Sunday, April 13, 2014

Wisconsin Job Growth

                                             2013             2014           Change
Wisconsin ....................| 2,815,900   |   2,845,900   |   30,000 
The net total private jobs added since January 2011 - 102,300. 
Shouldn't we be hearing/reading more about the spectacular failure of job creation under the Walker administration? Governor Walker is 147,000 jobs short of his 250,000-jobs proclamation.

Does anyone really believe this amount of job growth will occur within the next six months?

The unions had to be destroyed. According to the revisionist Republican history, public workers had ruined the economy. Tax cuts and deregulation - the usual Republican elixirs - were going to save the state/world. 

Mr. Walker told Wisconsin voters he was going to create 250,000 jobs during his term.

Mr. Walker knowingly misinformed voters. 

According to the Republicans' own standards: policy-failures should have consequences.

Hopefully the consequences for such failure will be a new governor for Wisconsin in November.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How About Giving Your Employees A Raise, You Deluded Nitwit?!

Income Inequality

Money Talks

Weekend Reading

Why We’re in a New Gilded Age
Milwaukee Bucks Drawing Attention From Potential Buyers
Annualized Returns & the Average Investor
The Myth of Income Equality, Courtesy of AEI
Who The Job Creators Really Are
How Capitalism Enriches The Few Rather Than The Many
The Short Guide To Capital In The 21st Century

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fortune 500 Companies Paying Little Or Nothing In State Income Taxes

Negative Income Tax For Corporate-personage ... It's The Wisconsin Way
Hey, all you hard-working, under-compensated Wisconsin folks: How would you like to pay a state income tax rate of 4.3 percent? Or, if that's too much, how about 2.2 percent? Still too rich for ya? Well, then, how about a Wisconsin state income tax of NEGATIVE ONE PERCENT? Yes, the state would PAY YOU a refund on zero taxes owed! Wow!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Last Days Of A Scoundrel?

Gov. Scott Walker declined again Sunday to answer whether he knew of the existence of a secret email system in his Milwaukee County executive office.
Instead, during the appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Walker called the controversy over the release of thousands of emails "old news" and said Democrats were trying to switch the subject from his budget successes.
I guess if you consider borrowing and digging the state deeper into debt than when your administration began, kudos, well done, Mr. Walker.
"If you look at the facts out there, this is old news," Walker said. "This is about a case that was closed last March. A Democratic district attorney in Milwaukee County spent multiple years looking at all this information. 
"The 27,000-plus pages of documents that were just released this week have been looked at by a team led by a Democrat from Milwaukee County, and last March he announced the end of that case, plain and simple. It's old news." 
Which, when the district attorney ended his investigation, brought charges against numerous individuals working for Mr. Walker.
His comments echoed those he made Friday while speaking to reporters for the first time since the release of the documents. 
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's office launched an investigation in May 2010, lasting nearly three years and leading to the convictions of six individuals, including three Walker aides, an appointee and a major campaign contributor. 
Documents released Wednesday linked Walker to a secret email system that was used in his county office. The documents also showed close ties between his campaign operation and taxpayer-paid staff members during the months leading to the November 2010 election for governor. 
Now we have documents, discovered by further investigation, tying the governor to the secret e-mail system used for illegal campaign (and who knows what else, at this point) activities.
"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace pressed Walker on whether he knew there was a private email account. 
Walker responded, "Again, it's one of those where I point out the district attorney looked into every single one of those issues." 
Wallace interjected: "But sir, you're not answering my question." 
Walker said, "No, because I'm not going to get into 27,000 different pieces of information." 
The governor continued, "The bottom line is a Democrat who led the district attorneys office, looked at all this, decided not to charge anything other than the individuals you mentioned, who were people who had worked for the county in the past but don't work for me today. 
Wow. Talk about being detached from reality. "Decided not to charge anything other than the individuals you mentioned." So Walker does realize former employees of his were charged with committing illegal acts for his benefit. (Which is probably why they're not working for him anymore.) Now, more information points to the governor being involved with and knowing about such activities. Yep, old news. Move along.
"I think that's pretty straightforward. It's one of those things where they want to keep pushing this issue into the forefront because in the end the folks running against us can't counter our positive message when it comes to the economy and creating budget surpluses." 
Or, maybe those interested in the truth and honest politics just want to point out what a corrupt, lying bunch of Machiavellians the Walker administration has been all along. I'm so glad Walker has had such a positive message about the economy, but most Wisconsin workers actually want to see positives that translate to earnings, not just platitudes. And, as mentioned earlier, those "surpluses" are illusory. So, Walker's message doesn't hold water, and now we're finding out their whole operation is fraught with dishonest activities.
Mike Tate, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said there are additional questions that Walker needs to answer.  
"What we continue to see is the further erosion of public trust in the governor's judgment," Tate said. "Did he know his staff was breaking the law, and if he didn't, how is that possible with what has come to light? How will his public and campaign staffs interact moving forward? And how do citizens know that their tax dollars won't be misused by mixing private-public staff going into an election year?"
Luckily some are still looking into the e-mails and documents concerning Walker's improprieties. It's highly unlikely things are going to get better for Mr. Walker.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Art Of Misdirection

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, Walker won’t say whether he knew of secret email system. Directly under this they also link, Soros-backed group pores over emails.

Things are equally corrupt on both sides, don't you know? Even if you do already know, the Journal still wants to remind you.  

I'm led to think the Journal wants us to hold judgment on Scott Walker (he's really not a bad guy) but maintain a vigilant eye on these agitating liberal operatives.

I wonder why Republicans (and, now the Journal Sentinel, for some reason) cast such disapproving snarls at George Soros. I get that he funds organizations that try to help human rights, education, and public health. But he's also, as the Republicans would say, a job creator. A businessman who made it big. One of the wealthiest people in the world. Just being megarich usually makes one 99% infallible for Republicans. But Soros is the exception. He supports policies that often align with the Democrats and, for this, there can be no forgiveness.

And, because Soros supports these Democratic policies, that makes him evil and conniving. 

But, back to the real story - Scott Walker's illegal campaigning. Isn't it a good thing that someone is looking over these e-mails? It's a pretty big story. Yet another Republican governor involved in petty politics, illegalities, and cover-ups. Shouldn't the Journal be pushing and pestering the Governor to come clean with the details? Open record requests and scouring e-mails?

Walker was the 'straight-shooting, no beating around the bush, get it done and make no excuses' guy.

Walker won't say whether he knew of a secret e-mail system? Come on Mr. Big Talk, Mr. Tough Guy. Weren't you the one who rode into office promising the moon and the stars? You were going to clean up the State, make the tough but needed decisions, and get Wisconsin going again. Oh, and the jobs! You were going to create so many jobs.

But don't worry, it's not your fault Scotty. And we'll be sure to keep and eye on that mean ole George Soros, too.

Saturday Concert: Revolting Cocks

Revolting Cocks: London Astoria, January 24th, 1991

[01]. Beers, Steers & Queers (Drop Your Britches version)
[02]. Beers, Steers & Queers (Take 'em Right Off version)
[03]. Let's get Physical
[04]. In the Neck
[05]. TV Mind
[06]. Union Carbide
[07]. No Devotion
[08]. Something Wonderful
[09]. Chickenshit
[10]. Stainless Steel Providers
[11]. Voice Improvisation
[12]. Attack Ships on Fire
[13]. Razor's Edge
[14]. Get Down

Scott Walker Scandal Reading

Emails Suggest Walker Aides Ran Illegal Vote-Purging Scheme The six things we learned today about Scott Walker from newly released e-mails Emails Suggest Scott Walker Knew Of Illegal Campaign Coordination E-mails, Charges, Probes! Chris Christie? No, Scott Walker

Commercial Real Estate Metrics

Cap Rates Continue to Compress


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Memo To Republicans: The ACA War Is Over

The Journal Sentinel really needs to do a better job with their "reporting."

The top story in their Sunday Editorials & Opinion section was Life In The Land Of Make Believe by Kathleen Parker.

Another misconstruction from the right-wing completely misreading data points to claim, again, that the Affordable Car Act (aka Obamacare) is a failure and is destroying America. Anyone with the ability to do a google search, or if you just happen to get your news from somewhere other than FOX News, can quickly dismiss these false, incendiary claims.

Why did the Journal deem this article newsworthy?

Here's just two of Parker's debunked talking points:
Only about 3 million people have signed up for health insurance through the new marketplaces, well below expectations.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report issued earlier this month estimates that by 2017, the workforce will be reduced by the equivalent of 2 million full-time jobs and 2.3 million by 2021 — because of Obamacare.
Parker's 3 million signup number is only the private insurance plan signups. Including Medicaid and CHIP, the minimum estimate for total Affordable Care Act signups is 8.8 million, with a maximum of 14.4 million, thus far. The program got off to a rough start, yet signups are only marginally below expectations. Are Republicans unhappy that more people now have health insurance?

Destroying jobs is quite different from people having the choice of whether to work or to raise a family. People no longer need to stay at horrible job to have insurance. This actually opens up jobs for those looking for work.

As the Economic Policy Institute explains, "In December, the number of job seekers was 10.4 million (unemployment data are from the Current Population Survey and can be found here). Thus, there are 10.4 million job seekers and only 4.0 million job openings, meaning that there are only enough job openings for 38.5 percent of job seekers."

Based on their history of being all about the family-unit and saving our children, along with their supposed intense interest in helping the unemployed, one would think the Republicans would support a program that accomplishes both of these goals.

But, in fitting with their typical prescription, Republicans are more interested in power than policy. Facts be damned! There are actual specifics of the Act that can be improved, efficiencies to be gained, by working with Democrats and constructively analyzing and implementing adjustments and/or improvements to the program. But, instead, Republicans are still raging on, spinning fanciful yarns and lying through their teeth, in the (health care) war they've already lost.

For Further Reading:
Health, Work, Lies
Bette In Spokane Blogging
CBO Says Obamacare Will Raise Wages
Obamacare Attacks Failing

No Relationship Between Cutting Tax Rates On Corporate Profits And Job Growth

The Corporate Tax Rate Debate: Lower Taxes on Corporate Profits Not Linked to Job Creation
The American corporate tax system is badly broken. Some corporations pay more than a third of their profits in federal income taxes, while other equally profitable firms pay nothing at all. On average, corporations pay just 12.6 percent of their profits in federal income taxes, according to a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. 
Corporate and political leaders keep telling us that cutting corporate tax rates will create jobs. 
Our examination of the evidence found no relationship between cutting tax rates on corporate profits and job growth.

We examined the job creation track record of 60 large, profitable U.S. corporations (from a list of 280 Fortune 500 companies) with the highest and lowest effective tax rates between 2008 and 2010 and found: 
• 22 of the 30 corporations that paid the highest tax rates (30 percent or more) on their reported profits created almost 200,000 jobs between 2008 and 2012. Only eight of the 30 firms paying high tax rates reported reducing the number of employees between 2008 and 2012. 
• The 30 profitable corporations that paid little or no taxes over three years collectively shed 51,289 jobs; half of these low-tax firms created some jobs, and half shed jobs between 2008 and 2012. 
• Lowe’s, the nation’s second-largest home improvement store, paid over 36 percent in taxes on reported profits of $9 billion between 2008 and 2010, and hired an additional 28,820 employees between 2008 and 2012. 
• Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless provider, reported $32 billion in U.S. profits between 2008 and 2010, yet received tax refunds totaling $951 million and reduced the number of employees by almost 56,000 between 2008 and 2012.
In 2004, when a temporary “tax holiday” on offshore profits was put in place, 58 firms brought $218 billion in profits back to the U.S. under the program, for a savings of $64 billion on their taxes. In the following two years, those 58 firms eliminated 600,000 jobs. 
In 2012, U.S. corporations reported earning nearly $1.8 trillion in profits. Had they paid the 35 percent tax rate on those profits, total corporate tax receipts would have been $630 billion (rather than the $242 billion they actually paid), and the deficit would have been reduced by nearly a third. 
Today, large U.S. corporations report more than $1 trillion in cash or liquid assets. They have the funds to invest in new jobs, should they choose to do so. We found no evidence that cutting the tax rate on corporate profits induces firms to create new jobs in the United States. However, several legal loopholes and deductions do discourage job creation in the U.S. and should be eliminated. This would raise significant revenue and make the tax code fairer.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The 0.01%

Wisconsin Roundup

Corporate Welfare Is Good:
"Living" Wages Are Bad; Punishing The Poor Is Good:

Sunday, February 2, 2014

How Do U.S. Taxes Compare Internationally?

If you think American taxes are high, think again.

Among OECD countries only Mexico, Chile and Turkey had lower taxes than the United States as a percentage of GDP. In many European countries taxes exceeded 40 percent of GDP, but those countries generally provide much more extensive government services to their citizens than the United States does. 
The United States relies less on consumption taxes—18 percent of total 2008 tax receipts—than any other OECD country. Revenue from such taxes averaged 32 percent of total taxes among the 33 OECD countries. Mexico, in contrast, collected 60 percent of its 2008 tax revenue from consumption taxes. 
Personal income taxes made up 38 percent of U.S. tax revenue in 2008, more than in most other OECD countries, where such taxes averaged 26 percent of the total. However, individual taxpayers paid a larger share of tax revenue in Denmark (52 percent) and New Zealand (41 percent). 
Corporate income taxes accounted for a slightly larger share of U.S. tax revenue, 7 percent in 2008, than the OECD average of 10 percent. 
U.S. employees, on average, contributed more in taxes for retirement and disability insurance—10 percent of total tax receipts—than many of their OECD counterparts, where such taxes accounted for 9 percent of total receipts on average. U.S. employers, however, contributed less: 12 percent of the total compared with OECD employers’ average of 15 percent.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Who Increased The Debt?

Republican’s increase our public debt by lowering taxes on the wealthy, raising corporate welfare and starting wars. If you are surprised by this bar graph then you then you need to shop around for a more reliable news source.

Comparing State Pension Costs To Corporate Subsidies And Tax Breaks

Putting State Pension Costs In Context 
Attacks on Pensions, Safety Net Programs, Distract from Corporate Giveaways that Exacerbate Economic Inequality 
Washington D.C., January 30, 2014 — State lawmakers who are considering drastic cuts to the retirement benefits of state workers are simultaneously giving away billions of dollars in corporate tax subsidies and loopholes, often in amounts far exceeding the cost of pensions, according to a new report. 
Putting State Pension Costs in Context by Good Jobs First examines 10 states where elected officials are threatening to undermine retirement security by cutting the pension benefits of their teachers, firefighters, police officers, and hundreds of thousands of other public employees. The states included in the report are: Arizona; California; Colorado; Florida; Illinois; Louisiana; Michigan; Missouri; Oklahoma; and Pennsylvania. 
The findings show that in each state, the revenue lost to corporations through loopholes and tax breaks outpaces the current cost of pension benefits to state employees. 
“In states across the country, politicians are attempting to solve the budget woes caused by Wall Street and the Great Recession by cutting the pension benefits of public employees,” said Philip Mattera, Research Director of Good Jobs First. “It is often stated that budgets are a matter of priorities. And our research shows that corporate interests are generally prioritized over teachers, firefighters, police officers, and thousands of other employees who dedicate their lives to public service.” 
The average retirement for a member of the Louisiana State Retirement fund is $19,000 a year. Yet, Louisiana gives away about $1.8 billion a year to corporations through corporate subsidies and tax loopholes—totaling about five times the annual pension cost for state workers. 
Pennsylvania loses nearly $4 billion annually as a result of corporate subsidies and loopholes—more than two and half times the cost of public pensions. Pennsylvania’s state pensions average a modest $24,000 a year. In Michigan, corporations also enjoy about $1.8 billion in subsidies and tax breaks – more than three times the cost of meeting the state’s commitment to retirees. The list goes on. 
These ten states were chosen for analysis because their legislatures are underfunding pensions or elected officials are threatening to cut pension benefits. Actuarial analysis provided the normal cost of funding pensions on a yearly basis, which excludes the costs of making up for past underfunding. Data was derived by examining the latest state tax expenditure reports, state budget documents, and reports by state tax and budget watchdog groups. 
“As a matter of honest accounting and fair budgeting, state leaders should examine all forms of spending before they single out pensions or any other expense,” said Mattera. “Corporate tax breaks and loopholes are often poorly understood and little-noticed because they do not get debated as appropriations, nor do they often get sunsetted or audited. But over time they add up to hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars per year.”

Friday, January 31, 2014

Give Reality Back To Taxpayers

Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch took to the Journal Sentinel to boast about all Scott Walker has done for Wisconsin and to propose giving the budgetary "surplus" back to the taxpayers.

If you consider borrowing, increasing long-term debt, as a "surplus," then Scott Walker has really been on point. Yet, as most can see, this is merely kicking the can down the road. A bit of smoke and mirrors for Mr. Walker, so he can present the illusion of positive policy outcomes. But in reality, he's just burying Wisconsin is debt so he can advance his own political career.

To come up with her rosy picture, Kleefisch compares the Walker administration's tenure with the peak of the recession. One would expect improvement after hitting rock bottom. They could have taken office and done nothing and things would have shown some improvement. For a truer test, we need to see where we were at before the recession. To show real gains one would expect improvement above and beyond the norm, and improvements that rank near the best among states, especially if one is going to claim his or her policies are doing so much good.

Kleefisch crows about the improvement in the unemployment rate. "Four years ago, the state's unemployment rate was 9.2%. In fact, Wisconsin lost more than 133,000 jobs and lost 27,000 businesses during Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle's final term in office. After Gov. Walker and I were sworn in, we took aggressive action to get Wisconsin working again. Now, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in more than five years at 6.2%."

As you can see from the graph below, its awfully convenient to choose 2010 for comparison, rather than any other time before that. When we look back just a bit further, we see Wisconsin still has a way to go to reach full employment. Our current unemployment rate ranks us 22nd among the states. In 2011 and 2012, although we had higher unemployment rates (6.9 and 7.5), we ranked 19th among the states for both years. As far as the state is doing compared to others, we've actually gotten worse.

Kleefisch talks of turning a deficit into a surplus. "We also took necessary steps to get our fiscal house in order over the past few years. We inherited a $3.6 billion budget deficit when we took office and turned it into a $759 million surplus by the end of the 2011-'13 budget."

As Media Matters commented, "Fox News hyped Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's economic record, claiming that the governor's economic plan generated a nearly $1 billion budget surplus while ignoring that the current surplus is built upon a projected structural deficit and that the state ranks 28th in the nation for job creation under Walker's tenure." From the same article, "The Legislative Fiscal Bureau: Under Walker's Budget, Wisconsin's Structural Deficit Would Grow To $725 Million. A non-partisan analysis of Walker's most recent budget concluded that the Governor's proposed tax cuts would increase the state's budget shortfall over the coming years. Walker's tax plan hyped by Fox would in fact cost the state $180 million and would ultimately turn the touted surplus into a deficit by 2017."

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin also notes, "When Scott Walker was running for governor, he promised to balance budgets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP); however, the budget he claims as balanced is anything but when using GAAP. By gutting public education to the tune of $2.6 billion and slashing more than $500 million from public healthcare, along with skillfully kicking the can down the road with accounting tricks that pass debt onto future budgets, Walker has given the appearance of a balanced budget. But when using the GAAP that Walker promised to use, Wisconsin’s deficit will actually be more than $3 billion at the end of the biennium – a larger deficit than Walker inherited."

Kleefisch continues, "And some 100,000 jobs and nearly 13,000 new businesses have been created since we took office." Again, as we can see from the graph below, all this "job creation" has only gotten us back to 2004 levels. Oddly, I remember some politician promising 250,000 new jobs in his first term. 

Republicans always talk about "putting money back into taxpayers pockets." Although Kleefisch didn't mention it in her op-ed, lets take a look at the real median household income in Wisconsin. Are those wonderful Walker policies fattening your wallet? As the graph below shows, the median household actually has less now than they did during the peak of the recession. 


Kleefisch and Walker are giving Wisconsin taxpayers a bigger debt burden, meaningless promises and a false reality. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

One From The Vault

Bargaining Isn't To Blame

How does eliminating collective bargaining reduce deficits?

"States with no collective bargaining rights for any public employees saw an average budget shortfall of 24.8 percent in 2010 while states (including the District of Columbia) with collective bargaining for all public employees had an average budget shortfall of 24.1 percent."

For Further Reading:


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Weekend Reading

Oxfam Finds 85 Elites As Rich As 3.5 Billion People
Trickle-Down Economics Is The Greatest Broken Promise Of Our Lifetime
Here's Why The Idea Of A 'Traditional Marriage' Is Total Bullshit
25 Manners Everyone Needs
Health Care Spending Slows To Historically Low Rate
Income Growth Has Stalled For Most Americans
The Biggest Myths In Economics
No, Raising The Minimum Wage Won't Kill The Economy
8 Subconscious Mistakes Your Brain Makes Everyday

Oh! Big Surprise

Top wage earners get biggest benefit from Gov. Scott Walker's tax cuts
"People shouldn't be misled to think there's much in it for the bottom two-fifths of Wisconsin," Peacock said of Walker's latest plan. 
Reschovsky said the proposed property tax cut would be of some help overall to renters, since it would help to hold down rent increases. But it would also help state companies with Wisconsin parcels and well-to-do families with vacation homes, not just elderly homeowners struggling to pay their annual tax bills.
Top 5% of Wisconsin Residents Get 18% of Tax Cuts Proposed by the Governor
We’re primarily concerned that Governor Walker’s plan ignores holes in the current budget, and creates a deeper hole in the next one – boosting the structural deficit in 2013-15 to $825 million.

That said, many people have asked us about the distribution of the proposed tax cuts, and we asked the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) to crunch the numbers for us. The ITEP analysis — which focused just on the two major changes in the Governor’s plan — found that the top 5% of Wisconsinites, who made $161,000 or more in 2013, will get 18% of the tax cuts. By contrast, the bottom 40% get just 15% of the benefit.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The American Dream: The 7 Day Work Week

Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin GOP Senator, Fights For A Seven-Day Workweek
Wisconsin state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) is attempting to roll back one of the state's progressive labor laws, arguing that workers should be allowed to work without a day off if they so choose. 
"Right now in Wisconsin, you're not supposed to work seven days in a row, which is a little ridiculous because all sorts of people want to work seven days a week," he told The Huffington Post in an interview.
Is it that people actually want to work 7 days a week? Or, is it, because so many of America's jobs are low-wage jobs, people now have to work 7 days a week to afford a manageable debt-level coinciding with Keeping Up With The Joneses. Maybe people are now forced to work 7 days a week just to try to maintain some semblance of an evermore elusive American Dream.

For Further Reading:

Majority of New Jobs Pay Low Wages, Study Finds
The Economy is "Recovering" By Creating More Low-Wage Jobs... Increasingly Filled By Graduates

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Government Health Programs Save Everyone Money

Government Health Programs Save Everyone Money: Study
More and more it seems that, when the government subsidizes health insurance, patients' share of health care costs go down. 
The latest evidence: In the years immediately following the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid -- two programs that dramatically expanded government-sponsored health coverage -- patients’ share of out-of-pocket costs dropped by 40 percent, according to a December paper from Jeffrey Clemens, an economist at the University of California at San Diego. Out-of-pocket costs are what patients are responsible for paying on their own. In the case of insured patients, those costs can include copays and deductibles. Uninsured patients typically have to pay for all of their medical services “out-of-pocket.”
In the charts above, the dotted lines represent the share of various health-care costs paid out-of-pocket by patients, and the solid red lines represent the percent change in the share of out-of-pocket health care costs since 1960. 
The explanation for the precipitous drop in patient costs is somewhat obvious, said Clemens. 
"The period right around 1965 had such a large drop because a pretty substantial fraction of seniors basically didn’t have insurance against hospital episodes and office visits at that time," he said. "Covering that population just kind of mechanically meant that people were paying way less out of pocket when they had the need to go to hospital." 
As Medicaid became more comprehensive, patients' out-of-pocket costs continued to drop, Clements said, ultimately falling 90 percent from their 1960 levels by 1980
The study adds to a growing body of evidence that these government entitlement programs helped cut health-care cost burdens for struggling consumers. Just 16 percent of funding for personal health care came from out-of-pocket payments in 2003, down from 55 percent in 1960, according to a 2005 study from the Department of Health and Human Services. 
And Medicaid alone kept at least 2.6 million people out of poverty in 2010, according to a recent paper in the Journal of Health Economics. 
If the pattern holds, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, could lead to even more cost savings. Out-of-pocket health-care costs will drop from $1,463 to just $34 per year in 2016 for the 11.6 million low-income Americans who are expected get health coverage as a result of the law’s expansion of Medicaid, according to an October RAND study.

Income Inequality


According to the best estimates, the income share of America’s top 10% probably crossed 50% in 2012 for the first time ever, and the 22% income share that went to the top 1% was exceeded only in 2007, 2006, and 1928. The incomes of America’s top 10% are two-thirds higher than those of their counterparts 20 years ago, while the incomes of the top 1% have more than doubled...
But, for everyone else – roughly 90% of the US population – there has been no jump in income share relative to ten or 20 years ago to offset what now looks to be a permanent lost decade. On the contrary, the bottom 90% has continued to lose ground.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

$18.30 Minimum Wage

Real value of the federal minimum wage, 1968–2013 and 2013–2016 under proposed increase to $10.10 by 2016, compared with its value had it grown at the rate of productivity or average worker wages (2013 dollars)
* Productivity and average wage projections from 2013 to 2016 do not include the Harkin-Miller proposal. [source]

"If the minimum wage had grown at the same rate as productivity, it would be $18.30 today," reports David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Minimum Wage

President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and the fight against income inequality
A small way to attack the chronic problem of wealth concentration is to modestly boost the federal minimum wage.
As Maura Stephens, of Alternet, reported, "If the minimum hourly wage had advanced with the cost of living and productivity from its high-water mark of 1968, it would have been $21.72 in 2012, according to a March 2012 study by John Schmitt for the Center for Economic Policy and Research." Over the past few decades, our economy has experienced an increasing rate of GDP per capita - a growing economy. Yet, this bounty hasn't found its way into the wages of most workers. Workers haven't shared in this growing prosperity. Here's a series of graphs that speaks volumes about the disparity between wages and general economic growth over the past few decades.

For Further Reading:
Why Does the Minimum Wage Have No Discernible Effect on Employment?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Free The Market, Screw The Poor

Recently the Pope opined The Culture of Prosperity Deadens Us. He critiqued income inequality, our worship of money and objects, and the general disregard we seem to have for each other.

I'm no religious scholar (actually an atheist), but I do recall the Christian tenets being about helping those less fortunate, sharing and caring, and general goodwill and concern for our fellow beings.

In fact, to directly quote Jesus, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven."


Stuart Varney Admonishes Pope Francis

Do Republicans even know the teachings of Jesus? For guys who run around waving the flag and thumping the bible, they seem to have no clue about the religious teachings from which they claim their beliefs and motives originate.

For Further Reading:
Pope Francis: Unfettered Capitalism Is "Tyranny"; Economic Inequality "Kills."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Walker Campaign, Conservative Groups Subpoenaed, Newspaper Reports

Walker campaign, conservative groups subpoenaed, newspaper reports
Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and more than two dozen conservative groups were recently subpoenaed by a special prosecutor, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Big, Bold, and Beautiful City Halls

Milwaukee: With a design uniquely inspired by the Flemish Renaissance, Milwaukee’s City Hall is a breathtaking building both inside and out. Built in 1895 at a cost of $1 million, the City Hall has mosaic and marble flooring and was one of the first to feature an extensive open atrium. The building was completely renovated in 2008 at a cost of $66 million, and was declared a national historic landmark in 2004. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons) [source]

Saturday, November 2, 2013

U.S. Deficit Fell 37 Percent In 2013

From Neil Irwin, at the Washington Post:
The federal government's 2013 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, though most of us were so busy focusing on the government shutdown that accompanied the new fiscal year that there wasn't much time to reflect on the year that had passed. 
Now the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget is out with the final budget results. Surprise! The deficit fell quite a bit in 2013. The federal government took in $680 billion less revenue than it spent, or about 4.1 percent of gross domestic product. In 2012, those numbers were $1.087 trillion and 6.8 percent of GDP. That means the deficit fell a whopping 37 percent in one year. 
This is the first sub-$1 trillion and sub-5 percent of GDP deficit since the 2008 fiscal year, which ended the very month that Lehman Brothers fell and a deep crisis set in. 
What's behind it? 
Most of all, there was more revenue. Government receipts totaled $2.774 trillion, up $325 billion from 2012, and rising to 16.7 percent of GDP from 15.2 percent. That reflects in part a stronger economy that increased income and payroll taxes. It also includes the expiration of a payroll tax holiday that increased tax receipts, and higher rates for upper-income Americans agreed to for this calendar year. 
There was less spending, amid the drawdown of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, lower unemployment insurance benefits due to an improving economy, and the enactment government enacted budget cuts called for in the 2011 debt ceiling deal, including the sequestration automatic spending cuts that began in March. Overall outlays were $3.454 trillion, the treasury said, falling $84 billion compared with the 2012 fiscal year. That fall moves government outlays from 22 percent of GDP to 20.8 percent. 
It remains true that there are longer-term challenges facing the U.S. government finances, particularly around rising health-care costs. But the reality is that much of the conversation around debt and deficits is missing this basic fact: Deficits are, for now, falling fast. If anything, too fast. Just Wednesday, the Federal Reserve concluded a policy meeting with a statement that asserted, as it has in the past, that "fiscal policy is restraining growth" and that its forecasts are "taking into account the extent of federal fiscal retrenchment over the past year." Independent economists outside the government have reached similar conclusions, and now worry that deficits will fall so fast as to undermine the recovery.

Corporate Profits

Correcting Health Care Myths

From Nicole Belle, at Crooks and Liars:
You hear it on the lips of every single one of the Republican talking heads on every single Sunday news show:President Obama promised that if you liked your healthcare, you could keep it and HE LIED!!! (cue sobbing) Millions of Americans found out that they've been dropped from their healthcare! (hand wringing commences) 
Color me skeptical that any conservative actually gives a flying fig to the healthcare woes of any average American, much less ones who had substandard policies. 
But David Gregory has never come across a Republican talking point that he didn't love, embrace and swallow up whole to faithfully regurgitate to the masses. So he dutifully confronts Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida CEO Patrick Geraghty about the news that 300,000 Floridians have found their policies dropped because they fall below the minimum standards of coverage set by Obamacare. Problem was, Geraghty wasn't going to play Gregory's gotcha game with people's healthcare:
“We’re not cutting people,” Geraghty said. “We’re actually transitioning people. What we’ve been doing is informing folks that their plan doesn’t meet the test of the essential health benefits; therefore, they have a choice of many options that we make available through the exchange. And, in fact, with subsidy, many people will be getting better plans at a lesser cost. This really is a transition. In fact, the 300,000 figure is the entire year. So it’s really 40,000 people for January 1, and we’re walking them through that transition.” 
Now, it's absolutely true that there will be a fraction of people who find that their costs have gone up, the specific number and amount is still up for debate. And if they don't qualify for subsidies, that will mean a higher out-of-pocket cost, at least in the short term. However, short-term partisan gains notwithstanding, the program will factor in long-term the inclusion of healthy, young people on the exchanges, which will help mitigate the ailing people who rushed for the initial coverage. Specifically, the re-insurance tax is being levied for the first three years is intended to help smooth that transition to allow for the long-term sustainability of the program. 
But why would NBC News be interested in actually informing their viewers of the realities of the program when they can have their newscasters "sell" a misleading partisan argument instead?