Monday, May 9, 2011

Things stay strong despite the GOP, not cause of it

Another month, another strong employment report, this one indicating an additional 244,000 jobs were created in April, , and 268,000 in the private sector. It marks a significant barrier, as employment bumped higher than the level it was at in April 2009, which was one month after...the stimulus bill was passed.

Sure, some may say we should have blowout growth after such a deep recession, but if you look at the recessions in the early 1990s and early 2000s (the two since high interest rates went away and taxes were lowered in the '80s), you'll see it takes a lot longer for the jobs to come back. When businesses get rewarded for hoarding profits and gambling over the disinicentive of high income tax rates on retained earnings and capital gains, this is the obvious result. And a place that should be looked at if we're ever going to be serious about tackling our deficit. Despite the fragile situation of $4 gas and the similar bubbles in commodities, the real economy has been moving along just fine, regardless of how badly the Congressional GOP wants to shut it down for 2012 electoral reasons.

With that in mind, I don't want to hear Scott Walker taking any credit for increased employment in Wisconsin since his reign of error began 4 months ago. The new jobs numbers for the state should be out in a week or so, and we'll see if Walker's Admin can start to match the increases this state had under Jim Doyle and the Dems last year.

Based on the increase in the U.S.'s job market in the last 4 months, Wisconsin should be at +14,230 jobs for the year to be keeping pace. Now, that's not a high bar to clear, as anything better than a loss of 4,600 jobs keeps Wisconsin above pace, but it's nowhere near as impressive as the state gaining jobs while the U.S. was losing 1.27 million jobs from 4/09 to 4/10. And the Doyle/ Dem recovery will be a big reason behind what I bet will be a surprise revenue report coming out this week from the LFB that'll show we never needed to "adjust" the budget for 2009-11, and that our projected budget deficit is nowhere near as "broke" as the Sykesists have tried to lie to you about.

But all this good news will start getting reversed when the budget cutbacks hit. Right now, it's been all talk and no real change (kinda like Scotty's threats to lay off state employees and prosecutors), but if the WisGOPs in the Legislature do even half of what Scotty wants in the budget, the domino effects will be serious at the local government and private sector level, and I'd have a hard time believing Wisconsin stays above trend. Those declines should be hitting in early Fall. Just in time for Walker's recall petitions to go out....

But wait, we have building projects to do that'll help employment, including the reprogrammed high-speed rail money, right? Uhhh, not quite. Amazing how striking stupid poses to score political points tends to be a strategy in getting those people to help you out. (The Confederate states of Texas and Virginia are finding this out the hard way on their requests for FEMA disaster aid as well- guess ya'll ain't so tough when random bad things strike, are ya?)

And along with Scotty's blundering on getting the rail upgraded, something you might NOT know about our rail budget is that Walker and the Joint Finance Committee are going to shell out more state dollars for Amtrak this year, as the JFC passed Alternative 1, which increases state payments to the Hiawatha line by more than $5 million for 2011-13. Why the increase? Not low ridership, as the paper points out that "ridership revenue has been greater than expected" over the last 2 years on the Milwaukee-Chicago route, and that WisDOT will save at least half a million in subisdies from the $6.44 million subisdy budgeted for the service. The line will even cost less to run in the upcoming 2 years, as the subsidy is projected to be less than $5 million in each year (compare that to highway maintenance, and it's a drop in the bucket).

So why the extra state funds? Check out Point 8 of the LFB paper. Once the FRA yanked the $800 million high-speed rail project due to Scotty's big mouth, they also told the DOT that the Talgo train facility and maintenance costs wouldn't be covered at 80% as well, leaving the state on the hook for all of it. BRILLIANT!

I'm still waiting for a billboard to go up on I-94 west of Milwaukee that reads "Wish you had the train now?" Because much like a lot of other things with Scott Walker, the more you look into what he's doing, the more foolish and disastrous he and his backers look. See you at the Capitol on Saturday to drive the point home yet again.

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