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 his former employees 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 an 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.”