Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"Right direction" Wisconsin? Part II

I see our fair governor is going to try a "Morning in Wisconsin" theme, based on the script of his latest ads (I won't try to watch that crap, as I value my digestive system too much). Well, that ad should prompt you to ask "Are we really going the right direction under this guy?" And stories out this week indicate the answer continues to be an emphatic NO.

1. Let's go with one of the claims of that ad to start.
Families are planning vacations and more are going to sleep knowing they have access to health care.
As proof of that claim, the Walker campaign claims that his "work makes you free" health care plan extended access to all people making the poverty line or below. But of course what isn't mentioned is the fact that BadgerCare was also cut back for families that were barely above the poverty line, with Walker choosing to throw those people onto the federal Obamacare exchanges, in the hopes that it would cause so much chaos and overloading of that type of coverage that he and his fellow GOPs could show Obamacare "wasn't working."

Well, that strategy has backfired on two fronts, and proven the Walker ad to be lying. The first is that the number of Wisconsinites that are uninsured have at best stayed the same, if not gone up. As this picture shows, the Census Bureau listed Wisconsin as the only state in the Midwest that had an increase in the percentage of people that were uninsured between 2010 and 2012, illustrating the BadgerCare cuts that Walker and the WisGOPs signed off on in their first 2-year budget. Wisconsin is the light red line near the bottom.

% of population uninsured, 2010 vs. 2012

And if there was any cut in the uninsured rate in 2013, it sure wasn't due to anything Scotty and WisGOP did. In fact, a Gallup poll released today showed that states which took the expanded Medicaid funding in Obamacare did much better in reducing the amount of uninsured than states that decided to TeaBag the expanded Medicaid (such as Wisconsin).

Uninsured rate, Gallup poll April 2014
Took Medicaid funding 16.1% in 2013, 13.6% in 2014 (-2.5%)
Didn't take Medicaid funding 18.7% in 2013, 17.9% in 2014 (-0.8%)

And oh yeah, Wisconsinites are paying higher taxes as a result as well, since the state is picking up 42% of the Medicaid costs instead of having the Feds pick up those costs for us. It's a lose-lose situation all around, and won't get better as long as a bubble-worlder like Walker is in office.

2. If Wisconsin families are planning vacations, as the Walker ad says, we should be seeing it with increased travel out of the state's largest airport. But instead we saw a report released this week say the exact opposite.
The 13-percent drop in traffic at General Mitchell International Airport in 2013 was the steepest drop for any of the top 50 U.S. airports.

That’s according to an analysis of Airports Council International data in the most recent issue of Airline Weekly.

Of the 50 largest airports, 17 had declines in passenger traffic in 2013. The next steepest drop came at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, which lost 6 percent of its traffic.

Two factors contributed to Milwaukee’s traffic drop, said Seth Kaplan, managing partner at Airline Weekly: the major loss of flights from Frontier Airlines, which finished a series of cutbacks in Milwaukee in mid-2012, and the merger of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways. The combined Southwest/AirTran saw a 12 percent decrease in passenger traffic at Mitchell between Oct. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2013, according to Southwest.
So Mitchell Field's drop was more than DOUBLE anywhere else among the top 50 airports in the U.S. Doesn't exactly reflect a lot of consumer or business confidence, now does it? The actions of real Wisconsinites should speak louder than Governor Walker's campaign.

3. The NOAA just released the climactic data for March, and it showed that Wisconsin just went through its coldest January-March stretch in over 100 years (that polar vortex wasn't fucking around!). Along with major snowstorms in Northern Wisconsin (with another foot falling today), there have been massive heating and road maintenance expenses that state and local governments have had to take on that are well past what they would have budgeted. But instead of holding off on tax cuts in favor of seeing what the fallout from this extraordinary winter would be, Walker and the WisGOPs plowed full-speed ahead and handcuffed the state's finances for the future. They didn't even add to the rainy (or snowy) day fund, in order to cosmetically cut the structural deficit in the 2015-17 budget to only $658 million.

And of course, this doesn't include count the $1 billion in Transportation Fund needs that also haven't been paid for by the Fitzwalkerstanis, and even though Walker won't talk about it, DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb and staff are meeting with the public to discuss which taxes to change and/or raise to deal with this shortfall (they're in Wausau in 2 weeks, and Green Bay and Oshkosh the week after that). With the winter we just had, those $1 billion in needs probably got higher, but you won't hear Walker talk about that on the campaign trail, as it's too much of an inconvenient truth of his "steal, borrow and spend" mentality.

4. Oh, and we have another jobs report for Wisconsin due out tomorrow. We've already lost 1,800 private sector jobs in the first two months of the year while the country continued its slow and steady growth of jobs, so the Walker jobs gap has ballooned to 55,000 private sector jobs. If we fall short of 4,000 jobs added in March, that gap will grow more, although I'll predict these numbers will be OK, as unemployment claims weren't THAT bad last month. But so far in April the unemployment claims have stayed high and there is little landscaping or other Spring weather jobs to be done, so I anticipate that one to be slow, at least as it stands now.

So despite the sunny talk from Scott Walker and the WisGOPs on the campaign trail, the real Wisconsin continues to fall behind the pace of the rest of the nation, and our state's fiscal picture is getting darker with fewer options available to fix it (WisGOP have already shot their bullets with Act 10 and shared-revenue cuts). So as I asked earlier this month, are we going in the right direction, or just the right-WING one?

1 comment:

  1. As you say, the March reference week UI claims were back to something closer to their normally mediocre tempo vs the January and February figures.

    Withholding in March was up 3.6% on last year - same as the average for the last few months (n.b. new withholding tables kick in for April) - and sales tax receipts we up an anemic 2.6%.

    So all told I'd expect a positive number, but not one to write home about. Well, after benchmarking at least since the statistical error bars in the monthly surveys make month-to-month comparisons pretty pointless.