Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...

Category: Economy

Some Health Insurers Stop covering 100% of COVID Treatment

Good. COVID is a virus that will be with us forevermore. It is time to treat it like we would any other malady.

In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, U.S. health insurance companies declared they would cover 100% of the costs for covid treatment, waiving co-pays and expensive deductibles for hospital stays that frequently range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

But this year, most insurers have reinstated co-pays and deductibles for covid patients, in many cases even before vaccines became widely available. The companies imposed the costs as industry profits remained strong or grew in 2020, with insurers paying out less to cover elective procedures that hospitals suspended during the crisis.

Remember that whenever insurance covers anything 100%, all that means is that all premium payers are picking up the full bill.

Tesla Opens Dealership on Tribal Land to Avoid Law

Coming to Wisconsin.

Electric car manufacturer Tesla opened up its first sales and service center in New Mexico this week thanks to a first-of-its-kind partnership with a tribal nation.

 

New Mexico has laws on the books that prohibit car makers from selling directly to customers without going through third-party dealerships. The law has prevented Tesla from establishing an official presence in the state over the years.

 

But now Tesla has found a way around that. The electric car maker partnered with the first nation of Nambé Pueblo to open its first facility inside a defunct casino on tribal land north of Santa Fe, where the state law does not apply.

 

The facility opened Thursday with tribal leaders and state lawmakers in attendance who praised the deal.

Wisconsin Manufacturers Worry about Mandate During Labor Shortage

Maybe this is a boon for small employers struggling for workers. It’s still a blatantly unconstitutional power grab by a tyrannical executive, but there are always silver linings.

Erik Eisenmann, a labor attorney in Husch Blackwell’s Milwaukee law office, has been hearing from employers who have been hesitant to mandate the vaccine because they don’t want workers to quit during a tight labor market.

 

“I have a lot of clients, especially in the manufacturing space, who tell me as much as 10 percent of the workforce might leave and go down the street and work for another company that doesn’t have a requirement,” Eisenmann said.

 

Torben Christensen, president and CEO of Wiscon Products Inc., a manufacturing parts supplier in Racine, said a mandate would be impossible for employers to monitor.

 

“Our job isn’t to be confrontational with our employees, we can’t even police them for time and attendance right now because there is such a labor shortage,” Christensen said. “How on earth am I going to start policing guys if they decide they don’t want to wear a mask or get the vaccine?”

 

Christensen’s company wouldn’t fall under Biden’s mandate — his company has about 45 employees. At its peak, he had around 65 people working for him.

 

Christensen said finding workers is the hardest part of his job, but he thinks vaccine mandates at larger companies in the area may encourage people to work for him instead.

 

“I feel it’s the guys and gals that are in manufacturing, the blue collar, that are nervous about the vaccine and don’t want to be told what to do by the government,” Christensen said. “I think it will open up opportunities for companies like mine and certainly the service industries that are struggling to find help.”

What I expect is that employers make is so easy to fraud that it isn’t much of a burden for employees at all.

GM Pauses Production Due to Chip Shortage

Ouch.

New York (CNN Business)General Motors will shut production at most of its North American plants for a week or two starting next week as the worsening chip shortage takes another bite out of its plans.

 

GM and other automakers had hoped the chip shortage would be mostly behind them by now. But the surge in Covid cases, especially in Southeast Asia where many of the chip manufacturers are based, has actually created a worsening problem for automakers.

Only a small handful of GM’s plants will remain in operation during the pause. Those plants make full-size SUVs and pickups, as well as some of its sports cars, such as the Camaro and Corvette. That’s because GM is prioritizing the chips it does have on hand for its most popular and profitable vehicles.

Hospitality Industry Decimated by Government Shutdowns

Notice how many liberal groups are using the pandemic to angle for their agendas – agendas that they had long before the pandemic? Never let an opportunity go to waste… it’s clear that America’s Left is using the pandemic and the fear of a resurgence to push America closer to full socialism.

A recent survey of Wisconsin businesses by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, found that 72% of employers said the workforce shortage is the biggest public policy issue facing the state.

Nearly 80% of employers surveyed by WMC said they plan to increase the number of employees in the next six months, and will raise wages to do so. More than 25% of businesses said they plan to raise wages by more than 4% in 2021, and 70% said they plan to raise wages by at least 3%.

The COWS report argues that workers — particularly those in low-wage service jobs — need better wages, more predictable schedules and stronger benefits.

“Since the collapse, the question has been ‘when will we get back to normal?’” said COWS associate director Laura Dresser in a statement. “But ‘normal’ for low-wage workers has long been unsustainable, leaving too many families struggling to get by. Adding jobs is important, but ensuring strong job quality and supports for low-wage workers is equally important.”

The hospitality industry also took the largest hit at the national level, but Wisconsin outpaced the national rate. Hospitality employment decreased by 18.7% in Wisconsin from February 2020 to June 2021, compared to 12.9% nationally.

Other sectors that saw significant losses in Wisconsin include government, with a 6.9% decline, and natural resources and mining, with a loss of 7.7%. Industries that saw the smallest declines included information; professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; and manufacturing — all with declines of 1% or less.

Estimated 750,000 Deadbeats to be Evicted

Remember that had the government not stepped in, many of these people would have been evicted as a matter of routine. The fact that there are so many of them being evicted at once is the result of government action.

Facing a staggering amount of back rent, hundreds of thousands of individuals and families may be put out of their homes this year as the eviction moratorium comes to an end, according to research from Goldman Sachs.

 

Following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down the pandemic-era policy that kept renters in their homes despite being unable to pay, economists at the investment bank said on Monday that about 750,000 US households will ultimately be evicted later this year, barring action by Congress.

 

Crunching data from the Census Bureau and landlord trade groups, Goldman estimated that roughly 2.5 to 3.5 million American households are behind on rent, with landlords owed as much as $17 billion.

 

Delinquent renters appeared to be safe from eviction until at least October. However, the high court’s decision to lift the federal ban on evictions indicates that further action may need to be taken from Congress, which the justices cited as having ultimate authority on the matter.

Bill Introduced to Modernize Car Sales

Do it.

Wisconsin is one of approximately 16 states with a law prohibiting car buyers from purchasing a car directly from the manufacturer, including online. Instead, consumers must go through a third-party dealership. Originally meant to protect dealerships in the mid-twentieth century, this law has rapidly become obsolete.

 

As Wisconsin consumers move into the future, this law limits consumer options and keeps our automobile market stuck in the days of wood-paneled station wagons and T-tops.

 

That’s why we recently introduced a proposal in the Legislature (Senate Bill 462 and Assembly Bill 439) that would allow consumers to purchase electric vehicles directly from the manufacturer without the requirement that they go through a traditional dealership.

 

Under this bipartisan bill, any manufacturer that produces an all-electric-powered vehicle could sell those vehicles directly to the consumer, both online and at manufacturer-owned dealerships. While traditional vehicles would still be subject to the traditional rules, this bill moves car buying one step into the future.

Wisconsin’s Unemployment Rate Sits at 3.9%

Who in their right mind thinks that we need to continue to give enhanced unemployment benefits and other extraordinary bennies when we are at full employment with plenty of jobs available?

In brief, the seasonally adjusted data shows:

  • Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate in July was 66.4, 0.1 percentage point higher than June’s labor force participation rate, and 4.7 percentage points higher than the national rate of 61.7 percent. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate in July was 3.9 percent, while the national unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in the same month.

  • Place of Work Data: Wisconsin added 12,400 private-sector and 13,100 total non-farm jobs in July 2021.

Fisker Wants To Be Able to Sell Direct in Wisconsin

This is a law that has needed changing for a long time. There is no reason for the government to enforce a distribution model. For some manufacturers, the dealer/distributor model is great (this applies in all areas of business). In other areas, the producer may want to take on the distribution themselves. There is no doubt that car dealers provide a valuable service, but there’s no reason to think that manufacturers couldn’t do it themselves if they want to spend the money. Either way, the government should let the businesses and market decide.

Fisker said Foxconn has discretion of where it will build vehicles in North America for his eponymous company. But, the ban on direct sales makes Fisker less excited about the cars that will bear his name being put together in the Badger State.

“The one sticking point for Fisker — now, this is still Foxconn’s decision — but the one sticking point for me would be that I don’t want to start producing a car in a state where I can’t sell my car direct,” Henrik Fisker told Alan Ohnsman of Forbes. “If they change those (rules) I think they will be in the lead, but right now they’re not.”

 

Simon Sproule, senior vice president of communications for Fisker, told the online progressive news outlet UpNorthNews regarding the issue: “We are going to be investing with Foxconn a lot into this project, and we want to be building cars in a state that will allow us to sell those cars.”

Defenders of the law, including the Wisconsin Auto & Truck Dealers Association, say the ban on direct sales opens up more job opportunities and protects pre-existing automobile dealers.

Beware of governments that keep lists

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a taste:

Wisconsin’s Open Records Laws are generally very strong and favor the release of all information held by government unless there is a compelling reason to not do so. In this case, there are several reasons to deny public release. The release of the information would unfairly damage Wisconsin’s small businesses and potentially damage the effort to combat this and future pandemics.

 

The public disclosure of businesses where employees have had COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who did would cause undue harm to those businesses. The mere disclosure of the information gives the false impression that somehow the businesses were at fault, or at least complicit, for the spread of COVID-19, but no such connection can rationally be made. The employees might have contracted COVID-19 anywhere, but only their employers would be listed.

 

While not a fair conclusion, Wisconsin’s small businesses that show up on that list might lose potential patrons who think that the businesses are unclean, infection-spreading, hot spots. This lumps in businesses who followed every rule or advice issued from health agencies (however wrong they were) with those businesses that took little or no precautions. The fact that one employee contracted COVID-19 or encountered someone who did puts all of those businesses on the same unfair list.

 

Furthermore, employment is fluid. There is no guarantee that an employee with COVID-19 last May still works at the same employer. All the list would show is that an employee had COVID-19 sometime in the past. It is not current or actionable data. Wisconsin’s small businesses have suffered enough and do not deserve one more hit from Governor Evers by having their names thrown into the public space.

Bill Proposed to Make Unemployment Available to Those Who Quit Over Vaccine

I disagree with this.

A Wisconsin Republican lawmaker on Thursday, Aug. 12 introduced legislation that would allow people to get unemployment benefits if they quit a job due to not wanting to comply with an employer’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

 

The proposed legislation would also apply to people fired for failing to comply with an employer’s vaccine mandate. Additionally, workers who quit or were fired for not providing proof of vaccination would be eligible for unemployment benefits.

 

According to a news release from Rep. Ron Brooks, who introduced the measure, current state law stipulates that people fired from or who quit a job are ineligible to receive unemployment until a certain amount of time passes.

Right now the guidelines are very clear for unemployment eligibility. If you quit, you aren’t eligible – irrespective of the reason you quit. We do not want to open the door to government making value judgments for “good” and “bad” reasons to quit. I can totally see, for example, that future Democrats would expand the list of “good” reasons to include things like perceived racism, wage disputes, or political differences. This will create havoc on businesses trying to keep employees and drive up the cost of business and government.

Leave this alone. It really stinks that some people are being forced to make the very hard choice of their job or getting a vaccine, but this is not the cure.

Biden Extends Financial Hardship for Rental Property Owners

The long term impact of this is going to be a severe shortage in affordable rental properties as small and medium property owners decide that it isn’t worth the risk to rent their properties. The larger property owners will jack up rates to build a financial hedge against government intervention.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new eviction moratorium that would last until Oct. 3, as the Biden administration sought to quell intensifying criticism from progressives that it was allowing vulnerable renters to lose their homes during a pandemic.

 

The ban announced Tuesday could help keep millions in their homes as the coronavirus’ delta variant has spread and states have been slow to release federal rental aid. It would temporarily halt evictions in counties with “substantial and high levels” of virus transmissions and would cover areas where 90% of the U.S. population lives.

 

The announcement was a reversal for the Biden administration, which allowed an earlier moratorium to lapse over the weekend after saying a Supreme Court ruling prevented an extension. That ripped open a dramatic split between the White House and progressive Democrats who insisted the administration do more to prevent some 3.6 million Americans from losing their homes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Beyond the real impact, this is flatly immoral. We, the taxpayers, are already providing massive amounts of financial relief to people impacted by the pandemic. It is not unreasonable to expect that they will pay their rent with it. Why are the taxpayers and property owners bearing the burden for people who can, and should be working and paying their bills? If they can’t work, there are ample programs to help them. Either way, people need to pay their rent or move to somewhere they can afford.

Federal Eviction Moratorium Finally Nearing End

If you aren’t paying rent, can you really be called a “renter?”

While many landlords say they can only go so long without being paid, some tenants are left worried about what their next move will be.

 

“The moratorium ending, it basically means that at any moment I could end up on the street,” said Heather Waller, a renter who has benefited from the eviction moratorium for months.

 

“I don’t know what tomorrow looks like. So, my anxiety has been really severely bad just thinking about how I might not have a roof over my head.”

Congress Moving to Increase Inflation

In light of the inflation pressures the economy is experiencing, the Congress is making a bipartisan effort to make it worse.

(CNN)The Senate took the next step on Friday to bring up a roughly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal that will fulfill key priorities in President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Senators voted 66-28 on a motion to proceed, a vote that will open up the legislative package to potential changes through the amendment process.

Housing Market Levels Off

The market always works... demand went up; supply can’t keep up, so prices went up until the high prices leveled demand. National stats are misleading as certain geographies will continue to see crushing demand as others level off. Some areas never saw it in the first place. But it does look like the housing market has peaked for now.

Sales of newly built homes dropped in June to the lowest level since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Monday.

 

Sales of new single-family homes fell to an annualized rate of 676,000, 6.6% below May’s rate of 724,000 and 19.4% below the June 2020 level of 839,000. Analysts were expecting new home sales to increase by 3.4% in June to 795,000.

After a year of frenzied buying and price gains in the double digits, newly built homes are now out of reach for much of the demand that remains in the market.

 

The median price of a newly built home in June rose just 6% from June 2020, and while that is a large gain historically, it is nothing compared with the 15-20% annual gains seen in previous months.

 

Most of the homebuying is on the higher end of the market, and builders cannot afford to put up affordable homes due to skyrocketing construction costs.

Wind Farms Threaten Fishing Industry

I suspect that the fears may be overstated, but it is worth remembering that every action has consequences.

While there isn’t a single wind turbine spinning off the coast of the Garden state yet, plans are under way for new offshore wind developments that hope to power more than a million homes with carbon-free energy over the next several years.

 

The wind farms are expected to create thousands of new jobs, but the price tag looks steep to Dameron, who fears those jobs and climate benefits will come at the expense of his industry. If wind lease areas are fully developed across the mid-Atlantic, Dameron said clam fishermen will lose access to highly productive areas of the ocean, which could send the multimillion-dollar industry into a “downward spiral”.

 

“I could see the clam industry in Atlantic City disappearing,” Dameron said.

Evers Throws Your Money Into Money Pit

This is a good insight into the liberal mindset.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday announced that $130 million in federal coronavirus relief funds will be used to help address the state’s worker shortage problem and assist unemployed people searching for a job.

The bulk of the money, $100 million, will go toward a workforce innovation program for the development of solutions to workforce challenges the state faced after the COVID-19 pandemic, Evers said.

Another $20 million will go to a worker advancement initiative that will offer about 2,000 unemployed people subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers. And $10 million would go to a program that provides workforce career coaches to help people find jobs.

So Evers won’t do something that would save money and actually help the problem, like end federal unemployment enhancements early, but he will spend a ton of your money on another government program. While not actually solving anything, he will send your money to his political cronies who run programs like this.

Inflation Surging

Ouch

Wholesale prices for June rose more than expected in another sign that inflation is moving at a faster pace than markets had anticipated.

 

The producer price index, which measures what companies get for the goods they produce, increased 1% from May and jumped 7.3% on a year over year basis. That marked the second month in a row that the PPI set a record for a data series that goes back to 2010.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a 0.6% monthly increase.

 

Stripping out volatile food, energy and trade prices, the core PPI increased 0.5%, in line with estimates.

 

The PPI headline surge comes a day after the Labor Department reported a 5.4% year over year jump in the consumer price index, the biggest move for that measure since 2008.

 

The producer price index differs from the CPI in that it measures final demand prices that companies get for their goods. The CPI tracks what consumers actually pay at the register.

Evers Retards Economic Recovery with Veto

It’s difficult to think he’s this stupid, so it must be intentional. I expect that he is playing the game that the longer the pain lasts, the longer he can push for socialist “solutions.” Screw those suffering Wisconsin business owners, right?

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican bill Tuesday that would eliminate a $300-a week federal bonus for unemployed people.

 

The bonus was designed to help the unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s scheduled to end on Sept. 6 but Republican legislators pushed the bill through the Assembly and Senate earlier this month, insisting that business can’t find workers and the bonus is keeping people from seeking work.

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