Counterpoint to Christian Schneider’s slam on universal single payer health care

For those of you in the Milwaukee area you are probably familiar with the twice weekly opinion columns that Christian Schneider writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mr. Schneider is solidly of the conservative persuasion and effectively toes the company line…most of the time…he’s not a big fan of the president. In the Sunday August 19th edition of the paper, Mr. Schneider trotted out the right’s opposition to universal single payer health care and the term Medicare for All that is being applied to it. As he so often does, Mr. Schneider trotted out a number of statistics to support his point, but out of context they don’t always exemplify the truth.

Now, I will agree on one of his points. Medicare for All is a catchy title but it doesn’t actually describe the health insurance programs we need…nor those actually being suggested by Senator Bernie Sanders and others. But we’ve discussed that here before.

but lets look at some of Mr. Schneider’s statements:

When you think about it, “Medicare for All” is a pretty ingenious new name for the same old single-payer health care gambit. It borrows the name of a well-liked federal program and promises it to everyone in America. But it’s just a different name for full governmental control of health care in the U.S.

As stated above, Medicare for All doesn’t describe where we need to be in paying for healthcare. But to suggest that it will result in full government control of healthcare is ludicrous. The actual current implementation of Medicare is anything but that…but as Mr. Schneider points out…it is well liked! Nothing will change other than making sure every American has affordable healthcare finally. (and of course the GOP knows something about ingenious names…mislabeling any number of their bills with benign or positive sounding names that are actually the opposite of the bills intent)

Sanders’ bill makes some preposterous proposals to keep costs in check, such as slashing payments to health care providers by 40% — a cut that would almost certainly put hospitals and doctors out of business and erode the quality of care for all Americans.

I don’t know exactly where he’s going with this…apparently he has never gotten sick or someone else handles his finances for him. But have you ever looked carefully at your bills and insurance statements? Have you noticed that your doctor charges $500 for procedure A but the insurance company had a negotiated price of $238? And labtest 1 was $98 but the insurance company rate is $31? Insurance companies and doctors and hospitals play these numbers games all day long…under a single payer…there should be better transparency around actual health care costs…and providers can get paid what they should…and payers can pay the true value of health care…and bills are submitted for an actual effective number.

I don’t see this being a sticking point…scare tactics aside.

One recent study puts the total tab for Sanders’ bill at an exorbitant $32 trillion between 2022-2031, a bill that taxpayers would have to pick up, and which Sanders has no plan to fully fund.

I will agree that someone has to put together a way to fund this. But to pretend that this is NEW spending is ridiculous. Health care costs from 2022 – 2031 will still be $32 trillion whether we get single payer or not. The difference being…instead of taxing individuals and businesses and government entities to cover the costs…costs shared across the entire population…those costs will fall squarely on the shoulders of those who get sick. The costs of health care will essentially be the same…disastrously…they will just be invisible.

…77 million Americans currently on Medicare pay no premium…

I am going to ask for some help from our tax or health care wonks. Is this number accurate? And if it is what is the level of Medicare coverage being provided? Plan A is free but it covers diddly…as far as I can tell…simply catastrophic illness. Plan B costs @ $130 per month…and any supplements can cost hundreds of dollars more. Is Medicare subsidized for those who can’t afford Plan B or are there millions of Americans relying on Plan A only??

And apparently Mr. Schneider thinks America is stupid…not Americans…but America. We are about the only industrialized nation without some form of universal health care. He doesn’t think we can pull it off? We have hundreds of examples to review and best of breed practices to select from. We should be able to put together the best example of healthcare in the world.

I support a comprehensive universal single payer program…we need to reach that goal soon to improve the lives of all Americans and the American economic environment.

Christian Schneider Proved Gerrymandering Exists in Wisconsin.

Ironically GOP shill and right wing apologist, JSOnline’s Opinion blogger Christian Schneider recently set out to damn the federal court ruling on WI redistricting and prove gerrymandering didn’t exist. When in fact he proved that it does.

In typical Mr. Schneider style book meanderings he starts off with something that has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand. And as most of us know, statewide elections whether it be for president or senator or governor hasn’t a thing to do with voting districts. But he digresses with:

It goes without saying that Donald Trump’s victory in Wisconsin nearly two weeks ago was unexpected. But according to a three-judge federal panel who just declared Wisconsin’s legislative maps unconstitutional, Trump’s stunning victory would have been all but impossible.

When you guys figure out what that has to do with the price of corn in Iowa county, let me know.

After throwing out chaff to put everyone off the scent, he got off track and proved the fact he was intent on disproving. And after talking about how assembly districts couldn’t have possibly have been designed to favor republicans, he goes exactly here:

A good number of Democrats win large victories without a Republican challenger, which artificially inflates their share of the statewide vote.

Now the last half is meant to deflate the rational that Democrats get the majority vote in the state but don’t hold the majority assembly seats…but in those districts without a Republican challenger there aren’t ANY Republican votes. Yes, that is all kinda round and roundy logic and you can see it from either perspective you want.

And the big BUT is “A good number of Democrats win large victories without a Republican challenger…”. Why do you suppose that is? No Republican challenger? Because the GOP leaders in Madison did in fact gerrymander all of those pesky Democrat voters into their own little safe blue districts. Far far away from the red districts just so they couldn’t muck up the Republican incumbents.

So yes, the WI redistricting was in fact gerrymandering…and this helps support that…if the other clues in the mass media weren’t already proof enough!

Conservative Christian Schneider: Russ Feingold “living a double life that would make Josh Duggar cringe”

In an op-ed column published on Friday, conservative columnist Christian Schneider of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opined that former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold is “living a double life that would make Josh Duggar cringe.”

Read the passage in question for yourselves:

Instead, Feingold is simply following the old campaign trick of a candidate trying to show strength in an area that represents his greatest weakness. In the past few months, reports have shown that Feingold has been living a double life that would make Josh Duggar cringe; despite decades of railing against money in politics, Feingold himself commanded a political action committee that has raked in millions from special interest groups.

The fact that Christian Schneider thinks Russ Feingold’s supposed hypocrisy on campaign finance would make admitted child molester and adulterer Josh Duggar cringe is simply stunning and it shows the depths Republicans like Schneider are willing to sink to in order to protect vulnerable incumbent Senator Ron “sunspots” Johnson.

Governor Scott Walker Is A Quitter

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) was supposed to be the crown jewel among Governor Scott Walker’s first term accomplishments. It was part of his agenda to downsize government and privatize government functions in one fell swoop…as well as serve as a lynch pin in his promised job development in Wisconsin.

Well since then WEDC has failed two state audits. The audits essentially found that the agency didn’t follow state law and didn’t even follow their own internal rules on loans and verification of results from the firms receiving loans.

So what does the governor do when faced with issues surrounding the business loans his organization is making? Does he replace anyone in authority? Does he question why WEDC goes through financial officers like water? Does he call a board meeting (as governor he is board chairman) and get everyone in line like a chair of a business would? Does he hold a public forum and discuss the aims and goals of WEDC…it’s fit in the economy of Wisconsin…and the value and purpose of the loans? NO, he just throws up his hands and says that WEDC shouldn’t be making business loans.

A week after an audit documenting failures by the state’s top jobs agency, Gov. Scott Walker is seeking to end the authority’s $19 million a year in lending, shifting his plans for the agency for the second time in as many weeks.

The Republican governor Friday proposed phasing out the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.’s $74 million loan portfolio — one of the problem areas identified by nonpartisan auditors but not the only one. Within hours of the release of the Legislative Audit Bureau report last week, Walker dropped his proposed merger of WEDC with another state agency that deals with the economy.

And then apparently at his own behest (and that Zach mentioned yesterday), the legislature is removing the governor from his role as WEDC board chair:

GOP legislators voted along with Walker (emphasis mine) to remove him as chairman of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. but chose to keep their legislative representatives on the board of the embattled jobs agency.

WEDC has been plagued by lax oversight…

When the going gets tough…the tough bail out? That’s leadership?

I imagine Gov. Walker’s continued leadership of a failing state jobs agency would totally play against the image he is trying to portray on the presidential campaign trail. Time to bail before there is too much national media scrutiny on his major policy failure.

But let’s roll back to the lax oversight statement. Very recently there has been a lot of scrutiny of a loan WEDC made to a now defunct business owned by a contributor to the governor’s campaign.

Gov. Scott Walker’s top aides pressed for a taxpayer-funded $500,000 loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company that was collapsing and created no jobs, according to a newspaper investigation.

Walker’s economic development agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, awarded an unsecured loan to Building Committee Inc., owned by William Minahan, according to records the Wisconsin State Journal obtained through an open records request.

The 2011 loan was for a proposed project to retrofit bank and credit union buildings for energy efficiency. The WEDC sued BCI last year in an attempt to get the money back.

It is among several WEDC loans recently questioned by state auditors in a report that led Walker on Friday to ask lawmakers to scrap the loan program.

Paul Jadin, the former head of WEDC, said Minahan and then-Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch pushed for a $4.3 million loan, but the agency couldn’t justify more than $500,000 — which Jadin said he considered “fairly risky.”

Minahan had given Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign a last-minute $10,000 donation on election day — the maximum individual contribution.

A loan that Gov. Walker claims he was not aware of.

State records say that Gov. Scott Walker received a copy of a 2011 letter pledging a $500,000 taxpayer loan to a now-defunct Milwaukee construction company headed by a Walker donor, seemingly contradicting statements by the governor and his aides that he was not aware of the award.

A spokeswoman for Walker said that, in spite of the records, a copy of the letter from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. was never delivered to the governor’s office.

So let’s see: the governor’s top aides pushed for a WEDC loan, the governor was copied on the letter regarding the loan, the governor is the board chairman of the loaning organization…and no idea about the loan? That is the definition of lax oversight and typical of Gov. Walker’s organizational style both in the governor’s office and his year’s as county executive in Milwaukee.

What should be happening at WEDC?
1: The governor should be holding up his hand and saying the buck stops here.
2: Attorney General Schimel should be called in to investigate potential violations of state law.
3: The officers of WEDC should make some major changes in the organization to meet state law and internal controls.
4: There should be a public discussion on the value of the WEDC and it’s role in Wisconsin.

And the people of Wisconsin should realize that this is a glaring example of Gov. Walker’s lack of governance in this state as he looks toward his campaign for president. None of us, left or right, are getting any leadership out of the governor’s office.

It is also interesting to examine the sideshow related to all of this:

A week ago when it looked like WEDC might be salvageable, Reed Hall, the secretary and CEO of WEDC, wrote a glowing op ed piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel supporting the bold approach to economic development taken by the agency.

And then four days later as things around WEDC continued to unravel Christian Schneider, the in house GOP mouthpiece at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, suggested that we don’t need a business loan state organization and that WEDC should be dismantled.

How quickly fickle the Madison GOP shows itself to be these days. You’d think being in control would be more fun (sarcasm)!

BTW: how’s the jobs thing coming? At the end of his first term the governor was 121,000 jobs short of his announced goal of 250,000 jobs.

A Question for Christian Schneider on “Right to Work”

by Jay Bullock

Hi, Christian. Thanks for stopping by to address my question. I appreciate it. You and I obviously disagree on the “Right to Work” bill–I call it the “Right to Freeload” bill–and I’m really hoping you can help me understand where you’re coming from.

I give you credit. A lot of people promoting the “Right to Freeload Work” bill are willing to straight-up lie about it. This includes the people running that Wisconsin Right to Work group, the long-time shady WISGOP operatives who go all the way back to the days of David Wilcox and Mark Block and postcards that broke the law, who are claiming that states with these laws have higher average wages. They don’t. PolitiFact Ohio smacked down a Buckeye State GOPer for trying to claim last year that they did. Ohio passed its bill anyway, and we’ll have to watch to see what happens to their wages–I predict, like Wile E. Coyote, they will plummet.

But you don’t claim that. That’s where I give you credit. Here’s what you say instead:

Any honest assessment of right-to-work recognizes that it’s not a panacea. States with such laws often have lower average wages as unions fade away. But higher employment rates in exchange for wages that aren’t inflated is a deal the state should accept. A slight decline in wages is an acceptable cost if it results in more people getting family-supporting paychecks.

So your point, if I can paraphrase, is that lower wages are basically worth it if we can have lower unemployment. (Although “slight decline” is pushing it: the BLS (pdf) tells us that non-union wages are $10,000 lower than union wages, and non-union jobs have a much higher gender wage gap, for your war on women notes.)

Anyway, that’s where my question comes in: So why does Wisconsin need right to work, then?

I mean, didn’t we just have an election (or three) about Wisconsin’s employment situation, and haven’t you as much as anyone else been telling us all along that Wisconsin’s employment situation is awesome?

Wasn’t that you who wrote that “Walker was … right” about having great jobs numbers on his side? And that Wisconsin’s jobs “jobs have been growing at a reasonable clip”? To give you more credit, and Walker some credit, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is actually lower that the national average and, in fact, lower than that of any of our right-to-work neighbors except Iowa. We’re beating Indiana just fine and spanking Michigan in that regard. If you insist on counting Ohio, we’re basically tied with them.

If Wisconsin is doing fine in the jobs department, especially since we’re doing better than most of the right-to-work states near us and like us, why do we need to change anything? Is there much room for growth in jobs here, or are we really just talking about cutting wages for those already working?

Or, given that the neighbor state that is doing the best in this regard, Minnesota (3.9% unemployment versus our 5.4%), is both not a right to freeload work state but a liberal haven that raised taxes and the minimum wage and embraced the agenda of the teachers union, wouldn’t it be smarter to model our state on their success rather than Indiana’s failure?

Also, wasn’t it you who insisted, seriously and sarcastically, that there’s actually not much the government could actually do to create jobs? Didn’t you say that “before trying to legislate its way to higher employment, the state needs to rectify some cultural and demographic trends” that make quick jumps in employment unlikely to happen regardless of what legislation gets passed? How do you square your support of right to work with that sensible assessment of Wisconsin’s reality?

Okay, Christian, that was, I suppose, more than one question. But if you could help us out and try to explain yourself, I would appreciate it, and I bet the rest of the BloggingBlue readership would as well. Thanks!