Monday, October 31, 2011

More budget screw-ups, and more on Wis. health care

While I am enjoying the absurdity that is Mary Lazich's destined-to-fail redistricting and recall-repression moves, there have been some other important developments the last few days.

1. Hey, it's another Walker Administration budgeting foul-up! This time it was the Administration putting $45 million of Federal health funds into the budget that won't come to Wisconsin. Basically, the Walker boys thought there would be funds coming in from Washington that would have been as the result of a correction of disputed payments on disability programs. Turns out, that isn't going to happen, and the elderly will be screwed.
Wisconsin's Medicaid programs, which are paid for by the state and federal government, serve more than 1 million people.

The Republican Walker administration already is facing criticism from Democrats over other parts of their Medicaid savings proposal, which would shift hundreds of thousands of residents to lower-cost state plans or private plans. This latest blow will make it even more difficult to accomplish the goal of finding the needed savings to balance the state's budget.

Stephanie Smiley, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said the agency had been unaware of the letter until contacted by a reporter. Smiley said the state didn't currently have a backup plan to cover that money.

"If what you sent us is in fact a denial of these waiver initiatives, DHS will need to find the additional $45 million in (state money). We do not yet have a proposal to find this savings," Smiley said.

Another Health Services spokeswoman, Beth Kaplan, later confirmed that the Walker administration no longer expected to receive the money in light of the Sebelius letter.
In other words, the Walker Administration relied on "phantom revenue" and rosy scenarios. Gee, we haven't seen that before, have we?

In fact, before all the recall fun and games, the Transportation and Elections Commission had an interesting hearing regarding a bill that would establish an elected Milwaukee County Comptroller. One of those testifying in favor was none other than Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who admitted that one of the reasons Milwaukee County was is such a budget bind was because over the previous several years overly optimistic assumptions on land sales, Transit TV ads, and other revenue projections didn't come through.

And who was the Exec whose Administration signed off on these phony numbers for budget years 2003-2011? You got, SCOTT WALKER. You can bet the Journal-Sentinel will skip the obvious reference Abele was making to Walker's budget lies in his time in Milwaukee, but those in the County sure know the truth (as evidenced by Barrett 62, Walker 38 last November).

2. Maybe it wasn't such good timing for Humana to whine about getting a waiver from having to actually cover people under Obamacare. Humana's 3rd Quarter earnings were announced today, and it was a blowout.
For the third quarter, Humana earned $444.7 million, or $2.67 per share. That compares with earnings of $393.2 million, or $2.32 per share, in the same quarter last year. Revenue climbed 11 percent to $9.3 billion.

Adjusted income was $2.54 per share, which easily beat Wall Street expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected, on average, earnings of $2.03 per share on $9.26 billion in revenue.
So given profits of nearly $150 million a month, I think Humana can afford a way to pay for coverage for a few more people and still be able to have up to 20% of premiums not go to actual care of the sick. Just a thought.

3. There'll be a lot more people out on the Wisconsin market too, because the DHS is out with their plan to cut $554 million out of Medicaid, mostly through increased out-of-pocket costs and throwing the working poor off of assistance and into the private market. Looks like Joint Finance will at least get a chance to review and discuss this in mid-November, and I'll guess there are a few things in this 126-page behemoth of details that should draw some interest.

The patterns of greed, incompetence, deception, and destruction continue from this administration and their friends in the health insurance industry. Fortunately, I think we'll be breaking the chain soon enough.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Memo to J-S Politi-crap.....WALKER IS GETTING A RAISE

Saw the Journal-Sentinel's Politi-"fact" try to spin Scott Walker's pay raise as something out of his control. RIIIIGHT. So Walker has the power to go ahead and decide to keep state worker base pay flat and centralize who gets raises and who doesn't, but when it comes to giving back his own pay raise? Well, then I guess his hands are just tied and there's nothing he can do.

Hey Politi-crap, WALKER CHOSE TO TAKE THE MONEY. He could have chosen not to take the money, and at least be consistent with his policies against state workers, (because, you know, we're "broke"). But HE DID NOT DO THAT.

That being said, I'll thank you for keeping this issue and its double-standard on the front burner, and thanks for reminding us in the thinking world of how paid off by the Bradley Foundation your publication has chosen to be. For my handful readers, let this pathetic spin-as-analysis by the J-S be a reminder to cancel the paper version of that oligarchial rag, if you haven't already, will ya? It's the only way they'll learn to write the truth.

Spooky health care corruption- and spookier job realities in Wisconsin

1. Here's more pay-to-play in this corrupt administration, as health insurers have convinced Walker donator and Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel to ask for an Obamamcare waiver that would allow it to spend less than 80% of premiums on actual medical care. The complaint is that 6 of Wisconsin's insurers can't make it on less than 20% overhead.
They are: Humana Insurance Co., a unit of Humana Inc.; Golden Rule Insurance Co., a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc.; Time Insurance Co., a unit of Assurant Health; Mega Life & Health Insurance Co., a unit of HealthMarkets Inc.; and American Republic Insurance Co. and its affiliate, World Insurance Co.

The companies spent from 65 cents to 72.9 cents of each dollar in premiums on medical care, according to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance. Combined, they have about 35% of the market for individual insurance.

"When you are looking at 35% of the market, you want to avoid as much turbulence as possible," said J.P. Wieske, a spokesman for the insurance commissioner.

Wisconsin has the most competitive market in the country for health plans bought by individuals and families, according to an analysis released this month by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Consumers would not lack for other options if a health insurer left the Wisconsin market.

I thought Republicans were all about improvements through efficiency and competition? Guess that mentality ends when providing more service and competition threatens corporate profits, because after all, the goal of government is to protect profit over people's well-being (Wait, it's not supposed to work that way in a civilized society? Softie). So instead of demanding that they run their needed service in a more efficient and customer-friendly manner, these health insurance corporations should be allowed to shovel more blood money from citizens toward the salaries of bureaucrats that deny coverage. What a load of crap. As mentioned earlier, the complaints Dennis Smith and the Walker hacks have against Obamacare show that maybe it's a better plan than we thought.

And one of the Scummy 6 doubled-down on their hypocrisy, as Humana announced they had enough money around to potentially hire 130 more people in Wisconsin. In a stunner, Humana employees also gave generously to Scott Walker and Scott Fitzgerald in 2010, as well as Alberta Darling once she was up for recall, so you don't think these donations have anything to do with asking of a waiver for the 80% rule for Humana, do you? And now they can use these projected additional jobs as blackmail, saying "if you don't give us our waiver, we won't add these jobs." So much for public health "service." Sickening.

And of course, most of these projected jobs are in a GB service center (people who decide claims...and deny them), or in sales (trying to convince companies to take on their insurance). You think that's going to give Humana policy holders any kind of insurance break, allowing them to have more disposable income to grow our economy? Yeah, riiight. You know it's going right back into CEO pay and in the form of more donations to the Fitzwalkerstanis.

2. Then again, I think Scotty and co. will take any job creation they can. In addition to being 49th in the nation in job performance since the GOP budget was passed, Wisconsin reached another dubious jobs-related honor this week. The state with the biggest increase in unemployment claims last week (see the end of the report). HUZZAH! Guess that Brewer stimulus is ending, and given the NBA lockout, we know a few hundred seasonal Bucks jobs are going down the tubes for the rest of this year as well.

Somehow, I'm guessing these facts aren't making it to Walker's taxpayer-funded "results" website. But we'll make sure they're RECALLED.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick thoughts on the new state worker pay plan

Not that I'm surprised that a bureaucrat like me is looking at no pay raises for the next 2 years. I knew they'd treat us as second-class citizens and show no decency after cutting our take-home pay by 10% over last year, and the disrespect is almost humrous at this point.

I just wish Scott Walker and J.B Van Hollen and other public officials weren't getting $7,000 pay raises at the same time (see page 67), and other statewide officials were the others slated to be the only ones to get their salaries raised.

And I wish that when I was evaluated for any type of raise, it would be my boss in my department doing it, given that my boss might have some clue about what I do or don't do, and not leave it up to some Walker-appointed hack at OSER. But of course, this is a pattern of this administration as well- take away any idea of independent civil service, and replace them with flunkies who get rewarded for kissing the right ass.

If I wasn't confident that we only have a few more months of this transparent garbage, I'd be angry. But I'm not, as I know it'll make the revenge will be all the better.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More on Walker jobs failure- from his own DOR

Friday afternoon featured the release of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue's semi-annual state Economic Outlook. And as you may have heard, it featured awful news for the Walker boys, as the report indicate that as things stand after 9 months of the Fitzwalkerstan era, Wisconsin will add barely over half of Walker's vaunted 250,000 jobs in 4 years. But even those dismal projections are worth a second look, both to see how much damage has been done by the Walker Administration, and to see if even this Fall's figures are overly optimistic.

Because when you check what the same DOR predicted 5 1/2 months ago, the outlook was a lot rosier. In that report, the DOR expected 183,400 jobs in the next 4 years (check page 8 for the charts) , but in the Fall report, that job growth number dropped by more than 25%. Apparently even the DOR couldn't predict the severe damage that Tea Baggers and Fitzwalkerstanis could inflict on the economy in a matter of months. The Spring 2011 average projection of 2.77 million total jobs and 2.353 million private sector jobs has only been surpassed once, in the fluky big-gain month of June. Since then, the Waller budget has taken effect, and Wisconsin has been 49th for states in job growth in the 3 months since. We won't even be at that 2.77 million level by the end of 2011, let alone an average.

Now, the Fall report tries to account for that, dropping the numbers to 2.765 million total and 2.346 million private. And the 2012 job gains are lowered to 1.0% total and 1.3% private vs. 1.7% total and 2.1% private. In fact, the DOR now says average unemployment will go UP to 7.8% in 2012, which means we won't be any better off than we stand today, which is worse off than the 7.4% we had when Walker took office.

Those brutal figures might be too generous, if anything, given that most of 2011 has been below even those lowered figures, and little growth can be seen coming one. Eespecially as many local governments will institute drastic cuts over the next 4 months to combat the Walker Admin's stupid cuts to shared revenues and limits on levy increases. The DOR's own report indicates that state personal income increased by a huge 9.3% from January through March (while the state was still working under Jim Doyle's last budget), then Act 10 was passed, and it dropped to a 5.3% increase for April-June, then Walker's budget was passed and personal income dropped by 1.1% from July to September. This report indicates personal income growth will rebound and be up between 3.6 to 4.1% for the next 9 months, but given that we've swung from a Spring prediction of Q3 income growth of 3.1% to an actual decline, what makes you think that somehow this is going to come back so easily?

And then this will hit the budget, because the Legislative Fiscal Bureau used those nicer Spring assumptions when they published their revenue numbers for the Walker Budget, and they figured that revenues would increase around 3% for the upcoming year. LFB gets to revise those numbers for both revenues and expenses in 3 months, and you can bet that revenue increase is going to go down, and the unemployment and other social safety net expenses will go up, and our budget won't be close to "balanaced" any more.

You can tell the Walker folks know their empty job boasts have caught up to them, which might explain the surprising departure of his second DWD Secretary today. Sorry Scotty, but it's the reality that you created with your bad policies that have led to these brutal jobs numbers, not the messengers and cheerleaders hired to prop up things at the DWD. Unless you are truly that naive to think that what's holding the economy back in Wisconsin isn't a lack of take-home pay by the consumers who make up the vast majority of our business transactions, and that it's really all some kind of vague confidence game.

Then again, Scotty's never held a real job in the working world, so maybe that's why he still clings to these fairy tales of "job creators" and "low taxes" being the magic beans that sprout an economy (or he just thinks the Koch money's nice enough to keep saying that bullshit, one of the two). Those of us who actually have worked know better, and that's why Walker's tenure as governor is already more than half over.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wisconsin's Number 2! job loss

This week's horrific Wisconsin jobs report showed 12,400 jobs lost in the state last month. 2/3 of these losses were in local government, reflecting the large amounts of teacher retirements and cutbacks resulting from Scott Walker's budget. (gee, who predicted that?)

But the jobs disaster goes much deeper than that. Since Walker's budget went into effect July 1, Wisconsin has lost 19,300 jobs, including 11,900 in the private sector. Especially bad in the face of the nation's increases of 287,000 total jobs and 352,000 private sector jobs. So the state is clearly going the wrong direction job-wise, but look at the numbers from all 50 states for a true Halloween fright.

Among all the states, Wisconsin has the not-so-coveted position of having the 2nd-most job losses by numbers and percentage in the country over the last 3 months.

Job losses - total June-September 2011
Georgia -20,800
Wisconsin -19,300
Illinois -16,100
Pennsylvania -15,600
New Jersey -11,000

Job losses by percentage June-September 2011
Rhode Island -1.22%
Wisconsin -0.69%
New Hampshire -0.57%
Georgia -0.54%
Delaware -0.41%
U.S. +0.22%

That brutal performance is recallable enough for Scotty, but there's even more to bring to the table on how bad a failure this Administration has been on the jobs front. I've frequently mentioned how Wisconsin weathered our economic disaster better than most places under Jim Doyle and the Dems. And even in Doyle and the Dems' final year, Wisconsin was close to the national trends.

Jan 2010 to Jan 2011 job growth
Wis. +0.93% private, +0.75% total
U.S. +1.22% private, +0.81% total

So yes, these job losses are all on Scott Walker and the WisGOP moves in the last 8 months. And while the 1st Quarter revenues held up surprisingly well, and are still within the budget's predictions, there is NO WAY that will continue with Wisconsin staying 49th in the country for jobs. Once the Brewer/Badger/Packer October stimulus effect goes away, watch for the budget deficits to open, and it will be the final straw to break the Walker Administration's back in Spring of 2012.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two more on Walker's future "crisis" moves

First of all, here's Capper with his reminder of how Walker used real and fake budget deficits as an excuse to put in drastic, unneeded measures in Milwaukee County, often resulting in higher expenses and bigger problems.

Then here's James Rowen (via a former Milw. Co. supervisor) reminding people of Walker's "rosy scenarios" and inevitable deficits from his days in Milwaukee County.

Keep an eye on it, especially when you see the absurd targeting of the UW System in the biennial lapses. Extra kudos to the several state Dem legislators who want a hearing to figure out just why the UW was slashed while the Governor's Office has to lapse all of $1,700.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

One Brewer stimulus- but it won't save Walker's budget

Well, my last post asked Shawn Marcum not to fuck up, but he didn't listen, and now the Brewers' season is over. What a depressing game to go to, where it felt like you were constantly getting kicked in the gut.

But I did find at least one area that's getting an economic bump from Brewtober, concession stands and the groups who help run them. Neat story in the J-S about the 1,100 or so people who work the stands for SportService, and how a decent number of them are folks working for non-profits, who get about 10% of the sales proceeds (same situation works at UW Athletics events, and a lot of other events). And those who are working for pay got an extra 6 games of work in that they wouldn't have otherwise gotten, so I suppose there's going to be a small, unexpected bump in employment that you wouldn't otherwise see for October.

I still don't see it keeping us out of fiscal trouble. Not when the state's asking the UW System to come up with another $65.7 million in cuts in order to match lapses in the state budget. And that number's on top of the $250 million Scotty and the WisGOPs already cut away from the System for 2011-2013. Now lapses happen in almost all government departments in some way, be in it some kind of allowance for vacancies, or as a "figure it out as you go along" blank number, but it's significant that the UW System gets dragged into 3/8ths of the entire state lapse amount- 2 1/2 times the next largest lapse, and a whole lot more than the $278,000 the DOT has over in the same time period. (here's the full list- check it out yourself). Makes you wonder if the fake outrage stories over "double-dipping" of rehiring retirees is some kind of right-wing setup to jack the daylights out of the UW System, because hiring back people who have left service is a common practice across private and public sector jobs that often saves money because of not having to pay benefit costs for new employees. (except we usually call them "consultants")

Buried down in the story is the real headline:
Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch sent out a memo to agency heads that they need to return $174.3 million in state funds to balance the budget. It could be as much as $300 million if state revenues are weaker than predicted, Huebsch wrote.

BALANCED BUDGET MY ASS! Relying on such huge lapses shows your budget was never at $0 to begin with, and we already know over the last month about the $110 million in additional Medicaid cuts, awful job numbers, and lower base of revenues. There's no way we won't have a significant budget deficit that appears over the next few months with those things happening. So then what can Scotty pull out of his little bag of tricks? I'm not going to give those goofballs any ideas here, 'cause they'll be so desperate due to the recalls they're liable to try anything.

As bad as the state budget is, wait till the local budgets get finalized, and places like "No.1 in unemployment" Racine slashes bus service, or Manitowoc lays off 31 city workers and reduces hours for most others, or the City of Stevens Point not providing bags to pick up after dogs and passing off park maintenance to other groups. The snow hasn't even started flying and the potholes bursting yet. Hoo boy.

It'll all start coming out in the next 4 months- right as the recall signatures are gathered. I think it won't take much convincing to get people to sign, and it won't just be because of the power-grabs and arrogance- it'll be because things have truly gotten much worse in Wisconsin.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Can the Brewers and Badgers save their communities' budgets?

Given the remarkable last 2 weeks in Wisconsin sports, with 2 of the last 3 weekends featuring Brewer home playoff games, and Badger and Packer home games all taking place in a 36-hour period, it led me to wonder if we'd see a bump in those communities' economic situations.

An immediate place that I think you'd see an effect is in sales tax revenues, because every ticket, beer, food, and piece of team gear bought generates sales taxes (check your ticket stub if you don't believe me). Particularly given that we're now on unexpected Brewer home game #6 (and hopefully #7 on Monday), you'd see many of these numbers show up in October's sales tax figures for Milwaukee County, which have yet to be reported. But there also should be an effect for September, as attendance went up with numerous sellouts and purchases of "Division Champs" gear after the Crew clinched on Sept. 23. So let's check July-September 2010 vs. July-Sept. 2011 for Milwaukee County's sales tax revenue, and also the Miller Park 0.1% sales tax district in the 5 counties in and around Milwaukee. If there's a "Brewer effect", we would expect to see it show up there.

Sales tax, Milwaukee County July-Sept.
2010 $15,969,731
2011 $15,712,637 (-1.6%)

0.1% Sales tax, 5-County Miller Park district Aug.-Sept.
2010 $6,422,974
2011 $6,349,177 (-1.1%)

No Brewer effect yet, however, we also know that the Wisconsin economy has declined since Scott Walker's budget began in July, so maybe it just follows the trend for the rest of the state. Let's look at the sales tax revenues in Wisconsin counties that have a local sales tax.

Wisconsin local sales taxes, July-Sept.
2010 $74,973,234
2011 $76,343,091 (+1.8%)

So actually the "Brewer Counties" are trailing the rest of the state. So if there is a budgetary effect on the budgets of the Brewers' great run, we haven't seen it yet. And given that the County needs another $17 million in revenues to reach Scott Walker's "amibitious" sales tax figures for 2011, they'd better hope there's some Brewer in effect coming for October- an effect they haven't seen much of yet.

How about Dane County, where the Badgers continue to kick ass in front of sellout crowds?
Dane Co. sales taxes July-Sept.
2010 $10,741,249
2011 $11,496,969 (+7.0%)

Ok, so maybe there's something there, particularly given that there were 3 Badger home games in both Sept. 2010 and Sept. 2011. Let's also look at Dane County's February and March sales taxes, given that it was the height of protest season.

2010 $6,182,728
2011 $6,954,078 (+12.5%)

Given that Dane County estimated a 0.01% increase from last year's $40.500 million in sales taxes these two bumps may mean up to $3 million in relief for this year's budget, which is also money they can carry over to stabilize next year's.

The last item to point out is that the County sales tax collections indicate that another budget deficit may be ready to appear if there isn't a Bucky or Bernie effect in the next few months. The 2011-2012 budget figures an increase in state sales taxes of 3.91%. As I've pointed out above, local sales taxes in a majority of Wisconsin communities are only up 1.83% for the first 3 months under Walker's first budget. If that 1.83% growth trend continues for the next 9 months, it means sales taxes would be down $85.5 million for fiscal year 2012. There are already budget deficits due to low end-year FY 2011 revenues and higher-than-expected Medicaid expenses, so another $85 million would put the deficit well over $200 million.

So you can see why Scott Walker, Chris Abele, and Joe Parisi are hoping hard that there's a big bump in October from this historical sports month- because if they don't, they'll lose even more cushion in a time when they need all the help they can get.

And for Shawn Marcum- please don't fuck up tonight. Just please don't fuck up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quick addendum on Elmbrook Schools

I mentioned last month about how Elmbrook Schools (which I attended from grades K-8) shouldn't be held up by Sykesists as an example of "Walker's plan [is] working," but I didn't realize how right I was until I read yesterday's release of school aid figures.

As you may have seen yesterday, the vast majority of state schools had significant drops in aid from the state under Walker's budget. Some of this may have been made up on a one-time basis by Walker's anti-teacher "tools", but certainly not made up to the level of previous investment, and little is said about the extra damage that is coming next year when those reduced numbers don't change.

But reading the actual aid tables to each district gives an even more interesting detail. Check out Elmbrook on page 3. While most schools are getting cut 9-10%, Elmbrook's aid WENT UP 4.88%! Well no wonder they could cut their school levy! If you cut teacher's take-home pay and get more money from the state, I would hope you would be able to cut property taxes. OK, so the rest of the state gets screwed because of this largesse and good luck trying to get someone to teach in your bedroom community, but hey, ya saved a few bucks on your property taxes, and that's all life is about, right Brookfield/Elm Grove?

Except that even Elmbrook isn't unscathed. It just voted this week to close Hillside Elementary School due to budget issues and declining enrollment, and might close a second. Guess those "tax-saving tools" don't matter much when people are fleeing your culturally dead area for places with more life....or places that are hotter suburbs.

And folks, this is only the beginning. RECALL how Wisconsin's top-flight education system has been battered by this adminsitration in the name of funneling a few bucks to their school privatization contributors, and get even over these next 7 months.

H/t Capper at Cognitive Dissidence.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tolls? No tolls? Wheel taxes?

I've been catching up from being out of town for 4 days, so I'll go with the links here, and maybe come back to it later.

First, here is WPRI's study on tolling Wisconsin highways as a way of paying for new lanes. Lots of the numbers are intriguing, especially at the end, as they look into putting the tolls in either the long-distance interstates, or just around the Milwaukee area. While I'm skeptical of anything from We Promote Republican Idiocy, and their bias is clearly towards sprawl, there are some good points about how traffic has increased on these roads and are projected to continue to go up, so how do you handle these strains?

The other report comes from the 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, and it shows that roads certainly do not "pay for themselves" in Wisconsin. The report wisely points out the state sales tax revenue and local property taxes are both significant sources of road funding, especially in fixing local streets. This backlog in street repairs and property taxes are a big reason why Milwaukee aldermen passed a $20 vehicle registration fee in 2008 over Tom Barrett's veto, and communities such as Janesville are looking to put it in for 2012 as a way to combat cuts to shared revenues and local road aids.

The 1000 Friends report is also a good resource to compare Wisconsin's systems with other states. If you check Page 34, a state like Indiana had $427 million in local 2008 highway funds come from vehicle registrations and various local fuel taxes, while Wisconsin had $303 thousand. Obviously the $6- $6.5 million a year generated from Milwaukee's wheel tax has changed this situation some, but it still shows how local Wisconsin communities have to often rely on the property tax as a source of revenue to fix their streets, unlike many communities in other states.

In a time of slashed aid from the state and capped property taxes, allowing and creating additional local sources of revenue through sales taxes or registration fees seem to be one of the few ways left to help local communities keep potholes out of their roads. But that requires help from the Legislature, and remember that this goofy crew already voted to remove RTAs as a way for local communities to handle transportation funding.

Of course, we'll see if Robin Vos finds RTAs to be an "abomination" when the Road Builders ask for it as a way to fix local highways. See, RTAs are horrible for the suburb boys when they're TRANSIT AUTHORITIES, but when they become TRANSPORTATION AGENCIES, they might not be so bad. Plus, the Road Builders pay you better as well.:P

EDIT: Good follow-up by James Rowen showing that all states get more back from D.C. on highways than they raise in federal gas tax. This includes Wisconsin at $1.27 in spending per dollar of tax.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New U.S. job data shows Wisconsin further behind under Walker

While it's nowhere near enough to get our economy back on strong footing, today's jobs report is a good sign that we're not yet over the cliff. The big assist to me isn't the 103,000 in jobs created in September, but the 99,000 additional jobs mentooned in the last 2 months of revisions. So we're up 202,000 jobs compared to where we thought last month, an even 1.5 million jobs created for the last 12 months, and 1.78 million in the private sector. So despite the Tea Baggers' best efforts to derail things this summer, we continue to be in a slow growth scenario, even if much of that growth isn't going to the vast majority of Americans.

But these new numbers also makes Wisconsin's sliding job numbers look even worse. Look at the July and August's numbers, and it's horrifying. Let's plug the new numbers using a similar comparison I made last month, and you'll see the U.S. is adding jobs while Wisconsin has collapsed.

Change in Jobs July-August 2011
U.S. +0.14% overall, +0.20% private
Wis. -0.31% overall, -0.49% private

But wait! What about the "half of the nation" (really 20% of the nation's total) job increase in June for Wisconsin? OK, let's put it in there.

Change in Jobs June, July + August 2011
U.S. +0.16% overall, +0.27% private
Wis. +0.08% overall, +0.14% private

U.S. jobs are still growing at twice the rate of Wisconsin. And that's not taking into account the huge amounts of retirements and cutbacks in the teaching profession in Wisconsin that will show in September's job numbers. Ruh roh, Scotty.

And Wisconsin's going to have to do a lot of work to catch up to the nation's trend for September. They'd have to add 14,700 jobs overall and 19,100 in the private sector to match the 3-month trend for the U.S. Guess what, that ain't happening, and I'd be stunned if it was 1/4 of that.

Don't know how much more you need as proof (well, you'll get more when the budget deficit shows up in the next month, but I digress). This state has lost the edge it had last year, and has fallen behind the growth in the rest of the country since Scott Walker and the WisGOPs took over. To paraphrase the president, it's not just an opinion, it's MATH. So drop these losers and get the state back on the right track.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Money honeys and Tundra Tarts? Naw, give me real women

I'm glad to see the deserved slamming that Glenn Greenwald and others are giving recently-debuted and soon-to-be canned CNN talking head Erin Burnett. Burnett went to East Coast boarding schools and a $40K tuition Eastern college, and then got her start in the industry at Goldman Sachs and Citicgroup, then went to Wall Street kiss-ass CNBC and currently is literally blowing and fucking a Citigroup executive. So why is she considered some type of objective authority on discussing "Occupy Wall Street." Greenwald destroyed the "Street Sweetie" and illustrated some of her greatest misses, along with a great takedown of CNN's coverage in general.

But Burnett learned her skills as an oligarch-sucking tool well from protege Maria Bartiromo, the "Money Honey" who lives in a $6.5 million townhouse with her husband, the son of an investment bank CEO, and was flying in private jets and getting info off of a Citigroup exec, leading to the guy getting fired in 2007. The 44-year old Bartiromo is also a Burnett-like Wall Street shill, leading to her getting memorably owned by fellow NY cuckolder Anthony Wiener 2 years ago, as Bartiromo clearly didn't understand the concept of Medicare not applying to people in their 40s, and didn't comprehend the cheap and lush health-care benefits that TV and Congressional power brokers like them have vs. the vast majority of us. And the next month, Bartiromo shrugged off Wall Street's gains in a time of massive unemployment as some kind of social good and got used again by Michael Moore in a "Morning Joe" interview that seems like it was done today instead of 2009. Somehow, she's still on CNBC, certainly not because of her collapsing ratings, but apparently because access and kissing the right oligarch's ass matters over credibility there.

Speaking of admitting credibility doesn't matter, Fox News head scumbag Roger Ailes publicly admitted that Sarah Palin is not to be taken seriously.
From the start, Ailes has steadfastly denied any such political bias or agenda on the part of his network. Politics, schmolitics: "I hired Sarah Palin because she was hot and got ratings," he declares.
Sounds like the same reason fellow horny old man John McCain hired her in 2008, come to think of it. Put a ridiculous woman up front to give something for the permanently flaccid dead-enders in their 60s and 70s whose time has long past by giving them a pageant-walking Cupie doll who will say the right things and play the role their first 2 wives wouldn't let them get away with. And those same limp dicks got their withering tickers going on CNBC in the morning with the Bartiromos and Burnetts. And you wonder why I called the vapid, brain-dead Rebecca Kleefisch "Palin" at last year's UW Homecoming Parade? She's a Wisconsin version of the same role for the same type of loser.

Then compare that treatment of women who have the "right" looks and say the "right things" to the putdown current U.S. Senator Scott Brown gave to the brilliant Harvard Professor and future Senator Elizabeth Warren today.
Brown made his comments when asked about Warren's response in a debate Tuesday to a question about how she paid for college. The question referenced the fact that Brown posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1982 to make money.

"I kept my clothes on," Warren said, adding that she borrowed money to go to a public university and worked a part-time job.

"Have you officially responded to Elizabeth Warren’s comment about how she didn’t take her clothes off?" the host asked Brown Wednesday.

"Thank God!" Brown said, laughing.

The host got a kick out it, too. "That’s what I said! I said, 'Look, can you blame a good-looking guy for wanting to, you know…”
Yeah, who cares what the smart girl who could think circles around both of them has to say, because she's bookish, speaks truth to power and in her 60s? If you can't look at her and have nasty thoughts, what she has to say doesn't matter, eh Scotty?

Sadly, having had the experience of a corporate stepdad in his 60s, this attitude is fairly common among that crowd. They really don't care to have women know more than them, be more successful than them, and certainly can't stand to have the ladies make them look foolish in mixed company. Decent, competent women that want to break the paradigms were and still are a threat to the position they schmoozed up to mediocrity with, and they sure hate to be reminded of it. I'm no Hillary Clinton fan, but there's no question part of the issues the Rush Limbaugh crowd had with her is that she was a clear reminder of the smart girl who wouldn't give those losers the time of day in college, and made them have to earn a position in the 80s and 90s instead of just sliding their way into it. (this resentment explains the whole "Feminazi!" thing of the '90s- "how dare those unattractive bitches tell me they should be listened to!") To these corporate good ol' boys, those were the days when you could harrass that cute stewardess and not have them throw a drink in your face, so the last 40 years have been quite the awakening for them.

And when you see those guys wanting to listen to Sarah Palin over Elizabeth Warren because Palin fits their image of "hot" (which I never got, but "maybe 1890s farmer chick/ 1980s church lady" is some kind of fetish to them), I get a good idea how my Mom passed a lot of those assclowns on the corporate ladder to retire as a VP. Because my mother never had things handed to her, and because she actually cared enough about herself and her work to improve, she went right by a number of these guys who never worked hard at their actual job, and always saw women as second-class citizens.

The jealousy, self-delusions, and outdated attitudes of these pathetic men are the type of people who still support the image-first, content-second women we see polluting far too much of political and business media. It's time to move past the "Money Honeys", "Street Sweeties" and "Tundra Tarts", and give the power to the vast majority of decent women that actually do something other than suck up to rich white men for a living. Many of them are leading the Occupy Movements today, many of them led the protests here in Wisconsin this winter, and they are going to be the ones running the show for all of us. With that in mind, it's time to make like NBC did this week, and take the modern day equivalent of Playboy Club bunnies off of our TV (but you can keep it in the Palms, where we know it's a fantasy and escape- that's a fun vibe).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Walker budget numbers don't add up, but the lies do

The Walker Administration gave a list of their proposed list of Medicaid cuts, which was conveniently dumped on a Friday afternoon. Bad enough that these moves can be put into law by crooked Heritage Foundation hack Dennis Smith with nothing more than a thumbs-up from the Joint Finance Committee standing in the way (thanks, "small government Republicans"). But there's this cute little tidbit thrown in as well.
GPR expenditures are projected to be higher than assumed in the budget due to revised projections for drug rebate revenues and higher costs per enrollee in certain areas of the program. These higher costs are partially offset by other favorable expenditure trends in other areas, for a net increase of $38 million GPR. Act 32 directed DHS to identify $444.6 million All Funds ($181.8 million GPR) in additional savings in Medicaid. Based on these updated projections, the Department will need to identify $554.4 million All Funds ($219.5 million GPR) to balance the program in the 2011-13 biennium.
In other words, the budget's estimates on Medicaid spending is already short by $110 million. Between this and the lower-than-expected revenues in June already have this state in a $125 million hole, and this is before the job losses in July and August are figured in. So much for that "balanced" budget.

But Walker making moves based on fake and wrong budget numbers is not new. Take a look at the damage done to Milwaukee County Transit due to faulty revenue projections in the 2011 budget. As Page 6 of the 2012 MCTS budget shows a large part of the multi-million dollar deficit is due to over $5 million in reduced revenue from 2011's budgeted levels. $1.86 million of that is fares, as 2011's fare increase and route reductions didn't increase revenue, but actually lowered it. There's also nearly $5 million less in "other direct revenue". What's this? The demise of Transit TV, among other ad figures that haven't shaped up like the Walker budget said it would. When you build that hope into a budget and it doesn't happen, you have a double-hit the next year, because you filled the expense hole with that trick the year before, and now you "lose" the money you never had in the first place in the next budget.

Another example is Walker's consistent overshooting of income from selling county lands, when the county has struggled to sell and develop even one parcel to the public. So when this rosy scenario falls through, Presto! , you have another budget deficit. Watch how the same "disappointments" happen in the next few months as raids, extra borrowing, and other gimmicks don't get the numbers that the budget says it'll get. Not surprisingly, many of the Milwaukee County hits came after Scotty hightailed it into Madison, and the same will happen in Wisconsin after he's blown out of the Governor's Office. Don't forget who put it there.

And never forget the fake budget crises Walker has claimed, and not just the lie he perpetrated in the winter about the state being "broke". Walker and County Board Chair Lee Holloway magically found $8 million in health care savings at the end of 2009, allowing for furlough days to be canceled for the suddenly not-so-broke County. I'm not even going into the made-up "budget emergency" that led to a multi-million dollar contract with campaign contributor Wachkenhut, which not only lowered service, but cost taxpayers even more money than before when an arbitrator ruled Walker lied about the budget crisis and reinstated the Courthouse workers.

So this week's "larger than expected" Medcaid cuts aren't just a result of businesses shoving off a higher number of lower-paid employees onto the dole so they can pocket more profits (thought it certainly is some of that), but it's also part of a more disturbing trend where Scott Walker's administrations give faulty numbers and drastic "solutions" for political reasons. Which tells us that we must have our BS dectectors on high regarding any budget moves in the next few months (especially with the recalls coming) and be ready to call out this bullshit when it happens. Because as the Wackenhut fiasco reminds us, if we allow them to lie and implement again, the damage that gets done from Walker and co. becomes that much harder to undo.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not just another day in Dairyland

Not a day for politics or economics. There's plenty of time for that later. Instead, it's time for Wisconsin's time on the national sports stage.



And 2 more big-uns today. My bank account hates me for 6 hours of pregame drinking and postgame reflection. But I really don't care at this time. I'll retract my spending when/if these great rides ever end.