Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Consumer and housing concerns are starting to bubble up

With the Holiday shopping season annoyingly underway looming, it seems like a good time to see what might be going on with consumer spending. And there was some cause for confidence when we saw last week’s US Retail Sales report for October, as the topline figures looked strong.
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October 2018, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $511.5 billion, an increase of 0.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 4.6 percent (±0.5 percent) above October 2017. Total sales for the August 2018 through October 2018 period were up 5.0 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The August 2018 to September 2018 percent change was revised from up 0.1 percent (±0.5 percent)* to down 0.1 percent (±0.2 percent)*.

Retail trade sales were up 0.9 percent (±0.5 percent) from September 2018, and 4.3 percent (±0.5 percent) above last year. Gasoline Stations were up 16.2 percent (±1.6 percent) from October 2017, while Nonstore Retailers were also up 12.1 percent (±1.4 percent) from last year.
Overall, that sounds pretty good. But note that gasoline figure, and remember that retail sales do not account for inflation.

According to the most recent Consumer Price Index report, gasoline prices rose by nearly 17% over the same time period, and was up 3% in October 2018 alone.

What this means is that these allegedly strong retail sales numbers aren’t as hot, although they’re still not bad.

Retail sales minus gasoline
Oct 2018 vs Sept 2017 +0.5%
Oct 2018 vs Oct 2017 +3.6%
Aug-Oct 2018 vs Aug-Oct 2017 +3.1%

And now that gasoline prices have fallen hard in the last month, it seems logical that retail sales might also “decline” for November, and people panic instead of looking underneath and seeing how much that drop is due to lower gas prices. But what both months may indicate is that consumer spending growth could be moderating from the strong 4.0% pace reported for 3rd Quarter GDP (and the downward revisions for September indicate that 4% figure could also end up lower).

There also is some iffiness with the housing market, as higher prices and higher interest rates might be putting homes out of reach for many people, even with low unemployment and a minor pickup in wage growth. Note this story from last week.
Mortgage application activity decreased 3.2% from one week earlier as interest rates rose to eight-year highs and refinancings fell to an 18-year low, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Nov. 9 found that the refinance index decreased 4.3% from the previous week reaching its lowest level since December 2000. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 39.4% of total applications from 39.1% from one week earlier.

The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 2.3% from one week earlier reaching its lowest level since February 2017, while the unadjusted purchase index decreased 5% compared with the previous week and was 3% lower than the same week one year ago.
On a similar note, the Wisconsin Realtors Association reported over the weekend that fewer homes continue to be sold in Wisconsin compared to last year, while prices of those homes kept rising well past the rate of inflation or wage growth.

The right-wing Realtors tried to claim the overall economy was still good, but even they had to admit that rising prices and rates were taking its toll on their business.
"Prices continued their upward trajectory and mortgage rates also increased by just under one percent over the past year, so affordability has definitely slipped," said WRA President & CEO Michael Theo. The Wisconsin Housing Affordability Index shows the fraction of the median-priced home that a buyer with median family income can qualify to purchase, assuming 20 percent down and the remainder financed using a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The index fell from 219 in October 2017 to 196 this past October, which is a 10.5 percent reduction in affordability over the last 12 months. "The strong economy has kept affordability from dropping further," said Theo. Median family income in the state is estimated to have increased just over 5 percent since October of last year. "The flip side of a strong national economy is that the Fed will likely continue to hike interest rates, which will translate into higher mortgage rates over the next year" he said. Rising prices and rising mortgage rates will continue to put pressure on affordability so considering a move in the winter may turn out to be a good decision in the long run.
But Wisconsin wages and job growth are hardly booming, no matter how Theo wants to spin it, and the rising home prices and increasing number of school referenda indicate that the claim of Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP that “your property taxes will be lower” is unlikely to be the case when you get your bill this Fall.

Now combine that squeeze with the fact that many middle-class Americans will get another surprise when they file their federal taxes and realize that it won’t be worth it to write off their mortgage interest or property taxes because the increased standard deduction is larger and the State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction is limited to $10,000 per couple. It makes me wonder if there’s a real danger of a bubble popping in housing which tightens up the wallets of Wisconsinites and others in the coming months.

Which makes it notable that there was another warning out yesterday about the housing market, and it played a role in tanking the DOW Jones Industrial Average by nearly 400 points yesterday.
Confidence among U.S. homebuilders plummeted by the most since 2014 as the highest borrowing costs in eight years restrain demand, adding to signs of a cooling housing market that will weigh on the Federal Reserve’s debate over how far to raise interest rates.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index dropped eight points in November to 60, the lowest level since August 2016, according to a report Monday. That compared with the median estimate of economists for a one-point drop to 67.

Shares of homebuilders initially fell and 10-year Treasury yields erased gains following the report, which represents one of the first breaks in elevated levels of business and consumer confidence that have persisted since Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016. While the index remains in positive territory, the group called on policy makers to take note of the housing situation as a possible warning sign about the broader economy.
But the country’s high budget deficits mean that central bankers might not want to limit their plans to keep raising interest rates, as it becomes difficult to get enough money to finance our increasing debt if bond-buyers can’t get a good rate.

I’m not saying we’re in stagflation yet, but you can see how things are set up where a number of small annoyances barriers can add up to an economic slowdown and/or recession in the near future. And the way out of that economic slowness will not be fun or easy, since we’ve already shot most of our weapons to fight those problems as a result of the GOP Tax Scam and wage growth that still doesn’t seem able to overcome the growing debt and expenses everyday people continue to have.

Which brings us back to Holiday shopping, as it seems like those figures could go a longer way than normal toward indicating whether our economy is OK heading into 2019, or is in big-time danger of going over the edge.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Evers got just enough voters to swing back to become Guv

I wanted to follow up from my pre-election analysis to see just how much the votes shifted from GOP to Dem to allow Tony Evers to become our state's next Governor.

The biggest shifts happened in the Milwaukee Metro area. Not only did Evers benefit from a big shift to Dems in the Milwaukee County suburbs and increased turnout in the City of Milwaukee, but he also held down Walker’s margin of victory in the WOW Counties, as Walker basically split the difference between himself in 2014 and Trump in 2016.
Note- all of these maps will use "Dem% - GOP%" as the baseline.

If you look at the largest counties in northeastern Wisconsin, while Walker won every one of those 6 counties, Evers outperformed Burke in all of them, and improved on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 results in 2/3 of them. This kept Walker from running up the massive margins in the 920 that were keys to his prior victories.

As WisGOPs seem to bemoan every day, central to Evers’ win was a 150,000+ vote advantage in Dane County, which was 50,000 more votes than what Burke won the county by in 2014. Tony won Dane by a comical 51%, and he also did better than either Burke or Clinton in 4 other typically blue counties that border Dane.

Another area where Evers (generally) did well in was the southwestern corner of the state. Not only did he become the first Dem to win Grant County since 2012, but he also more than doubled Burke’s win in La Crosse, and gained back rural counties that were lost badly to Trump in 2016.

For Trump to win Wisconsin in 2020, he needs this area to vote like it did in 2016. If that’s not happening (and it didn't in November 2018) the GOP’s losses in the larger metro areas will be too large to make up. So this is worth keeping an eye on.

Similarly, the area along Highway 29 in Central and Western Wisconsin was one I identified as a key tale-teller for 2018 and 2020. And as you can see, Evers made gains vs 2014 and 2016 in 3 of them, but that the Wausau area stayed strongly red.

This has big downticket implications, as it indicates Sean Duffy’s lucked into a House seat that is much easier for him to win than it was when he first won it in 2010. It also helps explain how Jeff Smith got a surprisingly easy 6-point win to keep Kathleen Vinehout’s Eau Claire-area State Senate seat in Dem hands, and the shift toward Dems in both Dunn and St. Croix Counties could help Dem Patty Schachtner hold her State Senate seat in 2020.

Lastly, let me give you this map from J. Miles Coleman at Decision Desk HQ. As you can see, Walker actually did better in some rural counties in 2018 than he did in 2014. But the more populated southern half of the state shifted harder towards Dems, and that's what did Scotty in.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Feelings vs facts- RW snowflakes don't get the difference. Don't waste time on them

One thing that has bothered me about the 2010s is how so many right-wing politicians and media figures refuse to act in good faith, and that Dems and "legitimate" media are so inept in countering these dishonest lowlifes.

Along those lines, In Vox's Sean Illing talked with Cal-Berkeley professor George Lakoff, who notes that it's a mistake for media and politicians to repeat Donald Trump's tweets and false claims. Even if it's to say "Donald Trump is lying when he says _____," Lakoff says it's a losing strategy that allows Trump's BS to fester in people's minds.

While I find Lakoff and followers to be simplistic at times, I think he is largely spot-on here. Lakoff says that instead of reporting in Trump's statements, media and politicians should use "truth sandwiches" that use a word structure "facts - why Trump is lying about these facts - and reiterate the facts."

A mistake that Lakoff says Democrats and others make with right-wingers is that they assume all people make their opinions based on facts and are flexible to new inputs, instead of being likely to stick with what they want to believe.

(George Lakoff:) People think in terms of conceptual structures called frames and metaphors. It’s not just the facts. They have values, and they understand which facts fit into their conceptual framework. You can’t understand something if your brain doesn’t allow it, if your brain filters it out in terms of your values.

Democrats seem not to understand this, and they keep trying to employ reason as a persuasive vehicle. I wish Enlightenment reasoning was an accurate model for how most people think and judge, but it isn’t, and we better acknowledge that fact.

Sean Illing: So on some level, you’re saying that Democrats have to accept that they’re playing a different kind of conversational game, in which truth and falsity are irrelevant. If that’s the case, what use is there for a free press, or for discourse at all?

George Lakoff: Well, that’s why the truth sandwiches are important. Let me say one more thing that’s really crucial in this respect. Kellyanne Conway talked about alternative facts at one point, so the phrase comes from her. When I heard that, it occurred to me that there’s a sense in which she’s right.

If you’re someone who shares Trump’s worldview, there are certain things that follow from that worldview. In other words, certain things have to be true, or have to be believed, in order to sustain that worldview. The things that aren’t actually true but nevertheless preserve that worldview are “alternative facts” — that’s what Conway was getting at, whether she knew it or not.

The conservatives use those alternative facts all the time, and so does Trump. If he’s talking to his base, he’s talking to people who have already bought into a picture of the world, and his job is to tell them things that confirm that picture — and he knows they’ll believe it for that very reason.

I think we have to understand “alternative facts” in this way, and understand that when Trump is lying, he’s lying in ways that register with his audience. So it may be lying, but it’s strategic lying — and it’s effective.
With this in mind, I wanted to also note this part from Saturday Night Live's open, where Kate McKinnon played Faux News host Laura Ingraham, and explained to us to the concept of "feel facts".
“Later on in the show: Celebrities in California are whining about wildfires while our heroic president is under constant attack from rain,” [McKinnon] said [as Ingraham]. “But first, let’s talk about the rampant voter fraud that allowed democrats to literally steal the election. Some have claimed that suburban women revolted against the Republican party. But doesn’t it feel more true that all Hispanics voted twice?”

The Ingraham character added them to her list of “feel facts,” which “aren’t facts but they just feel true.”

What the SNL skit and Lakoff's comments illustrate are reasons why we shouldn't waste our time arguing with people weak enough to still support Trump or get their "facts" from hate radio AM 620/1130/1310. All you can do is to mock them and repeat facts in different frames so that bystanders don't get tricked into thinking that Bagger trash shooting their mouths off actually have a clue.

The sooner we concentrate on the wants and thoughts of the honest 70% of this country that cares about independent facts and results, the better off we will be. And the more likely it will be that we can isolate and diminish the gutless 30% that are left.

Shouldn't we fund public schools vs having constant referenda?

I wanted to catch up on another trend that happened at Wisconsin ballot boxes this November - the increasing amount of school referenda throughout the state that voters approved of.

In addition to the former teacher they chose to be their new governor, Wisconsin voters around the state also chose to raise their own taxes to keep their public schools running.
Wisconsin taxpayers voted to pour at least $1.3 billion more into their local public schools on Tuesday, raising their own property taxes in most cases to pay for it and making 2018 another record year for school district referendums.

Capping an election cycle in which education issues dominated the governor's race, voters approved 77 referendums by school districts asking to borrow money for capital projects or exceed their state-mandated revenue limits to maintain or expand programming. They rejected just five, totaling almost $44 million.

All 23 ballot questions passed in southeastern Wisconsin, totaling $556 million, according to an analysis of data reported by the Department of Public Instruction. Those included a $124.9 million ask by the Wauwatosa School District — the second largest referendum Tuesday — which is expected to raise property taxes on a $250,000 home by $470 a year for the next two decades.
Wisconsin Public Radio also had a on the numerous referenda, mostly concentrating on the large number of smaller, rural districts that felt they had little option but to ask the voters for more funding in order to survive.
According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the increase in rural districts asking for funding help is generally tied to decreases in enrollment. But the state's competitive education landscape could also be playing a role in the increased number of referendums, according to Dan Rossmiller, the director of government relations for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

Options like open enrollment and the state's voucher program give students options outside of their school district.

"Districts are finding that they're having to make certain improvements to be more competitive in that competitive environment and keep those students where they currently are," Rossmiller said.
I don’t buy Rossmiller's argument at all. These aren’t college dorms that get spiffier to attract students. The referenda is often going into everyday classrooms and other facilities that are falling apart, along with paying bills to keep the lights on. I think it's more a reflection of 8 years of defunding and devaluing public education by the ALEC-GOP crew that has been running things at the State Capitol.

Where vouchers play into this equation is because of the ALEC/GOP funding mechanism that literally takes away money from the public school district where the voucher student lives, even if the student has never attended a day of classes in public school. I note that Wauwatosa is the Milwaukee suburb that seems to have turned hardest toward Democrats in the last few years, because they know that the voucher scam is wrecking their community's schools and quality of life, while raising their own property taxes in the process.

And all of these factors matter when it comes to keeping their community vibrant and worth living in, which explains why SOS (Save Our Schools) was a common sign I saw in Wauwatosa yards as I increasingly headed to Milwaukee in September and October for the Brewers' playoff run.

This seems like something Governor-elect Evers should fix in his first budget, along with reiterating his call for looser revenue caps, which will lessen the need to go to referendum in the first place. And perhaps we should use some of the $1.6 billion+ in tax dollars that we spend on writeoffs for property taxes associated, and put that money into the classroom and the buildings instead.

Lastly, WisGOPs have spent the last several years trying to starve K-12 public schools into submission. Maybe it's time to reverse that trend and start cutting off these voucher schools from the taxpayer teat. After all, if they believe in competition and "survival of the fittest", maybe they should stop getting so much of our money and get by on their rich benefactors and tuition that can be written off on rich people's taxes.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Walker re-appears...as the same petty partisan we knew him to be

Our Fair Governor emerged from hiding late this week to talk to the media about his loss in a bid for a third term, and the plans that his fellow WisGOPs have floated which would prevent successor Tony Evers from being able to do the same things Scott Walker could.

2 days after claiming he stayed quiet in the name of “civility”, Walker showed on Thursday he was still the same scummy, partisan lowlife that he’s been for all of his 25 years of grifting off of Wisconsin taxpayers. Not only did he indicate he was fine with taking away some powers from Gov-elect Evers, but Scotty came up with a typically lame excuse for doing so.
Walker acknowledged the changes being considered could give lawmakers more appointees to boards for the state Building Commission and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — which would dilute the influence of the governor’s appointees to those boards.

“Most of what’s likely to come up between now and Jan. 7 is more of a reflection of codifying the practice that we’ve had in the past,” Walker said.
What the hell is he talking about? Walker and WisGOP have consolidated power into the Governor’s Office and his lackeys at the Department of Administration for the last 8 years. The only way you “codify” that is by allowing Evers also take advantage of that consolidation of power, and appoint his own people to those boards.

What WisGOP (and apparently Walker) want to do is the OPPOSITE of codifying what was done in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan. They want to make Evers operate under different rules than Walker did, with less direct power and oversight to mold these organizations as he sees fit.

Sorry Tony, only I get to do these things.

We can debate whether de-centralizing some of these powers would be a good or bad thing (it was sickening how the WisGOP Legislature allowed Walker to grab so much control over the last 8 years). But that should be done after Evers takes office, because perhaps Tony will propose some “good government” reforms that should be put in place as well. The fact that WisGOP isn’t asking for Evers’ input reveals this to be a brazen power play.

And the power play got even more blatant and disgusting Thursday, when GOP Legislative leaders said they wanted to move Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential primary for reasons that had nothing to do with the presidential race.
Republicans for a year have been concerned about the 2020 state Supreme Court race because it will be held alongside Wisconsin's presidential primary — when Democratic turnout is expected to far outpace Republican turnout because Democrats will be deciding who in their party will challenge President Donald Trump.

That turnout imbalance could spell trouble for Justice Daniel Kelly, whom Walker appointed to the high court in 2016.

Legislative leaders have been discussing moving the April 2020 primary, possibly to March of that year. No decisions have been made on whether to advance the plan, according to four Republicans familiar with the discussions …

Moving the presidential primary would tack on costs for taxpayers. Clerks would need to hold three elections that spring — a February primary for Supreme Court and local elections, an April general election for those races and the presidential primary.
But as we’ve seen with redistricting and lawsuits against settled laws like the ACA and marriage equality, when has running up taxpayer costs for partisan politics stopped WisGOP before?

Cut from the same scuzzy cloth.

I also can’t let go of this line of bunk from Governor Dropout that appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal’s summary of his word salad.
Walker said Thursday that he finds it odd that a nonpartisan election, such as the Supreme Court election, would be held on the same date as a partisan election, such as the presidential primary.
Oh, that’s news to you, Scotty? Because it’s no different than it was in 2016, when appointed Walker/GOP hack Rebecca Bradley won her Supreme Court race against JoAnn Kloppenburg on the same day that voters in both parties chose Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz in the presidential primary.

I didn’t recall your concern back then, likely because AM talk radio goosed up enough sheep so that 100,000 more people voted in the GOP primary than the Dem one, which helped Bigoted Becky win a 10-year term. And by the way, why do you guys care so much about rigging elections for “Justice”? Afraid of what an honest judge that’s not owned by WMC, the Federalist Society and other right-wing oligarchs might find?

This statement from our soon-to-be ex-Governor was also rich.
Walker also suggested the changes he and lawmakers adopted the last eight years may have left them with little more to do.

“We’ve been such reformers, I may have reformed myself out of a job,” Walker said.
Oh, “reformed your way out a job”? Is that what you call 7 straight years of bottom-half job growth (including 42nd in the US over the last 12 months measured), underfunded schools that are closing and/or in need of continual referenda, a massive increase in both Scott-holes AND wheel taxes to fix those Scott-holes, and unprecedented corporate welfare and corruption?

Don’t flatter yourself, Scotty. You earned your rejection on November 6. And the garbage you tried shelling out on Thursday shows that have learned nothing from it except to double down and spin and grift some more.

The way Walker and his fellow WisGOPs are acting in the wake of a clear statewide rebuke means they need to be exiled from any power at the Capitol for all of the 2020s. It’s going to be a long road back to restore Wisconsin from the Banana Republic(an) place it has become under GOP rule, and it’s clear that WisGOPs will not be partners in that restoration. Gov-elect Evers better realize that, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

More job losses in October. Maybe a new, less crooked Guv can make us "open for business"

Even though Scott Walker has less than 8 weeks left in his Reign of Error, it still doesn’t mean there isn’t more data coming in to judge his record as Governor. This includes the most recent Wisconsin jobs report, which was released on Thursday.
In brief, seasonally adjusted estimates show:

• Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin's preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October remained unchanged at 3 percent. This was the 9th straight month that the state's unemployment rate stood at 3 percent or less. Earlier in 2018, Wisconsin's achieved its lowest unemployment rate in the history of the state, 2.8 percent. Wisconsin's labor force participation rate was 68.4 percent, more than five percentage points higher than the national rate of 62.9 percent.

• Place of Work Data: From October 2017 to October 2018, Wisconsin added 32,000 private sector jobs and 20,000 manufacturing jobs. Both increases were deemed as statistically significant by BLS. Since 2010, Wisconsin has added 53,700 manufacturing jobs and 32,400 construction jobs.
Notice what’s not mentioned? The actual jobs numbers for October. And even though there’s no campaign left to complement, Scott Walker’s DWD is still working as a PR outlet. Because they don’t want people to see these numbers.

The unemployment rate stayed at 3.0%, but it wasn’t because of any kind of job growth. Instead, it was because Wisconsin lost both people working and those available for work in October.

Household survey, October 2018 Wisconsin
Employed -6,700
Labor Force -6,700
“Unemployed” 0

Payrolls also reflected this decline, both in October, and in the revisions for the prior month.

October 2018 jobs, Wisconsin
All jobs -3,500
Private sector jobs -1,600

Sept 2018 revisions, Wisconsin
All jobs -3,000 (-4,100 total)
Private sector jobs +1,300 (+400 total)

Put this together with private sector losses in August, and the record of the last 3 months is bad.

Aug 2018 – Oct 2018 jobs, Wisconsin
All jobs -6,000
Private sector jobs -1,900

These new numbers mean that right on the eve of last week’s election, the Walker jobs gap was around 155,000, and we were STILL below 250,000 private sector jobs since Walker took office – 4 years later that Scotty claimed we would get there.

Speaking of our Fair Governor, how fitting that this jobs report comes out on the same day that Walker came out of hiding to ask for one last corporate handout before he leaves office.

Yes, because after 8 years of underperformance, the last thing we need is for you to hang one more economic albatross around the necks of Wisconsinites on your way out the door.

Sorry Scotty, you failed us enough over the years, which goes a long way towards explaining why you’re searching for your first real adult job these days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Interest rates up + US deficit up + inflation up (for now) = not a good situation

Yesterday had the release of the first US Treasury Statement of the new fiscal year, and it produced a nice round number that headline writers could easily lead with.
The U.S. recorded a $100.5 billion budget deficit in October, an increase of about 60 percent from a year earlier, as spending grew twice as fast as revenue.

The deficit widened from $63.2 billion in the same month last year, the department said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. October marks the start of the U.S. fiscal year.

Receipts totaled $252.7 billion last month, up 7 percent from a year earlier, while outlays climbed 18 percent to $353.2 billion, according to the department.
Some of this is a bit misleading, because payments were a little screwy in September due to the 30th (and the end of the Federal Fiscal Year) happening on a Sunday. If you dig into the Congressional Budget Office’s Monthly Budget Review for October, it shows the effects of this calendar trick.
The government recorded a deficit of $98 billion in October, CBO estimates, about $35 billion more than the shortfall recorded in the same month last year. A shift in the timing of payments affected the deficit in October 2017; if not for that shift, the deficit last month would have been $9 billion less than it was in October 2017.
And sure, the October 2017 numbers were also goofy due to weekends, but you get the idea. While the toplines are bad, we’re not likely to have a 40% increase year-over-year in the deficit for the entire 2019 Federal Fiscal Year.

But the deficit certainly is continuing to go up, and bond investor Jeff Gundlach notes that our rising budget deficit is outrunning the increase in the economy caused by deficit spending. He notes that this is making interest rates rise to keep pumping the money out and to slow down the economy.
“When the deficit goes up, it’s stimulative to the economy. That’s good in the short term, but it’s borrowing from the future,” he said.

On the chart, the blue line represents the Fed funds rate and the red line is the deficit. During the early 2000s, the red line and the blue line moved in the same direction. To put it another way, when the blue line goes down, the means the Fed cut rates, and the deficit expanded. Part of that can explained by a lousy economy that lowers tax receipts and increases government outlays, but there’s also generally some stimulus in there to help the economy pull out of that recession. The red line goes up during good a good economy because the deficit is supposed to shrink. The red line going up changed in the aftermath of the global financial crisis when deficits shrank while rates remained low.

“When the Fed started raising rates, very strangely, the deficit started rising because, of course, of the policies put in place in the aftermath and prior to the election. Now we see we are raising rates again while the deficit as a percentage of GDP is rising.”
Because our deficit keeps going up in a time of economic growth, Gundlach says the US economy is heading toward a self-perpetuating cycle where the rising interest rates themselves also increase the deficit by increasing the cost required to pay off bondholders.
“If you look at the screen of the yield curve today, the yield curve, it basically has a three-handle across the board and so those bonds, when they mature, will have to be replaced unless we have a budget surplus, which obviously is not the trend presently with higher cost debt. And so we’ll have yet another perhaps $150 billion or so of interest expense five years from now if interest rates are raised along in sync with the Fed’s stated plan to continue to hike rates pretty much at a quarterly rate.”...

“This is not a good situation,” Gundlach said, before adding, “It seems like we’re on a suicide mission by increasing our debt and increasing the cost of that debt simultaneously. I’m quite sure this is going to be an issue that’s going to be important within 5 years at the absolute maximum.”
One thing that could stop these increases in interest rates is if inflation gets held in check, as that would hold down the real rate of interest, which hasn’t changed all that much in the last 2 years because year-over-year inflation has doubled from 1 to 2.5% over the last 2 years.

Speaking of inflation, we just got a report today on the October Consumer Price Index. While that report showed a slightly-hot 0.3% price increase for last month, that included a 3% increase in gasoline that has sharply reversed since then (if you’ve gone to the gas station recently, you’ve likely noticed). Because that 0.3% monthly rate does not seem like something that will continue in the near future, maybe the concern about raising interest rates high due to keep up with rising inflation might subside in the near future.

Also in that CPI report, it showed food prices already have been dropping (down 0.1% in October), partially due to the surplus of products that are being kept in the country due to the Trump Trade Wars. That’s not good news for farmers (as evidenced by the 1,100 dairy farms that have gone under in Wisconsin since the end of 2016), but combine that with the decline that’s starting to happen with gasoline, and it likely will mean flat if not negative inflation for the coming months.

Of course, our deficit will still be putting upward pressure on rates, since we have to get more of our debt sold, as bond trader Gundlach noted this week, and that doesn’t seem likely to go away any time soon. And I wouldn’t count on massive economic growth to reduce that deficit, not in a time of sub-4% unemployment and real hourly wages declining in October (granted, it was only down 0.1% and 12-month real growth was up to 0.7%. Party hats!).

Which makes me wonder when the second shoe drops, and it’s not just crops and now oil and gasoline that have overproduction problems that deflate prices, destroy profits, and lead to layoffs. Logic tells me it’s sooner than later, and when it hits, we won’t have much fiscal flexibility to get out of it without a lot of pain.

Baldwin/Walker counties - what does that tell us?

I wanted to give a quick note about this alleged result from the exit polls made during last week's elections in Wisconsin.

WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Outside of the fact that they are likely very low-info, I was curious to see which counties in the state voted for both Baldwin and Walker to see if there was a geographic area. And it largely seems to be in many of the benchmark "swing" areas of the state.

Baldwin vs Vukmir, US Senate

Evers vs Walker, Wis Governor

Baldwin/Walker counties
Brown- Baldwin +2.9%, Walker +8.4% (11.3% difference Dem vs GOP)
Outagamie- Baldwin +0.3%, Walker +10.9% (11.2% difference)
Winnebago- Baldwin +6.5%, Walker +3.6% (10.1% difference)
Door- Baldwin +11.5%, Walker +2.3% (13.8% difference)

Trempealeau- Baldwin +3.2%, Walker +10.1% (13.3% difference)
Jackson Baldwin +9.5%, Walker +5.2% (14.7% difference)
Dunn Baldwin +6.1%, Walker +3.2% (9.3% difference)
Pierce Baldwin +5.5%, Walker +3.1% (8.6% difference)

Racine Baldwin +4.8%, Walker +4.9% (9.7% difference)
Lafayette Baldwin +10.7%, Walker +2.8% (13.5% difference)

I don't live in one of these ticket-splitting areas (my home county went for Baldwin and Evers by 50%+), but any theories beyond low-info stuff as to why this may have happened. It also indicates to me that if Walker was tied to Trump and ALEC like Vukmir was (and like how Walker was tying HIMSELF to), he likely would have lost by more.

PS- Here's the first of what will likely be a few intetesting Wisconsin vote maps from J. Miles Coleman of Decision Desk HQ.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

While the nation laughs at the Fox-con, here comes Foxconn 2 tomorrow

As the rest of the nation noted the massive subsidies coming to Amazon from its new East Coast headquarters in Northern Virginia and New York City, the inevitable comparisons to Wisconsin’s own “business development” boondoogle came up.

But even people from all corners are saying “don’t be like Wisconsin and Foxconn”, the Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing tomorrow on a proposed incentives package to keep a Kimberly-Clark plant open near Appleton – aka “Foxconn 2”.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s writeup of the plan reiterates that the Kimberly-Clark package mirrors the one given to Foxconn, in that it will pay Kimberly-Clark cash in the form of a refundable tax credit if they keep people employed at their plants.
PPMC Payroll Tax Credit. A certified claimant could claim a refundable income or franchise tax credit equal to 17% of the eligible payroll for the taxable year for full-time employees employed by the claimant. "Eligible Payroll" would mean the amount of state payroll that is attributable to wages paid by the claimant to full-time employees, but would not include the amount of wages paid to any full-time employee that exceeds $100,000. A "full-time employee" would mean an individual who is employed at either of the two specified manufacturing facilities in a job for which the annual pay is at least $30,000 and who is offered retirement, health, and other benefits that are equivalent to the retirement, health, and other benefits offered to an individual who is required to work at least 2,080 hours per year. "State payroll" would mean the amount of payroll apportioned to this state as determined under the old corporate apportionment statutes. …

Any change in the number of employees retained by Kimberly-Clark Corporation and average earnings of those employees would affect the estimated 15-year total for refundable PPMC payroll tax credits. For example, based upon recent media reports, it is anticipated that 500 employees with average annual earnings of $70,000 may be retained at one facility (1050 Cold Spring Road) specified under the bill. Assuming that WEDC entered into a contract with Kimberly-Clark Corporation that allowed the company to cease operations at one of the facilities so long as 500 employees were retained at the other facility, it is estimated that PPMC payroll credits would increase GPR expenditures by $6.0 million annually over a 15-year period, totaling $89.3 million (assuming employment levels remain at 500 with annual earnings of $70,000 over the 15-year period).

The fiscal notes submitted by WEDC and DOR did not indicate any significant capital expenditures that might occur at either of the two facilities. However, any significant capital expenditures that might be authorized under a contract between the company and WEDC would be eligible for refundable PPMC capital expenditure credits of up to 15% of such expenditures, and certain expenditures eligible for the capital expenditure credits would also be exempt from state and local sales and use tax.
Oh? So this Kimberly-Clark bailout could cost us MORE than $6 mil a year for 15 years if they choose to put in more machines or fix up their facility at a later time? Well, do we have any way to get our money back if K-C doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain?
Clawback Provisions. WEDC would be required to revoke a PPMC certification if the business does any of the following: (a) supplies false or misleading information to obtain credits; (b) leaves the state to conduct substantially the same business outside the state; (c) ceases operations in the state and does not renew operation of the business or a similar business in the state within 12 months; (d) fails to retain at least 93% of its full-time employees at the two specified facilities who were identified as being such employees in the base year, as determined by WEDC; or (e) fails to retain at least 93% of its employees employed in a full-time capacity in this state, but not at the two specified facilities, who were identified as being such employees in the base year, as determined by WEDC. In addition, WEDC could require a business to repay any PPMCs the business claims for a year in which it failed to maintain employment levels or a significant capital investment in property required by contract between WEDC and the business.
I can’t tell if this means they have to keep 93% of their employees that they claimed to WEDC when they wanted to get their tax credits in a given year, or if it means they have to keep at least 465 jobs open for all 15 years. Seems like an important item to get right.

But let’s be real and ask "why are we thinking of doing this in the first place?" Kimberly-Clark already got a massive tax write-off from the state in the form of the M&A “Big Giveaway”, so their state taxes are near-zero. They also got help from the GOP Tax Scam in DC, which the company themselves said was a reason for these proposed layoffs in the first place, because it gave them enough fiscal flexibility to restructure and “allocate significant capital to shareholders”.

More, more more?

Kimberly-Clark also apparently has received concessions from the workers’ unions at the plants if they do stay open. How much more help do they need…or deserve? Instead, why aren’t we giving incentives to allow all papermakers in the state to modernize and become more energy efficient? That’s what was in a bill proposed by Fox Valley Dems earlier this year, and it seems like a much better plan than giving away tens of millions of dollars to one company.

Given that there weren’t enough votes in the State Senate to pass this Kimberly-Clark bailout before the election, I’m not sure what’s going to change now that a new governor is coming into power within 8 weeks, as what incentive do Dems have to back any more Walker jobs schemes when Scotty is heading out the door?

With the next budget tough enough as it is, and the original Fox-con looks worse by the day, there are a lot of better sources to use tax dollars on than for a greedy corporation that already is getting a ton of breaks. But let’s see what the public hearing has to offer anyway, because it might be a good preview of how things are going to run (or not run) in these next 2 years of split power in Wisconsin government. The circus is back at the Big Top in Madison, folks!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Add cranberries to dairy when it comes to Wisconsin ag woes

Wisconsin farmers are undergoing some of the toughest times of any in the nation right now, particularly in 2 types of products that the state is well-known for – cranberries and dairy.

I’ll first talk about the cranberries, which is a major crop in central and western Wisconsin in particular, and media mentioned over the weekend that many cranberries are going to be dumped and/or put in storage to get prices up. That’s a big deal in Wisconsin, since our state produces 60% of the US’s cranberries, and because there are still a lot of berries from 2017 that have yet to be used.
Hundreds of millions of pounds of the tart fruit could be used as fertilizer or animal feed. Some of the glut could be donated to charities or sold overseas to keep it out of the U.S. marketplace.

“Basically, they’re going to destroy 25 percent of the crop,” said Paul Mitchell, a University of Wisconsin-Madison agricultural economist.

It’s something the growers, themselves, requested from the USDA through what’s called “volume regulation,” a rarely used federal order to deal with an oversupply of fruit.

This might not all go on the shelves

Like many other agricultural products in the US, the problems of low prices and oversupply have been made worse by the Trump Trade Wars and improved foreign competition.
China slapped a 40 percent tariff on American cranberries this year, up from 25 percent, according to growers.

“And even if Trump hadn’t screwed around with tariffs, some of these issues would still be there because the rest of the world is getting better at producing as well,” Mitchell said.

Canada and Chile, for example, have ramped up cranberry production with large, highly efficient bogs and improved varieties of fruit.
Cranberries are part of the list of products that the Trump Administration are subsidizing, but the $32.8 million that will be paid by Uncle Sam for nutrition programs is a fraction of what soybeans or even pistachios will get.

Wisconsin’s dairy farmers also continue to struggle against the economic problems of overproduction and plunging prices. After a minor rally at the end of October, prices have fallen again in November, with futures down more than 10% for dairy products over the last 2 months.

On top of the awful outlook, newly-updated statistics from the US Department of Agriculture show that 87 more dairy farms closed in Wisconsin in October, which is the most for one month in 7 ½ years. The new monthly total also means that 660 farms have closed in the last 12 months in the state, and more than 1,100 since the end of 2016.

We are in a full-fledged crisis and new Dem leaders like Gov-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul need to reverse the Walker and Schimel policies that deregulated factory farms and encouraged the type of overproduction that are driving out dairy producers, and causing cranberries to rot in storage.

And sorry Big Ag, but that probably requires stronger regulation and taxation against those of you who have acted in a way that has hurt the little guys in Wisconsin. And it needs to happen soon, or else there won’t be any little guys left.

Evers can stop the bleeding at UW. But is it already too late?

Among the many reasons I’m happy over the election of Tony Evers as governor of Wisconsin is that he has a chance to stop and reverse the damage that Scott Walker and his hand-picked Board of Regents has done to our University of Wisconsin System over the last 8 years.

The Wisconsin State Journal mentioned today that Evers will get the opportunity to put a majority of his appointees onto the Board. You can bet that a man with 3 degrees from UW-Madison that is currently the Superintendent of Schools in the state will be more interested in helping the UW compared to a Dropout Governor that frequently derided “Madison liberals” and academics.
Over Evers’ four-year term that begins Jan. 7, he will replace at least 10 of the 18 seats on the Board of Regents, but a handful of circumstances — an election win by a fellow board member [Congressman-elect Brian Steil], a vacancy already on the board and what happens with his own seat on the board as state superintendent of public instruction — could mean Evers may appoint an even greater number of people sympathetic to his higher education platform. It could also mean Walker may move quickly to fill those seats, one that has set a record-breaking long vacancy at nearly 11 months.

As the state’s schools chief, Evers automatically holds a seat on the board. S. Mark Tyler, the Wisconsin Technical College System Board president, also serves as an “ex-officio” member of the board by the nature of his position.

But every other Regent on the 18-member board is appointed by the governor. Fourteen seats, all currently held by Walker appointees, serve staggered, seven-year terms. The two other Regents are students selected by the governor to serve two-year terms.
He won't get to finish this job.

To get an idea of the approach that Walker’s appointees had, let me remind you of what Board President John Behling said in late 2015, as the Regents voted to eradicate tenure. Behling claimed that academia should be more like the corporate world that cranks out widgets.
Tenure may be the standard in higher education, but it is out of step with reality for most workers in other sectors. They can lose their jobs for a wide variety of reasons without recourse. This disconnect has led many to see tenure as simply a "job for life," a scenario in which faculty members keep their jobs even if their departments are eliminated or their performance is lacking.

Tenure is a critical bedrock of higher education because it ensures faculty have the freedom to express their views and direct their research without being targeted by their university leadership or colleagues. Every major university in this country has a strong tenure policy, and if Wisconsin does not, we will lose standing, we will lose faculty and we will lose the advantages our universities provide our economy.

But we also must have a tenure policy that includes accountability and rewards performance. We need policies that protect faculty from unnecessary pressures but also provide flexibility for our campuses. Our institutions must be able to operate more like modern private and nonprofit sector organizations that, in challenging and often unpredictable times, respond to changing market forces, demographics, trends and demands.
Who makes those decisions, Johnny? Is it a bunch of corporate sleaze who don’t want critical thinking to be developed and inconvenient truths to be discussed? And what happens when those “trends and demands” change in the future, and different skills are needed, and the UW System doesn’t have faculty and programs in place to deal with those changes because “market forces” didn’t want them today?

Behling had a similarly dismissive attitude regarding the end of tenure and the ability to get rid of disfavored academic programs. He claimed “that’s how it would work in the corporate world,” and said it was a good way to deal with the budget constraints imposed by Walker and the WisGOP Legislature.
The public has expressed serious concerns about how tenure is practiced in Wisconsin. In response, the state Legislature and [G]overnor Walker have given the Board of Regents critical tools to update and reform our policies on tenure. Using this new authority, we are proposing a new policy that creates common-sense guidelines for how tenure is practiced at UW System institutions and continues to treat our faculty with respect while making reasonable allowances for accountability.

A common complaint about tenure is that faculty members are not laid off when the programs they teach are discontinued. Our new policy proposal empowers chancellors to discontinue programs as necessary for educational or financial reasons, and, if absolutely necessary, it allows for faculty in those programs to be laid off. This is an important tool for chancellors and the Board of Regents.
Boy are those words prophetic. Since the end of 2015, we have seen UW-Superior suspend 40 programs in the last 4 years, and just last month UW-Oshkosh announced plans to remove adjunct faculty from teaching classes, and put more burdens on full-time faculty.

And this morning, we saw this headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “UW-Stevens Point rolls out transformation that would cut 6 humanities degrees, focus on careers”.
Proclaiming the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point no longer can be all things to all people, Chancellor Bernie Patterson on Monday proposed eliminating six humanities majors and transforming the school into “a new kind of regional university” that infuses the liberal arts into career-minded majors.

It’s not known whether the proposed “restructuring around our strengths” model could be a blueprint for retrenching other regional UWs as all campuses face tight budgets, and enrollments generally are stagnant or declining.

Last spring, it appeared the central Wisconsin campus with 7,725 students was headed toward phasing out 13 low-demand humanities majors to reduce its nearly $8 million structural deficit. Students protested, faculty were outraged, and national media headlines suggested Wisconsin was killing the humanities.

The chancellor’s proposal released to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before a campuswide meeting Monday whittles down the cut to six low-demand humanities majors: French, German, history, geology, geography and two degree programs within art (two-dimensional and three-dimensional art).
Because what has history, geology, societies around the world (which is what geography generally studies) or art ever done for the world? Why would anyone want to understand those types of things in their careers and daily lives? #headdesk

You can click here to see how UW-Stevens Point officials are trying to sell this as a "new type of regional university". They claim that arts and humanities will be "base classes" taken as part of the completion of other majors. Now you can believe that this idea is an improvement if you want, but when you have fewer majors in the humanities, you have less of a choice of classes in those subjects, and you have less incentive for professors and other instructors to want to go to or stay at Stevens Point.

This goes right along with the ALEC agenda of "transforming" higher education to fit the needs of business, and was well described and covered in this movie, which included the UW as one of the places where this corporatization was taking place.

You know what I think is a better idea instead of these "transformations"? Get John Behling, UW System President Ray Cross and the rest of this Wrecking Crew off of the Board of Regents and out of System leadership ASAP. And Evers should work to get people in there that care more about the universities and the students than the politicians.

It’s time to get our UW back to being an institution whose agenda improves the quality of life for ALL Wisconsinites, not just the needs of a connected, corporate few. Electing Evers was a good first step, but there's a long way to go after 8 years in Fitzwalkerstan.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Gerrymandering, "real Wisconsin", and the Dems' big gains in the 414 'burbs

One of the things to look at in the wake of Tuesday's election is the fact that despite Dem wins in every statewide office, Republicans are only set to lose 1 seat in the Assembly and gained 1 seat in the State Senate, meaning the GOP has sizable majorities in both houses (although less than 2/3, which means they can't override vetoes from Gov-elect Evers on their own).

But don't tell Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos that this is odd. And despite the fact that 16 Assembly Republicans won their races with 55% or less of the vote, Vos insists gerrymandering had NOTHING to do with the GOP's wins in the Legislature.
“I think that’s silly,” Vos said. “I do not like the fact that Madison and Milwaukee chose Gov. Evers and they’re the reason that [Evers] won.

“But in the process that we have, Madison and Milwaukee get the chance to vote,” he continued. “I don’t like the outcome all the time, but they have a fair chance. So as much as they complain about gerrymandering and all things that I think are made-up issues for their failed agenda, I would spend the same amount of time saying, ‘You’re only playing to Madison and Milwaukee and not representing the other 70 counties.’”
Only “Madison and Milwaukee” chose Evers and the Dems "failed agenda", Robbin’? That’s not what the actual results indicate.

If you look at the unofficial election results from Milwaukee County, you are struck by how strong Dems did in the suburbs. And this Wauwatosa East graduate can’t help but notice that Scott Walker and Leah Vumir got their asses kicked in their former hometown of Tosa. Walker lost Wauwatosa by 4,429 votes, and Vukmir lost every ward in the City as Tammy Baldwin beat her by nearly 7,000 votes.

GOPs also got hammered downticket in state races in the Milwaukee burbs. Take out the south suburb Assembly race that Jesse Rodriguez won over Gabriel Gomez (and only by 55-45), and it’s overwhelmingly Dem in many places.

Milwaukee suburbs, Dem vs GOP share State Legis races
Senate District 5 (parts of Wauwatosa and West Allis) 57.1-42.9 Dem
Assembly District 13 (parts of West Allis and Wauwatosa) 57.6-42.4 Dem
Assembly District 14 (part of Wauwatosa) 61.6-38.4 Dem
Assembly District 15 (part of West Allis) 50.9-49.1 GOP
Assembly District 23 (Bayside, Fox Point, Whitefish Bay) 62.0-38.0 Dem
Assembly District 24 (Brown Deer, Part of Glendale, River Hills) 66.6-33.4 Dem
Assembly District 83 (Hales Corners, small corner of Franklin) 56.7-43.3 GOP
Assembly District 84 (Part of Greenfield) 53.9-46.1 GOP

These slight GOP to strong Dem suburban areas in Milwaukee County consist of somewhere around 250,000-300,000 people, which is the size of 1-2 Senate districts and 4-5 Assembly districts. They are “represented” as follows

Assembly - GOP 6, Dem 1
Senate - GOP 3, Dem 0

The 99-member Assembly should be divided by about 58,500 people per seat, but the 47,800-person City of Wauwatosa was nearly entirely represented by Republicans they overwhelmingly didn’t vote for. If it wasn’t for a last-minute retabulation that gave Robyn Vining the 14th Assembly district by 132 votes, that Assembly number would have been 7-0 GOP. How is that remotely fair?

Also, take a look at this results map from Tuesday’s Governor’s election. Note the wall of blue in the Southwest corner of the state.

Hey Robbin’, are you telling all those people that they’re not part of the “real Wisconsin”? Is Eau Claire or La Crosse or Stevens Point not “real Wisconsin” because they have a UW campus in them?

The Republicans just ran a candidate in the US Senate race in Leah Vukmir that was a full-throated supporter of the ALEC agenda that Vos has helped run through the Wisconsin Legislature, and Vukmir supporters ran ads bragging about how she took on "liberal mobs at the Capitol".

Let's go to the Senate map and see how Wisconsinites responded to that tone in Vukmir's race against a liberal Dem from Madison.

I see someone who’s writing off a lot of the state and thinking he can slam through an unpopular agenda in 2019, and it’s not Tony Evers. And Tuesday's results indicate Robbin' Vos and the Wisconsin GOP is going to lose if they think their gerrymandered majorities give him any mandate to keep with the regressive agenda that has kept Wisconsin behind the rest of the country in the Age of Fitzwalkerstan.

Then the gerrymander ends for 2022, with Ron Johnson's Senate seat up for re-election at the same time. Ruh roh, GOPpers!

Humor means a lot these days

This is probably closer to the truth than we know.

5 days later and we still haven't seen our governor, have we? Come on Scotty, be a man and come out, come out wherever you are. You're still on the job for the next 8 weeks (sadly).

On the other side, Pete Davidson said a dumb thing on Saturday Night Live last week about GOP House candidate Dan Crenshaw, who wears an eye patch because Crenshaw was shot with an IED while serving our country in Afghanistan. Faux News and other right-wing media responded with typical fauxtrage.

Well, Davidson was back last night to apologize, and was joined by now-Congressman-elect Crenshaw, who took a few shots at Davidson himself. Yes, the "Veterans Day" invocation at the end is a bit preachy, but it's still pretty good.

The best part about it? When SNL and Davidson screws up, THEY OWN IT. Be adults, admit you were over the line and stupid, and OWN IT. And credit Rep.-elect Crenshaw with showing some humanity and humor of his own. I'm not sure who got in touch with who on it, but it's a pretty savvy political move, because we sure don't see a lot of Republican politicians acting like human beings very often these days, and it's hard to dislike the guy when he's willing to go on SNL and handle it this way.

It's a concept the GOP President sure doesn't understand. And I bet that while Rep-elect Crenshaw wasn't happy with what Pete Davidson said about him last week, he's probably more furious that Trump ducked an event in France that honored Americans killed in World War I because of a little rain.

EDIT- And Phil Hands' Sunday cartoon in the Wisconsin State Journal adds more funnies. And a very accurate of the type of lowlife that makes up today's Wisconsin GOP "leaders".

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Milwaukee still badly lags in job growth. Evers supporting MKE can change that

  When Tony Evers takes office in January, one thing that he should emphasize is that the state's largest city has to be allowed to thrive. Because it is certainly not doing that under the thumb of Scott ("Walkersha") Walker and the GOP Legislature.

Right before the election, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their numbers for all metro areas in the country, and Milwaukee fared awfully compared to the US and the rest of the nation.

Not only was the Milwaukee metro among the bottom of US large metro areas with a 12-month job increase of less than 1%, but it was DEAD LAST for the amount of jobs added in larger metro areas in the Midwest. The Milwaukee metro even trailed Madison, despite having less than half the jobs that the Mad City Metro has.

Job growth, Midwest Metros, Sept 2017- Sept 2018

Chicago +35,100
Twin Cities +33,400
Cleveland +28,500
Indianapolis +22,900
Columbus, OH +15,200
Cincinnati +15,000
Detroit +14,000
Des Moines +11,100
Madison +8,100
Milwaukee +5,700 

Looking at it from rate of growth, Milwaukee is still dead last.

Des Moines +3.0%
Cleveland +2.7%
Indianapolis +2.1%
Madison +2.0%
Twin Cities, MN +1.7%
Columbus, OH +1.4%
Cincinnati +1.4%
Chicago +0.74%
Detroit +0.70%
Milwaukee +0.66% 

And yet, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce thought things were going so well in southeastern Wisconsin that it thanked Scott Walker with $1.5 million in donations through 2017, and gave $1.3 million to a Leah Vukmir SuperPAC this year.  (what a great choice of investment THAT was). Tim Sheehy and the rest of those mediocrities at the MMAC need to be sent to the kids; table and let some people with a clue about a 21st Century economy come up with a better strategy.

 Longtime Milwaukee Alder Michael Murphy said Evers’ election allows for Milwaukee to have a better chance at thriving as a partner with state government. 
The election results also create hope for a better relationship between the City of Milwaukee and state policy makers in Madison. As Wisconsin’s economic engine, the City of Milwaukee has long been a net contributor to state coffers; therefore, the time has come for the City to be treated equally and have its seat at the table.
Milwaukee Alder Khalif Rainey echoed those thoughts, and said the Evers Administration presented a great opportunity to restore local control that the GOP Legislature has consistently taken away from Milwaukee and Milwaukee County in recent years.
While there has been a concerted effort, especially in recent years, to devalue the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, our galvanized electorate has shown how much of a true power we are. By exercising our right to vote, we found empowerment in the face of demoralizing policies such as lifting the Milwaukee residency requirement and eviscerating the power and pay of the County Board.    
The election results also present a great opportunity for my fellow City and County elected officials. Not only can we possibly begin to roll back these punitive measures, but also address major disparity issues such as a minimum wage increase. 
     Additionally, as the City’s net contributions to state coffers far exceed what we receive in return, it is past due time to reform our shared revenue system. 
I agree, it is far beyond time to take the handcuffs off of Milwaukee and realize that beating up on your largest city is not a workable economic strategy. Voters in Milwaukee and most of Milwaukee County's suburbs were a big reason behind Evers’ victory, and just like how Walker and the 262-led Legislature allowed the burbs to impose petty restrictions on the Cream City, it’s now time for the Big City to get the respect and freedom it has long deserved.  

WOW county regressives at the Capitol won’t like that fact, but a better Milwaukee helps their constituents too, so it's time for the GOPs in the 262 to be adults and stop the "divide and conquer" game. Or else they'll lose more elections like they lost on Tuesday, especially once they their gerrymanders end for 2022.