Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wisconsin righties keep failing on outsourcing, wage issue

As each day goes by, the backfire of Scott Walker's desperate anti-Trek ad becomes more obvious. In addition to the idiocy of a pro-free trade governor trying to have it both ways on the outsourcing issue, it has drawn more attention to the corrupt Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the Walker donors who received tax breaks from WEDC, and the increasingly absurd justifications of pro-Walker corporates. WKOW Channel 27 in Madison has been at the forefront of calling out Wisconsin outsourcers and their connections to WEDC, including their bombshell from early this month when they revealed Neenah's Plexus Corporation took millions in WEDC tax credits, and then outsourced over 100 Wisconsin jobs. And oh yeah, Plexus employees also gave tens of thousands of dollars to Walker's campaign. When Plexus tried to talk their way out of it, Channel 27 caught them in numerous lies, and laid the smack down yesterday.

WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Here's probably my favorite sequence, where Plexus has already been caught in Lie Number 1, which claims the job losses were due to losing Juniper Networks as a customer (which they did, but it was several months after the layoffs), and they try to explain themselves to Channel 27.
"The reduction of 116 employees you reference in your article was unrelated to the disengagement with our largest customer but was the result of a decrease in production orders for other products. The work associated with this reduction in force remains in Wisconsin," wrote Susan Hanson, Marketing Communications Manager for Plexus.

But the TAA decision from the Department of Labor (DOL) seems to refute that statement. In its decision, DOL points out TAA benefits were ultimately awarded to those 116 former employees because "the workers firm has shifted to a foreign country the production of an article like or directly competitive with the article produced by the workers that contributed importantly to worker group separations at Plexus."...

Plexus announced the layoffs of those 116 workers just one week after releasing a report in which company CEO Dean Foate noted the company's 2012 3rd quarter earnings of $609 million represented a "record revenue level for the company."
Can you imagine if the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was ever allowed by their corporate masters to call out obvious lies like this? Hey, a guy can dream, right?

But some Wisconsin corporates are still trying to explain that outsourcing is merely a necessary evil, and not an outgrowth of corporate greed. Check out today's press release from CEO Kurt Bauer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (aka WisGOP's main non-Koch corporate puppetmasters).
...manufacturing production costs in the U.S. are 20 percent higher, excluding labor, than in other industrialized nations, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

If the goal is to reduce the number of outsourced Wisconsin manufacturing jobs, then lower the costs of production for Wisconsin manufacturers, including taxes, regulations, energy, health care and frivolous lawsuits.

The key question not being asked in this outsourcing debate is which candidate for governor supports reducing the costs of production in Wisconsin, like the Manufacturers’ and Agricultural Production Tax Credit that protects literally thousands of Wisconsin factory and farm jobs.”
That's right, WMC says if you don't want any more outsourcing, then reduce wages to $20 a day and allow as much pollution and worker abuse as possible! Just turn Wisconsin and the rest of the US into a third-world country and there won't be a problem! Of course, I'm betting WMC execs don't plan to be among those Wisconsinites that would lower their standards or pay a price in any way shape or form. In fact, they'll likely steal the extra profits to double their salary, just like Plexus's executives did in the last 4 years.

The more these righties talk, the more people wake up to the scam of free trade. So please corporate slime, keep on talking, because it's making the election of Mary Burke and more Wisconsin Dems in the Legislature and Congress all the more likely.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Trains are rolling in Wisconsin- if they can find the track

Trains and railways have been in the news in a number of ways in Wisconsin in recent weeks, and it illustrates the many and growing needs regarding rail travel in the state, as well as how Gov Walker's decision to turn away $800 million in high-speed rail funding looks even more absurd, if that's possible.

Let's start from earlier this month when Gov Walker announced that he would use state taxpayer dollars to buy track from the Union Pacific Railroad on lines that connect Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove.
The purchase will cost $30 million with $5 million going toward track improvements and the other $25 million for the land, officials said. The purchase is being made jointly with the Wisconsin River Rail Transit Commission with funds from the Freight Rail Preservation Program, which provides grants to local units of government, industries and railroads for the purpose of preserving and rehabilitation essential rail lines.

The line will continue to be run by the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad under a lease with the WRRTC, according to the release.

Last year, WSOR transported more than 5,000 cars on the Madison to Reedsburg and Cottage Grove line, serving 23 customers including United Coop, Landmark Ag, Seneca Foods, R.R. Donnelly, Hanke, Greede Foundries and Hydrite Chemical, according to the release. Items transported include grain, chemicals, polymers, paper, food products, lumber, aggregate and metal.
It seems interesting that they’d buy up this track instead of having ton he Union Pacific do their own work on it (a concern brought up in the comments secti, which actually has some good explanations of the issues involved), but if it makes it easier to make sure this needed infrastructure is being maintained, I don’t see it as a big deal. What is noteworthy is that the $30 million is part of the $52 million borrowed in the latest budget under the Freight Rail Preservation Program (as outlined in Page 10 of the DOT Budget), and I do find it noteworthy that this purchase with borrowed money comes at a time when we have a significant Transportation Fund deficit looming for the next budget. In addition, there is major uncertainty about the amount of future funding of transportation coming from the Feds, as today's Senate passage of a bill funding transportation only funds things through December, which means the state might want to hold onto any extra money that it can.

· But there is little doubt that rail maintenance and infrastructure is an issue in Wisconsin that needs to be addressed. State Railroad Commissioner Jeff Plale (yes, the guy who joined Russ Decker in selling out Senate Dems in late 2010 on state employee contracts, and promptly got a job with the Walker Administration) admits that rail capacity in the state has been stretched to its limits, and it’s leading to more train-vehicle accidents as well as congestion in places where there hasn’t been in the past. Wisconsin Watch notes that the huge increase in frac sand mining has also helped to cause the unsustainable increase in usage.
Plale estimates that Progressive Rail, a short line which runs from Chippewa Falls north to Cameron, has increased from one train a week to two or three a day — which would be about 15 to 20 times more traffic. A representative from the rail line declined to provide exact numbers but did confirm the growth was due in part to frac sand. The larger Union Pacific railroad has reported that transporting frac sand in Wisconsin has helped it offset a 14 percent decrease in coal shipments...

Professional Logistics Group Inc., a consultant company based in Chicago, found in 2012 that transportation is 58 percent of the cost of frac sand. It is no wonder, then, that companies have begun investing in cheaper modes of moving their goods. And frac sand industry executives say rail is the best mode of transportation available.

“Rail is four times more fuel-efficient than a highway truck,” said Dave Fellon, president of Progressive Rail. “You can move a ton of freight over 425 miles on just one gallon of fuel. That’s an amazing statistic.”
The need for more and better track was also illustrated in a story in today’s La Crosse Tribune, where the Dairyland Power Cooperative says it may have to shut down a plant this winter if it can’t get the supplies it needs to run its operations.
Dairyland Power Cooperative says it could run out of coal at its Genoa generating plant by January if the BNSF railroad doesn’t rapidly accelerate deliveries.

Halfway through the summer shipping season, the coal supply has dwindled to “perilous levels” and is falling further behind each week, according to a memo sent last week to lawmakers.

The La Crosse-based utility, which serves about 250,000 mostly rural customers, relies on coal to generate power at plants in Alma and Genoa. Alma is served directly by a BNSF rail line, while coal is shipped to Genoa on barges loaded at a terminal in southeast Iowa.
And once the river freezes, it has to all come by rail, and the coal isn't going through to Iowa fast enough.

Hmmm, if only there was some kind of federal program that could have paid for maintenance on Wisconsin rail lines and put in new ones for passenger rail (so they don’t have to use the current ones and cause further congestion on the tracks). One that wouldn’t have cost the state a dime in cost-sharing. OH WAIT, THERE WAS.

Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz hit the mark in an article in Madison’s Isthmus newspaper showing how Scott Walker’s anti-Obama pose against passenger rail in 2010 continues to leave Wisconsin behind, leading to massive state spending with nothing coming back in return.
Walker claimed that he opposed the 100% federally funded train because of the annual operating costs to the state, which amounted to around $7 million. But now the state is on the line for as much as $118 million, for which it will have received nothing at all. In other words, for the dollars the governor has put at risk, the state could have funded the new train operation for about a decade and a half.

Had Walker not been elected governor, the Chicago to Milwaukee to Madison service would have started a year ago. Sleek new trains would have been connecting us and providing economic development opportunities not just in Milwaukee but in other places along the line. A train station near Monona Terrace would be bustling and contributing to a revival of that portion of Madison's downtown. Even more importantly, Wisconsin would have been literally on the map as the first place in the country outside of the northeast corridor to be served by new higher-speed passenger rail.

Instead, Wisconsin now ranks a consistent 37th in job creation under Walker, the Talgo plant and its Milwaukee jobs are gone, the Madison station never happened and the ancillary development around it is on the ropes, our own tax dollars are on their way to build the same kind of system in other states, and we're still on the hook for as much as $118 million. Even if we don't end up paying out that much, every dollar that is lost will be lost completely.
The lack of big-picture planning and fiscal stupidity of Walker rejecting the train money continues to be the “gift” that keeps on giving in this state, isn’t it? And in light of the increases in rail shipments and major interstate projects, having new rail online sure would be handy these days. Maybe the next governor of Wisconsin will care more about improving transportation and moving Wisconsin's economy along instead of caring about what a couple of radio talk show hosts and suburban racists think.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today in WEDC corruption...

Well, despite the Walker Administration's best attempts to cover up damaging revelations coming from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, we had more bad news from WEDC today. And it comes from the guy who's been all over this story this month- Channel 27's Greg Neumann in Madison.
On the same day Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) proposed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) consider a ban of financial awards for companies that outsource state jobs, 27 News learned at least four more companies that outsourced Wisconsin jobs have benefited from WEDC tax credits.
And look who's now all of a sudden concerned about this.
"It probably should have been done a long time ago, but it makes sense now," Gov. Walker told 27 News. "Our focus is on helping companies add jobs, invest capital and put more people to work here in the state."

In fact, Gov. Walker went a step further, adding to Rep. Barca's idea.

"Outsourcing not just overseas, but frankly I think, even the question of providing assistance to companies that send jobs anywhere outside the state of Wisconsin, whether its to China or Illinois," said Gov. Walker.

The board agreed to draft language that will be voted on at WEDC's September board meeting.
This is a classic case of overreaction to an issue that Walker and WisGOP wanted to dwindle and die, but instead just got bigger, and made WEDC and Walker look worse and worse. "It probably should have been done a long time ago", Scotty? YOU'RE THE CHAIR OF THE WEDC BOARD, AND YOU HAVE BEEN SINCE IT STARTED!

As WEDC's own press release notes, Walker was the guy who copied the ALEC model legislation introduced the concept of WEDC mere days after he took office - even before he "dropped the bomb" with Act 10.
The statutory formation of WEDC was set in motion in January 2011 by Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature with the calling of a Special Session focused on job creation. This session produced 2011 Wisconsin Act 7 – a law which created WEDC as a public-private corporation to replace the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

The Act designated WEDC as the lead economic development organization in the state and charged it with: (1) developing and implementing economic programs to provide business support, expertise, and financial assistance to companies that are investing and creating jobs in Wisconsin; (2) supporting new business startups and business expansion and growth in Wisconsin; and (3) developing and implementing any other programs related to economic development in Wisconsin. (I don't see outsourcing while pocketing taxpayer dollars on this list)

During the strategic planning process that started after adoption of Act 7, WEDC examined the functions of Commerce and developed a transition plan to identify the economic development functions that needed to be retained within the new WEDC and those that needed to be moved to other state agencies. This was done prior to WEDC officially starting operation on July 1, 2011.
But despite years of untracked funds and companies failing to follow through on job creation, it's only now that Walker seems interested in following up on what companies do once they get the WEDC write-offs from taxpayers. Guess those poll numbers must really suck, eh Scotty?

But wait, there's more. The other group that's been all over the WEDC disaster has been One Wisconsin Now, which pointed out that recipients of WEDC assistance have given over $1 million to Walker's campaign, and another $1 million to the Republican Governors Association. And as OWN's Scot Ross pointed out, they've gotten quite a nice payback from their investment.
"Gov. Walker has failed to create the jobs he promised us and given WEDC's incompetence, the public needs to know more than ever the way Gov. Walker is spending our money and that decisions are being based on the merits, not on who's donating to his campaign," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "Gov. Walker's donors have received 60 percent of the nearly $1 billion of taxpayer funds given out by WEDC. Gov. Walker sat by while WEDC gave money to companies that then outsourced Wisconsin jobs. And rather than change the culture of cronyism, corruption and incompetence of his administration, Gov. Walker is now trying to deny the public's right to know. It is utter arrogance by Gov. Walker to think the public won't see this for what it is: a desperate reaction to his sagging poll numbers."

A recent report from One Wisconsin Now found that owners or employees of 30 percent of businesses receiving assistance from WEDC contributed to Gov. Walker's campaign or the Republican Governors Association (RGA).
So naturally, the state's largest newspaper has been covering this continuing scandal, right? Well, it's definitely on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's front page, but the story concentrates on the anti-outsourcing proposal put forth today, ignores the fact that more WEDC-funded companies have outsourced, and instead concentrates the second half of the story on another lame anti-Burke ad that Walker made.

Hmm, it's almost like WEDC advertises with JournalComm, and that the newspaper editors and Journal Comm CEOs don't want to lose their ad money by telling the truth and making them look bad. Almost.

I'll let James Rowen at the Political Environment have the last word.
He's presiding over the removal of Wisconsin jobs, and paying his friends to do it, with our money, to boot.

A variation on pay-to-play?

What a scandal.

What a hack.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Obamacare court decisions and how they make WisGOP look even worse

This past week we had a decision by a DC appeals court striking down subsidies for Obamacare's federal health care exchanges, immediately followed by a Virginia appeals court that said the federal subsidies were OK. As for now, the subsidies stay on for those who bought insurance through the federal exchanges, but this is being appealed to higher courts, and seems destined to be decided by US Supreme Court, which is a scary proposition given this crew's recent record.

Wisconsin was one of those states that did not choose to set up a state exchange for insurance (and turned down $38 million dollars from the feds that would have helped set up the exchanges), so let's discuss what would happen if the Supremes do strike down the federal subsidies for the insurance exchanges. Jason Millman of the Washington Post notes that consumers would end up paying much higher costs for insurance, since most people who got insurance through the exchange were counting on the federal subsidies to help them pay for it.
The D.C. appellate court ruling in Halbig v. Burwell, that the federal government isn't authorized to administer insurance subsidies in the 36 states that refused to set up their own health insurance exchanges, is a major blow to the key feature that makes coverage affordable. Of the 5.4 million people who signed up for coverage in the 36 states with a federal exchange, 87 percent of them received federal subsidies to purchase insurance, according to the Obama administration. Those discounts, on average, meant those customers are paying about one-fourth of their actual premium, the Department of Health and Human Services reported.

The consulting firm Avalere Health calculated that those states by 2016 would forfeit about $36 billion in federal subsidies to purchase insurance. The impact would be much larger in some states — Mississippi, one of the poorest states, saw 94 percent of exchange enrollees qualify for subsidies. On average, premiums in these federal exchange states would increase 76 percent as a result of this decision, Avalere said.
You can click here to download the Avalere study, which estimates that Wisconsinites would be paying between 70-74% higher premiums if the Halbig decision were to stand, while neighboring Minnesota (who set up their own exchange) would have no change at all. So due to Gov Walker and WisGOP's TeaBagging of Obamacare, tens of thousands of Wisconsinites stand to see huge increases in what they'd have to pay for insurance, and many would not choose to be insured at all as a result.

And this is where I should note that the Affordable Care Act has been a significant success in places where it is has been fully implemented. A recent Gallup survey showed the uninsured rate has fallen from 18.0% in September 2013 to 13.1% at the end of June. But as the Urban Institute noted, the reduction in people uninsured is significantly more in states which expanded Medicaid and did their own implementation of Obamacare, compared to states like Wisconsin that did not.

But just because we have a Governor and Legislature that's trying to screw up the Affordable Care Act doesn't mean Wisconsinites aren't still seeing benefits from Obamacare. Wisconsinites are getting $2.6 million in rebates in the next week due to Obamacare rules regulating excessive profit and administrative costs by insurance companies. The Appeals Court decision doesn't affect this, but keep it in mind when you hear righties try to denigrate Obamacare, as there are many small things in it that have helped consumers beyond the increased ability to get health care services. Obamacare has also helped to lead to lower health care costs overall, and this is a part of the reason the Medicare trust fund's 100% fully-funded status was extended by another 4 years earlier this month, through 2030.

Let's go back to the questions about the federal insurance exchanges. We now know that less than 40% of Wisconsinites kicked off of BadgerCare by Walker's policies didn't get coverage through the exchanges, and the Halbig decision would blow that strategy apart even more, leaving nearly 25,000 Wisconsinites in the lurch, as they'd be unlikely to afford the insurance without the subsidies involved. It would also likely raise premiums for other health care recipients, because of lower levels of competition from the exchange and related complications. Of course, Walker's cynical strategy on Obamcare was that people either would get coverage (letting him off the hook for dumping them off of BadgerCare), or that Obamacare wouldn't work, which would allow GOPs a political advantage, and possibly get it removed before too many people got help and ended up liking it.

Now if the Supremes knock down the federal exchanges, you have the worst of all worlds- fewer people in Wisconsin covered, many others thrown into turmoil and uncertainty due to the burden of higher insurance costs, and a higher cost to state taxpayers (because of the refusal to accept expanded Medicaid). There will be demands to do something about it throughout the state, especially in low-income rural areas that are among the highest parts of Wisconsin that are in need of assistance for health care, which is not what Walker and WisGOP had in mind. Or we could elect a governor like Mary Burke, who would take Obamacare's expanded Medicaid funds, and elect Democrats into the Legislature who actually would work to save taxpayer dollars and cover more people, instead of the "more expense for less coverage" strategy that we've seen from WisGOP the last 3 years.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lyin' Ryan- with new and improved flim-flam!

I see another one of our state's righties is back in the news, as Paul Ryan released a new plan to try to deal with poverty, replacing the several other past plans of his that were promptly laughed out of the room. I'll leave it to the great Charlie Pierce to accurately call out why the Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver's new and improved plan is set up to fail. Pierce rightly calls out Purty Mouth Pau-lie as a pathetic poser whose "ideas" are merely stunts intended to raise Ryan's profile, with no chance of actually being workable policy.
There are ideas within the stated plan to which I have no objection: the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, prison reform, etc. There is also one major and insurmountable flaw in the plan, and that is that Paul Ryan is a consummate charlatan, the fact that he has discovered a new formula for snake oil notwithstanding.

One must never forget when discussing anything Paul Ryan says about economics that he fundamentally does not believe that the care of the poor and the sick is a legitimate function of government. This belief is theological. It is the basis for his entire political career. And it has not changed. This is a philosophy he developed while going to high school and college on my dime and yours through Social Security survivor benefits, and you're welcome again, dickhead. Anybody who thinks Paul Ryan has "changed" in any substantive way should not be allowed out in public without a minder. In this recent scam, the tells are scattered everywhere, and they are obvious, and you don't even have to know that the more "compassionate" of his proposals don't have fk all chance of getting through the monkeyhouse Congress in which he is a leader. He knows that, too.

For example, let us look at the tinpot re-branding of block grants as "opportunity grants." (And here we once again must refer to the words of Mr. S. Spade of San Francisco: "The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter.") Ryan says, yes, block grants sucked before, when Saint Ronnie used them as a means to destroy programs he didn't like, but they will work now because - Paul Ryan.
And the especially dangerous part about Ryan's plan is this delegation of programs to the states, as they could easily be misused by some ideological governor and legislature to cut services (like say, Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP) and give large amounts of this money to sketchy, politically connected organizations that don't give one care about the people they serve (like Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP).

Plus, as Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer pointed out, for such a "fiscal conservative", Ryan's plan to have individualized counseling for welfare recipients would be monstrously expensive, and he offers no way to pay for them. Mencimer notes a book by New York Times reporter Jason DeParle that looked into Wisconsin's welfare reform projects that had a similar plan, and they didn't go very well.
DeParle describes caseworkers in the Wisconsin welfare-to-work agencies as utterly overwhelmed, with caseloads double what they should have been because no one wanted to invest the money to hire the number of qualified people it would take to do the job right. Caseworkers like Michael were also inundated with clients who didn't necessarily want the government or private-sector caseworkers all up in their business. Few of Michael's generationally poor clients ended up getting real jobs, but a lot of them ended up losing their benefits. That's one reason why, nationally, in the decade after welfare reform, the number of children in deep poverty—that is, living at below half the federal poverty line—jumped from 1.5 million to 2.2 million between 1995 and 2005.

Customizing federal safety net services, while a laudable ideal, has several major downsides. One big one: It's slow, and someone who desperately needs food stamps to free up money to pay the rent isn't especially well-positioned to spend a lot of time contemplating self-improvement. Jason Perkins-Cohen spent seven years working in the DC Income Maintenance Administration, helping set up the city's welfare-to-work program. Now the executive director of the Job Opportunities Task Force in Baltimore, he says focusing on individualization ignores the fact that everyone has the same basic needs.

"So yes, everyone is an individual, but everyone needs to have shelter, food, health assistance, and a job." Right now, he says, people can get expedited food stamps in 15 days, an important feature for desperate people in crisis. "To customize [services], you're going to have to find out a lot more information, and all of this customization will end up slowing down the receipt of benefits."
Of course, screwing up social services beyond all recognition might be Paul Ryan's goal. Because that would enable Koch Boy to then turn around and say "See, helping these people doesn't work and wastes money, so we should cut it and/or pawn off these duties to campaign contributors private organizations." Win-win if you're a connected GOP crony, but it sure sucks for the rest of us.

As someone who still clings to the idea of accountability and that expertise and respect is earned instead of given out based on whose ass you kiss, it's vexing to see Paul Ryan continue to be projected in the DC media as some kind of bright thinker. This guy is a total fraud that doesn't give a care for the people who give him the chance to suckle at the government teat (tellingly, there is no Wisconsin stop on Ryan's book tour), and it's time for Southern Wisconsin to stop sending this self-absorbed dimwit to Congress.

Walker Administration not so "Unintimidated" on WEDC, transparency

Lakeland Times, Sept. 8, 2010
When he says he believes in government transparency, it's not just a campaign slogan, Walker said.

"I don't just say that, I've lived it," he said. "(In Milwaukee County), we have put all government purchases online at no additional cost. Every purchase, everything we enter into our accounting software, automatically in real time goes on to a website that tells the public every purchase by department. Not only a journalist but a citizen journalist or anybody else can track it down."

Well, it ain't 2010 anymore, and it looks like Governor Walker's Administration thinks they have found a way to stop "citizen journalists or anybody else" writing damaging stories about WEDC corruption and bilking taxpayers on out-of-state campaign trips. Hide the information from the public.
Citing security concerns, Gov. Scott Walker’s office is no longer releasing information about where he stays on out-of-state trips in regularly released calendars of his past activities.

Also on the same calendars, Walker’s office is no longer disclosing the names and phone numbers of companies that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is working with on economic incentive packages.

The decision to withhold those two types of information was disclosed Friday with the release of Walker’s daily calendars from June....

The statement noted the governor has had threats to his safety and stalking incidents in the past, and information about where he has stayed “could be used to establish patterns and predict the governor’s overnight location on future trips.”
That's right, taxpayers of Wisconsin. Scott Walker's administration says you have no right to ask how he and his staff are using your taxpayer dollars. This is unbelievably arrogant, and displays what a low opinion Walker and company have of the average Wisconsinite.

Props to the Wisconsin State Journal for exposing how these guys roll, and I know this will shock you, but there isn't a word about this in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, who receives advertising dollars from WEDC. Just like how the J-S has failed to mention that companies which received WEDC tax credits outsourced Wisconsin jobs, and that Walker received $68,500 in PAC donations from companies who outsourced jobs.

Actions speak louder than words, and this administration's actions scream "Corrupt group who knows they're sinking in the polls, and hope they can win on deception and hiding from the public."

EDIT: And it's not just in these departments where the Walker folks aren't being transparent. The Department of Revenue has regularly released tax collections on the fourth Friday of the month, but they didn't release June's yesterday (at least anywhere that I've seen). And they still haven't put the release of May's collections onto their website, let alone June's. Combine that with the hiring of a new Communications Director with major ties to WisGOP Senators, and it makes you wonder if something's up.

Friday, July 25, 2014

WEDC to hold its board meeting at China outsourcer

Here's more on the absurdity of Gov Walker's quickly-backfiring ads against Trek bicycle. Walker's pet "jobs creator" organization, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), has its next Board meeting on Monday, and it's located at the headquarters of Briggs and Stratton Corporation in Wauwatosa.

The choice of Briggs and Stratton is interesting enough, as they recently claimed they were going to move jobs from Georgia into Southeastern Wisconsin. Briggs also said they would discuss giveaways "incentives" that Briggs and they would get as part of this alleged jobs expansion, and I would guess this might be part of this WEDC Board meeting, since WEDC usually hands out these kinds of giveaways incentives.

As I mentioned earlier this month, you should be skeptical of Briggs' announcement, and not only because it's similar to the announcements of Wisconsin corporations such as Plexus and and Eaton Corporation earlier in Walker's tenure in office- jobs that not only never were added, but instead ended up being outsourced. You should also be questioning this because Briggs and Stratton's CEO just completed 2 years as the Chairman of the Board of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce - aka the Wisconsin GOP's economic policy puppetmasters-, and Briggs executives have given over $30,000 to Walker throughout the years. The timing of the "jobs expansion" announcement at Briggs happened just as a load of bad jobs news was hitting Wisconsin and damaging Walker's re-election campaign. So yes, the timing of the announcement seems more than a little convenient.

And what's doubly interesting about this WEDC Board meeting being at Briggs and Stratton is that Briggs has also done the same strategy Plexus and Eaton has- outsourcing some of its operations to China, including this move from 2012.
Briggs & Stratton Corp. said Thursday that it plans to cut about 460 jobs and stop selling gardening products through big retailers as demand for its goods shrinks.

The company, which is based in Milwaukee, is shifting some manufacturing work from an Alabama plant to another plant it has in China, or to contractors elsewhere in Southeast Asia, to save costs.

The company has been cutting back because of weaker demand for lawn and garden products in Europe and the U.S. due to the weak housing market of the past several years. The recent economic deterioration in Europe has further hurt demand. The cuts announced Thursday follow Briggs & Stratton's January announcement that it would close a plant in Tennessee and shift the work to Georgia, eliminating about 690 jobs in the U.S. It also said it would close a plant in the Czech Republic, cutting 77 jobs there.
So I'm sure WEDC Board Chair Scott Walker will bring this up in Monday's meeting, given that he's now found religion against the practice of outsourcing. I mean, just look at the new WisGOP billboard that's going up around the state tying Mary Burke to China outsourcing (oh wait, scratch that, WisGOP took that billboard down after 1 day after it was revealed that they used Russian stock photos).

Let's see if the media uses this WEDC Board meeting to finally ask real questions about why these Wisconsin companies are selected for tax credits over others, and to pin down Governor Walker and his administration on whether his anti-Trek ads are a general disagreement with outsourcing. If so, then it'd be quite a turnaround for the guy who took WEDC staff on a weeklong trade trip to China- on the taxpayer dime of course. If not, and he has no real problem with Wisconsin companies outsourcing, then he's just a desperate, hypocritical candidate throwing mud against the wall because he's losing the election.

So Scotty, which is it?