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.

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Archive for March, 2012

March 28, 2012

Defending the Dream interview with Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch

by @ 16:09. Filed under Politics - Wisconsin.

I had not expected the opportunity to interview Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch at Saturday’s Defending the American Dream summit held by Americans for Prosperity, so I went into the interview completely cold. Fortunately, Kleefisch is an ex-TV reporter, so I don’t think it turned out too badly, at least in content.

Before I get to the highlights (full, if a bit scratchy, audio here), I do have to point you to today’s column from Michelle Malkin, who was also at the summit. She hit on one of the themes she did on Saturday – how the War on (Conservative) Women and the War on Wisconsin converged:

The outlook for the unhinged Left’s secondary targets, however, is not so bright. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, a tea party candidate who is not part of the GOP establishment, is being treated as collateral damage by the party. Outside of Wisconsin, most conservative activists are not even aware that she may be booted from office for simply doing her job. Kleefisch told me that on a recent fundraising swing in D.C., national GOP leaders were shocked to learn of her plight.

While Democratic femme-a-gogues continue their plaintive wailing about a “war on women,” Kleefisch has battled vile misogyny from liberal detractors. When lefty Wisconsin radio host John “Sly” Sylvester accused Kleefisch of performing “fellatio on all the talk-show hosts in Milwaukee” and sneered that she had “pulled a train” (a crude phrase for gang sex), feminists remained silent. A former television anchor, small businesswoman and mother of two, Kleefisch’s quiet work on economic development has reaped untold dividends for the state. But if conservatives who preach the gospel of fiscal conservatism do not act, the profligate progressives’ vendetta against Wisconsin may result in the first-ever recall of a lieutenant governor in American history.

My own interview did not touch on the misogynic aspect of the unionistas’ hate of Kleefisch, but we discussed the economy, as she has been an integral part of the effort to get business to locate and expand in Wisconsin, and the recall.

On the economy, which after a good start and a mid-year stall, is moving forward again with the best projected growth in 9 years – “The governor said, from the very beginning, that I was going to be the jobs ambassador, travel the state, having small-business round-tables, talk to our small-business owners, find out what’s working, what’s not, and how we can get government out of their way. We have made great strides towards making sure that we’re correcting the things that aren’t working, enhancing the things that are working, and reviewing great ways to get out of their way.

“Now, Moody’s rated our budget credit-positive. That is a signal to job creators everywhere that we’re headed in the right direction, that we’re putting certainty and stability back on the Wisconsin commerce map…. You compare that to Illinois, where Moody’s has them now scraping the bottom of the bucket. I mean, they’re worse than California, which is tough to do, and you have Governor Pat Quinn actually saying he is encouraged that one of the big three downgraded that badly. That is like saying you’re encouraged your kid is failing all of his classes but got kicked out of only one….

“For those folks who were expecting us to reach 250,000 new jobs in a year and a couple of months, that’s not exactly what we said. We said that we had hoped to reach 250,000 new jobs in our private sector in 4 years. That’s still what we hope for. Just because a goal is ambitious, that doesn’t mean you stop striving for it. We knew those numbers would be back-loaded. We’re starting to feel the hope and we’re starting to feel a genuine recovery. 94% of our job creators in this state say they believe Wisconsin is headed in the right direction, but a majority of job creators also concerned by this recall situation.”

On the recall situation – “I think that this recall is something that people are frustrated with because we have seen a non-stop electoral churn in the last year and a half. We were elected in 2010 by the vast majority of Wisconsinites, who expected they had just elected us to a 4-year term…. People are irritated with the non-stop political ads, and they’re frustrated that we don’t have two sides working together on the most-important thing, the biggest challenge facing Wisconsin – jobs. We just saw in the last couple of weeks the biggest jobs bill that Wisconsin has seen in decades go down because of politics. That type of stuff irritates people, and you know what, it should….”

Malkin asked, “What message would it send to young tea party moms across the country if Walker survived but Kleefisch was hung out to dry? Will Beltway Republican strategists and donors who constantly harp about the need to diversify the party step up to the plate? [Donate to Kleefisch's defense here.]” We cannot forget the “undercards” of this recall.

Revisions/extensions (4:27 pm 3/28/2012) - Charlie Sykes talked with Rebecca Kleefisch about the recall and the War on (Conservative) Women on today’s show.

March 27, 2012

Marquette Law School poll on WI – Romney up by 8, Walker up between 2 and 4 on major recall rivals

Last week, Rasmussen released a poll that had Mitt Romney up by 13 points on Rick Santorum, 46%-33%, a full reversal of the prior month’s polls from both Public Policy Polling and Marquette Law School. Today, the Marquette Law School followed suit with a poll taken of 707 registered voters between March 22 and March 25 having Romney up on Santorum 39%-31%. Ron Paul was third with 11% and Newt Gingrich brought up the rear with 6%.

On the ideological side, among the 385 who said they planned on voting in the Republican primary, Romney received a plurality among those who described themselves as “very conservative” (43%-31%), “conservative” (41%-34%) and “moderate” (42%-27%). While Santorum did have a lead among “liberals”, it has to be noted that it was by a 8-7 margin and thus not statistically reliable.

On the political side, I first feel compelled to note that Wisconsin is a wide-open primary state where only the voter knows in which primary he or she votes. With that said, it does not really matter that those who self-identify as Republicans or as leaning toward Republicans were only 64% of those who say they will vote in the Republican primary, while 26% self-identified as Democrats or as leaning toward Democrats. Romney led all three of the major categories: 42%-33% among Republicans, 34%-29% among Democrats, and 37%-17% among “independents”.

Despite the fact that Wisconsin is a winner-take-all state, the majority of the 42 delegates, 24 in all, are awarded 3 at a time to the winner of each of the 8 Congressional districts. Unlike Rasmussen, the Marquette Law School poll did break down the results by media market, making a rough estimation of this possible. Romney carried the city of Milwaukee (which is essentially the 4th Congressional district), the rest of the Milwaukee media market (the heart of the 1st and 5th Congressional districts, and a significant part of the 6th) and the Madison media market (which dominates the 2nd Congressional district, and also reaches into small parts of the 1st, 5th and 6th) by double-digits, strongly suggesting he would get the 3 delegates from each of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th Congressional districts. However, his lead in the Green Bay/Appleton market (the heart of the 8th Congressional district, and the other significant part of the 6th) was razor-thin at 38%-37%. Santorum led in the other media markets 31%-25%, which would suggest he would get the 3 delegates from the 7th Congressional district.

The Marquette Law School also polled the Presidential general election matchups, with a partisan split of 48% D/42% R with leaners, and 36% D/27% R without. This was, once again, a rather high Democrat split, and the Presidential results reflected that. Barack Obama beat Romney 48%-43%, and got a majority against the other candidates. Worse, the limited “likely voter” approximation, a sum of those who say they were “absolutely certain” to vote in November and those who were “very likely” to vote in November, was even more friendly to the Democrats on the strength of the “with-leaners” 49%-42% advantage Dems had on those “absolutely certain” to vote in November.

The gubernatorial recall

There are currently three announced Democrat candidates in the recall against Governor Scott Walker – former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, state Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Secretary of State Doug La Follette, for the expected primary to be held on May 8 (assuming at least two of them file a sufficient number of nomination signatures between the end of this week and April 10; if not, then that day becomes the recall general election). In addition, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett has been widely rumored to be interested in trying to get revenge for his 2010 loss to Walker.

Much like the Republican Presidential primary, there is no real lock on the process by the Democrats. Only 65% of those who planned on voting in the gubernatorial primary were self-identified Democrat/Democrat leaners, while 25% were self-identified Republicans/Republican leaners. Unlike the Republican Presidential primary, however, this matters somewhat as Barrett beat Falk in a 4-way race 42%-30% among Democrats and 37%-28% among “independents”, but lost to her 27%-16% among Republicans. Overall, Barrett beat Falk 37%-29%.

If, however, Barrett doesn’t run, Falk would clean up, as she received 54% in the three-way race question.

In the general election against Walker, slated for June 5 (unless there is no primary), not even the aforementioned heavy partisan split favoring the Democrats helped them in this poll. Walker beat Barrett 47%-45%, Falk 49%-45%, La Follette 49%-42% and Vinehout 49%-41%. Of note, Walker has both a better job-approval rating than Obama (50%-47% versus 48%-47%) and a positive personal favorability rating (50%-45%, a flip from last month’s widely-touted-by-the-media 46%-48%).

March 24, 2012

Michelle Malkin at Defending the Amercan Dream – Wisconsin

by @ 15:31. Filed under Defending the American Dream.

Michelle Malkin headlined the morning session at Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit today at the Wyndham Hotel. You can listen to the whole thing here (sorry about the quality; I have yet to get the cables needed to hook up to the multi-box). Here are some choice quotes to make up for the fact my camera didn’t get good pics:

“Wisconsin really is ground zero in the battle against the unhinged progressive left.”
“Health reform is still a BFD; I think that stands for Bad Financial Decision.”
“I can tell you about the war on women, and every woman in this audience can tell you about the war on conservative women.”
“As many of you who are first-, second- and third-generation Americans appreciate and understand, it is a privilege to be in this, the greatest country on God’s green Earth.”
“We’re united in defending the American dream. They are united in sabotaging it, destroying it, underminding it, and, to invoke their favorite word, transforming it.”
“‘Yes they can,’ they always say. You know what we have to say? ‘No you can’t. No you won’t.” And, pardon my French, ‘The hell you can’t.’”
“This is my most-important role. I mean, you see me on TV, you see me on Fox News and give these kinds of speeches, but the most-important role I can play, and each one of you can play, is as a parent shaping your child to be a productive, non-entitled job-creator and wealth-creator in this country.”
“I’ve said for the last couple years that if there’s a theme sound for this administration, it’s this – DOOT DOOT DOOT! Do you know what that is? It’s the dump truck backing up every Friday dumping new documents they don’t want the mainstream media talking about.”
“It is incumbent upon each and every one of you to stand up for yourselves, for your children, your grandchildren, your families, your communities, your leaders in this state who are acting like what we need in leadership, real adults, not whiny crybabies.”
“We’re proud to stand, not as Americans for entitlement, not Americans for grievance, but Americans, not hyphenated.”

I’ll have more, including from Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Paul Ryan and Rick Santorum, later as I can upload and more-imporantly, find quiet time to upload.

March 23, 2012

Ask Egg – The SCOAMFs edition

by @ 9:45. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest, Ask Egg.

It’s Allergy Season here in the land of cheese and beer, and all the Presidential candidates that have won at least one state have stepped in it the past 7 days. Guess that means it’s time to take some Claritin D, go to the mailbag, and belatedly offer some snarktastic advice to them (and the perpetual loser):

Dear Egg,

The Ides of March weren’t too kind to me. Despite my campaign promise to halve the deficit in my first term, I added more debt than my predecesor did, and he had almost 5 more years than me. Gas prices are going up too fast for my re-election chances. I know you don’t support me, but my staff said you’re a straight shooter. Help!

-The Original SCOAMF

Dear OS,

Your staff is right; I am a straight shooter. I also don’t mince words, so you probably won’t like them. Step one is STOP SPENDING LIKE A DRUNKEN LAW SCHOOL STUDENT! Since you missed Economics, allow me to clue you in on a little secret – if you crush those who have the money, they won’t spend any money, which means you don’t get any of your cut of that money even if your cut is a high percentage.

Step two is to drill, baby drill. Let’s put your little pet theory that it won’t help to the ultimate test, and to do that, you really ought to fire that Energy Secretary who thinks high gas prices are hunky-dory. That also means the oil has to get from where it is in the ground to the refineries, and then the products have to get to market, not just from a temporary storage facility.

Step three is to plan for early retirement. I mean, your predecessor really helped you out by pre-socializing the economy. The least you could do is pre-capitialize it for your successor.

Oh yeah, don’t celebrate the news by setting a personal record for fundraisers attended. Oops, you already did.

-Egg

Dear Egg,

My book tou…er, campaign has been burning through cash at an incredible rate. In fact, at the end of last month, I’ve run up more debt than I have cash on hand. I can’t seem to get past second place in the South, and I’m struggling to get third place elsewhere in the country. What can I do to stop that front-runner?

-Georgian SCOAMF

Dear GS,

It sure looks like you’re up the creek without a paddle. Like it or not, the people just don’t like you, and they’re voting with both their pocketbooks and with their votes. I just don’t see you pulling off a Louisiana Surprise, and the lengthy pause between them and the next set of contests (which includes my humble state) would be the opportune time to drop out. However, do not, repeat, DO NOT release your delegates.

Oh yeah, you never really recovered from attacking Paul Ryan’s budget from the left last year, or from your couch session with Pelosi. Bad decisions do have consequences.

-Egg

Dear Egg,

I keep on winning, mostly in states I don’t have a prayer of carrying in November, and not by nearly enough to knock out my competition. In fact, in states where actual Republicans make up the larger part of the electorate, I tend to get my clock cleaned. Worse, every time I get a “big win”, something seems to come out of my campaign the next day that sets me back. How can I connect with the base?

-Massachusetts SCOAMF

Dear MS,

You could start by actually wholeheartedly adopting conservative positions. Don’t say on one breath you’ll wipe out PlaceboCare National and then in the next defend to the death PlaceboCare Mass, especially since that program is an unmitigated disaster.

The next thing you should do is not let your campaign advisers speak, especially when they serve to confirm every conservative’s fear on your apparent lack of a conservative core. Oops, that happened, but it’s something to keep in mind for the future.

You could at least dump the economic adviser of yours who wants $6/gallon gas with an additoinal $2/gallon going into the federal coffers when you call for Obama to dump his high-gas-price-loving advisers.

One more thing; just because you barely avoided having the tortoise Huckabee pass your maximum number of delegates in 2008 after you dropped out following SuperDuper Tuesday and thus kept your position as Next-In-Line™, don’t tell your competition to clear the decks for you because the situation for them is much the same as it was for you the last time around.

-Egg

Dear Egg,

Even though I just started winning states, I’m not getting a lot of delegates out of them. I’m the last NotRomney standing; I should be getting more delegates. WTF?

-Pennsylvania SCOAMF

Dear PS,

Patience, padawan. Next-In-Line­™ is very hard to overcome, but the scores will start changing real quick with Double Jeopard…er, winner-take-all states. If your Southern competition is smart, he will clear the deck after Louisiana to effectively make it a two-man race.

Just don’t say that it would be better for Teh Original SCOAMF to win if it’s between him and your Northeatern competition. Otherwise, the Next-In-Line™ Streak will be broken four years after you intended, and you’ll be the victim.

Dammit, I’m too late with that advice again. My bad. You need to walk it back pronto to salvage what you can.

-Egg

Dear Egg,

Even though I’ve got a bunch of whiny, noisy anarchists crashing caucuses, I don’t have anything else going for me. I can’t climb above 3rd place in any primary state, but I really want a say. Help!

-Texas SCOAMF

Dear TS,

I’m afraid I have nothing but bad news reality checks for you. Reality check number one – the American people realize that isolationism doesn’t work. I know it’s a bit before your lifetime, and thus ancient history, but our neutrality in WWI didn’t stop Germany from trying to induce Mexico to take your state back.

Reality check number two – That front-runner won’t take your son as his VP nominee. Much of his camp blames McCain’s loss on his “pander” to the conservatives in his VP nomination choice.

I’m afraid you chose poorly on which office to run for this time around.

-Egg

March 17, 2012

Star Chamber doing what the Dane County Sheriff’s Office would not

(H/T – Ann Althouse)

In case you missed the screaming headline in today’s paint catcher, the Left’s attempt to nullify the April 2011 re-election of Justice David Prosser is proceeding apace with a “recommendation” from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, specifcally special prosecutor Franklyn Gimbel, to refer the matter stemming from Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s charge of Prosser to a three-judge panei for possible removal of Prosser.

A lot is going to be made of Gimbel’s signature on a recall petition against Gov. Scott Walker. More should be made of Gimbel’s donation to Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson in 2008 in light of her lead role in this affair.

March 16, 2012

It’s a new debt record!

by @ 19:46. Filed under Budget Chop, Politics - National.

Way back in August, Jim Geraghty predicted that the day total public debt added by President Barack Obama would equal the total public debt added by President George W. Bush would be the Ides of March 2012:

When the debt increases another $877,587,378,565.23 ($877.58 billion), the debt accumulated under Obama’s presidency will equal the debt accumulated under Bush’s two terms.

Obviously, this can change, but barring some sudden shift in the federal government’s borrowing and spending habits, this milestone will be reached in 206 days from August 23, 2011. That would be March 15, 2012.

Beware the Ides of March.

Guess what? He nailed it. The Treasury Department’s Debt to the Penny web app lists the debt as of the Ides of March as:

  • Debt Held by the Public: $10,114,556,380.32
  • Intragovernmental Holdings: $4,744,695,335,387.67
  • Total Public Debt Outstanding: $15,564,809,891,767.99

The $4,937,931,842,854.91 in new total debt added under Obama’s watch, in a mere 1,150 days, is more than the $4,899,100,310,608.44 in new total debt added under Bush’s watch in 2,922 days.

If you prefer to just look at publicly-held debt, Obama broke the Bush record of $2.889 trillion in new publicly-held debt…back on the Ides of November 2010, and barely slowed down since. That total is now $4.512 trillion.

So, how did Obama celebrate? It probably would have been better had he gone to Disney World, but instead, he set another personal record of six fundraisers in a day, ignoring a whole host of indicators of hard times to gather cash for himself.

Revisions/extensions (10:15 pm 3/16/2012) - Doug Powers caught a gem from Vice President Joe Biden.

March 7, 2012

Back-handed smashes of justice

by @ 10:53. Filed under Miscellaneous.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been doing entirely too much Tweeting lately. While that’s fine for things that take 140 characters or less, there’s a few items on the old radar screen that take a few more than that. Let’s roll back into proper blogging form, shall we?

  • The Senate Unioncrats and Dale Schultz (though I repeat myself) killed off the proposed iron mine UpNorth. In response, the state seal has been changed to reflect the reality that mining is dead.
  • Two long-time fixtures on their NFL teams, Heinz Ward and Peyton Manning, have been cut by, respectively, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts due to their reduced level of performance no longer meeting the inflated salaries. I’m steeling myself for the day, just before training camp, the Packers do the same to Donald Driver.
  • Staying on sports, Ryan Braun found the one arbitrator in America who bought his sorry ass of an excuse that because the person who collected his sample didn’t want it sitting unguarded in some FedEx Office (nee Kinko’s) back room over the weekend, he shouldn’t face any consequences for having artificial testosterone in his system. The Unioncrats are looking for a way to get said arbitrator to move to Wisconsin.
  • Dane County Lawgiver-In-Black, Recall Walker signer (on a petition circulated by his wife), and employer of a longtime Kathleen Falk operative (as his campaign manager in a one-person race) David Flanagan issued a “temporary” injunction halting implementation of Wisconsin’s voter ID law, just in time to keep any potential write-in candidate from ousting him, saying that vote fraud is rare. To adopt the lieberal verbiage, if it stops just one fraudulent vote from being cast, it’s worth it.
  • Michelle Malkin simply destroys the false claims of a WarOnWymyn™ waged by the GOP by offering up just a small sample of what was hurled at her. It’s far worse than anything Rush Limbaugh hurled at the professional femme-a-gogue who wants to sever the Catholic church from its stance on contraceptives.
  • It’s a sad day in the naval aviation world – Neptunus Lex died in a crash of an F-21 Kfir yesterday. Fair winds, and unless you’re conducting flight ops, following seas, Lex.
  • Now that Mitt Romney has all-but-sewn up the official coronation of the 2012 Republican nomination, which he earned by SuperDuperTuesday 2008 (and thus ensuring that PlaceboCare and the war on the “rich” will continue unabated for the next 4-8 years), the battle for the 2016 Republican nomination (unless you believe that the innovator of PlaceboCare will knock off the national implementer of same) takes center stage. Of course, the predictable calls for that to be settled by both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich dropping out now are out there, thus making Wisconsin’s primary completely worthless as it has been my entire adult life.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 505. The best part – spotter Mike Calinoff’s new tattoo.

March 1, 2012

Thank you, Thank you very much!

It’s been a couple of interesting weeks on the Obamacare front.

First, Obama Inc. told the Catholic Church that they had to offer contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans. I covered that little episode here.

Obama Inc. made a poorly camouflaged attempt to acquiesce without actually changing anything. Their proposal was to not require the Catholic Church, but to require their insurers to provide the contraception at no cost.

After 22.5 seconds of consideration, the Church came back with their response..NYET! In fact, not only NYET but if you force us, we’ll close our hospitals and other institutions.

Also recently, a study was released that showed some interesting early information on the reality of costs associated with Obamacare. You may remember President Obama telling us time and again how Obamacare would bend the cost curve on health care. Well, it turns out he was probably right. The problem is that the cost curve appears to be bent up not down, and at a very steep angle. According to this analysis and report, the first year costs for the high risk pool that covers people with preexisting conditions are running at a rate that is twice what was planned!

Finally, some had theorized that Obama may use the Blunt amendment as a way to let the Catholic Church off the hook while saving face on his administrations earlier edict. Unfortunately, the Blunt amendment was defeated on a mostly partly line vote today so the Catholic Church’s reason to close it’s facilities remains intact.

What are we to make of all this?

Some pundits, including the esteemed Ed Morrissey believe this is a high stakes game of chicken and that in the end, Obama will blink. I don’t buy it. Let’s look at the implications of the various actions I’ve previously noted.

When I looked at the premiums being charge for the high cost fund I noted that my family of 4 would be covered for about $800 per month. That may seem like a lot. However, for similar coverage from the high cost fund when we lived in Minnesota, we were paying nearly $1,500/month and that was two years ago. My point is that not only is the Obamacare high cost fund costing a lot more than it’s counterparts, it is also charging a lot less than its state counterparts. Last I looked, high costs and low revenue didn’t make a successful business. The outcome, if this is allowed to continue, is that insurance companies will be saddled with higher costs and lower revenues. This, over time, will force weaker insurance companies out of the business. Fewer insurance companies will lead to fewer choices which in turn, will lead to higher insurance costs.

I don’t think Obama will blink for the Catholic Church. As I noted earlier, he had the perfect opportunity to get a way out via the Blunt amendment. The amendment would have allowed church organizations to object and not provide certain coverages but would have required all other businesses to continue to provide whatever mandate Obama Inc. came up with. The tell for me is that this was voted down on nearly a party line vote. There are numerous Democrats in “swing” states who are up for election this year. There’s no way this is going to work in their favor. Had Obama wanted an out for the Catholic Church, there is no doubt in my mind that Harry Reid would have allowed just enough Democrats to vote for the amendment and “grudgingly” allowed it to pass. The fact that it didn’t means Obama is playing for keeps.

Finally, the Catholic Church threat. According to Morrissey, nearly 16% of admissions are served by Catholic hospitals. Nearly a third of those hospitals are in lesser served rural areas. If the Church does indeed pull their hospitals and other organizations, it will create a health care shortage of significant proportions in many areas of the U.S..

Contrary to the notion that Obama will blink, I think Obama is setting up exactly what he wants in health care.

If insurance costs skyrocket due to fewer providers and higher costs and access to care becomes scarcer due to a boycott by the Catholic Church, Obama, should he win a second election, will have the perfect pretense to declare a crisis and push, declare, impose or legislate for a national health care, single payer system…which is what he has wanted all along.

I will admit that it is possible that I’m wrong but I haven’t been wrong about much with this President. If I’m wrong, look for one of the following things to occur:

1. The Blunt amendment is brought back (it was tabled) and narrowly passes.
2. The Supreme Court rules that the health care mandate is unconstitutional before the election.

Any of these things could indicate that Obama won’t or isn’t able to eat the entire loaf. However, I don’t think either of these will happen. Rather, I think that Obama has planned this approach and as the Catholic Church threatened, if you listen closely you will hear Obama saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much!”

Four years of a Medicare Funding Warning, zero years of Obama action

by @ 12:04. Filed under Health Care Reform, Politics - National.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, fired off a letter to the White House in the wake of the fourth consecutive year of the Obama Administration’s decision to not address the now-current funding crisis of Medicare in violation of law. From the press release announcing the letter:

“Within fifteen days of presenting his budget plan, the President is required by law to send a legislative proposal to Congress to address Medicare’s looming insolvency. For four straight years, this ‘Medicare trigger’ has been issued. And for four straight years, President Obama has ignored the alarm and fled his post. America’s debt, as measured by the International Monetary Fund, is now worse than Greece on a per-capita basis. The course President Obama has laid out leads to fiscal ruin. His budget plan raises taxes by $2 trillion, increases the debt by $11 trillion, and increases spending by $1.6 trillion.

“The President’s unserious approach to Medicare will have serious consequences for seniors. President Obama continues to ignore his legal and moral obligations to protect the health security of America’s seniors. While he refuses to advance credible solutions to strengthen Medicare, the President’s health-care law does great harm to this critical program – raiding Medicare by over $500 billion to fund a new open-ended entitlement, while leaving the fate of seniors’ care to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington. There is a growing bipartisan consensus on how best to preserve the Medicare guarantee, but the President won’t join this discussion. The President is required by law to respond to the Medicare Trustees’ annual warning, and – as a matter of fundamental leadership – is duty-bound to do so.

“Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders in the Senate refuse to bring a budget plan to the floor for the third straight year. The livelihoods, savings and futures of millions of hardworking Americans are at stake, but the President and his party’s leaders can’t even be bothered to fulfill their most basic obligations in a time of crisis.”

A bit of background is in order – as part of the creation of the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, a reqirement was put into place requriring, if the Medicare trustees find in two consecutive years that general funds, be they interest on the Treasury securities held by three “Trust Fund” accounts held by Medicare, redemptions of same, or other “general fund” revenues, do, or will within 6 fiscal years, comprise more than 45% of total Medicare outlays (or once the Hospital Insurance Fund was depleted, the “dedicated” funds are less than 55% of total obligations whether fulfilled or unfulfilled), the President to submit to Congress legislation to deal with said excessive general funding within 15 days of submitting the following year’s budget.

The first year the trustees found that situation becoming a probability based on the “intermediate-case” scenario was 2006, with FY2012 projected to require more than 45% of Medicare’s outlays come from the general fund. This imbalance was projected to arrive despite a pending reduction of physician reimbursement fees that had been called for since the prior decade and postponed every time since because of fears doctors would flee the Medicare program if the reductions were to happen (the postponement is known as the “doc fix”). Each time the “doc fix” was extended, the pain that would be caused if it was not extended yet again grew.

The 2007 Trustees’ Report, while it pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2013, triggered the “Medicare funding warning” as it was still within the 7-year scope of the trigger and the second consecutive finding. Accordingly, President Bush had Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt submit in February 2008, just after he submitted the FY2009 budget, what became H.R. 5480 and S. 2662. Those two bills were promptly buried in committee by the Democrats running both Houses of Congress.

The 2008 Trustees’ Report once again pushed off the year of reckoning to FY2014, which was once again at the very end of the 7-year scope of the trigger. President Obama chose not to submit any legislation despite his party controlling both Houses. Instead, we got PlaceboCare at the beginning of 2010, while the 2009 Trustees’ Report, breaking with the postponement history, once again put the year of reckoning as FY2014.

Fresh from his victory on PlaceboCare, Obama failed to address the immediate problem, and much like the “unanticipated” rapid decline of the Social Security “Trust Funds”, the state of the Medicare “Trust Funds” also declined very rapidly. The 2010 Trustees’ Report found that the year of reckoning had come that fiscal year, as general revenues were set to comprise more than 45% of the total Medicare expenditures in FY2010, with a projected temporary return to general funds needing to cover less than 45% of expenditures in FY2012. Instead of addressing this in early 2011, Obama and Congress once again extended the “doc fix” a bunch of times, which by that point represented a significant “overrun” versus budget.

Tired of waiting for any sign of leadership from the White House out of a very-predictable fiscal crisis, the House Budget Committee included a version of Medicare reform first outlined in Paul Ryan’s Roadmap for America. While it would not have stopped the warning in the 2011 Trustees’ Report as FY2011 was more than half over, it would have put the program on the path to no longer triggering said warnings and ultimately long-term solvency while permanently implementing the “doc fix”. Unfortunately, just as the 2008 legislation designed to address what was then a future funding problem in Medicare, that budget was buried by the Democrats in the Senate as part of their three-year-long refusal to pass any budget, and because the only action on Medicare was continued extensions of the “doc fix”, general revenues comprised more than 45% of expenditures in FY2011 and FY2012.

Speaking of that 2011 Trustees’ Report, it pushed back the return to temporary overall Medicare stability to FY2013. Once again, instead of addressing the problem, Obama and Congress extended the “doc fix”, making it all but certain that for the fourth consecutive year and probably a fifth with no corrective action, general revenues will comprise more than 45% of Medicare expenditures.

The House Budget Committee will once again attempt to reform Medicare along the lines of a premium-support program. This time, there is some support from the other side of the aisle, even if that support won’t be too public until after November and then only if there is a change in the White House, Senate, or both.

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