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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Obama’s Health Law: Who Was Helped Most


We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act. But until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details.

Now a large set of data — from Enroll America, the group trying to sign up people for the program, and from the data firm Civis Analytics — is allowing a much clearer picture. The data shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.

The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon.


That state boundaries are so prominent in the map attests to the power of state policy in shaping health insurance conditions. The most important factor in predicting whether an American who had no insurance in 2013 signed up this year was whether the state that person lives in expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. (Just consider the contrast between Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid, and Tennessee, which did not.)

The map, which I couldn't paste into this post, is highly illustrative. My state, Wisconsin, appears to be among the worst-served in the nation. Thanks Governer (sic) Walker.

Love the part about how the ACA reduces inequality. The law isn't perfect, but perfection is the enemy of progress. We've made substantial progress under this law.

Wisconsin: Walker Failure File #1: The Dirty Truth About Our Clean Jobs


Solar and wind power are booming industries around most of the country. Nationwide, there was a 27% increase in solar power produced last year, with 4,300 megawatts of energy being generated. But what was Wisconsin’s share of that growth? A measly 2 megawatts. Yes, you read that right. Two megawatts. Walker’s Wisconsin simply isn’t open to solar and wind business.

It’s been clear from the beginning that Governor Walker is in the dark when it comes to clean energy and the jobs associated with it. In his very first budget, the governor eliminated Wisconsin’s Green-to-Gold program which gave money to manufacturers to offset the costs of retrofitting plants to reduce energy costs. This move undermined Wisconsin’s job creators who used the money saved in energy costs to grow their businesses.

Governor Walker gave Wisconsin workers another blow when he eliminated the Renewable Energy Grants and Loans Program, which gave money to in-state companies developing the next generation of technologies to grow our domestic renewable energy industry – and put Wisconsinites to work.

And that was just the beginning. Governor Walker and his administration are creating hurdles left and right to choke Wisconsin’s wind and solar energy industries. In 2011, Governor Walker waged an attack on wind energy that was so extreme, even his own party couldn’t get behind it. Denise Bode, executive of the American Wind Energy Association, said that the proposal was, “adding a new regulatory barrier and putting a ‘closed for business’ sign on Wisconsin for wind development.” The proposal imperiled up to $1.2 billion in renewable energy investments and more than 1,100 jobs by imposing the greatest restrictions to wind turbines in the country. Although the proposal died, the impacts have been lasting. Job creators in the wind industry understood that Walker’s Wisconsin is anti-wind, so companies left the state and took 1,000+ jobs with them.

10 Days Of Early Voting, 10 Reasons To Vote Against Scott Walker: Marriage Equality


In 2005, Scott Walker supported creating a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

After the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage, Scott Walker, along with J.B. Van Hollen, appealed the decision to give gay and lesbian couples equal protection under the law.

Just one week after the appeal, Walker disingenuously claimed he and the Republican party weren't fighting marriage equality.

When seeking the endorsement of the conservative group Wisconsin Family Action this year, Scott Walker touted his defense of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
In the same letter he wrote that he supports marriage between one man and one woman.

10 Days Of Early Voting, 10 Reasons To Vote Against Scott Walker: War on Women


Scott Walker repealed Wisconsin’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, a law meant to deter workplace discrimination by giving workers more avenues via which to press charges.

Walker’s legislation which mandates medically-unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds and the reading of a state-authored shaming script was opposed by medical professionals in organizations. Walker’s bill restricted a woman’s decision to have a safe and legal abortion in order to appeal to the most radical, far-right element of the Republican Party.

Speaking at an editorial board in 2010, Walker confirmed that he opposes all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest.

As a result of losing massive amounts of funding for key health centers and family planning services across the state, nine family planning and healthcare centers faced cutbacks and disrupted services - eight of those health centers were in counties without alternative family planning providers. In addition, five Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin health centers were forced to close in Fond du Lac, Shawano, Chippewa Falls, Beaver Dam, and Johnson Creek.

Wisconsin: American College of Physicians urges approval of referendums (Medicaid money)


The American College of Physicians Wisconsin Chapter, the medical society that represents internists, is encouraging its members to actively support non-binding referendums that endorse the state's accepting additional federal dollars available through the Affordable Care Act to expand its Medicaid program.

"It's supporting a policy that we think is important for the health of the state," said Ian Gilson, co-chair of the health and policy committee of the Wisconsin chapter and a staff physician at the Medical College of Wisconsin. "This is a big priority for those of us who take care of patients."

The referendum will appear on the ballot Tuesday in 19 counties, including Milwaukee.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated in August that the state would have saved $206 million in the current budget and would save an addition $261 million to $315 million through June 2017 by accepting the federal dollars available through the Affordable Care Act.

Wisconsin: Citations issued by DNR wardens fall under Scott Walker administration


Citations issued by state conservation wardens have fallen sharply at the Department of Natural Resources under the administration of Gov. Scott Walker, an analysis by a wildlife group released on Wednesday shows. Enforcement of all types of conservation-related violations fell 28% between 2011 and 2013 compared with 2003 to 2010, when Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was in office. Citations ranged from a high of 19,474 in 2007 to a low last year of 12,393, records show.

During Walker's term, environmental groups have expressed worries that the DNR is not as aggressive in enforcing environmental and conservation laws as past administrations. DNR records bear this out, but agency officials say they remain as vigilant as ever. Conservation citations are often related to hunting, fishing, boating and the use of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles. The agency says there are 2.1 million hunters and anglers and 1.6 million boaters in the state.


But a former chairman of the Congress, Ed Harvey Jr. of Waldo, finds the drop a concern. He served on the executive committee or as chairman from 1995 to 2010. Harvey and Bohmann agreed that overzealous wardens have not been seen as a big concern. Said Harvey: "I have not seen a great deal of concern by this administration for sportsmen's and conservation issues, unless they were brought forward by a lobby group."

Enforcement activity by the DNR in environmental cases has dropped, agency figures show. The number of cases the DNR referred to the state Department of Justice increased from 24 in 2011 to 34 in 2012, and leveled off at 35 last year, according to DNR records. By comparison, in 2000, when Thompson was governor, there were 61 cases sent to the attorney general.

I'm sickened by the "Sportsmen for Walker" signs I see, knowing that Walker is hell-bent on destroying our State's fragile environment. Don't these sportsmen know that polluting our waterways and selling off our public lands is anethema to our outdoor traditions?

Paul LePage: Maine’s Embarrassment


LePage met in 2013 with the Constitutional Coalition, a conspiratorial group from the northern part of the state whose members identify with the “sovereign citizen movement,” as Portlander Mike Tipping revealed in a shocking new book, As Maine Went. The sovereign citizen movement warns darkly of a U.N. takeover of Maine’s north woods, believes the state and federal governments are illegitimate, and considers all lawyers to be communists. The FBI has deemed it a terrorist threat.

LePage met with them not once but eight times from February into September, even while refusing to meet with Democratic leaders in the statehouse. During those meetings, these rightwing activists charged these same Democratic leaders, House Speaker Mark Eves and Senate President Alfond, with treason, suggesting they should receive the ultimate punishment, death. Instead of reporting the threat, LePage brokered a meeting between these far rightwingers and the county sheriff overseeing the state capitol, whose help they wanted in going after the two legislators.


He gave a secret, no-bid $925,000 contract to an out-of-state conservative to evaluate Medicaid expansion and anti-poverty programs. It turned out the contractor plagiarized part of the draft report and relied for his conclusions on key research errors. When the Bangor Daily News exposed this scandal and public pressure mounted, LePage was finally forced to cancel the contract after paying out nearly half a million dollars.

Even liberal Republicans were outraged when LePage hired ALEC’s Maine co-chair—an industry lobbyist named Patricia Aho—to head the state Department of Environmental Protection. He gave her marching orders to roll back regulations and trash the new state law curbing toys and other products made of toxic plastic. Aho had represented some of their manufacturers. Similarly, LePage’s education commissioner until last August was Stephen Bowen, who served on ALEC’s education committee while working for the rightwing Maine Heritage Policy Center. While on the committee, he helped push model legislation giving public money to “virtual” online schools. Once working for LePage, he used his position to promote two for-profits from out of state, including one, K12 Inc. of Virginia, that was exposed for fraudulently using uncertified teachers. Another virtual charter, linked to the for-profit education giant Pearson, got the go-ahead in March from the state charter commission to accept students starting in the fall.

Wisconsin: Amazing new ad features Kleefisch and Walker! Just in time for Halloween!

In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, low-wage jobs increase while middle-wage jobs decrease


According to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Marc Levine, since 2010 the number of low-wage occupations in Wisconsin increased while the number of middle-wage occupations actually shrunk.

Low-wage-occupation jobs bounced back in the recovery, rising by about 130,000 from 2010 to 2013. During that same period, middle-wage occupations lost 16,000 jobs.

“Since 2010, the recovery has been extraordinarily heavily weighted — all of the net growth in Wisconsin has been in the low-wage category,” Levine said.

Some of that growth is from newly created low-wage jobs. But the lion’s share has come from middle-wage occupations dropping into the lowest tier as their pay fell in inflation-adjusted terms.

Wisconsin Gazette endorses Mary Burke, blisters Scott Walker


A vote for Burke is far more than a vote against Walker. She is one of the strongest, most promising candidates running anywhere in the nation this year. Even Walker apologists have acknowledged how unique and qualified Burke is to lead the state.

In addition to holding a Harvard MBA, she’s a successful businesswoman with deep international experience. She established — from the ground up — European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp. Those operations have grown from $3 million to $50 million in revenue.

Burke understands how business operates. She knows how to balance a real-world budget and she understands the challenges facing the entrepreneurs and start-up companies that are the only hope for Wisconsin’s future.

While college-dropout Walker has repeatedly sold out the interests of Wisconsinites to cultivate politically useful relationships with uber wealthy donors, Burke is financially independent. While he has higher political aspirations, Burke simply wants to be governor because she believes — correctly, in our opinion — that she has the skills and commitment to turn the state’s lagging economy around while restoring its progressive tradition of governing in a way that serves everyone, not just the rich and politically connected.

More goodies at the link.
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