Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scott Walker’s legacy: more children living in poverty

Wisconsin sees higher rate of children in poverty level under Walker’s tenure

A new report released this month sheds some light on some disturbing news.

The number of children living in poverty in the state has gone up. Between 2008 and 2013 there was a five percent increase in child poverty in Wisconsin, according to the Kids Count survey conducted this year.

A growth in poverty within the state can be found elsewhere as well. Those numbers are reflective in the number of Foodshare recipients, as an example.

From 2010 to 2014 the number of Foodshare recipients went up significantly. There was a 10.6 percent increase in the number of non-duplicated recipients of the program, signifying a greater need for assistance across the state.

These rising numbers likely had to do with the global recession of 2008. So the blame cannot be placed squarely on Scott Walker for this trend.

What we can say for sure, however, is that Walker’s policies have done anything but help stave off this rising trend.

In his first budget Gov. Walker signed into law a measure to reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit. This reduction especially hurt low-income families, who relied on the credit to help them, however small, pay for necessary items in their lives.

A single mother of three earning minimum wage, for example, saw her taxes go up by $500 after the EITC was changed. A two-parent household (both earning minimum wage) with two children saw a reduction of more than $150.

Those dollar amounts add up: and as a result, they create a higher burden for parents to help their children.

An additional burden was an increase in health care costs for low-income families. Though his move to refuse a Medicaid expansion in the state affected families earning 100 percent to 133 percent of the poverty level guidelines, Walker’s gambit increased costs for families overall. For those near the lower threshold of that range, it could have meant that their earnings and higher health costs ironically helped to tank into the poverty levels, contributing to the higher rates of children in poverty.

When he rejected the Medicaid expansion, Walker said that he did so not because he didn’t care about people, but rather because “I care too much about the people of this state not to empower them to control their own destiny.”

That’s an odd way of thinking, especially since the ability of low-income people to get out of poverty is maddeningly dim. Economic mobility is a myth: if you’re born poor, your most likely to stay poor. And gutting programs like the EITC or refusing the Medicaid expansion doesn’t help things.

The “destiny” Walker had in mind for people probably wasn’t keeping them poor -- but that’s the path he helped set them out on.

Walker’s legacy in Wisconsin is going to include many things. Among the most troubling is the trend of more kids living in poverty.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Donald throws a fit, refuses press credentials over opinion piece

Childish behavior is unwelcome during presidential process

Donald Trump apparently doesn’t get how newspapers work.

His campaign is reportedly refusing press credentials for the largest newspaper in Iowa, the Des Moines Register. His reasoning?

The Register published an editorial that was critical of Trump’s behavior.

Among other points, they described Trump’s recent comments about John McCain as making him “unfit to stand on the same stage as his Republican opponents.”

In response to the scathing opinion piece, Trump’s people made it clear that the Register was no longer welcome to cover his events.
Trump’s national campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, told Obradovich in a phone call that the Register was being excluded from the event because of the editorial.


“We’re not issuing credentials to anyone from The Des Moines Register based on the editorial that they wrote earlier in the week,” he said.
Trump certainly has the right to refuse access to his campaign to whomever he wants to restrict. But in so doing, he is adding a new adjective to his repertoire: of acting “babyish.”

OK, maybe describing it as a new behavior goes a bit far, too.

But it is a troubling practice. Sure, politicians have given the cold-shoulder treatment to newspapers for generations. Yet this move is a spit in the face of the institution of journalism as well as its importance to American politics.

The editorial/opinion department of any given newspaper is traditionally separate from the news writing it produces. Trump should know this, or he shouldn’t get into the business of running for president. And acting like a child when someone prints something he doesn’t like is not the way to win people over.

If he’s serious about this presidential run, he needs to start thinking practically: If he’s going to start refusing credentials to every paper that refuses to accept his nonsense, his events are going to start to have no one reporting on them...something I personally won’t lose any sleep over

Gun deregulation hasn't made us safer -- crime has gone up in Wisconsin

Gwen Moore predicts Walker's gun deregulations will result in more crime. That may already be true.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) recently penned a widely-read op-ed about guns, Scott Walker, and the inevitable rise of violent crime because of the governor’s attitudes on deregulation of weapons.

Her words are eloquent and prophetic; anyone with the time to do so ought to read the piece, which foretells the problems that will come about because of the rapid changes to gun laws in our state.

“Unfortunately for our constituents, Gov. Walker has made it abundantly clear that the concerns of Wisconsin residents will always take a backseat to those of the extreme pro-gun groups that have spent millions of dollars supporting him,” Moore wrote.

Her prediction that crime will rise as gun laws are deregulated is entirely plausible. In fact, it might have already happened.

Following Gov. Scott Walker’s signing of the concealed carry law in the state of Wisconsin at the end of 2011, he made a very strongly-worded assessment for the state:
”By signing concealed carry into law today we are making Wisconsin safer for all responsible, law abiding citizens,” he said in a statement.
But what Walker thought would happen and what actually happened are far from each other. The state didn’t get safer overall -- violent crime, in fact, increased in the state, by a rate of 14 percent from 2011 to 2013.

In 2011, the last year before concealed carry was implemented in the state, Wisconsin had a violent crime rate of 236 incidents per 100,000 citizens. In 2012 that went up to 280 incidents per 100,000. In 2013 it improved a little, but was still way above the 2011 number, coming in at 271 incidents per 100,000.

Contrast that to the years immediately before concealed carry and you’ll see a significant change:

What we see is that violent crime was actually going down before concealed carry was put into place. After it was implemented violent crime went up.

This is the exact opposite of what Walker had promised -- rather than making Wisconsin safer, the state went in the opposite direction.

Concealed carry may not have made the state more violent; but it certainly didn’t play a role in making it safer, as Walker had asserted it would. Otherwise, we’d have seen a positive change in the violent crime rate.

We didn’t see that at all -- we saw more crime.

It seems the new data on gun proximity is true: more guns is resulting in more crime, especially in Wisconsin.