Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ron Johnson surprise disclosure in tax bill debate

There's an amazing quote from US Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), in the big weekend New York Times story about his opposition to the billionaire-friendly tax cut bills backed by the House or his party's Senate leaders.
Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
No, he didn't come out against lop-sided favors like special tax breaks for private jet owners or foreign investors in US corporations. 

He's not raising the alarm over the billions of dollars in cuts the bills will automatically trigger in domestic spending, Social Security or Medicare, or to the ruinous elimination of deductions for costly nursing home care or similar expenses borne by parents of children with, say, autism or diabetes or MS,

Johnson is OK with all that - - what a business writer in the establishment publication and website calls fiscal insanity.

If it's enacted, the GOP tax cut now working its way through Congress will be the start of a decades-long economic policy disaster unlike any other that has occurred in American history.
So far, Johnson's only beef with the legislation is that it doesn't give bigger tax cuts to small businesses known in accountant jargon as "pass-throughs" like the one in Oshkosh his in-laws let him help run.

Here's the surprise quote from Johnson:

I just have in my heart a real affinity for these owner-operated pass-throughs,” he said.
He has a heart? This is news; look at the evidence to the contrary:
When Ron Johnson did not stand with abuse victims
Republican Senator calls health care, food and shelter a 'privilege'
To be a "yes," Ron Johnson demands certainty on Medicaid cuts
Johnson's disclosure will force critics to reassess why they think he behaves so deplorably towards people of lesser means and power.

It's not because Johnson has a pre-existing condition - - being without heart.

He's actually got Voluntarily-acquired Republican malevolence syndrome, also known as Paulaynryanism.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Walker's record unmasks faux fears of outside donations

I'm still laughing over Scott Walker's bogus fretting (read: 'Send Money!) about having to run for re-election against out-of-state money:
Walker says he fears "outside money."
You might as well have Trump worrying that Russians might help his next opponent.

Throw a few of Walker's words into Google, and the truth emerges.

A few examples:

*  Read about the thirteen out-of-state billionaires who wrote him big checks for the recall campaign. From 6/5/12:
Scott Walker's Big Money Backers Include 13 Out-Of-State Billionaires
If Scott Walker wins Tuesday's recall election, he'll have 14 of America's richest people to thank.
Wisconsin's Governor has out-raised opponent Tom Barrett, the Mayor of Milwaukee, by almost 8 to one: $30.5 million to Barrett's $3.9 million. Of that huge haul, $1.68 million -- or, almost half Barrett's total -- came from 14 members of the Forbes billionaires list, all but one of whom live outside Wisconsin. 
*  More details about the out-of-state donors who dominate Walker's list. From 9/19/2014 :
Who's paying for the fight for Wisconsin Governor?
Big-money donors make up a hefty portion of Walker's top supporters, many of whom are from out of state. Burke, on the other hand, has had fewer big-money donors. In Wisconsin, individual donations are capped at $10,000. 
* And another accounting about his out-of-state donor strength. From 2/11/2015
To Understand Scott Walker's Strength, Look at His Donors
Mr. Walker’s list displays a cross section of stalwart Republican donors, from Texas energy company executives to the chief executives of Midwestern financial services companies. He received $1.9 million from California donors in 2012, and at least $1 million from donors in Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York that year, records from Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board show. 

Suit challenges WI DNR's capitulation to Big Dairy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a pollution settlement
that major dairy interests were celebrating as a win over the DNR: 
The DNR has settled a power play lawsuit on terms favorable to the special interest that brought it - - Big Dairy - - which means there will be more muck flowing from big CAFOs already running amok.
The dairy interests claimed that the DNR was over-regulating them even though state auditors had found multiple problems with DNR enforcement actions, and the term "nitrate nightmare" has shown up in recent new reporting in La Crosse.
In case you don't think the settlement was on Big Dairy's terms, read no further than the headline on the industry's reaction:
Dairy Business Association wins victory in settlement of lawsuit with state regulators 
Now today comes an important political policy consequence - - and a welcome one - - though I will say, as I've said before, that it's borderline criminal that citizens have spend their funds to fight the state government they already support through taxes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2017 

Citizen Groups Challenge DBA v. DNR Settlement
Settlement goes too far in limiting science-based decision making and pollution prevention

MILWAUKEE, WI – In a lawsuit filed today, citizen groups challenged the recent settlement of the Dairy Business Association v. Department of Natural Resources lawsuit. That settlement limits the state agency’s ability to protect public health and clean water without the ability or opportunity for the public to intervene and defend the public interest. 

Midwest Environmental Advocates represented the Clean Water Action Council, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation as proposed intervenors in the DBA v. DNR lawsuit. Friends of Central Sands also sought to intervene and are now clients in this challenge. However, DBA and DNR settled the lawsuit before the intervenors had a chance to become involved in the case.

To challenge the settlement, the groups filed a petition for judicial review and declaratory judgement action in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. 

Groups moved to intervene in the DBA v. DNR lawsuit because the suit challenged the authority of the DNR to require our state’s industrial-scale livestock operations to apply for and obtain water pollution permits. While that threat wasn’t ultimately a part of the settlement, groups remain concerned with how the settlement takes away the DNR’s authority to use science-based decision making in regulating contaminated runoff that comes from calf hutch areas and feed storage runoff. 

“It’s been the EPA’s position that the practices at the heart of this debate, including vegetated treatment areas and calf hutches, do produce contaminated runoff,” said Sarah Geers. “Most states have embraced better pollution controls, but this settlement makes it more difficult for the DNR to apply sound science to EPA-documented, known sources of pollution in our ground and surface waters. It’s another step in Wisconsin’s race to the bottom of stripping our state government’s ability to protect our water.”

“The level of influence of special interests over the basic functioning of DNR is threatening public health and our natural resources,” said George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and former DNR Secretary. “I’ve seen a lot over the years, but this situation is extreme in circumventing the agency’s clear authority to protect our public waters.” 

Public scrutiny and citizen action is an essential tool in Wisconsin to hold industrial livestock operations and the government accountable for regulating and preventing water pollution and public health threats.

Citizens have shouldered the burden of taking the state to court over failures to limit ground and surface water pollution in challenges to facilities such as Richfield Dairy and Kinnard Farms. Citizens forced action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through filing a Safe Drinking Water Act petition. And a 2016 review by the Legislative Audit Bureau showed that CAFO pollution permit monitoring and enforcement was severely lagging.


Sarah Geers, Staff Attorney, (608)251-5047 x 5,

Stacy Harbaugh, Communications Director, (608)251-5047 x 1,

Midwest Environmental Advocates is a public interest organization that uses the power of the law to support communities fighting for environmental accountability. Learn more about the Midwest Environmental Advocates on the web at, like MEA on Facebook or follow @MidwestAdvocate on Twitter.

The con on protecting WI waters extends past Foxconn

Federal and state GOP officials are playing a shell game with public waters - - pretending that Federal law will protect wetlands being deregulated in Wisconsin while working to block or end Federal water and clean air protections, and much of what remains on the books in Wisconsin, too. 

It's a classic case of promising one thing while doing the opposite that breaks the original promise, then saying there's nothing to see here.

Begin with the law Walker signed to subsidize Foxconn construction on several thousand acres of rural Racine County land. The new law predictably exempted the company from routine Wisconsin protections for wetlands, streams and even lake beds.

(Full Foxconn archive, here.)

Now look past the purely propagandistic assurances offered by Foxconn proponents that the company would be a good steward of the land, and pay attention to the back-up federal waterway protections Foxconn backers say will compensate for the environmental exemptions Foxconn just got.

And grasp that Wisconsin officials are working overtime to extend the Foxconn water and wetland exemptions to any business that wants them, to wit:

*  Brad Schimel, Wisconsin's pro-business GOP Attorney General, is leading the effort by numerous state attorneys general - - and note they just paid political and literal tribute to Trump at Mar-a-Lago - - to remove significant federal protections from waterways and wetlands nationwide.

*  Scott Pruitt, Trump's pro-polluter EPA administrator, is trying to tie-up the implementation of Obama-era wetland and waterway protections for at least two more years.

* And Wisconsin GOP legislators are out to further shrink Wisconsin wetland and waterway protections statewide, while citing as back-ups, with a straight face the very federal protections that Trump, Pruitt and Schimel are working hard to slow, then end:
Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature want to eliminate state protections for wetlands and air quality except when mandated by the federal government, saying they are costly for businesses.
About a million acres of wetlands could be left vulnerable and as many as 300 hazardous air pollutants could become unregulated under a pair of proposals circulating among lawmakers.
*  All this while the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has just added another 240 Wisconsin waterways to the federal impairment list.

The total number of Wisconsin waterways on the impaired list is now 1,300

*  And as goes Wisconsin waters, so, too, air quality which directly impacts the waters below, too: 
Reps. Jesse Kremer and Cody Horlacher and Sen. Duey Stroebel, all Republicans, introduced a bill on Sept. 20 that would wipe out all state air pollution rules that go beyond federal regulations. 
Note that WI AG Schimel has been organizing and suing to weaken federal air pollution standards, along with his focus on deregulating water, for years. Noted in detail, here:
*   Schimel beat Pruitt to the coal-industry-lobbying-hiring punch by tapping in 2014 a lobbyist for The American Coalition for Clean Coal as the AG's top aide, noted here.
  * Schimel later forced out Tom Dawson, the agency's leading environmental lawyer, created an in-house team in the Attorney General's office that specializes in suing the federal government and installed on the team Dawson's replacement, David Ross, an out-of-state pro-business attorney
*  It has been reported that Pruitt will draft Ross from the team as a senior administrator in the EPA's water office.
* Pruitt wants to kill on behalf of Big Coal President Obama's clean power plan, and Schimel is among the Attorneys General in court carrying the ball:  
“I am incredibly proud of our top-tier team at the Wisconsin Department of Justice that is helping to lead this crucial challenge against the federal government,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel.
What do you think will happen to the quality of Wisconsin air and waterways as this rush to deregulation powers on, and as wetlands that act as filters and flood protectors are filled by Foxconn in a flood-prone county, and if Foxconn exemptions are extended statewide with sulfide mining about to begin, and already-weakly-regulated, manure-spilling, groundwater-sucking CAFOs are allowed to expand, and if Pruitt wins the two-year waterways protections blockage he and Trump are seeking, and if Schimel's band of wetland fillers win the permanent rollback of federal waterway protections they hope the US Supreme Court will grant? 

The entire effort is right out of the GOP/Koch brothers playbook: Privatize public resources, remove legal, regulatory and scientific protections for public resources, shrink the public sector, cite its ineffectiveness and give big business a free hand.

A Foxconn Fever primer

[Updated continuously July-November] Foxconn wants to build in Wisconsin, so here is a growing archive of coverage and commentary on this blog, beginning with what's most recent:

*  Regard the amazing right-wing, business-backed, WI anti-environmental loop: Now all WI businesses could get Foxconn-like environmental exemptions, while the same forces pushing the deregulation are a) citing the 'don't worry' value of back-up federal rules, while b) working hard to repeal federal protections.
The con on protecting WI air, water extends far beyond Foxconn
*  Look past the gee-whiz promises to see who's already getting paid.
Foxconn offers gravy train, adds pie-in-the-sky
*  Watch Walker during 2018 spin 260 jobs into 250,000
At public expense, Foxconn gets low bar, Walker high praise
*  Foxconn fiscal fakery isn't Scott Walker's first foray into phony data.
Scott Walker's numbers games; the legend grows
*  Walker inflates Foxconn investment pledge by $! billion.
Walker hails $10 bil. Foxconn pledge; MJS says it's $9 bil.
*  When the hoopla ends, the hard work and choices begin
After WalkerFoxconnFest, the real meetings
*  Hubris alert.
Walker and Stepp were ready for Foxconn. Just ask them.
*  A billion here, and billion there...
Is Foxconn pledging a $10 billion investment...or is it $9 billion?
*  WEDC board doesn't get to see the contract after all
Slippery process: WEDC board approves Foxconn contract summary, not the actual contract
*   Who's on that WEDC board voting on Foxconnn in secret?
Private-sector dominated WEDC board dealing with Foxconn deal in secret 
*  File under "not reassuring." or "Duh!"
Vos praises WEDC...for doing its job
*  The Nov. 6 secret Foxconn review session WEDC deigned to hold is a sham.
Rolling dice for Foxconn, in secret, with our money
* A ray of sunshine forced on Foxconn contract.
Tim Carpenter wins a Foxconn round for the people
* Props to Madison writer Lawrence Tabak.
Tremendous addition to our Foxconn awareness
*  In perspective: the con began long before Foxconn.
How Walker is privatizing and selling off Wisconsin
*  Exhibit "A" - - Walker's gift or public waters to Foxconn.
Walker will float campaign on our water
* Loopholes shield Foxconn FUBAR contract from public view.
Foxconn's banker WEDC subject to open records. Or not  
* Walker's WEDC: Foxconn contract, history withheld from public.
Walker's Foxconn cover-up gets worse
* More proof that Foxconn's environmental exemptions are the proverbial camel's nose in the people's water tent.
Wisconsin water grabbers are at it. Again.
* Vos got Foxconn, big highway deal, still griping.
Why Robin Vos' losing hit on fellow Republicans is so irrational
* Foxconn giveaways targeted to SE WI, now mysteriously delayed.
Walker's '16 campaign baggage getting heavier
* Fixing FUBAR Foxconn contract w/out saying "drafting error." And more.
Scott Walker: Clean up on aisle '18
* The Foxconn contract FUBAR is being covered up.
Walker's Foxconn coverup clock is running
* Foxconn deal delayed.
What? Foxconn deal isn't ready at WEDC? 
* Foxconn now driving the WI highway budget & away from everyday needs.
Hurried $252 Foxconn million for I-94 N/S is both outrage and chicken feed
* Villages take more time to ponder building a schoo.l
Locals pushed to hand Foxconn $764 million
* Will Racine area cabbage fields sprout lemons?
Foxconn's $764 million local shares get aired this week
* Saying 'trust the company' overlooks reality and the record.
Booster discharges murky Foxconn spin
* Yipes! Local taxpayers will pony up $764 million local dollars For Foxconn.
$764 million cost of Foxconn 'win' for WI local government
* Rush in WI to legislate broad environmental rollbacks statewide, Foxconn-style.
In post-Foxconn WI, GOP is done w/air, wetlands law 
* The Foxconn measuring stick.
Foxconn gets swift [WI AG] Schimel boost, rape kits get indolence
* About Walker overpaying for Foxconn by a factor of five.
So Scott Walker walks into an auction...
* Major fox in the Foxconn chicken coop.
Walker names Great Lakes Compact foe as key Foxconn aide 
* Oh, those Foxconn obstacles.
Fast-tracked Foxconn mix could sour
* $3 billion bet on his re-election campaign. Then on jobs.
Note to NY Times: Foxconn is about Walker re-election. Then jobs.
* Walker-led GOP group whitewashes his past, Foxconn future.
Walker shills rewrite his job creation record, Foxconn outlook
* Really painful, stupefying irony alert.
Foxconn bill signing to spotlight Walker/Vos transportation incompetence
* Walker, Foxconn and the "s" word.
Scott Walker's missing Foxconn word
* Foxconn deal underscores Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality 'governance.
Walker's WI is model hard-right "chamber of commerce" state 
* Oh, and about that little overlooked Foxconn item - - a Lake MI diversion.
Foxconn water diversion story needed more attention 
* Viewing Foxconn through Walker's discarded ethics lens.
Walker's deleted ethics code could have skewed Foxconn giving, lobbying
* Foxconn is Walker's biggest use of gov't to pick winners and losers, yet...
Despite denials, Walker uses gov't. to pick winners & losers
* WI Senate joins the Foxconn parade
Wis conned. GOP-led State Senate gives OK to unprecedented giveaways.
* Not this special favor for Foxconn, this one!
WI GOP Senate Leader adds phantom judicial 'restriction' to Foxconn deal
* Foxconn settles on Racine County, despite flooding history there.
Foxconn headed for flood-prone Racine County
* Foxconn might feel it's the one which got conned.
For new WI mines, more env. giveaways than Foxconn got
* Along with tax breaks, free highway work - - special Supreme Court access.
WI GOP lawmakers hand Foxconn newer, bigger favor
* One potential Foxconn locale is struggling with the opportunity.
With Foxconn looming, Mount Pleasant had a meltdown
* Out-going DNR Secretary Stepp spills the beans.
DNR's Stepp says a Foxconn was the plan all along
* Holding Foxconn to the Walker/Trump environmental (will-wink) 'standards.'
Exposing Walker's environmental Foxconn con
* 'No-tax-increase Walker' might just raise local taxes.
Add local taxpayers to school on cusp of Foxconning
* WI may find Foxconn draining education funding.
WI legislators, on educ. funding today, could show Foxconn effect 
* Latest news: Foxconn's billion-dollar 'strain' on state budgets, or "D'uh!"
Go suck on $1 billion worth of lemons, Bucky
* At least this time he didn't call you an ISIS fighter.
Vintage Walker uses Foxconn to flip off the people
* A rushed project would not need so many corrections.
Another day, another Foxconn data correction.
* GOP leaders Walker/Vos/Stepp have long failed job creation, environmental protection pledges.
On Foxconn assurances, consider the sources and histories
* 13,000 jobs? No accident that the Assembly and public didn't have all the facts.
Put Foxconn on hold until Walker explains data suppression
* Robin Vos, reckless and feckless.
Robin Vos trivialized $3 billion, ignored shocking jobs info
* Dispensing with clean blue water, green legacy. 
Green? WI GOP likes brown, orange, perhaps blackish and 'sudsy'
* And the next shoe drops. 
Seeing Foxconn 'win, WI GOP env. wrecking crew eyes mining favors 
* Walker, GOP laid Foxconn groundwork years ago.
Foxconn favors are basic to Walker, GOP's sloppy playbook
* Walker evades leadership from #Foxconn to #Charlottesville.
On jobs, moral leadership, persistent Walker con
* Reality, troubling numbers, no state budget mean nothing to GOP legislature.
GOP Foxconn votes proceed robotically as jobs, revenue estimates fall
* New Foxconn bill version, same environmental rollbacks, records show.
Amended Foxconn bill retains env. waivers, special privileges
* Changing the rules to fit the players.

As WI, GOP change the rules for Foxconn, a reminder
* WI will subsidize Foxconn jobs paying nowhere near family-supporting wages.
WI now talking about <$15-per-hour Foxconn jobs
* Now they're just wishing and hoping.
Witless Walker's farcical Foxconn fix
* The Chicago Sun-Times 'thanks' Walker for pro-Illinois Foxconn plan.
Another bad review for Walker's Foxconn deal
* Now we look for solace to Scott Fitzgerald (!) as Foxconn gets horrible reviews.
Foxconn doubters turn their lonely eyes to...Scott Fitzgerald!
* Foxconn is to get a pass from normal DNR reviews, which is fine with the DNR.
Stepp puts the DNR in on Foxconn env. evasion
* Walker told his Foxconn critics to 'go suck lemons.' Then...
Sucking lemons - - or absorbing buyer's remorse - - for 26 sucking years
* Walker's fake-news Foxconn projects are collapsing.
Foxconn taxpayer projections zoom, payroll benefits plunge
* No surprise that major WI polluting industry. wants env. exemptions.
If Foxconn is exempted from env. oversight, why not CAFOs?
* Who's to say that Foxconn privileges won't be applied statewide?
And if environmental rules and laws are waived for Foxconn...  
* Does Michigan have better deal-makers than Wisconsin? 
Foxconn eyes Michigan for high tech development site
* Water law expert says Foxconn environmental rollback endangers the deal.

Noted water law expert predicts WI officials' Foxconn 'bungle'
* The Walker/WMC tag team.
Foxconn to locate at intersection of Walker and WMC avenues
* Big business laughs off Foxconn project environmental concerns.
Wisconsin Biz lobby sneers at routine Wisconsin conservation guarantee
* Walker never saw a wetland he didn't want filled.
Walker's giveaway Foxconn bill extends his war on wetlands
* Zoo Interchange completion $$ rerouted to another project for Foxconn.
Because the I-94 Vos/Foxconn exit isn't in the Zoo Interchange
* Foxconn process 'open,' says Walker after closed door briefing for GOP caucuses.
Walker opens 'open' Foxconn FavorFest behind closed doors
* Walker, Ryan producing Foxconn political ads.
Walker giveth to Foxconn, taketh for his re-election
* Walker would allow Foxconn 19th century 'environmental' practices.
'Wisconsin Valley' or Wisconsin, Inc. dead zone?
* The Legislature pushed to re-create Wisconsin as Wisconsin, Inc.
Rushed Foxconn special session set for 11 a.m. August 1
* SE WI communities should worry about what Walker wants to do with their budgets, tax collections:
For Foxconn, Walker bets your farm, breaks the bank(s)
* Walker, AG and legislature could give away what's not theirs:
Foxconn favors face WI Constitutional barrier
* GOP Wi Attorney General Brad Schimel weighs in, pre-emptively and rhetorically.
Greenlight for Foxconn in WI AG's Tweet, rhetoric
* Walker to convert Wisconsin to Wisconn without a constitutional convention, and if you don't like it, 'go suck lemons."
Walker to sacrifice DNR, PSC and WisDot integrity for 'Wisconn'
* The cynical pot has his say.
Walker - - Gov. Cynicism - - decries Foxconn 'cynics'
* Walker already has '18 campaign in Foxconn frame.
About Walker's '18 election Foxconn over-under
* In Walker's Wisconsin, some blue-collar jobs are more important than others.
Walker touts Foxconn construction jobs, threw away Amtrak's
* Walker, Trump should become the new champions of Great Lakes preservation and climate change science. 
Great Lakes water lifts Foxconn deal
* About jobs.
3,000 Foxconn jobs would not = 3,776 WI mfg. jobs lost in '16
* Are HB-5 $$-for-visas in the deal?
Are green cards for investment in a Foxconn-WI deal?
* Public dollars needed.
How many WI dollars will Walker give super-wealthy Foxconn?
* When Foxconn stiffed another state.
If you've got Foxconn fever, remember Pennsylvania's hangover
* Vos blocked transit Foxconn workers could have used.
Vos' long transit blockade does not help Racine's Foxconn future
* Walker killed Amtrak service Foxconn might have loved. 
Amtrak line killed by Walker could have fed Foxconn
* Vos has a budget power move.
Vos plays Foxconn card in WI budget fight
*  For quick Japan trip, Walker kept Foxconn secret 
Desperate Walker on 48-hour jobs mission - - to Japan