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Scuba

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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 03:31 PM
Number of posts: 42,147

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Robin Vos is a petty, spiteful little man

http://bloggingblue.com/2014/11/robin-vos-is-a-petty-spiteful-little-man/

If there is a smaller, more petty, more spiteful human being in Wisconsin than Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, I haven’t met him or her.
President Obama’s visit to the University of Wisconsin last month could prove costly.

The new Speaker of the State Assembly says UW’s decision to cancel classes for the President’s visit is something he will remember when they submit their budget request next year.

Rep. Robin Vos (R-Burlington) says his motivations aren’t political, but he warns that every decision the University of Wisconsin makes has an influence on its funding.

I love how on one hand Vos says he’ll remember the university’s decision to cancel classes for President Obama’s visit, while in the same breath saying his motivations aren’t political, because apparently he thinks people are too idiotic to make the connection.

John Nichols: Wisconsin Democratic Party needs to reconsider itself

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/article_6bb5011f-6477-5cdb-b200-10fa5d52a1a1.html

The Democratic Party began to matter in Wisconsin when young activists decided in the 1940s to stop worrying about patronage and to start worrying about building a political movement. The first gubernatorial nominees of the modern Democratic Party were not longtime Democrats. After finishing third in four consecutive gubernatorial elections, the party nominated the former Socialist mayor of Milwaukee, Dan Hoan, to lead the ticket. He raised the party’s vote from 98,000 in 1942 to 536,000 in 1944. The party then nominated a former Progressive stalwart, Stoughton’s Carl Thompson, who got the Democrats within 100,000 votes of the Republicans in 1950. But Thompson still lost.

...

Second, Wisconsin Democrats used to be not just proudly progressive and populist but also proudly at odds with national Democrats. Wisconsin Democrats spoke a language that was distinct to Wisconsin — in much the same way that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party still speaks a language that is distinct to that state. Imagine what could have happened if, in 2014, Wisconsin Democrats had run a campaign that rejected the tone-deaf “messaging” of national Democratic strategists and presented their party as a maverick party with a distinct vision: aggressively critical of national Democrats who work with authoritarian Republicans on issues like trade policy and domestic surveillance; fiercely libertarian on issues such as legalization of marijuana; fiercely traditional when it comes to sustaining family farms, rural schools and small-town Wisconsin; proudly populist in its commitment to raising wages for working Wisconsinites (Scott Walker should have taken a hammering in debates and in ads on these issues).

Third, Wisconsin Democrats used to recognize that it took more than last-minute “mobilization” of voters to win elections. The Democratic Party that Gaylord Nelson and Pat Lucey forged was a permanent project that poured time and energy into building county parties and electing sheriffs and clerks. No election was too small, no corner of the state too remote. Elected officials thought of themselves as organizers. Nelson, who proudly noted that he never asked for a campaign contribution, expected to be outspent. Proxmire took on millionaire Republicans, like Walter Kohler, with barely enough money to pay for gas. Both men would have been aghast at the notion of trying to win an election merely by building up a war chest, going on television and “mobilizing” voters in safe Democratic wards.

Fourth, the Wisconsin Democratic Party at its strongest was both urban and rural. The breakthrough win for modern Democrats in legislative contests didn’t come in Madison or Milwaukee; it came in Crawford County in 1948, when Pat Lucey beat the Republican Assembly speaker and proved Democrats could compete statewide. Except for a few counties in the northwest and the southwest, Democrats lost the vast majority of rural Wisconsin in 2014. The party may be able to scrape by for a little longer in high-turnout presidential elections, but it will not make a comeback in statewide politics until it is again a truly statewide party.


Last night's dance at the King, Wisconsin Veterans Home (pic heavy)

The Veterans Home at King, Wisconsin is home to ...
339 Army Vets
131 Navy Vets
91 Marine Corps Vets
104 Air Force Vets
2 Coast Guard Vets

Every year on Veterans Day the King Home hosts a dance and party for the residents. It's a great chance for volunteers to show their appreciation for these disabled vets.

The Justmann Band orchestra provided the music ...



The vets really enjoy dancing ...













Some seem to enjoy it more than others ...



And of course not all the vets are men ...






Special thanks to all the volunteer who showed up to make this day special for these disabled vets.

Can anyone comment on this Forbes article re: MD's facing a 24% cut in Medicare/Medicaid rates?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2013/12/02/doctors-facing-a-24-pay-cut-in-both-medicare-and-medicaid-reimbursements/

Doctors seeing Medicare patients face a 24 percent cut in reimbursements beginning January 1. But almost no one has grasped that those cuts will hit Medicaid too—thanks to Obamacare. Unless Congress acts, we’re likely to see a huge exodus of doctors who will not accept either Medicare or Medicaid patients.

In 1997 Congress passed legislation, known as the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR), to try and reduce Medicare spending. If Medicare spending grew faster than a predetermined amount, doctors’ Medicare reimbursements would be cut the next year by enough to offset the overspending.

Not surprisingly, Medicare spending didn’t hit the target rate, and, again not surprisingly, Congress didn’t want doctors to take the financial hit. So Congress has passed legislation, known as the “Doc Fix,” multiple times to postpone the cuts and keep the reimbursement levels roughly the same.

But those postponed deficits keep piling up, and come January doctors will see, on average, a 24 percent cut in Medicare reimbursement levels. And here comes the double whammy: Medicaid reimbursements will face the same 24 percent cut.



Interesting that Forbes says "thanks to Obamacare" but clearly states it's a 1997 law (SGR) that's at play here.

I'm going to the Veterans Home in King, Wisconsin tonight ....

There's an annual gathering and dance on Veterans Day there, a chance to offer support and to socialize with the disabled vets who reside in the facility.

When someone tells me they're thinking of enlisting in the armed forces, I often recommend they first volunteer at one of the Veterans Homes here in Wisconsin - King, Chippewa Falls or Union Grove.

All kinds of assistance is needed ....



If you're not in Wisconsin, check for Veterans Homes in your state.

About that old man, the one the Republicans called a "taker" ....

Open Letter to Democrats on Young Voter Dissillusion

from my email ...

26-Year Old Founder of U.S. UnCut Sends Open Letter To Democrats On Young Voter Disillusion

Open Letter to Democrats From a Disillusioned Young Voter
By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News
07 November 14
Dear Democrats,

Are you listening? President Obama says he hears us. He says that people don’t have a reason to show up to vote if the politicians they have to choose from don’t motivate them. He’s partially right. But that’s only part of a much larger problem. To all you would-be elected officials looking for my generation’s support at the polls, listen closely – get populist or get ready to lose bad.

2014’s low voter turnout was historic. Voter turnout actually hasn’t been this low since the 1940s. As Mother Jones pointed out, voter turnout for people under 30 was dismal. In this election, people like me only made up 12 percent of those who voted, while people aged 60 and older made up almost 40 percent of total voters. In 2012, when President Obama was re-elected and Congressional Democrats made gains in the House and Senate, millennials made up almost one-fifth of all voters, and voters 60 and older made up just 25 percent of the electorate, bringing us a little closer to a tie. It isn’t hard to see the difference – this year, Republicans steamrolled you, Democrats, because most of us stayed home and let our Fox-watching uncles and grandparents decide on who was going to represent everyone else.

So how do older people pick who runs Congress? Like every other voting bloc, they pick the ones who run on issues most important to them. And as Vox reported, data consistently shows that younger people want their tax dollars spent on education and job creation. Older voters want their money spent on Social Security and war. The Republicans who swept the U.S. Senate ran largely on fear campaigns over ISIS, promising to be more hawkish than their opponents in an eagerness to pour money and troops into Iraq and Syria to snuff out America’s newest boogeyman.

Contrast the unified Republican message with the profound silence from you Democrats on addressing the trillion-dollar student debt crisis, rampant inequality and underemployment, and your collective fear of openly embracing economic populism, and you cook up what we saw on Tuesday night. Older people showed up, highly motivated to elect war hawks. Younger people mostly stayed home, disillusioned with the only alternative on the ballot who didn’t even talk about the issues affecting our lives every day.

The few of us who did show up to vote largely did it to support state ballot initiatives that actually mattered in our daily lives. We still voted to raise the minimum wage in 4 states to a slightly more respectable amount, and to $15 an hour in San Francisco. We voted for a week of paid sick days in Massachusetts, and for marijuana legalization in three more states (okay, well, DC isn’t a state yet, but it definitely will be by the time we’re grandparents). We voted to turn nonviolent drug offenses from felonies into misdemeanors in California. We even boosted high voter turnout in Michigan for Gary Peters, a Democrat who made climate change – something we’ll have to confront long after the boomers are gone – his top issue. We just didn’t vote for Democrats who haven’t done anything for us since we voted for them in 2012, and who brazenly took our votes for granted this year.

Even though the Republicans have made it clear they won’t raise the minimum wage, legalize marijuana, or address climate change as long as they’re in power, they at least have a unified message that appeals to enough people who share their values. They can also communicate that message in a confident way. The Republican platform comes in easy-to-remember, tweet-sized sentences. We all know their buzzwords – “national security,” “family values,” “free markets.” That may translate to endless war, homophobia, and corporate feudalism for the better-informed, but for most people, those are catch phrases they can get behind.

You Democrats, on the other hand, looked pitiful in the year leading up to the midterms. You didn’t seem to stand for anything in particular, you just pointed the finger at the other guy, told us they were bad, and that you weren’t like them. That’s not enough. Take a risk, be bold. Get behind Elizabeth Warren’s 0.75 percent interest rate for student loans. Allow student debt to be abolished with bankruptcy. Push for single-payer healthcare, or at the very least a public health insurance option. Need some catchy buzzwords? Try “affordable education,” “good jobs,” and “healthy families.”

President Obama hit the nail on the head – we won’t show up and vote for you if you aren’t offering us anything real. If Democrats want to stay relevant, they’ll have to learn to stop taking us for granted and actually make an effort to get our votes. Simply banking on being the lesser evil and having that be enough won’t cut it any longer.
_____

Carl Gibson, 26, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. You can contact him at carl@rsnorg.org, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.

Forget the 1% It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21631129-it-001-who-are-really-getting-ahead-america-forget-1

A new paper by Mr Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics reckons past estimates badly underestimated the share of wealth belonging to the very rich. It uses a richer variety of sources than prior studies, including detailed data on personal income taxes (which the authors mine for figures on capital income) and property tax, which they check against Fed data on aggregate wealth. The authors note that not every potential source of error can be accounted for; tax avoidance strategies, for instance, could cause either an overestimation of the wealth share of the rich (if they classify labour income as capital income in order to take advantage of lower rates) or an underestimation (if they intentionally seek out lower yielding investments for their tax advantages). Yet they believe their estimates represent an improvement over past attempts.

The results are enough to make Mr Piketty blush. The authors examine the share of total wealth held by the bottom 90% of families relative to those at the very top. Because the bottom half of all families almost always has no net wealth, the share of wealth held by the bottom 90% is an effective measure of “middle class” wealth, or that held by those from the 50th to the 90th percentile. In the late 1920s the bottom 90% held just 16% of America’s wealth—considerably less than that held by the top 0.1%, which controlled a quarter of total wealth just before the crash of 1929. From the beginning of the Depression until the end of the second world war, the middle class’s share of total wealth rose steadily, thanks largely to collapsing wealth among richer households. Thereafter the middle class’s share grew along with national wealth thanks to broader equity ownership, middle-class income growth and rising rates of home-ownership. The expansion of tax breaks for retirement savings also helped. By the early 1980s the share of household wealth held by the middle class rose to 36%—roughly four times the share controlled by the top 0.1%.

From the early 1980s, however, these trends have reversed. The ratio of household wealth to national income has risen back toward the level of the 1920s, but the share in the hands of middle-class families has tumbled (see chart). Tepid growth in middle-class incomes is partly to blame; real incomes for the top 1% of families grew 3.4% a year from 1986-2012 while those for the bottom 90% grew 0.7%. But Messrs Saez and Zucman reckon the main cause of falling middle-class net worth is soaring debt. Rising home values did little to raise middle-class wealth since mortgage debt also soared. The recession battered home prices but left the debt untouched, further squeezing middle-class wealth.

The really, really rich get much, much richer

On the other side of the spectrum, the fortunes of the wealthy have grown, especially at the very top. The 16,000 families making up the richest 0.01%, with an average net worth of $371m, now control 11.2% of total wealth—back to the 1916 share, which is the highest on record. Those down the distribution have not done quite so well: the top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America’s wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak—and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population. Meanwhile the share of wealth held by families from the 90th to the 99th percentile has actually fallen over the last decade, though not by as much as the net worth of the bottom 90%.

Why is Denmark the happiest country in the world?

Can we agree that capitalism has some rough edges?

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