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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Evil "ObamaCare" breaking up Network of Medicare Crooks, saving taxpayers billions.

Republicans have almost always taken the wrong side of everything. The Affordable Care Act is the latest example.

The ACA has slowed the growth of insurance premiums, forced the system to change how care is paid for, created a marketplace and competition between private businesses, paid for itself while providing subsidies to lower premiums based on income. It would be a whole lot better if insurers were taken out of the equation completely, but we’ll just have to wait for that.

One more thing; it appears “ObamaCare” also built a much better way to catch Medicare fraud. But I’m sure Republicans don’t care about that either, right?
How record Medicare fraud bust could give a boost to Obamacare: More than 240 people have been arrested in a nationwide sweep for allegedly submitting $712 million in false billings.

The Justice Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force has now charged more than 2,300 people with falsely billing more than $7 billion to Medicare since 2007, according to Reuters. 
A provision of the Affordable Care Act is to provide an additional $340 million in anti-fraud funding over 10 years, according to NPR. Health officials view the extra money as an investment in health-care reform. With increased resources from the Affordable Care Act, HHS is investing in new tools to stop fraud before it happens, including a capacity to screen out questionable providers or suppliers. 
Sorry Republicans, the fraudsters weren't those vilified poor seniors showing off their AARP cards everywhere, they were medical professionals ripping the system off to stuff their pockets:
HHS Sec. Sylvia Burwell
Around the country, the schemes have morphed ... Now, officials say, the schemes involve a sophisticated network of doctors, clinic owners, patients and patient recruiters. Violent criminals and mobsters are also tapping into the scams ... agents bugged a medical center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where eight people are charged with running a $50 million scam that submitted bogus claims for physical therapy. Clinic owners paid patients, including undercover agents, in exchange for using their Medicare numbers and a bonus fee for recruiting new patients. Recording devices captured hundreds of kickback payments in a private room where a man sat at a table and did nothing but pay patients all day, authorities said.

In Dallas, six owners of a physician house-call company face charges for allegedly submitting nearly $43 million in billings under the name of a single doctor ... Several doctors and nurses were among those arrested in MiamiNew York CityDetroitHouston and Baton Rouge, La., accused of billing Medicare for unnecessary equipment and treatments that patients typically never received.
Civilian scammers came out of the woodwork too. 
In a separate Brooklyn case, authorities indicted six patients who shopped their Medicare numbers to various clinics. More than 3,744 claims were submitted on behalf of one woman in the past six years. The patients did not receive the services billed to Medicare, authorities said.

Bad Math? 1 Justifiable Gun Homicide = 34 Criminal Gun Homicides = 78 Gun Suicides.

We don't keep the kind of records we should about concealed carry, castle law killings and general gun ownership, but what we do have is scary as hell.
Washington Post: In 2012, there were 8,855 criminal gun homicides in the FBI's homicide database, but only 258 gun killings by private citizens that were deemed justifiable, which the FBI defines as "the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen."

That works out to one justifiable gun death for every 34 unjustifiable gun deaths.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that in 2012 there were 20,666 suicides by gun. That works out to one self-defense killing for every 78 gun suicides. CDC data show that there were more than twice as many accidental gun fatalities as as justifiable killings.
Perhaps this chart is all anyone will ever need to make the argument against the Supreme Courts reckless 2nd Amendment assumptions.

People living in Rural Northern Wisconsin most affected by Affordable Care Act Subsidy Loss, but will they blame Walker?

Republicans have been attacking rural businesses and farmers for years, but their latest moves against the Affordable Care Act is especially difficult. Here's just one reminder of how bad Republicans have made it for farmers.
Wheeler Report (link is gone) Aug. 2013: Lawmakers Call for Repeal of New Wisconsin Death Tax: New law threatens financial security of family farmers and creates potential marriage penalty for seniors.

The state budget signed a month ago included several important changes to the laws giving the state power to collect money and property from families whose loved ones received Medicaid services when they were alive, including the power to file foreclosures on properties. The law changes received no public hearings. Wisconsin attorneys say changes may also prevent farming families from passing their farm onto the next generation should the parents need long-term care in the future.
Nice huh? Add killing the Affordable Care Act to the list of sticking it to rural folks who already think government doesn't help them. State Journal:
True!!!
If the U.S. Supreme Court throws out government subsidies for Americans who get health insurance through a federal exchange, Wisconsin’s rural north could be the state’s most affected region, a new report says.

Door, Iron, Oneida, Vilas and other northern counties have the state’s highest percentage of residents enrolled in the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchange, for which subsidies could be overturned by a Supreme Court, said a report issued Wednesday by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.

Of the state’s 183,155 residents who get insurance on the exchange, 166,142 — 90.7 percent — receive subsidies, compared to the national average of 85 percent. The average subsidy in Wisconsin is $315 a month, compared to the national average of $272.

About 14,000 people in Dane County, or roughly 3 percent of the county’s population, signed up for coverage ... other southern Wisconsin counties is 5 percent or less. But in northern counties, participation ranges from 6 percent to 11 percent ... “Losing the marketplace subsidies would push many people in northern Wisconsin back into uninsured status,” Reba Rice, CEO of Iron River-based NorthLakes Community Clinic, said in a statement.

GOP presidential candidates speak in service of narrow and politicized Faith & Freedom Coalition's interests!

On the heels of hearing every Republican presidential hopeful criticize Pope Francis’ latest statements about climate change and capitalism, the three-day Faith & Freedom Coalition forum saw these same hypocrites preaching the gospel of Christ, their conservative supply side Jesus version. Hell, what does the infallible Pope know anyway? Politico: 
The ones who found particular favor with their audience described a conservative Christian community under siege by government, Democrats and an increasingly godless society. Rand Paul called for cutting foreign aid to countries that “persecute Christians.” And Ted Cruz warned that a Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage would amount to “naked and lawless judicial activism.” Gov. Bobby Jindal warned of an “assault on religious liberty” in America. 

Jeb Bush invoked Terri Schiavo ... (ending with)“If we act on our faith everyday, we’re going to create a more just, more loving world.”
A truly contradictory statement after Jeb Bush just stated this the other day:
"I don't think we should politicize our faith … I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope … I think religion ought to be … less about things that end up getting in the political realm.
And yes, after bashing the Pope unmercifully…
The candidates are betting that the moment is right to mobilize evangelicals and other Christians worried about the erosion of religious values in America. 
Think they lack a little self-awareness? 

The Pope's encyclical centered on a very broad pro-life agenda, a point missed by our Republican pharisees. Chris Christie's lack of concern for climate change, and the major effect it'll have on food supplies and the resulting premature deaths of millions of people around the world, the concept he has of being pro-life missed the mark: 
Gov. Chris Christie said, “I believe if you are pro-life, as I am, you need to be pro-life for the whole life. You can’t just afford to be pro-life when the human being is in the womb.”

Sheriff sends out Citizen Vigilante's to protect 60 black churches in Arizona. Guns are only making us safer....

What happens when an activist conservative Supreme Court reinterprets and expands the 2nd Amendment so much that every bigot and racist now has an excuse to take the law into their own hands? The new and "improved" 2nd Amendment hit at a time when verbal racist attacks on the first black president morphed into what many see as justifiable outrage over every one of his liberal policies. 

So what are the great protectors of freedom, liberty and guns going to do about the violence, hate and killing. Maybe open carry? 

Arizona now has the jaw dropping answer to our conservative version of freedom and liberty. So guns are making us safer? 
The Hill: Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio will send armed volunteers into 60 predominantly black churches Sunday in response to the shooting at a Charleston, S.C., church. Arpaio said he was responding to a request from Rev. Jarrett Maupin, who USA Today reported is a progressive Baptist preacher and civil-rights advocate, to provide the volunteers. Arpaio said Maupin told him he was worried about racist white supremacists in the area, according to USA Today.
Liberals are now seeking help from state sanctioned civilian vigilante freedom fighters, to protect them from other right wingers pushing 2nd Amendment solutions. Scratch Arizona off the vacation tour list.

This is a nationwide problem though. And it looks like folks all over have already given up on society. Check out the headlines and the feeling of hopelessness:
'Two bomb threats' prompt evacuation of evangelical Christian convention featuring speeches by Republican presidential candidates
There seemed to be no panic among attendees. One Pennsylvania man, who declined to be named, said: 'I guess you have to expect this kind of thing in Washington, don't you?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Republicans hate ObamaCare so much, they'll be happy to triple the red ink added to the U.S. deficit with its repeal.

Let's be honest, Republicans would prefer we were all the subjects (employees) of a corporate boss. They want us to be desperate enough to settle for whatever they give us...and no complaining. These leaders of rugged individualism don't want you to succeed or start your own business, so that's why they want to make it hard for you to get insurance. 

But Republicans are caught in their own BS now, and they're hoping they can spin their way out of adding to the deficit when they destroy the Affordable Care Act. The numbers aren't looking good:
ReutersObamacare repeal to boost 10-year U.S. deficit by $353 billion … more than triple the red ink compared to an estimate three years ago.
But the CBO is now mandated by Republicans to use not just the hard facts, but the voodoo economic gimmick of “dynamic scoring,” a magical way to over predict the benefits of GOP policy. They even changed the head of the agency to get a better answer. Not only did that not work, the answer they got back was worse than before, when it was just $109 billion:
But the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said the deficit increase would only be $137 billion if economic feedback effects were considered…"dynamic scoring."  
But these positive (really negative) effects would target small businesses, and entrepreneurs now getting health care insurance on their own, instead of serving as an employee. Plus, they would lose their subsidies and probably the insurance and doctor they love so much;
The CBO and JCT said the main positive economic effect of repeal would be an increase in labor supply as Americans lose healthcare subsidies, boosting U.S. tax revenues. The agencies previously had estimated that more people nearing retirement age would limit their work and income to obtain federal insurance subsidies.

Based on the "static" budget analysis used most often by the CBO and JCT, the $353 billion deficit increase for 2016-2025 period increase … Repeal would increase deficits by $275 billion over the 2023-2025 period.
While Republicans lie about the impact of the Affordable Care Act, the truth stands in stark contrast:
The CBO and JCT also have lowered healthcare cost estimates since 2012, so a repeal of Obamacare's health coverage provisions would produce less direct savings than estimated previously.

Overall, based on static scoring, a repeal would reduce federal outlays by $821 billion over 10 years but this would be offset by an estimated reduction in revenues of $1.17 trillion.

Arizona Teachers Flee State after Republicans passed laws not quite as bad as Wisconsin's.

Now that we have been brought down to southern state status by Scott Walker and his band of plundering pirates, we can expect to see what happened below soon, since we're about to make even bigger cuts to education than sorry Arizona. Especially longer term. See if any of this sounds familiar (can you say one-size-fits-all policy): 
WaPo: Why teachers are fleeing Arizona in droves: Over the last five years, thousands of teachers have left the state, according to a 2015 report by the Arizona Department of Education, with this past school year being possibly the worst. Low pay, insufficient classroom resources and so many testing requirements and teaching guidelines that educators feel they have no instructional time and flexibility in their own classrooms, educators say.

Arizona is near the bottom of a state list of spending per student, $7,208, with the average per pupil spending around the country being $10,700. But it is near the top of a list of states in getting public education revenue from the federal government.

Fewer Arizona residents want to become teachers, and that the force of veteran teachers is shrinking. In 1987-1988, the “most common” teacher had 15 years of experience; by 2011-2012, 5 years of experience; In 2013-14, 29 percent of Arizona’s teachers had 3 or less years of experience, and  24 percent of first-year teachers and 20 percent of second-year teachers left their positions and were not reported as teaching in the state.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and the Arizona legislature have moved to end all state funding for two of the largest (community colleges) in the state. It also reported that Arizona “ranks first in the country in steep cuts to higher education budgets.” The Legislature recently passed a 2016 budget that slashed $99 million.

Still want a Republican President?

His governorship was an accident....

Walker has turned Wisconsin into the environmental trash heap of the Midwest!!!

Republicans have always relished the idea of exploiting the mineral and fossil fuel treasures contained within the borders of our state and federal parks. Thank god we have laws protecting these natural gifts for all future generations to see and enjoy.

But in Wisconsin, under Republican Scott Walker’s watch, we are seeing what would happen if they had the chance to live out their fantasy. As Salon explains in this nicely researched piece:
How Scott Walker dismantled Wisconsin’s environmental legacy: He and his allies in the Republican-controlled legislature have said that such policy shifts will streamline regulations that they say interfere with business development. Since taking office in 2011 Walker has: 
Moved to reduce the role of science in environmental policy making and to silence discussion of controversial subjects, including climate change, by state employees.

And he has presided over a series of controversial rollbacks in environmental protection, including relaxing laws governing iron mining and building on wetlands, in both cases to help specific companies avoid regulatory roadblocks.

Among other policy changes, he has also loosened restrictions on phosphorus pollution in state waterways, tried to restrict wind energy development and proposed ending funding for a major renewable energy research program housed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Walker has targeted the science and educational corps at the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), he proposed eliminating a third of the DNR’s 58 scientist positions and 60 percent of its 18 environmental educator positions. 

Walker also attempted to convert the citizen board that sets policy for the DNR to a purely advisory body and proposed a 13-year freeze on the state’s popular land conservation fund—both changes that lawmakers rejected in the face of intense public objections.
Looking back at Walker’s first breathtakingly brutal attack on the environment, still doesn’t seem real to me:
One of the biggest environmental controversies to mark Walker’s tenure came in 2013, when he signed a law paving the way for Gogebic Taconite, a mining company later revealed to be a major political donor … Gogebic helped write the new law, which allows companies to dump mine waste into nearby wetlands, streams and lakes; doubles the area around a mine that a company can pollute; allows the DNR to exempt any company from any part of the law; and strips citizens of the right to sue mining companies for illegal environmental damage. Where the old law specified that mining should impact wetlands as little as possible, the new one says that significant adverse impacts on wetlands are presumed to be necessary.
Yes, it really does say that in the bill. But Walker’s quest to turn Wisconsin into the environmental trash heap of the Midwest started when he made his pledge to two guys not even from the state:
In 2008 before he was governor, he signed the Koch-backed “No Climate Tax Pledge,” vowing to oppose any climate legislation … In 2014 he appointed a utility commissioner who said in a confirmation hearing that “the elimination of essentially every automobile would be offset by one volcano exploding,” a remark he later recanted. In February a child asked Walker what he would do about climate change if he were president. Walker’s reply: as a Boy Scout he believed in leaving his campsite cleaner than when he found it … this spring Wisconsin joined 13 other states in a lawsuit challenging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

Former Republican state senator Dale Schultz: “Some days I look at Governor Walker and I just see a guy who’s afraid of the mob,” Schultz says. “He helped create it, he fosters it, but then he’s also fearful of it.”

Walker appointed former Republican state senator and construction-company owner Cathy Stepp as DNR secretary, explaining that he wanted “someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality.” Stepp publicly derided DNR staff as “unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of” and who thus “tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.”
Walker go to man?  
Walker’s proposal to shrink the DNR’s scientific capacity appears to have been the brainchild of Tom Tiffany, a GOP state senator who is a longtime critic of the DNR’s science bureau. In May he confirmed on a regional radio program that he requested Gov. Walker cut the DNR scientist, educator and communications positions. Tiffany said he thinks the agency’s scientists have a wildlife management “agenda” that has driven the agency to mismanage the deer herd, curtailing sportsmen’s hunting opportunities. He has also said he believes the agency’s scientists spend too much time on controversial subjects like climate change, which he views as “theoretical.”
The article didn't mention it, but Tiffany wanted to take all local governmental challenges away that could stop or slow down future mining activity.

And finally, just as important: Walker also cutoff taxpayer support of our state parks.

Check out this article from Scientific American, that provided much of the research.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Pope vs the Republican Pharisees.

Pope Francis is turning out to be way too left wing for today's supposed "Christian" Republicans. These are the guys who let "faith" guide their politics. At this point though, I think Republicans would run Jesus out of town if they could put off climate change and economic fairness. This reminds me so much of Al Franken's classic "Suppy Side Jesus." 


Pope Francis’ powerful encyclical making an urgent moral case for action to combat climate change has now been released. The earth is “our common home,” Pope Francis repeatedly says, noting that a “frank look at the facts” shows that our common home “is falling into serious disrepair.” He adds that “we are not God” and thus do not have “an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.” He notes the need for richer countries to put the “global common good” before their own “national interests. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan.”
E.J. Dionne added this reminder:
Yet any who claim that Francis is ignoring the Catholic past and inventing radical new doctrines will have to reckon with the care he takes in paying homage to his predecessors, particularly Pope Benedict XVI and St. John Paul II. He cites them over and over on the limits of markets and the urgency of environmental stewardship. 
NPR's On Point featured past comments from Pope Francis, and an absolutely an amazing right wing caller trashing the Pope for not being a scientist and playing along with the globalists scheme for taxation! Now even the Pope is a tool of the evil Prius driving left?



For decades, the Republicans have been declaring the U.S. a Christian nation, writing laws based on their religious values, now suddenly they want us to forget that. Here are a few out-of-character comments from our religious rightwing Republican hypocrites, who are making Judas look like Jesus' best friend:
Jeb Bush questioned the pope's foray into climate science, saying "I don't think we should politicize our faith. I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope," Bush said. "I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm. I respect the Pope, I think he's an incredible leader, but I think it's better to solve this problem in the political realm."
"No, I'm sorry, it's a political issue," said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. "Most people have their minds made up on this issue so any more rhetoric about the issue doesn't really add a heck of a lot more to it." 

And Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., who chairs the House spending subcommittee that deals with the environment, said: "We respect the pope's point of view, but it's not the final determination, is it?"
Isn't it funny how fast our righteous God fearing Republican Party can't run fast enough from the teachings of the church, especially those Catholic politicians and their Bishop henchmen. Can't take a little religious advice?
Rush Limbaugh condemned the pope yesterday, complaining Francis "doesn't even disguise" his Marxist beliefs about global warming.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is Catholic and is seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said recently that “we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists,” adding, “When we get involved with political and controversial scientific theories, I think the church is probably not as forceful and credible.”

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) told National Journal, "When you talk about unpredictable science, I have to ask where's the nexus between that and the theology of the Vatican?"

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) added, "I'm not a Catholic, but I've got a lot of friends who are, who are wondering: Why all of a sudden is he involved in this? I don't have the answer for that."

Walker's Unemployment numbers up!!!

Scott Walker might forget to mention the following unemployment number on the campaign trail. Kind of hard to blame Obama when the numbers were going down and the GOP is now controlling the legislative branch:


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blissful “Stand with Walker” voters love 35th place for Job Creation, last place for business startups, broken jobs promise. Forward?

You have to wonder what it is about Scott Walker that makes these hapless dupes...happy.

It’s amazing how much slack republican voters give their “leaders.” And why isn't Walker a little pissed about falling hook-line-and-sinker for overblown CEO promises of "job creation." They're still laughing and still getting him to jump when told. 

But we can now see what Scott Walker’s record is, and it’s not the kind of performance you'd like to see on a resume, especially for president. 

Lets make a comparison; here's what Walker did during the economic recovery, and what Obama did:
jsonline: In the four years from 2011-'14, when the United States (Obama) posted a 9.3% gain in private-sector jobs, Wisconsin (Walker) created jobs at a rate of 5.7%, an increase that gives Wisconsin a rank of 35th among the 50 states in the pace of job creation in the full four years of Gov. Scott Walker's first term.
And it's only getting worse..
Wisconsin's private-sector job growth ranked 38th in the country last year, trailing the national average.
But what about Obama's failed stimulus, and Walker's big bold tax and spending cuts?
By the end of 2014Wisconsin (Walker) had failed numerically to return to its pre-recession employment peaks, before the financial market meltdown in mid-2008. By contrast, the United States (Obama) had regained and exceeded its pre-recession employment peaks by the end of 2014.

By December 2014, Wisconsin posted 2,400,139 private-sector jobs, still below 2,412,898 in December 2007.

In the four-year periodWisconsin landed in last place among its peer states in the Midwest, which share a common economy of factory cities and farm towns. Wisconsin's 35th job-creation ranking trails Michigan (10); Indiana (18); Minnesota (23); Ohio (25); Iowa (31) and Illinois (33). 
And THE PROMISE?
When he first ran for governor, Walker staked his candidacy on a pledge to generate 250,000 new private-sector jobs and repeatedly drew attention to his jobs target. The final government figure reported in those four years amounted to 129,154.

Gun toting losers likely to kill people, not for self-defense!!!

Looks like the gun lobby hasn't been able to hide all the available statistics to determine the effect guns have on society:
A new study attempts to debunk the claim that gun owners rely on their firearms for self-defense.

The Violence Policy Center released a study Wednesday that finds people are much more likely to use a gun to kill someone without cause than to protect themselves. According to the study, gun owners committed 259 justifiable homicides compared to 8,342 criminal homicides in 2012, the most recent year data was available.

That means gun owners are 32 times more likely to kill someone without cause than to act in self-defense, the study reasoned.

Walker tantrum finds way to “avoid” future lies like PM Cameron's: keep things Secret!

The “Cameron Lie” heard around the world didn’t embarrass Scott Walker, instead, it gave him a dangerously devious idea. Walker wants to use the “Cameron Lie” as a way to seize the moment to justify a strong but secretive U.S. government, where nothing passes through the media filter. Well, you saw what happened with Cameron?   

Stamping his feet, our poor thin skinned victim of the media Scott Walker declared, enough is enough. jsonline:
Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he won't be talking anymore about his private meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron or ones with other world leaders after Cameron's office said the prime minister had not said that. Walker said he had learned from that incident and wouldn't be doing it anymore.
"I'm just not going to comment on individual meetings I had with leaders like that, be it there or anyone else. That's something I'm not going to do going forward." 

Republicans jump off cliff with a Balanced Budget Amendment, taking us all with them...

This post if for my conservative friend in Milwaukee who's hotly following the possibility of a right wing sponsored constitutional convention pushing a balanced budget amendment, one of three items.

I told him how that would be a disaster, but he retorted "JOHN DON'T GIVE ME TALKING POINTS I don't want to hear talking points." Why are conservatives so obsessed with typing capital letters? So I researched the chaos that would be ensue by this simpleton solution to a dramatically complex process of government. Did I ever tell you he hates government?

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a list of outrageously nasty consequences that surprise, locks in benefits to the wealthy while doing away with programs for the poor and middle class:
A Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment Threatens Great Economic Damage: The amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both just when the economy is weak or already in recession -- the exact opposite of what good economic policy would advise.

Rather than allowing the "automatic stabilizers" of lower tax collections and higher unemployment and other benefits to cushion a weak economy, the amendment would force policymakers to cut spending, raise taxes, or both. That would launch a vicious spiral of bad economic and fiscal policy: a weak economy would lead to higher deficits, which would force policymakers to cut spending or raise taxes more, which would weaken the economy further. The director of the Congressional Budget Office and one of the nation's most respected experts on fiscal policy -- explained: "[I]f it worked [a constitutional balanced budget amendment] would undermine the stabilizing role of the federal government."

The fact that states must balance their budgets every year -- no matter how the economy is performing - makes it even more important that the federal government not also face this requirement … requirement that federal spending in any year must be offset by revenues collected in that same year.

Social Security could not draw down its reserves from previous years to pay benefits in a later year but, instead, could be forced to cut benefits even if it had ample balances in its trust funds, as it does today … it would essentially be unconstitutional for Social Security to draw down these savings to pay promised benefits. Instead, benefits could have to be cut, because all spending would have to be covered by tax revenues collected during that same year. Here, too, the balanced budget amendment would make it unconstitutional for the FDIC and the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation to use their assets to pay deposit or pension insurance since doing so generally would constitute "deficit spending." 

It would undercut all U.S. government insurance and loan guarantees. Those range from the "full faith" backing by the U.S. government to pay interest on Treasury securities to deposit insurance, pension insurance, FHA loans, small business loans, flood insurance, and the nuclear power industry's liability insurance under the Price-Anderson Act.

Nor could the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation respond quickly to bank or pension fund failures by using their assets to pay deposit or pension insurance, unless they could do so without causing the budget to slip out of balance.

While states must balance their operating budgets, they can -- and do -- borrow for capital projects. Families often borrow, as well, such as when they take out mortgages to buy a home or loans to send a child to college. The proposed constitutional amendment would bar the federal government from making worthy investments in the same way.

And it would serve to protect the more than $1 trillion a year in "tax expenditures" -- subsidies provided to individuals and corporations through the tax code. Tax expenditures predominantly help well-to-do Americans, who tend to get most of their federal subsidies through the tax code, as opposed to low- and moderate-income Americans, who get most of theirs on the spending side of the budget.

The total federal budget -- including capital investments -- would have to be balanced every year; no borrowing to finance infrastructure or other investments to boost future economic growth would be allowed. And if the federal government ran a surplus one year, it could not draw it down the next year to help balance the budget.
I know this is a little long, but bear with me, it's a big deal:
If a parent has low or moderate income, she may be able to get a federal subsidy through a spending program to help cover her child care costs. If a parent is higher on the income scale, she still receives a government subsidy that reduces her child care costs, but it is a tax credit. It is difficult to justify making the tax-code subsidy sacrosanct and the program subsidy a deficit-reduction target merely because one is delivered through a "spending" program and the other is delivered through the tax code.

Bar federal spending from exceeding 18 percent of GDP in any year. To hit that level would require draconian cuts. Medicare would be converted to a voucher system under which, the CBO said, beneficiaries' out-of-pocket health-care costs would nearly triple by 2030 … federal Medicaid funding in 2030 would be 49 percent lower.

Another way to look at an 18 percent of GDP limit -- or alternative proposals that would cap federal spending at 20 percent or 20.6 percent of GDP -- is to examine federal spending under President Ronald Reagan. Under Reagan, who secured deep domestic budget cuts at the start of his tenure, federal expenditures averaged 22 percent of GDP. Moreover, that spending level occurred at a time when no members of the baby boom generation had yet retired. It also occurred at a time when total health-care spending in the United States (including the private sector) was one-third lower as a share of GDP than it is today. This also was before policymakers created a new category of homeland security spending in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. And it predated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have led to increases in veterans' health-care costs that will endure for decades.
Finally:
Questions Abound About Who Would Enforce the Balanced Budget Requirement -- And How They Would Do It: Suppose the budget is out of balance. What happens? Would the President have the unilateral power to impose balance? Suppose, for example, that a reconciliation bill designed to balance the budget is defeated at the end of the congressional session. Can the President unilaterally declare that it is law nonetheless? Can he instead make across-the-board cuts in all spending, including Social Security, Medicare, and defense, without congressional action? Can he select which programs to cut unilaterally? Can he impose across-the-board, or selected, increases in tax rates? How about across-the-board or selected reductions in tax expenditures?

What about the Supreme Court? If the budget is not balanced, can the Court declare a defeated reconciliation bill to be law? Can it override a presidential veto of a reconciliation bill? If it cannot enact a defeated or vetoed law, can it declare that a bill allowing a deficit as having been enacted if it received a majority vote but not a three-fifths vote? Alternatively, can it invalidate appropriation bills, in reverse chronological order? If that seems arbitrary and unworkable, can it order across-the-board cuts in all appropriations, or entitlement programs, or tax expenditures? Can it impose across-the-board surtaxes? Can it hold Congress or the President in contempt and possibly jail them if they ultimately do not act?

Sen. John McCain okay with job and business losses from TPP.

Imagine the following audio comment from Sen. John McCain being said by Hillary or Obama. Imagine the Republican outrage!!!
Posted Friday, June 12th 2015 @ 8pm: Sen. John McCain joined The Chris Merrill Show to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Bill:
"There [are] some people who and businesses that can’t be protected, but frankly they shouldn’t be protected really, when you get down to it, if it means a lower cost to the consumer of some goods and services that then more Americans can afford them." -McCain

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Republicans hope voluntary compliance will solve watery Dead Zones and Nitrate Laced Drinking Water.

Wisconsin Republicans don't seem to think we've got a water quality problem in the state.

Instead, they're always talking about "balancing" the cost of doing businesses against the cost of keeping Wisconsinites and the environment healthy. That's a false narrative and not really an open question.

The problems keep mounting up too. From the harmful effects on children exposed to blowing Koch Industry coal dust off freight cars in Green Bay, to watery dead zones in the bay itself, Republicans are just now starting to talk about. Perhaps they're waiting for things to get worse. How about preventing the problem? Nope, that would be a big government solution.

For example, here are a few lowlights of Republican Rep. Reid Ribble's do nothing word salad, for a problems that's completely out of control already. From Upfront with Mike Gousha:
"...now that it's lasted so long and is so large...we're starting to have some of our larger dairy farms talking in those same terms...we're getting to a place now where people are really beginning to take this seriously...first you start with awareness, you recognize you have a problem...create the awareness of it, which is what we're doing now...you begin to share best practices...where the agriculture community pulls themselves into compliance...it's all of us working together."


Yea, we've got all the time in the world. Ribble knows his voters don't want a government solution, so what the heck, talk is cheaper.

Here's coverage from WBAY about the growing nitrate problem in our drinking water, a problem many Wisconsinites may not even be unaware of:


An agricultural group is calling out the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, accusing the agency of not protecting the health of people in Kewaunee County. Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) issued the 137-page report, saying in it there’s proof the DNR isn’t doing its job protecting Kewaunee County residents.

SRAP’s Scott Dye said, this report shows the DNR is letting industrial dairy farms pollute Kewaunee County by not checking to see if farms are following the rules for handling waste, not enforcing rules that already exist, and not taking community complaints seriously.
“We should not mince words about this. This is nothing short of a public health emergency. What we’re talking about are Third World conditions in America’s heartland. We have people in our community who cannot drink their water, brush their teeth, wash dishes, and are fearful of bathing in their water if they have an open cut. The Wisconsin DNR that has utterly failed its duty to properly regulate the 16 largest industrial-size farms and failed in its duty to protect the health and safety of the county’s residents and environment.” 
Walker's hollowed out version of the DNR continues to blow smoke (a media pollutant) about a problem they're not trying to solve. They might be waiting for a major environmental disaster to occur.
Dept. of Natural Resources spokesman Bill Cosh sent this statement to Action 2 News: Protection of groundwater and our drinking water in Kewaunee County and the entire state remains a priority for this agency.  To that end, we are working with citizens and other stakeholders of Kewaunee County to develop proposed actions and potential solutions to reduce risk to public health and groundwater quality that could not only be applied in northeast Wisconsin, but also be potentially applicable to other areas of the state. We are regulating within the full authority we have within the current laws and rules. However, we are continuing to work to come to potential suggestions for the legislature.
Voluntary compliance, a non-regulatory approach, is all the rage in Republican states. From PBS's Market to Market, Iowa is a little more proactive, but still, polluters are just shifting the cost of the problem onto taxpayers:



Get more on the DNR disaster playing out in Wisconsin at the Political Environment.

Monday, June 15, 2015

U.S. Supreme Court lets lower court rulings stand; Abortion Ultrasound Law is Unconstitutional, violates 1st Amendment.

Our "constitutional conservative" Governor Scott Walker may also have to brush up on our founding document while he's at the library studying up on foreign policy.

Walker's recent outrageous comments about those "cool" "lovely" ultrasound pictures forced on women seeking an abortion can now be viewed in context with today's U.S. Supreme Court decision that let stand a lower court ruling that the law is unconstitutional. The decision is state specific, and does not apply to Wisconsin.

But first, here's Walker's comment:
“We signed a law that requires ultrasound which, think about that, the media tried to make that sound like a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grand kids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing ... It’s just a cool thing out there.”
UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!! And so is Walker's unconstitutional attempt to restrict and regulate our 1st Amendment right to protest our government. Wisconsin's ultrasound law is similar to North Carolina's:
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear an appeal from North Carolina officials seeking to revive a state law that had required doctors to perform ultrasounds, display the resulting sonograms and describe the fetuses to women seeking abortions.

The order left in place an appeals court ruling that had held the law unconstitutional as a violation of the First Amendment. “The state cannot commandeer the doctor-patient relationship to compel a physician to express its preference to the patient,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in December for a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va. “This compelled speech, even though it is a regulation of the medical profession, is ideological in intent and in kind.”

Monday’s development, which set no precedent, did not affect the validity of any law aside from North Carolina’s.
In light of the legal decision described above, you might view the following Sen. Mary Lazich explanation in a completely different way. Her opening and closing comments stand out. From WPT's Here and Now:

Republicans Push One-Size-Fits-All Party Dominance.

Republicans hate one-size-fits-all laws that take local control away, right?

Nope! Remember when Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany tried to take away local control from communities effected by sand mining? It follows a pattern; they did that with billboards, cell towers, water quality in Dane County, and paid sick leave. So why not mines? Despite being tabled, it'll come back and become law, count on it.

Like our rental laws and lowered statewide building code standards, shoreline development is next on the list of one-size-fits-all laws trashing local control.
jsonline: The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee wants to weaken provisions in state law that have allowed counties to adopt stricter regulations to protect lakes, rivers and streams ... county officials also say the restrictions would limit counties' ability to tailor zoning laws to fit local situations. Instead of county-by-county limits, the committee changes adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. Supporters say limits on the counties would give uniformity to what they see as a hodgepodge of rules governing shoreland development.
Surprise, look who's in the middle of destroying Wisconsin's environment...again and again and again...:
Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) emphasized ... balance competing goals of environmental protection and property rights. "We are returning property rights to people."
...at the expense of the public. This is also an example of the GOP's growing disdain for science and research:
In 2009, the Natural Resources Board rewrote shoreland zoning regulations for the first time in 40 years ... after seven years of study ... a compromise between environmentalists and builders and the real estate industry ... updated in 2013. "Everyone was ambushed by these major changes without public input," said Helen Sarakinos of the River Alliance of Wisconsin. "Everything has been working well. People are used to it and we are keeping our water clean," said Dawn Schmidt, zoning administrator in Vilas County, which has more than 1,300 lakes — one of the largest concentrations of lakes in the world.
Even Republican stronghold Waukesha County, who all but destroyed their own water table with over-development, is having a problem with this:
Waukesha County is planning to write new zoning regulations later this year. "I'm a little nervous that the action might have taken away some of our options," Dale Shaver, director of parks and land use said.
The Republican agenda ignores the cost savings of the large statewide pool of taxpayer money funding our public services and environmental protections. Minus group buying power, the GOP model simply puts a higher financial burden on individual users, like we'll see soon at our public universities and state parks.

Republicans have made a conscious effort to make sure their kind of government is free to serve the individual. I think the next comment says it all:
But Rep. Adam Jarchow, a first-term lawmaker, said the focus should be on those who live next to water. "There are a lot of property owners who really get the shaft, frankly, from counties," he said.
Check out the list of destructive environmental actions taken by Walker and the Republicans. It will boggle your mind. And Democrats, bookmark the page and repeal everything in the list when these cockroaches are finally removed from the Capitol. Visit the Political Environment.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Armored Vehicle Attack on Police Station devolving nation into chaos.

I had to do a google search just to find this big story.
















Here's an interesting thought...

Paul Ryan gets his ass handed to him....

Paul Ryan continues to get away with his horrific plan for health care, thanks to a very lazy media.

Fox News' Chris Wallace tried and failed to get Ryan to divulge his secret "health care surprise," and there's a reason for that; no ones going to like what he has planned. And yes, he's going to force it down our throats, a take it or leave deal. Here's the general idea.

Ryan treats health care like a consumer product because he sees it as a part of the insurance industry. It's neither. 

For example, in Wisconsin Scott Walker actually said the poor should be in the exchange so they could shop for insurance. That's right, people just over the poverty line, must contribute to an insurers bottom line. Medicaid (BadgerCare) gets in the way of corporate profits.

YOU MUST SEE THIS!!! See the real Paul Ryan! I've watch and edited a lot Paul Ryan videos, but this is the first time I've seen him act like this. The word belligerent comes to mind.

1. Ryan wants health care "freedom:" HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell cleared up that misdirection play by saying the marketplace offers private sector free market insurers, and their plans. And 20% more insurers came into the marketplace, offering more choices.

2. Ryan subtly suggests the supreme court might deem the exchanges are not CONSTITUTIONAL: Sec. Burwell had to correct our policy wonk by saying the tax credit, not the constitutionality of the ACA, is before the court. Ryan still didn't get it, apparently, when he said "you're not going to answer the question are you?"

3. Ryan tried to preempt what he knows will be a simple Democratic bill and solution striking the four words from the ACA. Stirring up phony outrage, Ryan predicted Obama will say "It's my way or the highway." No, just strike the controversial four words.

When Ryan was done, Rep. Sander Levin responded methodically, in the most remarkable way to Ryan, addressing every point. See Ryan ignore him and carry on a conversation with someone behind Levin while he was speaking. See smarty pants Ryan leaning way back in his chair with a big smirk on his face, appearing to humor the Democratic response:


RNC's attack on Hillary to focus on the letter "H" You won't believe what they have planned for "C"

RNC Chair Reince Priebus has rediscovered the alphabet, and the 8th letter! He also plans to exploit its multiple uses against Hillary Clinton, whether it makes sense or not.

As you can see by the mob of similarly dressed Borg like GOP supporters, Hillary's symbolized “H” is the first letter of a lot of words…including hypocrite.

Because “hypocrite” is synonymous with the word Republican, it makes sense to try and rebrand it in time for the election. Yes, it’s all about marketing. And that's what Wisconsin embarrassment and huckster Priebus is all about.

Is Hillary really a renowned hypocrite?  Has she taken hypocrisy to such an extreme level that the RNC would print signs and organize photo op protests (remember, Republicans don’t protest) to get the message out?

Reince did offer one example of hypocrisy that will leave you scratching your head:
Staged much? A few lawbreakers crossed the
police tape barrier...
Hillary’s hypocrisy is unparalleled. Clinton has sent mixed signals, explicitly contradicted herself … On the economy, Clinton declared: “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” But at campaign events she said she wants to be a “champion” for small businesses.
Ouch...but still not hypocritical. Hey it’s a word, a bad sounding word too.  Plus it’s a nice way to divert attention away from the idea that consumers drive the economy and job creation, not business. And small businesses can’t survive without first, consumers earning a decent wage, and second businesses having access to startup funding.
   
Hypocrisy…I don’t think so. But the alphabet campaign, starting with “H,” is so…so simple to understand.

The RNC lists issue after issue that miss more than hit Hillary for her position on trade. I share Hillary's hope that the TPP would be a ground breaking agreement for worker rights and the environment. But historically, these agreements have been a disaster. And Hillary's hesitations and hopes are listed right there on the RNC’s blog, which clearly shows she is not being hypocritical. She had been very wrong about other deals that show her corporate leanings (GOP positions) and will have to answer for them in her campaign. But that's not Priebus' point.

In fact, the RNC considers "not having a position" to be hypocritical as well. That would put every major GOP candidate for president ahead of Hillary in the number of "H"'s! Hyperbole could be another word....