Saturday, September 13, 2014

Walker's new ad a Gold Mine for Bloggers...

Did he really NOT know his recent ad was bad idea?

Seriously, it didn't take long for me to throw this honest depiction of Walker economics together with a simple screen capture:

Why is this man smiling?

Heck, here's a few images...get creative:

Come on down.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Walker's Scheme to Sabotage ObamaCare and raise rates on Wisconsinites!

 Scott Walker has a scheme that has “stand with Walker” voters duped.  See if Walker’s 3 point health care game plan sounds fair to Wisconsinites:

1. Tax Cut Heaven: Walker’s tax cuts for the average filer and homeowner totals $177 a year. Wow huh?

2. Insurance Premium Hell: Walker’s intentional effort to prove ObamaCare is a massive failure by helping push health insurance rates even higher is your average individual $251 a year, and your cash strapped family $1,017 a year through an employer.

3. Taxpayers Lose: Walker’s tax cuts are insignificant, and pass directly from us to our health insurers through higher premiums, and then some.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been analyzing the numbers since the beginning of the ACA, comparing Wisconsin with Minnesota. The Affordable Care Act isn't just about people and families getting a good deal on the exchanges, but it also gives the states the ability to review insurance premiums and negotiate them downward. 

And Walker won’t do that, intentionally. This is one way Walker can prove the ACA is responsible for forcing rates to skyrocket, even though it’s his own fault.
SHOP is Coming: SHOP stands for “Small Business Health Options Program,” and even before it begins, Walker has made sure the businesses that are the backbone of our state’s recovery is hammered by high exchange rates.
Wisconsin (has) tried to undermine the health law. The state commissioner here has not provided a robust review of rates, rejecting those that are too high. The ACA tasks state regulators with reviewing health insurance premium rate increases of over 10% and making a public determination of whether such increases are justified by actual medical costs, finding those that are not justified excessive. As revealed by previous research, the Wisconsin Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OCI) has yet to find any health insurance rate increase excessive. Wisconsin also has the statutory authority to challenge rates which are not justified, but the Walker Administration's OCI has yet to use this authority.
That alone is evidence of Walker’s scheme. Now let’s compare:
Minnesota has used a robust rate review process to lower health insurance premiums. According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, rate review played a major role in moderating rates, reducing originally filed rates from 4‐37%. It is possible that this understates the impact of such rigorous rate review, as insurers may have submitted lower rates in the first place knowing they would face strict regulatory scrutiny.
There’s a second reason for higher rates; turning down Medicaid Expansion:
Increasing the number of people without health coverage increases uncompensated care, shifting costs onto private health insurance plans. Insurance companies in turn price premiums based on the projected impact of such cost shifting … denial of BadgerCare to an estimated 87,000 residents … has substantial impact on premiums. A report by Small Business Majority found that accepting federal Medicaid funds would contribute to ending the practice of cost shifting of health care premiums now paid by employers to cover the uncompensated costs. The report found this uncompensated care cost to total over $1,017 per year for a family plan.
Walker wants Small Businesses to get Clobbered:
This report finds that Wisconsin participants on the health insurance marketplace will be paying (before tax credits) premiums of over $675.48 more per year for each employee for a single Silver policy than their counterparts in Minnesota. States which make health coverage more affordable for small businesses will also generate greater economic opportunity than those which do not. The startling numbers in this report make a strong case that policymakers in Madison should put their ideological differences aside, and work cooperatively to secure the full benefit of national health care reform in Wisconsin.
Here's the audio report from Wisconsin Public Radio:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

When Ryan sees a threat, he won't care what you think...the move toward Right Wing Authoritarianism.

There's a reason why I think Paul Ryan is one of the most dangerous politicians out there right now, and it's not because he ideologically conservative. 

It's because Ryan is a right wing authoritarian, and has clearly told us just that over the last few years. You wouldn't want one as your president. He's repeatedly warned us about what he'd do if he were in charge. Do a "roll call" search of this blog and you'll see what I mean.

In the slide show below, from Upfront with Mike Gousha, Ryan used key words and phrases that should scare the daylights out of anyone who truly believes in what Ryan calls the American "idea." Here are 5 examples from our arrogant egotist in the clip below:
- "This is what requires leadership."

- "It is hard to lead when your saying things people may not want to hear, but leaders nevertheless if they see a threat to their country need to do something about it." 

- " we can win the kinds of elections we're going to have to win, to get the moral authority and mandate to fix this countries problems on our own terms as nation before it's too late." 

- "What I'm trying to do here is to build a majoritarian movement to fix America's problems..."

- "The kinds of elections we're going to have to win in my judgement, if we're going to save the American idea, are the kind of elections the American people give us the mandate and the authority to fix our countries problems before their outside of our control...we need to lead..." 
Ryan isn't hiding anything. Here's my slide show of that interview:

Check out right wing authoritarianism here, here, here, here, and here.

Ryan's advice to other Republicans: Be a good listener?

Rep. Paul Ryan's comments during an interview with Upfront's Mike Gousha had an especially hollow ring to them, after videos surfaced showing Ryan ejecting Americans who dared to ask him a few inconvenient questions at a couple book signings recently.

Below, I've edited together what I think tells us the whole story of this arrogant rightwing authoritarian career politician. His actions speak louder than his deceptively wonkish empty words:

Prosthetic Superhero Hands make Kids feel Special, instead of Different.

A newer generation of prosthetic hands are controlled by simple back and forward wrist movements to open and close the mechanical hand. With the help of cheap 3-D printing plastic materials, these devises can now take on superhero qualities, and make a child feel "special, instead of different."

The amazing feel good story of the week. Huffington Post:
Prosthetic hands are great. Prosthetic Wolverine claws are even better -- especially when you're designing and building them for children in need, as Aaron Brown has done. Brown, a 3D printing enthusiast in Grand Rapids, Michigan, volunteers for a global organization called Enabling the Future, which designs and prints prosthetic fingers and hands for people in need.

Brown modified Enable's free prosthetic hand plans, building an edition with Wolverine-inspired "claws" he thought would appeal especially to children. "People’s faces just lit up!" Brown told Enable in an interview. "The kids went crazy over it. And don’t worry ... the claws aren’t sharp! They are rounded plastic and just stick on and off with velcro."
The positive response inspired him to consider designing other superhero-themed prosthetics, he says, potentially transforming children in need into Batman, Iron Man or Captain America.

It wouldn't be the first time a child missing a hand was transformed into a superhero, Nerdist points out. Earlier this month, Hawaii's KHON2 reported the story of “Bubba” Kahae, a 3-year-old boy who received a custom Iron Man prosthetic, printed and sent to him for free by an Enable volunteer.

Here's another report, from CBS News:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Walker lies about the few jobs created on his watch.

WISC's Jessica Arp busted Scott Walker for not just stretching the truth, but trashing it as usual. In her feature "Reality Check," Arp looks at the jobs Walker is undeniably taking credit for creating.

When you have to lie this often and early in the campaign, it's a bad sign. Arp titled this check, "Walker ad uses some selective editing."

...But it's the other two cases where you don't hear a company name that are misleading.

The 700 jobs cited in Green Bay footage aren't new. Schreiber Foods built a new facility in downtown Green Bay, but they consolidated existing jobs from six other facilities.

Then the clip from a Milwaukee TV station that shows a vacant lot cites 1,500 jobs with a graphic saying "New Hotel Plans" in West Allis. While the viewer may think this means a new hotel is creating 1,500 jobs in West Allis, that's not the case.

Instead, the story was quoting the West Allis mayor, saying 1,500 jobs have been added throughout the entire city over the year. The hotel pictured in the ad may potentially add 30 to 40 jobs.
You've got to wonder why Walker couldn't fill an ad with jobs he or his mismanaged WEDC might have had a hand in creating.

Walker flaunts work with outside group to after Rep. Mark Pocan.

Coincidence? I think not. Thanks to Cognitive Dissidence for bringing this to everyone's attention.

For months, Rep. Mark Pocan has been interested in seeing the governors air travel record, because after all, he’s been making the rounds…a lot.

Pocan included the exact timeline in his sites post to prove Scott Walker’s campaign contacted an outside source to harass and threaten Pocan with a similar request.
On Friday, the Pocan campaign for Congress put a request into the Wisconsin Department of Administration for Governor Scott Walker’s air travel from June 4 to September 5, following a previous request for the balance of his time as Governor.  Campaign staff personally delivered the request at approximately 10 a.m. Friday, September 5 and confirmation email was sent at 10:36 a.m. CST from the Walker administration.

At 12:33 p.m. CST that same day, an allegedly independent, disreputable right-wing organization, Media Trackers, sent Representative Mark Pocan’s official office in Washington a request for his official travel schedule, through September 1.  That request came just hours after the Pocan campaign made the request of Governor Walker’s office.
Who else would have known about the request? No one but Walker:
“You’d think that a Governor who’s flirting with his second John Doe investigation for his direct complicity with outside groups in an illegal scheme to circumvent campaign finance laws would be a bit less tone deaf to continuing to flirt with outside groups so flagrantly,” said Pocan. “I guess Governor Walker thinks his quest for the Presidency holds no bounds, and that’s pretty much what we’ve seen as we go through his travel records.”

Representative Pocan’s Congressional office immediately complied with the request, compared to Scott Walker’s 70 day lag on the first open records request. “Politicians like Scott Walker will do anything and say anything to get ahead, even to the degree of trashing our campaign finance laws and even common sense,” Pocan said.

Health Insurers continue to raise Deductibles to Ridiculous Heights, with or without the Affordable Care Act!

Having nothing to do with ObamaCare: health insurance for business is going through the roof in the form of employee deductibles.

It's also true the Affordable Care Act has high deductibles, which ironically, are now being criticized by Republicans who loved them (skin in the game) when they were included with Health Savings Accounts. High deductibles are bad news, no doubt about it. 

And when someone complains about the rising cost of health care, or ObamaCare premiums, remember how bad it was...and still is for employer provided insurance. Premiums held steady, but deductibles went way up. And marketplace insurers are now finding other ways to game the system. It's what the private sector does.  

When I had a Health Savings Account, my insurer raised the deductible over $10,000 in mid-contract, so reading about the complaints below is small potatoes. Still, this is the game insurers play to make money. Remember, the story below isn't about the Affordable Care Act, it's about business health insurance. And many large companies self insure:
USA Today: A report out today puts numbers behind what hit many workers when they signed up for health insurance during open enrollment last year: deductible shock. Premiums for employer-paid insurance are up 3% this year, but deductibles are up nearly 50% since 2009, the report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.

The average deductible this year is $1,217, up from $826 five years ago, Nearly 20% of workers overall have to pay at least $2,000 before their insurance kicks in, while workers at firms with 199 or fewer employees are … third of these employees at small companies pay at least $2,000 deductibles.

"Skin-in-the-game insurance" is becoming the norm, says Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman, referring to the higher percentage of health care costs employees have to share.
“Skin in the game” is the norm. After all, being sick, worried about your health or surviving a major health event isn't enough for conservatives, you or your family will also have to go bankrupt. Here's an example:
Deductibles will keep going up as companies try to keep their own health care costs down by raising the amount of cost-sharing workers have to bear.

At Noblehurst Farms, a dairy farm in Linwood, N.Y., the premiums went up, but deductibles held steady this year because the 40-member plan was already a high-deductible one started four years ago. Though some employees were skeptical at first, they've come to accept the plans and appreciate the $1,000 the company contributes to their health savings accounts to help offset the deductibles. 

"As an employer, you see employees take a big hit when they have any kind of medical expense," says Noble-Moag, whose grandfather formed the farm's corporation in the 1960s. "It can bankrupt a person."

The Rising Cost of Education, Higher Turnover, Disappearing Rural Schools thanks to Act 10.

I liked what we had for public education; the unions, the pay scales, the benefits and the profession itself. Change was good too. And I’m all for higher teacher pay. Public education was something we could count on. Not anymore.

Privatization and union busting have turned education from something amazingly reliable and predictable into an industry with winners, loser, profits and losses. Our kids are described as “commodities,” and every school is, in the words of Tony the Tiger, “terrrrific,” if you believe their exciting colorful brochures.

In an amazingly hypocritical about face over what used to be described as exorbitant teacher pay and benefits, Republicans are now all for it, embracing teacher bidding wars between schools and districts. It’s all good now because it’s based on the “free market,” to hell with saving taxpayer money.

The Wisconsin StateJournal editorialized, "A marketplace for good teachers is good for public education," completely reversing the right wings 50 year arguments against public education:
The most sought-after school teachers across Wisconsin are now enjoying large pay raises, signing bonuses and what some school administrators are calling “free agency.” That’s a better system than the old way of compensating teachers based largely on years of experience and advanced degrees.

State Journal education reporter Molly Beck reported in Sunday’s newspaper that public school teachers licensed in high-demand fields such as science, technology and engineering are being recruited and retained with financial incentives. And the money for top teachers doesn't have to come out of other teachers’ pockets. In Oregon, for example, the district may ask voters in April for $3.5 million to provide raises.

This is progress, because it helps get the best teachers where they’re needed and valued most. Act 10 has hurt Wisconsin in some ways. It pulled our politics even further apart. It pitted citizens against one another. It hurt morale for educators and chased some out of the field, or stopped others from entering.

But in giving local school boards more freedom to compensate teachers in new ways, Act 10 has helped.
Imagine the shortage of teachers in low demand subjects. Would all this just make public education more expensive? Wouldn't wealthy districts have an advantage over all the other districts, like rural schools, who by the way are struggling to survive. Cap Times* reporter Matt Pommer wrote this recently about rural schools:
The Assembly Task Force on Rural Schools … report  … cited high costs of busing students in sparsely populated areas, technology needs, lack of access to broadband internet, and recruiting and retaining excellent teachers. Often the rural districts go to the voters to exceed spending limits. These districts lose money because there are fewer students to count and they look richer “because there is more property value behind the remainder of their students,” State School Superintendent Tony Evers notes.
And most important, relating to the topic at hand:
The task force was told rural district teachers earn about 15 percent less than teachers in urban and suburban districts. Teacher often leave rural districts for higher pay in other parts of the state. 
And then there's the increased teacher turnover. jsonline-Erin Richards:
-In the summer of 2013, hundreds of veteran teachers retired from Milwaukee Public Schools, many taking advantage of the favorable terms of expiring contracts.

-One year later … there's been another, even greater, spike in teachers leaving. But those walking away now are predominantly educators with three or fewer years of experience

-MPS officials say … "There is a national trend toward not staying with the same employer for decades."

-Some teachers get a taste of today's workplace and leave education entirely … pressures and politics of the job have heightened in recent years … it's common to hear teachers say they feel disrespected by the public, unsupported by their administration and beaten up by parents.

-Act 10 has created an open market for teachers, which makes it harder for districts to retain staff with sought-after skills. "Everyone is talking about resignation rates, they're higher everywhere in the past several years," Johnna Noll, director of instructional services at the West Allis-West Milwaukee Public Schools said.
These are Act 10's "unintended consequences." 

*direct link to article not found.

Walker's Problem: Deficit is Growing while the economy is growing!!!

WPR reporter Shawn Johnson should be thanked for doing what others in the media have decided to glance over, and that is to put the disastrous new projected structural deficit in historical perspective:
“The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau calculates the state's structural deficit has grown to nearly $1.8 billion, the third-largest gap reported by the state in the past two decades. The structural deficit was larger when Walker took office and larger yet in 2003. Those shortfalls were driven by recessions, however, whereas this deficit has taken shape at a time when the economy was growing.”
I've also written how Republicans have an immense problem with something called defensive “projection;” it’s where people "defend themselves against unpleasant impulses by either denying (or knowing of) their existence in themselves, while attributing them to others."

Yes, I have a Scott Walker example of projection (audio below):
“These are the people that gave us a $3.6 billion budget deficit, I mean, this is selective amnesia on their part. The bottom line is we inherited something much, much greater than what we're talking about now.”
And as Shawn Johnson reported: 
“The structural deficit was larger when Walker took office and larger yet in 2003. Those shortfalls were driven by recessions, however, whereas this deficit has taken shape at a time when the economy was growing.”
Walker game plan for a possible Deficit? Walker is already running from a solution, and instead wants to hold onto those irresponsible tax cuts for dear life. It beats working:
Walker said he expected those revenues would pick up and brushed off criticism.
State Sen. Jennifer Shilling is asking Walker to show us some leadership:
"I think the governor should be truthful and forthcoming about how his administration would tackle these numbers..." 

Wisconsin Revenues Ratchet Downward...Forever? Republicans can actually benefit from their mistake, as usual, by challenging the possible incoming Democratic governor to “raise taxes” via the repeal of a few damaging corporate giveaways.

Another words, once taxes are cut, it would be political poison to repeal them. Checkmate. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

$1.8 billion structural deficit? Republicans excuses abound....

You would have thought the sky was falling the way Republicans have been complaining about the slow jobs and business recovery under the Obama administration. Add to that the non-participatory unemployed and you've got what Republicans call a failed policy.

But now that we have slower jobs and business growth in Wisconsin under Republican Scott Walker, including a growing deficit (unlike the declining U.S. deficit under Obama), we’re being told by the GOP that we’re moving forward and Democrats are whiners.

Here’s the reaction by Republicans over the news of a possible $1.8 billion structural deficit due to Scott Walker's election year tax cuts:
Senator Paul Farrow: “Contrary to what we will hear from Legislative Democrats, the sky is not falling. These projections by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau are not perfect calculations and should be treated as a learning opportunity."
Deficits are learning opportunities? Projections aren't perfect? Please. Republicans like Farrow continue to downplay their party’s Great Recession and the impact it had on state economy. Even worse, Farrow is wondering why the Democrats don’t help solve the state’s problems, even though they've been shut out of the process by our authoritarian winner-take-all Republican government:
“I find it disingenuous for the same Democrats who drove our state into a truly staggering $3.6 billion deficit … We are a long way from experiencing a full economic recovery; it would be nice to get some help from the other side instead of having them work against Wisconsin’s successes. I will continue to work with Governor Walker to pursue a balanced budget and will always stand-up for Wisconsin’s taxpayers while rooting for a Wisconsin recovery, never against one.”
See that, pointing out the problem is “rooting” against our state’s economy, a talking point you'll hear a lot of as the bad news trickles out. How many decades did we hear Republicans telling us how bad Wisconsin was for business? Guess that was a self fulfilling prophesy. Resistance is futile folks. There's more:
Senator Alberta Darling and Representative John Nygren: "Wisconsin does not have a deficit. Once again, Democrats continue to root against Wisconsin's success story. Democrats are using political math to deflect from the poor budgeting decisions they made in the past. Under Democratic leadership Wisconsin had a $3.6 billion deficit, 9.2% unemployment, while more than 133,000 jobs and 27,000 businesses left the state.”
Again, Republicans continue to blame the Great Recession on Democrats, especially Gov. Doyle and Mary Burke, without paying the political consequences for such an outrageous fiction.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Walker moves forward with Bigger Deficit. Says he has a proven track record! Ain't that the truth.

Remember that the deficit Scott Walker inherited was an estimate, and wasn't really that high? 
jsonline: The more than $3 billion projected budget shortfall that Walker inherited as governor represented the gap between the state's expected tax revenues over the next two years and what state agencies were asking to spend over that period. The gap worked out to about 10% of the overall budget in the state's main account.
Well, it looks like Walker is creating his own deficit, which tracks closely to Gov. Doyle shortfall. Bad timing too, since that was Walker’s big talking point in his reelection bid:
The expected shortfall for the next two-year state budget has risen to nearly $1.8 billion, or about half of what it was when Gov. Scott Walker took office in January 2011 … The latest estimates by the Legislature's non-partisan budget office show a gap once again opening in the 2015-'17 budget because of tax cuts enacted by Walker and lawmakers and lagging growth in other state taxes in recent months … jumped by more than $1.1 billion over the previous estimate of a $642 million gap released in May. The projected weakness in the state budget matters to ordinary people because it would make it harder for state leaders to increase spending on priorities such as schools or cut taxes further for state residents.
The GOP bubble will not be Broken: As usual, the casual lack of concern is supposed to make us all feel great:
We were warned in a simple cartoon!
Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick downplayed the report, saying the state could see revenues grow in future years and take new steps to control spending. "We have a proven track record of managing the taxpayers' money well.
No, Walker has a dis-proven policy track record now. Are they hallucinating or thinking they can fool voter into thinking the $1.1 billion shortfall is a good thing? Yes…hey, it's a prediction, right?
Rep. Robin Vos: “Once again Democrats are looking for dark clouds on a sunny day. No one can ignore the fact the state is headed in the right direction. Unemployment is down, more jobs are being created and new businesses are opening their doors. The state economy continues to grow stronger under Republican leadership.”
This is what Walker and Vos call “strong,” and “leadership.” Yes there is a whole different standard for Republicans, who are given years to make their magic work, and yet it doesn't, because they need more time.
But Burke, a Democrat and former Trek Bicycle executive, seized on the new projections. "Governor Walker's fiscally irresponsible approach and his failed stewardship of a lagging economy have resulted in a state budget picture that is a mess," she said in a statement. "I have spent my career balancing budgets and insisting on accountability; setting priorities and getting the biggest bang for the buck. Governor Walker has spent money we don't have. In the business world, if a CEO created this big of a financial mess, he would be fired."
Though not as high as when Walker came into office, the memo said that the projected shortfall is one of the biggest since 1997. Those figures were not adjusted for inflation.