As usual, WisPolitics had the good news first. What surprised me was Rodriguez carried South Milwaukee.
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.
As usual, WisPolitics had the good news first. What surprised me was Rodriguez carried South Milwaukee.
I had hoped to bring you the results from the 21st Assembly special general election and the 82nd Assembly special primary election as they come in, but I will be otherwise occupied tonight. For those of you who want the results long before the rest of the media gets around to mentioning them, WisPolitics will have those results, as well as the results for the 69th Assembly special general election, on their election blog.
There are two special elections for the State Assembly today:
– The 21st Assembly District, in Oak Creek, South Milwaukee, and the strip of Franklin between 27th and 35th, and between Drexel and Central. I wholeheartedly endorse Jessie Rodriguez, who is going up against carpetbagging Democrat Elizabeth Coppola.
– The 82nd Assembly District, in the rest of Franklin (except the northwest corner bounded by Woods, North Cape, Forest Home, and the city limits), Greendale, and the eastern part of Greenfield. That is a primary election, with 4 Republicans looking to advance to take on the sole Democrat in 4 weeks’ time. I didn’t follow that primary because I don’t live in that district, but Kevin Fischer has endorsed Shari Hanneman.
I’ve known Peter “DaTechGuy” Ingemi for several years. One can always depend on him for great insight, both on his blog and on his Saturday radio show, and fedoras and cannoli at the conferences he attends. As reserved as I am, that’s how outgoing he is. He taught me that one of the best ways to get the pulse of a particular city is to talk to the cabbies.
He’s been hustling to make a living out of blogging and his radio show the last couple years, and he’s been moderately successful so far. As his next step, he offered 7 people, including me, a unique opportunity to post a weekly piece over at his blog, called The Magnificent Seven after the movie. I get to clean up the week in the role of Harry on Sauturday afternoons, with a repost here late Tuesdays. Sort of fits – like Harry, I left the scene for a while before coming back.
The rest of the crew:
– Marathon Pundit on Sundays
– Linda Szugyi of No One of any Import on Mondays
– Juliette Akinyi Ochieng, aka Baldilocks on Tuesdays
– Fausta Wertz on Wednesdays
– AP Dillon of Lady Liberty 1885 on Thursdays
– Pastor George Kelly from Georgia on Fridays
Do make sure you hit DaTechGuy’s tip jar early and often, and read the rest of The Magnificent Seven, both at DaTechGuyBlog and at their sites. While you’re expanding your reading list, do pick up Juliette’s book.
That is the price for regular unleaded at one of the local gas stations. With Obama’s EPA still searching for any way to do to privately-owned land and state-owned land where fracking has been occuring what they have done to federal-owned/controlled land, namely stop fracking and new oil exploration, I never thought I would once again see the day I could walk into a gas station with a $20 bill and a $10 bill, pay for 10.000 gallons of gas, and get change back.
Of course, it is the winter blend of Algore/Whitman Memorial Reformulated Gas With 10% Corn-A-Hole, so it’s 10% less efficient than the summer version of that (and even less efficient than untainted gas). It’s also still too damn high.
First, we need a bit of music to set the mood…
No, the lack of posts here isn’t intentional. I’ve been putting in time over at Hot Air along with Bruce McQuain and Morgen Richmond to try to fill the shoes of Ed Morrissey while he’s on vacation. Even with all three of us, it’s not quite enough to fully duplicate just his daily writings – Jazz Shaw, who does weekends, has set up a couple of posts to start each weekday morning off. That doesn’t count The Ed Morrissey Show (Mondays-Thursdays at 3, Fridays at 2).
I never had a lot of comments here, but those who know me know I like to hang around in the comments sections of wherever I might find myself. That was one of the reasons why I didn’t promise Ed too many posts – I keep getting distracted from the next post by answering comments, and distractions don’t let one be regular with the multiple posts per day needed on a high-traffic blog. It’s also why, as much as I liked Twitter back in the day, I can’t go back (even if I hadn’t said I won’t be back) and still keep this place.
I’ve seen some people complain that people like Ed, Allah Pundit and Ace don’t have much of a presence in the comments. I knew on a theoretical level that it was because they have to keep providing fresh content, and I knew (and forgot) on the practical level the last time I helped fill in at HA that was the case, but, perhaps enhanced by the rust I still have, it’s really hit home this time.
No, this isn’t complaining; it’s just stream-of-consciousness (or at this time of night, semi-consciousness) thinking out loud so I have something posted here. I’ve seen several messages of “good job” from the rest of the HA commenting gang, and I just don’t have time to thank every one of them individually. I truly appreciate every one of them.
Don’t ask me how Ed Morrissey thinks this is a good idea, but he has handed me a spare key to Hot Air for the next 2 weeks while he and the First Mate enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Fortunately, I won’t be alone in trying to fill his shoes – he’s also lined up Bruce McQuain of Questions and Observations to pitch in. Bruce comes highly-recommended in my book.
I have another expansion coming soon, which I’ll let you know about on Sunday.
Wasn’t it just a month ago I dusted this place off?
This is the Emergency Blogging System. It has been activated because Steve forgot to tell you this last night. This is not a drill – drills go Husky-Husky-Husky-Husky.
For those of you in the US (and not in those parts that don’t observe Daylight Saving), Daylight Saving Time ended at 2 am local time. If you have a WordPress blog (whether it is on WordPress.com or it is a WordPress stand-alone blog), and you had the time changed for Daylight Savings, you need to change it back to Standard Time (Central UTC -6, Mountain UTC -7, Eastern UTC -5, Pacific UTC -8, and check your clock for other locales). To do so, go into your wp-admin panel, select “Settings”, and under the “General Settings” page that pops up, select the right time zone. Don’t forget to hit “save” when you’re done.
Again, this is not a test. Had this been a test, you wouldn’t have been given official news, instructions or information. This concludes this broadcast of the Emergency Blogging System.
I quietly put this poll up at the beginning of the month, when the Packers were both stinking up the joint and having players carted off the field on a weekly basis. They fixed the latter immediately afterward, and finally stopped the physical bleeding to take sole possession (by a half-game and, at the moment, a tiebreaker) over Detroit.
As things stand now, the Packers are in first at 5-2 with one win each over the Vikings and Lions (a second game against each is upcoming), and the first of the two division games against Duh Bears coming up on Monday Night Football, the Lions are 5-3 with one win each over the Bears and Vikings and a loss against the Packers, the Bears are 4-3 with a win against the Vikings and a loss against the Lions, and the Vikings are 1-6 with a loss to each of the other NFC North teams (sorry, Shoe; maybe you could buy the team and really create a conflict of interest for the blog ;-)
I’m not asking how many wins the eventual winner of the NFC North will have, I’m asking how many wins it will take to take the division. You have about 11 hours from the posting of this to put your guesses in.
How many wins will it take to win the NFC North in 2013?
Up to 1 answer(s) was/were allowed
Total Voters: 8
I did say when I came back that I would be writing in more places. One of those is RightWisconsin, a venture started up early this year by Charlie Sykes. I sent my analysis of the latest Marquette Law School’s poll over there, and it hit the digital press early this morning.
One item I did not include was an analysis of the shocking reversal of opinion on gay “marriage”. Less than 7 years after Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment reserving marriage to one-man/one-woman couples in an electorate the exit polls said had a built-in 4-point advantage for Democrats, a majority now say that gay couples should be recognized as “married” by the state.
Even though the half of the sample that was asked this, as well as abortion on demand, citizenship for illegal aliens and pot, was skewed even more-heavily Democrat than the half that was asked their opinion of Sen. Ron Johnson (with a D/R/I of 35.0% D/23.0% R/37.5% I), that radical undersampling of Republicans, one not seen even in 2008, did not matter – the liberal position on all of those issues would have carried the day even with the “natural” D+2.4 advantage.
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.
Deadspin reports that fan-favorite-turned-fan-favorite-target Brett Favre turned down a plea from the St. Louis Rams to return to the NFL after losing their starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, for the season to an ACL tear this past Sunday.
* I’ll believe he’s finally stuck with the proverbial fork when game tiem hits on 11/24 rolls around and he hasn’t signed with the Vikings to give us one more chance to boo his ass out of Lambeau.
Speaking of that, let’s give Christian Ponder a warm welcome back to the starting lineup. Sorry, Shoe, but the Vikes continue to be the
Kansas City Royals Chicago White Sox of the NFL (and I like it).
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.
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:
BREAKING: NBC News has learned the WH intends to delay the deadline requiring every American to buy health insurance by as much as 6 weeks
— NBC Nightly News (@nbcnightlynews) October 23, 2013
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.
Based on the unofficial results from Oak Creek’s Facebook site, The No Runny Eggs Decision Desk has called the 21st Assembly District Republican nomination for Jessie Rodriguez. Yes, South Milwaukee and Franklin have not posted results online yet, and the local media hasn’t reported anything, but Oak Creek does comprise more than half of the district, and a larger majority of those who are likely to participate on the Republican side of the primary even with an uncontested primary on the Democrat side.
The results in Oak Creek are:
Jessie Rodriguez 939
Ken Gehl 415
Chris Kujawa 350
Larry Gamble 89
Red Arnold 22
Revisions/extensions (9:09 pm 10/22/2013) – Franklin’s results are in, and push the totals to:
Jessie Rodriguez 996
Ken Gehl 425
Chris Jukawa 372
Larry Gamble 111
Red Arnold 22
R&E parts 2 and 3 (9:16 pm and 9:19 pm 10/22/2013 for more info) – Now South Milwaukee has reported, and it’s all over but the certification later this week. Jessie Rodriguez is the Republican nominee for the 21st Assembly District, and she will face Democrat Elizabeth Coppola on November 19.
The residents in the rest of Franklin and the other parts of Assembly District 82 will have a Repubilcan primary to begin the process of filling that seat on November 19 as well.
The unofficial final vote totals:
Jessie Rodriguez 1,512
Chris Kujawa 864
Ken Gehl 535
Larry Gamble 170
Red Arnold 73
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!”
I really should have done this sooner, but you have, as of this writing, a bit less than 12 hours to vote if you are in South Milwaukee, Oak Creek, or the half-mile wide strip of Franklin between Central and Drexel. Because former Assemblyman Mark Honadel resigned to return to the private sector, there are 5 people running for the Republican nomination for his seat – Jason Red Arnold, Larry Gamble, Ken Gehl, Chris Kujawa, and Jessie Rodriguez. Each of them would be better than the singular Democrat candidate put out there, Elizabeth Coppola, but as always, the primaries are the time of choosing the direction of the Not-Democrat candidate.
I honestly know nothing, other than the videos he put out there and his campaign website, about Arnold. Worse, for the most part, he’s running an issue-free campaign, which in the absense of prior knowledge of his stands on the issues is a red flag. What little there is out there does mitigate against the red flag.
Gamble’s reputation with the Wisconsin Grandsons of Liberty precedes him. In many ways, he’s a more-fleshed-out version of Arnold, with an emphasis on shrinking government.
Gehl’s greatest strength is that he is a good at “retail politics”. He was the only person who actually caught me at home, though a couple others left flyers on my door. Unfortunately, the politics part of that is his greatest weakness – his major differentiation from the other 4 candidates is that he promises to bring more state money into the district. Though state general finances are pretty close to healthy, half of all state spending is financed by a federal government that is anything but healthy.
Kujawa is the closest thing to Honadel in this race. Indeed, his relationship with Gov. Scott Walker goes back to Walker’s days as county executive.
Rodriguez is starting to grow from being just a school-choice advocate. That growth is in a small-government direction.
So, who did I vote for? I’ll need a couple beers for you to find out.
In the proverbial case of a flashing VCR being right exactly once a year, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (via the Captial Times) looked through the electronic versions of campaign finance records for the 6 current Justices who raised enough money to be required to file their campaign contribution records electonically to try to determine who was most-influenced by donations from lawyers with immediate business before the Court. That look excludes Justice Patrick Crooks as he did not raise enough money in his 2006 unopposed election bid. Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson was easily the biggest recipient of the current Court members of campaign contributions from “donor attorneys” appearing to seek influence on cases they had before the Court at the time of donation, pulling in $188,650 from “donor lawyers” between July 2002 and June 2013. That was well ahead of second-place Justice Annette Ziegler’s $8,300.
Notably, Abrahamson was more likely to side with “donor attorneys” when they gave her campaign more money – while she sided with donors 58% of the time overall, “big-money” donors who gave her at least $1,500 just before or just after their cases were heard won her support 71% of the time.
Meanwhile, the Left’s favorite whipping boy, Justice Michael Gabelman, who took in $2,350 from “donor attorneys”, sided with them twice in four cases. That amount is just over half of what just one attorney who appeared to rent-seek from Abrahamson donated to his opponent, then-Justice Louis Butler.
The only current Justice, other than the unchecked Crooks, who took in less than Gabelman was Justice David Prosser, who received $225 from “donor attorneys”. While the WCIJ didn’t note this, his campaign was the only one hamstrung by the since-eliminated limits on fundraising and spending on judicial campaigns imposed right after Abrahamson won re-election.
Of course, you should have expected that. I’m just not feeling all that well with the onset of winter.
I’ll definitely have something to say about the September jobs numbers, which are due out tomorrow morning, and I absolutely need to say a word or two about the Republican primary in the 21st Assembly district happening tomorrow as well.
Ace articulated an internal struggle I’ve often had, especially in the leadup to my sabbatical from blogging and ultimately Twitter, and again as I finally caved to pressure from several people to return to the online world. The excerpt is longer than I really am comfortable giving, but I can’t honestly chop it up any more than I have and still do it justice:
I’ve mentioned before my growing weariness with what I’ll dub the Viral Mentality of the Internet.
The Viral Mentality is one in which people are over-excited to push certain memes and facts (or pseudofacts) in an effort to shape the national conversation. Blogging really indulged in this mentality — as I’ve said, my flaming skull is my version of Drudge’s siren, an effort to advertise certain memes and stories — but it’s the ADD format of Twitter that has really supercharged the mindset.
My real problem is that if you scratch the surface of most online writers, you’ll find that, without quite admitting it to themselves, they’ve largely defined success and failure in online writing according to the standards of success and failure in Advertising.
To be really good at “Pushing Memes.” To be really good at “getting stories to go viral.”
To be really good at branding.
I joked a while ago that we will all know this syndrome has reached its lethal phase when your grandmother tells you, “I wanted to mention your new Son on my FaceBook page, but I was afraid it would undermine the Branding image I was going for.”
We all know this is beneath us — well, most of us know this; some idiots might actually aspire to be Kings of Online Advertising — and yet nevertheless it has become the default model of online communication….
Now, online, both the right and the left have accepted the notion that activism is the highest ideal of online communication — if not the highest ideal to aspire to, at least one of the top two, competing successfully most of the time versus the other criterion, Speaking the Truth (or one’s murky vision of the truth, at least)….
Now, every political writer is, ultimately, an activist. People do not write about politics disinterestedly. Everyone has his own take on what the Social Good looks like, and his writing will always, always be informed by this.
Every writer, every blogger, every Tweeter, every commenter writing about politics has his own conception of The Good and will write in support of this.
There is no avoiding that.
There will always be Political Advertising encoded into any political essay.
It’s a question of the degree to which we permit ourselves to be captive to the lowest form of communication, Advertising.
It’s a question of whether we elevate the Advertising Imperative above the Truth-Telling Imperative, and by what margin.
As I always say, READ IT ALL. Whether you do it before or after continuing with the self-aggrandizing bullshit I’m about to spew, or you skip said bullshit, is your choice.
I know I have a bit of an ego. Otherwise, I would never have started NRE nor restarted writing. At the same time, my conscience won’t just let me write bullshit just for the sake of getting my name out there, or really to promote what I write. In fact, I was surprised to find that the folks at WisPolitics noticed immediately that I had returned (guess they never dropped the RSS feed) and saw fit to link to the first post back.
When I started this place 8 years ago, I never imagined it would have any real following outside of the people whose blogs I had been commenting on for the several months prior to writing long-form. I never expected to really be able to write long-form posts – writing has always been a major struggle for me, and self-promotion has never been a strong suit.
Then Fred Dooley and Mark Block, then the state director of Americans for Prosperity, invited me out to the first Defending the American Dream summit in 2007. Things sort of snowballed from there, with invites to more national events, meeting and befriending a lot of people I never would either have met nor expected to be in the same circles as, seeing some of the inner workings of politics that the average Joe never does.
On the flip side, I started letting The Brand creep into my musings. Whether it was the NRE Brand I never really intended to build or a larger Conservative/Libertarian Brand (the current iteration being the TEA Party Movement) is immaterial. I started feeling the strain between merely aping whatever came down the pike and taking a critical look at everything.
A long time ago, Jib gave out a key piece of advice – when it stops being fun, it’s time to stop. A year ago, it stopped being fun, with the Twitter part dragged out a few months after that. I pretty much did a hard reboot of the process that began, really, in early 2001 when I joined Free Republic.
In my restart, I can only hope to live up to what Ace closed with:
So when you see me balk at the idea of permanently subordinating my belief in what the truth is for the purpose of advancing the Brand, this is why.
It’s because I don’t want to be Matt Yglesias.
I may be ridiculous inadvertently, but I refuse to make myself ridiculous.
No matter how much some buffoonery and dishonesty might Help the Brand.
Matt Yglesias believes:
Humans are hierarchical primates by nature and have a kind of fascination with power and dignity.>
And by “dignity,” he means the trappings of power– that which “dignified” the nobleman.
That may be true — that may be true of man at his base animal level — but man is not limited to his base animal level. He can aspire to more.
He can aspire to more than being a monkey who begins repeating the squawks of the higher-ranking Alpha Monkey, in order to get the monkeys around him to begin squawking in the same fashion.
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”).
The MacIver News Service reports that the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, which is still titularly in charge of regulating even health insurance in Wisconsin, called up each of the 13 insurance companies that have coughed up a fee to be on the still-broken PlaceboCare individual insurance exchange, and found that fewer than 50 people signed up for PlaceboCare through the exchange.
A bonus item from the piece – only half of the insurance companies offering individual plans, and fewer than a third of those offering small-business group plans, paid the fee to get listed on their respective exchanges.
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.
(H/T – Ace)
This New York Times story is chock full of spin of how the workers for bankrupt Detroit deserved the decades’ worth of infamous “13th checks” issued by the two pension funds that an outside actuary estimates cost the general employees’ plan $2 billion between 1985 and 2011, so I’ll rely on Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle’s righteous outrage over the belated discovery of this (where Ace got his info) to help sift out the relevant points.
Between 1985, the first year the outside actuary could get records for the general workers’ pension fund, and 2008, the general workers’ pension fund handed out $1 billion in “bonuses” to current workers, retirees, and the city of Detroit. Notably, only 14% of that went to the retirees. 32% went to “reduce” the city’s committment to the trust funds, even though had this program not been in place, it is likely that the city’s contributions would have been lower as there were years that this program doubled the required city contribution. 54% went to the active employees for some reason.
The outside actuary, who made his report to the Detroit Common Council in November 2011, estimated that had the “13th checks” instead remained in the general pension fund between 1985 and 2008, the fund would have been nearly $2 billion larger than it was in 2011. He was not able to calculate the effects of the “13th check” on the police/fire pension fund, which had a similar program that apparently ended a bit before the Council finally pulled the plug on the general employees following that report.
That $2 billion is more than half of the $3.5 billion underfunding of the two pension funds. Something tells me that, if this were calculated for the police/fire pension funds, and had the 2009 and 2010 “13th checks” were also included in the calculation, almost the entirety of the current underfunding would have been covered.
Of course, that didn’t matter to the (mis)managers of the pension funds – like the architechts of the Milwaukee County pension raid of 2000 and especially the unionistas that benefited from it, they got “theirs”. Moreover, they thought that the Michigan constitution would require that the last drop of blood from the turnip go to them. They didn’t count on the last drop being drained before they died.
One more thing – in 2009, when the Detroit pension funds lost nearly a quarter of their value, the retirees were credited with a 7.5% return on their investment.
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?
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