Republican lawmakers argue to keep redistricting documents secret

Yeah, so much for Gov. Scott Walker’s talk about “open, transparent government” during his time as governor…

Republican lawmakers are trying to keep 84 documents about new election maps out of the hands of the public, even though a court last month ordered them to release a raft of records about the maps.

The Republicans argue the remaining documents – most of them emails – are subject to attorney-client privilege and should remain confidential.

After all, nothing says government transparency and openness like elected officials trying to keep documents related to their legislative responsibilities out of the public eye!

What I find ironic about “small government” conservatives

The irony of “small government” conservatives who talk about wanting government that’s not only smaller, but less intrusive into the lives of citizens:

Government “intrusion” when it comes to providing basic health care coverage for as many Americans as possible? BAD BAD BAD! EEEEEVVVVVILLLLLL!

Government intrusion into the uteruses (or is it uteri?) of women? GOOD GOOD GOOD! TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

Government intrusion on the issue of same-sex marriage? YES YES YES! MORE PLEASE!

What’s Paul Ryan so ashamed of?

Earlier today Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard, the subject of a recall due to his wholehearted support of Gov. Scott Walker’s assault on public employees, held a $125 minimum contribution luncheon fundraiser in a Racine wine shop.

Hosting the event was none other than Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, himself no stranger to expensive bottles of wine. Apparently Rep. Ryan didn’t want to come in the front door of the wine shop, eschewing the entrance most normal people use so he could use the more formal back entrance, located in the alley next to some dumpsters.

Click here to see Paul Ryan sneaking in the back door…

It’s worth noting that constituents of Rep. Ryan’s were protesting outside the event, but what I’d like to know is why Paul Ryan had to sneak in the back door. Couldn’t he bear to face those constituents of his who are dissatisfied with Ryan’s ineffective representation when it comes to the issue of jobs in his district, which has been absolutely decimated by job losses and high unemployment rates?

Tea Party gets Stomped

In Washington, House Republicans accede to the Obama Administration’s demand for an unencumbered payroll tax extension.

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) – Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday dropped their demand for spending reductions to pay for extending a tax cut for 160 million American workers, setting up a likely breakthrough for agreement with Democrats.

The about-face cleared the way for the Republican-led House to vote this week to renew for 10 months the tax cut set to expire on Feb. 29.

“They folded,” a senior Democratic aide said. “Republicans know their ongoing handwringing on getting their members to support this tax cut is a loser for them.”

One of the Wisconsin Tea Party caucus was not so sanguine about the deal.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, a favorite of the conservative Tea Party movement, voiced concerns about adding the roughly $100 billion cost of extending the payroll tax cut to the debt but acknowledged that “there is such great political pressure” to extend the payroll tax cut.

You go with that, Ron.  It’s a winner.  Please… Support higher taxes.  Let’s see how far that will carry you in a state that’s dead last on job growth and is facing more tough economic times.

It’s been a good month for the President so far…

Another Small Victory for Waukesha County Liberals

A year ago, when I mentioned my plans to turn Waukesha County blue, people laughed at me. Now they’re no longer laughing (at least, not to my face). That’s because lefties have made major inroads in this conservative county over the past year, thanks, in part, to Governor Scott Walker. Now, I’m not delusional, I know we’ve got a long, long way to go, but lasting progress sometimes comes in small increments. From Drinking Liberally Waukesha, which didn’t exist last February, to the flourishing OconDems, to progressive individuals running for political office for the very first time, we’re slowly shifting this county to the left. And now I’ve just gotten word of yet another small victory for Waukesha County liberals.

According to Matt Lowe, for the first time ever, the UW-Waukesha College Democrats and the Waukesha County Democrats will host the College Democrats of Wisconsin’s annual convention. I’m told the CDW State Convention will take place from Saturday, March 31-Sunday, April 1 in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, and that the keynote speaker on Sunday will be Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. I’ll have more details as the event draws closer.

Congratulations to Matt Lowe , the UW-Waukesha College Democrats, and the Waukesha County Democrats. It’s not all kittens and roses over here, but we’re making decent headway.

Senator Larson and Matt Lowe at a UW-Waukesha rally, November 2011

More Evidence that it Might NOT be Working

According to the Journal-Sentinel, 500 Frontier Airlines Employees based in the Milwaukee area are set to be released into the wild.

Frontier Airlines will cut nearly 500 Milwaukee employees – nearly half of them flight crew members based at Mitchell International Airport – as a result of a major service reduction here.

Those job cuts will occur in April, according to information Frontier filed Monday with the state Department of Workforce Development under the state’s layoff notice law.

Frontier said 446 employees will be affected by the cuts, to occur between April 15 and April 30. About 230 employees are flight crew members who will be reassigned to bases outside Milwaukee, the company said in its filing.

Denver-based Frontier has about 1,000 employees based in Milwaukee.

This, of course, goes hand in hand with Frontier’s drastic cuts in routes to and from Milwaukee.  So what happened here?  Frontier came in, “Hoovered” up Midwest and then shut it most of it down.  How very “Bain Capital.”  How is that productive?

Thanks to this, Milwaukee’s become a little more isolated.

Paul Ryan: Fiscal Conservative FAIL

On the issue of contraceptive coverage in insurance plans, there is certainly a hue and cry.  Catholic Bishops are whining that their missions are threatened, despite the facts that so many Catholic hospitals and university s already provide contraceptive care in their insurance plansOh woe, Republicans like Paul Ryan say!  This is an attack on religious freedom.  But please, let us remember that Paul Ryan’s stated first priority is fiscal responsibility, and let’s face hard facts here.  The contraceptive care Paul Ryan opposes saves money.  From the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute (my boldings):

Guttmacher Institute research finds that every public dollar invested in contraception saves $3.74 in short-term Medicaid expenditures for care related to births from unintended pregnancies. In total, services provided at publicly funded family planning centers saved $5.1 billion in 2008. (Significantly, these savings do not account for any of the broader health, social or economic benefits to women and families from contraceptive services and supplies and the ability to time, space and prepare for pregnancies.) A 2010 Brookings Institution analysis came to the same conclusion, and projected that expanding access to family planning services under Medicaid saves $4.26 for every $1 spent.

In terms of costs and savings for the private sector, multiple studies over the past two decades have compared the cost-effectiveness of the various methods of contraception, finding that all of them are cost-effective when taking into account the costs of unintended pregnancies averted. The federal government, the nation’s largest employer, reported that it experienced no increase in costs at all after Congress mandated coverage of contraceptives for federal employees. Moreover, a 2000 study by the National Business Group on Health, a membership group for large employers to address their health policy concerns, estimated that it costs employers 15–17% more to not provide contraceptive coverage in their health plans than to provide such coverage, after accounting for both the direct medical costs of pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity. Mercer, the employee benefits consulting firm, reached a similar conclusion. And a more recent National Business Group on Health report, drawing on actuarial estimates by PricewaterhouseCoopers, concluded that even if contraception were exempted from cost-sharing, the savings from its coverage would exceed the costs.

Let’s repeat here.  The National Business Group on Health, working from data provided by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, both conservative sources, claim that insurance coverage WITHOUT contraceptive care costs 15-17% more than those plans with contraceptive care.  Yes, unintended pregnancies are far more expensive than contraceptives, and therefore insurance that does not include contraceptives costs far more.  Paul Ryan is a fiscal conservative FAILURE here.  Rather, he is a political panderer, as all of us on the progressive side of the question have always known him to be.  As usual, Paul Ryan is a fraud.

Concise Takedown of Gold Buggery

Pushing back on the ongoing derailment of the G.O.P. and the commitment of both Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul have committed to appoint one of Wall Streets best-know gold bugs to chair the Federal Reserve.  This would be a ReallyBadIdea(tm).  Any romantic notion that a return to the gold standard reflects a poor understanding of history.

The pre-Fed era was characterized by frequent episodes such as the Panic of 1857, Panic of 1873, Panic of 1893, Panic of 1896, and Panic of 1907 in which even the safest borrowers would suddenly find themselves needing to pay a very high rate of interest. Those events were associated with significant financial failures and business contraction. After establishment of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. short-term interest rate became much more stable and exhibited none of the sudden spiking behavior that used to be so common.

 

One of the problems with the gold standard is that when the real value of gold changes (as it does all the time) and the dollar price of an ounce of gold is fixed (as it must be by definition under a gold standard), that means dollar prices have to adjust in response to anything that happens to the gold market. With the economic and financial turbulence of the late 1920s and early 1930s, there was a big increase in the relative price of gold.

For example, to get an ounce of gold in 1929, a farmer would need to deliver a little over a hundred pounds of cotton. By 1932, it would take more than three times as much cotton to get that same ounce of gold. Whereas 18 bushels of wheat would be enough to buy an ounce of gold in 1929, you would have needed more than twice as much wheat to get gold in 1932. And since the price of gold in terms of dollars was fixed between 1929 and 1932, that means you’d need to produce about three times as many pounds of cotton or two times as many bushels of wheat in order to earn one dollar in 1932 as you would have needed to earn one dollar in 1929.

Fiat currency gives the Federal Reserve much more flexibility in dealing with financial panics and other financial turbulence than tying the dollar to the arbitrary value of some random metal.  Why would we give up our sovereignty that way?

State spends $50 million to create 202 jobs

Yeah, nothing like a little (or a lot, in this case) government waste in the name of “job creation.”

Lawmakers didn’t expect that, in addition to the management fees, the CAPCOs would take another $24.5 million for start-up and operating expenses – a total of $33 million. Two firms, Advantage and Wilshire, claimed $9 million and $1 million, respectively, just to pay their owners’ taxes on profits. That was allowed the way the law was drafted.