The economic ignoramus who would be governor

I have lived in this state my entire life (sometimes, I don’t know why), and I have voted in every election since the 1984 presidential primary.

In that time, I do not believe I have ever run into a candidate as ignorant about business as Tony Evers, who thinks he should be governor. Perhaps this isn’t a surprise given the fact that Evers has never had a private-sector job in his entire life.

The same could be said about Scott Walker, except that Walker learned somewhere along the way how business works and therefore made policy changes from the steaming pile of disaster that was this state in the late 2000s after Gov. James Doyle’s $2 billion tax increase. Doyle was at least correct about the importance of imports to this state’s economy. For that matter, Democratic Gov. Tony Earl at least paid attention to the issue of the state’s business climate. Democratic Gov. Patrick Lucey enacted the manufacturing and equipment property tax exemption, which has been law since the mid-1970s, through Republican and Democratic governors and legislatures.

Evers started by proposing to eliminate what now is the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit so that he could have more money for his voter base, public employee unions, specifically teacher unions. He then proposed to eliminate the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and replace it with nothing, though his candidate for lieutenant governor, Rep. Mandela Barnes (D–Milwaukee), wants to bring back the Department of Commerce, which under Doyle wasn’t very effective in promoting the state as a place to do business. (Regulatory agencies are about taking away, not improving.)

Evers and other Democrats have been borderline racist, by their own standards, in condemning Foxconn, which is interesting given that some of the biggest fans of Foxconn’s coming to Wisconsin is the UW System. (Maybe that’s why Evers says he hates going to UW Board of Regents meetings.) Democrats would be falling all over themselves congratulating themselves for bringing Foxconn and its 3,000 to 13,000 jobs had their party made the deal.

Doubling down, Evers said earlier this week that a minimum wage of $15 per hour is “minimum,” and, hey, maybe it should be higher. Evers evidently wants to bankrupt every small business in this state, another sign that Evers doesn’t know the first thing about how business or the economy work.

 

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From the party of “small” government

One reason why the Libertarian Party is likely to never gain a foothold in Wisconsin is that the poliitical culture of Wisconsin is extremely non-libertarian, with the party of big government currently in control over the party of bigger government.

Evidence comes from James Wigderson:

The state legislature could consider a bill that would require a liquor license for serving alcohol at many private events if the Tavern League and its allies in the legislature have their way. A draft billaimed at shutting down competition from agriculture event venues (AEV), often referred to as “wedding barns,” is being considered by the Legislative Council Study Committee on Alcohol Beverages Enforcement.

new memo released Tuesday afternoon from the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) warns that, just like a previous attempt by the Tavern League would have ended tailgating in Wisconsin, this bill could have some unintended consequences.

“The same folks who would’ve banned drinking beer while tailgating at Lambeau Field earlier this year are back at it again, only now their proposal would regulate drinking beer at private events like weddings and even at vacation homes and on pontoon boats,” said Lucas Vebber, deputy counsel for WILL. “Once again, this is an attempt by special interests in Madison to curtail freedom for Wisconsinites and use the heavy hand of government to shut down competition. What major policy problem this legislation solves continues to be a mystery to us.”

Under the current law, private events are not required to have liquor licenses provided that alcohol is not sold on the premises. This has allowed an emerging industry of alternative venues for private events, including on privately-owned farms that have rental space for weddings, corporate gatherings and other private events.

The Tavern League has sought to “level the playing field” by trying to force AEVs to get liquor licenses with all of the regulations that come with even though the wedding barn operators have no intention of operating bars that are open to the public. The requirement would not only be costly, forcing many of the AEVs to shut down, but in many communities the number of liquor licenses are extremely limited in availability because of a state law that enforces a quota on each municipality – a law also supported by the Tavern League.

The new proposed law could prohibit the legal consumption of alcohol at many private events and would require a license or permit for when people consume alcohol on rental property.

The Legislative Council Study Committee on Alcohol Beverages Enforcement studying the draft bill targeting AEVs is dominated by the Tavern League and its allies, including the chairman Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander), a supper club owner and a former president of the Tavern League. No owner of an AEV was allowed to serve on the committee.

The study committee has discussed a number of issues regarding AEVs, including many issues that have nothing to do with state alcohol policy, in order to justify state regulation of the wedding barns to limit competition for the Tavern League.

However, the draft bill being considered by the committee may do more than attack the wedding barn industry. The bill is very similar to the proposed legislation that would have had the unintended consequences of banning tailgating at major sporting events such as Packer and Brewers games. According to Vebber, the bill now carves out exemptions for those types of events.

But the legislation still has issues beyond its purpose to try to kill a part of the Wisconsin economy. It could affect everything from drinking outside major concerts to even banning drinking alcohol at deer hunting campsites.

“This is the most interesting [exemption] I think: vacation rental properties or any other temporary lodging that is used for overnight accommodations if the property is furnished with sufficient beds for all adult guests to sleep,” Vebber said. “They’re saying, you don’t have to get a permit for a vacation rental property but only if that property has enough beds for the adult guests to sleep? So, basically you can have people over at your rental property, but only if you have enough beds for everyone to sleep in.”

Vebber explained how this could be a problem.

“So if I go up north, and your family and my family go up north, and we rent two cabins right next to each other, and they’re both one bedroom cabins and the kids are going to sleep on the couch,” Vebber said. “I cannot have you and your wife over to my cabin for a dinner party and serve you a Miller Lite. It’s a vacation rental property, I don’t have a permit, and I don’t have enough beds for all of the adult guests.”

Vebber said the result may not have been the intention of the draft bill, but it’s what happens when you try to craft a bill to serve a special interest like the Tavern League.

The legislation could even affect Wisconsin’s deer hunting traditions by requiring owners of land that rent out to hunters to get alcohol licenses if the hunters decide they want to drink beer at their camp unless there are “sufficient beds” for every adult at the campsite.

“Rented hunting land may even fall under this requirement if you plan to stay overnight,” the WILL memo states. “So if this proposal passes, be careful cracking a beer at deer camp after a long day in the field.”

The WILL memo also asks about the enforcement of the proposed law.

“There is also the question of how the state would intend to enforce such requirements: will revenue agents be knocking on doors to count beds during your next dinner party?” the memo asked.

The government giveth, the government (forces businesses to) taketh

Republicans, not Democrats, passed the $100-per-child tax rebate earlier this year and the sales tax holiday last month.

But as the party in charge in Madison, Republicans are responsible for what the MacIver Institute reports:

Wisconsinites hunting for back-to-school deals are out of luck for yet another year thanks to the state’s minimum markup law, which outlaws sale prices that are too low.

The minimum markup law, formally known as the Unfair Sales Act, bans retailers from selling merchandise below cost. The law was originally passed back in 1939 and also requires a 9 percent price markup on specific items like alcohol, tobacco and gasoline.

Unfortunately for back-to-school shoppers, Wisconsinites are forced to pay for this archaic law that’s still on the books despite multiple attempts to repeal it.

According to advertisements obtained by the MacIver Institute from the end of August, Walmart stores in Milwaukee charged higher prices for a number of common back-to-school items compared with other Walmart stores in  Iowa and Michigan.

Like in past years, families in Milwaukee buying basic items like notebooks, markers, and crayons can expect to pay anywhere from 14 to 146 percent more than Walmart shoppers in Dubuque, Iowa, and Kalamazoo, Mich.

A 24-pack of Crayola Crayons posted the largest price difference, costing 146 percent more in Milwaukee than in cities in the neighboring states. The same was true for similar basic school supplies.

Parents picking up a one-subject notebook at Walmart in Dubuque, for example, only paid 25 cents. That same notebook cost 40 cents in Milwaukee – a 60 percent gap. Crayola markers cost 97 cents in Kalamazoo, but thanks to the archaic minimum markup law, those same markers cost $1.97 in Milwaukee, a whopping 103 percent difference.

A Texas Instruments graphing calculator cost $100 in Milwaukee, but just $88 in both Iowa and Michigan.

The added costs stack up. A basic shopping list would cost 17 percent more for a Milwaukee back-to-school shopper than in nearby states – 85 percent more not including the calculator.

Efforts to repeal the antiquated minimum markup law stretch back several years. Most recently, a partial repeal bill led by Sen. Vukmir and Rep. Jim Ott, and joined by Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Dave Murphy, was the first repeal attempt to receive a hearing in the legislature.

“What are you hoping to accomplish by keeping this outdated law on the books?” Todd Peterson, regional general manager for Walmart Stores in Wisconsin, asked the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism. Much has changed since the law was enacted in 1939, he and his colleagues argued.

But as with previous attempts at repealing the anti-consumer law, that bill went no further.

Even though minimum markup repeal has hit a wall in the Legislature, a 2015 poll found that Wisconsinites are tired of paying higher prices and want the law finally taken off the books. The poll found 80 percent of respondents had an unfavorable view of the minimum markup law when told “Wisconsin residents are required to pay more for many on-sale items than residents in neighboring states simply because of this 75-year-old law.”

Respondents were just as angry when told that “the law forbids retailers from selling to consumers below cost and also requires that gasoline retailers sell gas to consumers with a minimum 9 percent markup.”

The minimum markup law also outlaws many of the discounts posted on popular national bargain hunting days like Black Friday or Amazon Prime Day, which in Wisconsin could better be called “Amazon Crime Day.”

While this year shoppers in Wisconsin enjoyed a sales tax holiday on many back-to-school items earlier in August, bargain hunters would save money year-round on virtually all products if not for the minimum markup law.

With repeal efforts once again stalled at the doors of the Legislature, bargain hunters should beware: Wisconsin’s Price Police remain on the prowl during yet another back-to-school shopping season.

The next time you see a candidate for this fall’s election, ask him or her whether he or she favors repeal of the minimum markup law, and if not, why not.

T-minus 75 days and counting

A new Marquette Law School Poll of Wisconsin voters finds a tight race for governor following last week’s statewide primary elections. Among likely voters (that is, those who say they are certain to vote), incumbent Republican Scott Walker receives 46 percent, Democrat Tony Evers receives 46 percent and Libertarian Phil Anderson 6 percent. Only 2 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean to a candidate.

Among likely voters in the race for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in November, 49 percent support the incumbent, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, and 47 percent support Republican Leah Vukmir, while 3 percent say they lack a preference or do not lean toward a candidate.

Among all registered voters surveyed in the poll, the race for governor remains tight, with Walker at 46 percent, Evers at 44 percent and Anderson with 7 percent.

There is a wider margin among all registered voters in the Senate race, with Baldwin receiving 51 percent and Vukmir 43 percent.

Awareness of Evers and Vukmir has increased among registered voters since the last Marquette Law School Poll in July. Forty-six percent lack an opinion of Evers, down from 60 percent in July. For Vukmir, 48 percent lack an opinion now, compared to 66 percent in July.

Among likely voters only, 35 percent lack an opinion of Evers and 41 percent lack an opinion of Vukmir.

Evers is viewed favorably among 38 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 27 percent. Among all registered voters 31 percent have a favorable view and 23 percent an unfavorable opinion.

Vukmir has a 30 percent favorable rating and a 29 percent unfavorable rating among likely voters while among registered voters 25 percent rate her favorably and 26 percent rate her unfavorably.

Few respondents lack opinions of the incumbents. Among all registered voters, 5 percent lack an opinion of Walker and 17 percent have no opinion of Baldwin. For likely voters, 4 percent have no opinion of Walker and 11 percent have no opinion of Baldwin.

Walker is viewed favorably among 49 percent of likely voters and unfavorably by 47 percent. Among all registered voters 49 percent have a favorable view and 45 percent an unfavorable opinion.

Baldwin has a 46 percent favorable rating and a 42 percent unfavorable rating among likely voters while among registered voters 43 percent rate her favorably and 40 percent rate her unfavorably.

The governor’s race results are similar to what the poll found at this point in the 2014 cycle. The August 2014 Marquette poll showed Democrat Mary Burke with a 2-point lead over Walker among likely voters, but Walker leading by about 3 points among registered voters.

All things considered, this is good news at least for Walker, and maybe for Vukmir too. Walker predicted last week he’d be behind in the first post-primary polls, but he’s not in the poll that is more credible than other polls.

That point about where Walker was four years ago is important as well. Four years ago voters didn’t know who Mary Burke was, but they came to discover her overstated involvement in her family business and other things that proved she wasn’t ready to be governor.

Four years later, Evers is going to have to explain a few things, such as what James Wigderson reports:

Americans for Prosperity is spending $1.8 million on an advertising campaign to remind voters Evers actually praised Governor Scott Walker’s last education budget before the schools superintendent decided to run for governor himself. Evers was for Walker’s budget before he was against it.

Thanks to his pro-growth policies, Governor Walker has invested millions in our schools and received a lot of praise:
A “pro-kid budget …” 
An important step forward …” 
“… Commitment for K-12 education is good news …”  
So who said those things? Tony Evers. 
But now that Evers if running for office, he’s trying to take back his praise.
The truth? Governor Scott Walker is improving Wisconsin education … and Tony Evers knows it.
Paid for by Americans for Prosperity. 
Not authorized by any candidate, candidate’s agent or committee.

Eric Bott, the state director of Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin, commented on the flip-flop by Evers in a release announcing the ad buy.

“Tony Evers had it exactly right when he praised Governor Walker’s education budget as a ‘pro-kid budget,’ an ‘important step forward,’ and ‘good news,’” Bott said. “Now that he wants Scott Walker’s job, Evers is backpedaling so fast, I’m worried he’s going to end up in Minnesota before too long.”

There is concern over whether Walker could suck resources from other Republicans, specifically either Vukmir or Attorney General Brad Schimel, whose opponent should be elected if you believe in lawsuits for the sake of lawsuits instead of, you know, law and order.

More from the poll:

When asked the most important issue facing the state, 24 percent of registered voters pick jobs and the economy, 22 percent choose K-12 education and 19 percent say health coverage is their most important issue. No other issue reached double digits as “the most important,” although the condition of roads ranked fourth, with 9 percent of registered voters selecting it.

When voters were asked for their second-most-important issue, the condition of roads rose to the top three most-frequent answers, with K-12 education first at 18 percent, jobs and the economy at 17 percent, the condition of roads at 16 percent and health coverage at 15 percent.

I bet the economy number is actually bigger with voters. In fact, in my lifetime, every election has been decided by the economy, or more accurately voters’ perception of the economy. If voters think the economy is doing well, they vote for incumbents. If they don’t think the economy is doing well, they don’t vote for incumbents.

Fifty-three percent of Wisconsin registered voters see the state as headed in the right direction while 41 percent think the state is off on the wrong track. In July, 52 percent said right direction and 42 percent said wrong track.

Walker’s job approval among registered voters stands at 48 percent, with 45 disapproving. … Among likely voters, 50 percent approve and 47 percent disapprove.

All of this is generally in keeping with what was reported here last week — that among “swing” counties Walker is doing pretty well.

There is also this, though how it will affect this election is unclear, as pointed out by Facebook Friend Nathan Schacht:

More Dems than Republicans are against tariffs.
58% of Republicans think steel tariffs will help the economy, 9% of Dems think they will help.

On free trade, more Dems than Republicans think free trade agreements are a good thing:
45% of Republicans think they are good,
72% of Democrats think they are good.

So the Democrats are more conservative on trade issues now…good Lord.

I’m not sure “more conservative” is as correct as “more free-market,” except that Democrats are certainly not free-market on such other issues as education and health care. One wonders if Democrats have suddenly realized the virtues of free trade, or if Democrats are now free-trade because Trump isn’t. I think I know the answer by posing the question of whether Democrats have discovered the virtues of free markets in education and health care.

 

When a Democrat owns a conservative talk station …

RightWisconsin asks:

Is this the end of conservative talk radio on WTMJ-AM 620? The Milwaukee Business Journal reported Friday morning that Scripps has sold their radio operations WTMJ-AM (620) and WKTI-FM (94.5) to Craig Karmazin, the owner of Good Karma, the parent company of Milwaukee’s ESPN sports-talk station WAUK-AM (540).

WTMJ-AM is the former home to noted conservative author and media personality Charlie Sykes, a former editor of RightWisconsin. WTMJ-AM is currently home to two conservative talk radio personalities, Steve Scaffidi and Jeff Wagner.

In addition to Karmazin’s background in sports talk radio, putting the conservative talk radio format at WTMJ-AM at risk is the new owner’s political leanings. In a memo from Edge Messaging owner Brian Fraley to his clients, obtained by RightWisconsin, Karmazin’s ties to the Democratic party are spelled out.

“A quick check of FEC data indicates Good Karma’s owner, Craig Karamzin, is a major Democratic donor whose support for political campaigns include donations to President Obama, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Dan Kohl, the Democrat currently challenging Republican Congressman Glenn Grothman,” Fraley wrote to his clients. “A look at his record of donating to state candidates here shows he’s been a frequent contributor to Milwaukee [mayor] Tom Barrett and former Democratic Governor Jim Doyle.”

However, Fraley predicts that Karamzin will not try to create a liberal talk radio station in the Milwaukee market at WTMJ-AM.

“That format has not proved to be profitable and I would be very surprised if Good Karma would take this incredible asset that is WTMJ and fritter away its value with such a move,” Fraley said. “So while any forecasting as to the direction of the heritage radio station is pure speculation at this point, I would not be surprised to see WTMJ evolve into a 24-hour news station, that also broadcasts live sports as the flagship of the Brewers, Packers and Bucks. That would be a smart business move.”

An acquaintance of mine familiar with the Milwaukee media market — let’s call him Deep Voice — predicts that some of WTMJ’s current voices may be out the door because WTMJ apparently has a lot of high salaries. Deep Voice also thinks there miight be changes at WKTI, whose ratings haven’t been great since its change from its adult-hits format and name The Lake. WKTI was rated 10th in the market in June, and second among country stations.

Good Karma owns WAUK (540 AM) in Milwaukee and WTLX (100.5) in Columbus, branded as “ESPN Milwaukee” and “ESPN Madison,” respectively, along with WBEV (1430 AM) and WXRO (95.3 FM) in Beaver Dam. Karmazin’s thing appears to be sports, given the several ESPN affiliate stations he owns, and getting WTMJ, the originating station of the Packers, Brewers and Bucks, seems like an expansion of that concept. Karmazin’s statement on WBEV/WXRO’s website says:

“The heritage, prestige, and team at the stations, in addition to their incredible sports partnerships, fit our commitment to provide best-in-class opportunities for our teammates, content for our fans, and solutions for our marketing partners.”

Karmazin formerly owned what now is WRRD (1510 AM), which calls itself Resistance Radio, in Milwaukee, which is simulcasted on WTTN (1580) in Columbus. It’s not clear if Karmazin still owns WTTN.

Two thoughts come to mind. Good Karma might be hesitant to make wholesale changes given that WTMJ is the second rated station in the market, and is not really likely to be able to make format changes to get to number one. (Number one is a classic hits station, and WTMJ isn’t going back to music.) Those concerned about the possible loss of Scaffidi and Wagner still have a conservative-talk station, WISN (1130 AM), which has twice the conservative talkers in Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna (also heard in Madison), Dan O’Donnell and Mark Belling.

 

Well, Democrats?

Investor’s Business Daily:

Rather than rooting on the strong economy, Democrats have taken to ignoring it, belittling it or, like Bill Maher did over the weekend, rooting for a recession. The extent to which Trump critics will go is truly mind-boggling.

The unemployment rate is at 49-year lows overall, and lower than ever for African-Americans. Household incomes are at record highs. The U.S. reclaimed its No. 1 rank in competitiveness. Economists are revising their growth forecasts upward. Optimism is at levels not seen in more than a decade.

Clearly the economy is doing well. And what’s more, the public is increasingly crediting President Trump for it — as they should, since much of the turnaround is due to his dumping Obamanomics.

But what’s a Democrat hoping to reclaim the House majority in November to do?

One is to ignore the economy altogether. So, Democrats are trying to turn attention to things like ObamaCare premiums or alleged corruption in the Trump administration.

Ignoring the economy will be tough, however, particularly if GDP growth comes in strong in Q2 and unemployment continues to fall.

The second option is to belittle it.

Nancy Pelosi, having dismissed the tax-cut-fueled raises and bonuses that millions of workers received as “crumbs,” is now dismissing the good economic news as no big deal. Why? “Because of the wage stagnation.”

“Our economy,” she said, “will never fully reach its possibilities unless we increase the consumer confidence.”

The army of media fact-checkers must have been asleep when she said this, since her claims are so easy to debunk.

Average hourly wages climbed 2.7% in May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And as we noted in this space recently, median household income is at historic highs.

Meanwhile, every survey shows confidence levels at or approaching new highs since Trump took office.

The IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index, currently at 53.9, has averaged 53.5 under Trump, compared with 47 during President Obama’s entire second term. (Anything over 50 is optimistic).

The Consumer Confidence Index is currently at 128, which is 25 points higher than it ever reached under Obama, and higher than it’s been in 17 years.

Dismissing this good economic news as meaningless — after spending eight years proclaiming how great the stagnant economy was under Obama — isn’t going to dispel the notion that Democrats are out of touch with working families.

The third option is to admit openly what many Democrats no doubt feel privately: That a good recession is what the party needs to reclaim its former glory. After all, it did get Obama elected president.

Over the weekend, HBO talk show host Bill Maher spoke the words out load.

“I feel like the bottom has to fall out at some point,” he said, talking about the booming economy. “And by the way, I’m hoping for it because one way you get rid of Trump is a crashing economy.

“Sorry if that hurts people, but it’s either root for a recession or you lose your democracy.”

Let’s leave aside the glaring logical fallacy Maher commits with his false dilemma, and ponder what he is saying.

Maher would, if he could, throw millions of people into unemployment and poverty, watch as hard-earned savings vanish, wages stagnate and hope gets crushed, if that might keep Trump from winning re-election.

Wow.

Of course, it’s easy for Maher to wish that, since he’s already made his millions attacking Republicans. But just how many of his fellow Trump-loathing Democrats secretly feel the same way?

Reporters love to force Republican politicians to answer for anything outrageous that a conservative says. Shouldn’t these same reporters, to prove their lack of political bias, press every single Democrat running for office in November to condemn Maher’s economic death wish?

That question should be asked of Wisconsin Democrats running against Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans as well. (To normal people the definition of “fail” is not insufficient government spending or regulation in your favorite area of either.)

How to correct a Trump error

National Review:

Several of the groups that make up the Koch network are getting ready for a long-haul push against the Trump administration’s tariffs and to promote the cause of free trade between the United States and other countries.

Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, and The LIBRE Initiative today announced a multi-year, multimillion-dollar initiative to champion the far-reaching benefits of trade and the consequences of tariffs.

The campaign will include “paid media, activist education and grassroots mobilization, lobbying and policy analysis — all intended to transform the way Washington and the rest of the country consider and value trade with other nations.”

“This campaign makes a clear statement: Trade is a major priority for our network,” said James Davis, executive vice president of Freedom Partners. “We will work aggressively to educate policymakers and others about the facts. Trade lifts people out of poverty and improves lives. It is critical to America’s future prosperity and our consumers, workers and companies. Tariffs and other trade barriers make us poorer. They raise prices for those who can least afford it. That’s why this issue is so important. This announcement is a demonstration of our long-term commitment to advance common-sense trade policies that will ensure America’s brightest days are ahead, and to directly confront the protectionist ideas that would hold us back.”

The Koch network remained neutral in the 2016 presidential election, but by January 2018 was largely pleased with what it had seen in the first year of the Trump administration.

“The Trump administration has taken some incredibly positive steps for the American economy, but tariffs will undercut that progress and needlessly hamstring our full economic potential,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity. “There are better ways to negotiate trade deals than by punishing American consumers and businesses with higher costs. Instead of pursuing protectionist policies that we already know don’t work, let’s help everyone win by expanding trade, opening new markets and lowering costs.”

“The taxes and trade barriers imposed by our government on U.S. consumers raise their cost of living and impose unnecessary costs on American firms in competition with others based abroad,” said Daniel Garza, president of the LIBRE Initiative. “Hispanics and low-income workers are among the most badly hurt by this drag on economic growth and government-mandated price increases. We are pleased to stand with those who understand how greatly America benefits from trade — and how badly hurt we are by tariffs and other barriers.”

The good news for the Koch network effort is that, at least in the abstract, Americans think well of free trade. A March Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that among both “party Republicans” and “Trump Republicans,” “more than half of those in each group see trade as a potentially good thing rather than an economic threat.” Of course, the Trump administration would argue it doesn’t oppose free trade in theory, merely bad agreements signed in the past.

The Koch brothers are correct, and Republican opponents of free trade are wrong. Wisconsin, as has been reported in numerous places, overwhelmingly benefits from free trade.

 

Because that worked so well with Act 10

Matt Kittle:

Left-wing activists committed to doing whatever it takes to stop Foxconn Technology Group’s massive manufacturing campus in southeast Wisconsin are planning to rain on the tech giant’s ground-breaking picnic.

Organizers held a conference call Sunday evening to talk about their plans for a rally and demonstration on June 28, the day Foxconn is scheduled to hold its ground-breaking ceremony on its proposed $10 billion plant in Mount Pleasant. MacIver News Service obtained the call-in information and covered the planning session.

The idea, organizers say, is to assemble a coalition of diverse progressive groups – from environmental organizations to civil rights leaders to Foxconn-hating politicians. While each group will bring its own social and environmental complaints to the table, they will all rally around their abhorrence of the Foxconn economic development plan, according to the coalition-building plan.

“We want to stop it in any way we can,” a coalition member told participants on the call. “If we can’t stop it, we want to give them bad publicity. We want to be able to, like, make them aware that the community is aware. We want to show that, ‘Hey, we’re not going to give you an easy fight here.”

“Take a stand against Foxconn. For our fellow Wisconsinites, join the effort and help us SHUT FOXCONN DOWN,” a progressive coalition Facebook alert states.

The short-term goal is to stop Foxconn. The long-term mission is to fire up the liberal base to take out Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature that championed the largest development deal of its kind in U.S. history.

“We want this to not only be against Foxconn … but also be against those things that are happening due to the corruption of Walker being in office. But it will mainly focus on Foxconn,” one of the leaders of the campaign said during the call.

The anti-Foxconn group plans to bring into the coalition representatives from indigenous rights organizations, social justice groups, lawmakers and someone who represents the “youth voice.”

“We’re contacting some of the high school students that are speaking out against the NRA right now because they have a huge crowd of those in Milwaukee,” the lead organizer said. …

Group members talked about making the focal point of their resistance movement the Mount Pleasant-area residents facing the loss of their properties to make room for the Foxconn factory, but it was clear by Sunday’s conference call that the left-wing activists have broader objectives in mind.

“Beyond the immediate need for citizens to show up in support of the victims of Scottconn (the group’s portmanteau combining Gov. Scott Walker and Foxconn),we will also be discussing the planned Action for the 28th,” the group’s email urged. The email also seeks “volunteers to help with Voter Registration.”

“Additionally we will need volunteers and eager helpers willing to be trained by MKE Street Protectors to assist in facilitating and monitoring our action to ensure the safety of attendees as well as creative writers to submit LTE’s not only to the news outlets in the affected area but also our hometowns throughout the state,” the email stated. …

Foxconn’s manufacturing campus in Racine County is expected to ultimately employ 13,000 people at the plant itself, and many more thousands to construct the facility and to serve it. The production plant will make liquid crystal display panels. It comes with a hefty state incentives package based in large part on job-creation goals.

Extreme environmentalists in particular hate the development plan, predicting that the production facility will destroy southeast Wisconsin’s air and waterways. While they have blasted Walker’s administration for softening permitting standards, Foxconn has and will face rigorous state and federal requirements that demand substantial mitigation and other environmental safeguards.

The anti-Foxconn coalition campaign is brimming with liberal politics. One participant on the conference call said he attended the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s state convention in Oshkosh over the weekend, where there was plenty of anti-Foxconn talk by the crowded field of Democrat contenders for governor.

“There was universal disdain for Foxconn,” he said. “I’m sure they (the candidates) would welcome any kind of demonstration that would take place that would kind of help their credibility as well and maybe get some of them to actually show up.”

This probably sounds similar to the left’s by-any-means-necessary attempts to derail Act 10 that, you’ll notice, not only didn’t stop Act 10, but didn’t derail Republicans.
One wonders what liberals’ definition of a “good job” is, except that it probably doesn’t involve a private-sector employer.

Wisconsin’s Dem0crats

Sam Morateck:

Democrats were quick to jump on a report Wednesday that Foxconn was backing away from its promised financial investment in Wisconsin. Too quick, it now appears.

Japan business publication Nikkei Asian Review published a report (that has since changed) claiming that Foxconn plans to cut back on its initial investment in the state. However the Journal Sentinel published an article containing a statement from Foxconn saying otherwise:

“Foxconn can categorically state that our commitment to create 13,000 jobs and to invest US$10 billion to build our state-of-the-art Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Wisconsin remains unchanged,” the company said in a statement. “Foxconn is fully committed to this significant investment and to meeting all contractual obligations with the relevant government agencies.”

Later, the Asian Review changed its headline from, “Foxconn to cut back on initial investment of $10bn Wisconsin plant,” to “Foxconn opts to make smaller displays at Wisconsin plant.” A sub-heading under the new title reads “Major Apple supplier says $10bn investment plan is unchanged.”

Democrats, who have pinned their 2018 election hopes, in part, on investing in failure in the Foxconn development couldn’t hide their glee, re-posting the original article and spreading the news on Facebook. That included the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Representative Gordon Hintz and Senator Jon Erpenbach, along with many others.

Democrats zeal to see the Foxconn development fail was exposed again, along with their red faces.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports other unsurprising news:

Democrats running for governor are pledging to end GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s union restrictions, while Walker is promising to veto any changes to Act 10 if he wins re-election and Democrats take control of the Legislature.
Act 10 — adopted amid massive protests shortly after Walker took office in 2011 — brought the governor national attention and helped fuel his brief presidential run.

The measure all but ended collective bargaining for most public workers and required them to pay at least 12% of their insurance premiums and half the contributions to their pensions. The changes saved state and local taxpayers — and cost public workers — billions of dollars.

Democrats view the law as a move by Walker to hobble organizations that have long backed Democrats in elections.

The nine Democrats seeking their party’s nomination in the Aug. 14 primary said they would seek to reverse Act 10, while Walker touted the savings it has brought to taxpayers.

“The far-left Democrats who want to undo it will open the door to massive property tax increases or reductions in school staffing — or both,” Walker spokesman Austin Altenburg said in a statement. “Scott Walker will not let that happen and will continue to support reforms that put more resources in the classroom to improve the education of our students.”

Walker would veto any attempt to change Act 10, Altenburg said.

Act 10 ended the ability of public-sector unions to negotiate over anything but wages, and they were barred from seeking increases that were higher than inflation. Police and firefighters were exempted from key parts of Act 10.

All the Democratic candidates said they were committed to overturning Act 10, but many of them acknowledged it would be difficult to change the measure if Republicans held onto their majorities in the Legislature.

Repealing Act 10 would give workers a chance to seek higher wages, which would raise costs for taxpayers. The Democrats said state and local officials would be able to work out deals that are good for both taxpayers and workers.

The issue prompted one Democratic candidate to take a swipe at another.

“Unlike Mahlon Mitchell, I never sucked up to Scott Walker, praising Walker’s record and offering to work with Walker to destroy workers’ rights,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement.

Mitchell is the head of the statewide firefighters union. When Walker first unveiled Act 10, Mitchell applauded Walker for exempting firefighters from much of the measure, but soon afterward he joined the Capitol protests to try to stop Act 10.

Soglin, a frequent figure during the 2011 protests as he campaigned for mayor, noted he was against Act 10 from the start and said he was “the only candidate that implemented workarounds to lessen the adverse impact on public employees.”

The workarounds he cited include establishing a committee to get input from rank-and-file employees and setting up alternative procedures to handle workplace complaints, worker discipline and getting feedback from employees about workplace safety and the equipment they use.

Responding to Soglin’s criticism, Mitchell campaign manager Jacob Dusseau said Mitchell fought against Act 10, saying Mitchell “stuck his neck out” by running for lieutenant governor in 2012 in one of the recall elections sparked by the union restrictions.

“While Mahlon led the charge against Walker’s attack on workers, it was then mayoral candidate Soglin who was trying to get in on the spotlight,” Dusseau said.

Mitchell, who has won endorsements from several unions, said he was committed to eliminating Act 10.

“Act 10 was about unchecked power, and crippling political opponents of the governor,” Mitchell said in a statement. “I would repeal Act 10 in whole.”

Mitchell said the state could pay for any increase in costs by eliminating a tax break that prevents manufacturers and farms from paying state income taxes.

Tony Evers. The state schools superintendent backs repealing Act 10, said his campaign manager, Maggie Gau. If Republicans continue to control the Legislature, Evers believes a compromise could be reached that would give workers more bargaining power but still require them to pay a portion of their health care and retirement costs.

“Tony is supportive of returning collective bargaining rights to public employees,” Gau said in a statement. “It’s important for employees to feel valued and to have a say in their workplace and their benefits.”

Matt Flynn. The former state Democratic Party chairman said he would eliminate Act 10 and was unwilling to compromise on the issue.

“Act 10 has been a disaster for workers in Wisconsin,” Flynn said in a statement. “I will only accept a total repeal.”

Andy Gronik. The Milwaukee businessman said he supports collective bargaining, including for health care and pensions, but also believes workers should pay a portion of the cost of those benefits.

“I’ve said throughout my entire candidacy that I don’t want to fight the battles of the past, but instead move forward and examine how we can best bring workers back to the bargaining table, so their voices are heard and considered,” he said in a statement.

He added: “I believe cost sharing for health care and pensions is fair, reflects the realities of the private sector and is consistent with my business practices.”

Mike McCabe. He said he would repeal Act 10 and pay for any increased costs by legalizing and taxing marijuana, phasing out the state’s school voucher programs, eliminating business subsidies and making sure “taxpayers at every income level pay their fair share.”

“Act 10 is not a workable or sustainable policy,” the liberal activist said in a statement. “Teachers are demoralized and feeling devalued and disrespected, and are fleeing the profession as a result.”

Kelda Roys. The former state representatives of Madison would eliminate Act 10, said her spokesman, Brian Evans.

“Ensuring that workers have a voice in their workplace leads to an experienced and fairly compensated workforce, as well as fully staffed state offices and departments that meet the needs of all Wisconsinites, including veterans, patients, and children,” Evans said in a statement.

Kathleen Vinehout. The state senator of Alma said she would repeal Act 10 because she believes it has decimated schools.

“Employee benefits (are) not the problem,” she said in a statement. “Reversing the downward spiral of the last seven years will take concerted, bipartisan effort, but the quality of our schools in all parts of the state and the future of our children depends on it.”

Dana Wachs. The Eau Claire state representative said he would get rid of Act 10.

“We need to fully fund our public schools, including paying teachers a family-supporting wage. And we pay for that by prioritizing our schools and the essential functions of government, not billion-dollar deals for foreign corporations and special interests,” he said in a statement, referring to the incentive package Walker gave to Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group for a massive Mount Pleasant plant.

Yes, if you want to go back to the days when public employee unions ran the state and taxpayers were screwed by every level of government, vote Democrat.

The correct measure of unemployment

You may have seen Gov. Scott Walker triumphantly announcing this state’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate.

I prefer a better measurement, the U6 rate, which includes, to quote the U.S. Department of Labor, “total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers.” That means those who are working part-time though they want to work full-time, as well as those who have stopped looking for work.

And that looks like this (compared with the official unemployment rate, the “U3” rate), averaged from the second quarter of 2017 through the first quarter of this year:

Certainly Wisconsin is better off than the national average and most states, but the employment situation isn’t as good as those running for reelection would have you believe. Of course, the opposition party in Madison was in charge when the U6 rate was well beyond 10 percent, thanks to their handiwork of $2.2 BILLION in tax increases and the economic ineptitude of the Obama administration.

 

 

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