Thursday, March 6, 2014

Another Sickening Side Effect Of Act 10

For quite a while, I have been pointing out story after story about the devastating economic impact of Act 10 and the rest of Scott Walker's agenda.  I have repeatedly explained that when Walker implemented Act 10, he was redistributing the wealth from the working class to the rich corporations and CEOs.  And due to the state's 175,000 public sector employees having their take home pay cut so much, this meant that they stopped paying for such niceties such as going out to eat or catching a movie.

This decrease in money circulating forced private businesses to implement pay cuts, lay off their workers and sometimes go out of business altogether.  And the downward economic spiral would continue.

As Walker and his Teapublican allies continue to tighten the screws of their austerity economy, the bite is getting to be deeper. Walker and company continue to slash shared revenue with local governments - counties, municipalities and school districts - who in turn are forced to put that burden on their employees.  This was evidenced recently in an article in the New York Times which pointed out that the city manager for Oshkosh, Mark Rohloff, pointed out that they are seeing a nearly $1 million hole due to Walker's agenda and a public sector worker said that she had to go on public assistance because of Act 10.

With the further cuts, workers are no longer cutting out niceties, but are being forced to cut back on necessities, such as health care.  With the severe pay cuts and increases in premiums and co-pays, even if the workers have health care insurance, they cannot afford to use it. Add to this the number of people in the private sector who have seen their wages cut due to the billions of dollars taken out of the economy by Walker and the tens of thousands of people that are suffering from Walkercare and it the economic problems multiply exponentially.

And as one might have surmised, this is causing negative ripple effects in the health care field.

This sickening side effect is already being seen at Marshfield Clinic, as shown by a memo that came out on Wednesday from the president of the Clinic:

TO: Marshfield Clinic Physicians and Staff

FROM: Brian Ewert, M.D.
Jim Coleman

RE: Clinic Finances

DATE: March 5, 2014

Since the beginning of the Clinic’s fiscal year October 1, 2013, we have experienced decreasing demand for Clinic services. This became more pronounced in January and February. We attribute this decrease to patients bearing more financial responsibility for their health care due to high-deductible health plans. This has resulted in $17 million less in income than anticipated. However, we have met our goals in controlling expenses.

The significant decrease in income requires us to make further changes in Clinic expenses to preserve the Clinic’s financial strength. Both short-term and longer-term solutions are needed.

The Clinic Board instituted these short-term solutions which will apply from April 1 – September 30, 2014:

· 5 percent Physician Class A Member salary withhold
· 5 percent Staff salary withhold for salaries greater than $125,000 per year
· No 2 percent Staff salary increase previously scheduled for April 1, 2014
· Discontinue Clinic 1 percent 401(K) match

These changes will result in about a $13 million improvement in Clinic finances.

Longer-term solutions were also discussed and the Clinic Board will make final decisions over the next six weeks.

Substantial changes are occurring in how people seek health care. The Clinic has successfully changed in the past based on patients’ needs. Our continued success will require a commitment to a high degree of alignment, collaboration and partnership throughout the Marshfield Clinic Health System.
As the gentle reader can plainly see, Act 10 doesn't just affect public sector workers, but workers in the private sector as well. Furthermore, it does not only affect the here and now, but also the long term, such as retirements.

Mahatma Gandhi had said, "Poverty is the worst form of violence."  Then it has become quite evident that Act 10 and Walker's other economic policies is more than an attack on union workers or public sector workers, but an attack on every man, woman and child in the state.

The only question is how many attacks are we willing to tolerate before we fight back?


  1. The economic fallout from bad policy choices has been going on since the beginning of Walker's term and it would be difficult for anyone paying attention to support his re-election. Unfortunately, too many people still do not pay attention:

    1. Walker can be removed from office. The smart strategy -
      - Compile a list of every corporate donor, Tax havens or deductions
      given to them by Walker, the
      corporations fiscal health, profit and
      the number of jobs added or decreased during time given tax entitlements.
      - Tort reform passed by Walker after the death of the 15 year old boy - which donors were involved in lawsuits and how much and when did they give to Walker?
      -Casinos mean jobs right? Why isn't
      someone putting on the air that
      Walker is holding jobs ransom for
      donations? Once again - list the
      tribes in opposition - how much they
      donated, when and their fiscal
      health, Tax deductions or tax havens given and SHOW people what Walker does. SHOW people how Walker takes from our pocket and transfers the money to THEIR pocket. Who is the SOCIALIST now??? Redefine entitlements and socialism. Also Burke went to Harvard...better believe Walker will try to debate her as few times as possible. He knows Burke will destroy him.

    2. Your comment is most insightful and provocative: gotta agree with you.
      We have let the Teapublicans frame the debate on public policy and, of course, the corporate media and talk radio reinforce their game. The result has been an economic disaster for Wisconsinites.
      Our country once again lives in a Gilded Age, where income and wealth disparity among people is huge. Corporations, as well as the rich, pay little or none of their fair share of taxes. These people have no problem with "socialism," as long as the benefit goes to them.
      WEDC is nothing but a corporate welfare program, it's public money doled out to campaign donors, the same people who are outraged by having to provide assistance to the poor.
      Government of the people is there to provide protection to the public for which it serves. Conservatives have been able to largely dismantle the progressive ideal.
      The voting power of the rich is miniscule when compared with that of those who are forced to struggle for survival. Our Democratic Party would do well to stop playing the Teapublican game and go back to representing ordinary working citizens.
      SKW and his Teapublican lackeys in the State Legislature are failures whose only interest is helping those that don't need any more help.

  2. Love this post. You are right! The question I pose is when are we going to Institute Act 10 on the following:
    -Millionaires who pay less tax than the middle class due to deductions?
    -Corporations that do not pay their fair share of tax (like ABC Supply?)
    -Repealing ALL tax credits to corporations since ENTITLEMENTS are creating budget deficits?
    -No more deductions for company planes or corporate toys.
    People, until you hold the people who have stolen from our pockets to the same standards and hit them in their pockets - nothing is going to change. The DNC should be focused on this message and the TRUTH that people like Diane Hendricks and ABC Supply get richer because her lackey Gov. Walker took money from YOUR pocket to redistribute TO HERS. Now who is the SOCIALIST????

  3. For everyone that IS paying attention we can see what he has done. The rest of this great state, Must get the idea out of their head that the union and teachers are the bad guys (moochers) . Time for a push back by the working class and for the working poor to show this A$$ that this state belongs to every one not just the rich!!!!!

  4. Well said......the other area where Walker and his gang are pounding sand up the public's behind is the claim that thousands of jobs are going unfilled because of a lack of trained workers. This is a bold face lie. Wisconsin's labor force did not suddenly lose their skills upon Walker taking office. He wants to blame "FAILING SCHOOLS and DUMB WORKERS"FOR HIS POOR JOBS RECORD. The truth is that even if we trained every unemployed person for the existing jobs in Wisconsin, 2/3 would still be out of work. Demand from people who have money in their pocket creates jobs not a "FAKE" sills gap myth. The media, not just bloggers, have to start digging into the reality of what's happening in this state, not what Walker claims is occurring. I fear that until we bring in the U.S. Justice Dept. walker will use his donors and lawyers to keep the truth from the public.

    1. You are right! Thanks for pointing this out - the DNC needs to turn that back on Walker. How many have gone through the training to find that the jobs aren't there? At the rate WI is losing jobs, it will lead to brain drain. Well educated, we'll skilled people cannot exist where they aren't valued.The media needs to step up instead of the usual back down approach. WI is going BACKWARDS.

  5. 5% cut for physicians and others over 125K, postponed raise for those below that, and loss of 401k match. Top sided austerity. How totally unrepublican of them. Certainly they must be punished.

  6. You guys are great.

    Here's the thing, though... money saved by public entities as a result of Act 10 doesn't disappear from the economy. It's zero-sum. Now, I'll grant you that that isn't the case when talking about wage cuts at privately-held companies. When the money that otherwise would have been spent by public entities is now not being spent, and when the single source of funding for those entities is tax revenue (be it income, property, sales, etc.), then it all balances out. The money is just spread out more, and in reality, that makes it MORE likely to be spent locally. Say that there is a community with 100 residents, 10 of whom are public employees. Those public employees each take a $1000 pay cut. That means that all 100 of the residents now have $100 more to spend. It is more likely that someone will spend $100 on things like going to the movies or going out to eat than someone else would spend $1000 on such things. This is not complicated, folks.

    Also, I can't shake the nagging feeling that there is something else that has been going on regarding healthcare recently, something that has been slowly kicking in over the past year or so, that picked up in October, and then kicked in in full-gear in January, and that THAT is what may be having such a huge impact on the finances of healthcare organizations... hmmm... what could that be...

    1. There are two significant flaws in your argument.

      1. Lower government spending decreases the velocity of money which slows down the economy.

      2. Taxes are not lower. Lower state aid to schools has forced increases in local property taxes.

    2. So Anon @ 12:17 pm - So you argue that redistributing wealth via Act 10 is a smart idea? why not redistribute some of Diane Hendricks or ABC Supply wealth. Surely, the hardworking taxpayers that pay for her tax credits could spend that money more wisely? How about Georgia Pacific, the Koch Brother company? Don't you argue that we need to take 10% out of their pocket and redistribute it to the hardworking taxpayers? HMMMM...seems like someone has a beef with teachers to me.

    3. Anon @ 12:17 - you think you are so clever. But you need to realize that your argument is flawed. My property taxes went up 2K due to school aid cuts. My family doesn't spend more in the local economy - in fact, we spend far less. Did I see any fiscal benefit from Act 10? Don't make me laugh! It went to all of Walker's corporate buddies. The question is how much longer are you going to keep the blinders on? Hmmm... Obummer has nothing to do with the local economy pal. How about a few tidbits about Gov. Nitwit?
      Moving WI Forward via Scott Walker:
      - increase in poverty rates
      - increase in property taxes
      - less funding for schools - hurting my child's education
      - repeal of equal pay for women - thank God I don't work for a WI company
      - WEDC lost track of $8 million in loans that TAXPAYERS backed - and Walker took no accountability
      - Significant increase in unemployment
      - Job growth/creation at much lower rate than Jim Doyle
      - Walker not close to his promise of 250,000 new jobs
      - Wisconsin economy isn't keeping pace with Minnesota (where they don't have Act 10...Hmmmmm)
      - Pushing through a paltry $38 tax refund, to make political points but pushing the debt burden significantly higher
      - Not accepting Medicaid money so that I can pay more for Walker's stupid decisions
      - Hiring racists, bigots, perverts, and anti-semites to his staff and allowing their behavior even though they are supposed to be good stewards of public finances for the public at large - not just their own little inner circle.
      - Had to pay over $600K to buy Walker out of conviction in John Doe 1 - when John Doe 2 sticks - I'm going to celebrate like 50% of Wisconsin that is sick of letting a CRIMINAL run the show.

      Do you need more?? Cause I have a whole lot more. How Walker's socialism working for you?

    4. If you are referring to the HealthCare Marketplace and people having to actually pay for their health insurance now, with out of pocket costs and deductibles, yes I agree with you. That is definitely causing health care organizations to take a hit. These people have to make decisions now if they can afford to pay for many unnecessary trips to urgent care or specialists because they will have to pay some of the bill. I've worked the front line in health care for over 10 years and I could retire now if I had a dime for every time I heard "I don't care, I don't have to pay for anything any way"... that attitude when they had full blown BadgerCare. So now they have to make decisions like the rest of us... do I really need to see a doctor for this? Can I afford my share of the bill? NOTHING wrong with this... other than yes, less revenue for the clinics and hospitals. Which in my opinion is ok, even though I am one of those employees who will not get my 2% raise again this year.

  7. Say that there is a community with 100 residents, 10 of whom are public employees. Those public employees each take a $1000 pay cut. That means that all 100 of the residents now have $100 more to spend. It is more likely that someone will spend $100 on things like going to the movies or going out to eat than someone else would spend $1000 on such things. This is not complicated, folks.

    Its not reality either. It is not even close to reality and I would doubt you could find an economist in the country that could tell you this would happen without laughing.

    1. Then why is my check 40% less than what it used to be, and that's not EVEN including health insurance. Damn Re-pubic-ans.

  8. @ anon 12:17 - Don't you love this blog? Every time I need a good laugh I come here! out of touch liberals blaming Walker and anointing Obummer.

    1. Got nothing, eh? C'mon hotshot. Tell me what you GAINED out of Act 10. And if you say property tax, you have to name the town.

    2. I have a good laugh when a Republican trolls this blog and has to make a comment about Obummer. Really?? Obummer...that is so lame. What really chaps my hide about tea party republicans is that they assume that every argument starts with Walker vs Obama. Republicans need to understand that we can criticize Walker for CRIMINAL ACTIVITY as well as criticize Obama for weak foreign policy. You Republicans cannot admit your dear leader has any faults when he is a TRAIN WRECK. So the next time you want a good laugh, look no further than your own party of angry, entitled brats.

  9. @ Jake - I live in Kaukauna. taxes went down again for me this past year.

    1. Check out this Kaukauna School Board member writing in the Post Crescent:

      "Justification for the passage of Act 10 was that we would be able to put more money into the classroom. Since then, we’ve cut education in the state by hundreds of millions of dollars. In the last three years, we haven’t even made up half of the initial cuts Walker made in education. We in the state were all in the deficit together, but education took the brunt of the hit and hasn’t been made whole since."

      The comments to the article make it apparent that Republicans believe support for public education is nothing more than leftist ideology seeking to bankrupt the state.

    2. Ooooh, you saved a whopping $14.50 on a $100,000 home this year! You get another double cheeseburger off the Value Meal! Hope THAT'S worth screwing up your community's schools for.

      And by the way, your superintendent is a TeaBagging liar, because he counts all the savings from Act 10, but leaves out all the cuts Walker put in for state aid to his schools. <a href="> I exposed that lie 3 years ago. </a>

      But hey, if you want to turn into a West Bend-like cesspool that no one under 40 with an ounce of self-respect will live in, be my guest.

  10. Kaukauna? Consider yourself lucky. The rest of us had to pay for your meager cut. Why should you get a property tax cut when the rest of us are getting screwed?

  11. @jake - so I had a tax cut, but since when are taxes solely tied to the school district? And 14.50 in savings (using your numbers) doesn't account for any of the previously normal increases from year to year either. I get it though, we should all just pay more. I would much rather someone else control my money than me. They must know more, right? Who's with me on that???

    And quit pimping your own blog.