The REAL Paul Ryan GM Janesville record – politics over people

Paul Ryan has been representing Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District since 1999. Ryan’s recent statements inferring that Barack Obama could have possibly saved the Janesville GM plant in 2009 are, at best, misleading; to be blunt, they are lies – especially as Ryan’s own record proves he knows better.

A report released as early as July, 2005 was an early warning that the Janesville plant was vulnerable to closing.  The study predicted decreased demand for SUVs manufactured at the Janesville plant, largely due to rising oil and gas prices:

If the cost of a barrel of oil rises to $80 or $100, possibly due to a supply disruption, gas prices would reach $2.86 to $3.37, according to the study, which may be enough to drive down demand for SUVs and larger pickup trucks.

The changes that this would bring would gravely impact the auto workers and the communities these manufacturers are in, said Walter S. McManus of the Transportation Research Institute.

Was it possible Ryan was unaware of this situation? Considering this report was cited in a July 28, 2005 article in the Wisconsin State Journal – not likely. Fast forward to 2008…

On June 3, 2008, Ryan issued a statement in response to the GM announcement that the closing of the Janesville plant by 2010 was imminent:

“Today’s news is downright gut-wrenching for Janesville. Growing up and living in Janesville, this is something we’ve always feared…It is my hope that as this 2010 shutdown date approaches, Janesville will be in a better position to reverse this decision.”

The same day, June 3, 2008, Ryan, Kohl, and Feingold issued a joint response to GM CEO G. Richard Wagoner. A key part of their response:

We ask that you reconsider the decision to close the Janesville GM plant and request a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss GM’s plans for the Janesville plant, including the possibility of retooling the plant for different production lines.

Clearly, Ryan knew in mid-2008 the plant would be closing within the year.

In September 2008 Ryan and other state leaders, including Senators Kohl and Feingold, and then-Governor Jim Doyle scrambled to convince GM to keep the plant open. Ryan flew to Detroit with Jim Doyle that month to present an unprecedented package to GM Executives. The union concessions, combined with state and local tax breaks, amounted to a $195 million package for GM. Ryan also personally lobbied GM executives to keep the plant open. Again, clearly, Ryan was aware of the impending closure.

On October 13, 2008, Ryan issued a press release in response to the GM Janesville plant closing announcement:

GM’s decision to end production of their SUVs at the end of this year gets at the heart of our economic crisis. Today’s announcement is disappointing, although not surprising given the drop-off of sales of SUVs. (emphasis mine)

The press release itself refers back to the 2005 study (cited above) warning of the closure of the Janesville plant. In his own words, Ryan acknowledges the timing of the Janesville plant closure. By his own actions, he confirms the desperate attempts by Wisconsin officials to keep the plant open; in spite of the failing Bush economy.

Ryan even broke with his own party at the end of 2008 in a last-ditch attempt to save the Janesville plant; and to save face in his District. In November 2008, Ryan was quoted in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as being opposed to pending auto-industry bailout legislation:

Like most Republicans and a number of Democrats, Ryan opposes using part of the $700 billion financial bailout package to help the ailing industry, arguing it would not be the proper use of those funds.

“This is not what the (money) is for or should be for,” he said. “It was to save the broader economy from crashing.”

After the Thanksgiving recess, Ryan returned to Congress and voted against his party, to pass HR7321 on December 10, 2008. The legislation (sponsored by Barney Frank D-MA) approved $14 billion in auto industry bailout money. Ryan was 1 of only 32 Republicans to vote for the bill in  a 237-170 passage. Was this a last-ditch attempt to give GM resources  to re-open the Janesville plant? Or a political ploy to save face in his own district – ravaged by plant closings on his watch…

The Ryan record of words and actions are clear. Paul Ryan is now attempting to re-write the history and record of the Janesville GM plant closing. He leaves behind the workers in his district whose lives were turned upside-down; and moves ahead with his political career – taking no responsibility for the closing on his (and George W. Bush’s) watch.

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Facts elude Scott Walker…along with the truth

Scott Walker’s press release on August 29th fired a shot across the border at Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Illinois from A+ to A with a “negative outlook.” From the Walker press release:

There could not be a more stark contrast between Wisconsin and Illinois. Political leaders in Illinois kicked the can down the road, raised taxes, and ignored fiscal realities.  Now, they’re realizing the consequences of their actions: credit downgrades and negative outlooks. Wisconsin balanced a $3.6 billion budget deficit without raising taxes, reducing services, cutting Medicaid, or engaging in any massive public employee layoffs.  We enacted long‐term structural reforms, which led to another bond house giving our current budget a “credit positive” outlook.

Walker omits the critical part of the story, resulting in a lie of omission. His attempt to take credit for an already sound fiscal policy has been completely missed by Wisconsin media. The Chicago Tribune gets it right:

The agency lowered the state’s credit rating from A+ to A, citing a “lack of action” on changes aimed at lowering the pension system’s unfunded liability that could hit $93 billion by next summer if nothing is done.

The downgrade was regarding the Illinois pension fund – which had been raided to offset budget deficits over a period of several years. The Walker Administration, desperate to receive positive press, is taking credit for a sound state pension fund which Walker inherited; and whose policies to date have had zero impact on. Walker omits this critical piece of information in his press release. The Wisconsin press corps has yet to call out Walker on this lie of omission. 

This is consistent with Walker’s behavior in making public statements throughout his term in office. At the GOP Convention last night, Walker repeated the persistent lie of Barack Obama being responsible for the Janesville GM plant closing. In this case, Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, and Al Sharpton call him out on national television; letting Walker paint himself into an uncomfortable corner – all the while maintaining the lie.

The record is clear. GM officially closed the Janesville plant on December 23, 2008; laying off 1,200 workers. A small crew of several dozen workers stayed on to complete a small order of trucks under contract to Isuzu. Yesterday’s Politifact (August 29, 2012) makes this clear, rating Ryan’s assertion false; including the assertion that Obama “promised” to keep the plant open.

Perhaps the Wisconsin media misses this because the status quo is Walker lying. Watch for headlines when he actually tells the truth…or is indicted and forced to admit to the truth.

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Scott Walker is controlling the message…literally

Emails obtained by Badger Democracy confirm what has long been speculation. Conservative talk show hosts in Wisconsin, particularly the Metro Milwaukee market, get their talking points directly from the office of Governor Scott Walker.

Two sets of email chains specifically name Charlie Sykes, Vicky McKenna, and Jerry Bader in statewide broadcast radio; and former TMJ4 television Executive Producer Julie Pearl. The reach of these media outlets through syndication is virtually statewide; and is a flagrant use of on-air broadcast as a full-time campaign mechanism for the Walker Administration – outside of the campaign.

The first set of emails is from Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie to Governor’s staff, and Walker himself; though the email is redacted along with one other email address. The email is dated June 7, 2011:Important to note the contact is initiated by Cullen Werwie to Charlie Sykes on Monday, June 5; soliciting an appearance for Walker on June 9 to explain how his reforms are already “producing positive results.” Sykes confirms, and Werwie replies on June 7, sending an attachment titled “6.9.11 Bader Sykes McKenna briefing”

The “Meeting Briefing” for the radio hosts is an outline of talking points, strategically planned for not only Walker’s interviews; but for the hosts themselves.

The audio archive of Sykes’ show from June 9, 2011 shows that all major points from the above briefing were discussed – many with Walker himself. The CEO ranking and “job creators” message, supposed savings for local schools, and the Middleton/Cross Plains teacher arbitration issue were all discussed in the Walker interview. Sykes touches on the other primary points during the balance of his show.

The Jerry Bader show from June 10, 2011 was staged as a “call-in” show for Walker’s segment. The points covered during this segment encompass most of the memo. Walker’s fiscal reforms already working, increased pension and health premium contributions by teachers saving districts money, local government savings, and the favorable CEO rankings/”job creators” message were all discussed during this call.

Badger Democracy was unable to obtain audio archive of Vicky McKenna’s June 9, 2011 show – a Clear Channel staffer informed BD that older podcasts had been removed.

WTMJ television producer Julie Pearl receives a solicitation on June 1 from Werwie for a Walker appearance on the morning show. This after Werwie gives a “no comment” to the status of Act 10, after Judge Sumi struck down the law in May, 2011. Just days after the “no comment” response, Werwie replies to Pearl – “Julie, can you give me a call when you get a chance today? I think I’ve got an offer TMJ might be interested in. Give me a call on my direct line (redacted).”

On page 2 Werwie gives Pearl a full briefing on the event, and includes Tonette Walker in the appearance:

On page 3, same day, Pearl replies “Would love to have them on.” Werwie promises exclusivity, noting it is the Walker’s first joint appearance since inauguration:

Page 4, same day (June 1), and Pearl expresses her gratitude: “Thanks Cullen! And thank you for giving us the opportunity to have the Governor and Tonette on. It means a lot!” The email also brings in Tonette Walker’s scheduler Annie Nolan for the final itinerary:

Just days later, June 7, as Werwie is also coordinating the radio media blitz for Walker, he again solicits an appearance from Pearl – this time with a friendly “smiley face” for emphasis. Pearl replies in kind, saying “Definitely want this.” How professional…

In the final exchange from June 8-9, 2011; Werwie expresses thanks for having Walker on the morning show. Pearl responds in kind, and offers a spot for Tonette Walker to talk about “how she’s dealing with things – dealing with the attacks on her family re the collective bargaining law.” The email is forwarded to Nolan and Tonette Walker (email redacted).

The emails reveal a blatant use of mainstream media posing as news organizations; for campaign purposes posing as state business.

In a statement to Badger Democracy, Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski raised grave concern over this practice:

If it is not illegal it certainly is unethical for these broadcast corporations to be providing propaganda support in a scheme straight out of the Kremlin’s playbook. The employers at WTMJ and the other stations should explain how they are independent of the Walker administration and how their hours and hours of slavishly positive-and now, we see, coordinated-coverage fits within their own ethical guidelines and the rules and laws of Wisconsin and the United States.
The idea that the government can so directly control broadcasters who use public airwaves represents a major crisis for Wisconsin journalism.
As long as reporters and broadcast “journalists” are in collusion with conservative politicians like Walker, reporting political agenda as news, democracy is in serious trouble. Zielinski also points out that progressive talk show host John “Sly” Sylvester is never given “talking points,” and has, on many occasions, disagreed with Democratic Party officials and candidates.
For the record, a WTMJ spokesperson referred Badger Democracy to corporate counsel – no response has been received. WTAQ station manager referred Badger Democracy to Jerry Bader who is solely responsible for his content. Bader is in Tampa and has not responded to emails. WIBA also had no comment beyond stating that the memo represented basic show preparation for McKenna.
An explanation should be required by WTMJ, WISN, WTAQ, and their affiliates. Don’t hold your breath as the hypocrisy continues…
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DOJ referred to take over civil forfeitures by Capitol Police; Dane Cty DA clarifies “agreement” with DOJ

Wisconsin Department of Justice spokesperson Dana Brueck confirmed via email to Badger Democracy this morning that the Department of Justice received a referral from Capitol Police to prosecute civil forfeitures at the Capitol.

WI Statute 16.846(2) states, in part :

An action for a forfeiture under sub. (1) (b) 2.may be brought by the department, by the department of justice at the request of the department, or by a district attorney.

Brueck confirmed the request was made by the Capitol Police, under the Department of Administration. Brueck also stated, “we don’t have the authority to direct DA Ozanne to do anything…We are working with his office…”

In a phone interview this morning, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne clarified the nature of his office’s “agreement” with DOJ. Ozanne stated his office met with DOJ after the referral and policy change went into effect. He said he would not characterize it as an “agreement.” Merely DOJ acting within their jurisdiction.

The Dane County DA will continue to receive copies of all civil cases referred to DOJ for prosecution, and will continue to handle criminal prosecutions. That is the extent of the “agreement.” Ozanne’s office was not consulted before this change in policy went into effect.

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WMC, Corporate Conservatives pushing the lie of government regulation costs

A filing with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission this week requested the deregulation of public utilities. In its filing, the “Compete Coalition” cites the need for “free market” principles to reduce costs to consumers:

“Electricity consumers can only win if Wisconsin takes steps to reduce the adverse impact of protected monopolies and adopts laws and policies allowing competitive market forces to provide incentives for increased efficiencies, lowest available costs, and environmental improvements.”

The Compete Coalition is a front group for Washington DC lobbyists affiliated with three powerful firms – Wexler & Walker PPA, The Nickles Group, and Covington & Burling LLC. Each of these firms individually spend tens of millions of dollars annually on behalf of corporations looking to influence energy, health, and financial legislation. In addition, Compete Coalition members contribute millions more to this lobbying effort. The group’s request with the PSC is, in reality, self-serving, and holds no benefit for taxpayers or consumers. Further study reveals this to be the case with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) and conservative lawmakers’ calls for regulation reform.

In its 2011-2012 Legislative Policy Agenda, WMC lists “foster a competitive regulatory environment” as first priority. According to WMC, regulation easing and reform:

…will improve the business climate by
reducing the costs and barriers to business expansion and job creation, imposed by government.

On July 26, 2012, WMC praised Congressman Reid Ribble’s (R-WI 8th CD) “Midnight Rule Relief Act,” passed by the House as part of the “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Jobs Creation Act” (HR 4078). Ribble’s Act would serve to:

…have an economic impact of $100 million or more annually with the exception for emergency health, safety, criminal, and national security purposes.

Just one day before, Ribble spoke in support of the bill; citing the high cost of regulation and impact on job creation. In the remarks, Ribble speaks from experience as a small businessman – suggesting that data to the contrary be ignored in favor of his anecdotal testimony.

Yesterday (August 23, 2012) Green Bay Rep. John Klenke (R-88th) issued a statement praising an activist Appeals Court opinion striking down EPA authority to strengthen coal emissions standards. According to Klenke’s statement:

These mandates are also costing thousands of jobs yet provide marginal  environmental benefit.”

Conservative think-tanks and “scholars” have published their own studies supporting policy advocates like WMC, and conservative legislators like Klenke.  The most highly regarded and cited study was commissioned by the Small Business Association Advocacy Office in 2010, “The Impact of Regulatory Costs on Small Firms” by Nicole V. Crain, Lafayette College. The study quantifies the regulatory costs to business at $1.75 trillion. For conservative legislators and corporate, free market advocates, that number is gospel. In reality – it misses the big picture, ignoring significant data. Just how does regulation impact jobs and the economy?

For the first time, in 2011, The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a report to Congress on the costs of regulation and unfunded federal mandates. The key findings show that current regulation benefits far outweigh the costs to taxpayers:

1. The estimated annual benefits of major Federal regulations reviewed by OMB from October 1, 2000, to September 30, 2010, for which agencies estimated and monetized both benefits and costs, are in the aggregate between $132 billion and $655 billion, while the estimated annual costs are in the aggregate between $44 billion and $62 billion.

2. Some rules are estimated to produce far higher net benefits than others. Moreover, there is substantial variation across agencies in the total net benefits produced by rules. For example, the air pollution rules from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) produced 62 to 84 percent of the benefits and 46 to 53 percent of the costs.Most rules have net benefits, but several rules have net costs, typically as a result of statutory requirements.

To reiterate – the benefit to taxpayers of current regulations and mandates far outweighs the costs – particularly EPA regulations. Benefits measured include medical/health benefits as life expectancy and cost savings, environmental safety and protection, and actual costs of programs. These benefits include protections and benefits to business – not just consumers.

But government regulations are “job killers…” Are they? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) documents statistical reasons for business closings and layoffs. In the most recent release of Mass Layoff Statistics (MLS) (August 14, 2012), the numbers clearly show that government regulation has a very small impact on employment.

In 2011-2012, Government Regulation/Intervention  accounted for 8 of 3,100 Mass Layoff events (.2%). By contrast, 301 layoff events were caused by “insufficient demand” (10%).

In 2011-2012, Government Regulation accounted for 1,218 separations (individuals) out of a total of 563,447 separations (.2%). “Insufficient demand” caused 38,788 separations (7%).

A five-year study published in 2010 by the BLS shows the data is consistent. From 2006-2010 there were 3,815 Mass Layoff Events; 26 were a result of Government Regulation (0.7%). Of 851,767 separations, 7,843 were a result of regulation (0.09%). This data is based on surveys of the affected businesses.

The facts do not bear out the argument against necessary regulation; nor do they support deregulation as a cost/job saving mechanism. In fact, the very Crain/SBA study being cited by conservatives as proof of economy – killing regulatory practices appears to be a fraud.

Sidney Shapiro, Professor of Law at Wake Forest Law School, examined why the $1.75 trillion regulatory costs  cited in the Crain/SBA study (link above) far exceeded the $62 Billion cited by the OMB study (link above).

Crain’s calculations for the regulations not covered by OMB’s report appear to be based largely on a decidedly unusual data source for economists – public opinion polling, the results of which Crain and Crain massage into a massive, but unsupported estimate of the costs of “economic” regulations.

That’s right – they extrapolated data not from actual statistics, but opinion polling. The skewering of the study continues.

Crain and Crain have refused to make their underlying data or calculations public – apparently even withholding them from the Small Business Administration office that contracted for the study — it is difficult to know precisely how they arrived at the result that economic regulation has a cost of $1.2 trillion dollars, comprising more than 70 percent of the total costs in their report.

Secret data based on opinion polling. Not a good source for an economic “study.” It turns out even the source of the poll used disputes the validity of the data from the poll.

…their numbers are based on the results of public opinion polling, specifically a poll concerning the business climate of countries that has been collected in a World Bank report. The authors of the World Bank report warn that its results should not be used for exactly the type of extrapolations made by Crain and Crain, because their underlying data are too crude.

The self-serving attacks by the corporatic Robber Barons aimed at regulation have no valid place in a responsible debate on governance. The very studies they commission and cite are a fraud. The data are sifted and sorted to support a foregone conclusion, receive no peer review, and are used for one purpose – to influence gullible, ideologically driven legislators.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “…facts are stubborn things.” Things too ignored today by conservatives.

(BD note: WMC and Congressman Ribble were contacted for a response to this article by phone and email on August 22, 2012. They did not respond)

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The Day the First Amendment died under US Senator Ron Johnson


The First Amendment to the US Constitution: 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

At a small GOP gathering in a reserved room at the Monona Terrace today for Mitt Romney, the GOP and US Senator Ron Johnson dealt a blow to “freedom of the press.” Dylan Brogan, credentialed journalist with WTDY radio in Madison, was escorted out of the event by Madison Police.

Badger Democracy will update as information is available. Inquiries to Madison Police, the Romney Wisconsin Campaign and Senator Johnson’s Wisconsin and Washington DC offices have yet to be returned.

UPDATE – 4:45pm – Ben Sparks, Romney campaign spokesman, told Badger Democracy that he informed WTDY reporter Dylan Brogan that he was being denied access to campaign events. After which time Brogan created a disturbance and was escorted out by police. Sparks characterized the access denial as a “time out” for Brogan and WTDY based on previous campaign event disturbances caused by “WTDY” staff, not disturbances caused by Brogan himself.

Dylan Brogan’s report is found on this link with extended audio

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Breaking News : Van Hollen asks Supreme Court to act on Voter ID…again

Breaking News: Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen has asked the Wisconsin State Supreme Court to immediately bypass the Court of Appeals in two cases, and take up the controversial Voter ID legislation, now on hold in two Dane County Circuit Court cases. The law was put on hold by Judges Flanagan and Niess, and is pending in two separate Appellate cases.

The AG’s motion seeks to consolidate the two cases in the Supreme Court; and would have the State Supreme Court bypass the cases pending in the Courts of Appeals. In a statement, AG Van Hollen makes clear his motivation for the motions filed today:

My action today, now allowed under the Court’s rules of procedure, gives the Wisconsin Supreme Court another opportunity to bring prompt, clear resolution to the law and settle this matter in advance of the November elections.

In April, the state’s high court refused to take up the Voter ID issue, in a brief, single sentence denial of the motion; in advance of the May and June recall elections. This is Van Hollen’s second attempt to have the Court bypass the Appeals Court hearings.

There are currently two Federal cases pending on the Voter ID law – Bettye Jones, et al. v. David G. Deininger, et al., Case No. 12-CV-185, and Ruthelle Frank, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al., Case No. 11-CV-1128. Trial dates are pending for those cases.

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Tommy Thompson – a Bain Capital connection with much to hide, everything to lose

In 2003 when Tommy Thompson was still George Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), an extraordinary amount of money was spent lobbying for Medicare prescription drug reform. Powerful lobbyists represented global pharmaceutical interests at HHS, and spent millions of dollars to gain profitable “reform” to prescription drug laws. Leading the charge was Secretary Thompson’s future partners at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer, and Feld; spending $2,020,000 on the effort (see page 28 of the document).  What Thompson has never disclosed is his firms’ financial connection to Bain Capital – possibly one reason he is hiding his tax returns for the past 10 years.

In addition to the 2003 Medicare profiteering for Thompson, the companies he worked for in 2006 stood to profit greatly from reforms to Medicaid. The shift to greater state-managed programs turned out to be a boom for Thompson and his employers:

Thompson, who served during President Bush’s first term, is on the board of Centene Corp., a St. Louis-based company that operates Medicaid-funded health maintenance organizations in Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. His proposals to move more Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured people onto such (state) plans could improve the company’s bottom line.

Thompson also is chairman of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, part of Deloitte & Touche USA LLP, a consulting firm that has contracted with states to help improve their Medicaid programs. (BD note – Deloitte now manages Medicaid health systems and reporting in Wisconsin)

Immediately after leaving the Bush Administration in 2005, Thompson took a number of high level positions. Two of the most visible were at Deloitte (Adviser and Independent Chairman) and Akin Gump (as a partner).  Thompson became part of the “revolving door” culture of Washington DC, far removed from Elroy, Wisconsin.

The most recent financial statement from Thompson, reported earlier this year, list Thompson’s assets at $13 million.  The last Public Financial Disclosure Statement available for Thompson is from 2006, when he was briefly a Presidential Candidate. The disclosure is only one year removed from his time at HHS; and is revealing as to where Thompson gets his millions, how he got them, and why he won’t turn over his taxes. Here are some income highlights:

Deloitte Touche – $1,062,500

Picis (Healthcare solutions) – $90,000

Novartis – $200,000

Heritage Medical Systems – $200,000

AGA Medical – $180,000

Pure Bioscience – $237,500

Akin Gump LLP – $1,148,421 (Income only)

To be clear – in 2006, one year after leaving the Bush Administration and deciding to not serve a second term; Thompson was paid over $1 million by a key lobbying firm for powerful and profitable (because of Thompson’s efforts) pharmaceuticals. In 2007, just one year later, Thompson and his partners at Akin Gump began representing a different type of interest – financial.

Records show that in 2007 – just before the largest economic recession since the Great Depression; Akin Gump began representing Bain Capital in lobbying for favorable securities and investment policy/legislation. Thompson and partners were paid $500,000 by Bain in 2007. In 2008, Akin Gump was paid $480,000 by Bain for financial lobbying efforts. The economy has crashed and jobs have been outsourced through the actions of firms like Bain; Thompson and his partners continue to reap the benefits.

The list of top contributors to Thompson’s current campaign  include a $20,750 contribution from Akin Gump (among other health care interests). Akin Gump still lobbies for Bain Capital.

This is not the Tommy Thompson that served as Governor of Wisconsin and negotiated with public employee unions. Thompson has changed. His refusal to disclose his taxes in light of historical information above is troubling – as it begs the question, whom does he serve? The new Tommy Thompson is far removed from the farm, has much to hide, and everything to lose.

That makes him dangerous.

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New Job Numbers and Paul Ryan – Fiscal Fraud, Moral Hypocrisy

Paul Ryan is being characterized by Republicans and main stream media alike as a “serious, wonkish, economic whiz kid.” He is the quintessential conservative; saviour of capitalism and the free market. Even Democratic pundits and politicians are saying “he’s a good guy”. Here’s something you won’t hear in the mainstream media – the disciple of Ayn Rand is an economic fraud. Moreover, he’s a hypocrite. Ryan recently denied following the philosophy of Ayn Rand, in spite of his own words and actions showing he wholly embraces Rand’s worldview.

The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data indicates that the 1st Congressional District continues to suffer under policies Ryan has supported since taking office in 1999. In-depth analyses of the Ryan Budget prove it would make a bad situation worse.

The data released today from the BLS was more bad news for the Walker Administration, and DWD Secretary Reggie Newson wasted no time refuting and spinning the data.   The bottom line – Wisconsin’s job “growth” continues to be anemic (that for another day). Badger Democracy wanted to present the data on Ryan’s district with a statistical measure accepted by the Walker Administration. In this case, using the “Local Area Unemployment Statistics” (LAUS) which Newson accepts per his press release today.

For the record – Paul Ryan began serving the 1st CD in 1999. Since then, the nation has experienced 8 years of Bush fiscal policies; for which Ryan has been a staunch advocate. It could be said the Ryan Budget is Bush fiscal policy on steroids – massive cuts in government spending, privatizing of Medicare, cuts to Medicaid, lower taxes on the top-tier earners, corporate rate cuts…how has that policy been working in Ryan’s home district?

Badger Democracy retrieved data from the BLS today, August 16, from the LAUS for key areas in Ryan’s District – Janesville, Kenosha County, Racine County, and Walworth County; from January 1999 – June 2012. The results are available in pdf format here : Bureau of Labor Statistics Data 1999-2012

Unemployment Rate:

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 3.8%     June 2012 – 8.6%

Racine County – January 1999 – 5.5%        June 2012 – 9.2%

Walworth County – January 1999 – 3.1%   June 2012 – 7.8%

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 3.8%    June 2012 – 9.9%

Unemployment (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 3,121     June 2012 – 7,528

Racine County – January 1999 – 5,089        June 2012 – 9,222

Walworth County – January 1999 – 1,625   June 2012 – 4,341

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 1,249    June 2012 – 3,212

Even in contrast to 2007, just prior to the economic crash, as in Wisconsin, Ryan’s district shows virtually zero growth in jobs. The real nature of the jobs crisis resulting from conservative fiscal policy is evident in the employment and labor force data.

Employment (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 79,320     June 2012 – 80,159

Racine County – January 1999 – 87,971        June 2012 – 90,898

Walworth County – January 1999 – 50,490   June 2012 – 51,173

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 31,478    June 2012 – 29,096

Labor Force (number of persons):

Kenosha County – January 1999 – 82,441     June 2012 – 87,687

Racine County – January 1999 – 93,060        June 2012 – 100,120

Walworth County – January 1999 – 52,115   June 2012 – 55,514

City of Janesville – January 1999 – 32,727    June 2012 – 32,308

Again, even in terms of 2007-2012, the creation of jobs does not keep up with population OR labor force growth in Wisconsin, and more specifically dramatic, Ryan’s District. Despite the claims of conservative ideologues Paul Ryan and Scott Walker – their fiscal policies are simply a fraud. They also demonstrate a gross hypocrisy in being accepted as “fiscally responsible.” To wit:

1. Ryan cuts $4.6 trillion in revenue, in tax breaks amounting to $240,000/year to the average 1%er. He makes this “revenue neutral” through “undisclosed closed loopholes.” In addition, a minimum of 14 million people would lose Medicaid coverage due to cuts as a “cost-saving” measure.

2. Ryan has been a vocal critic of monetary policy and government intervention in the bond market, sounding the alarm of inflation. He couldn’t be more wrong. Inflation has been kept in check throughout the recession and both Commodity Index and Treasury Bond rates are stable, if not declining.

3. Ryan’s budget plan projects a fantasy in discretionary spending, according to the Congressional Budget Office. All discretionary spending, now around 12 percent of GDP, shrinks to 3 percent of GDP by 2050. Defense spending alone was 4.7 percent of GDP in 2009. Paul Krugman summarizes it best…”This is just a fantasy, not a serious policy proposal.”

Paul Ryan himself recently admitted on FOX  that he hasn’t actually “crunched the numbers.”  Krugman and others have, and the facts demonstrate the fraud being perpetuated by Ryan, Walker, and their ilk. This is about power, ideology, and political expediency – thus Ryan’s sudden public rejection of Ayn Rand’s philosophy after being tapped for Romney’s VP pick.

Budgets are moral documents. Ryan’s budget tells us all we need to know about him. He doesn’t care about the people he actually represents. He is not a “good guy.” He is a bad man, who chooses fraudulent, hypocritical policies over responsible governance.

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Kathy Nickolaus destroying ballots? Waukesha County DA says “Nothing is being destroyed today”

UPDATE – Statement from Wisconsin GAB received at 4:30 regarding this story.

Today, the GAB contacted Waukesha County Corporation Counsel regarding claims that ballots and election materials from the June 5 Recall Election would be destroyed today.  The Waukesha County Corporation Counsel’s office indicated that these materials would be transferred to offsite storage today.  All further questions should be referred to Waukesha County Corporation Counsel or Clerk.  The G.A.B. is not authorized to provide Waukesha County with legal advice regarding the public records law, nor does the G.A.B. have any authority to enforce the public records law.

In a must-read Brad Blog article this morning; emails from Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus to election protection group legal counsel created a firestorm. Nickolaus referenced what would amount to illegally destroying election materials in the face of open records requests; which would preserve the ballots beyond the statutory-defined 30 days:

Unless I receive a court order by noon on Monday, August 13, 2012 directing otherwise, I will proceed to retain or destroy the election materials from the June 5, 2012 Recall election according to state statute and GAB guidelines.

This statement appears to be contrary to the GAB advice to County Clerks, sent in a July 3 email:

Ultimately, each county and municipality is subject to the application of Wisconsin’s public records laws and individually responsible for compliance therewith.  Failure to comply with public records laws does expose the counties and municipalities to civil penalties and potential attorney’s fees.  It is strongly recommended that you each obtain adequate legal counsel to appropriately comply with these public records requests, as well as maintain the chain of custody and integrity of the June 5, 2012 election materials. 

Badger Democracy contacted Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel for comment at 8:30 this morning. Schimel stated he knew nothing of the requests prior to this morning, expressed his concern about the Nickolaus situation, and “…now is not a good time to be destroying any election materials.” When asked about the Nickolaus emails, Schimel stated he would contact County Corporate Counsel Thomas Farley and call back with an update.

At 10:15 am, Corporate Counsel Farley called back Badger Democracy with only the following statement, citing attorney/client confidentiality:

Kathy Nickolaus, my client, will act responsibly.

Within minutes, DA Schimel called Badger Democracy with further information. After discussion with the County Clerk’s office, Schimel stated “Nothing is being destroyed today. Measures have been taken to preserve all election materials from the recall election, and things are on hold at this point.”

Schimel also expressed his concern in the situation in light of Nickolaus not seeking re-election for another term. Kathy Nickolaus is out of the office today, and unavailable for comment. Badger Democracy phoned Nickolaus’ private number and left a message. Updates will be posted if she responds.

Kathy Nickolaus likely sent the threatening email without consulting counsel. It would also appear that the DA and Corporate Counsel in Waukesha County are in damage control mode again – because of ever – vigilant citizen election protection groups…and Kathy Nickolaus. The pressure should be maintained in light of this information.

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