• Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 8th on 19:54

    These are my links for April 8th from 19:54 to 20:06:

    • Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing – Right Turn – The Washington Post – Speaker Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing
    • Speaker Boehner gets $39B, Harry Reid gets nothing – Boehner did have something going for him: a completely incompetent White House. The errors include never having an alternative short-term continuing resolution on the table (letting the GOP’s short-term CR be the only “stop the shutdown” document out there for two days); not stepping in to signal that the troops would be paid in some fashion; issuing an incomprehensible veto threat with no alternative; overestimating Boehner’s need to get the Planned Parenthood rider; and underestimating Boehner’s ability to make this about the most popular issue (cutting the deficit). These major White House errors compounded the error of never getting a 2011 budget done when there were large Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate.

      By contrast, Boehner kept his caucus with him, beginning with a productive Monday meeting with his members. He didn’t flinch when the veto threat came. (Informed sources say that was not expected.) He kept both the rider and the cuts open to the very end and persuaded Reid to overvalue the Planned Parenthood rider.

      Boehner is now the most powerful and effective leader in Congress, maybe in Washington. His power will increase immensely. We know who knows how to make a deal at the end (Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Tom Coburn and others supported Boehner publicly when it mattered.) Sen. Jim DeMint showed why he is a Tea Party favorite but is ineffective in the Senate (i.e., staking out the most extreme position and not knowing how to close a deal).

      I imagine the Democratic base will be enraged, and liberals should be. They control the Senate and the White House and gave away the store. It doesn’t augur well for them in 2012 budget negotiations, does it?


      Boehner wins and Harry Reid loses

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 8th on 16:42

    These are my links for April 8th from 16:42 to 16:48:

    • San Jose Democrats Dress Up Corporate Tax Dodges – But It is Crony Capitalism – San Jose's John Vasconcellos presided over the Assembly's budget committee for many years in the 1970s and 1980s and, liberal Democrat that he was, frequently railed about a lack of money for what he considered to be vital public services.

      Peculiarly, however, Vasconcellos also carried into law one of the most outrageously unfair and illogical corporate tax breaks ever enacted in California. It exempts custom computer software programs from sales taxes, but leaves in place taxes on consumers' off-the-shelf software.

      The exemption costs state and local treasuries an estimated $120 million a year.

      Perhaps there's a chemical in San Jose's water that compels liberal Democratic politicians to carry water for corporate interests because one of Vasconcellos' successors is doing the same kind of favor for airlines.

      Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, is carrying Assembly Bill 81, which would protect airlines from paying higher sales taxes on their fuel purchases in California when prices spike upward. It would levy taxes on the average of spot fuel prices for the preceding five years, rather than on the current price.


      Crony capitalism by California Democrats in the Legislature at their worst.

    • Maryland House OK’s Illegal Immigrant In-State College Tuition – As many southern states pass news laws to crack down on illegal immigrants, the Maryland General Assembly is moving to allow them to pay in-state college tuition, if they meet certain conditions.

      The Maryland House voted 74-66 on Friday for the measure. The Senate already has approved similar legislation.

      Illegal immigrants would have to complete two years at a community college and show that their parents paid state income taxes for the three years before they enrolled to qualify for in-state tuition.

      Democrats say it creates opportunity for people who have lived in Maryland for years, but Republicans contend it rewards illegal behavior at taxpayers' expense


      Maryland is a deep blue state and they are rewarding their Latino constituency despite the fact that it is unfair to native born taxpayers.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 7th on 17:48

    These are my links for April 7th from 17:48 to 17:52:

    • Prosser Vs. Kloppenberg – Wild One in Waukesha, Wisconsin – At a press conference just moments ago, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus explained how “human error” caused nearly 15,000 votes from the city of Brookfield to be excluded from early county tabulations.

      A clearly nervous Nickolaus said that she first discovered that data for Brookfield was missing when she uploaded a database of county votes  to a state system, and noticed that all rows and columns for the city contained zeros. On Wednesday, the county’s bipartisan canvassing board began reviewing those unofficial results — which didn’t contain the Brookfield numbers — with official tape totals from voting machines throughout the county. They found a discrepancy.

      “I discovered that the data that was sent to me from the city of Brookfield was not transferred to the final report that was given to the media on Tuesday night,” Nickolaus said. Heavily red Brookfield, she said, had cast 10,859 for Prosser and 3,456 for Kloppenberg, netting the incumbent over 7,000 votes and a lead that could put him beyond the legal trigger for a mandatory recount.

      Nickolaus assured reporters repeatedly that “This is not a a case of extra votes or extra ballots being found.” The canvassing process is a standard part of election results certification in the state, and its purpose is to catch errors just like this one.


      Wow, what a fortuitious error.

    • House passes funding bill that could get Senate majority – President Obama in the Box – The House of Representatives did its job, passing a funding bill to keep the government open a week and cover the Defense Department for the balance of the FY 2011. A senior Senate source told me flatly, “I am confident all members of the caucus would support House bill.” It is inconceivable to me that a few Democrats wouldn’t go along. But Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid is likely to refuse to bring it to the floor. Why? He won’t say. Well, because the president said he’d veto it. Why? He won’t say. The bill is precisely the “clean bill” he wanted.

      Obama has backed himself, and now Reid, into a corner. Are the Senate Democrats and the White House going to shut down the government for no good reason? Perhaps. What we see here is a transparent and slightly pathetic attempt by the president to take charge. Maybe he should have been paying attention for all of 2011 when the Democratic-controlled Congress didn’t do its job. Maybe he should have gotten into the negotiations sooner. But for now we’ll wait and see.


      The Senate is working on it – so wait and see.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 7th on 09:17

    These are my links for April 7th from 09:17 to 09:38:

    • Budget Veto Threat From the White House – The White House has issued a veto threat against a Republican plan that would extend the federal budget for one week, make $12 billion in cuts and fully fund the military for the rest of this fiscal year.

      Here is the release from the White House Office of Management and Budget.



      H.R. 1363 – Department of Defense and Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011

      (Rep. Rogers, R-Kentucky)


      The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1363, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes. As the President stated on April 5, 2011, if negotiations are making significant progress, the Administration would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution to allow for enactment of a final bill.

      For the past several weeks, the Administration has worked diligently and in good faith to find common ground on the shared goal of cutting spending. After giving the Congress more time by signing short-term extensions into law, the President believes that we need to put politics aside and work out our differences for a bill that covers the rest of the fiscal year. This bill is a distraction from the real work that would bring us closer to a reasonable compromise for funding the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011 and avert a disruptive Federal Government shutdown that would put the Nation’s economic recovery in jeopardy. The Administration will continue to work with the Congress to arrive at a compromise that will fund the Government for the remainder of the fiscal year in a way that does not undermine future growth and job creation and that averts a costly Government shutdown. It is critical that the Congress send a final bill to the President’s desk that provides certainty to our men and women in military uniform, their families, small businesses, homeowners, taxpayers, and all Americans.  H.R. 1363 simply delays that critical final outcome. 

      If presented with this bill, the President will veto it.

    • George Allen asks Craig Melvin his position (UPDATE: And apologizes) – NBC 4’s reporter-anchor Craig Melvin is a tall African-American. Which apparently led to this exchange with former Sen. George Allen, according to Melvin’s Twitter account Tuesday night:

      “For the 2nd time in 5 months, fmr. gov. and sen candidate George Allen asks me,”what position did you play?” I did not a play a sport.”

      And we’re off!


      Obviously, the Washington Post does not like George Allen but jeez how about a race card playing hit piece.

      Shame on WAPO and Craig Melvin for being a tool of the Democrats

    • Democrats fundraising off threat of government shutdown – A fundraising appeal from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warns supporters that "Tea Party Republicans are threatening to shut down the government on Friday unless we surrender to their outrageous demands."

      The fundraising email, penned by DCCC Chairman Steve Israel (N.Y.), went out late Wednesday and asks for small donations to the committee's "GOP Accountability Fund," setting a goal of raising $50,000 by Friday "so we can hold Speaker Boehner and his Tea Party fringe Republicans immediately accountable for shutting down the government."

      "The world is watching our next move," Israel wrote. "Will we cave to the Tea Party's disgraceful act of political extortion or will we fight back with the full force of our grassroots strength?" 

      The email says the GOP's posture in the shutdown standoff amounts to "blackmail." 

      The National Republican Congressional Committee responded to the fundraising appeal Wednesday, accusing Democrats of "exploiting" the nation's financial crisis.



  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 6th on 06:52

    These are my links for April 6th from 06:52 to 08:53:

    • Entitlement mentality explains California funding commitments – There's no single reason why California, once a model of fiscal probity, finds itself with an intractable budget crisis.
      Rather, it's been budgetary death by a thousand cuts – countless single-purpose decisions over several decades by voters and politicians to either increase spending or reduce revenues, eventually resulting in what Capitol bean counters call a "structural deficit."

      Even when the economy is doing well, California struggles to cover all of its paper spending commitments. When it's doing poorly, as it is now, the deficit soars to unmanageable proportions.

      No one set out to create the fiscal crisis, of course. It's just what happens when commitments are made with no thought to their long-term financial consequences.


      Read it all.

      Agreed and pervasive at the federal level +1

    • Socialized Medicine: UK Surgeons raise alarm over waiting – In several areas routine surgery was put on hold for months, while in many others new thresholds for hip and knee replacements have been introduced.

      The moves are part of the NHS drive to find £20bn efficiency savings by 2015.

      The government said performance should be measured by outcomes not numbers.

      Surgeons have described the delays faced by patients as "devastating and cruel". Peter Kay, the president of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA), says they've become increasingly frustrated that hip and knee replacements are being targeted as a way of finding savings.

      "We've started to get reports over the last nine months that access to these services are being restricted.
      Continue reading the main story
      “Start Quote

      We've started to get reports over the last nine months that access to these services are being restricted”

      Peter Kay, president of BOA

      "GPs were told not so send as many patients to hospital, maybe to delay referrals until the end of the financial year while perhaps introducing thresholds for surgery."

      He says that simply delaying surgery by one means or another does not improve the outcome for patients as their condition can deteriorate.

      "The double jeopardy is that patients wait longer in pain, and when they have the operation, the result might not have been as good as it otherwise would have been had they had it early. "


      Read it all.

      A glimpse into the future with ObamaCare

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 5th on 12:05

    These are my links for April 5th from 12:05 to 13:47:

    • Mitch Daniels on Paul Ryan Budget: ‘First Serious Proposal Produced by Either Party’ – Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who referred to the growing national debt as our generation’s “red threat” during his February CPAC speech, has issued this statement in response to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget:

      The House budget resolution is the first serious proposal produced by either party to deal with the overriding issue of our time. The national debt we are amassing threatens the livelihood and the liberty of every single American, and in particular the life prospects of our young people.

      Anyone criticizing this plan without offering a specific and equally bold program of his own has failed in the public duty to be honest and clear with Americans about the gravest danger we are facing together.

    • San Francisco supes to vote on Twitter tax break – A tax break to keep Twitter from fleeing San Francisco is coming up for a vote by city lawmakers as part of a package to revive a blighted neighborhood.

      The vote by the Board of Supervisors expected Tuesday afternoon would exempt the microblogging service from paying the city's payroll tax on new hires.

      The tax break would apply to any business in the crime-plagued neighborhood.

      Twitter is fast on its way to outgrowing its current San Francisco headquarters. The company said it would commit to moving into the city's Mid-Market neighborhood if it got the break, which would also exempt stock options from the tax.

      Critics, including the city's largest employees union, have called the plan backed by Mayor Ed Lee an ill-conceived corporate giveaway.


      Good luck with this San Francisco.

  • Pinboard Links

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

    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.


      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.


      You think?

      Political cover and that is all.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 5th on 06:36

    These are my links for April 5th from 06:36 to 07:58:

    • Top 10 dumb arguments against Paul Ryan’s budget – Liberals with furrowed brows are conjuring up attacks (many contradictory) on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget. To save them time, I’ve come up with 10 of these that don’t pass the laugh test ( and I even explain why the arguments aren’t worth making):

      1. It doesn’t balance the budget in 10 years. Ryan’s budget puts us in “primary balance” ( the term President Obama is fond of using) in 2015; Obama’s never does. In 2012 the deficit is less than $1 trillion; Obama’s is over a trillion in 2012, the fourth straight year of trillion-dollar deficits. If you want to balance the budget in a decade you are looking at massive tax increases and substantial cuts in entitlement benefits for current retirees. Does Obama want to make that proposal?

      2. It favors the rich. Actually, the rich are “hurt” by items such as Medicare means testing and by wiping out corporate welfare. The White House’s plan to do nothing on Medicaid will eventually leave the poor with a defunct health plan.

      3. Ryan spares defense. He follows Obama’s defense spending cuts — $178 billion in the 2012 budget. Considering we are now fighting three, not two, wars under Obama, that seems rather draconian actually.


      Read it all.

    • Charlie Cook: Warning Signs Among the GOP – Until recently, Republicans were taking solace in a number of things as they looked forward to 2012. For one, Republicans knew that the party not holding the White House rarely suffered large House and Senate losses in presidential reelection years.
      In fact, the only time that has happened in recent history was to Republicans in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson won the White House a year after the assassination of President John Kennedy. 
      Republicans also took comfort in knowing that they would control redistricting efforts in states with 202 congressional districts, compared to Democrats who have control over the lines in states with just 47 districts. 
      The huge Republican redistricting gains many had predicted before the new year appear less likely today. Republicans will be able to protect a number of their freshmen in redistricting, but Democrats could reap a bonanza of new seats in Illinois and possibly in Florida and California, if new processes in those two jackpots play out as Democrats believe they will.
      In the end, the GOP’s remapping gains might not be large enough to offset losses among some of the more exotic and problematic freshmen who won narrowly in swing districts.
      Finally, Republicans have had even more reason to feel secure since redistricting was occurring the year after a huge wave benefited them, and Democrats have to win 25 seats for control in the House to flip.


      Sorry Charlie – but there are no signs of concern.

      The economy is not improving and except in California., Obama is toxic and Pelosi is more so.

  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for April 3rd on 05:14

    These are my links for April 3rd from 05:14 to 13:43:

    • Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan to slash deficits by over $4 trillion – – On Medicaid, Ryan will propose to block grant the program to states, which would save money, allow it to grow at a predictable rate, and give governors more flexibility over how it is implemented. This is a popular option among many governors who are struggling with Medicaid costs, and it’s a proposal that has already attracted bipartisan support (at least intellectually speaking), as it was previously co-proposed with Alice Rivlin, the former Clinton budget director.

      When it comes to Medicare, Ryan has previously proposed fundamentally reforming it to give retirees vouchers to purchase private insurance that would vary by income and health status. So, for instance, a poor and very sick beneficiary would receive a lot more than a very rich and healthy beneficiary. However, this reform would not kick in right away, as it only applies to those 55 and under. Thus, it would take time to produce savings and those wouldn’t show up in the CBO’s 10-year budget window.

      Yet he and Rivlin also proposed changes to the formula for cost-sharing on supplemental Medicare insurance policies, which would affect near-term budgets.

      Last November, the Congressional Budget Office did a preliminary analysis of the Ryan-Rivlin plan and found that the Medicaid and Medicare reforms, plus a change in medical malpractice law, would save $350 billion from 2011 through 2021.

      Other possible ways to save money — Ryan has supported the repeal of the national health care law. Were he simply to propose a repeal of the bill’s Medicaid expansion, which would add 18 million to the program’s rolls by 2021, it would save $674 billion from 2012 to 2021, according to CBO.

      The Ryan proposal is also expected to cap discretionary spending as well as cap spending as a percentage of GDP.


      Eliminate ObamaCare and letting the states handle Medicarid will save tons of debt – just do it.

    • Rep. Paul Ryan: GOP Budget Will Surpass Debt Panel Goals – House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) previewed his much-anticipated 2012 budget proposal on Fox New Sunday, telling host Chris Wallace that his plan will “[exceed] the goals that were put out in the president’s deficit commission.” That commission, led by former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles and former senator Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.) put forward recommendations — in the form of spending cuts, entitlement and tax reforms — to reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade.

      “We’re going to put out a budget that gets us on a path to not only balancing the budget, but gets us on a path of paying off the debt,” Ryan said, without going into too much detail. He said his plan will achieve these goals by “cutting spending, reforming entitlements and growing our economy.”

      In addition to spending cuts, Ryan said he plans to offer spending caps (as a percentage of GDP) in order to return federal spending to historic (pre-Obama, pre-stimulus) levels.

      On taxes, Ryan said he will call for “fundamental tax reform” that lowers rates and broadens the base. “We don’t have a tax problem,” he said. “The problem with our deficit is not because Americans are taxed too little. So we’re not going to go down the path of raising taxes on people and raising taxes on the economy.”

      The budget chairman did offer a few specifics about how he intends to deal with entitlement programs: For Medicare, premium support that would allow seniors to choose from a list of private plans that would then be subsidized ; for Medicaid, Ryan will propose a system of block grants to states to allow governors greater flexibility in managing costs.


      Obama and the Dems have no choice but to go along – or pay a price in 2012.

      As Bill Clinton would say – It is the right thing to do.

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  • Pinboard Links

    Flap’s Links and Comments for March 30th on 19:46

    These are my links for March 30th from 19:46 to 20:18:

    • Republican leaders say, ‘No deal yet’ on Budget – However, Republicans deny this is the case. Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) told me: “There have been discussion for weeks, and those discussions are continuing. There’s no agreement, and nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to.” A top adviser on the Senate side echoes that.

      The real issue may not be the dollar amount. A senior adviser to a top Senate Republican tells me that the riders on funding of Planned Parenthood, the EPA and ObamaCare are the bigger stumbling blocks. He believes that “in the end” there will be an agreement, although he jokes, “there are so many ways to screw it up.”

    • Planned Parenthood CEO’s False Mammogram Claim Exposed – A series of new undercover phone calls reveals that contrary to the claims of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards and other supporters of the nation’s largest abortion chain, the organization does not provide mammograms for women.

      In the tapes, a Live Action actor calls 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 different states, inquiring about mammograms at Planned Parenthood. Every Planned Parenthood, without exception, tells her she will have to go elsewhere for a mammogram, and many clinics admit that no Planned Parenthood clinics provide this breast cancer screening procedure. “We don’t provide those services whatsoever,” admits a staffer at Planned Parenthood of Arizona. Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Center clinic in Overland Park, KS explains to the caller, “We actually don’t have a, um, mammogram machine, at our clinics.”

      Opponents of defunding Planned Parenthood have argued in Congress and elsewhere that the organization provides many vital health care services other than abortion, such as mammograms. Most prominently, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards recently appeared on The Joy Behar Show to oppose the Pence Amendment to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies, claiming, “If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their healthcare access–not to abortion services–to basic family planning, you know, mammograms.”


      Read it all – and defund them….