Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scott Walker’s legacy: more children living in poverty

Wisconsin sees higher rate of children in poverty level under Walker’s tenure

A new report released this month sheds some light on some disturbing news.

The number of children living in poverty in the state has gone up. Between 2008 and 2013 there was a five percent increase in child poverty in Wisconsin, according to the Kids Count survey conducted this year.

A growth in poverty within the state can be found elsewhere as well. Those numbers are reflective in the number of Foodshare recipients, as an example.

From 2010 to 2014 the number of Foodshare recipients went up significantly. There was a 10.6 percent increase in the number of non-duplicated recipients of the program, signifying a greater need for assistance across the state.

These rising numbers likely had to do with the global recession of 2008. So the blame cannot be placed squarely on Scott Walker for this trend.

What we can say for sure, however, is that Walker’s policies have done anything but help stave off this rising trend.

In his first budget Gov. Walker signed into law a measure to reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit. This reduction especially hurt low-income families, who relied on the credit to help them, however small, pay for necessary items in their lives.

A single mother of three earning minimum wage, for example, saw her taxes go up by $500 after the EITC was changed. A two-parent household (both earning minimum wage) with two children saw a reduction of more than $150.

Those dollar amounts add up: and as a result, they create a higher burden for parents to help their children.

An additional burden was an increase in health care costs for low-income families. Though his move to refuse a Medicaid expansion in the state affected families earning 100 percent to 133 percent of the poverty level guidelines, Walker’s gambit increased costs for families overall. For those near the lower threshold of that range, it could have meant that their earnings and higher health costs ironically helped to tank into the poverty levels, contributing to the higher rates of children in poverty.

When he rejected the Medicaid expansion, Walker said that he did so not because he didn’t care about people, but rather because “I care too much about the people of this state not to empower them to control their own destiny.”

That’s an odd way of thinking, especially since the ability of low-income people to get out of poverty is maddeningly dim. Economic mobility is a myth: if you’re born poor, your most likely to stay poor. And gutting programs like the EITC or refusing the Medicaid expansion doesn’t help things.

The “destiny” Walker had in mind for people probably wasn’t keeping them poor -- but that’s the path he helped set them out on.

Walker’s legacy in Wisconsin is going to include many things. Among the most troubling is the trend of more kids living in poverty.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Donald throws a fit, refuses press credentials over opinion piece

Childish behavior is unwelcome during presidential process

Donald Trump apparently doesn’t get how newspapers work.

His campaign is reportedly refusing press credentials for the largest newspaper in Iowa, the Des Moines Register. His reasoning?

The Register published an editorial that was critical of Trump’s behavior.

Among other points, they described Trump’s recent comments about John McCain as making him “unfit to stand on the same stage as his Republican opponents.”

In response to the scathing opinion piece, Trump’s people made it clear that the Register was no longer welcome to cover his events.
Trump’s national campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told Obradovich in a phone call that the Register was being excluded from the event because of the editorial.


“We’re not issuing credentials to anyone from The Des Moines Register based on the editorial that they wrote earlier in the week,” he said.
Trump certainly has the right to refuse access to his campaign to whomever he wants to restrict. But in so doing, he is adding a new adjective to his repertoire: of acting “babyish.”

OK, maybe describing it as a new behavior goes a bit far, too.

But it is a troubling practice. Sure, politicians have given the cold-shoulder treatment to newspapers for generations. Yet this move is a spit in the face of the institution of journalism as well as its importance to American politics.

The editorial/opinion department of any given newspaper is traditionally separate from the news writing it produces. Trump should know this, or he shouldn’t get into the business of running for president. And acting like a child when someone prints something he doesn’t like is not the way to win people over.

If he’s serious about this presidential run, he needs to start thinking practically: If he’s going to start refusing credentials to every paper that refuses to accept his nonsense, his events are going to start to have no one reporting on them...something I personally won’t lose any sleep over

Gun deregulation hasn't made us safer -- crime has gone up in Wisconsin

Gwen Moore predicts Walker's gun deregulations will result in more crime. That may already be true.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) recently penned a widely-read op-ed about guns, Scott Walker, and the inevitable rise of violent crime because of the governor’s attitudes on deregulation of weapons.

Her words are eloquent and prophetic; anyone with the time to do so ought to read the piece, which foretells the problems that will come about because of the rapid changes to gun laws in our state.

“Unfortunately for our constituents, Gov. Walker has made it abundantly clear that the concerns of Wisconsin residents will always take a backseat to those of the extreme pro-gun groups that have spent millions of dollars supporting him,” Moore wrote.

Her prediction that crime will rise as gun laws are deregulated is entirely plausible. In fact, it might have already happened.

Following Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of the concealed carry law in the state of Wisconsin at the end of 2011, he made a very strongly-worded assessment for the state:
”By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens,” he said in a statement.
But what Walker thought would happen and what actually happened are far from each other. The state didn’t get safer overall -- violent crime, in fact, increased in the state, by a rate of 14 percent from 2011 to 2013.

In 2011, the last year before concealed carry was implemented in the state, Wisconsin had a violent crime rate of 236 incidents per 100,000 citizens. In 2012 that went up to 280 incidents per 100,000. In 2013 it improved a little, but was still way above the 2011 number, coming in at 271 incidents per 100,000.

Contrast that to the years immediately before concealed carry and you’ll see a significant change:

What we see is that violent crime was actually going down before concealed carry was put into place. After it was implemented violent crime went up.

This is the exact opposite of what Walker had promised -- rather than making Wisconsin safer, the state went in the opposite direction.

Concealed carry may not have made the state more violent; but it certainly didn’t play a role in making it safer, as Walker had asserted it would. Otherwise, we’d have seen a positive change in the violent crime rate.

We didn’t see that at all -- we saw more crime.

It seems the new data on gun proximity is true: more guns is resulting in more crime, especially in Wisconsin.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

An annoying neighbor helps explain the need for limits on corporate campaign spending

A humorous tale helps explain a bigger problem

A man in Portage was recently arrested -- for a second time -- for spreading the “Good News” of Jesus Christ to his neighbors.

The first occurrence of his arrest was reportedly for doing so in the nude.

The second occurrence was different (and is why I bring it up) -- Scott Salzman, the person in question, was knocking on neighbors’ doors at 5:30 in the morning, trying to spread the Gospel to the people of Portage.

Officers told Salzman that he can’t preach to neighbors at such early hours. He was charged with disorderly conduct under Wisconsin Statute 947.01(1).

Salzman or anyone else is certainly free to go door-to-door to promote their religious message. That right is enshrined in the Supreme Court case Cantwell v. Connecticut.

But his First Amendment rights -- specifically, his speech rights -- are not absolute. He’s free to hold his opinions and to disseminate them to his neighborhood and beyond. But he is restricted, at some level, by common sense barriers, in this case the notion that his neighbors might not appreciate a wake-up call to talk about Jesus (or anything else for that matter).

OK, so what’s the point of all this? Why am I talking about the speech rights of some guy bothering his neighbors in Portage?

The point is simple: speech rights aren’t absolute. The burden on where and why speech protections cannot reach certain points is on the state to prove, of course, but rights aren’t sacrosanct if they interfere with others' livelihoods.

An annoying neighbor preaching at unholy hours of the morning isn’t protected speech.

Nor is corporate influence in our campaigns.

The Citizens United decision decided five years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court mistakenly granted corporations unlimited purchasing power of our elections. It allowed corporate mega-donors the ability to give any sum of money to third party advocacy groups. And it did so by deeming that their speech rights were being unfairly impeded.

This unrestricted new power that corporations gained is thousands of times more dangerous than a guy just wandering the neighborhood talking about Jesus, and here’s why: so-called “corporate speech” drowns out your voice, my voice, and anyone else trying to express themselves during political campaign season.

A 30-second commercial aired a gazillion times by a front group with a patriotic name (“Americans for a More American America” would be a good one to use as a joke, were it not real) will outweigh a thousand donations from real people.

It’s gotten downright disgusting, affecting even municipal and school board elections across the nation.

There needs to be honest and real reform of our elections. It starts by recognizing that money isn’t speech -- and that campaign contributions, especially from corporations, needs special attention.

Regulation of excessive campaign spending isn’t suppression of speech -- it's merely common sense, necessary for ensuring that the exchange of ideas isn’t itself stifled.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Scott Walker seeks to destroy nonpartisan elections agency

Move is clearly political payback against an agency that looked into his illegal campaign coordination

Would Scott Walker want to dismantle the Federal Elections Commission if he’s elected president?

That’s kind of what he’s proposing, on the state level, in Wisconsin. Walker is backing a plan that would effectively transform the state’s nonpartisan watchdog on elections, a move that would likely make it easier for politicians to get away with more shenanigans on the campaign trail.

Why would Walker call for making such a change? Because he was the recipient of an investigation from the Government Accountability Board.

The second John Doe investigation looked into whether Walker unlawfully directed donors to give funds to third party organizations in order to avoid campaign finance limits. Leaked documents from that investigation indicate that Walker had likely committed an illegal act, but court judgments from conservative judges required the investigation to halt.

Last week the State Supreme Court upheld those lower court decisions, requiring the John Doe investigation to stop and destroy all evidence obtained.

The Court’s 4-2 decision was itself controversial: in total, the four conservative justices that issued the opinion of the Court had benefitted from $10 million of campaign spending on behalf of the conservative organizations involved in the John Doe inquiry. None of those justices determined that their interests in the case required recusal.

It’s curious how anyone could look at these developments and consider it to be a fair application of the law. It’s even more astounding that Walker himself wants to do away with the GAB completely. It’s a move that is nothing more than a political cheap shot, a payback against a nonpartisan state agency that Walker himself dislikes.

That’s not leadership, it’s pettiness. And the national media should take note of how he operates on the state level.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Deniability is a key tactic in Scott Walker's playbook

Walker campaign allows candidate to say one thing, and explain away the consequences to the media later on

...don’t believe me? Here’s the most recent example of how Scott Walker operates.

This week the Boy Scouts of America Executive Committee unanimously approved of ending the ban that restricted gays or lesbians from serving as employees and volunteers of troops across the nation.

The changes wouldn’t be overwhelming, nor uniform across the country. It would allow individual troops the choice to determine for themselves whether they should allow gay or lesbian leaders to enter their ranks.

But it’s a significant change nonetheless. Whereas before gay and lesbian individuals were expressly forbidden from being hired or volunteering, following these changes they will at least have a chance to serve at several locations across America.

That doesn’t bode well for many conservatives, including Gov. presidential candidate Scott Walker, who lambasted the policy change.
"I was an Eagle Scout, my kids have been involved, Tonette (Walker) was a den mother," Walker said in a statement, according to the Independent Journal Review (Emphasis in bold added).

"I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values."
That sent red flags up across the internet. Was Scott Walker really saying that children were unsafe around gay and lesbian Scout leaders? Was he comparing them to pedophiles?

It seemed to be the implication, but following the fallout from his comments a spokesperson for Walker tried to clear things up (Again, emphasis in bold added):
“The previous policy protected Scouts from the rancorous political debate over policy issues and culture wars. Scouts should not be used as a political football on issues that can often be heated and divisive.”
This is typical Walker posturing at work here – he says something, and though it may help him greatly with his base, it causes a stir among the general public. When the media asks questions, he tap-dances around the subject, making up an excuse like above to make it all seem perfectly fine.

And if the media doesn’t accept that excuse? Then they become the liberal media, and Walker’s supporters immediately go on the attack. (And Walker makes money off of it, too.)

Walker can deny what he said was an attack on gay and lesbian Scout leaders. Of course, the message has already been sent to conservatives – "the former policy was PROTECTING kids from these heathen monsters!" – but the dog whistle political maneuvering is specially tailored to allow him deniability on any given issue.

In short, Walker said he’s for protecting children, but he squirms his way out of specifics from an inquiring press. The national media should get used to it – that’s just how Walker plays ball.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jeb Bush is wrong: Iran deal IS diplomacy, not appeasement

Iran concedes a lot in new deal, which doesn't fit the definition of appeasement in diplomatic relations

President Barack Obama announced today that we have reached a deal with Iran regarding their controversial nuclear program.

The deal allows Iran to continue using nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. But it requires current use of nuclear material to drop by two-thirds, and is contingent on allowing inspectors in to verify that usage is indeed for energy.

Not everyone is happy with the deal, however. Former Florida governor and current Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush had something interesting to say about the it:
“This isn’t diplomacy – it is appeasement,” Bush said in a statement. He also condemned the Iranian regime, noting: “The people of Iran, the region, Israel, America, and the world deserve better than a deal that consolidates the grip on power of the violent revolutionary clerics who rule Tehran with an iron fist.”
Characterizing the landmark deal as “appeasement” is a direct comparison to 20th century British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who negotiated an offer with Adolf Hitler to give the German chancellor the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

The comparison, however, isn’t even close: Chamberlain and the allies didn’t get anything out of the deal except for Hitler’s word. But in today's deal, Iran is promising to allow inspectors into its nation, a huge move by the Islamic Republican that cannot be overlooked. It’s also lessening its use of nuclear material.

Anyone looking at this deal should understand that it’s way better than the alternative: letting Iran continue its nuclear program unwatched. The only two outcomes of that idea are 1) living in a world with another nuclear power, or 2) going to war to stop enrichment of weaponry – an alternative that some GOP presidential hopefuls might endorse, but that the American public overwhelmingly opposes.

Jeb Bush is absolutely wrong: this deal is closer to diplomacy than it is to appeasement. The U.S. negotiators have made Iran concede on a number of issues, including allowing inspectors into their previously closed-off nation.

If Iran goes back on the deal, then the time is right to talk about other options. Until that time happens, however, we should give this deal, with the strictest of enforcement, a chance.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Raising the minimum wage would create jobs and improve the economy

A growth in demand would benefit workers/consumers AND business owners

Raising the minimum wage will grow jobs. No, really, it will.

Wage growth and job creation are inherently tied together. But conservative talking points tell us it’s an inverse relationship -- as wages go up, we're told that business owners are forced to pay employees more, which under conservative logic means costs have to be cut somewhere -- either prices go up or payrolls get cut.

In the real world, however, that just isn’t the case. Take a look at Australia, for example. The minimum wage there is the equivalent of around $16 or $17 US dollars per hour. Their economy must be in ruins, right?

Well, not exactly. Australia hasn’t seen a recession in nearly 20 years. They even avoided most of the fallout from the 2008 economic collapse. And their unemployment rate is comparable to the United States, at around 5 to 6 percent. But it’s consistently been that way over the past five years or so, too.

Back home, we see that states with higher minimum wages do better also. States that have higher rates of pay saw faster job growth than states that kept wages at the lower end of the spectrum.

How can this be? It’s simple economics, really: when people have more to spend, they tend to spend it on goods and services they can afford. Give someone working 40 hours a week a $3 an hour raise, and their take-home income rises by about $120 per week. That money doesn't just disappear -- it goes somewhere.

Yes, some of that will go towards savings, and a bit of it will go towards paying off debts as well. But some of it will go towards buying more goods -- it will be easier to buy that new TV if you’re getting a higher income, for example.

As more goods are bought, more income will go into the hands of companies, who will have incentives to hire more employees since demand is up also. As more consumers want a product, it becomes necessary to create the means to put it in their hands -- and so, more people get hired on the job.

Now, there is a limit to how high a wage should go up. Those who oppose raising the minimum wage often ask why we should stop at $10 or $15 an hour? If it’s so good for the economy, why not do $50 or $100 an hour?

But no one is arguing for a rate hike that is 13 times higher than the current minimum wage. At a time when billionaires and corporate giants are seeing record-setting profits, all workers are asking for is a little bit extra when it comes to these financial gains.

I support a rate hike up to about $10-$12 an hour. After that, the minimum wage should be periodically reviewed every five to ten years, or failing that tied to inflation. It will help American workers in the long-run -- imagine having workers that are able to fend for themselves, with livable incomes!

And when it comes to the economy overall, the effects will be negligible, if not positive. More income for the consumer class means more spending from consumers. That’s a reality that even the most ardent opponents of raising the minimum wage should be happy with.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Scott Walker campaign recognizes the need for a “gun-free” event

Will Walker "stick to his guns" on the issue of gun safety, or will he act hypocritical in the months ahead?

Curiosity recently got the better of me, and I began to look closely at the event information for Scott Walker’s presidential announcement next week.

It was all pretty straightforward, but when I got to the “restricted items” list something struck me as peculiar.

It seems that Scott Walker’s event is a “gun-free” zone.
No large bags, sharp objects, signs, umbrellas, liquids, aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, selfie-sticks, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size will be allowed in the venue.
Emphasis in bold added.

To be honest, this policy is perfectly acceptable and reasonable to me. At an event where a highly controversial political speaker is going to be present, his safety and the safety of his attendees ought to be of highest concern.

But all the gun proponents that support Scott Walker, including the NRA which gave him an A+ rating, might find problems with his event’s rules.

They'll ask, "Aren’t gun-free zones unsafe?" Or at least they should, if they want to remain consistent with criticisms they've made of liberals in the past.

In actuality, however, there’s substantial evidence that suggests otherwise. From Mother Jones:
Among the 62 mass shootings over the last 30 years that we studied, not a single case includes evidence that the killer chose to target a place because it banned guns.
The article goes on to say that the idea of “armed civilians” somehow saving the day is also “a fantasy,” adding that, “not one of the 62 mass shootings we documented was stopped this way.”

Indeed, the old theme that more guns means less crime in a given geographical area is getting a new look, and research indicates that it has been wrong all along: more guns really does mean more crime.

It’s great that Scott Walker and his presidential campaign recognizes the need for a “gun-free” zone. The evidence that suggests such zones are unsafe is flimsy at best, and at worst totally made up.

Hopefully, his campaign rhetoric down the line can match these moves to provide safety in the months ahead. But given his recent history de-regulating gun laws in the state (after which there were higher violent crime rates), I have few doubts that Walker will be anything but hypocritical on the issue.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Redistricting lawsuit shows a need for reforms, including proportional representation

The current process is too partisan, restricts voters from having a voice in the legislature

A new redistricting lawsuit is taking hold in the state. Here we go again...
Calling the current state legislative redistricting "one of the worst gerrymanders in modern American history," a group of 12 Wisconsin Democrats sued the state Wednesday, asking that the 2011 district map be thrown out as giving an unconstitutional advantage to Republicans.


The lawsuit also points to the way that district lines were drawn in secret by the Legislature's Republican leadership, without consulting Democratic leaders or rank-and-file of either party, then pushed through the Assembly with little debate.
Redistricting, of course, whether done by Republicans or by Democrats, is wholly a partisan process. It needs reform, desperately, that allows a neutral party or panel to submit redistricting borders that can then be approved by the legislature, rather than allowing the political players themselves to determine which officeholders “win” with the new lines drawn.

Much further than that, Wisconsin needs to overhaul elections altogether to allow for a mixed proportional representation system.

My proposal: cut out a third of the Assembly to be chosen by such a vote.

Currently there are three representatives per senate district in the state. If we lessened that to two representatives per senate district, then there would be 33 seats remaining that can be divvied up and determined by a party-based proportional representation election.

Essentially, whatever percentage (by a statewide vote) that Democrats or Republicans (or any third party) receive would result in a similar representation of those remaining 33 seats. So if Democrats won 40 percent of the vote, they’d get roughly 13 additional seats in the legislature.

The best part of this idea? No matter where you live in the state, you’ll have a representative in the legislature that you can call your own. Say you’re a Republican in Dane County -- presently expressing your conservative ideas to your state assembly representative means you’re not likely to get anywhere.

But if you voted for the Republicans in the state proportional representation part of the ballot, you’d have someone you can call “your” legislator in office. No matter what your geographical location is -- a Republican in Milwaukee, a Democrat in Waukesha, a Libertarian anywhere, and so on -- you’ll have that voice in the legislature working for you.

PR isn’t perfect, but a hybrid of both it and the current district-based system would provide constituents the best of both worlds. Through the district-based vote, constituents would have someone in office that understands the needs of their area. And through the PR-based vote, voters would be virtually guaranteed a voice in the legislature, even if their candidates in the Senate and Assembly district elections didn’t win.

It’s a pipe-dream to be sure -- creating an electoral system incorporating proportional representation would require a statewide constitutional amendment, not to mention eroding the powers of the top two parties in the state.

Still, it would be the right route to take, if looking strictly at what would be the best interests of voters.

Let’s hope there’s some legislators in office who still think that way.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Scott Walker’s sons don’t like his anti-marriage stance

Walker needs to "evolve" on the issue, and get over his anti-equality biases

Scott Walker is so wrong about the marriage equality ruling that his two sons don’t even understand his father’s reasoning.
“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake,” Walker said on June 26, when the Supreme Court struck down state bans on same-sex marriage.

That response didn’t sit well with his two sons, Matt and Alex, who are taking time off from college to help their father with his upcoming presidential campaign. In an interview with The Washington Post, Walker’s wife, Tonette, said she immediately heard from her sons about their displeasure with Walker’s comments.

“That was a hard one,” Tonette said. “Our sons were disappointed. ... I was torn. I have children who are very passionate [in favor of same-sex marriage], and Scott was on his side very passionate.”
Walker is on the wrong side of marriage equality, and will be remembered in 2016 as a candidate pushing for restricting marriage rights for millions of Americans.

Following the ruling from the Supreme Court, Walker went on the offensive, attempting to carve himself out as a true conservative on the issue by supporting a constitutional amendment allowing states to pass laws restricting couples from marrying.

Marriage is a sacred bond -- but it is sacred to gay and lesbian couples just as much as it is to straight couples. Same-sex couples’ marriages shouldn’t be seen as invalid or worth less simply because of any person’s religious beliefs.

But Scott Walker seems to think that their relationships mean less, and supports letting states make the final decision. And he’s proud of his vote in 2006 that banned recognition of same-sex couples in Wisconsin.

Being proud of being on the wrong side of history won’t get Walker elected president. And it’s time he “evolved” on this issue.

Friday, July 3, 2015

WisGOP becomes the “Know-Nothing” Party on open records proposal

Republicans in legislature shun media requests to discover just who wants to end open records legislation

The blatant attacks on open records legislation in Wisconsin are nothing short of an attempt to stifle the public’s ability to become knowledgeable on the lawmaking process.

State Sen. Jon Erpenbach says it best: "Somebody in this building, somewhere, wants to hide something."

The proposal, attached to the all-important state budget bill, would allow lawmakers in the legislature to restrict access to the drafting notes and records on how (and who) requests to changes in laws are made.

Several journalists rely on this information in helping them shed light into how controversial bills are made. The Capital Times has a short list of recent examples:
In January 2014, the Wisconsin State Journal used drafting records to report that a controversial bill to allow high-income parents to avoid paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in child support was written with the help of a wealthy donor to the bill’s author, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc.

Drafting records showed in February that the University of Wisconsin had objected to a proposal in Gov. Scott Walker's budget to scrap the "Wisconsin Idea" from the UW's statutory mission statement.

And last month, a review of drafting records for a proposed 20-week abortion ban showed that it originally included language relating to the health of the mother that was later removed, then added once again as an amendment.
Emphases in bold added.

The biggest question on this issue, beyond why it’s being proposed, is who exactly is requesting the changes to open records law.

Reporters have asked several lawmakers that question, but so far they’re saying they don’t know who the author of the proposal is, or are just flatly refusing to answer the question when asked.
"It wasn't my motion," said committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

Pressed on who asked for the changes, both Darling and co-chairman Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said there were "multiple requests." Asked by reporters to give names, Darling walked away.


"Don't ask me," Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, said when asked whether he thought the changes are good for Wisconsin. "I didn't write it."
This sort of behavior, of avoiding the answers with a citation of ignorance, makes the Republican Party of Wisconsin deserving of a new moniker: as the current “Know-Nothing” Party of the state.

And oddly enough, their claim to ignorance is precisely why the people of Wisconsin deserve the open records laws that Republican lawmakers are trying to dismantle.

This provision needs to be removed from the budget immediately. And if it isn’t, and this budget gets passed with it intact, Gov. Scott Walker needs to use his line-item veto powers to remove it himself.

It will become transparent that the Wisconsin GOP doesn’t stand with the people of state if he does otherwise. Unfortunately, it will be the only transparent thing the people will know until open records laws are restored.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Scott Walker jabs Obama on Twitter, but who's really winning on job growth?

Walker uses one metric (and ignores a slew of others) when attacking POTUS

On Thursday the staff that manages Scott Walker’s Twitter account released a statistic meant to poke fun at President Barack Obama’s jobs record.

Obama was visiting La Crosse to tout his plan to increase the number of Americans eligible for “time and a half” overtime pay.

So, just hours after Gov. Walker and President Obama shook hands, it seemed like the most opportune time for Team Walker to tweet something out against the president:

At first glance that statistic seems to say that Walker did a better job than Obama on unemployment, specifically in La Crosse County where he was speaking at. But the stat doesn’t look at anything beyond the unemployment rate, and doesn’t take into account the number of people who stopped looking for work.

And when you look at other measures, the statistic ceases to be relevant.

Take a look at total private sector jobs created in La Crosse County from the time Gov. Walker took office to December of 2014 (the latest date that the most complete QCEW jobs data is available).

During that time the county grew by about 2,073 jobs, or a growth rate of about 3.6 percent in private sector jobs over the course of four years.

If you look at the U.S. as a whole, that number is significantly higher – in fact, the nation grew private sector jobs over the same time frame at about 9.3 percent.

Wisconsin is also having a terrible year when it comes to layoffs. Just halfway through 2015, the state has already surpassed the number of planned layoffs we saw last year.

At the pace we’re going, it’s set to be the worst year yet for layoffs during the Walker era.

Finally, Walker and his staff neglect to mention the year-over-year data for the latest month available (May 2014) shows the county of La Crosse is doing dismally compared to the nation as a whole on jobs.

From May 2013 to May 2014, the U.S. gained just under three million new workers. The yearly growth in employment was about 2.16 percent compared to the figure from 2013.

In La Crosse County, their employment growth was only about 300 new workers from year-to-year, or less than 0.4 percent growth.

Gov. Walker and his campaign staff may think that they have one-upped the president with their tweet. But real Wisconsinites recognize that things aren’t going so great in the Badger State. Which is why, even if he does make a successful run for the GOP nomination for president, he won’t win the the public over in the general election.

Heck, he won’t even win Wisconsin.

Political Heat Radio: July 2, 2015

Political Heat Radio returns: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling