No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Day by Day cartoon

Archive for August, 2011

August 30, 2011

Tax the rich? They’re already becoming extinct.

by @ 22:47. Filed under Economy Held Hostage, Taxes.

(H/T – Dad29)

Buried in an early-August Reuters story on the preliminary 2009 Statistics of Income tables produced by the Internal Revenue Service is this little “gem”:

The number of Americans reporting incomes of $10 million or more also plunged even more than the steep drop in income for the population as a whole.

Just 8,274 taxpayers reported income of $10 million or more in 2009, down 55 percent from 18,394 in 2007. Compared with 2007, total real income of these top earners in 2009 fell 58.6 percent to $240.1 billion, but average income slipped just 8.1 percent to $29 million.

Arriving off a coast near you – Ohio-class SSGNs with TLAM-Es

by @ 9:58. Filed under Military.

(H/T – Gabriel Malor)

Strategy Page reports the USS Florida (SSGN-728), one of four Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines converted to carrying a heap of cruise missiles and a rather large detatchment of Navy SEALs, saw action in the Libyan Wa…er, Kinetic Military Action. The Ohio-class subs, whether in ballistic-missile or cruse-missile form, are widely reported to be the quiestest nuclear submarines in the world. With nuclear weapon treaties requiring the United States Navy to retire four of the Ohios, and at least 20 years of life remaining on the four oldest, they were sent in for conversion for a multi-dimensional conventional role, losing their 24 Trident ballistic missle tubes but gaining space for 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 66 waterborne special forces types.

The jury is still out on using the third-largest submarine class in the world to deliver SEALs into shore, but being able to sneak the same number of cruise missles as a surface action group a bit off-shore and not having the target know anything about it until the shooting starts is awesome.

August 29, 2011

Affirmative action for the ugly?

by @ 16:14. Filed under Lawsuit madness.

(H/T – Stacy McCain, who I have been ignoring for far too long)

I can’t write nearly as eloquently, or use nearly as many words in doing so, as Stacy, but this New York Times piece from Daniel S. Hamermesh on how the ugly could and should use the courts to compensate for what genetics and a lifetime of self-abuse didn’t give them just rubs me the wrong way:

A more radical solution may be needed: why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?

We actually already do offer such protections in a few places, including in some jurisdictions in California, and in the District of Columbia, where discriminatory treatment based on looks in hiring, promotions, housing and other areas is prohibited. Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Ugly people could be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination. We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.

Mind you, my face could turn Medusa to stone so I would potentially stand to gain from it, but this is just wrong. I’ll let Stacy’s close speak to that:

We cannot resent the world for being the way it is. Or if we do, we are no better than liberals chasing after the ridiculous illusion of “social justice.” So unless we wish to see a lot of ugly people on TV — think of The View, minus Elizabeth Hasselback — there is no point complaining that the medium prefers pretty people. (And I say that at 3:20 p.m. ET, while Shep Smith is on Fox News.)

That reminds me; Shoebox and I had better get a Rule 5-qualifier as a third leg to this place.

Your NSFW video of the day (and an Obama disapproval update)

by @ 15:56. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

(H/T – Ace, who approved of the creative use of the f-bombs)

A fellow AoSHQ Moron™ by the nom de comment of Plonked! whipped up video of a certain dead Nazi’s reaction to Teh Won’s (aka Stuttering Clusterfuck Of A Miserable Failure) plummeting poll numbers…

Meanwhile, Obama has never been more underwater in the Gallup tracking poll, going to 38% approval-55% disapproval as of Sunday. Rasmussen is slightly kinder to him, with 45% approval-55% disapproval-Approval Index -19.

Violent Wisconsin political women – Manitowoc edition

by @ 15:17. Filed under Law and order, Politics - Wisconsin.

(H/T – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter carried the story of a Manitowoc woman arrested last week for hitting her husband three times during an argument involving Gov. Scott Walker and financial burdens left behind by the woman’s deceased mother. While the story does not note the political affiliation of the woman, it does cite the police report in noting her alcohol-blood level was 0.265, more than 3 times the legal limit for motor vehicle operation.

Why do I get the feeling she voted for Justice Ann Walsh Bradley?

PLO – We won’t accept a Jewish state

by @ 8:42. Filed under International relations.

(H/T – Memeorandum)

Ynetnews is reporting that Palestinian Liberation Organizati…er, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will not recognize a Jewish nation even as he presses forward with UN recognition of a Palestinian nation. The relatively-good news is that the US isn’t backing that effort (though, like all statements from Obama, it is subject to an expiration date).

The pieces are starting to fall together for the next Arab-Israel war, as Egypt slides into Islamic fundamentalism (latest example – the Muslim Brotherhood has ordered the Israeli ambassador to Egypt to leave or die) and the threat to Egypt from the west, a Gaddafi-led Libya, is neutralized. The only question is whether Syria will end up being an anvil or the second pincer in that attempt.

The Morning Scramble – Getting back into the groove

by @ 8:17. Filed under The Morning Scramble.

It’s been far too long since I last posted. We’ve been downgraded, the East Coast has had 2 of the 10 plagues hit it, and judging from the Dane County Sheriff’s office records, Ann Walsh Bradley should have came far closer to having criminal charges levied against her than against David Prosser. Maestro, music while I bring forth the linkage and a one-time return of The Morning Scramble…

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  • William Jacobson explains just how much more toxic Bradley has made the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • Duane Lester says that after a disappointing 4th-place finish in a straw poll conducted by the Georgia Republican Party despite being the only candidate to show up, Newt Gingrich needs to drop out.
  • Steve Burri explains why the rent-a-mob unionistas from Chicago is so pissed off at Scott Walker. By the way, the magic number is now 18.
  • Skip exposes how the minority half of the bipartisan Party-In-Government is trying to blackmail the Tea Party Movement in New Hampshire so they can return the GOP to minority status.
  • Kevin Binversie explains why “green jobs” is a joke. Remember, you can’t spell PIIGS without Spain, the financially-troubled European nation that bet and lost big on “green jobs”.
  • Jim Geraghty expects the “unexpected” economic news.

August 20, 2011

Just (UN) Do It!

Following his most recent campaign tour through the Midwest, the Divider and Agitator in Chief is going on vacation.  Oh, but don’t call this a real vacation as the Divider and Agitator in Chief will be working hard while hanging out on Martha’s Vineyard. 

If you hadn’t noticed, the economy isn’t doing so well these days.  It’s apparent that the Divider and Agitator in Chief has noticed the poor economy.  Just before going on vacation to the Vineyard, he announced that he will make a serious policy speech addressing his ideas on what should be done to get job creation going right after his vacation he spends some time contemplating what should be done.

I’m glad the Divider and Agitator in Chief will be addressing the jobs issue.  However, I’m getting really concerned about all that gray hair he opportunistically sports.  Michelle says he has earned everyone of those gray hairs, I can only imagine it’s because he worries so much and works so hard for us.  As a heart attack and bypass survivor, I want to do my part to keep our Divider and Agitator in Chief’s stress in a safe range.  To that end, I offer the President the following advice for his “jobs creation speech” so that he can rest, relax and play golf while he’s on vacation at Martha’s Vineyard.

Are you ready?  My idea is so simple I’m surprised The Divider and Agitator in Chief hasn’t come up with it before.  Here’s what the Divider and Agitator in Chief should propose doing in his big speech:

NOTHING!

The problem this Divider and Agitator in Chief has is that like a two year old in a fine crystal store, everything he touches he breaks!  Doing or touching anything at this point, will only result in higher unemployment because that is what every effort of his has resulted in.  In fact, now that I think about it, if the Divider and Agitator in Chief really wanted to create jobs, the best thing he could do is UN DO damn near everything he has done since being in office!

OK, this is a hard concept for the Divider and Agitator in Chief.  In fact, it’s probably a hard concept for damn near every government employee and elected official.  They all think their jobs are “to do things.”  No, dammit, get your fingers off and quit coming up with a new set of uncertainty to insert in the economy!  See, I told you it was simple.

Still don’t understand?  Let me give some specifics to the Divider and Agitator in Chief:

  • UN DO the restrictions and blocking on new fossil fuel exploration – how many jobs have we lost or sent away in the Gulf of Mexico?  How many jobs could we have in ANWR or Colorado?  How many additional mining jobs could we have if we quit running scared of our own shadow over coal?  Turning loose our energy industry would not only increase jobs, it would decrease energy costs.  Wow, a twofer on the first suggestion!
  • UN DO the EPAs undercover efforts to implement cap and trade by regulating carbon dioxide off the planet!  Take a look at what’s happening in the utility industry.  Major electrical generating companies are looking at shuttering plants because they’re too expensive to upgrade for the new regulations.  Do you think any of these companies are hiring people for these plants?  Only enough to eek by.  If a plant is slated for closing, companies will get by on skeleton crews so that they don’t incur extra costs when it comes time to close the plant.  Oh, and if you don’t think businesses across the country are concerned about the threat of increasing electrical costs and potential brown outs, you’re fooling yourself!  All you need to do is look at Texas where they are already planning for brown outs as a result of the new regulations!
  • UN DO the NLRB’s rabid intensity against all jobs that are none union.  How many jobs would begin in South Carolina alone or not uncreated or shipped overseas,  if the NLRB quit trying to enforce all union all the time policies?

Oh, I could go on and on listing things that the Divider and and Agitator in Chief could UN DO but let me leave you just one last one:

Placebocare!  UN DO it!  I talk to a lot of senior business executives as a part of my work.  The number one thing discussed as we look into the next year or two and the number one thing that has them tentative about the future is understanding the impact of Placebocare on their businesses.  UN DOing this legislation alone would remove a huge overhang on the US business environment.

OK, there’s my idea.  I hope this helps the Divider and Agitator in Chief have a more restful vacation time for planning his campaign his next year.  It probably will be a part of his speech because look at the cool T-shirt I just received as a thank you:

August 16, 2011

Recall Mania, Last Call – liveblog

by @ 19:32. Filed under Elections, Politics - Wisconsin.

In case you got here early, there’s a few good takes on what is happening today (besides mine) to tide you over until things start moving along from Kevin Binversie, Randy Melchert (focusing on the 12th) and Christian Schneider. Also worth reading is WisPolitics’ Election Blog, with a treasure trove of stories and links.

For those of you stepping in late, today’s recall elections of Democrats Jim Holperin (12th District) and Robert Wirch (22nd District) against, respectively, Kim Simac and Jonathan Steitz, are the last of the series of recalls that originally stemmed from the budget repair battle that saw all 14 Democrat Senators flee the state in an ultimately-futile attempt to keep all of the exhaustive and expensive collective bargaining privileges public unions had in Wisconsin. The Democrats were initially more energized once recall efforts began, and forced 6 of 8 Republican Senators to face recall elections, while Republicans were only able to force 3 of 8 Democrat Senators to face recall elections. Last month, the first of the Democrats, Dave Hansen, easily survived his recall after the better of the two potential challengers was tossed off the ballot. Last week, Republicans held onto 4 of 6 seats up for election to keep a 17-16 majority in elections that approached the turnout of November’s gubernatorial election (and in one case, exceeded the turnout).

The early reports suggest that, despite control of the Senate not being at stake, turnout in both the 12th and 22nd Districts are very high. While the claims that the turnout will approach Presidential elections will, like last week, almost certainly fall short, they appear to be close to the gubernatorial election last year, and greater than the Supreme Court election back in April.

Just a quick note before I direct you to the Cover It Live window (direct link/mobile link if for some reason your browser doesn’t suport iframes), which will open for business about 8 pm when the polls close – this is a “news” liveblog, so keep it clean.

Recall Mania, Last Call – What to look for

by @ 2:24. Filed under Elections, Politics - Wisconsin.

Today is the last round of recalls in Wisconsin for at least a little while. This time, it’s the Democrats that have seats to lose, as the 12th District’s Jim Holperin (Conover) and the 22nd District’s Robert Wirch (Pleasant Prairie) face, respectively, Kim Simac and Jonathan Steitz. Since, unlike last week, I’m in town and will be able to better track the results, and also because Michelle Malkin linked to last week’s analysis, I’ll put down what trends I’m looking for once the polls close at 8 pm.

12th District

There are a pair of dueling polls, one from Public Policy Polling for their biggest partisan client, Daily Kos, and one from We Are America for the right-advocating Red Racing Horses (crosstabs of the latter courtesy WisPolitics). Even though both polled roughly the same number of people over the weekend and have an effectively-identical 2.6% margin of error, the top line can’t possibly be more different. While PPP/DKos has Holperin up 55%-41% overall, and 51%-43% among “independents”, WAA/RRH has Holperin up 51%-49% (actually a few tenths less) overall, and Simac up 52%-48% among “independents”.

The big difference is, as is often the case, the partisan weighting. PPP/DKos has the Democrat/Republican/”independent” ratio at 35%/26%/39%, while WAA/RRH has it at 28%/28%/43% (with 1% refused, and the Dems with a statistically-insignificant advantage). As followers of Wisconsin politics know, there is no such thing as partisan registration in Wisconsin, so one has to dig into the results to figure out which is right and which is BS. My “generic R-v-D” calculation, averaging out the 2008 Presidential and 2010 gubernatorial results, gives the generic Republican a 5.0 percentage point advantage. The high-water mark for the Democrats in competitive races this past decade was, ignoring minor-party and write-in candidates, a 7.0 percentage-point margin, gained by long-time incumbent state Senator Roger Breske in 2004 (who departed for a state job in 2008, opening the door for Holperin), US Senator Russ Feingold in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008. Holperin, against the same opponent as Breske, managed only a 2.4 percentage point margin in 2008.

I could almost argue that both polls overweight Democrats, especially since Red Racing Horses cited Republican internal polls that have Simac up by at least 4 percentage points, and last week, incumbency was worth an average of roughly 3 percentage points over “generic”. However, the race is all about turnout, and despite both campaigns pouring everything into it (story via WisPolitics), nobody really knows what the turnout is going to be.

The problem is nobody is going to have fully-collated reporting-unit-level results, partly because not every county clerk will have them available on their websites. If those numbers are available, I’ll be looking at the following places for the trend:

Strong Republican areas - Towns of Minocqua (R+17) and Three Lakes (R+19) in Oneida County, towns of Boulder Junction (R+24), Lincoln (R+15, and Simac’s home) and St. Germain (R+25) in Vilas County
Strong Democrat areas - City of Tomahawk (D+8) in Lincoln County, Menominee County (D+60), city of Rhinelander (average of D+24 in the various wards) in Oneida County, town of Lac du Flambeau (D+17) in Vilas County

22nd District

There haven’t been nearly as much focus on this district, though WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes got an interview with Steitz (go to the 39:00 mark), and WISN-TV’s Mike Gousha did a joint interview with both candidates. I haven’t seen any TV ads the past week (though I don’t watch much TV) and what little music radio I catch (including a Kenosha-licensed station) has been essentially ad-free, though Steitz’s ads have been on conservative talk radio stations.

The only recently-released poll is a PPP/DailyKos poll from the weekend that had Wirch up 55%-42%. While the partisan split is 39% D/28% R/34% I, given the generic Democrat has a 4.8 percentage point advantage, and up until last year, the only Republican to win a district-wide election the past decade was Congressman Paul Ryan, that split is actually closer to reality.

It’s basically the city of Kenosha (and to a lesser extent, the town of Somers) versus the rest of the district. If Steitz can get to 41% in the city of Kenosha (what current RNC chair Reince Priebus did in his unsuccessful run at Wirch in 2004 and a couple points less than what Scott Walker did in the 2010 gubernatorial election) and 64% in the city/town of Burlington (again, a couple points less than what Walker did, though several points more than what Priebus did), he may well pull off the upset.

August 13, 2011

The BBA State Fair Get Together is back – Sunday, 1 pm (or so), The Micro – Bumped

by @ 23:24. Filed under Miscellaneous.

Perhaps the best part of the late, great Badger Blog Alliance was the get-togethers the gang had at Benno’s Microbrew Tent at the Wisconsin State Fair. Much like the BBA itself, and frankly, the posts here while I was (mostly unsuccessfully) hunting walleye the past week, it sort of faded away. That fade was a shame because while Drinking Right is great, not everybody (cough…Wiggy…cough…Owen…cough…) can make it out on a Tuesday night.

Thankfully, Kevin Binversie is back in the land of cheese and beer full-time, and wanted to get the gang back together. The father of the BBA, Jib, has given his blessing, so it’s back.

The 2011 BBA State Fair Get Together is set for Sunday, August 14, around 1 pm at The Micro (or for those of you who haven’t been there yet this year, what was Benno’s Microbrew Tent). If memory serves, it’s at Second Street and Central Avenue It’s right behind Benno’s on Central, so you can look for that, the Cousin’s Ampitheater sign, or Benno’s Micro Alley (the extension of First Street, which is at the north end of the cream puff building), conveniently near the New Berlin Lions Corn and the Super Slide. It’s the State Fair, so bring the family.

See you there.

Revisions/extensions (11:24 pm 8/13/2011) - Gave a better location after some recon, and bumped the post up to the top (originally posted at 8:42 am 8/10/2011).

August 12, 2011

Tech notes, CiL and WP/IE edition – UPDATE – CiL’s issue was with Rackspace

by @ 7:14. Filed under The Blog.

I had a pair of tech “issues” pop up yesterday. First things first, Cover It Live puked up major lung butter halfway through the debate last night. There were a whole heap of comments I saw in the “Recent Comments” window as approved (auto-approved, actually), yet they weren’t in the liveblog window. The comments that made it there the last 15 minutes of the liveblog weren’t in the “Recent Comments” as they should be. Most of my late attempts to post something never showed up. Oh well, I get what I (don’t) pay for. Sorry about that.

The second issue is more of an annoyance. When WordPress launched the 3.2.x series, they put a browser check in the main admin page designed to “nudge” people away from outdated browsers, like the no-longer-supported Internet Explorer 6. Yesterday, when I decided to log in from the laptop, I got the “Your browser is out of date” warning, despite (actually, because of) the fact that it was the absolute latest version of IE, 9.0.2. It seems Microsoft decided to patch IE 9 without telling anybody. That includes, at least as of late yesterday, their IE web page team, as if one heads to the IE download page, it will give you (or at least try to give you) 9.0.1.

The bottom line is that, assuming you trust IE (which you should about as far as you can throw it), and you have 9.0.2, you can click the “ignore” link, and the “false warning” will go away.

Revisions/extensions (8:17 am 8/12/2011) - I just got an e-mail from the techies at CoverItLive (the time mentioned is Eastern Daylight):

Last night, Rackspace (the company we and a large number of other major online services around the world use for our back-end servers) experienced performance issues intermittently between 10:00 and 10:30pm. Unfortunately this issue caused delays to the CiL comment moderation feature. Rest assured the issue is actively being addressed with the folks at Rackspace.

In short, it was just one of those random dead-server issues that happened to occur when I was trying to use it.

August 11, 2011

Pre-Ames Straw Poll GOP debate liveblog

by @ 18:43. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

I haven’t quite decided whether to turn off the (almost-)no-swearing lamp and let the alcohol flow, but we’re almost at the unofficial start of the Presidential campaign. Fox News is hosting tonight’s debate just before the Ames Straw Poll, and they lined up the 8 contenders who were officially in the race at the start of today:

- Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
- Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO/radio talk show host Herman Cain
- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
- Former Utah governor/ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
- Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
- Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty
- Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney
- Former Senator Rick Santorum

That means no Texas governor Rick Perry, even though he let slip he’s entering the race this weekend.

As always, I’ll be using CoverItLive to handle the live-blogging traffic, so you won’t need to hit refresh to keep up. I’ll start things about 7:45 pm. If you don’t see the CiL window below, click here to catch it in a new window.

Revisions/extensions (9:16 pm 8/11/2011) - Since CiL crashed, not just for me but for everybody, I’m concentrating on Twitter. Sorry about that.

Recall Mania – Round 3 post-mortem

by @ 2:06. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

Now that the initial euphoria of the Republicans hanging onto control of the Wisconsin State Senate has worn off, it’s time to start digging through the numbers. I’ll let the political pros like Kevin Binversie, Lance Burri, Christian Schneider and the semi-anonymous Recess Supervisor handle the various main political aspects since, up until Tuesday afternoon, I had been on vacation for a week.

“Polls And Votes”‘ Charles Franklin, WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes, and Randy Melchert all at least touched on elements of a numerical analysis. Franklin focused more on the comparisons to the 2010 gubernatorial election, especially in a Twitter follow-up that specifically dealt with how the Republican Senators compared to Governor Scott Walker. Sykes noted that far fewer people voted for the winners on Tuesday than they did for the winners in 2008. Melchert compared the Republicans’ vote percentage to that of Supreme Court Justice David Prosser in his April 2011 re-election.

Even though Wisconsin has historically seen far less party loyalty by its voters than other states, and the recent election that is closest in structure and general energy to the recall elections was the Supreme Court election, I am a bit wary of using that as the main point of comparison. After all, the office of Supreme Court Justice is officially a non-partisan office, while the office of State Senate is a partisan office. Moreover, in all six districts, there were significantly more people voting on Tuesday than voted in April and in one (the 2nd), more people voting on Tuesday than voted in November 2010, which is something that, honestly, surprised me. Still, as Melchert noted, the Republicans as a group did rouglhy a percentage point better than Prosser in those districts.

Focusing solely on either the 2010 gubernatorial election or the 2008 elections is a bit problematic. 2008 was, despite the fact that all six Republicans were elected/re-elected that year, the second half of the Democrat wave. After two extremely-close Presidential elections, Barack Obama beat John McCain by 14.1 percentage points (ignoring the minor-party candidates and write-ins as the Associated Press did not report that on Tuesday’s elections) statewide, and by a cumulative 7.4 percentage points in the 6 districts that had elections Tuesday. Moreover, two of the six Republicans, Robert Cowles and Luther Olsen, did not have a Democrat challenger in 2008.

2010, on the other hand, was a Republican wave, as Scott Walker beat Tom Barrett by 5.8 percentage points (again ignoring the minor-party candidates and write-ins) statewide and 12.7 percentage points in the 6 districts. Since both Walker and Barrett are from the Milwaukee area, there is no real “hometown” factor for which to adjust.

The simplest way to take out the effects of the two opposing waves is to average the top of each ticket. That gives the Democrats a 4.2 percentage point edge statewide before any other effects such as incumbency or “waves” get added in, while it gives the Republicans a 2.7 percentage point edge in the 6 districts.

The overall “What Happened?”

The Democrats took only two of the minimum of three seats they needed to gain control of the Senate. In a shift from what earlier polling had suggested, it was far closer to being only a 1-seat gain for them than a 3-seat gain. The two races that were closest were Sen. Luther Olsen’s 4.2 percentage point win over Fred Clark and Jessica King’s 2.2 percentage point win over Sen. Randy Hopper. Indeed, the Democrat Party of Wisconsin “crown jewel” of the 8th Senate District turned out not to be all that close as Sen. Alberta Darling beat Sandy Pasch by 7.3 percentage points.

Moreover, the six Republicans outpaced the Democrats by a cumulative 5.5 percentage points, almost 3 full points better than the “baseline”. That was weighted down by the underperformances by Olsen and Hopper.

Various sources have placed the total amount of money spent on these 6 recalls, the failed recall of Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), and the two still-pending recalls of Sens. Jim Holperin (D-Conover) and Robert Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) at somewhere between $30 million and $40 million, with the vast majority of that in support of the Democrats. It is hard to put that in perspective, as the normal Senate elections have been “undercards” to either gubernatorial or Presidential elections. It is far greater than what has been spent on any other set of Legislative elections or any “stand-alone” statewide election, and it at least approaches the estimated $37 million spent on the 2010 gubernatorial election.

2nd District – Robert Cowles beat Nancy Nusbaum 60.4%-39.6%

By any measure, this was an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats. Up until this summer, Cowles hadn’t faced a Democrat since at least 2000. However, his 20.8 percentage point win, the largest margin of the night, easily outpaced any numerical measure of comparison. It was over 15 percentage points greater than the “baseline”, almost 5 percentage points greater than Walker’s 16.3 percentage point win in November, and roughly 3 percentage points greater than Prosser’s win in April.

On the turnout front, the district saw the lowest turnout relative to the three recent major elections. Turnout barely beat that of the April Supreme Court race, was not even 3/4ths that of the 2010 turnout, and barely half that of the 2008 turnout.

8th District – Alberta Darling beat Sandy Pasch 53.7%-46.3%

As noted above, this was the “jewel too far” for the Democrats. They thought that Darling’s 1.0 percentage point win over then-Assemblyman Sheldon Wasserman in 2008, lower than the 2.5 percentage point advantage the “generic” Republican holds over the “generic” Democrat, actually meant something significant. All it meant was that her 7.3 percentage point win on Tuesday over Pasch, who succeeded Wasserman in the Assembly, was nearly 3 percentage points less than Walker’s win and roughly 3 percentage points worse than Prosser’s win.

This district will become more Republican when the redistricting law takes effect; it will lose Shorewood and some other very-Democratic areas in Milwaukee County and gain some more area in the suburban counties, which as a whole are the most-Republican in the state.

While turnout was “only” a few tenths higher than 90% of the 2010 turnout, that is more of a case of the residents voting in just about every election – the 73% of 2008 turnout was the greatest of the 6 districts.

10th District – Shelia Harsdorf beat Shelly Moore 57.7%-42.3%

If the 2nd was a bitter pill for “establishment” Democrats, this was that same pill for both the unions and the online left. Moore, a teacher, was the very embodiment of the public unions that were so upset with the budget repair bill. Netroots Nation organized field trips into the district during their conference in nearby Minneapolis. None of that helped, as the 15.3 percentage point win was greater than the 13.0 percentage point win Harsdorf scored against Alison Page in 2008, nearly double the 8.2 percentage point advantage the Republicans start with in the district, and roughly 10 percentage points greater than Prosser’s margin of defeat in the district. Indeed, the Democrats as a whole didn’t even bother mentioning the budget repair bill and its limitations on collective bargaining once the actual campaigns got rolling.

While turnout was only about 64% that of the 2008 election, it was actually higher than that of the 2010 election.

14th District – Luther Olsen beat Fred Clark 52.1%-47.9%

Much like Cowles in the 2nd, Olsen has not had to actually run a general election campaign in quite a while. Indeed, in his victory speech, he mentioned that it was the first time he had to run against a Democrat. Unlike Cowles, however, he underperformed against someone who represents the western third of the district in the Assembly – his 4.3 percentage point win over Clark was significantly weaker than the 5.8 percentage point advantage the “generic” Republican should enjoy, and almost a quarter the 16.7 percentage point win Walker had in the district.

Like the 8th, the 14th will be reshaped significantly through redistricting, losing Baraboo (Clark’s home, though all that appears to mean for Clark is he will need to change the district number on his business cards as there are no other incumbents in the redrawn district) and gaining more rural areas of Columbia and Dodge Counties. Since I am not that familiar with central Wisconsin, I don’t know what effect that will have on the relative partisan balance of the district, though it would seem to benefit Olsen personally as his major constituency is the farming community, especially soybean farmers.

18th District – Jessica King beat Randy Hopper 51.1%-48.9%

The old adage that affairs are political career killers (just ask Jack Ryan, who was on track to be Illinois’ junior Senator in 2004 before his, ah, “rejection of assimilation” became public) was proven true once again. After barely surviving round 1 in 2008 with a recount-verified 0.2 percentage point win over King, Hopper fell by 2.2 percentage points in the early rematch. That margin of loss represents the biggest drops of any of the 6 districts from the +5.9% Republican “baseline”, the approximate 2 percentage point Prosser win, and the nearly-16 percentage point Walker win.

Speaking of that “baseline”, King may want to just make the commute from Oshkosh rather than getting a place in Madison. If the Republicans put up a halfway-decent candidate next year, then the streak of not sending a Democrat for a full Senate term since 1932 will remain intact.

32nd District – Jennifer Shilling beat Dan Kapanke 55.4%-44.6%

This was to be expected. Walker carried the district by less than a percentage point, Prosser lost by about 14 percentage points, Obama carried the district by over 23 percentage points, and the Democrat starts with a over-11 percentage point advantage. Throw in the fact that Shilling is popular in her Assembly district and she wisely was about the only Democrat official who condemned the vandalism of Kapanke’s property when the budget repair battle was white-hot, and it became nearly inevitable that Kapanke’s personal popularity stemming from his ownership of the Northwoods League La Crosse Loggers wouldn’t be enough to carry him to victory.

What now?

First things first, there won’t be any recounts. The closest race, once the write-ins are added in, won’t be within the 2 percentage points that gives the campaign a reduced rate on picking up the cost of actually conducting a recount, much less the 0.5 percentage point threshold that shifts the cost of conducting a recount to the counties.

There are two recall elections of sitting Democrats next week – Jim Holperin in the 12th District (northeast Wisconsin) and Robert Wirch in the 22nd District (Kenosha County). The conventional wisdom (such as it is in this unprecedented season of recalls) is that Kim Simac is poised to beat Holperin, while Jonathan Steitz will fall short. That’s likely based on older assumptions, as the same set of polls that showed the Republican tightening in this past Tuesday’s elections showed the Steitz/Wirch race tightening. Moreover, the Republican Party of Wisconsin is actively organizing GOTV efforts in both districts.

The unspoken wild card is the fact that the 22nd District will become a safe-Democrat seat next year as it sheds western Kenosha County in favor of the city of Racine, and neither Wirch nor Steitz currently live within the soon-to-be-new boundaries.

Going further out, the Democrats are still promising a recall attempt against Scott Walker. I usually don’t offer free advice to the Democrats, but I will make an exception in this case – be careful of what you wish for. Walker has not forgotten how to campaign (like Olsen), nor does he have personal baggage (like Hopper). Besides, I don’t think the unions will be as generous with the money this time.

Revisions/extensions (8:18 am 8/11/2011) - I highly recommend reading Craig Gilbert’s analysis of the turnout on JSOnline. Also corrected a typo caught in the comments of the Greenroom version.

R&E part 2 (4:53 pm 8/11/2011) - WisPolitics has a rather exhaustive list of links from just about everybody on both sides of the aisle, from the pols to the bloggers, and the media in between. My thanks to them, as well as William Jacobson and Tom Blumer, for linking here.

August 1, 2011

Bottom-lining the debt deal

by @ 16:09. Filed under Budget Chop, Politics - National.

There’s been a lot of numbers and rhetoric tossed about on what the debt deal (shortened to The Deal, not because I like it, but because it makes the phrase stand out) does and doesn’t do. However, I don’t believe anybody has done an exploration of the absolute effect is. It’s high time to do so.

Baselines matter

First, the base from which the reductions are to be needs to be established. While that base has been established to be a “modified” version of the March 2011 Congressional Budget Office extended-baseline scenario, a quick review of which is part of the CBO’s review of the President’s FY2012 budget proposal.

The extended-baseline scenario assumes the CBO’s estimates, based on current law and not necessarily current policy, of direct spending (which, among other things, ends the Medicare “doc fix”) and revenues (which, among other things, assumes that all of the Bush tax rates expire at the end of 2012 and the Alternate Minimum Tax is no longer “indexed” to keep middle- and lower-income Americans from being caught in that trap), and that every top-line category of discretionary spending that does not explicitly end in FY2010 is increased at the rate of inflation.

The bottom line on that is that, on $39.03 trillion in revenue and $45.77 trillion in outlays, there would be $6.74 trillion in deficit spending. However, there are a couple of “wrinkles” that were added to that in the baseline used.

Normally, that would include spending on what used to be known as (and is still called by the Republicans on the House Budget Committee) the Global War on Terror. However, every entity, from the White House to the House of Representatives to the Senate Democrat leadership, agrees that, instead of spending $1,589 billion over the next 10 years as the extended-baseline scenario calls for, $545 billion will be spent. While the CBO excluded the entirety of that at the request of Congress as it is not part of this bill, I will add the $545 billion back in, using the House budget spending by year, as there is no difference year-to-year between the President’s and the House of Representatives’ budgets.

Also, the CBO, at the request of Congress, has figured in the effects of the final FY2011 continuing resolution. That is another $122 billion reduction in spending.

Taking the full effect of those modifications into consideration, the federal government would take in $39.03 trillion in revenue, spend $44.60 trillion, and run a 10-year deficit of $5.57 trillion.

There are a couple of other “baselines” that one could choose. The President’s budget, according to the CBO, would take in $36.70 trillion in revenue, spend $46.17 trillion, and run a 10-year deficit of $9.47 trillion. That budget already includes all of the modifications above.

An “Alternate Fiscal Scenario” from the CBO, which assumes various spending and revenue options, including those outlined above, are affirmatively extended rather than allowed to expire or otherwise not happen and last outlined in percentage-of-GDP form in June, would also need to be adjusted by the above adjustments. Once that is done, it would presume $35.05 trillion in revenues, $46.81 trillion in spending, and $11.76 trillion in deficits.

Meanwhile, the House budget, which keeps all of the Bush tax rates, indexes the AMT, and does some further tax cuts, envisions $34.87 trillion of revenues, $39.96 trilion of spending, and $5.09 trillion of deficit spending. Like the President’s budget, it already includes all the modifications above.

The first 2 years – $63 billion in scorable deficit reduction versus the “adjusted” CBO baseline

Like the CBO, I cannot and will not attempt to score the effects of a potential $1.2 trillion in “trigger” cuts, $1.5 trillion in “commission” cuts, or adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment. However, I have actually read the bill, and the discretionary spending caps are, unlike the $1.2 trillion-$1.5 trillion in “additional cuts”, actual hard numbers, not nebulous percentages or “reduction” numbers”. Therefore, actual bottom-line spending comparisons can be made against any base. As the CBO used an adjusted version of their March 2011 baseline, I added the (all-but-)agreed-to spending levels on the GWOT to do so.

Using the adjusted CBO baseline, there would be, between FY2012 and FY2013, $5.65 trillion in revenue, $7.34 trillion in spending, and $1.69 trillion in deficit spending. Adopting The Deal l would knock the spending down to $7.28 trillion and deficits down to $1.63 trillion.

By way of comparison, the President’s budget would have $5.44 trillion in revenue, $7.51 trillion in spending, and $2.07 trillion in deficits. That’s an additional $233 billion in spending and $438 billion in deficits versus The Deal.

The House budget would have $5.39 trillion in revenue, $7.09 trillion in spending, and $1.69 trilllion in deficits. While spending in the House budget would be $190 billion less than The Deal and $253 billion less than the adjusted CBO baseline, the deficit would be slightly higher than The Deal and insignifiantly less than the adjusted baseline as, instead of the Bush tax rates expiring at the end of 2012 (1/4th the way through 2013) and the AMT “indexing” not happening, both would continue as they have the past 8 years.

The “out” years – $855 billion in “scorable” deficit reduction – if The Deal holds

I will preface this that there is a significant amount of debt service savings from the reductions in spending on the GWOT that were scored in the two budgets that were not scored separately in even the CBO analysis of the Senate proposals. Judging by the CBO scoring of the Senate proposal versus the House proposals and The Deal, that is roughly $220 billion in reduced spending over the 10 years not reflected in either the adjusted CBO baseline or The Deal.

Also, the bulk of the $1.2 trillion-$1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction, or any adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment, will happen in this time frame. As noted above, that cannot be properly scored as yet.

With that said, the adjusted CBO baseline anticipates $33.39 trillion in revenues, $37.26 trillion in spending, and $3.87 trillion in deficits between FY2014 and FY2021. The Deal changes the spending to $36.41 trillion and the 8-year deficit to $3.02 trillion.

The President’s budget is a veritable blowout of spending, especially deficit spending. On $31.26 trillion of revenue, there would be $38.67 trillion of spending and $7.40 trillion of deficits.

While the House budget would continue to spend less at $29.48 trillion, its reduced expectation of revenue of $32.87 trillion would result in $3.39 trillion in deficits.

What about tax hikes?

While The Deal does not explicitly address taxes, I’ve got bad news for everybody (or at least everybody who thinks a non-WWII record level of revenues as a percentage of GDP in 2021 is a bad idea) on that front. Any attempt to either extend any part of the Bush tax rates beyond 2012 or keep “indexing” the AMT will be scored as a deficit increase. The back-of-the-envelope numbers on the various proposals are that the “scored” increase would be about $2.5 trillion for the Obama “hold those under $200K/$250K harmless” plan, $3.5 trillion for full extension of the Bush tax rates, and $4.2 trillion to continue the entirety of the current tax structure.

What about S&P and Moody’s?

Again, baselines matter. Unfortunately, neither S&P nor Moody’s appear to have mentioned from which baseline they wanted the “$4 trillion in deficit reduction”. It has been said that Cut, Cap and Balance, even before adoption of the Balanced Budget Amendment, would have met that. However, I have not seen any CBO score on that.

Moreover, up until the Congressional leadership decided to start talking to each other instead of with President Obama, it was widely assumed the $4 trillion that was being talked about was against the President’s budget and its $9.47 trillion 10-year deficit spending. The House budget, and the Cut, Cap and Balance bill that, after higher spending in FY2012 compared to that, used percentage-of-GDP spending levels based on that budget, would easily have cleared that hurdle.

Going against the President’s budget, The Deal, with $4.65 trillion in 10-year deficit spending, also would very easily clear that hurdle, even before the “trigger”/commission/BBA. Moody’s has already said they would maintain a negative outlook on the US soverign debt, while S&P is making noises that they will downgrade the debt. I have to wonder what more those credit rating agencies want.

Revisions/extensions (4:27 pm 8/1/2011) - I really need to proofread these opii. I corrected a typo.

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