Monday, February 28, 2011

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Boehner said it was all about jobs.  Republicans have said jobs is their number one priority.  What we didn't know is that they meant ELIMINATING jobs, not CREATING jobs.

This report says that the budget that the House republicans passed at 4:35 am in the morning last week with over $60 billion in cuts will result in the LOSS OF 700,000 JOBS through 2012.  This is what the republicans call a political victory -- costing hard working Americans, or at least 700,000 hard working Americans, their jobs. 

In Wisconsin, the republicans attack the Unions.  In Washington D.C., the republicans attack hard working Americans.

It is not the health care bill that is killing jobs, it is the republican party and its job-killing policies.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An American Dictator

Here is a picture of an American Dictator.  Well, at least a picture of a person that wants to be an American Dictator.

This is Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin.

Here, courtesy of, are ten policies that Walker is trying to get passed.

1. ELIMINATING MEDICAID: The Budget Repair Bill includes a little-known provision that would put complete control of the state’s Medicaid program, known as BadgerCare, in the hands of the state’s ultra-conservative Health and Human Services Secretary Dennis Smith. Smith would have the authority to “to override state Medicaid laws as [he] sees fit and institute sweeping changes” including reducing benefits and limiting eligibility. Ironically, during the 1990s it was Republicans, especially former Gov. and Bush HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who helped develop BadgerCare into one of the country’s most innovative and generous Medicaid programs. A decade later, a new generation of radical Republicans is hoping to destroy one of Wisconsin’s “success stories.”
2. POWER PLANT PRIVATIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEGLECT: The same budget bill calls for a rapid no-bid “firesale” of all state-owned power plants. One progressive blogger called the proposal “a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism” and suggested that the provision will open the way for large, politically connected corporations to buy up the state’s power plants on the cheap. While it’s unclear whether corporations would be interested in buying the plants, a similar proposal was vetoed six years ago by Gov. Jim Doyle (D), who called the plan fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. Many of Wisconsin’s power plants are in violation of federal clean air regulations and desperately need to be upgraded and cleaned up — not dumped into the private sector.
3. DANGEROUS DRINKING WATER: Republican lawmakers have introduced bills in both the Senate and the House which would repeal a rule requiring municipal governments to disinfect their water. Conservatives have said that the clean water rule — which went into effect in December — is simply too expensive. Yet the rule only affects 12 percent of municipalities and the price may be worth it. In 1993, 104 people died and 400,000 fell sick when the Milwaukee water supply became infected. Even two decades later, the Environmental Protection Agency Advisory Board notes that 13 percent of acute gastro-intestinal illnesses in municipalities that don’t disinfect their water supplies are the result of dirty water. Municipalities can keep their water clean for as low as $10,000 per well — but apparently for the Wisconsin GOP that is too high a price to pay to keep citizens safe from deadly microorganisms.
4. DESTROYING WETLANDS: In January, Walker’s proposed regulatory reform bill exempted a parcel of wetland owned by a Republican donor from water quality standards. But the exemption was more than just an embarrassing giveaway to a GOP ally: environmental groups believe the bill’s special provision would actually affect the entire county, eliminating public hearings on proposed wetland development, short-circuiting approval of development projects, and disrupting the region’s water system.
5. FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY: Walker signed a bill this week requiring a 2/3 supermajority in the legislature to pass any tax increase. Republican lawmakers are now reportedly considering a constitutional amendment that would make the rule permanent. A similar constitutional amendment in California has been called the “source of misery” of that state’s crippling budget crisis and has forced lawmakers to “gut public education, slash social services and health care programs, close prisons, and lay off record numbers of public employees.” While claiming to “make a commitment to the future instead of [choosing] dire consequences for our children” Walker and GOP lawmakers are instead putting generations of Wisconsinites in a “fiscal strait-jacket.”
6. DISENFRANCHISING VOTERS: This week, Republican lawmakers moved forward on a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID from the DMV at the polls, making it significantly more difficult for the elderly, the disabled, college students, and rural residents to participate in elections. While Republican lawmakers insist the bill is necessary to prevent voter fraud, there have been almost no documented cases of fraudulent voting in the state. Instead, the Wisconsin State Journal writes, the GOP bill is going “overboard in limiting ballot access in a state proud of its long history of high participation in elections.”
7. CUTTING JOBS, LOSING THE FUTURE: Last fall, Walker killed an $810 billion federally funded high-speed rail project, forcing the Transportation Department to pull its funding. Walker’s decision killed 130,000 expected jobs and forced the Spanish company Talgo to close its Milwaukee factory and layoff its 40 person staff. A spokeswoman for the company told The Daily Reporter that “the state’s decision to back away from the high-speed rail project sends a terrible message to businesses considering locating in the state.”
8. STIFLING INNOVATION: In late January, Walker introduced a bill that would ban wind-powered energy from Wisconsin and exacerbate the state’s dependence on out-of-state coal. If passed, it’s estimated that the law would immediately eliminate $1.8 billion in new wind power investments and jeopardize eleven currently proposed wind projects. After a public outcry earlier this month, Walker’s bill is (for now) dead.
9. “NAKED POWER GRAB”: Earlier this month in a party-line vote, the legislature ceded “extraordinary control” of the state’s rule-making oversight process to the governor. Walker now has complete power to draft agency rules which the legislature must then either approve or reject. The law gives Walker the power to write rules for formerly independent state agencies like the state Departments of Justice and Education — and most ominously the Government Accountability Board, the state’s ethics watchdog.
10. POLITICIZING STATE AGENCIES: A provision in Walker’s budget repair bill would convert thirty-seven state employees from civil servants to political appointees — consolidating his power over state government and expanding his power to “hire, fire and move key employees to carry out his agenda.”

This is republican democracy.  Is this what you want?  Is this what the Founding Fathers envisioned?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reagan -- The Best The Republicans Have

Happy Birthday, Ronnie!  You were a crappy Governor and you were a crappy President...but you are the best the republicans have.

That's right.  Sarah Palin is trying to cast herself as Reagan.  Republicans continually point to Reagan as a great President.  We hear, from republicans, that Reaganomics was the greatest thing for our economy since sliced bread.

Well, let's take a little closer look at Reagan and how the economy did under him.  There is a great post over at Angry Bear from which I am going to pull some facts and figures.  I will give a little detail, but they have more.

I said that Reagan is the best they have.  It's true.  He leads the republicans when you look at the annualized growth in GDP per capita.  He grew the economy better than all other republicans since 1929, that's in the last 80 years.  Way to go, Ronnie.

Notice I did not say he was the best President in growing the economy in the last 80 years.  Notice that I did not say he was the second best, nor the third best.  Why, I didn't even say he was the fourth best.  Why?  Because he wasn't!

Ronald Reagan was number 5.  There are four Democrats ahead of him.

Oh, and who is number 6?  Carter.  So Reagan is number 5 out of the top six as shown in the figure below.

Note that FDR is shown twice.  That's because they separated out the war years.  FDR1 goes to 1940.  If you look at the last two bars, it is obvious that the Democrats have out-performed the republicans by a significant amount -- by several times the republican average.

There is one other point I would like to make.  When faced with this data, republicans often say that GDP is not a good measure because it includes government spending.  They say the Democrats are "tax and spend", so big government spending distorts GDP.  Well, let's look at the definition of GDP.

GDP = Private Consumption + Private Investment + Gov't Consumption & Investment + Net Exports

OK, there's government spending -- Gov't Consumption & Investment

To quote from the article:
if the government borrows a lot and spends what it borrows, it will boost GDP, and that in turn causes real GDP per capita growth to increase. And that is precisely what happened under Reagan
  In fact, here is a figure.

Reagan's right up there with Bush Sr as a leader in growing the debt as a percent of GDP.  In fact, Reagan just about tripled the debt going from about 1 Trillion dollars to about 3 Trillion dollars.  So, if you remove the governement portion of Reagan's GDP, he will look even worse.  A lot of his growth came from government spending.

If you are interested, there are some other interesting facts about Reagan in the article, like
  • He's number 4 in annualized growth in real net disposable income -- behind 3 democrats
  • He leads everyone in the transfer of local and state spending to the federal government.  I call that growing the federal government.
This man is who the republicans hold up as their standard bearer in these tough economic times.  Not a second rate president.  Not a third rate president.  Not a fourth rate president.  NO!


Happy Birthday, Ronnie!  You are the best the republicans have!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Social Security -- A Story

A friend recently related an experience he had with Social Security.  I thought you would find it interesting, at least I did, and it points out the benefit of a government-run non-profit program as opposed to a private for-profit program.

My friend will be eligible for his full Social Security retirement in a couple of months so he went on-line and signed up for Social Security retirement starting in the month he turns 66.  The on-line process was relatively painless and certainly very convenient. 

About a week later, his wife gets a phone call from Social Security informing her that she may be eligible for an increase in her benefit.  She began collecting her Social Security a couple of years ago.  They told her that she could probably get a higher monthly payment as a spousal benefit from her husband's Social Security rather than her own Social Security.  They took her application for this higher benefit over the phone.  She didn't even have to go into the local Social Security office.

Yes, a HIGHER benefit.

Yes, over the phone application

The benefit increase is about 25%.  Not an insignificant amount.

And that got me to thinking.  What if Social Security was a for-profit corporation?

One, starting to pay out to a new beneficiary would reduce their profit.  Do you think they would make is very easy and convenient to apply for benefits?

Two, increasing his wife's benefit would reduce their profit.  Do you think they would contact her to tell her she was eligible for an increase?

Three, would they make it easy to apply for the increase over the phone?

Then I thought about health insurance.  How much better off would we be if health insurance was like Social Security?  Where they worked to YOUR benefit instead of THEIR profit.