Thursday, April 29, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
On December 24, 2009, I voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), P.L. 111‑148, which passed the Senate by a vote of 60‑39. The House of Representatives passed this bill on March 21, 2010, by a vote of 219-212, and it was signed into law by the President on March 23.
I did everything in my power to significantly improve this health care reform bill. My actions prevented any government-run insurance program from being established, ensuring that the new coverage offered is built upon the private system we have today, maintained the federal Hyde Amendment, prohibiting taxpayer dollars from paying for elective abortions, and to make sure only legal residents receive coverage.
The PPACA will provide Americans with reliable and secure insurance coverage at all stages of their lives. The bill takes a market-based approach, offering tax credits for middle-class Americans to help make private health insurance more affordable. It also improves the delivery of health care for all of us and works to reduce the federal deficit.
Links to the legislation and related resources can be found on my website at:
I am truly thankful that so many Nebraskans such as yourself have shared their opinions and ideas with me on this crucial matter. Rest assured I will keep them in mind as Congress needs the input of all Americans to resolve such an important issue."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
We live in a republican democracy, where the voting public is asked, at various interludes, to select their governmental representatives. The viability of the system relies initially upon the foundation of the Constitution and the legal system that it has promulgated! However, its continued success and development is dependent upon both the body politic who elects its representatives, and upon the fastidious attempt by those representatives to adhere to the Constitution and to will of their constituents, to whom they are accountable.
In this system, when the elected representatives appear to go astray, it comes incumbent upon those constituents to “rise up” , and make their concerns known, initially to their elected representatives, and then next in concerted action with like-minded peers, to lobby those representatives, and then potentially to remove them in the electoral process if they refuse to adhere to their interests. Over the next 2 ½ years, with the current Congressional elections, and the subsequent 2012 Presidential election, the political and economic future of this country will be defined to a degree that has occurred relatively infrequently in the 200+ years of its existence. It then becomes incumbent upon the “body politic” to engage in the debate that will ultimately define that future, and select those leaders, and their governing philosophy.
To this extent, I would personally prefer to hear a number of “voices” from potential leaders in the interim, who will compete for the overwhelming responsibility of representing those views to whom the majority of American voters can adhere, and will potentially provide the leadership that will ultimately help to right the ship of state. But we need that leadership all the way from President to Senator to Congressman to Governor to State Senator to City Mayor to City Council, etc., etc.! It is the responsibility of all of us to see that the “right” individuals are selected, and that they, in fact, ultimately, listen to their constituents! It is time for the American public to determine that “Potomac Fever” (generally defined as an elitist illusion that, once one ascends to the heights of government power, one somehow automatically acquires an omniscience that allows one to ignore the wishes and preferences of constituents) is a dangerous disease that really needs to be eradicated! It is time for a giant “tea party” of the American public to rise up and say “Enough, Already”! It is really OUR responsibility, each and every one, to wisely select that leadership that will help us to emerge from this morass! If that requires protests in front of elected officials offices, so be it! If that requires foregoing “Dancing With the Stars” or “American Idol” to make phone calls, put up yard signs, debate in public forums, or a meal out occasionally to contribute to a candidate or political organization, etc., so be it! It is, in the final analysis, really up to ALL of us, isn’t it?
Monday, April 26, 2010
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."
- Ayn Rand
Author and objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand was born in Russia just before the Bolshevik Revolution. She literally witnessed the slaughter and the dismantling of her country from the window of her father's pharmacy — which was subsequently seized by the Leninist state. As a young woman, she fled to the United States, where she never forgot what she saw in her native country. She developed a deep distrust of government as she became one of the most celebrated writers of the mid-20th century.
Rand was eerily prescient when she penned the crown jewel of her literary career, the 1,100-page tome she appropriately titled, Atlas Shrugged. The novel was twice as long as it needed to be, filled with long philosophical soliloquies about the evils of socialism; but it was so prophetic concerning America's future that today, in the age of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, its annual sales far outpace those of 1957, the year it became a New York Times best seller.
Deep into the story, the main protagonist, John Galt, is revealed to the reader as a brilliant young engineer who has decided to stop the engine of the world. He has invented a motor that can convert static electricity into electric power, but he refuses to share his knowledge or his invention with the world in an atmosphere of ever-intrusive government intervention into the private sector.
Slowly, methodically, Galt recruits the best and the brightest from the fields of science, mathematics, business, the judiciary, literature and the arts — in short, the greatest minds of the age — and convinces them to withdraw from a society increasingly hostile to individual achievement and merit. One by one, they form a secret community of their own in the mountains of Colorado. They work at menial jobs, refusing to contribute their talents to a society that not only refuses to appreciate them but actually lives off their productivity.
The result is a progressively decaying civilization where bureaucrats cannot understand why their welfare state is losing all of its best producers. And therein lies the frightening parallel with today. Could the most creative and productive members of society be "going John Galt"? Yes, they could.
An April 25, 2010, New York Times headline reads, "More American Expatriates Give Up Citizenship." The story opens with this statement: "Amid mounting frustration over taxation and banking problems, small but growing numbers of overseas Americans are taking the weighty step of renouncing their citizenship."
It seems that Americans living abroad are being treated like terrorists by U.S. banks, an unintended result of the USA Patriot Act. People who have had accounts in their American banks for decades have suddenly seen those accounts closed because of their foreign addresses. Increasingly, U.S. citizens are being denied banking services in American banks and, in some cases, by foreign financial institutions as well.
Then there's the fact that the United States of America is the only industrialized country in the world that taxes its citizens on income earned abroad — even when they are taxed in the country in which they are residing. One expatriate describe it as "taxation without representation." Another said that the rate of expatriation by Americans is just "the tip of the iceberg" in what we will see in the years to come.
If the misguided Obama health care scheme is allowed to stand, look for an additional exodus of people from that field, most notably physicians. Why should they subject themselves to the heavy hand of government control of their profession? And while we're at it, can small business people be far behind? As Lisa Schifferen has opined on her blog, "The Corner," at National Review Online:
"So, what happens when the heart surgeons, dentists, litigators, and people who employ 10 to 20 other people in their mid-size businesses decide that they don't want to pay for the excessive, pointless spending that the president finds so compelling?"
What, indeed. I think I saw the name "John Galt" on the blue vest of a greeter at Wal-Mart the other day.
© 2010 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton is a former speechwriter and public policy advisor who now works as a freelance writer. His weekly columns appear in newspapers across the country and on various Internet websites, including Human Events Online and GOPUSA.com, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will be interesting to see if the the council has the intestinal fortitude to say no. We're hopeful they won't cave to the mayor who is trying to use the city's bond rating as leverage to make them pass it.
Given last week's vote, our guess would be that newly coronated Councilman Mulligan will probably vote for it as he did last week's civilian union one. In fact, we hear that he has already expressed solidarity with Aaron Hanson and the police union.
Best guess from us is the council crumbles with Gray, Gernandt, Jerram and Mulligan voting yes and council members Stothert, Thompson and Festersen voting no. We hope Mayor Suttle's four aforementioned lackeys have the gonads to say no, but then they are his lackeys.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
"To all members:
The City has come out with a plan dealing with retiree health care that they intend to implement as soon as they possibly can. Your officers met with Human Resources Director Richard O’Gara and were made aware of this plan Monday 4-19-10. Unbeknownst to us a letter had also been mailed to all retirees last week that detailed the City issues with retiree health coverage and the rising costs associated with it.
At the Monday 4-19-10 meeting we were made aware of this plan and were immediately alarmed by the amount of detail put into this plan, we were also alarmed by the content of the plan, and deeply troubled by the timeline the City plans to adhere to.
The amount of information and detail put into this plan showed us that the City or its designee Blue Cross Blue Shield had been working on this for some time prior to this first meeting.
The content of the plan the City intends to move forward with in a nutshell is extreme. To sum up 12 pages of graphs and pie charts and statistics that outline the rising cost of active and retiree health care, the City’s plan is to place all fire retirees under the current fire health care plan and to also charge a premium rate to those retirees. The premium varies dependant on the type of coverage the retiree needs; Family coverage, 35% or $685.55/month, Single+1, 30% or $419.72/month, and Single, 25% or$174.89/month.
The timeline the City has told they are working with was very troubling and here it is; they intend to present this proposal to the City Council today 4-20-10, they intend to present this proposal to the personnel board next week, get an affirmative vote out of the personnel board and send it back to the City Council for three readings and placement on the city books in ordinance form, for an effective date of July 1, 2010.
We were in immediate contact with AEC/CMPTEC , Local 251, and Police as this plan affects all retirees from all city unions. Principal officers of the city unions are going to meet on Friday morning to discuss a plan of action to address this radical plan of the City’s.
This attempt to radically affect retiree health care is a disgraceful way to treat loyal 25-35 year
employees, and it will have long term, negative effects for all current employees and retirees. It must be addressed jointly, a copy of this letter will be e-mailed to all retiree addresses on file and a hard copy will follow to all retirees.
It is important to note that no “harm” has been caused as a result of this first meeting with the City, and until the proposal is put into ordinance form we are not harmed, therefore it is imperative for all the city unions to have unified course of action set, so if the ordinance is put into place, we can advise the affected groups how best to protect their rights. We will update all current employees and retirees as we get more information.We will be posting information on the Local 385 website as it becomes available.
Fraternally, Steve LeClair"
April 23, 2010 Chris Hunt (402) 476-1400
TROUBLING NEW CMS ANALYSIS HIGHLIGHTS HUGE COSTS,
LOSSES FROM HEALTH CARE LAW
WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Johanns today issued the following statement on the recent analysis of the new health care law by the actuarial experts at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:
“Americans will be rightly alarmed to learn that the new health care law will likely increase national health expenditures by $311 billion over the next ten years according to this new analysis. It reaffirms that the higher taxes and fees are going to hit the pocketbooks of many Americans and hurt employers. I requested a similar analysis from CMS last December, and this analysis verifies that the American public was justifiably worried.
“Making matters worse, the CMS analysis also indicates that the proposed Medicare cuts in the new law are unsustainable and could prove devastating to hospitals, nursing facilities, and home health providers. Ensuring access to care is critically important as more Baby Boomers move onto Medicare. As we begin to see the true impact of this new law it will become evident that this was very poor policy.”
From Yesterday’s CMS Report:
· Bends federal spending curve upward “by a net total of $251 billion” over the next decade.
o Increases national health spending by $311 billion in 2010 through 2019. (page 4)
· Estimated reductions in the growth rate of health spending “may not be fully achievable” because “Medicare productivity adjustments could become unsustainable even within the next ten years, and over time the reductions in the scope of employer-sponsored health insurance could also become an issue.” (Page 9)
· Medicare provider cuts based on economy-wide, non-farm productivity improvements result in Medicare payment rates to grow more slowly than the providers cost of furnishing services to beneficiaries which may cause providers to “end their participation in the program,” and possibly jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries. According to the report 15% of all hospitals, nursing homes and other similar providers could be operating at a loss by 2019. (Page 9/10)
· The growth rate reductions from productivity adjustments (which are the source of a substantial portion of the Medicare savings in the new law) are unlikely to be sustained on an annual basis (page 12)
· The other Medicare savings provisions in the bill that are intended to help control future health care cost growth will have a “negligible financial impact over the next 10 years” (Page 13)
· The new fees and excise taxes will “generally be passed through to health consumers in the form of higher drug and devices prices and higher premiums” and will increase national health expenditures. (page 17)
· A little more than one-half of those estimated to become insured as a result of PPACA in 2019, 18 million people, would receive their coverage through Medicaid. For these individuals, the report notes that as a result of more physicians refusing to treat Medicaid patients, it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of the increased demand for Medicaid could be difficult to meet. (Page 20)
· Businesses would pay $87 billion in penalties between 2014-2019.
CMS Expressed Similar Concerns In January Analysis Of The Senate Version Of The Health Care Law:
· “[W]e estimate that overall national health expenditures under this bill would increase by an estimated total of $222 billion (0.6 percent) during calendar years 2010-2019...” (Richard Foster, “Estimated Financial Effects Of The ‘Patient Protection And Affordable Care,’ As Passed By The Senate On December 24, 2009,” Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, 1/8/2009)
· CMS is skeptical of the Medicare savings: The report uses terms such as “unrealistic,” “doubtful,” and “difficult to attain.” (Richard Foster, “Estimated Financial Effects Of The ‘Patient Protection And Affordable Care,’ As Passed By The Senate On December 24, 2009,” Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services, 1/8/2009)
In 1970, a Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson raised his voice and called on every American to take action on behalf of the environment,” reads President Obama’s Earth Day proclamation. “In the four decades since, millions of Americans have heeded that call and joined together to protect the planet we share.”
Well, I’ve got news for our President. Millions of Americans who had never heard of Gaylord Nelson “took action on behalf of the environment,” decades before the good Senator “raised his voice.” More newsworthy still, most of these belonged to those insufferable rustics who “cling to guns and bibles.” To wit:
The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937) imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for boats. All of this lucre goes to “protect the environment” in the form of buying and maintaining National Wildlife Refuges, along with state programs for buying and maintaining various forms of wildlife habitat.
For the last couple of decades hunters and fishermen have contributed over $1.5 billion per year towards Senator Gaylord Nelson’s lofty goal. To date, hunters and fishermen have shelled out over $20 billion “on behalf of the environment.” A study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that for every taxpayer dollar invested in wildlife conservation, hunters and fishermen contribute nine.
Going further, they don’t tax kayaks and rock climbing picks and ropes – but do tax my compound bow and rifle scope. They don’t tax the plastic water bottles on Mountain bikes (or the mountain bike itself, come to think of it) or the cutesy spandex shorts these yo-yos wear – but do tax my duck decoys and camo pants. They don’t tax Yanni and Enya CDs – but do tax the arrows I fling at Bambi before he sizzles on my grill as Bambi-burger (lovingly draped with thick bacon slices that dribble their appetizing fat into the meat while cooking. Then a chunk of cheddar cheese melted on top.)
You talk about a "Cheeseburger in Paradise," Jimmy Buffet! Try one from Bambi!
None of these creatures (from what I hear) make a decent Gumbo or even a passable Chili. I must be crazy. But I have no choice. And this avalanche of tax dollars comes on top of those I fork over for the stacks of licenses, and permits and stamps I'm required to have before I set a foot afield or set my boat afloat. Last season these totaled $500. (But sweetie! There are huge fines for hunting and fishing without them!)
And all the above is on top of my voluntary dues and assorted donations to such as Ducks Unlimited. (But snookums! I thought you loved the duck print I brought home at 2: 45 AM from the DU Banquet/auction? And especially the picture of me with the nice Hooters girl who worked the keg in her camo bikini?) According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation these donations to such as DU, Pheasants Forever, etc. total $300,000 a year.
As mentioned, just last year, hunters and fishermen (not birdwatchers, not rock-climbers, not kayakers, not nature-hikers) "contributed" $1.5 billion "big ones" “dollarinies,” “donuts” (to quote Steve Martin as The Jerk) to purchase and maintain places for greenie-weenies to frolic and nature-watch.
You'd think some thanks might be in order from these freeloaders – from the smarmy crowd not forced to buy any "Bird-Watching stamp" or "Hiking stamp," or "Kayaking stamp," or "Rock Climbing Stamp," or Yanni-Listening Stamp" or "Quartz-Crystal-Gazing-Stamp." You'd think Tofu-munchers might appreciate us hunters' funding habitat for their spotted owls, kangaroo rats, snail darters and louseworts, and bankrolling the scenery on their "nature trails" as they self-righteously plod along in their "earth-friendly" Birkenstocks and granola-flecked frocks., quartz crystals rattling in their pockets en route to a hillside Sunrise worship, crystal-gaze and Enya-listen.
We pay our way – in fact, we pay the hikers and bird-watchers way, too. But rather than going afield as passive voyeurs, rather than regarding nature as a Disney cartoon, we accept nature's diktats. We revel in our role as full-fledged participants in her cycle of fang and claw (but add bullets, buckshot, broadheads, treble hooks and gaffs to the primal drama).
You'd think the voyeurs might throw us a bone every now and then? Well, think again. Here's the Sierra Club's official position: "Wild animals should not be valued principally in terms of whether they can serve as targets. As members of the family of life, we should respect the moral right of all creatures to exist, to be free of unnecessary predation, persecution and cruel and unduly confining captivity."
Anyway, you’re quite welcome, Greenies!"
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Yes, we like Stothert but it's because she seems to be the only one on the council, for the most part, who is willing to speak up for the interests of Omaha tax payers and for fiscal conservatism. If that makes her our favorite, we proudly plead guilty.....
Well, we agree that retirement healthcare benefits have been way too generous for way too long. Giving a 45 year-old retired police or fireman virtually free insurance is just stupid but negotiations have failed to acknowledge that for years. Sadly, dealing with this the way the inept Suttle has will probably fail a court test leaving the city holding the bag until the next contract negotiations which probably won't come about until this sad excuse for a mayor is out of office.
These healthcare costs should have been negotiated with contracts being considered now as well as those approved in the past.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Republicans should, as the saying goes, be careful what they wish for. Yes, they got a Republican but they also got a councilman that apparently wants to sing kumbya while he repays his mentor and Democrat relative Don Klein for his appointment by disregarding fiscal sanity.
Not a good start for the new councilman......
The left conveniently forgets people like the 1960s black-power apostle H. Rap Brown, who said, "Violence is American as cherry pie." No it isn't, but peaceful protest is."
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Dave Heineman became governor of my home state of Nebraska in 2005 when Mike Johanns resigned that position to become George W. Bush's Secretary of Agriculture. Heineman had been in politics all his life, having served as chief of staff to a congressman, as a city councilman in his home town of Fremont, as executive director of the Nebraska Republican Party, and as Nebraska's state treasurer, before becoming Johanns' lieutenant governor.
Heineman's first big political test as governor came when legendary former Nebraska football coach and three-term congressman Tom Osborne decided to challenge him for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2006. Osborne had been elected with margins most politicians can only dream of — as high as 92 percent — in his sprawling Western Nebraska congressional district, which encompasses 66 of the state's 93 counties.
Amazingly, Heineman defeated Osborne by running a flawless campaign and by vetoing a bill that would have given in-state tuition rates to the children of illegal aliens. The veto was overridden by Nebraska's one-eyed legislature (my pet name for our nonpartisan Unicameral), but Heineman's point was made. Osborne, who had supported the bill, went on to lose the primary election — even in his own congressional district — primarily over that issue.
Since that time, Dave Heineman has been one of the most conservative governors in modern times. He signed tax cuts that reduced the income tax, the state's portion of the property tax, and did away with the state death tax. He called the Legislature into special session to address a budget shortfall, informing them that they had to accomplish their task through budget cuts because he would veto any tax increases.
During the battle in Congress over Obamacare, Heineman made national news by announcing that the state of Nebraska did not want Democrat Sen. Ben Nelson's backroom deal that became known as the "Cornhusker Kickback." In a public letter to Nelson, the governor informed him that Nebraskans did not want special treatment, only equal treatment, and urged him to vote against the bill (an admonition shared by 67 percent of Nebraskans, which Nelson ultimately ignored).
Earlier this year, Heineman took heat from some in the pro-life community when he refused to authorize taxpayer funded prenatal care for illegal aliens. The hue and cry was that this action would cause women to seek more abortions, but the governor's pro-life bona fides are solid, and he stood firm in opposition to the use of taxpayer money for illegals in any form.
Then, last week, Gov. Heineman signed into law two pieces of legislation that will ultimately test the constitutional validity of the infamous 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. The first and most controversial is LB1103, called "The Abortion Pain Prevention Act." This legislation bans abortions after the 20th week of gestation based on the strong evidence that a pre-born baby's brain develops the sensory capacity for pain at around 21 weeks.
"I feel the state has a legitimate and substantial interest in protecting the life of an unborn child at 20 weeks," said the bill's sponsor, State Sen. Mike Flood, Speaker of the Legislature.
The second bill, LB594, requires a woman seeking an abortion to complete a screening process for mental health and other problems that could arise following the procedure.
"Women are suffering from avoidable physical and psychological complications that may have been prevented or minimized had they received adequate pre-abortion screening and counseling," said State Sen. Cap Dierks, who introduced the bill. "Women deserve better. LB594 will ensure that women receive the appropriate standard of care."
The state of Nebraska is leading the way on the issue of protecting the sanctity of innocent human life because Leroy Carhart, one of the most notorious abortionists in the country, practices here. After all, scripture teaches that where sin abounds, grace abounds that much more. Certainly, this nation is in need of God's grace. Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Dave Heineman and the courageous state senators who stood up for the sanctity of life, perhaps Nebraska can help lead the way.
© 2010 by Doug Patton
Doug Patton is a former speechwriter and public policy advisor who now works as a freelance writer. His weekly columns appear in newspapers across the country and on various Internet websites, including Human Events Online and GOPUSA.com, where he is a senior writer and state editor. Readers can e-mail him at email@example.com.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Those who attended got the chance to fill out a survey form for input about city services. They were asked to pick their top four priorities for each of the following departments.
Omaha Police Department:
- Eight minute response time on emergency calls
- Regular Maintenance of police cruisers
- School resource officers
- Front desk services (accident reports, offense reports, etc.)
- Traffic control at events at Qwest Center, Memorial Park, parades, etc. (no doubt this includes tea parties).
- Horse Patrol
- Helicopter Unit
- Community resource services
- Receive follow-up contact from investigation reports within one month
- Receive follow-up contact from investigations within two weeks
Omaha Public Library:
- All twelve libraries remain open for current hours (average 60 hours per week each library)
- After school and summer programing for children and teens
- Maintain current seven days/week service at three libraries (Downtown, Millard, Abrahams)
- Maintain current materials budget for books, DVDs and audio books.
- Increase materials budget to keep up with inflation
- Provide access to on online subscription services for genealogy, Consumer Reports, Health & Well Being, etc.
- Subscriptions to popular print magazines and newspaper collections
- Maintain current level of janitorial and security services at all locations, to ensure safe and clean facilities
- Meeting room space for community groups and organizations
- Outreach to schools, senior centers, daycare facilities and the home bound
Parks, Recreation & Public Property
- Removal of dead and dangerous trees
- Keep golf course open/possible mixed use
- Keep pools open full hours
- Parks mowed weekly during the summer
- SunDawgs programs-Activities for youth in parks
- Plant and maintain flowers & trees in parks and public areas
- Maintain hours & activities at Community Centers
- Well-maintained park roads and trails
- Safe park playground equipment
- Provide & maintain sports fields (baseball, soccer, tennis, etc.)
Public Works Department:
- Residential streets plowed within 48 hours from end of snowfall
- Weekly garbage collection
- Weekly recyclables collection
- Christmas tree drop-0ff sites
- Weekly unlimited yard waste collection (April-November)
- Annual spring clean-up--disposal of bulky items
- Litter receptacles in high foot traffic areas
- Graffiti removal on private property
- Free replacement of recycle bins
- Retain free parking meters--(5 p.m. thru 8:30 a.m., M-F, and all day weekends and holidays
Omaha Fire Department:
- Safety code enforcement in homes & businesses
- Arson investigation
- Public education & fire prevention outreach in the community
- Residential smoke alarm installation/replacement
- Specialized rescue training (ice, water, rope, etc.)
- Firefighter continuing education & training.
- A fire station in my neighborhood
- Four (4) firefighters per truck to maintain current response time
- Availability of cardiac arrest equipment
- Seek grant funds for fire and emergency medical services
As we reflect upon the questions there may be some results that can justify elimination or reduction of certain services but none seem to deal with the hard realities of union contracts (save the 4 man issue with the fire department) and taxes. We'd suggest that none of the ultimate tally of priorities will deal with the major need of Omaha which is leadership at city hall from it's mayor who seems more content to tinker with the small items rather than make tough leadership choices.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
So here's what we found
Lund Contributions to Suttle:
- Lund Company: Jim Suttle for Mayor, 4/27/2009 $2,500
- Lund Company: Friends for Suttle, 12/18/2007, $1,000
- Lund Company: Friends for Suttle, 8/19/2005, $250
- Lund Company: Friends for Suttle, 3/22/2005, $500
Gail Werner Robertson Contributions to Suttle:
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
By Dave Cribbin
"If I told you a story of how one of the bluest of the blue states, Massachusetts, would of its own accord institute health insurance rationing three months after electing a Republican to the Senate to stop ObamaCare, that would normally be considered satire. That is unless the story was true, then we would just call it irony!
Ironically, it is very true that Massachusetts, with what is essentially it's own ObamaCare program, has started to ration health insurance. Surely that wasn't Governor Patrick's intent when he rejected the insurance companies' request for premium increases. Like all politicians, he just wanted to get re-elected, and being tough on insurance companies is a very popular stance among Democrats these days.
Nevertheless, rationing is precisely what the outcome has been. The insurance companies did what any business does when faced with a money-losing product: they declined to sell any more of that money-losing product. As a result you can't buy health insurance in Massachusetts, even though it is against the law not to! Ain't that a catch-22?
This is always the result when politicians dictate how businesses must operate; they always do what is politically expedient instead of what makes economic sense. Politicians constantly prove that they are checkers players in the chess match of business, unable to see even one move ahead. As a result, they compound their initial mistakes with additional ones, as the unintended consequences of the laws they've just passed undo what they were supposed to have accomplished.
The governor thought that by standing up to the greedy insurance companies he could portray himself as a hero in the fight against the high cost of health insurance. This is an awfully thin argument, considering that three of the four largest insurers in Mass are non-profits, as noted by the Wall Street Journal in a recent article.
Those high costs, I might add, were imposed by the state on its residents when it mandated coverage for all, instituted community rating and eliminated the insurance companies' ability to refuse coverage to people with preexisting conditions. I'm sure it came as quite a shock to him that his savvy political skills had instead of making insurance more affordable to his constituents made it unobtainable.
After all, who could have possibly foreseen this would be the result of his actions? I'll tell you who! Any businessman worth his salt would have seen that one coming a mile away, but that's because they are in the business of making economic decisions, not political decisions. Business owners understand that they are in business to make a profit and those who don't , don't hang around all that long.
The mass insanity that is playing out now in the Bay State is what's in store for the rest of us if ObamaCare remains the law of the land. The government will mandate greater coverages for the insurance companies to provide while denying them the ability to recoup their cost through increased premiums.
When insurers are prohibited from selling their products at anything but a loss they will be forced to stop selling them. It will then be time for more regulation to fix the problems the previous laws created. On it will go until it reaches it's inevitable conclusion: the government controlling healthcare cost through the rationing of healthcare. That's when being politically connected will literally be a matter of life or death."
Dave Cribbin, President of Tailwind Capital, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
We need a voice to explain the destructive cost overruns with the necessitated treatment cut backs in the Massachusetts’ universal-healthcare program; the reasons for California’s and New York’s bankruptcies, and how the left is jamming down our throats the very same programs that caused those failures.
Where is the voice that will speak for you and me? We don’t have one. We have talk radio, but we don’t have a voice in Washington. Oh, we hear occasional rumblings from there, but we need someone front and center; someone on the national stage. We need a voice that day in and day out counters the lunacy and inexhaustible reality distortions coming from Washington and which are being propagated and exaggerated by the mass media. We need an antidote to the horror being carried out before our very eyes. America needs a strong conservative leader to emerge if we have any hope of curbing our country’s demise.
Perhaps I don’t understand politics, but I do understand the destruction of a country. And I do understand that the need for a truthful leader has never been more critical for our country’s future than it is right now. In November many will vote against Obama and his regime, but can you imagine how much more meaningful it would be if we could vote *for* someone instead of against another? Don’t forget 2008 -- “voting against” someone then, might very well cost us our country forever! We in America need someone around with whom we can coalesce. We need a centerpiece, a core, an anchor. We need a leader – and we need that leader today. Our country’s very survival depends upon it. And so does the future of the Republican Party.
Assuming no deals were made and we have no reason to believe any were, this appointment sets up some interesting dynamics for the future. With union contracts to be approved and the city's dismal financial situation, the appointment of a Republican (who incidentally has not been involved in the local Republican community) should not please Mayor Suttle who needs council votes for upcoming tax increases and contracts. Further, this will put more pressure on the four Democrats, particularly Councilman Festersen who has been trying to avoid exposing himself to charges of voting for tax increases and the terrible union contracts negotiated by Suttle, etal.
We were impressed with Mulligan and wish him well, and we'll get back to eating our humble pie.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Each candidate was asked a series of 'structured questions' (meaning the same one) by each council member. Then there was a series of 'lightening round' questions as Council President Gernandt referred to them. We're not sure that some of the questions had much to do with being a council person.
Essentially, Councilman Grays structured question was, "Give me a specific case in which you conformed to a policy with which you didn't agree." Jerram's structured question was, Tell us of a time when your active listening skills really paid off for you." Stothert asked, "Can you tell us the toughest challenge you've faced?" Festerson, asked one of the more relevant questions, "What are the top priorities for District 7 and for the city as a whole?" Gernandt, asked what the candidates might want to share over and above their submitted resumes.
While the lightening round questions were not structured each of the council members still asked the same question(s) of each candidate. Gray asked each candidate their opinion of the reason for youth violence and the solution to the problem and whether making tougher laws and incarcerating was the best solution. Stothert asked one of the most relevant of questions when she asked if the candidates had made any commitments to support the police or fire union contracts and if any had been endorsed by any union or organization. Festersen probed the candidates as to their sense of what the city's role was in job creation. Jerram asked why each candidate was interested in serving and asked them to answer the question in regard to their past voting record as an expression of that interest. Thompson tried to get the candidates to assess how they would balance the citizens desire for services against balancing budgets.
Here's our assessments and grades for the candidates' performances:
Summary of responses:
- KRAFT: On specifics as to examples of past decisions, he was unspecific because most of his examples came from his legal representation of folks and he obviously didn't want to risk disclosing confidences or breaching attorney/client privileges. Said the toughest challenge he had faced was death of his mother. On specific challenges, he said he "didn't know what specific challenges are," but mentioned financial, police and fire union contracts, sewer projects, making Omaha a destination city and youth crime. He told Gray he had concerns about being overly tough on crime rather than smart on crime. Said he had received no union endorsements and made no commitments. On the budget, he told Thompson that the city needs to look at efficiency first but wouldn't rule anything out including raising taxes. GRADE = C
- MULLIGAN: Very specific in response to priorities for District 7 and the city. Said, 1) Get streets back in shape, 2) Get streets in subdivisions in shape since they've suffered much deferred maintenance, and 3) consummate union agreements. On specific challenges he cited dealing with service disruptions in Louisiana after hurricane as part of his job at Union Pacific. He told Thompson that it was important to put aside party affiliations and make decisions in best interest of the community. To Gray, he cited his involvement in YMCA and other youth organizations. He told Stothert he had no endorsements and had made no commitments on union contracts. He said on budget issues the city needs to look at public works and he'd like to do a 'ride-a-long' just as is done with police. GRADE = B
- KUDYM: Told Stohtert toughest challenge was three years ago when wife was diagnosed with cancer. Told Jerram his listening skills were honed in dealing with many State Farm clients and assessing their needs. Couldn't answer Gray's question as to when he had to deal with a policy that he didn't agree with. He told Festersen the top priority for District 7 and the city was the city's financial situation has to be strengthened, so no specifics for his district. Said he had made no promises on contracts but understood the AFL-CIO was backing him. On Gray's question about crime, Kudym said the city needed grassroots efforts to resolve. He told Thompson that he hoped taxes didn't need to be raised but that may be the reality. Of all the candidates, Kudym's were the most nebulous and unspecific. GRADE = D
- REGAN: Shared her commitment to District 7, noting she had lived their most of her life. Talked about listening skills developed in her business and while serving as a teacher and answered questions with specifics for the most part. Said council member need to be open and "take the middle ground". On specifics for District 7, she said 1) condition of roads and 2) keep district growing and vibrant. Said she had made no commitments on union contracts and had received no endorsements. On taxes she told Thompson that the city needed to look at efficiency studies, i.e., for police department. She probably didn't win any friends there. Told Gray that city couldn't arrest its way out of crime and that there is a need to work with youth. She told Jerram that, "People who don't vote don't have a right to an opinion." She told Stothert that the most valuable credentials for a council person was honesty, willingness to listen and openness. GRADE = B-
- YANKE: Told Gernandt that he had a strong sense of working cooperatively and colloquially. Talked about having to deal with teaching from textbooks he didn't necessarily agree with. He told Thompson that he was offended by the efforts of the Nebraska State Republican Party to make phone calls in the district on his behalf and he disowned that effort. He told Festersen that his top priorities for District 7 were quality of life, looking at contracted service opportunities, street maintenance and how to provide efficient services. Said he would be more conservative in order to avoid tax increases. Toughest challenge was losing two parents within a week's time. He gave Ben Gray the best answer to his question about youth violence talking about how as a teacher while in west Omaha drove a child home to North Omaha (with parent's permission), got young people more involved through Junior Achievement. He said the city needed real life skills to deal with crisis level situation of violence in community. Said he had made no commitments and had no endorsements other than the uninvited one of the state GOP. On job creation, he told Festersen that city was fortunate to have David Browne at the Chamber, that the council needs to network with the chamber and that he advocated getting organizations involve to explore bringing jobs to Omaha. GRADE = B+
With the above it was clearly obvious to us that Scott Yanhke is the best candidate to fill Sigerson's council seat and that Gary Kudym is the worst. Clearly, Yanhke won't get the appointment because he is a Republican. Kudym still has the support of Terry Moore and the AFL-CIO. Gernandt is solidly behind him. There may be a realization among some that Kudym may not be the most educated appointment in which case Regan will no doubt be the most likely alternative to get the appointment tomorrow.
Here's what he has to say:
'The announcement by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens that he will retire this summer amounts to a blot-out-the-sun moment in the political world -- an event that will dominate news coverage for several months (at a minimum) and almost certainly play some role in how the two parties position themselves in advance of the November midterms.
Since the Stevens retirement is only a few hours old, the political reverberations are just starting to be felt. But, at first glance, here are a few of our thoughts about the impact of a Court fight this spring and summer.
- A base bump: No issue energizes the base of the Republican party like a Court opening. And, given that President Barack Obama is almost certain to nominate someone who the GOP base won't be particularly happy with, you can expect the right -- already riled up over health care -- to grow even more so as this process moves forward. Remember that base intensity is one of -- if not the -- most critical elements of electoral success in midterm elections, which are, traditionally, lower turnout affairs. The question is whether Democrats can use the Stevens opening to rally and motivate their own base as well. Democrats believe that health care -- despite all of the sturm und drang that surrounded it -- ultimately will benefit them at the ballot box this fall because it energized what had been a un-enthusiastic party base. Can they pull the same trick with the Court vacancy? Look to the White House to lean heavily on Organizing for America, the organization built to harness the grassroots power of Obama's campaign, to try and rally the base in support of his nominee -- and keep that energy up heading into the fall campaign.
- Wither health care: As we mentioned above, a Supreme Court vacancy draws attention like few other things in political Washington. There will be scads of "who will he pick" stories followed by thousands of "what do we know about who he picked" pieces and then, of course, the panoply of process stories about the confirmation process itself. All of that coverage means far less room for stories about the selling of the health care bill to the American public. At first glance, that's a problem for Democrats since national polling suggests that opposition to the bill is outstripping support today.
- Follow the money: Court fights traditionally feature a bevy of television ads funded by liberal and conservative groups in support/opposition to the nominee. With any number of committees being built and pointed toward the 2010 midterms -- the conservative American Crossroads being just one example -- the question is how much money is diverted to the court fight and whether there is enough in the coffers of these campaign-oriented organizations to make them not just relevant but powerful in the fall.
- Citizens United: The Court is often regarded -- even by some of the most active political actors -- as somewhat removed from the daily political debate. But, the Citizens United ruling earlier this year, which opened the door for unlimited corporate contributions to organizations that can then directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates, has direct relevance to the fall campaign even before the Stevens opening. Stevens' retirement means that the Citizens United ruling -- an issue the President thought enough of to mention in his State of the Union speech -- will be front and center for the foreseeable future. We are always skeptical that campaign finance issues matter to the public but if ever they will impact the electorate the next few months is the time,"
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
- About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.
- In recent years, credits for low- and middle-income families have grown so much that a family of four making as much as $50,000 will owe no federal income tax for 2009, as long as there are two children younger than 17, according to a separate analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte Tax.
- The result is a tax system that exempts almost half the country from paying for programs that benefit everyone, including national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education.
- It is a system in which the top 10 percent of earners — households making an average of $366,400 in 2006 — paid about 73 percent of the income taxes collected by the federal government.
- The bottom 40 percent, on average, make a profit from the federal income tax, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they would otherwise owe in taxes. For those people, the government sends them a payment.
- The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property.
- The number of households that don't pay federal income taxes increased substantially in 2008, when the poor economy reduced incomes and Congress cut taxes in an attempt to help recovery.
- In 2007, about 38 percent of households paid no federal income tax, a figure that jumped to 49 percent in 2008, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.
One can only speculate what this holds for the future of America as we have fewer and fewer folks paying federal taxes and demanding more, i.e., free health care. Obviously, the ones that will make up the difference are those who have higher incomes who take risks and create jobs. Enough said.....
You can check out the full article at: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100407/ap_on_bi_ge/us_no_taxes/print