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.

Archive for the 'Politics – National' Category

January 4, 2017

Election bauble

Though this place may not exactly reflect the truism, the election cycle never really stops. Yesterday saw the last date candidates could file for the spring non-partisan election, headlined (at least on paper) by the state Supreme Court seat currently held by Justice Annette Ziegler and the state superintendent of public instruction seat currently held by Tony Evers, as well as the release of most of the counties’ reimbursement requests for conducting the Presidential recount.

First, the shocking and surprising item. The Jill Stein campaign will almost certainly have spent significantly less than originally billed for her total net 66 vote gain (and 778 net vote loss vice winner/President-elect Donald Trump). With final reimbursement requests from 69 of 72 counties and a preliminary request from a 70th (Milwaukee), those 70 counties spent a total of $1,533,488.25 on the recount, a mere 51.6% of their estimates of $2,992,849.31. If Brown and Kenosha Counties spent a similar percentage of their original $368,757 estimates, the counties/municipalities portion of the bill will come to just a tick over $2 million.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission has yet to produce its costs, but I somehow doubt that it will be anywhere close to $1.5 million. This may be a Flashing VCR Correct moment (more rare than the Stopped Clock Right moment), but you do have to love efficient, accurate government. If only the DOT would take a lesson from this and not do expensive stuff like putting in a 300-foot dedicated right-turn lane to service a half-dozen residences.

Next, the shocking-but-shouldn’t-have-surprised-anyone moment. Justice Annette Ziegler will be unopposed on the ballot. It’s shocking in that the last person to run unopposed was the late Justice Patrick Crooks in 2006, with 7 contested elections, the last 6 with sitting Justices (though the last was essentially an open seat) in the interim. It shouldn’t have been surprising because 5 of those sitting Justices won re-election, with Justice Michael Gableman’s defeat of then-Justice Louis Butler in 2008 being the only defeat of a sitting Justice since 1967.

Another item in the “shouldn’t have been surprising” bin – JR Ross notes Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was unopposed in 2005.

Meanwhile, Evers (WEAC-WEAC) drew a former Beloit superindent Lowell Holtz and Walker recall signer John Humphries to force a February 21 primary.

December 12, 2016

The recount is over, to be certified at 3 pm

That is the news from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which is due to certify the recults at 3. It earlier said that the counting was complete, with only 4 counties yet to submit their official canvass.

Speaking of (unofficial) results, as of Saturday night, 90.8% of the reporting units, representing 91.3% of the votes originally cast for the 7 candidates on the ballot, were recounted. Besides the partial results from the city of Milwaukee, there had been 10 reporting units not recorded in the daily spreadsheets. There had been a total net vote change of +1480, or +0.055%. As Ed Morrissey noted earlier today, that is purer than Ivory soap.

Individually, Hillary Clinton gained 691 votes, Donald Trump gained 628 votes, and Jill Stein gained…wait for it…wait for it…68 votes. I hope the nearly $4 million Stein spent on validating Trump’s win was worth it for her.

Meanwhile, the recount efforts in both Michigan and Pennsylvania, and thus the fever dreams of the Left, were shut down by various judges.

December 6, 2016

Aggrieved? Hacked? Not exactly.

First, a bit of self/cross-promotion – I did what is effectively a weekend update over at RightWisconsin. My analysis of the Presidential recount will be split between there and here.

There was a massive data dump to the Wisconsin Elections Commission last night. With over 55% of the votes originally cast, in 58% of the reporting units, Hillary Clinton managed to gain a net 3 votes on Donald Trump (+142 to +139 vice the county canvasses), while Jill Stein gained 50 votes.

The big news is that a rather massive hole got blasted in the theory that the election was “hacked”. In St. Croix County, which completed its portion of the recount Monday, 5 voting machines in 4 municipalities fell under suspicion after the modems which remotely report results to the county clerk were serviced. However, the Wisconsin Elections Commission investigated and found nothing improper. Indeed, the Stein campaign representatives in St. Croix County, in its own contempraneous review of the recount in various reporting units, agreed with the machine tape in each case.

Meanwhile, the nightmare may be over before it really begins in Michigan. A state appeals court ruled that Stein is not an “aggrieved” candidate and thus should be denied a recount. That state’s board of canvassers, which split evenly on partisan lines on the issue last week, thus triggering the recount is scheduled to meet tomorrow morning to take that under advisement. Also, Stein’s Pennsylvania federal lawsuit is scheduled for a Friday hearing, the timing of which doesn’t appear to bode well for her Clinton’s chances.

December 3, 2016

Wisconsin Presidential recount – Day 3

Just a few quick items after the Wisconsin Elections Commission posted the spreadsheet of day 2 of the won’t-change-a-thing Wisconsin recount:

Jill Stein dropped her attempt to get a court to force a recount in Pennsylvania after her campaign couldn’t come up with the $1 million bond the court required. With that, even without the results from Wisconsin and Michigan, Donald Trump has 280 electoral votes. Maybe the WEC should have got the full $3.9 million from Stein up-front instead of the $3.5 million.

– With 24% of the original number of votes recounted, representing 29.7% of the reporting units, Trump has gained 308 74 votes over the original county canvasses, Hillary Clinton has gained 187 45 votes and Stein has gained 171 41 votes. Projecting that over the remaining ballots, Trump’s lead over Clinton would grow by 121 votes, and his lead over Stein would grow by 137 votes.

– The three biggest errors of the election thus far all came from election officials, not from either “hacked” voting machines or voters not making their intent clear enough to be known on Election Day. In the town of Centerville in Manitowoc County, 24 ballots for Clinton that weren’t counted on Election Day showed up for the recount. In the town of Bashaw in Washburn County, 33 votes that should have been counted for Trump in the canvass weren’t until Thursday. Backing those three incidents (including 17 votes not counted for Stein in Menominee County, found on the first day) out, Trump’s projected leads over Clinton and Stein would grow by 83 votes and 71 votes respectively.

– While the transposition errors in yesterday’s spreadsheet were corrected (which also corrected the issue in Woodland), there were several new transposition errors in today’s spreadsheet. Also, only partial results came from St. Francis. I understand these are unofficial numbers being reported outside the normal and official process, but that can get confusing.

Revisions/extensions (6:22 pm 12/3/2016) – Speaking of transposition errors, instead of reading off the “changes-to-date” line on my spreadsheet, I read off the “projected total change” line. It doesn’t change the stated projected lead changes.

Revisions/extensions part 2 (11:31 pm 12/3/2016) – Thanks for the HotAir-lanche, Ed. I hope this place isn’t too dusty. Also, I added a poll on how many votes Jill Stein will get in this meaningless recount.

R&E part 3 (8:27 am 12/4/2016) – The Stein/Clinton campaign merely switched their Pennsylvania efforts to federal court, where the costs are a lot less.

December 2, 2016

Wisconsin Presidential recount – Day 2

The recount of the Presidential election in Wisconsin is in its second day, and unless one is a Clinton/Stein diehard supporter, things are going right about as expected. The Wisconsin Elections Commission posted the results given to it yesterday, and with a couple of important notes, not much has changed with over 10% of the original vote, and over 13% of the reporting units, recounted. Indeed, the biggest change remains Menominee County’s original failure to report most of the miniscule number of votes cast for the minor-party candidates in the most Democrat-heavy county in the state (17 for Jill Stein, 12 for Gary Johnson and 3 for Darrell Castle).

The WEC’s spreadsheet includes partial totals for various reporting units in the city of Milwaukee, with none of the absentee ballots counted yet, as well as what appears to be 2 partial reports from a reporting unit in Hales Corners and from the town of Woodland in Sauk County. Taking those out of the spreadsheet, 484 of Wisconsin’s 3636 reporting units (or 478 of 3,499 that actually had at least 1 vote recorded) have been recounted, representing what had been canvassed as 299,970 votes for the 7 candidates that were on the ballot. Donald Trump had a net gain of 5 votes, Hillary Clinton had a net gain of 3 votes, and Stein a net gain of 24 votes. Including the other minor candidates, the 459 total vote changes yielded a net change in the number of votes recorded of only +47.

Extending that over the remaining 90% of the vote/87% of the reporting units, Trump’s lead over Clinton would grow to 22,637 (+20 versus the original canvass), and his lead over Stein would shrink to 1,373,248 (-186 versus the original canvass). Of course, that includes the “clerical” error in Menominee County; backing that error out would net Stein only 69 additional votes instead of 235 additional votes. Either way, that would represent one of the most expensive per-vote expenditures in the history of elections for exactly zero net effect as she would still be in a distant 4th place and the Green Party would still have automatic ballot access through 2018 without the recount.

Of note, 308 reporting units, including 302 with at least 1 vote cast, had zero changes. Given the establishment of voter intent is significantly more permissive in a recount than on election day, there is no statistical evidence of mischief by the election officials.

Indeed, Wisconsin has conducted an audit of every type of electronic voting equipment used after every fall general election since 2006, and not even one piece of equipment has failed to meet the federal standard of no more than 1 error per 500,000 ballots. The municipal clerks and the WEC were in the midst of this year’s audit when the recall came about and put at least a temporary hold on that.

In other news, a federal judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order sought by a couple of pro-Trump PACs, though he did schedule a hearing on the case for December 9. Meanwhile, the recount in the 32nd Senate district ended disappointingly, with Jennifer Schilling extending her margin of victory over Dan Kapanke from 56 votes to 61 votes.

Wisconsin is the swingingest swing state that ever swung

Dr. Eric Ostermeier analyzed the history of plurality wins by a Presidential candidate over at Smart Politics. He has a whole host of remarkable numbers, but I’ll highlight a couple of Wisconsin-specific items.

With Trump’s (pending recount) plurality win, one of 14 this cycle, Wisconsin now has the highest percentage of plurality Presidential wins in the nation at 30.2%. That includes 4 straight plurality wins between 1992 and 2004, just one cycle off the record of 5 set by Indiana between 1876 and 1892.

That also makes Wisconsin one of only 3 states to have produced 5 plurality winners between 1992 and 2016, with New Mexico and Florida the other 2. New Mexico also produced plurality winners in the same years as Wisconsin, while Florida produced a plurality winner in 2012 instead of 2004.

That alone doesn’t make Wisconsin the swingingest swing state. It is also the margins of victory that matter, and since 2000, Wisconsin stands alone in that regard. Unless Trump gains a net of some 6,000 votes in the recount (or Clinton somehow gains a net of 29,000 votes or Stein some 1.4 million, neither of which appears likely to happen even after the most-Democrat-leaning county in the state, Menominee County, finished their portion of the recount), this will be the 3rd election of the last 5 to be decided by less than a percentage point.

November 5, 2014

The 2014 election – instant reactions

It’s been far too long since I posted here, but it’s high time to do so once again. As it’s 3 am, it will be stream-of-(semi)consciousness.

– The big winner is Republicans in general, and Scott Walker in particular. With nearly every precinct counted, but with some late-arriving absentee ballots still out, Walker and Rebecca Kleefisch won re-election (again), they beat the Democrat ticket of Mary Burke and John Lehman by a 52.3%-46.6% margin.

– The Republicans extended their majorities in the Legislature to 19-14 in the Senate and at least 61-38 in the Assembly, with 2 races with Republicans in the lead likely going to a recount. If the Republicans hold onto both of those leads, the 63-36 margin would be the largest Republican margin since Dwight Eisenhower was President.

– That 19-14 Senate margin, while equal to that coming out of the 2010 election, is a more-conservative margin with the departures of Dale Schultz and Mike Ellis. Current Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald might want to take note of what happened to each of his 4 immediate full-session predecessors in the majority office (including Democrat Russ Decker). The bad news – Fleebagging is still an option for the Dems.

– One would be tempted to call Mary Burke The Big Loser in Wisconsin, but that “honor” goes to Democrat Party of Wisconsin chair Mike “Ahab” Tate. After 4 years of raging, and after some false hope in 2012 with the recall “rental” of a couple of Senate seats, Barack Obama’s win, and Rob Zerban getting within 10 percentage points of Paul Ryan, all he and his fellow Dems have to show for it is a smaller minority in the Assembly and a 28-point pasting of Zerban by Tate’s White Whale. The question now is not whether he’s re-elected to his chair next June, but whether he’s pushed out before then.

– I guess running a soft-on-crime DA for attorney general is about as successful as running a career politician for attorney general. The hardest hit – Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm (D-Milwaukee), who is likely drowning his sorrows in John Doe III papers.

– Even with the Republican wave, there was one Democrat statewide survivor, Secretary of State Doug La Follette. Given his reluctance to do the one duty of SecState left to him, his 2018 SecState win will likely be a hollow one as his office is eliminated in that same election.

– The minor parties won’t like the pending elimination of the state treasurer’s and secretary of state’s office. While the Libertarian Party candidate also got 3% in the attorney general’s race, both the Green Party and Constitution Party had to dip into the tertiary statewide races to get the 1.0% of the vote in a statewide election necessary to have a state-run primary and automatic ballot access for the next 4 years.

– Nationally, it was a disaster for the Democrats. Once Mark Begich (D-Alaska) realizes the votes simply aren’t there, it will be an 8-seat pickup in the Senate, and it is likely that the Republicans will win the runoff in Louisiana. Once that happens, Angus King (I-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) may well bolt the Democrat caucus to make it a 12-seat Republican margin.

– The news isn’t any better in the House – the Republicans picked up at least 12 seats to extend their majority to at least 241 seats.

– The news isn’t much better for Democrat governors. While Sarah Palin successfully backstabbed her successor over his cutting of oil-financed welfare (negotiated by her), Republican pick-ups in places like Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts made up for it. I guess the Fleebaggers will have to run to Minnesota.

December 3, 2013

Cooking the unemployment numbers

by @ 20:24. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

Note – a version of this originally appeared on DaTechGuy Blog as part of DaTechGuy’s Magnificent Seven. Do make sure you head there daily from content from both Pete Da Tech Guy and the rest of the Magnificent Seven.

Two weeks ago, the New York Post‘s John Crudele broke the story that the Census Bureau, which conducts the Current Population Survey (CPS) that is the basis for the unemployment rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), has been falsifying the data since 2010. Curdele interviewed a person who was caught by the Census Bureau in 2010 simply making up data, with the employee claiming his superiors told him to do so because his region was not successfully interviewing enough people for the survey. According to an anonymous source, that effort intensified in the months leading up to the 2012 election, with September 2012’s data specifically falsified to President Barack Obama’s favor, and continues to the present time.

These allegations are currently being investigated by both the House Oversight Committee and the Inspector General of the Census Bureau, with the BLS also quite interested in them.

One place they can start is comparing what came out of the CPS to a measure of unemployment conducted by Gallup, started in January 2010. There are a couple of key differences between the CPS and Gallup which make a comparison a bit harder:

– While the CPS uses a reference week that includes the 12th of the month (5th of the month in November), Gallup uses a 30-day rolling average.
– The CPS surveys (or claims to survey) 60,000 people age 16 and over, while over the course of each 30-day rolling average, Gallup surveys 30,000 adults.

Fortunately, the BLS releases, as part of its dataset, the data from the portion of the CPS that covers adults, or about 57,500 surveyed out of approximately 153,000,000 considered part of the labor force. That allows an apples-to-apples comparison:

Gallup-CPS

For the most part, the CPS measure of adult unemployment is significantly lower than Gallup’s measure. How significant? Let’s take a look at Gallup’s measure on the day that puts the CPS reference day right in the middle of the rolling average, the 27th day of the month (20th for November and also December to avoid an artificial post-Christmas spike). The CPS unemployment was calculated by dividing the number of unemployed by the number considered to be in the workforce, so I could get much closer than to the nearest tenth of a percentage point reported. The raw data was not available for Gallup’s measure of unemployment, so I took the closest possible number to the CPS measure that still rounded to Gallup’s tenth of a percentage point reported.

Gallup-CPS divergence

Polls, which is what the CPS and Gallup measures really are, come with a margin of error, within which the true value can be expected either 90% or 95% of the time. For the CPS, the 90%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.20 percentage points and the 95%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.24 percentage points. For Gallup, the 90%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.28 percentage points and the 95%-confidence margin of error is +/-0.34 percentage points.

Two polls are considered to be in good agreement when their values are within each others’ margin of error. Meanwhile at least one poll has to be wildly incorrect when the difference between the two is more than the sums of their margin of error. Out of 46 months’ worth of data:

– 18 months saw Gallup’s and CPS’s measures of unemployment disagree by more than the combined 90%-confidence margin of error of 0.49 percentage points, with 17 months having Gallup’s measure higher.
– 8 months saw the measures of unemployment disagree by between 0.28 percentage points (Gallup’s 90%-confidence margin of error) and 0.49 percentage points, with another 3 months seeing a disagreement between 0.20 percentage points (CPS’s 90% confidence margin of error) and 0.28 percentage points.
– 17 months saw the measures of unemployment in “good agreement”, disagreeing by less than 0.20 percentage points.

When two polls wildly disagree more than they are in “good agreement”, one of them has to be wrong. Given the disagreement has been almost invariably in the administration’s favor, and there already was a proven round of fakery in the CPS, it sure looks like the official measure of unemployment has been cooked longer than a burnt turkey.

November 26, 2013

NBC News – Employers abandoning “Cadillac” plans due to PlaceboCare’s “Cadillac plan” tax…4 years early

by @ 9:07. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

I wonder whether this counts against the 80 million-100 million of those with existing group health insurance plans expected to lose said insurance by the end of 2014:

For 75 million Americans who get their insurance through large companies, the Affordable Care Act is a mixed bag. Experts tell NBC News the new healthcare law is only slightly increasing premiums next year, but causing some companies with the most generous plans to reduce their employees’ benefits.

Aaron Baker, 36, his wife Billie and their two young children are covered under a generous health insurance plan offered by the private Midwestern university where he’s worked for 10 years. When they opened their benefits notice this year, they were pleased to see their $385 premium is only up by four dollars next year. However, they were shocked to discover that instead of covering the first dollar they spend with no deductible, the Baker’s plan now includes a $1,000 deductible and a $2,500 out of pocket maximum. They also will still have small co-pays for services.

According to the enrollment notice, the changes are “to relieve future health plan trend pressure and to put the university in a position to avoid the excise tax that becomes effective in 2018.” The 40 percent excise tax—often called the “Cadillac tax”— is part of Obamacare and is levied on the most generous health plans. It’s designed to bring down overall health costs by making companies and workers more cost-conscious. The thinking is that if consumers have to pay more expenses themselves, through higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, they’ll avoid unnecessary or overly costly procedures. And that is supposed to make care more affordable for everyone.

I have to quibble with NBC’s analysis of the PlaceboCare Cadillac plan tax – it’s designed not to drive down costs, but to ensure that, except for the favored nomenklatura, nobody gets high-quality care. I am frankly surprised that some entities, specifically the non-union shops that are the primary targets, are reacting 4 years early.

That will just make the eventual repeal at the behest of the unions, which by 2017 will be essentially the only places still offering group health insurance, that much more odious.

October 29, 2013

It’s official – Obama administration violating the 9-month-minimum coverage-or-penalty provision of PlaceboCare law

by @ 10:56. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

You heard the rumblings here last week about the Obama administration looking into administratively rewriting their signature law one more time to benefit those who can’t use their PlaceboCare exchange website by 2/15/2014. Yesterday, they made it official. From the AP:

The extension — granted for 2014 only — addresses confusion that was created when the administration set the first open enrollment period under the law from Oct. 1-March 31.

The problem was that health insurance coverage typically starts on the first day of a given month, and it takes up to 15 days to process applications. So somebody signing up March 16 — well within the open enrollment period — wouldn’t get coverage until April 1, thereby risking a penalty for being uninsured part of the year.

While there is a limited authority for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to grant individual waivers from the ta…er…penalty, the key word is “limited”. Specifically, that authority extends only to those who have “no affordable qualified health plan available through the Exchange, or the individual’s employer, covering the individual”, or to those covered by the other, specified exemptions from the individual mandate. Mere “glitches” and general failures of the exchange website do not qualify as a complete lack of available plans.

October 24, 2013

PlaceboCare Über Alles, IRS Edition?

by @ 9:05. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

The IRS choosing to implement its portions of PlaceboCare fully as its top priority during the 17% Shutdown instead of ensuring it could start receiving individual income tax returns on-time next year is the charge House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) leveled after the IRS announced that it will not be starting the Tax Year 2013 filing season on-time. Camp noted that the prior tax season, the IRS managed to start accepting tax returns on-time even though there were wholesale changes approved by Congress in December 2012, though my memory says it was delayed by a couple days.

The IRS counter-claimed that they were in the middle of building a new system for the Tax Year 2013 filing season when they were forced to prioritize. One can only hope that they didn’t choose the 404Care Exchange designers for that.

The significance of the delay is those big spenders who budgeted for a big income tax refund check to arrive February 2014 (an aside – that is perhaps the stupidest financial decision one can make) won’t get one.

October 23, 2013

Broken website? We’ll just break the law (again).

by @ 19:36. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

Unless you’ve been in a cave watching NBCCBSABCCNNPMSDNC or reading the NYTWaPoLATUSATodayYourLocalPaintcatcher, you know that we’ve entered the third week of EPIC FAIL of PlaceboCare’s exchange website. Not two weeks after they torpedoed the GOP’s “fallback” position of a 1-year delay in the individual mandate to buy PlaceboCare “coverage”, Democrats have started calling for a “delay” until the exchanges are actually up and running, a process that likely will take months.

The early response from Team SCOAMT:

Before I continue, I need to explain a couple things. Health insurance is sold by the month, with coverage beginning on the first day of a month. In order to get coverage for the following month, one must complete the application process 2 weeks prior to the month.

There is a ta…er…penalty for not having PlaceboCare “coverage” (the greater of $95 or 1% of one’s adjusted gross income for 2014, payable when one files one’s 2014 income tax return in winter/spring 2015), with a 2-consecutive-month grace period for non-“coverage”. That means, at least according to the state of law when the sun rose this morning, one had to complete their PlaceboCare exchange application by February 15 to get coverage for March and thus not pay at least 3 months’ worth of ta…er…penalty. Since PlaceboCare’s 2014 open-enrollment period ends on March 31, that is the last day one can avoid paying the full 2014 ta…er…penalty, but one would still be liable for 4 months’ worth of the ta…er…penalty because they wouldn’t have “coverage” until May 1.

Now, I can continue. There was some confusion on whether the “6-week delay” would be an extension of the PlaceboCare open-enrollment period until mid-May or an increase in the “grace” period described above. I’ll let Phillip Klein explain why administratively extending the administratively-set end of the open-enrollment period is illegal.

NBC News later clarified what Team SCOAMT was talking about:

As the law stands now, individuals are expected to begin the application process via HealthCare.gov by Feb. 15 to avoid a financial penalty. But under the prospective change, individuals will be expected to have started enrollment by March to avoid incurring the penalty.

It figures that they would go with the more-blatantly-illegal route. 26 USC § 5000A (e) (4) specifically proscribes the exemption from the ta…er…penalty for those with “short coverage gaps”:

(4) Months during short coverage gaps

(A) In general
Any month the last day of which occurred during a period in which the applicable individual was not covered by minimum essential coverage for a continuous period of less than 3 months.

(B) Special rules
For purposes of applying this paragraph—

(i)the length of a continuous period shall be determined without regard to the calendar years in which months in such period occur,

(ii)if a continuous period is greater than the period allowed under subparagraph (A), no exception shall be provided under this paragraph for any month in the period, and

(iii)if there is more than 1 continuous period described in subparagraph (A) covering months in a calendar year, the exception provided by this paragraph shall only apply to months in the first of such periods.
The Secretary shall prescribe rules for the collection of the penalty imposed by this section in cases where continuous periods include months in more than 1 taxable year.

In short, the United States Code, which prior to Teh SCOAMT’s ascension to the Oval Office, trumped administrative decisions, mandates that those without PlaceboCare “coverage” for more than 2 months must be ta…er…penalized. Of course, in the ObamiNation, Teh Royal Team SCOAMT decrees override any and all laws or provisions of the Constitution.

October 22, 2013

House to use Air Force to shuttle en masse to attend Bill Young’s funeral

by @ 12:45. Filed under Politics - National.

Yes, you read that right – the House of Representatives will shut down on Thursday and use multiple Air Force planes to take a day trip down to Florida to attend the funeral of late Congressman Bill Young (R-FL). Well, it’s appropriate since Young was one of the kings of pork, serving as chair of the appropriations committee from 1999-2004, and as exempted-from-term-limits chair of the appropriations subcommittee on defense when he died in the middle of his 22nd term in Congress.

Bo(eh)ner and company just lost all ability to bitch about Air SCOAMT’s multiple trips for SCOAMT, the missus, and the dogs. As Wile E. Coyote would say, “Brilliance, Bo(eh)ner. Sheer, unadulterated brilliance!”

October 17, 2013

A complete cave in 11 easy steps

by @ 10:48. Filed under Politics - National.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in a cave (in which case consider yourself lucky the Park Police didn’t tear gas you out), you’ve heard by now that the Republican Party (or as I’ve begun to call its Hispandering successor, El Partido Republicano Legado in a nod to its Mexican PRI blueprint) got absolutely, positively nothing in the latest can-kick of the mess that is the federal spending-and-borrowing. Those of you who’ve been around in the comments at Hot Air and Ace of Spades HQ where I spent my sabbatical already know that I was predicting the GOP would get nothing and like it from the start. So, how did they do it? It didn’t even take a dozen steps:

– They started in late March with a Paul Ryan-written budget that included exactly $0.00 spent on PlaceboCare over the next 10 years, both the “mandatory” and “discretionary” spending, through FY2023. This was the same 10-year budgetary “defund” they quietly and fully abandoned the previous two years.

– About the time they wanted to switch to a 1-year “total” delay attached to a slightly-down-the-road debt-ceiling increase, Sen. Ted Cruz decided that the “defund” strategy wouldn’t be so quietly abandoned this time, switched that to an indefinite total defund, and got it attached to the nearer-down-the-road continuing resolution needed to keep the 35% of federal government subject to yearly approprations going into FY2014.

– In response, the Rats demanded a “clean” short-term (couple weeks versus the GOP’s couple months) continuing resolution to allow government to keep on racking up the deficits and a longer-term “clean” debt-ceiling increase to allow government to keep up racking up the debt required to finance the deficits.

– The Cruz version of “defund” met a bipartisan Party-In-Government end in the Senate, with nearly half the “Republican” caucus, including both leadership and those who campaigned in 2010 on doing everything possible to derail PlaceboCare (cough…Ron Johnson…cough) joining Harry Reid in raising the knife to it and another quiver of arrows into Cruz’s back.

– With no concessions from the Rats, the GOP dropped the full 1-year delay for a 1-year delay in the individual mandate and a repudiation of the administrative Congressional exemption from the no-employer-subisies in the individual exchanges Congress successfully begged Obama for (aka the Vitter amendment previously rejected by the Senate Rats).

– Again with no concessions from the Rats, the GOP dropped the 1-year delay in the individual mandate, instead switching to a desperate try to get back into the good graces of K Street by offering an elimination of the medical device tax in exchange for screwing over pensioners with higher taxes.

– Then Paul Ryan got the proverbial chair of offering up the end of the sequester (in exchange for “negotiations” on Social Security) out from under the ring.

– The Rats seized that chair and, as negotiations between the Senate Rats and “Pubbies” finally began, added a demand of the end of the non-defense portion of sequester immediately to their list of demands. They used the “giving up” of this new 11th-hour demand to knock down the elimination of the medical device tax to a 2-year suspension of same on the Senate side.

– In exchange, they introduced a union-demanded call for a 1-year delay in a “reinsurance” tax, a 3-year tax assessed on existing group insurance policies to fund the subisidies to those who in the past would be in high-risk insurance pools. They then used the “giving up” of this new 11:30 pm demand to eliminate the Vitter amendment on the Senate side.

– Meanwhile on the House side, the rank-and-file found out that the post-2012 election war their leadership has been waging against the conservatives amongst them, and the full-scale assault on Cruz, were ordered by the portion of K Street that hadn’t already given up entirely on the GOP as tests of fealty to them. That torpedoed the last desperate House idea of a 2-year suspension of the medical device tax and an expansion of the Vitter amendment to cover the political appointees of the executive branch before it could get out of the House.

– That left the Reid plan, with a slightly longer CR and less time between the end of the CR and the end of the debt-ceiling raise, as the only game in town. Senate Minority “leader” Mitch McConnell demanded and got a $2 billion por…er…lock project on the Ohio River and a completely-meaningless strongly-worded letter for Obama to enforce the income-verification requirements for PlaceboCare subsidies he already decided to unilaterally ignore.

Thus you have what we got – a punt down the road for a few months with nothing to show for it and the stage set for the end of the non-defense portion of the sequester before Christmas. I doubt Wile E. Coyote could have done a “better” job than MiniCave and Bo(eh)ner (and by “better”, I mean “more self-destructive”).

October 14, 2013

Shutdown number of the day – $83,990,000

by @ 12:56. Filed under Politics - National.

That is the amount of money the Treasury Department will need to come up with on Default Day, October 17, to fully-service the $120 billion in short-term Treasury bills that come due that day, assuming a successful rollover of that debt.

Here are the amounts of federal tax deposits from, in order, 10/16/2012, 10/17/2012, and 10/18/2012 – $8,148,000,000, $6,751,000,000, and $1,980,000,000. Surely Treasury Secretary Jack Lew can’t be serious when he says he might not be able to come up with the cash to service that “pitiful” (in federal government terms) interest amount.

There’s another $40 million in interest coming due next week Thursday, and $5.1 billion at the end of the month, which is less than what the federal government took in on two of the three days mentioned above. Even the $56 billion in interest due to be paid out on 11/15 is less than a third of what came into the coffers last November.

In short, the only way there is an “interest-only” default in the near-future is if President Barack Obama and Lew order one. The bad news is, if they do order one, that opens the door to either a default on principal as investors refuse to reinvest in Treasury securities or hyperinflation as the Federal Reserve soaks up what isn’t bought by private and foreign interests. I’m not convinced that isn’t their goal.

October 10, 2013

Thursday Hot Read – DrewM’s “The GOP Civil War…The Role Of Outside Groups And The Empire Strikes Back”

by @ 9:53. Filed under Politics - National.

This is what a post on the GOP Civil War written by me would look like if I had the time to do 1,695 words and the talent of DrewM. While even this three-paragraph excerpt can’t do justice to the entire piece, I hope it whets your appetite enough to read it all:

There’s clearly a faction of the party (the entrenched professional class) that saw the victories of 2010 as simply an opportunity to return to business as usual. There was no real urgency to roll back the Obama agenda of 09-10, just to accept the ground lost and move on. Oh sure there were plenty of votes to repeal ObamaCare but not when it really counted. In divided government only a handful of bills are going to pass. If you don’t hitch your wagon to one of the few “must pass” pieces of legislation, you’re really just putting on a show for the folks back home.

Enter the establishments new favorite conservative villains…the Senate Conservative Fund, Heritage Action and The Club for Growth. The knock on these groups is that they spend far more time attacking Republicans than Democrats. And to a large extent, it’s a fair description. But that ignores the problem they are trying to solve…weak kneed Republicans who left to their own devices will revert to their big spending, go-along, get-along ways.

The fact of the matter is, given past performance, Republican office holders do need an enforcer looking over their shoulders. I like to think of these groups not as “the enemy within” but as the “motivation squad”. If you aren’t a self-motivator, most people will take the path of least resistance. For Republican officeholders, that often means giving in to the DC mindset that their job is to manage the train and keep it running to the benefit of those who pay the freight. Well, these conservative groups are serving as the eyes and ears (and occasionally the clinched fist) of conservative voters back home who sent people to DC to slow the train down and eventually put it on a different track.

What are those “past performances”? No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D in 2003, the torpedoing of Social Security reform in 2005, an average publicly-held debt increase of over 9% per year, the growth to near 50% of the income-earning populace not paying any income taxes…need I go on?

How many people would have avoided PlaceboCare’s tax had the exchanges worked 100% from Day One?

by @ 8:11. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National, Taxes.

(H/T – Hot Air commenter MobileVideoEngineer)

3,800,000 according to DNC Chair (and Congresswoman) Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). That’s right – the PlaceboCare exchange website was designed to handle a grand total of 50,000 people per day. There are 76 days, including weekends and holidays, between October 1 and December 15, the last day to sign up for PlaceboCare to be covered starting in January and thus not taxe…er…fined for not having PlaceboCare coverage.

No wonder why the IRS is saying the PlaceboCare exchanges are going “as planned”. They stand to get a rather-substantial ill-gotten windfall.

Revisions/extensions (8:15 10/10/2013) – I forgot to mention that, just like every other Rat-introduced health-related spending disaster, the PlaceboCare exchanges busted the budget by orders of magnitude. It was supposed to cost $94 million; instead, the cost is $634 million and counting.

R&E part 2 (18:20 10/10/2013) – It’s supposedly 50,000 at a time, not per day. Of course, that’s less than half the capacity of the GOP’s Medicare drug benefit expansion, which if memory serves was also available through snail mail.

October 8, 2013

Jimmy Carter – today’s middle class is as poor as the poor were in my day

by @ 8:06. Filed under Economy, Politics - National.

Really, Peanut Farmer? Let’s ignore the middle class for now and compare the poor now and the poor then:

  • Back then, the average family had one color TV out in the living room and maybe one black-and-white TV in the parents’ bedroom. Now, there’s color TVs in every room used for either living or entertaining (oh yeah, they’re probably hooked into a pay-TV service and some are hooked into gaming consoles, neither of which were exactly the province of the poor or the middle class back in Peanut Farmer’s day).
  • Back then, there were 2, maybe 3, phones in the house on a single line. Now, every family member over the age of 12 has his or her own phone and phone number (and they’re portable, and a couple are probably smartphones, again not exactly the province of either the poor or the middle class, or in the case of the smartphone, even the ultra-rich, back in the Peanut Farmer’s day).
  • Back then, home-cooked meals, and cooked-from-scratch meals, were the norm, with even fast-food restaurant a rare treat. Now, dinner is about as likely to come out of a McDonald’s bag or a Domino’s box as it is out of a heat-and-serve one, and a cooked-from-scratch meal is the rare treat.
  • Back then, there might have been 2 cars in the household, and most likely only if the mom also worked. Now, it’s as likely as not that little Biffy/Buffy has his/her own car to drive to prom (which would make 3 cars in the average 2-parent family because, thanks to a historically-high overall government demand, mom has to work too).

I will grant that there has been a major slip backward since the summer of 2008 with the “legacy” rich’s attempt to make sure Al Czervik doesn’t even have enough money to think about getting into Bushwood, but that’s on the Peanut Farmer’s party.

October 7, 2013

The definitive shutdown analogy

by @ 17:56. Filed under Politics - National.

Hot Air commenter 18-1 absolutely nailed it in the comments section of a post on White House economic advisor Gene Sperling terming prioritization of paying bills “default by another name”:

Let’s break this into an analogy.

Your house is about to be foreclosed on and your credit cards are maxed out. Your earnings are down because the Obamaconomy has devastated your income.

Your spouse comes to you with a handful of credit card applications saying this is the only way you can still afford to go out to eat every night and still go on that vacation to Obamacare Tahiti as promised.

You refuse to sign up for the new cards and instead demand that you cut all unnecessary spending now before you lose everything.

Your spouse responds by calling you a terrorist, a hostage taker, and an extremist. Your spouse locks you out of the house, and spends money hiring people to wall off not only your driveway, but everyone in the neighborhood.

Who is the reckless individual in this case?

One thing 18-1 left out of that – you offered several different ideas on spending to cut, and your spouse rejected out of hand every single one of them.

As for Sperling, the dirty little secret is no matter what the politicians in DC do, there will be a “technical default” within 15 years. There isn’t enough money in the world to support another doubling of the publicly-held portion of the debt, and there isn’t enough money in the US to support the amount of taxation required to avoid said doubling.

October 6, 2013

Mark Steyn pens the NPS Anthem

by @ 21:28. Filed under Politics - National.

(H/T – Dad29:

Mark Steyn penned this catchy tune, which is a hell of a lot better than the Unionista Singers ever did.

This land is our land, it sure ain’t your land
From downtown DC to the Lake Mead shoreland
From the Arctic Refuge to the Gulf Stream waters
This land is closed to you and yours

I’m hoping for a tape of him singing it on Thursday, mostly so I don’t have to do it myself.

Do go over to NRO for verses 2, 3 and 4.

October 3, 2013

Walker defies Team SCOAMT

This Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on how Scott Walker defied federal diktats to close several state parks that receive a modicum of federal funds, and use a 1961 agreement to reopen a Mississippi River boat launch in a state park but on federal land, has gone viral. I could direct you to, say, the guest bloggers tending to The Gateway Pundit’s place or Hot Air for the macro shutdown take, but instead I’ll tie it to the Medicaid expansion that was part of PlaceboCare.

Over the course of the creation of the current state budget, the Rats and their allies-of-convenience in the health care industry tried to push Walker to accept a temporary federal funding of an expansion of Medicaid, saying it was “free money”. Walker refused, saying that the state would be left holding the bag when that money inevitably dried up.

Well, the federal money for the expansion of some state parks has dried up. Because Walker and the Republicans managed to cobble together a bit of a surplus, rather than be the heartless bastards the Rats and their presstitute organs say he is (and that Team Shutdown Clusterf*ck Of A Malignant Tyrant is), he and DNR secretary Cathy Stepp are able to keep those parks wide open.

Of course, $701,000 in parks revenue is a far cry from the hundreds of millions of dollars that Medicaid expansion is, and the shutdown is temporary.

October 2, 2013

The PlaceboCare national hotline number is…

by @ 19:41. Filed under PlaceboCare, Politics - National.

1-800-F1UCK YOU (or for those of you who can’t spell on a phone handset, 1-800-318-2596, with the 8-for-U not necessary).

What, were 1-800-382-5968 (FUCK-YOU), 1-800-358-5936 (FLUKE YOU, courtesy Myron Falwell in the comments section of Duane Patterson’s piece), and all the 888/877/866/855 variations of those two taken? Then again, Fluke does rhyme with fuck, so HHS might be counting on the low-information voters needing to L33T-spell phonetically.

October 20, 2012

The Final Debate Drunkblog

by @ 13:02. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

Don’t confuse this with a full-on Egg return, but since Shoebox is just about out of free time on Cover It Live, I’m doing the post for this one. The usual language warning applies, so bring your favorite beverages over and we’ll start this thing about 7:45 pm Central Monday.

October 14, 2012

Debate Thunderdome!

Two men enter! One man leaves! Two men enter! One man leaves!

Yes, it’s time for the second Presidential debate. With the Dems down 0-2 and going back to the Great Grimacer, they are in desperate need of at least a tie. If the Dems go down 0-3, even my former home state of Minnesota might have a chance of recovering from the Mondale Muff!

Join us Tuesday evening. I should get it going about 7:45 for you Central timers. As usual, the family friendly light will be out so bring your best snark!

October 10, 2012

VP Debate

Yup, it’s another Thursday and that means another debate!

This time we’ve got Joe “gaffe is my middle name” Biden going up against Paul “I’ve got your balanced budget right here” Ryan.

Join Me and hopefully Steve, for another evening of scoffing, snark and derision. I should have us up live about 7:45 y’alls time.

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