Friday, March 20, 2015

Another quarterly report shows the "Wisconsin slowdown" continuing under Walker

Walker's solution to bad jobs results? Run for president.

Another set of jobs numbers came out Thursday, and it's more sad news for Wisconsin.

From September of 2013 to September of 2014 the state gained 27,491 private sector jobs. While the numbers show a positive jobs growth from year to year, Wisconsin fared much worse than the rest of the nation, ranking 40th out of the 50 states in terms of job creation.

In the Midwest, Wisconsin was once again dead last during that time period. The latest jobs numbers are the second-worst set of third quarter reporting since Scott Walker became governor. 

Data from Bureau of Labor Statistics
In fact, Walker has yet to outdo the success of his predecessor, former Gov. Jim Doyle. In 2011's third quarter report -- a report that included nine months of Doyle's last budget and the first three months of Walker's first -- 41,461 private sector jobs were created.

The difference between the most recent data and Doyle's last set of third quarter numbers is startling. It represents a slowdown of more than 33 percent. Put another way, for every three jobs created during the last Doyle third quarter report, only two jobs were created under the most recent Walker report.

The state under Walker's watch was well-behind how the rest of the nation was performing, according to this latest report:
Wisconsin continued to trail the national rate of job creation, as it has continuously since July 2011. The United States created private-sector jobs at a rate of 2.3% in the latest 12-month period, twice Wisconsin's 1.16% rate, the data show.
This should be the clearest indicator out of anything else that the Walker agenda is stifling the Wisconsin economy. This report, which Walker himself has touted as "the gold standard" of jobs ratings, shows more failure on the part of the Walker administration.

Cutting taxes for the rich and for corporations hasn't grown jobs. Nor has lifting regulations done anything positive for the state. It seems as though what little jobs we HAVE created have come IN SPITE of Walker's "reforms" rather than because of them.

Middle class economics, as touted by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address earlier this year, would be the proper remedy to save Wisconsin. But rather than listen to common sense, Walker has a different plan in mind.

Run for president and ignore Wisconsin's woes completely.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Polling shows Clinton leading every viable Republican challenger

Clinton leads Bush, Christie and Walker by 55-40 margins

If the election for president were held today former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would win.

In a poll released by CNN earlier today, Clinton has leading numbers against every viable Republican challenger, including Jeb Bush (55-40) Chris Christie (55-40), Marco Rubio (55-42) and Scott Walker (55-40).

That’s a huge uphill battle for Republicans to climb. With the presidential election just over 18 months away most GOP candidates vying to win the presidency are facing around a 15-point margin against the former First Lady.

Why might this be? A lot of it has to do with name recognition. Clinton has a ton of it, bursting onto the national scene when her husband Bill became president in 1993. That’s more than 22 years of being in the spotlight. Many of these other candidates don't have half of that exposure at the national level.

Another facet to her popularity over the Republican contenders is that the GOP nomination is currently a race to the hard right. Those vying for the Republican nomination are trying to woo an ever-increasingly conservative base.

This isn’t uncommon in American politics -- the move from nomination contests to the general election is often a huge swing ideologically for both candidates. But the Republican swing seems to be wider, with Republican candidates staking policy positions that may appeal to primary voters within their party but not so much within the electorate overall.

Meanwhile, independents in America seem to be getting more liberal, especially among Millennials who are becoming a large bloc of the American electorate.

(I first spotted this trend in 2010, noting that dipping polling numbers for President Obama seemed to suggest that dissatisfied liberals were behind the drop.)

Whoever the Republican candidate for president ends up being they’re going to face some huge challenges in 2016. They’ll have to explain some pretty outlandish policies and statements that seemed like the right thing to support before their nomination but don’t hold up well within the American populace overall.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, the all-but-certain nominee for the Democratic Party’s ticket, seems to have things wrapped up already. It isn’t a guaranteed victory, but it’s a comfortable lead that she holds for the time being.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Change is needed in law enforcement practices, but let's not pick "sides"

Let's commit to ending racial disparities, but let's also recognize the sacrifices that most law enforcement officers make

If you have time this morning, read the Appleton Post Crescent’s recent editorial about the death of Tony Robinson. It’s a smart piece, and it gives real context to the debate overall.

Here’s a quick excerpt, a response to the comments that the Post Crescent received on its stories about the situation:
The word “thug” was tossed around and people talked about the value of one person’s life over another. Some unquestionably backed police officers and others said police never have good intentions. Few offered solutions.

When we blindly repeat labels, nothing is accomplished.

No matter what your thoughts, we can all look at the big picture: We want a more peaceful society. We don’t want to live in fear of criminals or police.
I don’t believe that we need to “pick sides” in this conversation. There is a disproportionate amount of crime that seems to target black people in this state. Indeed, Wisconsin locks up more African Americans in its jails than any other state in the nation. That fact desperately needs our attention, and solutions need to be made quickly.

At the same time, respect for law enforcement must remain. Even the family of Tony Robinson acknowledged this.

“We are not proponents of anti-police, in terms of the chants I hear, in regards to not trusting police -- we don’t condone that,” Robinson’s uncle said at a recent press conference.

Madison’s Police Chief Mike Koval has expressed his apologies to the community and to the Robinson family, and has also acknowledged the need for change to address the growing problem of racial disparities in the city. The Robinson’s have expressed their respect for law enforcement and the need to keep this matter civil when protests occur.

The people on both sides of this issue need to do the same.

As for me, I support change in policing that will create a more reputable and fair process. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-police. Quite the contrary -- I try and show respect for law enforcement whenever possible, understanding that they put their lives on the line for us every day.

Change is needed. And the debate on that change needs to be open and honest, resulting in a process that everyone can respect.