Wednesday, February 28, 2024

More proof of a strong economy as 2023 ended. Tomorrow tells us more about 2024.

After a strong initial report, we got an updated look at how much the economy grew in the last 3 months of 2023. And an already-good picture may have gotten slightly brighter after this GDP report came out.

I don't see how a 0.1% change here or there changes what the overall story was for a strong 4th Quarter in the US economy. Consumption was revised up a little more than that, which to me is possibly the one significant revision to note with this, as it matches the positive vibes that were emerging in much of the US. But we've also seen some soft numbers in retal sales and other areas for January, and that's what I care about a lot more than what might have been happening 8 weeks ago.

If you're still on INFLATION WATCH, I suppose you could be concerned about increased spending and lower inventories. But that's also the "good reason" for inflation, as it shows strong demand, and a need to keep adding products and workers to meet it.

We'll get an updated picture of January's data with the income and spending report, which will come out tomorrow. And the PCE and spending figures for that one will be what Wall Streeters are going to react to as they try to front-run when the Fed will (or won't) lower rates this year. Along with unemployment claims, it feels like Leap Day will also be a big data day if you're trying to get a gauge on where the economy is, and may be going.

Monday, February 26, 2024

In 2024, we're less likely to see a 2022-style spike in gas prices

This week marks the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a move that quickly resulted in a significant price spike at the pump for Americans for much of the rest of 2022, and led to overall inflation rising by an annual rate of nearly 11% over the next 4 months.

Right before the Russians rolled across the Ukrainian border, the average nationwide gas price was already on the rise, and was sitting at $3.53 a gallon. After peaking at over $5 a gallon in mid-June, prices fell back to their pre-invasion levels. And today, we’re paying less for gas than we were in February 2022.

But I went a little further back into the history of US gas prices on or near February 20 (that’s the approximate midpoint over the years), and what you may not realize is that we are paying less for gasoline today than we were 10 years ago. And that the lowest pump prices came in February 2016, 9 months before Donald Trump was elected president.

In addition, next month marks the four-year anniversary of COVID-19 becoming a worldwide pandemic, and many American businesses shutting down to try to contain the virus, and work-from-home becoming more common in this country. So this also means February 2024 is a good time to compare the pre-COVID gas usage numbers of February 2020, and see how things have changed today.

What you’ll find is that not only were Americans using the most gas when it was cheapest in 2016, but we also saw Americans react to the price spike on 2022 by cutting back on their consumption at the same time that the Biden Administration started up additional incentives for alternative fuels and/or electric vehicles.

So today, even with millions more jobs than we had in the 2010s, we are using less gas in February than at any time in the last decade, save for the COVID-wracked time of February 2021.

At the same time, the US is pumping more oil than at any time in our history. Which helps explain why gasoline supplies are significantly more plentiful than they were 2 years ago. And gas is more available in America than in any of the three Februaries that happened before COVID became a thing.

And despite this easily-accessible information, check out the BS Republicans are still trying to sell to voters.

Look, I get that taking a ride on the Trump Train and being addicted to Koch makes a guy say some stupid stuff, but this statement by insurrectionist Representative Fitzgerald couldn’t be more off-base in February 2024.

Heck, the rise in February gas prices was higher in the 4 years before COVID than it’s been in the 4 years since then!

% Change in gas prices
Feb 2016 - Feb 2020 +40.5%
Feb 2020 – Feb 2024 +34.6%

Think that reality is being told to low info voters or MAGA-World? Or that we were paying more for a gallon of gas a decade ago (and in 2013, and in 2012, and in 2011) than we are today? BEFORE we account for inflation.

I’d argue that due to moves encouraged by the Biden Administration and related awareness and changes by American workers and consumers, we’re less vulnerable now to gas price spikes due to foreign events and/or manipulation than we were in the Trump years. And gas is more available to Americans in 2024 due to moves and adjustments like this.

This is why I’m not sweating the recent rise in gas prices. Some of this seems to be seasonally-related (in non-COVID years, gas prices generally rise between January and mid-Summer, and fall back after that), and any oil price rises we may have in 2024 would likely be trader and speculation-driven over actual supply and demand.

That doesn’t mean we should be complacent about the situation, but it does mean we need to be telling this truth, and getting out ahead of any monkey business that oil oligarchs (both foreign and domestic) may try to attempt in the next 8 ½ months. We’re fine on gas prices and the supply-and-demand situation for energy, unless someone manipulates the market and screws it up for the rest of us.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

New "gold standard" QCEW shows slower job growth in 2023, but faster in 2022

Last week, we got the latest release of the "gold standard" Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), at least for statewide job numbers and the largest counties. And I noticed that the QCEW said that job growth was only 1.5% between September 2022 and September 2023 vs the recently-revised monthly reports saying job growth was 2.0% in that time period. Does that mean we've been overestimating job growth and the Biden Boom isn't as much of a thing?

But my worries ended quickly when I took a longer-range view over the last 3 years, because it appears that this disparity reflects that the monthly jobs reports were underestimating job growth over the previous 2 years, and “caught up” with benchmark revisions that were made earlier this month.

Still, let’s see where the QCEW goes for the 4th quarter, as the monthly jobs reports indicated there was a slowdown in growth in October and November, but that a total of 686,000 jobs were added in December and January.

As for our state, we didn’t even grow as fast as the nation, ending up at 0.95% for job growth with 27,736 additional jobs between Sept 2022 and Sept 2023. That puts us down in 42nd for the US, and 6th out of 7 Midwest states.

QCEW job growth, Midwest Sept 2022-Sept 2023
Mich +1.85%
Minn +1.36%
Ohio +1.35%
Ind. +1.01%
Iowa +0.99%
Wis. +0.95%
Ill. +0.82%

Not where we want to be in the big picture of things, but not surprising given our lower-than-normal population growth and the fact that our unemployment rate had dropped to 3.1% by Sept 2022, indicating a full-employment situation.

I’ll also add that comparing the QCEW and monthly jobs reports in Wisconsin tells a similar story to what we saw in the nation as a whole – QCEW said we added more jobs in 2021 and 2022, then the monthly jobs reports caught up to those figures in 2023.

This means that I wouldn’t expect much for revisions when the annual benchmark revisions for Wisconsin’s jobs situation come out in a couple of weeks. And while the total job growth is lagging, I’m not going to complain about an unemployment rate in the low 3’s with an increasing labor force.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

CBO gives a better outlook for US budget and economy

The Congressional Budget Office recently updated its Budget and Economic Outlook for the next 10 years. And it’s got some good news on the demographic front.
In CBO’s current projections, the number of people who are working or actively seeking employment continues to expand at a moderate pace through 2026. Higher population growth in those years, mainly from increased immigration, more than offsets a decline in labor force participation due to slowing demand for workers and the rising average age of the population. A large proportion of recent and projected immigrants are expected to be 25 to 54 years old—adults in their prime working years.

This increased amount of immigration means the future increase in population is well above what the CBO projected this time last year.



The CBO says this added immigration is going to keep the economy from having a larger slowdown in growth in the coming years.
CBO is now projecting a lower average rate of economic growth from 2024 to 2027 than it did last February (2.0 percent a year versus 2.4 percent), largely because of slower projected growth in sectors of the economy that are sensitive to interest rates, such as consumer spending, investment, and net exports. The downward revision to economic growth resulting from higher projected interest rates is partly offset by an increase in economic activity over the 2024–2027 period stemming from greater projected net immigration. From 2028 to 2033, real GDP is now projected to grow at a higher average rate than CBO forecast last February (2.0 percent a year versus 1.8 percent), mainly because of faster projected growth in output per worker and the larger labor force.

CBO has lowered its projection of the average unemployment rate over the 2024–2027 period (to 4.3 percent from 4.7 percent) because of stronger-than-expected economic growth in 2023. That stronger growth pushed the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of 2023 below what CBO forecast last February. Although the unemployment rate is projected to rise in 2024 as the economy slows, it is expected to be lower, on average, than in CBO’s previous projections. After 2027, CBO’s projections of the unemployment rate are roughly the same as they were last February.
Not really what the “Party of Business” is trying to put over, as the GOP fear-mongers about immigration and tries to stir up stupid white people about something that is generally a net positive on our economy. And the CBO goes on to add that the US labor force participation rate is also projected to be higher than previously estimated in no small part due to immigration.

That's not coming a moment too soon, because a large number of Boomer-aged Americans are leaving the labor force, as record highs in the stock market and a good economy allow for more people to be able to retire.

Huge numbers of Americans are leaving the workplace in a surprise second wave of the post-COVID retirement boom.

Why it matters: An aging country — combined with a booming stock market and a nudge from return-to-office policies — means more working stiffs are preparing to exit the stage.

What's happening: The U.S. has about 2.7 million more retirees than predicted, Bloomberg reports from a model designed by an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

That number was 1.5 million six months ago — a more than 80% increase. Before the pandemic, there were often fewer retirees than expected.
As someone who’s got a 50th birthday looming this year, I can understand the sentiment of wanting to get out when you can. And if we have enough immigration to replace those workers, and economic growth to keep up demand for labor, I don’t see a downside to any of this.

The CBO also indicates that the US budget deficit should decline from just under $1.7 trillion in Fiscal 2023 to just over $1.5 trillion in 2024. Most of this is due to a rebound in tax revenues after a significant drop in 2023.
Federal revenues in 2023 totaled $4.4 trillion. At 16.5 percent of GDP, revenues in that year were considerably lower than the 19.4 percent recorded in 2022, which was the highest percentage in more than 20 years. That decline was largely in collections of individual income taxes, which had reached an unprecedented high in 2022. Also contributing to the decline in 2023 were lower remittances from the Federal Reserve, which fell to near zero in that year as rising short-term interest rates pushed the agency’s expenses above its income.

CBO expects total receipts to temporarily jump to 17.5 percent of GDP in 2024 as a result of the collection of certain postponed tax payments, before declining to 17.1 percent of GDP in 2025. Receipts are projected to subsequently rise to 17.9 percent by 2034, largely because of scheduled changes in tax provisions and because the Federal Reserve is anticipated to begin once again remitting significant amounts to the Treasury….

Individual income tax receipts declined sharply in relation to GDP last year—from 10.4 percent in 2022 to 8.1 percent in 2023. That reduction occurred in part because asset values and realizations of capital gains fell, and also because the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) postponed until 2024 certain tax payment deadlines for taxpayers in areas affected by natural disasters. (Otherwise, those payments would have been due in 2023.) CBO expects receipts to climb to 8.8 percent of GDP in 2024 as those delayed payments come in and fall to 8.6 percent of GDP in 2025 because no further delays are anticipated. Receipts then grow from 2025 to 2027 because scheduled changes in tax provisions, including an increase in most tax rates, are projected to drive up receipts in relation to taxable personal income. Real bracket creep....also contributes to rising receipts over time.

Now, deficits are expected to generally rise from there under current law (with the exception of 2026, when the GOP Tax Scam expires), and annual deficits are projected to go back over $2 trillion in 2031. But the projected cumulative deficits over the next decade are $1.4 trillion lower than they were this time last year.

My last point is that not only do things look a bit better than they did this time last year both fiscally and economically, but that our budget deficit really isn't an economic issue if our dollars stays strong and inflation stays below 3-4% annual rate (as it has for the last 18 months). And if you do think the budget deficit is something we should be concerned about, the solution of TAXING THE RICH BACK TO 1990s LEVELS solves a lot of that very quickly.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Sure enough, WisGOPs in the 715 ask for govt help in surviving this Winter. And only Dems answer them.

I had predicted last week that the warm winter was going to lead to calls to help out many businesses up North, as cold-weather tourism has been severely cut down this season. Sure enough, several Northern Wisconsin Republicans made their request to Governor Evers (on Monday).
Dear Governor Evers,

As members of the Legislature who represent portions of Northern Wisconsin, we’re respectfully asking you to work with the United States Small Business Administration to properly declare an economic injury disaster area for our areas of that state that are experiencing substantial economic injuries due to the lack of snow.

During the winter months, our Northern Wisconsin economy relies primarily on the tourism industry. From restaurants to lodging, and everything in between, our constituents need snow to attract the tremendous influx of traffic that comes with the snowmobiling season. When people visit our neck of the woods in the winter time, they aren’t just renting snowmobiles and hitting the trails, they’re staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, buying from our stores, and keeping the dollars flowing throughout the season. The lack of snow this year has left a tremendous hardship on our small businesses, which has the potential to destroy our Northwoods economy.

The United States Small Business Administration, upon the acceptance of a declared disaster area, can offer Economic Injury Disaster Loans to small businesses, small agriculture cooperatives, and most private nonprofit organizations. These loans provide the necessary working capital to help small businesses that are impacted by a disaster survive until normal operations resume. With generous terms and maturity options, these Economic Injury Disaster Loans could make or break our northern communities.

We appreciate you taking this request into consideration. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions.
Within one day, we got a response.
Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has confirmed the agency will consider business losses from the winter to be related to drought and eligible for assistance.

Under the Economic Impact Disasters Loan program, businesses could borrow up to $2 million to cover their actual losses. They would pay no interest on the loans for the first year and a maximum rate of 4% for the rest of the loan period.
That’ll at least allow a better chance for these businesses to make it to the Summer tourism season, which these businesses deserve when they’re damaged due to circumstances beyond their control.

Two people I didn’t see asking for aid to Northern Wisconsin? Congressman Tom Tiffany, who “represents” most of the state north of Highway 29, and US Senator Ron Johnson. They’ve spent a lot of time on their social media going on about immigration that’s happening 2,000 miles away from Wisconsin (without any solutions, by the way), but have said nothing about the weather-related economic damage that has hit their constituents. Priorities, you know.

I have yet to see the state’s sales tax receipts for January to see if the lack of winter tourism is having an unforeseen impact on the state’s budget, and we won’t see similar effects in the county sales tax distributions until March (it’s usually a 2-month lag). But given that temps are expected to get even warmer in the next week, it sure seems likely that it is a bust in a key sector of Wisconsin’s economy for late 2023 and early 2024. I just hope that the SBA aid and related measures are able to stop the bleeding and make sure any damage is temporary without significant losses in either jobs or tax revenue.

I was guessing that the WisGOP legislators from up North wouldn't even mention that their constituents are getting help largely due to the quick work of Democrats like Tony Evers and Tammy Baldwin. But to their (minor) credit, they did mention both of them in their release today.....along with some whining about Marinette and Forest Counties not being in the disaster declaration.

But you'll notice that what those state Republicans won't mention is how WisGOPs in Washington said and did nothing while those in the 715 had to deal with this historic and damaging winter season, and that it's only Dems that stepped up to use real resources to fill the void.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Tony signs the maps. A good thing in a normal world, but lots of work left.

Sure Tony. Go ahead and play it straight instead of listening to me.

I put nothing past GOP scum to try to delay this past November's elections, but I am a bit heartened to read this sighing admission from the dbag most likely to try to pull such a stunt.

We'll see if that's truly the calculation the WisGOPs have made, and that these are the Legislative maps we will have in place for the next 8 years. Let's then take a look and see what we got.

First thing to note is that despite any whining Republicans may make, this map does not advantage Democrats. For example, even though Joe Biden won Wisconsin by 0.6%, Donald Trump won a majority of State Assembly districts under these maps in the 2020 election.

I'll note that the Highway 41 corridor between Green Bay, Appleton and Oshkosh is now the home of 2 close-but-Dem leaning Senate seats currently held by Republicans, and 3 Dem-leaning Assembly seats that are currently held by GOPs. So what's already an big swingy/battleground area in statewide elections is now going to be that way for legislative races as well this November.

I also wanted to take a look at results of the 2022 elections on these maps, to get an idea of what this may look like in the post-Dobbs world in Wisconsin (a state where the abortion issue and January 6th events are VERY relevant). And I wanted to go with the lower-profile Attorney General's race (which Dem Josh Kaul won by 1.3%), to have a picture of "generic D vs R" at the state level in these districts.

It's pretty much the same story as the Presidential breakdown, except that Dems would have 1-seat advantages in both houses under the AG results - 50-49 in the Assembly, and 17-16 in the Senate. Here's a look at where control flips, and the number of competitive seats that had an AG election result decided by less than 10 points.

First the Assembly.

Now the Senate.

But it's not all great news for Dems. You'll notice a lot more Dem-leaning seats are close to 50% than GOP-leaning seats. So if you hear Robbin' Vos and other Republicans whining about "Democrat[ic] maps", they're DEAD WRONG, and it shows how absurdly huge their sense of privilege has gotten under in their 13 years of gerrymandered power.

It's even dumber to hear complaints from Republicans because there still is practically no way that Dems can have complete control of state government after November 2024, even with these new maps. That's because only half of the State Senate is up for re-election in 2024, and Dems would have to pick up 6 currently GOP-held seats in November to undo the 22-11 GOP supermajority. To get that far, Dems would have to win a seat that voted GOP in the 2022 Attorney General's race by more than 17%.

But all 99 seats in the Assembly are up in 8 1/2 months, and that certainly will be up takeable for Dems under these fairer maps. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a neat group of graphics which compares the old and new districts, and how those districts have voted.

Assuming this holds, it's a great step forward for Wisconsin, which will likely have a Legislature that becomes more responsive to the wishes of the state's voters. Maybe we can now stop being out of step with Midwestern states like Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, which all have some form of legal marijuana and Roe v. Wade protections, and Medicaid expansion.

But I've also learned over the last 13 years not to be too comfortable, as WisGOP will try to retain power and go around the people's wishes by any means necessary. One of the things we've had to learn the hard way is that we need to be constantly vigilant against these scumbags, and if any front for WisGOP and their puppetmasters tries to use the Courts to overturn something that still gives a 50-50 chance for total GOP control of the State Legislature, their funders need to be exposed and damaged.

I'll take the win today, but lots of work still left to do.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Decision week on new Wis maps. My thought? Evers should veto and let Wis Supreme Court decide

I usually don't care what 60 Minutes has to say, but this could prove quite interesting to check in on tonight.

Andrew Hitt, who was chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin during the 2020 election, offered the explanation for his participation in a scheme designed by Trump and his allies to stay in power after losing reelection during an episode of CBS' "60 Minutes" that will air Sunday evening.

In a clip provided to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by "60 Minutes," Hitt says he was scared of what Trump supporters would do to him or his family if he did not sign the paperwork and courts later overturned President Joe Biden's victory in Wisconsin.

"... If I didn't do that, and the court did throw out those votes, it would have been solely my fault that Trump wouldn't have won Wisconsin," Hitt told "60 Minutes" correspondent Anderson Cooper. "Can you imagine the repercussions on myself, my family if it was me, Andrew Hitt, who prevented Donald Trump from winning Wisconsin?"

But by the time Hitt and nine other Republicans met in the state Capitol to sign the paperwork claiming to be electors for Trump, the state Supreme Court had already confirmed Biden's win and federal judges had tossed lawsuits seeking to overturn Trump's loss. An appeal of one of the federal rulings was filed the morning of the day the Republicans met in the state Capitol to sign the false paperwork but the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago later upheld the decision to toss Trump's lawsuit, according to federal court records. An appeal of that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court was later rejected by the justices in March 2021.
Pathetic. Both from the MAGAts making threats, and for WisGOP party hacks like Hitt who went along with them, because they need the support of MAGAts to win almost any Republican primary, and likely to win general elections, because they've lost most moderate voters with their garbage positions on issues.

Wanna know what Andrew Hitt's job was before he became head of the Wisconsin GOP? In addition to a lot of regular "GOP hack" stuff under Scott Walker, he took a nice private sector gig to cash in from his time in Walker's Administration.
The Appleton attorney was senior counsel at Michael Best & Friedrich and the chief operating officer at Michael Best Strategies when he was elected to serve as RPW chairman [in 2019].
"Michael Best & Friedrich". Where do I know that name? Oh yeah! From stories like this one.
In the late spring of 2011, Dale Schultz walked the short blockin Madison from his State Senate office in the Wisconsin Capitol to the glass-paneled building of Michael Best & Friedrich, a law firm with deep ties to his Republican Party. First elected in 1982, Schultz placed himself within the progressive tradition that made Wisconsin, a century ago, the birthplace of the state income tax and laws that guarantee compensation for injured workers. In the months before his visit to Michael Best, Schultz cast the lone Republican vote against a bill that stripped collective-bargaining rights from most public employees. But if Schultz had doubts about some of his party’s priorities, he welcomed its ascendance to power. For the first time in his career, Republicans controlled the State Senate and the State Assembly as well as the governor’s office, giving them total sway over the redistricting process that follows the census taken at the beginning of each decade. ‘‘The way I saw it, reapportionment is a moment of opportunity for the ruling party,’’ Schultz told me this summer.

Inside the law firm’s doors, Schultz took the elevator to what party aides called the ‘‘>map room.’’ They asked him to sign a nondisclosure agreement, which he did without complaint. Schultz sat down and was given a map with the new lines for his rural district west of Madison. He and his wife, a former school superintendent, own a 210-­acre farm in the area, where they grow corn and beans and hunt pheasants. Schultz noticed that the newly drawn district mostly included precincts he’d won before. ‘‘I took one look at the map and saw that if I chose to run for re-­election I could win, no trouble,’’ Schultz remembered. ‘‘That was it.’’

Nearly all of the 79 Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly made a similar trip to the map room, signing the same secrecy pledge to see the new shape of their districts. The new maps efficiently concentrated many Democratic voters in a relatively small number of urban districts and spread out the remainder among many districts in the rest of the state. These are the twin techniques of gerrymandering, often called packing and cracking, which distribute voters to benefit the party that is drawing the district lines.

‘‘So glad we are in control!’’ one state senator [Leah Vukmir] wrote in an email to a key Republican aide after her visit. No Democrat was invited to Michael Best & Friedrich, though the Republican leadership paid $400,000 in legal fees on behalf of the Legislature as a whole. In July, the statewide maps were unveiled at a single public hearing.
Lowlifes. And when this was revealed, GOP staffers deleted records to try to avoid further legal issues.

And that bridges us over into the big question that'll be answered this week - will Governor Evers sign the maps that the still-gerrymandered WisGOP Legislature passed, using maps Evers submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court as part of the lawsuit that struck down the GOP's gerrymander?

It really comes down to whether you trust the GOP is conceding the best of a losing situation, and am taking the maps Evers submitted as a way of preventing the Supreme Court of Wisconsin from imposing a less favorable map, or if you think this is a trick. The way GOPs are whining about things, they're acting like they're in reluctant acceptance of the new maps.

And this was a column from the Wisconsin Examiner's editor-in-chief that made me more accepting of things should Evers sign these new maps into law.

No matter what, Republicans will keep fighting to hold onto power. But the experts I spoke with (not including Elias, who didn’t respond to my requests for comment) agreed that Republicans don’t have a better shot at actually blocking change if Evers signs the maps. Instead, I heard a lot of forceful arguments that a court-imposed map is more vulnerable to challenge and repeal.

While Evers’ maps have been carefully vetted to comply with the Voting Rights Act, no one knows what the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court would make of the conflict of interest claim Republicans and their allies have lobbed at Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz who, they say, should not be involved in redistricting because of the financial support she received from the Democratic Party, which has a keen interest in the maps.

And, as one lawyer told me, while Diane Sykes is very conservative, that doesn’t mean she would be willing to carry water for the Republicans in a Voting Rights Act case that has no merit. In general, courts are less likely to want to overturn a map that’s been ratified by two branches of government than one that, in a novel process, was created by the state Supreme Court.

There is also the short-term question of when the maps will go into effect. The bill passed by the Legislature delays their implementation until after a special election to replace Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and a primary challenge to Vos himself. Democrats in the Legislature leapt on that delay (along with a rushed process and lack of public hearings) as one more reason for distrust.

But there is a pretty clear path to undo the delay. Since the Court has declared the current maps unconstitutional, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will likely seek guidance and the same justices are likely to rule that the new maps must go into effect immediately.
On the flip side, given what we've seen from these guys in the last 14 years, and knowing the dirty dark money from GOP oligarchs that backs them up, why would I NOT think it was a trick, and that there is some GOP scumbag ready to sue in Federal Court in the hope that some GOP "Justice" would at least stall the new maps past November 2024, keeping the gerrymander in place for one more election cycle, and stymieing Governor Evers for the last 2 years of his 2nd term?

That's certainly what the head lawyer for Milwaukee County says that is what she has heard.

I also could see some ratf*ck put in place where a RW hack says "Evers signed these old maps to be in place through November, why would we have two different maps signed into law within the 10-year redistricting period?"

Literally, this argument would mean that both the Legislature and Evers would be doing something illegal (or at least put on hold to figure out if it was legal), and as stupid as that sounds in the real world, do we feel 100% comfortable with that being laughed out of court in time for the new maps to be in place this November. If there is a veto, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will determine the best course of action in the next 4 weeks, and why would we want to pre-empt that after all of this time and effort?

That's why I still lean toward Evers vetoing these maps, and Tony could claim it's "too little, too late". I get either choice Evers would make, but I'd argue the downside of vetoing, and dealing with Republi-dweebs going "neeneer, neeneer, neeneer" is smaller than having some GOP stooge try to hold up new maps for another two years in Federal court on some cockamamie argument. Guess we'll find out soon enough, and if the voters of this state will finally get a fair shake to choose their legislators.