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

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.

September 30, 2012

First Presidential Debate

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

Update: In a move that has come to be known in Wisconsin as “The Favre,” it is being reported that Steve Egg will be coming out of his self imposed retirement to join the live debate tonight….let’s see if his aging legs serve him better than Favre’s did!

Come one, come all. Bring your booze and your snark. Leave your thin skins at home!

I’ll try to get things rolling by about 7:45 Central

September 28, 2012

Out With a Bang!

Egg has announced that he will be putting up the closed sign here at NRE in the not too distant future. He’s graciously offered for me to take over here but really, can you imagine someone with my green complexion holding down a blog site for runny eggs? ewwwww!

All that said, there’s no reason to let many years of fun and friends go out with a whimper. We need to take advantage of the upcoming debates and take this baby out in style!

There are currently 4 Presidential/VP debates scheduled:

October 3rd at 8 Central
October 11th at 8 Central
October 16th at 8 Central
October 22nd at 8 Central

I’m a little challenged on the 22nd but think I can find a way to get live blogs going for all 4 events. Put these on your calendar today and plan on joining me and maybe Egg if he hasn’t succumbed to the Obamapacolypse by then. The “Family Friendly light” will definitely be extinguished for these events to plan on liquoring up prior to the start of the debate….you won’t want to be sober or sane for even a minute of these events!

Let’s take NRE out not with a whimper or simply a bang. Help me take NRE out in a fully engulfed in flames!

September 5, 2012

DemocRATs – We like being property of government

I wasn’t going to comment on a line from the DemocRAT National Convention’s opening video that said, “Government is the only thing we all belong to.” Then, an outfit called Revealing Politics decided to go out and ask delegates to the DemocRAT National Convention how it felt to belong to the government. I swear this video was not filmed in Pyongyang, even though the last time I saw something like it, it was:

September 4, 2012

$16,015,769,788,215.80

by @ 21:08. Filed under Politics - National.

Sometime on Friday, the federal government crossed the $16 trillion debt barrier, with the official announcement that it hit $16,015,769,788,215.80 by the end of Friday made today. Less than 4 short years ago, it was $10.6 trillion.

The Republican National Committee decided to quote President Obama extensively for this occasion:

Let’s see; 4 years of $1.1 trillion-plus deficits (none of which qualifies as “cutting the deficit in half”), more publicly-held debt added under Obama ($4.965 trillion) than total debt added by any previous President – yep, Teh SCOAMF is a real success story…if your definition of “success” is “make it nigh impossible to dig out from governmental excess”.

Is it too late to save Social Security?

by @ 20:31. Filed under Social Security crater.

For a long time, it has been argued that Social Security was the easier of the two entitlement “bombs” to defuse. Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) infamously said last year that nothing needed to be done to Social Security until the 2030s. Social Security Public Trustee Charles Blahous, author of Social Security: The Unfinished Work, argues that it may already be too late to save Social Security “as we know it”:

Social Security’s future, at least in the form it has existed dating back to FDR, is now greatly imperiled. The last few years of legislative neglect — due to a failure of national policy leadership coming just as the baby boomers have begun to retire — have drastically harmed the program’s future financial prospects. Individuals now planning their financial futures, whether as taxpayers or as beneficiaries, should be pricing in a substantial risk that the federal government will not be able to maintain Social Security as a self-financing, stand-alone program over the long term. If Social Security financing corrections are not enacted in 2013, or at the very latest by 2015, it becomes fairly likely that they will not be enacted at all.

Blahous gave three reasons for a lack of hope for resolving the Social Security crisis – the Baby Boomers starting to retire, the inability of either side to compromise in the face of a lack of one-party domination, and the lack of seriousness of many in power to address the issue. Allow me to add a fourth – the inability to even address the Disability Insurance (DI) portion. Despite outgo in the DI program outstripping taxes since the end of 2005, outgo outstripping both taxes and interest on the trust fund since early 2009, and predictions in each of the last several Trustees’ Reports that the trust fund would zero out sometime this decade (with the 2012 Trustees’ Report putting that year as 2016), nothing has been done to address this. Even the assumed “solution” of chaining it to the larger Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund, which would extend the life of DI roughly 17 years at the cost of shortening the life of OASI roughly 2 years, has not made it to the floor of either House of Congress.

The overall problem is much worse, if not quite as immediate, as the 1983 OASI crisis, or the 1994 DI crisis. In 1983, OASI merely had to weather a short-term storm before running nearly 30 years of surpluses, though it would have collapsed again in the 2020s and, if tethered to DI, collapsed the entire system by 2040. In 1994, the fix for the drain of the DI fund was even simpler because it was merely a short-term fix designed to last 22 years – reallocate a larger portion of the FICA/SECA tax toward DI, possible because the larger OASI fund was projected to run a couple decades of surpluses with or without the reallocation. Now, both programs are in the red, and indeed, about to be deeper in the hole than projected in the mid-1980s as this graph on the projected balances from the 1982 and 2012 Trustees’ Reports from Blahous illustrates:

In 1983, the long-term solutions, which barely made it through Congress, were to delay the COLA adjustment by 6 months, bring federal employees into the system, subject the self-employed to the same total tax rate as “traditional” employees and employers, and subject half (the employer-funded portion) the benefits of the “wealthy” to the income tax (which, thanks to a lack of any adjustment for inflation, is hitting more seniors every year). Blahous notes that the divide now is at least twice as wide as it was then.

Worse, two of the main “solutions” often offered up by those on either side of the “limit benefits vs. tax more” divide, limit benefit growth to price inflation instead of wage inflation for at least the “high-income” earners, and raise the cap on the FICA/SECA tax to an undetermined maximum (up to and including infinity) without allowing any increased benefits, appear to be unable to solve the long-term problem on their own. Indeed, while either of the two most-extreme versions of the “solutions”, indexing all benefits to price inflation and eliminating the cap on the FICA/SECA tax entirely, may have passed the “75-year actuary test” back in 2005, neither alone will work in 2012.

What does continuing to do nothing until it is too late mean for Social Security? Blahous explains:

Upon merging into the general fund, Social Security benefits would be far less secure going forward. Benefit payments would have to compete with other annual spending priorities, and would be limited to those deemed affordable given pressures elsewhere in the budget. They would thus be much more susceptible to sudden reductions, means-tests, and other episodic changes to which general fund financed programs have long been subjected.

If this all happens, and renders tomorrow’s Social Security benefits less secure than today’s, it would be a tragic irony: the outcome would have been brought about largely by supporters of Social Security having countenanced the tactics of delay to the point that the program’s unique political protections could no longer be preserved. Those who care about the Social Security program need to clearly understand the consequence of this ongoing neglect; that time for a realistic financing solution has nearly run out.

Just as a reminder, when the trust funds run out of money, whether it be the DI fund in 2016 should nothing be done, the OASI fund in 2035 should nothing be done, or the combined OASDI funds in 2033 should that combining be the only thing done, the benefits paid out by said fund(s) will be cut by over 20%.

There is also the very real cost of getting DI to the middle of 2016, and OASI barely into 2035 (or if one prefers, the combined programs into 2033); the monetization of the trust funds. The Trustees put the difference between non-trust-fund revenues and expenditures of the combined OASDI programs at $4.993 trillion in current dollars (inflation-adjusted $3.506 trillion in 2012 dollars) through 2032, the last full year of “normal” operations. In 2032, the inflation-adjusted shortfall is projected to be roughly $349 billion in 2012 dollars (non-adjusted $586 trillion), or nearly a third of all the discetionary spending by the federal government this fiscal year, with an ever-increasing shortfall in succeeding years. Unfortunately, that money doesn’t exist outside of a series of IOUs, which means it will have to be borrowed, taxes will have to be increased, other spending will have to be cut, or some combination of the three will need to be done.

Before that, specifically in 2026, total spending on Social Security on an inflation-adjusted basis will exceed what will be spent in federal discretionary outlays this fiscal year. If all that is done is Social Security remains a drag on the larger federal budget by paying out all of the promised benefits, by the time 2070 rolls around and most of the Gen-Xers (including me) die off, in inflation-adjusted terms, spending on Social Security will be more than what either the White House Office of Management and Budget or the Congressional Budget Office expects the federal government to take in next fiscal year, when Taxmageddon hits.

Social Security, in its current form, is doomed. Waiting until the last few months, as was done in both 1983 and 1994, is not exactly an option. The window for an “easy” solution, if it hasn’t already closed, is rapidly closing. The person who is in the White House after January 19, 2013, and those in Congress next year, will have to make hard choices quickly.

June 27, 2012

I wouldn’t want to be Bo tomorrow!

If you blog about politics, it’s hard not to toss a blog up prior to tomorrow’s announcement re: Placebocare.

I’m on vacation in the great northern parts of Minnesota so this won’t be long. I want it down to play against after the decision is revealed and for posterity…it’s too damn easy to say “yeah, I knew that’s what would happen!”

Placebocare is going down in flames. I say this not because I want it to…I do, but because of the signs along the way.

Ginsberg inkled the decision a few weeks back when she said that the decisions would have “sharp disagreement.” I can’t see her making this comment without the single most important case of the session, and arguably of this generation, in mind.

Second, it appears that Chief Justice Roberts himself will be writing the opinion for the case. There is much rumor on this but it makes sense as he is the only justice who has not written one this go around. I think the fact that Roberts writes the opinion makes the mandate a goner.

As to the rest of Placebocare, I think once the mandate is gone, the Supreme Court will also decide that the rest of the bill needs to go. I think there will be two likely arguments for this.

First, the Commerce Clause has been used as an excuse for Congress to pass legislation on damn near anything they wanted to for the past 40 years or so. “The slippery slope” is no longer a theory, it is real. I think that given that the administration argued for the right to do this under the Commerce Clause, the Supremes will take this chance to council Congress on what is and what is not acceptable to slide under the Commerce Clause door. I would expect Roberts to see this decision as his legacy in the court. I don’t seem him passing up this opportunity to put his stamp on the history of the court.

Second, the Administration gave the Supremes the perfect out on shooting the entire bill as they argued that the mandate was essential to make Placebocare work financially. I can’t remember who, it may have been Roberts, made the astute observation that it was somewhat indefensible of the Administration to ask the Supremes to figure out the financial implications of what should stay or go in the Placebocare law if the mandate was struck. Hell, Nancy Pelosi didn’t even know what was in the bill until it was signed but knew it was a good law. How could the Supremes be more omniscient than Nancy P and Harry R?

OK, so Placebocare is dead, then what?

Well, if you thought Obama was petulant after he got slapped on Arizona, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

If this goes as I see it, Obama is a lame duck. Worse, he’s a dead duck politically. Unfortunately, he will still hold the office of President for several more months. I don’t expect Obama to go quietly into that good night. Rather, like post Arizona, I think we could see petulance at a level not seen since the last of the Roman emperors. We are likely to see all kinds of Executive orders made dealing with administration and fund dispersal of various federally supported medical programs. Obama’s sole intent will be to leave office with a great big “I told you so” sign on his bumper. He will attempt to cause chaos in as many medical programs as possible just to be able to say that his plan would have prevented all of that. In fact, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see him do this and couch it as things he must now do to be fiscally responsible

Obama has shown himself to be a very sore loser. I wouldn’t want to be Bo his dog, tomorrow night!

June 13, 2012

Your Shrinkage is Showing!

In the science of thermodynamics we learn that as objects are cooled they shrink, as they are heated, they expand.  I remember enough about high school physics to tell you that the reason for this is that as atoms are heated, they get excited, move vibrate more and the item expands.  The opposite effect occurs when the atoms are cooled.

At this point I must warn you that if you are squeamish about subject matter, you may want to skip a few paragraphs as I am known for being perfectly willing to discuss and have viewed, certain body parts that may not be considered “civil” discussion.  I’ll point out where to rejoin us if you skip ahead.

Most males, beyond a certain age, are intimately familiar with the effects of thermal expansion.  Drop a bunch of teenage males into a cold pool and you will hear a noticeable heightening in their voice tones as thermal expansion, or in this case retraction, works on their genitals.  Drop a bunch of 20+ year old guys into the same cold pool and not only will you hear their voices move up in range but you will hear these voices explaining to the other males how they are really much larger than the slight bump in their swimsuits would suggest.  They will argue that the cold water is having an enormous impact on them.  They will further argue that under normal circumstances, they are much more impressive. OK, if you skipped that last paragraph, you can return now. Last Friday during a press conference, President Obama said,

“The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government. “

As a bit of an aside, for any of you that believe that his was just another of Obama’s “Biden moments” because he didn’t work from a teleprompter, you’re wrong. Obama said clearly what he wanted to say. The proof? Listen to Harry Reid from October of last year…same line. This wasn’t a slip, this comes from Obama’s Socialist belief that government is the source of all economic good:

OK, back to topic…

Obama’s statement received an immediate reaction of incredulity from everyone not living in Obama’s big government bubble, and rightly so. Since then, Obama and his surrogates have been attempting to explain, deflect and walk back the statement.

White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, took the media to task for asking about Obama’s statement telling them that they should “do your jobs and report on contexts.” This was a follow up to David Axelrod, who traveled the weekend talk show circuit, using the same “context” explanation. Further, he argued that voters knew what the President meant and wouldn’t be sucked in by the Republican’s misrepresentation.

On Wednesday, James Carville basically told the Obama campaign to quit telling people how much he’s done for the economy…they don’t believe it!

Is it just me or do voices of Carney, Axelrod and Carville all sound like they’ve had a dip in cold water?

Meanwhile, like the 20 something standing in a cold pool, Obama continues to explain to us that it’s not really him, it’s the environment around him that makes him look small and ineffective. Using terms like “headwinds,” Obama blames everything including Buuuuuush, Japan, Europe, Congress and others for his inability to fix the economy.

Today, Reuters/Ipsos shows Obama and Romney in a statistical dead heat among registered voters (likely a Romney lead of likely voters for a variety of reasons) in a poll that was taken largely after the Obama statement. The poll also shows Romney preferred over Obama on economic issues.

Also today, Rasmussen has a poll that shows Romney up 3 among likely voters in Wisconsin. This is the latest poll that shows Romney tied or ahead in virtually every battleground state with momentum on his side in each case.

Obama and his spokespeople can continue to believe that the President should not be held accountable for the mess our economy has become. They can continue to believe that they will be able to fool some of the people all of the time. In fact, they may be able to do that….with some people. But, they won’t fool all of the people. In fact, it looks like fewer and fewer people are being fooled by Obama’s litany of excuses. It looks to me that despite his protests, Obama’s shrinkage is clearly visible. It’s time for him to get out of the deep end before he does himself and us any permanent damage.

April 25, 2012

Crush your enemies, EPA edition

by @ 19:01. Filed under Envirowhackos, Politics - National.

(H/T – Sean Hackbarth at the US Chamber of Commerce)

EPA Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz was made “famous” today when a quote from his appearance at the May 10, 2010 Dish, TX town meeting was brought up by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) on the Senate floor today. The money quote:

I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff about my philosophy of enforcement. “It’s kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean: they’d go into little Turkish towns somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they’d run into, and they’d crucify them and then, you know, that town was really easy to manage over the next few years.

Do remember that the Romans didn’t give a damn whether the first 5 guys they ran into were part of that city’s military, political structure, or civilian population. They killed them using the most publicly-brutal method they had.

Sen. Inhofe tied that into the EPA’s war on fracking, specifically fracking on private lands they otherwise could not lock up and ban drilling upon:

Not long after Administrator Armendariz made these comments in 2010, EPA targeted US natural gas producers in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming. In all three of these cases, EPA initially made headline-grabbing statements either insinuating or proclaiming outright that the use of hydraulic fracturing by American energy producers was the cause of water contamination, but in each case their comments were premature at best – and despite their most valiant efforts, they have been unable to find any sound scientific evidence to make this link.

It’s as good an excuse as any to play the full “best in life” scene from “Conan the Barbarian”, in which the environmentally-friendly answer was rejected in favor of the pure power grab and abuse:

April 2, 2012

Going with Santorum

by @ 11:30. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

The first of a whole host of partisan elections is happening tomorrow, with the Republican Presidential primary. For the first time in my adult lifetime, it has at least the appearance of mattering, even though the word from both the national and local commentariat is that the only meaning should be to endorse the decades-long Next-In-Line™ concept. Indeed, Sen. Ron Johnson endorsed Mitt Romney yesterday, which is a bigger “get” for Romney than Rep. Paul Ryan’s endorsement on Friday.

While I have always acknowledged that Romney won the 2012 nomination back on SuperDuperTuesday 2008, and indeed all of the recent polls have Romney comfortably up in the primary, I’m not a slave to the inevitable, especially when it has not yet become official. Let’s ask President John McCain how securing the 2008 Republican nomination months before Barack Obama finally won the Thunderdome of a Democrat nomination process worked out…oops, I guess we have to ask Sen. John McCain that because he lost in fall.

Some people I respect, such as Charlie Sykes, have said that Romney is “good enough”. If we were guaranteed not only a Republican Congress, but a conservative one, I would agree because Romney would almost certainly sign what comes out of a conservative Republican Congress. However, I look at the other possibilities (and frankly, the ones that are more likely than one that results in a conservative Republican as Senate majority leader), and find the prospect of a Romney Presidency versus one of much the rest of the Presidential field a bit lacking. Given the two most-likely scenarios of, in order, Harry Reid effectively controlling the Senate while Mitch McConnell takes all the heat as the titular “majority” “leader”, and Reid remaining Majority Leader, Romney’s propensity to sign anything that came out of the Massachusetts Legislature, especially PlaceboCare and a more-expansive-than-the-state-courts-required subsidy for abortion, is problematic.

On a related note, there will likely be at least two members of the Supreme Court, and countless other federal judges, that will need to be nominated in the next Presidential term. Romney’s record in Massachusetts was quite poor on that, and the defense that he had to rely on a third-party commission for names is less than satisfying.

That brings me to the Not-Mitts. Ron Paul’s economic platform, outside the siren call of gold, actually is pretty good. Unfortunately, the office for which he and the others are running is not Treasury Secretary, so his historically-naive take on foreign policy becomes a disqualifying stumbling block.

Newt Gingrich does have an impressive record and a bulldog political ethic. The bad news is his conservative core is not exactly dominant, as appearances on a couch with Nancy Pelosi touting global warming and his rant against Ryan’s budget as “right-wing social engineering” last year demonstrate. The biggest problem Gingrich has is, outside of Georgia and South Carolina, his sometimes-abrasive (yes, it’s only abrasive sometimes) personality put him consistently third or worse. Since it is as late as it is in the primary season, I do have to take that into account.

That brings me to Rick Santorum. I would be lying if I said he was perfect, or even particularly good. His vote for Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind are at a minimum troubling. His support for Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2004, while a payment of personal debt, would in the face of better competition be a knockout blow. His voting record on judicial nominations is not quite 100% judicial conservatives. However, his instincts are conservative, though more on the social side than on the fiscal or governmental side. That is more than I can say for Romney.

Did I mention that Santorum got former Sen. Russ Feingold (off-topic; I’ll never get tired of including the “former”) so flustered over what happens if a partial-birth abortion attempt turns into a live birth that Feingold had to go back and alter the record? That was priceless.

Yes, we will have to mold either Romney or Santorum to be a truly broad-based conservative. However, it is easier when part of the poltiical personality already fits the mold. That person is Rick Santorum.

April 1, 2012

Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!

It somehow seemed fitting that as it reached it’s “terrible twos,” Placebocare reached the Supreme Court. After three days of arguments, whether Placebocare, in whole or part, gets to see it’s “terrific threes” is now left to nine people who regularly wear black robes to the work place.

I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. However, it seems that the preponderance of opinion on both the Left and Right is that the Administration did a horrible job of making its case. Many, again on both sides, believe the individual mandate is in serious trouble. Beyond that, there is growing concern that whether the Justices believe the mandate to be severable or not may be moot. The whole of Placebocare could go down not over a severability argument but because the law is so complex and so intertwined on so many levels that the Justices may well feel that it is not within their ability to judge what stays or goes and instead give Congress a “do over” on the whole law.

Typically in a Supreme Court case, once the case is argued there may be a few days of public speculation as to the outcome if the case was unique or particularly important, like the Kelo decision. I don’t think that pattern will hold with Placebocare.

In a sign that the Left is both worried and is positioning for fall elections, we are seeing and will continue to see articles like this one from Slate.

Let’s skip past the “if you believe Placebocare is unconstitutional you must be a redneck from Kentucky” comment like:

The smart money before the argument was on an 8-1 upholding of Obamacare.

and head straight for what we will hear from now until the day the Supreme’s announce their decision…and if the Left loses, what we will hear as Obama’s campaign standard:

If it overturns Obamacare, the Supreme Court will have revealed its radical nature.

You see to the Left, the Supreme Court is only “Supreme” when it agrees with their agenda. When it doesn’t agree, it is there to be politicized like a group of nine “Joe the Plumbers.” President Obama showed us clearly how this works with his 2010 State of the Union Speech. During the speech, in reference to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, President Obama openly criticized the Supremes. He claimed that they “reversed a century of law.” It was President Obama’s way of saying “they’re radical.”

Between now and the end of June when the Supreme Court is expected to release it’s decision, the MSM and other left media outlets will be attempting to taunt the Supreme Court to see things their way. Taunts like “radical,” “legitimacy” and “ideologues” will be included in numerous recounts of the arguments and the possible ramifications of the outcome. If the decision goes against the Administration, you can bank on Obama using these same taunts in an effort to galvanize his slipping support in an effort to make the Supreme Court the reason for his reelection. In fact, if, as I suspect, Sotomayer leaks the decision to the Administration, you can expect to see Obama cranking this rhetoric as a preemptive strike on what will be a harmful decision.

It’s going to be a long spring folks. Politics will not be leaving stage front and center for another several months, maybe a year. In the meantime, expect to hear a lot of taunting of the Supreme Court. Like the kids of our youth I can already hear the left yelling, “Meme, Meme, Meeeeeme!”

Update 4/2 10:38 AM didn’t know Allen West was a reader of NRE. Welcome aboard Allen!

update 2 4/2 3:01 PM No I’m not clairvoyant I just understand how the Left “thinks.” Expect to see a lot more of this in the coming weeks. In fact, the more you see of it the better as it will be a confirmation that Placebocare will be struck down

Update 3: 4/2 3:55 PM Oh, my gosh, my sides hurt I’m laughing so hard! I’m almost ready to declare Placebocare is going down in total…almost but not yet!

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 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 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 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.

February 22, 2012

Marquette Law School Poll – Santorum leads the WI Primary, Obama leads significantly in the general

Marquette University’s Law School released its second poll of Wisconsin registered voters this morning, the first dealing with the April 6 Presidential primary, and the first to match up each of the 4 remaining Republican Presidential candidates against Barack Obama (January’s poll matched Mitt Romney against Obama). The primary topline is that Rick Santorum had the support of 34% of those considering voting in the Republican primary, with Romney at 18%, Ron Paul at 17%, and Newt Gingrich at 12%. The general topline is Obama would get a double-digit majority win over each candidate, with Santorum coming closest at 51%-40%. Romney saw his deficit to Obama increase from 40%-48% in January to 38%-53% this month, due in part to a rather significant shift in the partisan split from 43% independent/28% Democrat/26% Republican (46% D/44% R with leaners) last month to 35% independent/34% Democrat/26% Republican (47% D/39% R with leaners).

Beyond the toplines – primary edition

Those who lean Republican make up a mere 66.6% of those who said they support one of the four candidates, which probably reflects the ease and anonymity of the partisan primary process in Wisconsin (only the voter knows in which party’s primary he or she voted). However, the facts that they’re the largest constituency and that 81.6% of those who lean Republican did support one of the four candidates illustrate the relative strength of the four candidates.

Among that core constuency (including the 7.5% who don’t plan on voting in the Presidential primary), Santorum trounced Romney 40.6%-18.5%, with Gingrich a distant third at 11.7%. Santorum, the only candidate to improve his favorability ratio from last month, had a favorable/unfavorable split of 56.1%-10.1%, a rather significant improvement from January’s 48.6%/9.8%. Romney slipped from a 48.9%-29.2% split in January to a 45.9%-32.4% split in February, Paul slipped from a 42.4%-28.0% split in January to a 38.4%-31.2% split in February, and Gingrich went underwater, collapsing from a 45.1%-41.5% split in January to a 35.2%-48.8% split in February.

Surprisingly, Santorum even placed second among those leaning Democrat, 23.7% of whom said they would support one of the four candidates in the primary. Among that group of 80, Paul took 43.5%, Santorum 26.2%, Romney 16.0% and Gingrich 14.3%. Notably, Paul’s Democrat-lean total of 35 was greater than his Republican-lean total of 31.

While the Marquette Law School Poll does not directly measure the “likely voter” metric (a discussion from director Charles Franklin on the subject here), the school did release a “likelyhood” crosstab based on a question of how likely each respondent was to vote in November. As Wisconsin is within a month and a half of the primary, looking at the likelyhood of a respondent voting is undeniably worth exploring. Among those “absolutely certain” to vote in November and who did not say they would not participate in the Republican primary, Santorum led with 39.2%, Romney was second with 19.7%, Paul was third with 13.7%, and Gingrich was last with 10.0%. Adding those “very likely” to vote in November and not ruling out voting in April changes the percentages to 35.4% Santorum, 19.0% Romney, 17.1% Paul and 11.4% Gingrich, virtually indistinguishable from the larger “registered voter” number.

On the ideology front, of those who did not rule out voting in the primary, 12.3% described themselves as “very conservative”, 41.2% as “conservative”, 31.5% as “moderate”, 6.1% as “liberal” and 1.5% as “very liberal”. Santorum took 57.5% of the very-conservative potential vote, with Gingrich a distant second at 24.3% and Romney an even more distant third at 11.2%. Among those who were “merely” “conservative”, Santorum took 34.7%, with Romney second at 21.4% and Gingrich third at 14.6%. Paul’s strength begins with the “moderates”, with a 28.1% plurality among moderates (barely ahead of Santorum’s 28.0% and well ahead of Romney’s 16.5%), and near-majorities of 43.7% of “liberals” (with Romney second at 26.1%) and 49.4% of “very liberals” (with the remaining 50.6% undecided).

Beyond the toplines – general edition

The biggest boost to Obama’s chances was his boost in favorability, from 50% favorable/44% unfavorable last month to 52%/43%. In an interesting twist, that is higher than his job approval split of 50% approval/43% disapproval (also up from January’s 47%/47% split), a mirror opposite of Scott Walker’s 47% approval/47% disapproval and 46% favorable/48% unfavorable splits.

Among the Republican challengers, only Santorum had a positive favorability in the Dem-heavy overall poll at 30% favorable/27% unfavorable (versus 27%/21% last month). Paul, who was at an even 31%/31% split last month, fell to 27%/37% this month. Romney slipped from 30%/42% to 27%/50%, while Gingrich slipped from 25%/53% to 21%/61%.

While last month, among those “certain” to vote, Obama and Romney were tied at 45.1%, Obama increased his percentage among this group to between 49.4% (against Santorum) to 53.8% (against Gingrich). Much like last month, the less committed one is to vote, the more likely one would vote for Obama against any of the Republicans.

Specifically to Romney, while a significant portion of his softening of support versus Obama was due to the increased number of Democrats, that does not explain the entirety of the collapse. Even after “normalizing” the February poll numbers to the January partisan percentages, Romney would lose 51%-40%. That was due to a 8-point drop in support among Republicans down to 80.8% (with a 7-point gain by Obama among the same). By comparison, Santorum held 87.1% of Republicans, Paul 82.4% and Gingrich a mere 78.9%.

The news is not all “good” (relatively-speaking) for Santorum. While he would lose the “independent” vote to Obama 53.1%-35.7%, Romney would “only” lose by 50.5%-38.9%.

Regarding ideology, the larger poll sample had 8% “very conservative” (compared to 9% last month), 30% “conservative” (versus 32%), 38% “moderate” (versus 32%), 16% “liberal” (versus 14%), and 4% “very liberal” (unchanged). Santorum would carry the “very conservative” vote by a 86.4%-13.6% margin and the “conservative” vote 67.7%-23.0%, and lose the “moderates” 62.3%-27.1%, while Romney would carry the “very conservative” vote 72.7%-23.1% (note; while that doesn’t seem right, it does add up), and the “conservative” vote 68.0%-22.2%, and lose the “moderate” vote 65.7%-24.4%.

Revisions/extensions (1:13 pm 2/22/2012) – Somehow mentioned Romney twice in the “conservative” portion of the primary writeup. Fixed.

R&E part 2 (8:19 pm 2/22/2012) – Many thanks to Stacy McCain for linking in his liveblog of the debate tonight.

February 21, 2012

Wednesday, Wednesday, Can’t trust that day Debate

Breaking out the air folk guitar for this intro:

Oh Wednesday morning, Wednesday morning couldn’t guarantee
That Wednesday evening, we be closer to a nominee….

Join me and hopefully Steve, for another drunk or otherwise blog. Show starts at 7 Central. I’ll try to get it rolling a bit before that!

Revisions/extensions (11:44 am 2/22/2012, steveegg) – I’ll be here a bit late. We do have a special treat for you, however – Stephen Kruiser and Tony Katz doing commentary. In case Shoebox and I forget to throw it in the CiL window, I’ll also throw it here…

I also made this temporarily “sticky”, so new posts, at least until after the debate, will be below this one. Yes, I do have a couple of posts I’m working on.

If we drilled ANWR ten years ago….

Jim Geraghty highlighted a few choice quotes from the 2000-2002 timeline on how drilling in ANWR wouldn’t have an effect for ten years. Guess what? It’s now ten years later, and we’re staring $4.50-$5.00/gallon summer gas in the face.

February 12, 2012

Peek-A-Boo America!

As the battle between President Obama and the Catholic Church continued, President Obama attempted to diffuse the growing angst with something he classified as a “compromise.” The compromise from the White House’s fact sheet:

Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for a religious employer with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide, pay for or refer for contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to directly offer her contraceptive care free of charge.

Wow, that’s great! Religious organizations no longer have to pay for insurance that provides for contraceptive coverage! How magnanimous on the part of the President! In fact, the President who would be King, has fixed the problem by decreeing that all insurance companies must provide said contraceptive coverage in the plans offered to these religious institutions for FREE!

o Insurance companies will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.

If I’m reading this right, Obama believes that the issue the Catholic Church had, was paying for the cost of contraception. I’m not Catholic but I do understand a fair amount of their doctrine. I’m pretty sure that the Church didn’t have a proviso that allowed for contraception if you could get someone else to pay for it! In fact, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops have already called out Obama for his ruse that he claims is a “compromise:”

And in the case where the employee and insurer agree to add the objectionable coverage, that coverage is still provided as a part of the objecting employer’s plan, financed in the same way as the rest of the coverage offered by the objecting employer. This, too, raises serious moral concerns.

Beyond the theological issue, I’m having a tough time figuring out how exactly, Obama believes that forcing the insurance companies to provide something “for free” does not result in having the insurer pay for it? Does Obama really believe that by simply saying “it is free” that it actually is free? I’ve been a Southerner for nearly two years now. However, unless they’ve rewritten the rules of economics in that time, the only thing Obama’s mandate has done is shift costs and increase the costs for all of our insurance to pay for the contraceptive services for those who get it for “free”. In fact, some accounts have the costs for this “free contraception” as high as $2.8B, a portion of which will now be shared by all 60+ year old women and all males. Speaking of which, if we’re all so concerned about making sure contraception is free, where are my coupons for condoms?

Peek-A-Boo is a game played with young children. We’ve all likely played it at some time. In Peek-A-Boo we play on the young child’s lack of understanding about reality. We attempt to convince them that when we cover our eyes, we somehow disappear even though the child can still see us. it’s a game that loses it’s cuteness as the child grows to understand that reality is reality and that words or claims that reality isn’t so, doesn’t change reality.

Obama’s contraception “compromise” is in the end, nothing more than a game of Peek-A-Boo with the American public. Obama makes claims about insurance economics that simply are not born out by reality. Of course, you would have to have matured beyond the economic age of two to actually realize such a thing. An economic age that most on the left never approach, let alone grow beyond.

Peek-A-Boo seems so innocuous with toddlers, and it is. However, as adults, Peek-A-Boo is escapism and an inability to deal with the world in real terms. Unfortunately, it is this very game of Peek-A-Boo that most in DC would use to tell us that: Massive Deficits aren’t a problem, Every increasing debt isn’t a problem, growing numbers of people on the government dole is not a problem, fewer and fewer actual tax payers aren’t a problem, Iran isn’t a problem, increasing costs of energy aren’t a problem and 8+% unemployment is the new norm. To those people who want to continue to play Peek-A-Boo rather than solve problems I say:

“I see you!”

February 5, 2012

The Frog and the Crocodile

During the past week, the Catholic Church has gone slightly apoplectic as HHS secretary, Kathleen Sebelius has informed them that their hospitals and doctors will not be exempted from the requirement to distribute contraceptives and provide abortions. Numerous bloggers have covered this controversy including this post.

What’s ironic about the Catholic outrage is not that they don’t agree with Sebelius on this issue but, the lack of consistency on the part of the Catholic Church when it comes to government involvement and dictation of our lives.

A little over two years ago, in the heat of the Obamacare battle, Catholic Bishops wrote letters supporting Obamacare. While they seemed to like the idea of forcing everyone onto a government mandated healthcare system, they somehow held out hope that they would escape requirements that they found objectionable.

the Church had a similar conundrum when Illinois decided to remove its support unless it agreed to allow homosexual couples to adopt via its programs. They were happy as the the government supported their efforts. However, when the government decided that it’s social agenda didn’t align with that of the Catholic Church, well, things became difficult.

The Catholic Church has been in support of social change via taxation for the past several years. In 2009, as cap and trade legislation was being debated, US Catholic Bishops came out in support of the Waxmen/Markey bill which was one of the core bills for implementing cap and trade in the U.S.

More recently, President Obama has been calling for increasing taxes on the rich. Not coincidentally, progressive Catholics have fallen in line claiming that tax increases were required so that “fairness” and support for needed social programs could continue.

The Catholic Church’s recurring embrace of big government programs while expecting them to respect the teachings of the church is something akin to the Church being subject to Stockholm syndrome. Worse, it takes only a grade school education to understand the risks in putting your life in the risk of the hands of one who would rather see you done in.

The story of the frog and the crocodile is taught as a lesson against succumbing to the creep of temptation. The Catholic Church teaches a lot about the perils of temptation. I wonder if they ever see the institution of the Church succumbing to it?

February 3, 2012

Reid – 1,000 days without a budget? You’re damn right I’m doing that!

by @ 15:48. Filed under Budget Chop, Politics - National.

(H/T – Tina Korbe)

I had resisted the conservative push to mark the 1,000+ days since the Senate last passed a budget, mostly because the budget they passed on April 29, 2009 was for FY2010, which ended on September 30, 2010, and they weren’t legally required to pass any succeeding budget until April 15, 2010. However, The Only Member of Congress That Matters, Sen. Dingy Harry Reid (Dingy-Nevada), just uttered that the Senate will not take up a FY2013 budget either. From The Hill:

Senate Democratic leaders said they don’t expect a fiscal 2013 budget to reach the floor this year because spending levels were set last summer under the debt-ceiling agreement.

“We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year — it’s done, we don’t need to do it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters on Friday, echoing previous statements from his office.

I could have swore I predicted when the debt deal was passed last year, this would happen. Thanks to The Dingy One and his sidekick Charles “Don’t call me Chuck” Schumer (Dunce-New York), that prediction came true:

Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that the debt-limit agreement in August directs spending for the next year and that Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) has already asked the heads of the subcommittees to write their appropriations bills for fiscal 2013.

Let’s do some math:

  • The next Congress will be seated on (or about) January 3, 2013. Even if the Senate passes a budget that day, it will be 1,345 days after they passed the prior budget, and 994 days after they were required to pass the FY2011 budget on April 15, 2010.
  • Unless said budget covers the remainder of FY2013, the Senate will have gone 1,096 days between the expiration of the last passed budget (for FY2010) and the start of the next adopted budget (for FY2014).

By the way, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the federal debt will have increased by $3,252,000,000,000 in the three full fiscal years Congress has operated without a budget. It took over 200 years to reach the first $3,252,000,000,000.

February 2, 2012

Gingrich to pursue the Sore Loserman stragedy

by @ 10:07. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

(H/T – Allahpundit)

Campaign Carl Cameron is reporting the Newt Gingrich campaign is planning on challenging Florida’s winner-take-all primary scheme because it held said WTA primary prior to April 1. Florida actually violated two provisions of RNC Rule 15(b), which governs the timing of primaries, caucuses and conventions:

RULE NO. 15
Election, Selection, Allocation, or Binding of Delegates and Alternate Delegates

(b) Timing.* (Revised language was adopted by the Republican National Committee on August 6, 2010)

(1) No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held. Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held and shall not be subject to the provisions of paragraph (b)(2) of this rule.

(2) Any presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting held for the purpose of selecting delegates to the national convention which occurs prior to the first day of April in the year in which the national convention is held, shall provide for the allocation of delegates on a proportional basis.

So, what are the penalties? Rule 16 specifies them:

RULE NO. 16
Enforcement of Rules

(a) If any state or state Republican Party violates The Rules of the Republican Party relating to the timing of the election or selection process with the result that any delegate from that state to the national convention is bound by statute or rule to vote for a presidential nominee selected or determined before the first day of the month in which that state is authorized by Rule No. 15(b) to vote for a presidential candidate and/or elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates or alternate delegates to the national convention, the number of delegates to the national convention from that state shall be reduced by fifty percent (50%), and the corresponding alternate delegates also shall be reduced by the same percentage. Any sum presenting a fraction shall be increased to the next whole number. No delegation shall be reduced to less than two (2) delegates and a corresponding number of alternates.

(Sections b-d, which deal with the timing of the notification of the penalty and the procedures to follow if the chair does not enforce the rule, omitted for space)

(e) If a state or state Republican Party isdetermined to be in violation:

(1) No member of the Republican National Committee from the offending state shall be permitted to serve as a delegate or alternate delegate to the national convention.

(2) After the Republican National Committee members are excluded from being part of the offending state’s delegation to the national convention, the state Republican Party shall determine which of the state’s remaining delegates (and corresponding alternate delegates) are entitled to serve as part of the state’s reduced delegation to the national convention.

(3) In addition to the penalties provided for in paragraphs (e)(1) and (2) of this rule, the Standing Committee on Rules may impose additional sanctions relating to the offending state’s hotel location at the national convention, guest privileges and VIP passes at the national convention, and seating location in the national convention hall.

(f) A state or state Republican Party shall have no appeal from either a finding of a violation against it or a penalty imposed upon it under this rule.

Because the RNC halved the Florida delegation because they jumped the first Tuesday in March (3/6) date, the Republican Party of Florida changed their allocation from a total of 54 delegates (2 per district) awarded to the winner of each Congressional District and the other 45 (42 “at-large” and the 3 RNC members) awarded to the statewide winner to all 50 of the remaining delegates being termed “at-large” and awarded to the statewide winner. The RNC also reportedly applied the other sanctions.

The RNC does contemplate a contest of “at-large” delegates (see Rules 22 and 23). However, as long as the Committee on Contests feels bound to the RNC rules, this situation cannot end well for Gingrich. It is unlikely that the sole available penalty under RNC rules, a second halving, will be applied. The convention is in Florida, after all, and Florida is a key state for the GOP’s chances of winning the White House. Even if it were applied, the reduction of Mitt Romney’s delegates from the 50 he claimed as the statewide winner to 25 would almost certainly not affect his chances of getting the nomination (he would have to finish with more than 1,144 but less than 1,156 before a second FL chop to affect that).

Worse, it would open the door for somebody to contest South Carolina’s winner-take-all scheme on the basis of it taking place prior to the “protection” of the February 1 date South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada enjoy (with all but Nevada and Iowa leaving said protection). As Gingrich claimed 23 of the once-halved 25 delegates, a second halving would take away 11. That, in a tight race for Next-In-Line™ status and thus, should Romney lose in November, the 2016 nomination, could cost Gingrich.

There is no basis for the “proportionality” “solution” allegedly being sought by Gingrich, and if my eyes weren’t deceiving me, Rick Santorum. While it would likely give Gingrich 16 delegates in Florida, if the “floor” to receive any delegates were set at 10%, it would also give Rick Santorum, Gingrich’s main competition for Next-In-Line™, 6 delegates. If the same “proportionality” rules were applied to South Carolina, Gingrich would lose 5 of his 11 “at-large” delegates with Santorum picking up 1, Romney picking up 3, and Ron Paul picking up 1.

Similarly, there is no basis to force Florida to modify their original WTA-by-district-and-statewide plan to fit 50 delegates (no, it wouldn’t work if a second halving took place because there would be fewer delegates than Congressional districts, much less leaving enough delegates to allow at least 1/3rd to be “at-large”). While it would have the benefit (at least for Gingrich) of not opening the door to either making South Carolina delegate allocation proportional or further reduce South Carolina’s delegation (due to the inability to further reduce Florida’s delegation), it would only likely net Gingrich, depending on the Congressional breaks, 10-15 delegates.

That minor gain by the Gingrich campaign would likely be wiped out by the ill effects in the 46 45 (oops, Gingrich isn’t on his home state’s ballot) states plus various territories left on the schedule caused by taking the strategy the Gore/Lieberman team took in Florida in 2000. It would serve the Gingrich and Santorum campaigns better to pick up the pieces, learn from what went wrong in Florida, and work in the remaining states on their schedules instead of using lawyers to chase after less than a dozen delegates.

January 11, 2012

Bo(eh)ned Again – Debt Edition

Tina Korbe had her innocence robbed when she discovered a CNSNews article on just how much debt has been added since the first continuing resolution was passed by the present Congress on March 4, 2011. Allow me to throw a few numbers out there (actually, more-or-less repeating a comment I left on the Hot Air thread):

  • $1,680,817,192,540.69 – The average 52-week debt increase between 1/19/2010 (actually extending back to 1/20/2009 and Obama’s inauguration) and 3/4/2011 (the first CR from the current Congress).
  • $1,293,934,755,020.23 – The average 52-week debt increase between 3/7/2011 (actually extending back to 3/8/2010 because it hasn’t been 12 months) and yesterday.
  • $1,045,531,781,579.60 – The lowest 52-week debt increase of the Obama administration, between 8/2/2010 and 8/1/2011. Not coincidentally, 8/1/2011 was the last full day of the several-month-long debt-ceiling fight, during which the federal government was pretty much unable to borrow additional money for several months.
  • $1,216,937,631,311.90 – The latest 52-week debt increase, between 1/11/2011 and 1/10/2012 (the last date debt data was availalbe).
  • $769,700,000,000.00 – The record yearly increase in nominal (current-dollar) gross domestic product, in 2005.
  • $830,400,000,000.00 – The record seasonally-adusted-and-annualized increase in quarterly-reported GDP, between the second quarter of 2005 and the second quater of 2006.
  • $570,000,000,000.00-$600,000,000,000.00 – The expected increase in nominal GDP for 2011.

Why, it’s “wonderful” news that, instead of increasing debt at nearly 2 3/4 times the growth of GDP, we’re “only” increasing it at just over twice the growth of GDP. As Monty over on the daily DOOM threads over at Ace of Spades HQ would say, “Welcome the newest senior member of the Loyal Order of the Terminally Boned.”

January 7, 2012

The “Not Quite Thunderdome” Debate

by @ 11:56. Filed under 2012 Presidential Contest.

It’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to poke fun at this group of mediocre candidates.

Since last we gathered….Michelle, I’m a tax attorney and, and GARDISIL!, Bachmann has dropped out.

That leaves the following line up for a debate that may not be quite Thunderdome, but will likely have just as many bloody noses.

Mitt, How’s my air? Does my hair look ok?, Romney continues to lead by default.

Ron, Just because lots of whackos follow me doesn’t mean I’m a whacko, Paul moved into the top tier of candidates with an Iowa third place finish.

Rick, Pork, it’s not just the other white meat, Santorum

No more Mr. Nice guy Newt Gingrich, Rick, why can’t the whole country be like Texas, Perry and Jon, I supported Obama until I wanted to run for President, Huntsman will also be on board for tonight’s festivities.

Join Steve and me…sober or otherwise, for fun. One of us should get here by about 7:45 Central or so.

And, as an added bonus, Steve has committed to cover the Hair of the Dog debate tomorrow morning while I travel with the Things to another wrestling match.

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