Friday, November 29, 2019

This month in WisGOP Vos/Nygren BS

As November draws to a close, the GOP's leaders in the gerrymandered Legislature continue to act in a way that at best shows an incredible lack of self-awareness, and at worst shows that there is no limit to their cynicism and double-standards.

For example, here's Assembly Speaker Robbin' Vos saying "neener, neener, neener" about health care premiums.

But then go back three months ago, and here's fellow GOP hack John Nygren giving the Vos/Koch talking points on health care, and saying how great the ACA Exchanges worked in Wisconsin!
“Today it was announced that the 2020 rates on Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market will be 3.2 percent lower compared to 2019 rates. I am happy to see that the action taken by Republicans in Wisconsin is again paying dividends.”

“According to Governor Evers this reduction ‘further demonstrates that the individual market is stabilizing and Wisconsin residents are able to access more affordable coverage options.’ I am glad to see that Governor Evers agrees, healthcare coverage on the marketplace is more affordable and accessible in Wisconsin without expanding welfare.”Since being approved by the federal government, the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan (WIHSP), consumers have seen consistent reductions in healthcare rates.

Additionally, Molina Healthcare returned to the Wisconsin healthcare market. According to Molina, their decision was the result of Republican’s efforts to stabilize the health insurance market through the reinsurance waiver which was approved by the federal government.

“This is just another example illustrating that Republicans in the Legislature made the right decision to not expand welfare in Wisconsin. Since taking office, Governor Evers has said that healthcare in Wisconsin is unaffordable, ignoring the fact that premiums on the exchange can be as low as 18 cents per month. Today’s statement from Governor Evers shows he now understands how actions by Republicans have made insurance more affordable in Wisconsin.”
So according to John Nygren, the tax credits of the ACA are working to make health care affordable for Wisconsinites. And having the federal government pay low-income individuals for private insurance isn't welfare, but having the federal government pay for those same low-income individuals to get insurance through Medicaid is?

Stupid enough, but then let's go into Vos's whine that says insurance in Wisconsin is unaffordable. So wait, you're telling me that subsidizing people to get insurance does nothing to lower premiums overall? But you guys said using tax dollars under the reinsurance scheme to give $$$ to insurers was a GOOD thing!

Ok, then it sounds like we should have some kind of cost controls and mandated competition for everyone, eh Robbin'? Kind of like, a "public option" that is available to everybody, and keeps the private insurance industry in check. But nooooo, you're not asking for that. That might cut into the profits from your donors in the insurance industry! Bad for donations if they can't gouge the hell out of consumers that have few other options. Much better to whine and blame the ACA when you have gone out of your way to avoid (if not outright prevent) giving Wisconsinites the affordable choices and health options they deserve.

And let me also take a minute to go into John Nygren's new-found interest in open government, which he illustrated last week.
A top Republican lawmaker sued Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, alleging the Democratic governor had improperly withheld public records from him.

Rep. John Nygren, a co-chairman of the Legislature's budget committee from Marinette, asked Evers in August for documents under the public records law mentioning GOP lawmakers and mental health services for farmers.

Nygren made a similar request to the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The department provided its records to Nygren, but Evers' attorney denied the request to the governor's office, arguing it was overly broad...

“Governor Evers and his staff are blatantly hiding and denying access to public documents," Nygren said in a statement. "Whether it’s the media, a concerned citizen or an elected official, the public records law exists to provide access to what government is doing. Governor Evers is not above the law."
While what Nygren is trying to do is an obvious fishing expedition intended to dig dirt and waste time (he's basically asking for anything from anyone who worked in the guv's office regarding farmer suicides or ANY comments about several GOP lawmakers over a 1-month time period), that's a small price to pay for public accountability, and those records should be produced in a decent time period.

But may I remind you that 4 years ago, John Nygren was also co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee when they approved a budget motion that would have gutted the state's open records law, as an attempt to keep the public from seeing what Governor Scott Walker and other state officials were planning with bills. In addition, Nygren headed the effort to keep the public from knowing which GOPs suggested the idea, and why they wanted to do it.

After major public blowback, those open records changes were pulled before the full Legislature got to vote on it, but that didn't stop the Marinette Mediocrity from profanley grumbling to the media about having to be publicly accountable, as shown by this great cartoon by Phil Hands of Madison Newspapers.

This is also the same John Nygren who was shedding crocodile tears after Governor Evers rightfully denounced the "bullshit" decision of the Wisconsin Senate to remove Ag Secretary Brad Pfaff because Pfaff hurt the precious fee-fees of Senate GOP Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Because the same John Nygren who wanted to destroy public records laws and slurs low-income Wisconsinites as "welfare receipients" is all about being "civil", ya knooooow.

These people are the lowest forms of life, and given that they're the ones that the WisGOP caucuses choose to "lead", I gotta assume the other GOPs in the Assembly and the rest of the Legislature think they are a-OK. Which makes me ask "How mentally weak do you have to be to support the hypocrisy and double-talk that is required in today's Wisconsin GOP?"

There's only one appropriate response to these scumbuckets these days.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Declining malls, "dark stores" and how it'll ripple through your upcoming tax bill

With Holiday shopping season officially kicking off tomorrow, it's looking at lot different at the stores in 2019 than it did when we grew up. There are a lot of empty buildings and scenes like this these days.

It's worth noting that with all of these stores closing, there is a lot of tax base that goes away for cities and other municipalities. Which means that property taxes for Wisconsin homeowners are likely to rise even more than they already would due to increased home values, because homes take up a higher proportion of the tax base.

Even the stores that stay around might be getting a tax break in Wisconsin, as they often claim a "dark store" loophole that uses the threat of closing to lower the assessment on big-box retailers and other businesses. This has received increasing attention in recent years, as more retailers have appealed their assessments using the dark store loophole, which has angered many local governments by making them use tax dollars in court cases that result, and has driven them into demanding action from the State Legislature to stop the practice.

Governor Evers campaigned on changing and/or removing this loophole last year, but when he asked the GOP-controlled State Legislature to put that change into state law as part of his first budget, was rejected. And based on an article in the Wisconsin Examiner from a few months back, it looks like it'll take Robbin' Vos and other Republicans to be out of power for that situation to change.
The League of Wisconsin Municipalities, the Wisconsin Counties Association and the Wisconsin Towns Association put out a joint release last November after voters in 23 towns, cities and villages voted overwhelmingly to tell the governor and legislature to close the loophole.

The Leagues’ anti-Dark Store webpage notes that 63% of the State Legislature signed on as co-sponsors of the dark store bill in the last legislative session.

But nothing gets done.

League of Wisconsin Municipalities Deputy Director Curt Witynski is a realist when asked about what it would take to actually get the loophole closed: “To make it actually happen might take a change in majority in one of the houses.”

While the bills have 55 co-sponsors, he explains that the Speaker’s opposition to the popular bill, perversely, might mean more Republican legislators feel they can express support, because they know it will never move forward. “On the other hand, legislators might want to avoid it as that stance could anger the Speaker,” he explains.
Continuing this "dark store" Swampiness and the overall structural change in how Americans shop is likely to have a sizable effect on the property tax bills many of us will receive in the next couple of weeks, and it'll be intriguing to see if there is voter blowback. Especially because it is now useless for a lot of Wisconsinites to write off their property taxes under provisions of the GOP's Tax Scam from DC.

So while I recognize that if Americans cut back on their spending during this Holiday season, it may be the final nail to end the chances of Trump being re-elected, there is still a drawback if they choose not to use brick-and-mortar retail in the next month. And that's because many of these places are already struggling to get by, and people not visiting the dwindling number of stores that remain might cause more closings and more burdens pushed onto residential home owners. Choose accordingly and wisely, folks.

EDIT-Just in time for Black Friday, my Congressman has another reminder as to why there are fewer places to Christmas shop at in Wisconsin this year - vulture capitalism.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A cornucopia of pre-Thanksgiving econ data

With a shorter work week combining with the end of the month, it meant there was a lot of economic data that came out today, and I wanted to go over some of it.

Let's start with the new Personal Income and Spending report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Its results were somewhere between “meh” and “ugh.”
Personal income increased $3.3 billion (less than 0.1 percent) in October according to estimates released today by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Disposable personal income (DPI) decreased $12.6 billion (-0.1 percent) and personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $39.7 billion (0.3 percent).

Real DPI decreased 0.3 percent in October and Real PCE increased 0.1 percent. The PCE price index increased 0.2 percent. Excluding food and energy, the PCE price index increased 0.1 percent.
That 0.1% number for real consumption expenditures is the smallest in 9 months, and continues a trend of slower spending growth as 2019 has progressed.

In addition, the drop in real income is the first since April. Those two stats can’t make retailers feel very comfortable heading into the Holiday shopping season.

We also saw more evidence today that the recession in Midwestern manufacturing was continuing. It’s still not a good sign when the news tries to spin “but we did decline less than the previous month.”
The Chicago Purchasing Management Index registered at 46.3 in November from an unrevised 43.2 in October. The October reading was the lowest level since December 2015. Economists had expected a November reading of 46.5, according to the StreetAccount consensus on FactSet. Some surveys had average expectations as high as 47.

Any reading below 50 indicates deteriorating conditions.

What happened: Production slipped to 42.3 in November after October’s uptick. However, demand improved, indicated by the New Orders subcomponent. It rose by 12.5 points to 49.4, drawing closer to the crucial 50 mark. There was, though, anecdotal evidence of firms being concerned about the outlook due to wider economic issues, the trade group reported.
New orders in manufacturing did seem to bounce back in another report that hit on Wednesday …on the topline totals anyway.
New orders for manufactured durable goods in October increased $1.5 billion or 0.6 percent to $248.7 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This increase, up four of the last five months, followed a 1.4 percent September decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.1 percent. Fabricated metal products, up two of the last three months, led the increase, $0.6 billion or 1.8 percent to $34.1 billion.
But as you can see, it’s national defense spending that is most of that October increase, while the other 92% of orders basically flatlined. And even that militarily-inflated amount of orders doesn’t make up for what we lost in September, or for the year (-0.8% year-to-date vs 2018).

It’s also defense spending that is a significant part of the country’s continued economic growth as a whole, as reiterated in the revision to 3rd Quarter GDP that hit on Wednesday. Defense spending was up 3.4% on an annual basis for Q3 2019, and up 4.6% in the last 12 months ($33.8 billion) – more than double the 12-month overall US growth rate of 2.1%.

And even with the added military spending pumping up GDP, our 12-month growth rate is back to where it was when Trump took office at the start of 2017 – the same growth rate that Trump promised to double during his time in office.

Another way the country continues to struggle is in foreign trade. Even something that seems like good news – a narrowing of the US trade deficit in goods for October – turned out to be for a bad reason.
The international trade deficit was $66.5 billion in October, down $4.0 billion from $70.5 billion in September. Exports of goods for October were $135.3 billion, $0.9 billion less than September exports. Imports of goods for October were $201.8 billion, $5.0 billion less than September imports.
That’s the kind of report you’d see during a global recession, not a time of strong economic growth. Ironically, this decline in the trade deficit due to lower level of business accounted for nearly 40% of the upward projection of the Atlanta Fed's GDP now report (up to 1.7% for Q4 from a 0.4% reading last week).

Yet on Wall Street, “trade optimism” is a big reason the market continues to Bubble higher, onto another new record yesterday.
Stocks edged up for a fourth straight day to close at new records Wednesday, supported by rosier U.S. economic data and ongoing hopes for a U.S. - China trade deal, but Wall Street trading volumes were thinner than usual ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday Thursday.

“We can be thankful that the economy is still in a good place with economic growth a little better, a rebound in business durable equipment expenditures, and a sharp decline in joblessness which together tell the story that recession is nowhere to be seen and should not be on anyone’s radar in 2020,” MUFG chief economist Chris Rupkey said.

“Political uncertainty, impeachment, trade war with China and the world, none of these headlines as yet show an economy that is about to go down,” he added.
I suppose you'd say that, if you choose to ignore what the actual data says. Even the drop in jobless claims that Rupkey references seems to be more related to an interesting “seasonal adjustment” that didn’t apply in 2018 in the week before Thanksgiving than an actual decline in claims.

Unemployment claims, week before Thanksgiving, US
Total, unadjusted
2018 226,576
2019 252,397 (+25,821)

Seasonally adjusted
2018 224,000
2019 213,000 (-11,000)

Yeah, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Much like a lot of things don’t make sense these days between Wall Street and the real-world economy. That's something to chew on over the Thanksgiving table, and as you decide whether to make that Black Friday purchase.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Now even Koch-funded studies show the Fox-con is a waste

This isn’t too much of a surprise, as I’ve said things like this for quite a while. But a new study from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University on Wisconsin’s Foxconn package shows that it is not only is highly unlikely to recover anything near what taxpayers invested into the project, it might actually be hurting other parts of the economy.
The Mercatus Center's "Economics of a Targeted Economic Development Subsidy" study, which looks at the economic case for and against targeted economic development subsidies, focused on Wisconsin's pledge of $3.6 billion in incentives to Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn Technology Group.

"The weight of economic theory suggests that these subsidies do not work and may even depress economic activity," according to the study. "We show that under realistic scenarios the subsidy may depress state economic activity by tens of billions of dollars over the next 15 years."

The report argues that tax cuts or subsidies for Foxconn come at a cost of higher taxes for other individuals or businesses, or reduced investment in public services. In addition, that uneven taxation is more likely to discourage economic activity, per the report.

"In short, the net effect of targeted economic development subsidies is likely to be negative," according to the study.
In addition, study author Michael Farren points out to Wisconsin Public Radio that sinking all of this money into Foxconn ties the hands of both the state and the company for the future, and can cause both parties to throw away even more money in order to chase a positive outcome.
The company originally was going to build large flat screens with a so-called Gen 10.5 plant. Foxconn said market changes prompted the company to shift to a smaller Gen 6 facility.

In early 2019, Foxconn executives hedged briefly on whether they would be doing any manufacturing in the state at all. Now, they say the Gen 6 facility will begin operating in late 2020.

"If it doesn’t make sense to build LCD displays in the U.S. or even in southeastern Wisconsin, then it shouldn’t be done," Farren said. "And if you try to force something to happen, then you are going to end up with more economic waste."
Speaking of Foxconn continuing to try things that aren’t going to happen, the company (as it tends to do) followed this bad news with another PR release claiming they’d finally start work on their Green Bay facility.
ISG and DeLeers Construction, Inc., together with Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn), today announced that work will begin for the design and construction of Foxconn Place Green Bay’s 4,800 square-foot second floor located at the WaterMark Building in downtown Green Bay. After a stringent review of competitive bid submissions, Foxconn awarded ISG, a nationally recognized architecture, engineering, environmental and planning firm, and DeLeers Construction, Inc., the contracts. Both firms were chosen for their wealth of experience and understanding of the local Green Bay area…

Both firms will start with the conceptualization of the design for Foxconn, followed by a submission to the City of Green Bay for their approvals. Foxconn will then begin construction on the interior build upon approval. The building will house Foxconn events, including upcoming Foxconn Tech Talks and recruitment drives, and be a space for community engagement.
“From the start, the establishment of Foxconn Place Green Bay has been a key part of Foxconn’s long-term strategic initiatives, underscoring our continued commitment to the local communities in Wisconsin,” said Dr. Alan Yeung, Director of U.S. Strategic Initiatives, Foxconn. “It is important that Foxconn’s partners be not only from Wisconsin but situated in the Green Bay area. Both ISG and DeLeers Construction, Inc. stood out in both aspects, and we are looking forward to working with them for the design-build of the Foxconn Place Green Bay.”
Foxconn Place Green Bay was announced more than a year ago when the company bought the WaterMark structure, but has resulted in nothing more than an empty building so far, as Channel 2 in Green Bay noted last month.

It’s notable that even the Green Bay Press-Gazette expressed skepticism about today’s Foxconn remodeling announcement.
The company announced plans to buy the building in late June 2018 and set out to complete the building purchase and select a contractor to start renovations by the end of 2018. It expected to begin hiring staff shortly thereafter.

It anticipated having as many as 200 employees work out of a 16,000-square-foot office space that would take up all of the building's second floor.

The plans ISG and DeLeers will develop call for a 4,800-square-foot space.

In addition to housing employees who will develop next-generation uses for its technology, Foxconn also plans to use the space to host events, Foxconn Tech Talks, recruitment drives and community engagement events.
So it’s a fraction of the original plans in Green Bay, and if it ever opens, seems more likely to serve as a site for PR BS for Foxconn rather than any kind of actual work being done.

Enough of the bait-and-switch routines from these guys, which you know is going to continue between now and the 2020 elections. The Evers Administration needs to PULL THE PLUG before the Fox-con sinks us even further into the ditch that we’re already in.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

MU Poll pt. 2, impeachment figures show same BS shift

The first thing I want to say about last week's Marquette Law Poll that claimed 53% of Wisconsinites "opposed impeachment" is that any look into the poll's crosstabs illustrated a major challenge for those who think law-breaking deserves impeachment. Notably, that a large amount of Wisconsinites are dealing with very different sets of "facts," something that wasn't lost on the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Granted, that poll was taken before last week's events, so maybe a few other people are stepping out of their Bubble of BS and realizing just how bad the Trump/GOPs are.

But leaving that aside, there were other parts of the MU Poll that is making me annoyed, because it seems to give a false narrative to the public. It's worth pointing out that the MU Poll asked about impeachment and removal , which is a notably higher standard than either starting impeachment proceedings, or just asking whether the House should impeach. Some people may say “No” to removal simply because they think the GOP Senate won’t do it. It’s a bad reason, but a lot of people don’t even know the difference between impeachment and removal.

I’ll add that the impeachment/removal numbers have a suspicious shift that is similar to what we saw in the head-to-head matchups for president. If you take the MU Law polls at face value, you’d have to believe that anti-Trump demographics turned against impeachment in the first half of November.

Should Trump be impeached and removed from office?

Oct 2019 91-6
Nov 2019 80-10

Age 18-44
Oct 2019 48-46
Nov 2019 38-53

Do we really believe that the groups that dislike Trump the most moved 15 points against impeachment in a month? I sure don't believe it.

Ironically, the GOP-leaning “true independents” (a group that magically moved as much as 10-15 points toward Trump in the head-to-head matchups with Dems) moved toward impeachment.

"True Independents"
Oct 2019 33-55
Nov 2019 36-47

I think you need to wait until next week to get an idea on what impact this week’s developments may have had on public opinion in Wisconsin, so the poll was already somewhat irrelevant by the time it was released. But these shifts make no sense, and are either crazy outliers, or a cynical attempt by the Bradley Foundation Marquette Law School to manipulate media into a meme of “the public has turned against impeachment.”

Don’t buy what they’re trying to sell, and trust your eyes and ears over what others tell you. Because the GOPs’ best weapon right now is their propaganda networks and the resulting Bubble of BS, which the tactic they have to take to fight impeachment, as the independent facts of the case are not on their side.

Wisconsin still declining, but many other states are also sputtering

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released its updated coincident indexes of economic activity in all 50 states on Friday. And the map which accompanies this report seems to be quite telling.

In addition to Wisconsin’s red shape of decline, note the pale growth in most of the Midwest (except for Minnesota and Illinois – the two Midwest states that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump).

What’s more disturbing is the 1 and 3-month diffusion indexes, which looks at how many states are doing good vs the ones doing bad.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the coincident indexes for the 50 states for October 2019. Over the past three months, the indexes increased in 42 states, decreased in seven states, and remained stable in one, for a three-month diffusion index of 70. In the past month, the indexes increased in 33 states, decreased in 10 states, and remained stable in seven, for a one-month diffusion index of 46.
That may sound good, but it’s actually the worst number for both of those statistics since early 2010, when we were dragging ourselves out of the Great Recession. And we’re at a similar type of decline to what was happening a year before each of the last 2 recessions hit.

That being said, the recent economic news hasn't all been bad. Home sales and prices in America had a decent climb iin October. In addition,
consumer confidence had a bounce-back this month (although consumers indicated uneasiness going forward), and IHS Markit said there was a slight recovery in growth for both manufacturing and services in November after several months of slippage.

There has been a slight bump up in unemployment claims in the last few weeks, but it's not yet at the point that we are likely to see a decline in overall jobs in the US. But I'll also note that the DOW Jones hit a record high in October 2007, and 377,000 jobs were added in the last 4 months of that year, even though the chain of events leading to the Great Recession was already underway. As November has dragged on, it seems like we see more indicators that the 10-year expansion is on shaky ground, and that's especially true in the Midwest, where the economy has flatlined in many places.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

More "gold standard" proof of Wisconsin, US job growth falling off under Trump

I saw this Politifact Wisconsin check on a certain claim from VP Mike Pence, who flew into Marinette this week to talk up a project to build up Marinette Marine and other military spending.

Pence also used the visit to try to give credit to a growing economy to President Trump, claiming that Wisconsin had added 36,000 jobs since Trump took office. Which is what Politifact decided to look into
The number of jobs in Wisconsin rose from 2.94 million in January 2017 — when Trump was sworn in — to 2.98 million in October 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a difference of 40,900.

Those tallies show non-farm, seasonally adjusted jobs from the agency’s Current Employment Statistics — an estimate based on a monthly survey of a sampling of companies. But the gap is about the same using other breakdowns of the data….

Pence said 36,000 jobs have been created in Wisconsin since Trump took office.

It’s an oversimplification to imply, as Pence does, that Trump deserves the credit for that bump. Jobs have actually trended in the other direction so far this year -- and changes in either direction are the product of many factors, not just who occupies the Oval Office.

But Pence’s number lines ups with — and actually understates — the gains since January 2017, according to the latest data.
So, winning? Not really.

While it’s true that Wisconsin has gained jobs since Trump took office, there’s also no question that the rate of job growth in our state has slowed significantly since the start of 2017 . Take a look at what Wisconsin added in the 33 months before Trump took office vs the 33 months since then.

Job growth, Wisconsin monthly payrolls survey
April 2014-Jan 2017 +101,100
Jan 2017-Oct 2019 +40,900

#ThanksObama. It's dropped nearly 60% under Trump. Not really what those blue-collars thought they’d get when they gambled on the New York “businessman”, is it?

And we may not have even that much in reality, as the latest “gold standard” Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages came out on Thursday, and showed Wisconsin was doing especially bad compared to the rest of the country. The state was 41st in the US for total job growth over the 12 months from June 2018-June 2019, following an even-worse 46th place standing in March 2019 - the last 2 quarters the state was operating under budgets approved by Scott Walker and the WisGOP Legislature.

The QCEW says Wisconsin only added 9,340 jobs from June 2018-June 2019, and it continues a downward trend in the state's growth rate that started in 2016, and has dropped below 1% for almost all of the last year.

That being said, there was one positive sign for Wisconsin in the report, which Tony Evers’ Department of Workforce Development was glad to point out, while avoiding talk of the lagging jobs totals.
The United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data showing that Wisconsin ranks tied for 1st in the Midwest and tied for 7th nationally in Average Weekly Wage Growth from second quarter 2018 to second quarter 2019.

The data released today also showed county level wage growth: Winnebago County had the 4th largest average weekly wage growth in the nation, 9.1 percent, while Dane County's growth of 6.3 percent ranked 8th nationally. Other counties with notable average weekly wage growth in Wisconsin include Milwaukee with a 4 percent growth rate, Outagamie with a 3.3 percent growth rate, and Waukesha with a 3.4 percent growth rate.
So theoretically, those figures indicate that the low unemployment rate in Wisconsin and lack of available workers was finally pushing up wages in the first half of this year. The problem is that the state has had unemployment rise in every month since June 2019, so we’ll see if that has a limiting effect on pay hikes going forward.

In addition to Wisconsin's poor showing in the QCEW, that report also tells us that the US as a whole wasn’t adding as many jobs as Trump’s Labor Department has been claiming. If you look at the national numbers in the QCEW over those 12 months, it’s a lot less than what the monthly jobs reports were saying.

Job growth, June 2018-June 2019
Monthly jobs report +1.51%
QCEW “gold standard” +1.13%

That means we will likely see job growth revised down somewhere in the neighborhood of 550,000-600,000 jobs when the Bureau of Labor Statistics does its annual benchmarking in 3 months. Wisconsin’s totals were also overestimated in the monthly reports vs the QCEW, although not as badly (the difference will likely be about 3,000 jobs).

But what that “gold standard” report does indicate is that if Mike Pence and Donald Trump try to use a “growing economy” as a reason they should be retained in 2020, it’s not going to resonate in states like Wisconsin. The numbers show that the decent (although still lagging) job growth that was going on in 2016 has gone way down since those Republicans took up residence in the White House, and how is that going to be any better a year from now?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

MU Law Poll has a hilarious, unbelievable RW shift. Toss it

I noticed there was another Marquette University Law School Poll dropping today, and given the events going on in DC and Wisconsin's bellweather status, this seemed like kind of a big deal. And then I read the topline numbers and started laughing.
Support for impeachment has slipped in Wisconsin, according to Wednesday's Marquette University Law School Poll.

And for the first time, President Donald Trump has surged ahead of all four top Democratic rivals in potential head-to-head matchups....

In head-to-head matchups, Trump led former Vice President Joe Biden by 47% to 44%, within the poll's margin of error. In August, Biden led the president by 51% to 42%.

"Call it a small advantage to Trump," Franklin said.

Trump led U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 48% to 45%, and had a lead of 48% to 43% over U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
That defied any kind of common sense, given recent events. So I immmediately went to the crosstabs for both October and November to see what might have changed.

At first glance, there’s not necessarily a huge shift in the (self-described) ideological breakdown of the MU Poll from last month. But it still went further right than the last poll, and that was already out-of-whack with who voted in Wisconsin 4 years ago.

Ideology of those answering, MU Law Polls vs 2016 exit poll

You add 2.8% conservatives and pull away 2.4% of liberals from the electorate and Trump does better. I’m shocked, SHOCKED!

Which explains a lot, because when you look at the head-to-head matchups, moderates didn’t change much at all in their preference for president between the two Marquette polls, with the exception of Joe Biden, who morphed down into “generic Democrat” in this poll.

2020 potential presidential matchups, Marquette Poll

Oct 2019 Biden 61-33
Nov 2019 Biden 54-35

Oct 2019 Sanders 54-36
Nov 2019 Sanders 52-36

Oct 2019 Warren 52-38
Nov 2019 Warren 53-35

Oct 2019 Buttigieg 51-35
Nov 2019 Buttigieg 47-34

But it’s not just the weighting, as some of the preferences of certain groups make NO sense when given the sniff test. For example, after a month’s worth of stories about Trump corruption and meltdowns, are we to seriously believe that “True independents” are now switching to TRUMP in big numbers?

That doesn’t ring remotely true. Neither does this break down of alleged “liberals”, who were allegedly less likely to want to see Trump voted out after the last month.

Oct 2019 Biden 92-5
Nov 2019 Biden 83-7

Oct 2019 Sanders 94-3
Nov 2019 Sanders 91-8

Oct 2019 Warren 95-2
Nov 2019 Warren 85-10

Oct 2019 Buttigieg 89-4
Nov 2019 Buttigieg 79-10

Methinks Chuck Franklin got catfished by some righties thinking they were clever enough to hide what they really believed in when they were demographically screened. That's the nice version of what I think happened (the mean one is that he gave the Bradleys a result they wanted).

There’s one other finding that makes zero sense, and that involves the answers from ages 30-44. This is largely the Milennial generation that hates Trump, and many people in this age group voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. But the November MU Poll says they have changed a lot in the last 3 years…and in the last month.

Age 30-44, Wisconsin
2016 exit poll Clinton 55-37

Oct 2019 Biden 53-44
Nov 2019 Biden 42-47

Oct 2019 Sanders 49-42
Nov 2019 Sanders 42-50

Oct 2019 Warren 47-42
Nov 2019 Warren\ 41-51

Oct 2019 Buttigieg 43-44
Nov 2019 Buttigieg 34-45

Does anyone honestly think that Milennials and Gen Xers under 45 have turned toward Donald Trump by 10-15 points in the last month? HELL NO. It's an absurd number, and even the MU Law Poll seemed to admit it, if you read between the lines.

The impeachment part of the MU Poll is equally absurd, but I'll get to that at a later point. I'll just say that the numbers that came out with today are literally unbelievable, and should be thrown in the trash. But that won't stop our lazy media from reporting a Trump "gain" that is highly unlikely to exist in the real world.

Ron Johnson, Russia and Ukraine - 3 years of developments

I keep going back to a Bruce Murphy article in Urban Milwaukee from January 2017 titled “Ron Johnson Asleep on Russian hacking”? That article showcased how Johnson knew about the Russians interfering in the country’s elections in September 2016, when he was part of a ”Gang of 12” meeting, as the Chairman of the Senate’s Homeland Security Committee.

But Johnson went along with Moscow Mitch McConnell in burying that information from Wisconsin voters before his election that November. Worse, Johnson lied to the public when asked about it, both before November, and after unsuspecting Wisconsinites (who were subjected to Russian memes and other psy-ops) re-elected Johnson in November.
… After the CIA publicly released a report in January concluding that Russia meddled in the presidential election to help Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election, Johnson issued a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal saying he would “would need more definitive information before drawing further conclusions.” Johnson did not reveal that he had been informed back in September this was happening.

Johnson went on to complain to CNBC that the CIA refused to brief him on Russian hacking, saying “I have not seen the evidence that it actually was Russia,” while failing to note the CIA report’s echoed the briefing he’d received from other intelligence leaders in September.

Johnson also complained that Obama had failed to confront the Russia government with strength, even though the Obama administration had proposed a strong stand on cyber hacking which Johnson declined to join.

So things stood until this week, when Johnson did an about face and declared his concern about Russia’s cyber hacking of his country. Why the sudden shift of position?

Perhaps because Trump’s election was certified last week so Russia’s efforts to help elect him can’t be used to pry away any electoral votes. Or perhaps because of the Senate hearing last Thursday, where senators on both sides of the aisle expressed concern about testimony by intelligence leaders on Russian hacking. As GOP Sen. Lindsay Graham noted, Republicans could be the next target of cyberattacks. “Could it be Republicans next election?” he said. “It’s not like we’re so much better at cybersecurity than Democrats.”
Huh, wonder why Lindsey Graham doesn’t seem as concerned about cyberattacks these days? kompromat

Anyway, Johnson has continually tried to sidetrack any further discussion of Russian hijinks in the 2016 election, or President* Trump’s attempts to extort Ukraine into blackmailing Joe Biden and other potential political rivals. And as events have progressed over the last 34 months, that article from Bruce Murphy continues to rear its head to remind me why RoJo doesn’t want people to ask questions about what really happened in 2016 to help Republicans in Wisconsin and other states, and what might happen in 2020.

So I have attempted to keep the article visible so that others might give it some attention and recognize the context of Ron Johnson’s actions. I recognized it as a big story from day 1, and it has only gotten bigger.
Jake formerly of the LP says: January 10, 2017 at 6:44 pm

For Ron Johnson so loved this country, that he covered up this story so that we would not be subjected to a GIRL being in charge, and that we would avoid the scourge of poor people getting health insurance.

That was well worth selling out the sovereignty of the USA, right? And for golden showers on a bunch of Russian whores, no less? Well done, dumb Dohnal! Well done, stupid white redneck Wisconsinites! You sure showed us smarty-pantses, didn’t ya?

Seriously, this is treason, and people voted in November under false pretenses and false information because of the cover-up that the GOP Senators pulled. I’m sure (mo)Ron Johnson doesn’t care, because he’s got a 6-figure, taxpayer-funded job for the next 6 years. But I wouldn’t be so sure about that, the way things are going. If this disgusting episode isn’t reason to enshrine a right to recall for members of Congress, nothing is.

RESIGN, while you can.
In fairness, I was selling Trump short here. It wasn't just potential tapes of him in compromising positions with women, it was more of a straight pay-for-play deal along with repaying debts. I also was a bit harsher a couple of years ago, and I'm a little less profane print, anyway.

By the way, Johnson is still doing events with senile racist dope Bob Dohnal, including one last weekend in West Allis.

Now let’s go on to the comments I’ve given over time as this scandal has developed.
January 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm
BSH lives up to his name, because that is some BULL-S**T there, son!

Johnson was in the room when the Russian interference and propaganda was revealed in September, he lied about knowing about it when asked at the time, and he benefitted from it in the November elections. He has no moral core.

This isn’t hard to figure out

February 14, 2017 at 5:08 pm
BUMP. Seems a bit interesting given today’s news, eh? Especially with (mo)Ron blaming the leakers instead of actually asking what did Flynn and the Trump Administration know and when did they know it.

Can you say “Cover up?”

March 2, 2017 at 11:40 am
BUMP. The plot thickens with Sessions’ lies and Johnson’s vote to confirm him as AG. It’s pretty obvious that Johnson has been given plenty of info on how deep this goes, and we deserve to know as well

Might be interesting to hear (mo)Ron answer that question from a constituent. You know, if (mo)Ron ever does another in-person, unscripted town hall.

March 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm
BUMP. Especially now that we know the FBI was investigating this before the election, and Johnson covered it up.

May 26, 2017 at 9:18 pm
BUMP. This story looks even more interesting today, doesn’t it, especially seeing how McConnell is likely tied up deep I this?

Also add in the fact that McConnell’s superPAC took $2.5 million from a pro=Putin Ukranian money launderer in 2015…and Scott Walker’s SuperPAC took $1 million from the same guy.
And that was even before we knew about Scott Walker’s buddies from NRA/Russia, which explained another reason RoJo didn't want to bring up Russian involvement in 2016.

We continue
July 9, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Funny how Ron hasn’t said a word as the story of Russian election interference gets bigger and bigger, and it becomes increasingly obvious that Trump is owned by Putin. Even odder that no one seems to ask him about it.

Couldn’t be because he owes his re-election to Russian propaganda tricking the rubes into voting for him and other Republicans, could it? NAAHHHH!

September 22, 2017 at 6:58 pm
BUMPSKY. Now that the Wisconsin Elections Commission revealed today that the Russians tried to hack Wisconsin’s voter registration system and other election-related information.

Why didn’t Johnson say anything? Because the Russians helped him through propaganda and other tactics. And that’s the LEAST sketchy of the scenarios out there.

Also, how convenient of the Trump people to sit on this for 11 months and then dump it on a Friday afternoon, isn’t it?

December 1, 2017 at 11:53 am
BUMPSKI, now that Flynn is pleading guilty to lying about working with on the Trump campaign’s behalf when meeting with the Russians.

What did Johnson know, and has he tried to cover it up in his committee?

January 23, 2018 at 9:54 pm
BUMPSKY. This story sure looks all the more relevant now that Joe Biden confirmed that McConnell got Obama to keep the Russian interference concealed until after the election.

And now RoJo is running around with anti-FBI conspiracy theories as evidence piles up that the Russians laundered big-time money and influence during 2016 and early 2017. You don’t think it’s because Mueller is finding out that RoJo and other GOP Senators got a little Ruskie help in Nov 2016, do you?

January 25, 2018 at 12:11 pm
Now it turns out Johnson was clueless about the “secret society” stuff, and was clearly trying to throw garbage against the wall to distract from the #TrumpRussia noose clearly tightening around the necks of most GOPs in DC. Can you say “COMPLICIT”?

(Mo)Ron embarrassed the state yet again this week, and this story gives us a good indication why he might have. And why only paid-off hacks and SUCKERS like WashCoRepub are the only dopes who are buying Johnson’s and the GOP’s BS these days

February 17, 2018 at 10:01 am
BUMPSKY. After seeing yesterday’s indictments of Russians for their online efforts and illegal campaign contributions to help Trump and other Republicans, this makes a lot more sense, doesn’t it? Johnson knew about this stuff before the election, and said nothing because he was being helped by the propaganda efforts.

And it’s also why he wants to distract from the Mueller investigation in 2018. Because it’s revealing that Johnson and Trump are illegitimate, and are complicit with a foreign enemy that interfered in our elections.

June 11, 2018 at 12:02 pm
BUMPSKY- McClatchy is reporting today that the NRA met with Russian oligarchs and church officials in 2015 and 2016 to get help for the 2016 elections. And by magic, the “nonprofit” NRA had millions more to spend to help Donakd Trump and…. NRA stooge Senators like Ron Johnson that faced tough re-elections.

You don’t think that has somwthing to do with Johnson not wanting to look too deep into Russian interference, do you? Nor does it have ANYTHING to do with Johnson wanting the IRS to hide the names of donors to non-profits. I’m sure it’s all coincidence.

July 4, 2018 at 7:28 pm
BUMPSKY. Looks like Komrade RoJo is spending the 4th where all good patriots do. IN RUSSIA!

Sounds like a “thank you” trip to me. And I don’t see a single mention of this in “mainstream” Wisconsin media. Why?

July 15, 2018 at 7:50 am
BUMPSKY. Doesn’t this get curiouser and curiouser. Especially since the latest Mueller indictment shows that Russians grabbed the DNC’s voter analytics, which might explain why the Clinton campaign’s data was so far off that they thought they had Wisconsin in the bag, while Trump abd Johnson did not.

We even know that at least one “candidate for Congress” worked with Russians to use hacked material in August, and it’s pretty obvious from the indictment that Roger Stone (the same guy who said “Scott Walker has rigged 5 elections in Wisconsin.”) was working with Russian intelligence on relaying info and strategy.

And instead of holding hearings on this as Homeland Security Chair, Johnson wants to cover all this up, and shut down the Mueller probe? He’s acting like a scared boy who’s caught up in something really bad.

January 13, 2019 at 11:22 am
BUMPSKY, after Our Dumb Senator said this morning that it was OK for Trump to hide his [discussions] (sic!) with Putin.

The reason why? ROJO KNEW AND HAS DONE NOTHING ABOUT IT. BECAUSE it helped Johnson and Trump win in Wisconsin in 2016.


January 17, 2019 at 4:40 am
And did Ron Johnson vote to lift Russian sanctions yesterday, which especially helps a certain oligarch who had dealings with Manafort in the 2016 campaign. Of course he did!

Well past time for media to admit RoJo, McConnell, and many others in the GOP are compromised. And it plays into the shutdown as well.
Then the Mueller Report came out this Spring, and even with Bill Barr scrubbing it of the REALLY bad stuff, we saw that Wisconsin was a direct target of the Russians’ involvement.

Which Homeland Security Chair Johnson seemed strangely uninterested in, and as the heat got turned up on this and the Ukraine situation, Ronnie has gotten more desperate.
April 19, 2019 at 8:10 pm
BUMPSKY. Now that the Mueller Report says Manafort shared polling data on Wisconsin with Russians, we should be asking why the Homeland Security Chair refuses to hold hearings on this.

The obvious answer is that RoJo benefited from this, likely owing his and Trump’s victories to it, and doesnt want others to think about it.

I want to see Ronnie and McConnell take the stand in the House and answer why they wanted to keep this information from the public, and why they don’t want to talk about it today.

May 7, 2019 at 11:51 am
BUMPSKY- Especially now that McConnell is trying to bury the Mueller findings while Johnson is running around trying to find leakers instead of holding hearings on what the Russians did in 2016, and what they and other foreign actors might do in 2020.

Combine that with Russian Ronnie heading to Moscow last July 4, and it seems obvious why he doesn’t want to talk much about the ops that helped get him and Trump elected.

August 14, 2019 at 8:23 pm
BUMPSKY. Tie this story into Moscow Mitch’s blocking of ekection security measures, and business/political connections to Russian oligarchs.

And yet Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson won’t hold a hearing on these cyber-war actions. And Russian Ronnie voted against continuing sanctions on Russia earlier this year.

Hmmmm…..Any media want to follow up on this?

October 3, 2019 at 5:44 pm
BUMPSKY. Now Johnson claims Trump asking for foreign assistance in 2020 is just “Trump being Trump”, and that the real issue to investigate on foreign influence is……Hillary’s emails?

And lookie here, Ron Johnson’s 2016 campaign is named in ANOTHER lawsuit that alleges illegal coordination between the NRA and the GOP. While the NRA was a willing recipient of Russian money and assistance.

It’s pretty obvious what is going on here, and we need to have Russian Ronnie called before the impeachment inquiry as to why he’s obstructing and burying information about the historic corruption and scumminess coming out of the White House.

October 4, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Johnson knows about this more than we so. He has willfully COVERED THIS UP, and it’s because he benefitted from the hacking.

Do not pass this off to Johnson’s stupidity. He is a CROOK who does not care if the country gets sold out on his watch. His changing stories are a major tell (not that we didnt know already).

October 6, 2019 at 2:57 pm
And now Johnson got called out on national TV by CHUCK FREAKING TODD, because (mo)Ron couldn’t give a straight answer on Ukraine, and was throwing out debunked “deep state” conspiracies.

Johnson is complicit. And he is scared. As Pat Jursik noted above, just look at how this has developed over time, and you can see Johnson’s guilt, and why he is scared.

October 28, 2019 at 8:37 pm
BUMPSKY- top story in the Washington Post today.

“Sen. Ron Johnson met in July with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has circulated unproven claims that Ukrainian officials assisted Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, a previously unreported contact that underscores the GOP senator’s involvement in the unfolding narrative that triggered the impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

In an interview this past week, Andrii Telizhenko said he met with Johnson (Wis.) for at least 30 minutes on Capitol Hill and with Senate staff for five additional hours. He said discussions focused in part on “the DNC issue” — a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that the Democratic National Committee worked with the Ukrainian government in 2016 to gather incriminating information about then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Telizhenko said he could not recall the date of the meeting, but a review of his Facebook page revealed a photo of him and Johnson posted on July 11.”

And of course, Manafort gave Wisconsin poll data to Russians, who helped Johnson win in 2016 througb online propaganda.

Sure sounds like Adam Schiff and other House Democrats should serve Sen Johnson with a subpeona to find out more about this trip to Ukraine, eh? Time for Russian Ronnie to be fried in public for what he’s covered up these last 3+ years.
Which brings us to this week, and now Russian Ronnie is making headlines as national media connects the dots to his….excessive interest in helping Donald Trump the Ukraine case.
November 18, 2019 at 7:06 am
BUMPSKY- Now Russian Ronnie says some things shouldn’t have the whistle blown on them, and that they should be covered up.

Oh, and now he wants Schiff and other House Dems to be subpoenaed to his committee, but he will likely duck a subpeona to address the impeachment committee. Whatcha scared of, Ronnie?

November 20, 2019 at 11:41 am
BUMPSKY. And now Sondland confirms he told RoJo about the “aid for Biden dirt” deal. Enjoy your time in testimony, Ronnie.

Time for Russ to be given his seat back. Johnson is illegitimate.
Yes, yes he is. And it’s well past time for WisDems and our lame state media say this FACT.

Plaster it in billboards and other ads all over the sticks and the burbs, and break the Bubble of BS that Johnson is constantly trying to pump up over his involvement in what may well be the biggest political scandal this country has ever had to deal with.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Wisconsin and Minnesota - similar unemployment rates, not similar reasons why

I wanted to pass along this tidbit from the state-by-state unemployment numbers for October, which were released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At first glance, Minnesota and Wisconsin seem to be similar cases. Both states have had job growth level off in the payrolls survey (which usually delineate the "jobs added/lost" statistic), and both had their unemployment rates bottom out in 2018, with slight increases since then.

Unemployment rates, Oct 2018 vs Oct 2019
Oct 2018
Minn 2.8%
Wis. 3.0%

Oct 2019
Minn 3.2%
Wis. 3.3%

But when you break down the household survey that goes into determining the unemployment rate, the two states look very different. At the start of 2018, over 80,000 more Wisconsin residents were working compared to Minnesota. And now, after this most recent report, more Minnesotans have jobs than Wisconsinites.

So how can they have a similar rise in unemployment over the last 12 months (with Minnesota’s being slightly more)? Because while Minnesota keeps adding people to their work force, Wisconsin has lost 20,000 since the start of 2018.

On the payrolls survey, the BLS says 27 out of 50 states have enough job gains over the last year to be considered statistically significant. But only one of those states are in the Midwest (Illinois), and none of the Midwestern states have job growth above 1% over the last 12 months.

A small amount of this is a one-time effect due to the UAW strike, which was still going on as the October surveys were being done. That lowered job numbers, particularly in Michigan, which had a loss of 22,000 manufacturing jobs in a month where factory workers were on strike, and Indiana, which lost 5,400 manufacturing jobs in October.

But it’s still a noticeable lagging in a group of states that Donald Trump cannot afford to lose in 2020. And with most economic indicators stalling out and most of these Midwest states (outside of Minnesota) lacking growth in its population and work force, it's highly unlikely to be better in a year from now, as the election occurs.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Milwaukeeans pay for cops to help others, but the City doesn't get paid back

One item that many people don't know about is how many levels of government have to work together to keep things moving smoothly. And a recent report that the Joint Finance Committee received that illustrates what the state will pay for Municipal Services brought it to my attention.

To start, here’s a good description of how the Payments for Municipal Services program works.
Through the payments for municipal services (PMS) program, the state has provided annual payments since 1973 to reimburse municipalities for all or a portion of property tax supported expenses incurred in providing services to state facilities, which are exempt from property taxation. The intent of the program is to aid in the reduction of local property taxes by making an equitable contribution toward the cost of certain municipally provided services….

PMS payments are made for fire and police protection, extraordinary police services, solid waste collection and disposal, and other approved direct services. Municipal services such as water, sewer, and electrical power that are financed in whole, or in part, by special charges or user fees must be paid for directly by the state agency responsible for the facility receiving the services. The annual entitlement for each eligible municipality is determined largely by formula and, in a few instances, through additional negotiation with DOA. The formula attempts to approximate the amount of reimbursable services provided to state facilities that are financed out of local property tax revenue. Under this formula, entitlements are calculated as a percent of municipal police, fire, and solid waste costs, with the percent being calculated as the result of the value of state facilities as a percent of the combined value of taxable buildings and state facilities multiplied by property tax revenues as a percent of county and municipal aid, expenditure restraint, shared revenue utility aid, and property taxes combined. Entitlements are calculated on the basis of previous calendar year fiscal information.
Basically, state buildings of all sorts don't pay property taxes, but because they require local communities to have more cops, firefighters and garbage pickup, the state doesn't want to totally free-ride off of that (or be forced into hiring people to do their own security).

As recently as 2008, the state set aside nearly $22 million for this program, and it paid communities for more than 81% of those allocated costs. Then that program was cut in both 2009, and (especially) in Scott Walker’s first budget in 2011, and now it sends out less than $18.6 million a year to those same communities. At the same time, the value of state buildings has continued to go up, and the costs of these services has also continued to go up.

As a result, only 34.66% of these costs will be paid back by the state in 2020, less than half of what was paid a decade ago, and quite a bit less than the 38.90% that was paid back in this year. Not surprisingly, the City of Madison is the largest recipient of these funds, given that there are so many state offices and university buildings that don’t pay property taxes to the Mad City.

But interestingly, Madison is getting a big boost for these funds, even with the state paying a smaller share, because state buildings in Madison added nearly $940 million of value last year, and now exceed $6.6 billion. So because Madison is getting more of these aids, most other Wisconsin communities get cuts for next year.

Change in municipal aids, 2020
City of Madison +$747,701
City of Milwaukee -$386,823
City of Baraboo -$110,651
City of Mauston +$91,689
City of La Crosse -$71,065
City of Whitewater -$66,741
City of Superior +$61,687
City of Chippewa Falls -$55,400

Like most intergovernmental revenues, it’s one piece of a larger pie. But the addition or subtraction involved means something else has to be made up for. And it’s yet another area where the City of Milwaukee is hamstrung without the ability to make up the difference for those state aid cuts.

That type of service-sharing is also costing Milwaukee when it comes to offering police support to Summerfest, which garnered quite a bit of attention in the City’s budget battle for this year.

MPD spent $813,000 on securing Summerfest and directing traffic in the surrounding neighborhood this year. Summerfest’s contribution to this? $134,392 plus its annual rent payment. Milwaukee World Festival, which subleases the grounds to other festivals, will pay $1,475,000 to rent the 75-acre park this year.

The public safety payment was added in 2009 as part of a lease extension, but the city now finds itself spending substantially more to keep the festival secure. Since 2011, the city’s policing costs have increased by 159 percent. By contrast, agreements with the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers have the city getting reimbursed dollar-for-dollar for policing to secure Fiserv Forum and Miller Park….

Multiple council members have pointed out that the lease agreement with Summerfest gives the city the discretion to provide the security it feels necessary and the city should use that as leverage.

“When those officers are down there, they’re not patrolling our streets, they’re not in our neighborhoods,” said Ald. Michael Murphy. “As our budgets get tighter and tighter, it’s harder and harder for all of us to go back to our constituents and so no I’m sorry the officers have to be down at Summerfest grounds.” Murphy and Coggs pledged not to let the issue go.
I’ll add that the City doesn’t get a DIME in extra revenue with all of the sales of stuff at Summerfest, because there is no city sales or income tax. They also lose out on the potential development value of this expansive lakefront property, because Milwaukee World Festivals is a non-profit.

And I wonder how we solve these conundrums, as local communities like Milwaukee continue to lose out in shared revenues, but they still provide the services with few ways to make up for it. How much longer are we going to accept other services in communities to get reduced due to the lack of help from other governments and non-profit organizations?

I also wonder when a place like Milwaukee (especially) and other places who offer tax-funded services to other entities decides "SCREW YOU. Figure it out yourself", and walks away. I bet from the state side, they'll start shelling out really fast instead of having to hire their own personnel or give it to rent-a-cops. And it seems like a conversation that needs to be pushed sooner than later.

Ron not being so Kind? That's a good thing

I caught this summary of US Rep Ron Kind's appearance on the “UpFront” talk show, which discussed impeachment and other issues in DC. And it perked my ears up a bit.
Republicans are airing ads and trying to ramp up pressure on Kind and other Democrats who represent districts Trump won. Kind said it’s Republicans who have pre-judged the case.

“They clearly haven’t seen all the evidence, all the facts or heard all the testimony and yet they’ve clearly already reached a conclusion,” Kind said. “They pre-judged this many months ago, I’m afraid.”

I also note this response from Rep. Kind on the US-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (aka NAFTA 2.0), which Trump and other GOPs keep trying to push to distract from the Trump trade policies that have led to numerous farm failures in Kind’s district.
Kind also was asked whether he would support the USMCA, the new trade deal the Trump administration struck with Mexico and Canada. It awaits a vote in the House.

Kind said he is seeking changes to the agreement, because “what they negotiated was very weak and poor when it comes to enforcement provisions.”

“If it lacks meaningful enforcement; it is meaningless,” Kind said. “I don’t want to support an agreement that can be ignored by the other two countries.”
And in case you’re wondering about why the usually well-coiffed Kind now has a new look, it turns out that one of his sons has cancer, and so he and the other guys in his family went with buzz cuts out of solidarity.

I think the look's an upgrade, Ron. And it goes with a surprisingly bad-ass turn from the Congressman from Wisconsin’s 3rd district in recent months. It sure beats the cautious, milquetoast corporatist we've seen for much of this guy’s 20+ years in Congress - a guy I was very critical of for not publicly backing impeachment for many months.

More of this please, Rep. Kind! His statements also indicate to me that quite a few of the people in Western Wisconsin that took a chance on Trump in 2016 now recognize that betting on an amoral New York real estate guy wasn’t such a good move, and hasn’t made them or our country better off.

By comparison, check out the increasingly disgraceful act of Wisconsin's other Ron in DC.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Wis Policy Forum shows how tax cuts, spending choices stopped making Wis special

I wanted to give few items from this week's Wis Policy Forum report on 2017 tax-spending stats from the Census Bureau. This looked at how Wisconsin compares with other states on various types of tax burdens and in how much it spends.

To begin with, the Policy Forum points out that Wisconsinites pay a lower percentage of their incomes in state and local taxes than they did 20 years ago.
A look further back shows 2017 taxes (10.3% of income) fell from the 11.5% they took up in 2007 and 12.4% in 1997. The state’s tax ranking also fell from seventh highest in 1997 and 16th highest in 2007. The 16.7% decrease since 1997 in the share of income going to state and local taxes in Wisconsin was the eighth-largest among all states and the second-largest in the Midwest, behind only Indiana. (For neighboring states, see Figure 1.)
As you can see, Wisconsin's taxes have been reduced more than Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa over those 20 years measured, but still is slightly above the levels that the country as a whole pays.

But that tax ranking is made up of several different types of revenue sources. Wisconsin has a higher income tax than most states, but a lower sales tax at the state and local levels. Similarly, Wisconsin's system of loading most local government services onto the property tax raises that burden compared to most other states.
Property tax levies by municipalities, schools, counties, and other local governments represent the single largest tax in the state at 3.5% of personal income in 2017. Though that figure was unchanged from the previous year, the state’s property tax ranking in 2017 fell by one slot to 16th highest....

Wisconsin’s individual income tax takes up the next highest share of income at 2.8%, which was 11th highest in the country in 2017. The tax’s share of personal income and its national rank were both unchanged from 2016. Again, the ranking would change if we looked at some subsets of income taxpayers.

The sales tax—the last of the state’s three big taxes—took up 2% of personal income in Wisconsin, ranking the state 33rd nationally. Those figures have been essentially unchanged since 2009.
On the spending side, Wisconsin is middle of the pack at 24th in the nation. But what we spend money on has changed significantly over time. The Policy Forum says this is especially true in education spending, where Wisconsin used to be among the leaders in investing, but now is merely average.
Spending on K-12 schools in Wisconsin accounted for 4.1% of personal income in 2017, which ranked 24th highest and equaled the national average. That was significantly less than the 5.3% of income spent on K-12 education in 1997, which ranked sixth. Complicating comparisons, however, is the fact that 2011 Act 10 ended most collective bargaining for teachers and most other public employees and lowered school and local government spending on workers’ benefits. In 2017, higher education spending on universities, colleges, and technical colleges ranked 19th highest at 2.3% of income, which was above average among states.
Oh, lowering taxes and lowering K-12 spending happened at the same time in Wisconsin? It's almost like there's a direct connection between that, as well as our current shortages of teachers both in the classrooms, and with fewer people graduating from college programs.

I also note that Minnesota and Iowa keep pumping up their schools while we don't. Instead, we are closer to Michigan and Illinois these days. Seems like an issue.

Meanwhile, the Policy Forum notes that Wisconsin spends more on Medicaid, Corrections and highways than most places.
Spending on Medicaid and other public assistance programs in the state took up 4.6% of income, ranking 22nd highest. Corrections spending ranked 15th highest in the nation while police spending was 21st highest and fire spending 33rd.

Spending on highways and streets represented 2% of income in 2017, or sixth highest among states. That was a large increase from the 1.3% of income spent in 2016, which ranked 20th.
These 3 items go directly to policy choices in recent years. For example, a reason Medicaid spending is higher in Wisconsin because we refuse to take the expanded Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act, which would push those expenses onto the Feds instead of us (on a related note, a Pew report earlier this year placed Wisconsin 45th in the country for federal aid).

On the Corrections side, this is an obvious effect of the "lock em up" mentality of WisGOPs that has ended up with the state spending more on Corrections than the UW System. The "6th in the US" highway spending number can be connected back to a huge increase in local wheel taxes to fix roads that Scott Walker and the WisGOP Legislature refused to pay for.

And of course, the real story is whether Wisconsin's trend of lower taxes and reducing our previously-strong investments in education and other areas translated into an improved economy in the 2010s. The answer is "Not so much."

So go ahead WisGOP, try to talk up the fact that we continue to fall down in the taxing and spending rankings compared to our Midwestern neighbors. Especially given the stagnant economic growth and recent trend of job loss and rising unemployment in the state, I don't think many non-ahole Wisconsinites are happy with that trade.

Friday, November 15, 2019

As the real economy shows GDP is near 0%, we get....DOW 28,000?

Remember how I’ve mentioned that the economy has stayed out of recession and job loss mostly because US consumers keep spending? Well, we got a report today that indicate that last pillar is starting to crack.
Retail sales increased 0.3% last month, the government said Friday, matching the forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch.

The increase in sales was concentrated in just a few segments, however. If autos and gasoline are excluded, sales rose a scant 0.1%, with almost all of that gain coming from internet retailers….

Internet retailers also reported a nearly 1% increase in sales while receipts at auto dealers and grocers both climbed 0.5%.

Yet sales fell at restaurants, home centers and retailers that sell clothing, electronics, home furnishings, books and sporting goods.

Sales were basically flat at department stores and pharmacies.
With “core” retail sales were only up 0.1%, in a month when the Consumer Price Index rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.4%. Put it together, and you have a second straight LOSS in real retail sales.

So the consumer is flagging, and on top of that, we got more proof from the Fed that the country’s manufacturing recession is continuing.
U.S. manufacturing output slumped in October by the most in six months as an auto workers’ strike at General Motors Co. curtailed vehicle production and the trade war continued to weigh on other factories.

The 0.6% decline in output followed a 0.5% decrease the previous month, Federal Reserve data showed Friday. Excluding the 7.1% drop in motor vehicle output, which was the largest since January, factory production decreased a more modest 0.1% for a second month.

Total industrial production, which also includes output at mines and utilities, slumped 0.8% in October, the largest setback since May 2018…

The median forecast of economists in the Bloomberg survey for manufacturing output called for a 0.7% decline. Of the three main industrial production groups, mining dropped for a second month on weakness in the oil patch, while utilities registered the sharpest drop since June. Capacity utilization, measuring the amount of a plant that is in use, fell to 76.7% from 77.5%. Capacity utilization at manufacturers decreased to 74.7%, the weakest since September 2017.
And even with the GM strike ending, do you really think that alone will stop the slide, especially when the rest of the manufacturing sector also had no increase in production for October? (check the report if you don’t believe me)

The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta looked at this and other disappointing economic data of the week and now predicts that there will be hardly any real economic growth at all in Q4 2019.

Now let’s see what Wall Street thinks about what is clearly a stalling economy.
Stocks rallied to record highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 28,000 for the first time, Friday after White House officials said the U.S. and China are getting closer to a phase one trade deal.

"The important thing is to make sure that the deal is what we think it is," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. He says there is a "very high probability" of a deal, but cautioned "the devil is always in the details."

Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, likewise on Friday indicated the two sides were close to a deal and talks were so far "constructive."

Friday's buying ran the Dow Jones Industrial Average up more than 221 points, or 0.8 percent. It took 90 trading sessions for the index to rally from 27,000 to above 28,000
So Wall Street keeps blowing this stock market bubble higher because of BS statements from the Trump Administration? On a deal that hasn't been struck and would change...what???

I caught an exchange on Bloomberg this morning from two investment strategists, and both admitted that at this point, any trade deal with China won’t change the underlying fundamentals of the US economy. And both seemed perplexed as to why the market was Bubbling higher without any legitimate growth for either companies or the real economy.

And besides, is any trade deal going to pump revenues back up for exporting companies that have lost so much of their pricing power over the last 12 months?

When is the reality going to seep into the financial markets that Main Street is hitting the wall? And how much of a pullback of this inflated stock market are we going to see when that happens?

That flashing yellow light seems to be brighter after this week. And if Americans don’t open up their wallets for their Holiday shopping, the light is likely to turn red very soon.