settle the state's investigation. The understandable concern among the direct targets of the John Doe is that Mr. Biskupic will cut a deal that would exonerate Mr. Walker while wresting concessions from some of Mr. Walker's allies," the editorial reads. "...Sounds like Mr. Walker has to decide whose side he's on — his own, or the larger principles he claims to represent."
Scott Walker’s very visible presidential aspirations are revealing just what kind of guy he is, and it ain't pretty. That was obvious from the kind of people he surrounded himself with too.
Gov. Scott Walker's campaign may be negotiating with prosecutors as part of a secret investigation into the 2012 recall campaigns involving him and other candidates, according to an anonymously sourced opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal.

Until now, the conservative editorial page of the national newspaper has defended Walker … But in the editorial published Tuesday night, the newspaper attacked Walker, alleging that his attorney was negotiating with authorities at a time when the prosecutors have had their investigation halted by a federal judge.
It’s time to leave a few friends behind…   
A source with knowledge of the probe told the Journal Sentinel that other parties caught up in it are worried that the attorney for the Walker campaign, Steven Biskupic, is not advocating for an aggressive enough approach with prosecutors. 

Conservative "Institute for Justice" tries to discredit Judicial Branch.

Recent conversations with my ideologically unmovable conservative friend in Milwaukee made it clear to me he no longer believes in debating the issues. You see, the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional and big government according to my friend, and any defense of it is a waste of time. That was easy.

This over simplification is consuming the whole Republican Party, who by the way, defeated the tea party by joining it.

The conservative fringe group, the MacIver Institute, is leading the way with the following finely crafted piece of propaganda dissing the entire judicial branch of government. When that’s gone, only then will we have real freedom and liberty. Love the crazy name "Institute for Justices:"
Clark Neily, Senior Attorney at the Institute for Justice, explains that judicial abdication is the deliberate attempt by judges to ignore their responsibility of enforcing constitutional limits on the size of government. One example Neily provides is the absolute overreach by the US Supreme Court when they rewrote the in individual mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act law.
GOP successfully vilified legislative branch!
Neily now wants to extend the public’s loss of confidence in the legislative branch to the judicial branch. Heck, they're already working on reigning in all presidential power (only under the Democrats). 

From the judicial activism of Citizens United, to the ridiculous declaration that an object like money is free speech and state granted corporations are people, rightwing authoritarians are okay with these kinds of decisions. But if even one decision like the Affordable Care Act doesn’t go their way, suddenly judges everywhere are abdicating their responsibility to enforce the constitution? 

I’m getting the uneasy feeling that they're very close to getting their one party socially conservative dictatorship. It's already happened in Wisconsin.

Duffy's desperate Medicare cut scare tactic won't win him any votes. Supports Higher Medicare Payments while voting to kill Medicare anyway...

Just the other day, panicky guy Rep. Sean Duffy tried to scare seniors with this alert about Medicare on his Facebook page:
Supports excess homecare profits.
The home healthcare industry, which largely serves seniors, is facing a 14% cut in funds to help pay for Obamacare. I contributed to a piece for Special Report with Bret Baier to call attention to this issue that is of serious concern for so many of our seniors and their families.
But there's a reason why the cut is coming; overpayments. And the home care industry loves the current Medicare model. Republicans say it would be much easier to voucherize it, and let seniors pick up the rest of the tab. Ryan says his new plan puts no limit on how big that voucher can get now, but that begs the question, why change the program if it didn't save money?
BloombergNews: One of the ways Obamacare aims to curb health costs is by encouraging home care for the elderly … So home health providers were surprised to learn in November that they’ll be taking a sizable hit as a result of the law: The rate Medicare pays them is scheduled to drop 14 percent over the next four years, Providers say they expected a reduction.
Outrageous? I'm not here to defend or criticize the decision, not knowing that much about the home care industry, but the following has to count for something:
The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which advises Congress (said) most are for-profit companies that “have been paid well in excess of their costs,” the Medicare panel concluded in a report last year. 
Turning the tables, the Obama administration used a line right out of the Republican playbook:
The White House says companies that learn to use tax dollars more efficiently will bounce back, as they did after past cuts.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Father of Son Killed at UC by gunman speaks for every responsible parent.

For anyone with a child, the following is going to make so much sense. It’s the whole reason why parents are so disturbed by open carry bully’s trying to prove their pointless agenda. It never occurs to them that to us, they’re strangers with loaded weapons. For some dumb reason we’re supposed to trust them?

This is such an incredibly moving response from a father whose son was killed randomly by another supposed safe law abiding citizen, it's difficult to watch. He's right, while the killers get all the media coverage, there's nothing about the victims:

TPM: The father of one of the victims of a mass shooting near the University of California, Santa Barbara placed the blame for his son's death on politicians once again Monday, invoking the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

"Have we learned nothing? These things are going to continue until somebody does something," Richard Martinez said in an interview with CNN. "So where the hell is the leadership? Where the hell are these people we elect to congress that we spend so much money on? These people are getting rich sitting in Congress, and what do they do? They don't take care of our kids. My kid died because nobody responded to what happened at Sandy Hook."

Martinez's son, Christopher, was the last of six victims allegedly killed by Elliot Rodger before the suspected shooter took his own life. 

"Those parents lost little kids. I had 20 years with my son. That's all I'll ever have," he said. "But those people lost their children at 6 and 7 years old. How do you think they feel? And who's talking to them now, who's doing anything for them now? Who is standing up for those kids that died back then in an elementary school? Why wasn't something done? It's outrageous."
And yet...:

Sunday, May 25, 2014

#YesAllWomen Fighting Back....

It's all about #YesAllWomen!

The gun crowd is now an empowered group of self aggrandizing bullies out to intimidate the public.

But the growing acceptance of guns is also weaving this dangerous weapon into the public's list of possible solutions to social problems and inner conflicts. And sadly, not every "law abiding" gun owner makes the right choice.
BBC: The killing of six people in a gun and knife attack in California has provoked a strong reaction on social media. Elliot Rodger, 22, stabbed three male room-mates and shot three people in a rampage that ended with his own death. Shortly before the attacks, he posted a video on YouTube railing against women. He is also reported to have posted similar sentiments on online forums.
But then an odd tweet contained in this response led to another and then another:

In response, Twitter users began using the #YesAllWomen hashtag - originally a response to traditional male rights activists' complaints - to debate the issue.
That elicited this response from other losers:

Dana Loesch, conservative talk radio host, actually tweeted this:

And Fox News? Blame that gay thing:
Reality TV psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig told Fox News Saturday night that she suspects Rodger's rage was due to "homosexual impulses" he was fighting.

"When I was first listening to him, I was like, ‘Oh, he’s angry with women for rejecting him,'" Ludwig said. "Then I started to have a different idea: 'Is this somebody who is trying to fight against his homosexual impulses?' Was he angry with women because they were taking away men from him?"

Mary Burke's Economic Sanity or Scott Walker's high CEO approval ratings?

Check out the great article in the Wisconsin State Journal showing the impact of Scott Walker's scattershot tax cut policy and tax shift to the middleclass. That's not an editorial opinion, it's shown in the graphs below. But more surprising is the measured and common sense approach finally articulated by candidate Mary Burke. 
Gov. Scott Walker floated a radical and controversial idea for Wisconsin; eliminate the state income tax. So far Walker has cut taxes by nearly $2 billion over his first term, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Walker’s 48 tax cuts; income tax rate reductions, additional aid to K-12 schools and technical colleges that drives down property taxes, and deductions, exemptions and credits targeted at boosting businesses. Walker … says he will lower the tax burden each year in office … but rejected the possibility of raising the sales tax to make up the lost revenue.
If actual math, business and economic experience replaced Scott Walker’s failed pure ideological theory...:
Democratic challenger Mary Burke says major tax reform isn't needed … Walker’s cuts have been based on a premise; lower taxes across the board will attract businesses, create jobs and facilitate further tax rate reductions, that some economists, researchers and Burke dispute.
Best line of the article (first highlight) and best criticism of Walker’s mess:
“Walker does believe in this trickle down. I don’t, and that comes from a business perspective,” Burke said. “I haven’t seen a lot in his plan that indicates how he’s going to grow the economy other than thinking it grows because you reduce taxes.” Burke said she favors more targeted cuts for the middle class and business startups over broad cuts that benefit the wealthy and companies that aren't adding new jobs.

She has called for raising the college tuition income tax deduction from $6,943 to $10,424, pledged to repeal a new private school tuition deduction expected to cost $30 million a year, and said she’s skeptical that the manufacturing and agricultural credit, which will soon cost $128.7 million a year, will create jobs. “Gov. Walker has created loopholes that carve out special deals, which means while some people are paying their fair share, others are not,” Burke said. “I will look at these loopholes and eliminate those that benefit only special interests.”
Click the chart (to enlarge), with 4 different tax change possibilities, and the impact (in red) on the state’s budget. Keep in mind, Walker admitted above that his “no tax” pledge to lobbyist Grover Norquist prevents him from ever raising the sales tax (but he did break that promise on the EITC & Homestead Credit):
Do cuts create jobs? Mike Leachman, director of state research at the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said past studies showing states that enacted large income tax cuts in the 1990s and 2000s had a mixed record on economic growth. Several tax-cutting states performed worse than those with higher taxes, and those that performed better were oil producers … cutting income taxes doesn’t spur major economic growth because they’re usually accompanied by reductions in government services. “You’re taking money from the pockets of teachers and other public employees and companies that contract with the government,” he said. “That money also gets out into the economy. On balance, it’s more or less a wash.”

Homestead Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit have eroded. Walker reduced the EITC for families with two or more children and repealed indexing provisions for the Homestead Credit, saving the state $169.6 million during his first term.