Sunday, April 25, 2010

Update: Stimulus still stabilizing, baggers still clueless, and Spring still springing

Looks like an influential member of the inner circle is now promoting the site ( you know who you are...), so I figured I'd give a quick update on some recent events.

1. As mentioned previously, the stimulus continues to do its job as a stabilization policy. New home sales went up nearly 27 percent in March, as people were clearly pushed to buy by the tax credits which require a house to be closed on by April 30. My father was one of these people, buying his retirement/ eventually permanent home in central Arkansas. Of course, some d-bag banker tried to claim he wasn't credit-worhty, despite 40 years of career work, his wife having 30 more years of employment, and my father having a documented track record of 37 years of responsible home ownership. Fortunately, he found someone else in time who wasn't a power-abuser, but it reminds you how much control businesses have in these transactions, and how they have the ability to mess over people who have played the game the right way, solely because they can.

This follows the BLS stats which show that 162,000 jobs were added in March, the most in 3 years . Sure, a decent number of these are Census jobs and other temporary measures, but those people are still working, are still paying taxes, and still buying things. Given where we were a year ago (remember DOW 7000, S&P 675, 700,000 losses a month?), this is a welcome place.

Obviously the key for both of these is if this lays the groundwork for an economy that doesn't need monetary and fiscal stimulus, and that needs to happen soon. But disaster has been averted, and that point cannot be hammered home enough.

2. Tax Day came and went with a small rabble of Tea-baggers complaining about things that are at best incoherent, and at worst not true. As Bruce Murphy at Milwaukee Magazine points out, Wisconsinites' state taxes and fees rank 19th in the nation, and the state is right at the middle in spending . As Murphy brings up, while Wisconsin's income and property taxes may be comparatively high, their sales taxes are very low (at 5.0% statewide) and fees for items such as car registration are miniscule compared to places like California or even Indiana.

A lot of the reason behind the "improvement" in the tax rankings is due to expanded tax credits and other reductions authored by the Doyle Administration, which has governed as a corporate-friendly centrist group along the same lines as the Tommy Thompson regime (with some of the cronyism and penalization of the cities and UW System thrown in for good measure). The REAL reason Doyle isn't running for a third term is because liberals threatened to bolt or stay home if he did, because of his record of selling out, and he couldn't win if that happened. These are the realities, reagrdless of how angry-man radio tries to portray Doyle as some kind of left-wing job destroyer. I WISH he was left-wing like they say he was, we'd probably in a lot better shape fiscally.

3. With the tax burdens in mind, the Legslature should regret not voting to allow Milwaukee County the chance to set up an RTA. Watch for an announcement in the coming weeks about multi-million dollar reductions in services for the next 2 years on MCTS, on top of the huge reductions and fare increases in recent years. Now, Scott Walker and co. may not mind, as it "proves their point" about how things need to be overhauled (instead of maintaining what was working, God forbid these guys do that), but for real people, this will hurt a lot. It also means that property tax (and therefore County residents) have to remain the large providers of funds for the bus, and it will put pressure on the state to make up aid once the new Census figures come out in 2012, which will undoubtedly give the Milwaukee area a smalller amount of aid to operate.

You think MCTS would have a better chance of surviving if the 62,000 people that attended pro sports events in Milwaukee last night all were kicking in 0.5% of the money being spent on tickets, drinks, and food? This is especially true for the 15,000 obnoxious Cubbie fans invading Miller Park- make THEM pay for our buses and parks. Why not? They're using our streets and freeways on their trips up here.

4. Cloudy and dreary today, but after the above-average temps the last 8 weeks, including the 6th-warmest March on record in Wisconsin as well as the well-above normal temps since October, I am not going to complain. Things are great in Wisconsin as they are, but when you combine it with a rare real Spring for weather, they get even better. And forecasts say Terrace Season will be back soon enough.

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