Sunday, December 10, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 7, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cult of Conservatism: It's a strong belief in nothing really until it's convenient, then they'll back that up with the Second Amendment. Take a look at this outrageous Paul Ryan con. The Intercept-Lee Fang:
Will this be enough, finally, to boot Paul Ryan to the curb? How much further out of touch with every day struggling Wisconsinites does someone have to get before cutting them lose? 

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

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

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

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

Two Ways Republicans are defunding Public Education.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan punts on tough NPR questions over deficit, disappearing middle class deductions, and then just lies.

The GOP tax cut takedown looked something like this:

And the debt goes up a trillion dollars each and every year, not just once. Here's a link to Marketplace:

When NPR confronted Paul Ryan with tough economic questions posed by all the non-partisan analysis, he couldn't answer the questions, just repeated the same old supply-side myths that Oklahoma and Kansas recently confirmed were just not true. Below a condensed audio version and transcript:  

NPR's Steve Inskeep: So that was your goal, was a middle-class tax cut. But what does it say that — in practice according to independent analyses, I mean you do have winners and losers, not everybody gains, businesses gain, people with large estates to leave to their heirs gain, high-income people gain — but a lot of middle-income people do not gain in terms of money.

Paul Ryan: I disagree with that. The average tax cut for a middle-class family is going to be $1,182.

NPR's Steve Inskeep: Average, meaning not everybody.
NPR's Steve Inskeep: At the same time, a lot of deductions go away and it's not necessarily what you'd think of as a special interest deduction. We've reported that 9 million people or so use a deduction for medical expenses, excessive medical expenses, and that deduction goes away. A lot of them are ordinary people with kids who have severe trouble.

Paul Ryan: But it's typically a higher income person ... the whole point of this is, and the analysis is very clear, this is an average tax cut for every taxpayer on average. You can't run a number for every single 330 million people in America. But it's designed to provide tax relief across the board. 
NPR's Steve Inskeep: 'Lily Batchelder of New York University took some numbers from the Joint Committee of Taxation, bipartisan part of Congress as you know very well, and concluded that something like 100 million households in this country under the House bill, and even more under the Senate bill, would either get no tax cut or would get a tax increase. Does that sound right to you?"

Paul Ryan: "No, it doesn't sound right unless it's a person that's not paying taxes already. I haven't seen this analysis so it's hard for me to go into it. But because of the Senate budget rules, there are some sunsets in the law, in the later part of the decade where some of that tax relief goes away."

NPR's Steve Inskeep: "It gets worse in later years, that's true."

Paul Ryan: "...if history is any guide, Congress has a very strong practice in history of not removing a middle-class tax relief like we didn't in 2010."

NPR's Steve Inskeep: "But help me understand that ... trusting that a later Congress would fix it, which means the deficit gets worse or it doesn't get fixed. Why does that make sense?"

Paul Ryan: "Well first of all history, if ... But I'd also attest to the fact that this is going to produce economic growth...."
NPR's Steve Inskeep: "You cited a study finding that that economic growth can come from the business tax cut. We could also cite a study from the Institute for Policy Studies casting questions or raising questions about that. We don't want to go back and forth with studies, but you do know that it is possible that businesses will take their tax savings and simply give it to stockholders in the form of dividends, or simply hold onto it in cash or buy back stock. What if they do? Does it matter to you?"

Paul Ryan: "That's still not an excuse not to put American businesses on a more level playing field with the rest of the world.
NPR's Steve Inskeep: "Why is it okay to increase the deficit, as this tax bill will do?"

Paul Ryan: "Actually I don't think it will increase the deficit. That's my entire point. I don't think this will increase the deficit ... We need — we have far more work to do to control spending ... but if we don't pass this tax law, we will not get the kind of economic growth we can get in this country. And if you want to get the deficit and the debt under control, control spending, grow the economy. This grows the economy.

NPR's Steve Inskeep: "If you'll forgive me, Stephen Mnuchin, the treasury secretary, has also said that this will spur so much economic growth it will pay for itself. It will bring in more tax revenue."

Paul Ryan: "I think that's quite possible."

NPR's Steve Inskeep:  "He said that, but the Treasury Department has been unable to produce an analysis proving that."

Paul Ryan: "Yeah, I really think we're at a global economic focal point ... if we do this and put America at the head of the pack ... we will get much faster economic growth. And that faster economic growth clearly produces more revenue, more jobs, more take-home pay. That's a good thing. That's why I feel confident this is going to make a very very positive difference in the lives of millions of Americans."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Millionaire donor Richard Uihlein, the founder of Uline Corp. backing Breitbart's Steve Bannon GOP candidates Nicholson and Roy Moore!

It's the Republican ideology that oddly controls the parties miserable and whiny "left behind" constituents, as they happily vote against their own self-interest. But for the millionaire and billionaire donor class, that ideology serves their best interests...and bottom lines of course. 

It's the party that doesn't even blink at the prospect of electing child predator judge Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. Republican voters won't have a problem voting for Trumpian drone Kevin Nicholson either since he's getting big money from the same millionaire/billionaire donors stuffing Moore's campaign coffers.  Kevin is hanging with the alt-right crowd:

Moore and Nicholson are Richard and Liz Uihlein's kind of candidates, founders of the Uline Corp. Kevin Nicholson may have asked Moore to step aside, but he knows that ain't going to happen.

The whiny Uihlein's know this, and put their faith, ideology, and money on these extremist peas in a pod.

Even more surprising, Uline President Liz Uihlein isn't fazed by Moore's position on women. She's okay with this...seriously, you can't make this stuff up:
Moore co-authored a 2011 study course in which a speaker contended women should not be allowed to run for public office and, if they did, people have a moral obligation not to vote for them.

The study set was a product of Vision Forum, a Texas-based evangelical group led by Doug Phillips ... in a series of courses designed to teach public policy and ethics to its attendees. Vision Forum closed in 2013 after Phillips resignation following his admission of an extra-marital relationship. The woman in the relationship, Lourdes Torres-Manteufel, later sued Phillips and Vision Forum in connection to a relationship that she said began when she was 15.
The Whiny Uihlein's not Happy with Being Rich: The Uline Corporation has been waiting for years to see Amazon's Jeff Bazos tank the company. They say Amazon can't survive since they don't make a profit. That's not true though, since 2015: Inc. was known for years as the company with huge revenue growth that would spend too much to be profitable. That reputation can now be forever put to rest. The e-commerce giant reported its fourth consecutive quarter of profitability...nearly $1.2 billion in that time period.
Whine, whine, whine: You'd think with their money and success in the packaging supplies business, the Uihlein's would have taken the high road. Nope. Uline President Liz Uihlein made "fear Amazon" the company statement on their website, believe it or not: 

Since the 2009-10 election cycle, the Uihleins have contributed more than $26 million to Republican and conservative federal candidates, political party committees, political action committees (PACs) and an outside electioneering groupthe Ed Uihlein Family Foundation, which contributed nearly $35 million between 2007 and 2014 to civic, religious, and conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Federalist Society, and the Illinois Policy Institute.

The top state recipients of Uihlein contributions between January 2010 and December 2015 were:
Walker’s campaign for governor, $284,500;
Republican Party of Wisconsin, $220,000;
Prosser Victory Recount Found, $50,000;
GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard, of Racine, $21,000;
Republican Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, $17,700.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ryan will try again to sell tax cuts...

Message to Betsy DeVos: No, parents aren't "forcing" their kids into college!

Speaking only about the states that refuse to treat our schools with respect, only trying to improve them, Betsy DeVos may be unaware of the school/business relationships developing nationwide to prepare kids for specialized jobs that are currently experiencing shortages. The collaboration is something businesses should have been pushing for decades after they gave up their own apprenticeship programs. They stopped waiting around for the government to come in and spend taxpayer money instead.
DeVos, behind the curve, as usual, is now jumping on board. EdWeek
DeVos has broadened her message, talking about issues like apprenticeships and alternatives to traditional four-year college.
Brilliant. We’re already doing that and expanding on the idea, try and keep up DeVos.

But worse, DeVos continues to push the idiotic idea that we’re somehow “forcing kids into believing” college is the solution. As a parent, I’m pushing, but I know that the final decision will be up to my own kid, college or tech school, or nothing. We don’t “push” or “force” our kids into…whatever. It’s a myth, a villain DeVos:
"We need to stop forcing kids into believing a traditional four-year degree is the only pathway to success," she said this month at the first meeting of the White House Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion … help set up some incentives through the pending reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
Job training in high school doesn’t, in my opinion, give my kid broader options, later on, to retrain or more easily continue with his education, after 4 years of college. DeVos unconsciously made my case for me:
DeVos told a roomful of CEOs in Washington this month that many students aren't mastering the skills they need to be prepared for the careers of the future. She argued that 65 percent of today's kindergartners will end up in jobs that haven't even been conceived yet. Businesspeople, she said, have told her that students need to be able to think critically, know how to collaborate, communicate clearly, and be creative. "My observation is a lot of students today are not having their needs met to be prepared in those areas," DeVos said
School choice always sounds “empowering,” but really, it just plays to the fears of parents that they’re not doing enough.

And since choice and vouchers have a more spotty record than public schools, is it any wonder states don’t go full choice?

But she said no state has ever gone truly big with choice, offering it to every single student.  "We haven't had a state that tried it with everyone."

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Who's going to save Deer Hunting from Scott Walker?

Let's see, "registered deer down about 1% from 2016, the second-lowest total in 35 yearsHunter participation also was down, the lowest in 41 years." 

The Walker administration hopes the following denials and weak excuses will make sense to their diehard true believers. Like saying deer hunting itself is not declining in popularity...or that hunting is more spread out now. Ah, show us the numbers? WPR:

How did we get here? A short history:
Democratic Sen. Kathleen Vinehout-Nov. 2014: "The Texan ‘Deer Czar’ James Kroll the DNR’s the new rules change the “season framework, management units, and antlerless deer hunting permits.' Gone are “management zones” setting deer overwinter population goals, gone are free tags & $2 tags in highly populated or CWD areas; gone are landowner deer tags, gone is registering your deer at the local bar or convenience store.

Hunters tell me: change the rules, make it hard to get public tags, expensive to hunt in private land and leave folks on their own to register a deer? Isn’t this asking for trouble?"
The response to the comment above?
Anon: Mark Bye nailed it. All those rural white male voters that voted for Walker are getting what they voted for. They just never cared to understand what they were voting for. Time to let the chickens come home to roost.

Mark Bye: Hell, I don't hunt and even *I* get it.

Steve Hanson: I'm not a hunter, but I own property on which others hunt. I have to admit to being TOTALLY bamboozled by how complex the new rules are. And the folks hunting here are just as bewildered. 
Deer hunters left the sport in droves after chronic wasting disease spread through Wisconsin like a California wildfire. Wisconsin State Journal Nov, 2015:
Fear of eating CWD-tainted venison initially scared many hunters and made owners of hunting land in southern Wisconsin concerned that their property would lose value if the hunt died off, said Jeff Schinkten, national president of Whitetails Unlimited.
But instead of fighting the disease like neighboring states, Scott Walker hired a Deer Czar who couldn’t wait to play down the threat with massive defunding and anti-science opinions.

Fast forward to now. Guess what?
JS: Hunters registered 195,738 deer for the 2017 Wisconsin gun deer season, down about 1% from 2016 and the second-lowest total in 35 years, according to preliminary data released Tuesday by the Department of Natural Resources.

Hunter participation also was down. The agency sold 588,387 gun licenses, a drop of 10,420 from 2016 and the lowest in 41 years.

It was just the second time since 1976 that fewer than 600,000 licenses were sold for the nine-day season.
Here's the latest on the problem with CWD, from WPT's Here and Now:

With deer hunting season underway, Ron Seely, a freelance journalist and lecturer at UW-Madison, discusses the issues arising from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). According to Seely, new research shows that the diseased can linger in soil. Over the years, DNR-led efforts to monitor and manage CWD have seen a dramatic decline in testing, and have yet to provide a clear picture of how prevalent the disease is overall. Yet even limited data points to a growing problem — as the state tests fewer deer over time, it finds more and more animals infected with this always fatal disease. At the same time, evidence is mounting that CWD, caused by infectious proteins called prions, could jump the species barrier to humans.
Gaming the System? You bet, and it looks like a few deer hunting mentors attributed deer kills to babies and kids under 5:
On the heels of a law change that eliminated the state's minimum hunting age, 10 Wisconsin hunting licenses were sold this month to children under the age of 1, according to data released Tuesday (Nov. 28) by the Department of Natural Resources.

It's not known whether any of the infants actually participated in any way in the hunt ... they could have been used to register a deer killed by another hunter. The low-priced, first-time mentored hunting licenses carry all the harvest authorizations of a similar adult license. One deer was registered to a 4-year-old hunter, and seven deer were registered to 5-year-olds, according to DNR records The harvest records don't indicate who killed the deer.

In all, 52 hunting licenses were purchased this month for hunters ages 5 and under, according to the DNR.

The College Envy, Resentment and Anti-Education Agenda.

1. Please, please stop the bullshit!!! Who really says this, and what "establishment?"
“The establishment has created this thing that if you don’t go to college, you’re somehow not equal to someone else who did,” says Frank Antenori, a former GOP Arizona state legislator and 2016 Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention.
No one on, especially on the "liberal left" has ever said that. Another manufactured villain Republicans have created to make their draconian plan look better, and to scare their voters.

2. Please, please stop the bullshit!!! Does this sound anything like college today?
Donald Trump Jr. recently excoriated universities in Texas, for which he was paid $100,000: "Hate speech is anything that says America is a good country. That our founders were great people. That we need borders. Hate speech is anything faithful to the moral teachings of the Bible.”

"(Many universities) take $200,000 of your money; in exchange, we’ll train your children to hate our country. . . . We’ll make them unemployable by teaching them courses in zombie studies, underwater basket weaving and, my personal favorite, tree climbing.”
3. Republicans Hate College: So is it any wonder most Republican voters sneer at being educated:
In July, a Pew Research Center study found that 58 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents believe colleges and universities have a negative effect “on the way things are going in the country,” up from 37 percent two years ago. Democrats...72 percent said they have a positive impact. Other studies show overwhelming numbers of white working-class men do not believe a college degree is worth the cost.
4. Not worth the Cost? Republicans don't believe spending $30 billion a year on Pell grants is worth it since half of these students drop out.
More than 44 million Americans are paying off student loans ... average student loan debt of a 2016 college graduate was $37,000. At $1.4 trillion, U.S. student loan debt is now larger than credit card debt.
Getting back to Frank Antenori, the former GOP Arizona state legislator, he thinks taxpayers "should help pay only for degrees, such as those in engineering, medicine or law, that lead directly to jobs ... 
"...(not a) junky” (degree in) “diversity studies or culture studies. You want to create someone who’s going to be a contributor, not a moocher. Go out and generate revenue; that’s what it’s all about.”
There's a liberal take on college education; Steve Farley, a Democratic state senator who is running for governor who used to spar regularly with Antenori: 
“That is a basic ethical and moral flaw in this whole argument, that everything’s got to have financial payback so we can reduce taxes for the Koch brothers. This whole idea that government should be run more like a business is so profoundly morally flawed. Government should be run like a family. We should not be manufacturing them (students) to be products to be consumed."

Noting the growing amount of money on campuses from conservative donors ... "We choose to give our money away in corporate tax cuts and corporate sales tax loopholes. It’s my crusade to get rid of those loopholes and fund our public education system at every level. The whole liberal bastion idea is just absurd.” 
So while Republicans are creating villains to make their bad policies more acceptable, they're missing out on what's really happening, as businesses step forward to help non-college bound students succeed:
Minnesota StarTribune: Companies invest in high schools across state to boost vocational, engineering, other high-demand work: A looming labor shortage, along with a growing urgency to address Minnesota's unyielding racial achievement gap, is prompting sweeping changes in the way businesses participate in hands-on learning.

The focus is no longer just on students who might be better suited to community college and the trades. Across the state, corporations are donating thousands of dollars as well as their employees’ time to teach students how to do such things as draw architect’s plans, make replacement parts with 3-D printers, write computer code, create marketing campaigns and learn basic nursing skills.

Companies such as Polaris, Medtronic and Ergotron are helping to develop curricula at Wayzata High School and are working side-by-side with juniors and seniors through the school’s Compass program. Students take an online skills assessment and can select one of four career fields — business management and entrepreneurship; arts and global communications; health sciences; and design, engineering and manufacturing technologies. More than just subject matter, the courses promote teamwork, interpersonal communication and other problem-solving skills needed to be successful in the business world.
Republicans haven't progressed any further than the mid 20th century when untrained high school graduates or dropouts could make a decent living and raise a family. Not true anymore. Even some Republicans are pushing early training in high schools and tech colleges, which means, "if you don’t go to college, you’re somehow not equal to someone else who did” is absolute bullshit and they know it. Can't have it both ways.

Note: The flawed Republican plan for public school is getting rid of most everything else for job training. That's not a long-term strategy for students who will end up having 2, 3, or 4 different professions in their lifetime.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Rotting Road Kill litter highways, Dept. of Transportation claims program to remove Deer carcasses is "working?"

Despite longtime rotting deer carcasses littering out state roads, the program to pick them up is "working," according to the Transportation Department.
Some vehicle-struck deer aren't getting removed from Wisconsin highways as quickly as they're being run down, as officials adjust to a new carcass pickup system. Transportation spokeswoman Becky Kikkert says contracted vendors are supposed to remove deer carcasses within two business days of a report. She says the system is working.
No Funding?: The WISC story claims there was a little confusion about what department, DNR or DOT, was responsible for removing dead deer within two days.  
A provision in the state budget transferred responsibility for picking up dead deer from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Transportation. The change took effect in September. Some officials said they weren't informed of the switch of responsibility for carcass removal from the DNR to the DOT.
And yet, in my recent post, "Walker now leaving rotting Car-Killed Deer on road sides, and it may get worse," Scott Walker vetoed the actual funding of road kill removal because as he put it, it would take funding away from "other priorities," It's also because he was pissed the legislature for not putting in additional dollars...from god knows where, to do the believe it or not, that's where Walker and the Republican legislature have left it....

This has been Walker's dream for years, a haphazard irresponsible nothing burger, as I reported back in April 2015:
Governor Scott Walker doesn't want the state to pay to remove deer carcasses along state highways, which means counties could have to foot the bill. Last year the DNR removed nearly 24,000 deer carcasses from state highways across Wisconsin.

The Governor's proposed budget eliminates$700,000 a year for the DNR to remove the carcasses statewide. Under the proposal, responsibility for clearing the deer would fall to whatever government agency is in charge of the roadway. Or they may be left uncollected. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau cautions, "dead and decaying deer on the roadside are unsightly and can dampen Wisconsin's reputation as a tourist destination."
Here's the WISC report. I loved how "driver" Kimberly Engel couldn't care less about how it looks or what it'll do to Wisconsin's reputation as a tourist destination, not to mention the spread of disease:
Engel: "We live in Wisconsin, there's always road kill somewhere."