Posts Tagged ‘unions’

13
Aug

Top Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, China, Congress, Top Articles, Uncategorized   Print Print

Here are this week’s Top 5:

1. American’s Desire for Earned Success – Pollster and pundit Michael Barone pontificates on why Democrats’ plans for winning over the majority of Americans – by buying them off with entitlements and benefits – isn’t working:

Why aren’t voters moving to the left, toward parties favoring bigger government, during what increasingly looks like an economic depression?…

I think the larger mistake the Obama Democrats have made is that they suppose ordinary voters want government to channel more money in their direction.

But ordinary Americans don’t want money as much as they want honor. They want what the chance to achieve what American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks calls “earned success.

2. Wisconsin Recall Elections Bring Disappointment to Unions – As expected by political insiders, last Tuesday’s recall elections involving six Republican state senators yielded only two new Democrats, falling one shy of what was needed to turn the State Senate. This affirms the voters’ general support for how things are going in the state. It also comports with the good news coming out of Wisconsin in the last few months showing the positive effects of Governor Walker’s collective bargaining law – cities able to re-negotiate with unions and save their budgets from a lot of red ink:

Someone has to be pretty deep in the Land of Denial to spin the Wisconsin recall elections as good news for Democrats. But the Daily Kos’ Markos Moulitsas rose to the occasion yesterday.

Republicans managed to keep four of the six seats that Democrats and their public union allies had targeted for recall, thwarting Democratic plans to wrest control of the state legislature from GOP hands. Of the two seats that Republicans lost, one was in a solidly Democratic district that a Republican happened to hold only due to a fluke of nature, David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner notes. And the second was held by an alleged adulterer whose wife revealed that he had moved outside his district to live with his young lover.

3. Getting Serious with the Super Committee – The Super Committee was chosen this week by the respective Congressional leaders and the positioning has already begun over spending cuts, defense cuts, new tax revenues and entitlement changes. But like we saw with the previous budget deals, there seems to be little willingness to make structural or permanent changes. Yet a cursory review of current programs with the question in mind – do they serve a valuable purpose – could go a long way toward debt reduction:

But what many of these media accounts will inevitably fail to do is ask fundamental questions about these programs: What were they designed to do? And is there any evidence they accomplish their purpose? Those questions are significant because much of discretionary spending that our government introduces is speculative in nature. That is, there is little or no evidence when we begin this spending that the money will actually accomplish what we want it to. That’s why we wind up funding anti-poverty programs that don’t reduce poverty, and job training initiatives that don’t get people jobs. We justify tax expenditures to make homes more affordable or to reduce our energy dependence, when there’s little evidence they accomplish either. And yet, once begun, we often can’t get rid of this spending, even when the evidence against its effectiveness is substantial.

4. Britain is in Disarray – Despite the hullabaloo caused by S&P’s downgrade of the U.S., this last week saw even more turmoil in the European economies and even violence in Britain:

The British state is morbidly obese. For a third consecutive year, government will spend more than half the gross domestic product — partly because half of all jobs created during the 13 years of Labor Party governance that ended in May 2010 were in the public sector.

Britain’s debt, now 62 percent of GDP, is scheduled to rise to 71 percent in 2013-14 before declining. Government devours 47 percent of national income.

The five-year goal of reducing it to 40 percent will be difficult because Cameron has a tepid mandate. In 2010, Conservatives almost suffered a fourth consecutive defeat, and they failed to win a majority against an exhausted and unpopular Labor government.

5. Are US-Sino Relations Destined to Fall Apart - As the U.S. economy continues to stumble, questions and fears continue over the Chinese and their long-term desires. The relationship is made even more tense by the Chinese military buildup as evidenced by their first naval battleship completed this week. What some are arguing is a serious focus on improving and maintaining better relations with the Chinese:

In a recent piece in the New York Times, Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, stressed the importance of improving Sino-US military relations.

Mullen acknowledged that PLA-Pentagon ties have frequently been characterized by ‘misunderstanding and suspicion,’ and complained that Beijing continues to employ bilateral defence ties as ‘a sort of thermostat to communicate displeasure. When they don’t like something we do, they cut off ties. That can’t be the model anymore.’

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20
May

Top 5 Articles of the Week

   Posted by: Pat    in Budget/Economy, health care, Middle East, Top Articles   Print Print

1. ‘California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree, Allysia Finley, Wall Street Journal

This excellent article is number one are on our list for a reason. It clearly lays out just how out of whack California’s public prison system has become with disastrous effects on the state’s budget and other priorities, such as libraries, highways, and lower taxes.

Roughly 2,000 students have to decide by Sunday whether to accept a spot at Harvard. Here’s some advice: Forget Harvard. If you want to earn big bucks and retire young, you’re better off becoming a California prison guard.

The job might not sound glamorous, but a brochure from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it “has been called ‘the greatest entry-level job in California’—and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can’t find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy.” That’s right—instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy.

It gets better.

Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

2. ‘Has the Media Totally Forgotten About the Unemployed?, Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Is 9% unemployment the new normal? I sure hope not. Thompson’s article highlights this growing feeling in our country and features numerous charts that portray how poor our nation’s current job market has become.

Articles mentioning unemployment have plummeted nearly 70 percent since last summer, while articles mentioning the deficit have doubled over the same time, according to a National Journal report…

Unemployment duration ain’t what it used to be. In 1982, the last time unemployment tipped double digits, joblessness was more of a short-term affair. Across these four categories, the plurality of folks were unemployed for fewer than five weeks. In 2011, by contrast, about half the jobless have been out of work for at least 27 weeks. Just as striking, the number of people unemployed for less than five weeks remained under its historical average even during the worst months of the recession. In 1982, unemployment was a terrible cold, measured in weeks and maybe months. Today it’s pneumonia .

3. ‘Nearly 20 percent of new Obamacare waivers are gourmet restaurants, nightclubs, fancy hotels in Nancy Pelosi’s district, Matthew Boyle, The Daily Caller

This is the article that broke the Pelosi-waiver story (Pelosi-gate??). Exemplifies some of the extreme corruption, hypocrisy, and devastating policy impact of Obamacare.

Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district.

Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers.

Other common waiver recipients were labor union chapters, large corporations, financial firms and local governments. But Pelosi’s district’s waivers are the first major examples of luxurious, gourmet restaurants and hotels getting a year-long pass from Obamacare.

For instance, Boboquivari’s restaurant in Pelosi’s district in San Francisco got a waiver from Obamacare. Boboquivari’s advertises $59 porterhouse steaks, $39 filet mignons and $35 crab dinners.

4. ‘Why Not Honesty?, Greg Scoblete, Real Clear World: The Compass

Scoblete is a realist’s realist when it comes to American foreign policy and in dissecting President Obama’s Middle East speech, and a conservative reaction to it, he finds many central questions that are being ignored:

Here’s my question: why even “endorse the vision” that our interests and values align in the Middle East? Why not treat the American people – and, indeed, the world – like adults and try to explain the basis for U.S. policies in the region? The president made a passing attempt at framing U.S. strategic interests in the region – terrorism, oil, Israel – in the beginning of the speech, only to drown it out in a lot of Wilsonian sanctimony. But a speech discussing the convergence of American values and interests in the Middle East that did not have a single word – not one – about Saudi Arabia, and only passing mention of the Gulf states, is self-evidently dishonest.

American “values” are clearly, and frequently, subordinate to strategic interests in the Middle East. No one can seriously deny this – nor is it something to necessarily be ashamed of! Rather than trying to dress this up in a lot of flim-flam, why not tackle it head-on? Why not explain to the U.S. and the world that in some places the U.S. cannot simply support “democracy” when it does not know what will spring forth from that democracy or that the U.S. has much more urgent needs to attend to – such as protecting Israel and ensuring the stability of the Saudi monarchy?

5. ‘Obama’s $250,000 Question’, William McGurn, Wall Street Journal

When the budget you lay out has government spending growing at such a high rate, as the Obama administration’s budget for the next 10 years has, there is only a matter of time before taxes are raised, not just on the ‘rich’, but on the rest of us:

In the New Republic, the Brookings Institution’s William Galston zeroes in on the fuzzy math. “Unless Obama is prepared to tolerate huge deficits indefinitely,” he writes, “or to emulate arch-conservatives and curb the budget deficit with spending cuts only, he will have to break his unsustainable tax pledge at some point. The only question is when.”

More remarkable still, Mr. Galston was jumping off from an article in National Review by Reihan Salam, who made the same point about the mathematical impossibilities of Mr. Obama’s present tax pledge. Mr. Salam, a policy adviser at the pro-market think tank Economics 21, observes that the revenues Mr. Obama needs to pay for his agenda fall in the rung just below the super-rich—that is, Americans earning between $100,000 and $200,000

Bring your comments and own recommendations to us in the comments.

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Since passage of Obamacare, Democrats of all stripes have been interested in talking about almost any subject other than health care. Put aside talk of a signature achievement, this has been a Pandora’s box of bad policies and politics that Democrats have had to either defend at their peril or run from without directly insulting their party’s leadership and President. At this point, it’s almost a contest to see what claim proved the most outrageous, non-sensical or downright not true.

One of the first claims to fall apart was President Obama’s oft-repeated promise, “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan.” Since passage, health care providers have begun consolidating to avoid business-killing taxes and regulations. Insurance companies have been forced to raise premiums to account for scores of new benefit mandates and restrictions on what types of plans they can offer. And small businesses are looking to cut costs by dropping coverage for their employees who will now have to look to the expanded Medicaid program and the state exchanges to cover them. All of these adding tremendous costs and weight to a system that was supposed to become more efficient and cost-effective.

What this has mean for the private sector so far is an effort to get out. And one year out, over 1,000 waivers have been granted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to unions, non-profits and companies negatively affected by the legislation. Ironically, a cursory review of the waiver list shows a disproportionate number of unions, whom you may remember, were some of the bill’s loudest proponents while it was being debated. Unsurprisingly, when forced to comply with its provisions, unions demonstrated their special status with the Obama Administration and demanded to be saved from this very expensive law.

And it’s not just the basic health care plans that are being altered. Millions of Americans who rely on their FSA’s (Flexible Spending Account) to pay for their child’s special education schooling or HSA’s (Health Saving Account) to pay for over-the-counter medicines will have to find other, likely more expensive options , to get these benefits or pay for these services. Unfortunately, those seeking to actually restrain health care costs are the real losers because it was programs like HSA’s, FSA’s and Medicare Advantage – which also took a major hit under Obamacare – that sought to inject competition into the process and more importantly, give more control over health care costs to the consumer.

Strangely, Nancy Pelosi’s statement that “we have to pass it to find out what’s in it” has proven quite prescient. Slowly but surely, as more of the law’s thousands of provisions are painfully unearthed, we are forced to deal with the explosion of costs, rosy revenue projections, overly burdensome nature of the regulations, and generally unconstitutional nature of the bill’s central provision. I could go on – and I plan to in future posts – but I feel each (broken) promise and corresponding reality deserves its own special attention.

Perhaps next time I’ll discuss what I think could be the biggest whopper of them all, “Obamacare is going to add 30 million people to the insurance rolls AND save billions of dollars doing it.” I know, try not to laugh too hard.

So, what’s your favorite broken promise of Obamacare?

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