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Flap’s Links and Comments for April 5th on 08:04

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These are my links for April 5th from 08:04 to 09:24:

  • Paul Ryan: The GOP Path to Prosperity – Congress is currently embroiled in a funding fight over how much to spend on less than one-fifth of the federal budget for the next six months. Whether we cut $33 billion or $61 billion—that is, whether we shave 2% or 4% off of this year's deficit—is important. It's a sign that the election did in fact change the debate in Washington from how much we should spend to how much spending we should cut.

    But this morning the new House Republican majority will introduce a budget that moves the debate from billions in spending cuts to trillions. America is facing a defining moment. The threat posed by our monumental debt will damage our country in profound ways, unless we act.

    No one person or party is responsible for the looming crisis. Yet the facts are clear: Since President Obama took office, our problems have gotten worse. Major spending increases have failed to deliver promised jobs. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams. Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates. The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck. And a complex, inefficient tax code is holding back American families and businesses.

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    Read it all

  • The Ryan Plan Doesn’t Privatize Medicare – This morning at 6:15 a.m., I was driving to Union Station to catch a train to New York when I heard an NPR analyst describe Chairman Ryan’s budget plan as effectively a reform to privatize Medicare. It’s not. Privatization of Medicare would mean government getting out of the business of providing health care. In this case, Medicare is saved and the government continues to contribute large amounts of money towards seniors’ health-care premiums by paying a fixed amount of money to the insurance provider. Everyone above 65 will benefit from this premium support.

    This is Ryan in the Wall Street Journal today:

    Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy. Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options. This is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, to the plan chosen by the beneficiary, subsidizing its cost.

    In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower- income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks. Reform that empowers individuals—with more help for the poor and the sick—will guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America’s seniors.

    That’s not privatization. In fact, while this reform is a great start, the plan continues the Washington tradition of extending open-ended promises on Medicare without paying for them (even though the cost is much lower). Also, this may be nitpicking on my part, but under this plan consumers will still be bound to a list of guaranteed coverage options chosen by the government.

  • California Governor’s Jerry Brown’s pension plan is nothing but fluff – The timing of Gov. Jerry Brown's "12-point pension reform plan" last week was no accident.

    The plan was released on Thursday, a couple of days after his negotiations with Republicans on a state budget deal collapsed. The latter contended that Brown had balked at their demands for public pension reforms because of opposition from unions that helped him win the governorship last year.

    Thus, the plan's release was aimed at giving Brown political cover, implicitly demonstrating that he's tough-minded on pensions and not beholden to the unions. But while a 12-point plan sounds impressive – especially coming from a politician who historically has sneered at multipoint policy plans – there's less there than meets the eye.

    The political debate over public pensions has been conducted on two levels, the largely superficial and the meaningful.

    The superficial aspects – anecdotal accounts of outrageous pension manipulation – have received the most media attention. Meanwhile, the more meaningful issue of whether taxpayers and employees face a ticking time bomb of unfunded liabilities is complex and unsexy, receiving relatively little attention.

    For the most part, Brown's plan deals with the former rather than the latter. It gives the illusion of being tough on pension issues without making truly tough choices.

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    You think?

    Political cover and that is all.

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Flap’s Links and Comments for April 4th on 18:32

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These are my links for April 4th from 18:32 to 18:36:

  • Will Jerry Brown do conservative talk radio on his tour? – So Guv Brown is hitting the road to visit conservative California and try to get them to goose their representatives so he can pass his budget plan. For some reason this reminds us of Albert Brooks telling his wife in "Lost in America" that "it's time to get out. We have to touch Indians." (Partial H/T to our Pittsburgh homeboy Dennis Miller.)

    Jerry already has an invitation from one of the uh, chiefs: Conservative radio host/Chronnie Award winner Eric Hogue. He's invited the Guv to be on his noon "Capitol Hour" (1380 KTKZ) show this week for a full hour. Says Hogue:

    "I know this seems very self-serving, but I thought it to be (somewhat) news worthy considering …

    Hogue just told us that "This morning I spoke with his scheduling department; they informed me that they (Gov's scheduling staff) is considering the opportunity, and they would return with a phone call later today, or tomorrow."

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    Good Luck Eric.

    What I would really want to see would be Jerry Brown doing KFI's John and Ken.

  • California Redevelopment officials are offering pig in a poke – When Gov. Jerry Brown proposed to abolish more than 400 local redevelopment agencies and redirect billions of dollars in property taxes, the state's redevelopment industry shifted into political overdrive.

    Redevelopment officials claimed that abolition would devastate efforts to improve local economies and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    However, independent analysts agree that redevelopment, while lucrative to subsidy-seeking developers, provides no substantial improvement to the state's overall economy.

    The agencies skim more than $5 billion a year off the top of the property tax pot each year, and the state must make up about $2 billion of that hefty diversion in extra payments to schools.

    Brown is saying, in effect, that the state can't afford to subsidize local development schemes and wants the money back.

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    Read it all – CA Redevelopment Agencies are Big Government at its worst.

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Flap’s Links and Comments for March 29th on 18:25

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These are my links for March 29th from 18:25 to 18:34:

  • California’s Red Lining – The San Diego GOP – The Sacramento Bee reports that only 31 percent of residents are registered Republicans and 44 percent Democrats.  
    No Republican holds a statewide office.
    In 2010, Gov. Jerry Brown won 53.1 percent of the vote, while Sen. Barbara Boxer was reelected with 52.1 percent.
    California has 34 Democrats in the House, compared with only 19 Republicans. Both of its senators are Democrats.
    The California State Assembly roster has 52 Democrats out of 80 representatives, and the Senate roster lists 25 Democrats out of 40 State senators. 
    Conservative victories in San Diego also include passing, by nearly 75 percent, Proposition A, which is a countywide ban of project labor agreements. Nearby Oceanside and Chula Vista passed similar bans. The old rules allowed unions were to control municipal construction projects and avoid competition.

    Republicans lead in voter registration, too. According to a February 10 report, Republicans have 3,053 more registered voters in San Diego.

    So what can the California Republican party learn from these victories?

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    Read it all

  • Shocker: Organized labor mulling its own California ballot measure on taxes – The California Labor Federation is considering a ballot initiative on taxes after budget talks between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican lawmakers broke down this afternoon.

    Art Pulaski, the federation's executive secretary-treasurer, said his organization has made no decision on an initiative but that, "We're certainly not going to sit back and watch the state fall apart."

    He said, "We are going to move forward."

    A voter initiative is one alternative Brown is considering to put tax extensions on a ballot without Republican support in the Legislature. The Democratic governor has not said how he might proceed.

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    But, the unions and Democrats, particularly Jerry Brown wanted political cover from the GOP.

    They could have done this from the beginning.

  • Maher, Palin and Arianna – Hey, Arianna! Andrew Breitbart called Van Jones a “punk.” Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a “cunt.” Which one did you ban again?

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    Yeah Arianna….is Maher off the front page?

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Flap’s Links and Comments for March 23rd on 09:13

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These are my links for March 23rd from 09:13 to 09:44:

  • California Prison cell phone bill? Wimpy – State Sen. Alex Padilla, flanked by law enforcement officials, stood on the Capitol's steps Tuesday before an array of cell phones confiscated from prison inmates and declared that smuggling had become an epidemic.

    It is, Padilla said, a "clear and present danger to public safety" as inmates use smuggled phones to harass victims and witnesses and plot other crimes. He called to the podium a woman who said she received harassing calls from her husband's murderer.

    Padilla et al. made a compelling case for a crackdown on smuggling cell phones – nearly 11,000 were confiscated last year. But the bill that cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee two hours later is rather wimpy. It makes smuggling nothing more than a misdemeanor, even for prison employees who are the sources of many illicit phones.

    Last year, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a similar Padilla bill – the first anti-smuggling bill to reach his desk after several died in the Legislature – on grounds that it was too weak and that smuggling cell phones should be a felony.

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    Of course, this should be a felony. But, do you really expect any public safety laws to pass while Jerry I appointed Rose Bird Chief Justice Brown is Governor?

    I mean really.

    Brown will start letting felons out of the prisons to balance his budget in order to pay of his union cronies.

    And, when these criminals start reoffending, Brown will either shrug it off or blame the Republicans.

  • The Koch Brothers: Anatomy of a Smear – The Center for American Progress is generally regarded as a front for the Obama administration. Its President and CEO is John Podesta, formerly Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff and the chairman of Barack Obama's transition team. CAP is lavishly funded by George Soros and several other left-wing billionaires. It runs, among other things, a web site called Think Progress, which cranks out a steady stream of slimy hit pieces for the benefit of the Obama administration and the far left.

    Soros apparently believes that only left-wing billionaires should be able to participate in public discourse, so his Center for American Progress, through its web site, has carried on a bizarre vendetta against Charles and David Koch and their company, Koch Industries. The Kochs are two of the very few billionaires who are active in politics on the conservative/libertarian side, a phenomenon that apparently drives left-wing billionaires wild with rage. I'm not sure why; maybe they think the Kochs are traitors to their class. In any event,Think Progress has stalked the Koch brothers with video cameras and produced one false, over-the-top attack on the Kochs after another, some of which we have had fun dissecting here.

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    Read it all

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