Friday Mashup

January 22, 2010

(Note: I’m probably a couple of weeks away at least from posting again the way I have in the past due to my arm injury. I’ll be sure to let you know what’s going on.)

  • 1) Over at The Hill, Repug Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana recently said the following (here, in yet another attack on the Obama Administration)…

    First out of the gate was the $787 billion so-called stimulus bill that was nothing more than a wish-list of liberal spending priorities. Following the policies of more spending and more debt — the same policies that got us into this mess — would not get our economy moving again.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following (from Crooks and Liars)…

    Rep. Mike Pence disagrees with the stimulus and voted against it but wants more of it for his state. “The Democrats in Congress and the administration said we were going to have to borrow nearly a trillion dollars from future generations and spend it on this — this long laundry list of liberal spending priorities we called stimulus and that unless we did that, unemployment would reach 8% nationally. It’s 9.5% nationally today,” Pence told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    But Pence charges that Indiana isn’t getting enough money from the very program that he doesn’t support. “You check the Indiana Star, you’ll see stories about the stimulus. One is that four out of ten major projects in the stimulus for Indiana had been allotted to companies outside the state of Indiana,” complained Pence.

    So which is it, Pence? Do you support the “stim” or don’t you? If you don’t, then why are you trying to grab up the dough?

    Oh, and by the way, as Think Progress notes here, Pence was one of the Repugs who was just thrilled over yesterday’s horrific Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited free speech for corporations, among other entities (no word on what Pence’s reaction would be if another Giganticorp, Inc. came along and decided to fund a Pence election opponent as much as they wanted, which is now allowed of course).

    So what other economic ideas has Pence supported as long as he opposes Obama and the “Democrat majority” (jerk)? Why, as noted here, he supports a spending freeze, which, as TP (again) tells us, “would allow inflation to eat away at funding for vital programs, including Pell Grants, Head Start and infrastructure investments. It would mean less money, in real terms, for just about everything. There are also projects — like the 2010 census – that need a spending boost.”

    The game of Pence and his Repug playmates is to do nothing and hope that voters forget that our current economic mess, to say nothing of two wars, originated under the administration of Obama’s predecessor. And that worked in Massachusetts because the Democratic Party leadership was utterly asleep and thought they would win a ceremonial victory.

    But Messrs. Kaine, Menendez and the rest of the Dems should have learned from that debacle that everything is in play for November. However, the Repugs will have to play the same game of defending their seats as the Dems.

    Being a Dem in this climate has disadvantages, as does being a Repug. But being an incumbent, period, is the biggest disadvantage of all.

  • 2) Today’s Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following (here)…

    A 12.5 percent salary increase to the Bucks County employee in charge of overseeing the $100 million courthouse project led to a heated disagreement among county commissioners.

    Diane Marseglia, the lone Democrat on the three-member panel, criticized the decision of her colleagues, Republicans Charley Martin and Jim Cawley, to raise the salary of Director of Operations Jerry Anderson to $104,456.

    “It’s too much money,” Marseglia said Wednesday of the $11,575 bump in pay from $92,881. “Nobody gets an increase like that, especially in this economy.”

    Martin defended the pay hike, saying the “fairly substantial amount is appropriate.”

    Anderson is in charge of all county bridges, buildings and the parks and recreation department, in addition to spearheading work on the new courthouse, according to Chris Edwards of the county public information office.

    He also headed up building the $22 million parking garage on Broad Street.

    Compensation for non-union county personnel is set by the salary board. Martin said Anderson’s raise fit within that range.

    Hired Dec. 26, 2006 as special projects manager in the public works department for $55,344, Anderson became the director of operations on Sept. 17, 2008 at a salary of $85,000. Since then, his annual pay has jumped nearly $20,000, or 23 percent, including a 3 percent cost of living adjustment on Jan. 1.

    Another “triumph” for Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin (no comment from Jay Russell, the “independent” candidate in the last Bucks County commissioners election who ensured that we would be saddled once more with Martin and a Repug majority).

  • Update 1/24/10: The Courier Times points out here today that Anderson basically contributed $4,400 to “Republican causes” and was rewarded with about a $50,000 raise as a result. And Republicans dare to scream about alleged Democratic Party fiscal malfeasance.

  • 3) Finally, this letter in the Courier Times yesterday stated as follows…

    Newtown Township Supervisor Rob Ciervo recently announced he will run for the 31st Assembly District seat now held by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

    Ciervo was elected supervisor in 2007 to a six-year term and assumed the role of chairman this summer, after former Supervisor Tom Jirele’s sudden resignation. As a resident of Newtown Township, I feel that Mr. Ciervo should fulfill his commitment to the residents of Newtown Township who elected him to the board of supervisors.

    If these local politicians can’t commit themselves for six years, they shouldn’t run for the position in the first place. Perhaps Mr. Ciervo wishes to leave the NTBOS before local residents catch on to the fact that constant dipping into reserve funds is a temporary fix and only postpones the inevitable tax increases facing Newtown Township.

    Steve Santarsiero has been in office less than one year. Honestly, that is not enough time to truly gauge the job of a state representative. However, in that time, Steve helped balance the state’s budget and actually decreased overall spending by $500 million. Let’s keep Steve Santarsiero working for us and let self-serving politicians finish the jobs they started.

    Edward H. Valenti
    Newtown, PA

    To contact Steve, click here.

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    Friday Mashup Part 1 (9/4/09)

    September 4, 2009

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  • Zachary Roth at TPM Muckraker brings us the following today…

    The fallout from Mark Sanford’s Argentinian romance is getting increasingly nasty.

    Yesterday, State Senator Jake Knotts, a Republican but a committed Sanford foe, sent a letter to fellow lawmakers, in which he accused unnamed supporters of the bed-hopping chief exec of planting a rumor that Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — who would become governor if Sanford steps down — is gay.

    So what exactly did Knotts have to say in Bauer’s defense?

    “Ain’t a homosexual bone in his body. That boy is a good boy. It’s a just an attempt to prevent Andre from become governor.”

    Of course, heaven forbid that Bauer actually had “a homosexual bone” in his body. In that event, I suppose Bauer would automatically plummet in the eyes of residents of the Palmetto State (below Sanford, of course) and no longer be “a good boy.”

    Oh, and please tell us when Opie and Aunt Bee return from shopping for a hickory switch and a piece of gingham from the “Piggly Wiggly” in Mount Pilot, OK, Mr. Knotts (any relation to Don)?

  • peril

  • And staying below that Mason-Dixon Line, I give you the following from Tennessee Repug U.S. House Rep Marsha Blackburn (here)…

    President Obama made a decision very early in the health care debate that doomed the process to failure. He decided to let Congress write the proposed bills, with very little input from the White House. Then he made another decision that just added to the problem. He decided that he wanted health care reform passed before Congress left for the August recess.

    Her piece at The Hill’s Congress blog is chock full of this type of unsubstantiated misinformation that I won’t dignify any further. Instead, I’ll present the following from here (I found this from the site’s interactive U.S. map)…

    How Health Insurance Reform will Benefit Tennessee

    LOWER COSTS FOR RESIDENTS OF TENNESSEE

    • Ending the Hidden Tax – Saving You Money: Right now, providers in Tennessee lose over $1.2 billion in bad debt which often gets passed along to families in the form of a hidden premium “tax”.1 Health insurance reform will tackle this financial burden by improving our health care system and covering the uninsured, allowing the 133 hospitals2 and the 18,560 physicians3 in Tennessee to (provide) better care for their patients.

    • Health Insurance Premium Relief: Premiums for residents of Tennessee have risen 77% since 2000.4 Through health insurance reform, 817,500 to 937,800 middle class Tennessee residents will be eligible for premium credits to ease the burden of these high costs.5

    • Strengthening Small Businesses: 74,592 employers in Tennessee are small businesses.6 With tax credits and a health insurance exchange where they can shop for health plans, insurance coverage will become more affordable for them.

    • Reforms that Reduce Your Costs: Under health insurance reform, insurance companies will be prevented from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage you receive. Insurance companies will also have to abide by yearly limits on how much they can charge for out-of-pocket expenses, helping 32,900 households in Tennessee struggling under the burden of high health care expenses.7

    INCREASE YOUR CHOICES: PROTECTING WHAT WORKS AND FIXING WHAT’S BROKEN

    • Insurance Stability and Security: Health insurance reform will strengthen our system of employer-based health insurance, with an additional 56,400 people in Tennessee potentially getting insurance through their work.8 Health insurance reform will also ensure that you will always have guaranteed choices of quality, affordable health insurance if you lose your job, switch jobs, move or get sick.

    • Eliminating Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions, Health Status or Gender: 10% of people in Tennessee have diabetes9, and 34% have high blood pressure10 – two conditions that insurance companies could use as a reason to deny you health insurance. Health insurance reform will prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on your health, and it will end discrimination that charges you more if you’re sick or a woman.

    • One-Stop Shopping – Putting Families in Charge: With the new health insurance exchange, you can easily and simply compare insurance prices and health plans and decide which quality affordable option is right for you and your family. These proposals will help the 845,700 residents of Tennessee who currently do not have health insurance to obtain needed coverage, and it will also help the 306,700 Tennessee residents who currently purchase insurance in the individual insurance market.11

    • Guaranteeing Choices: The largest health insurer in Tennessee holds 45% of the market, which limits the choices that you have for finding coverage.12 With a competitive public insurance option, you will have more choices and increased competition that holds insurance companies accountable.

    ASSURE QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS

    • Preventive Care for Better Health: 41% of Tennessee residents have not had a colorectal cancer screening, and 22% of women have not had a mammogram in the past 2 years.13 By requiring health plans to cover preventive services for everyone, investing in prevention and wellness, and promoting primary care, health insurance reform will work to create a system that prevents illness and disease instead of just treating it when it’s too late and costs more.

    • Improving Care for Children and Seniors: 21% of children in Tennessee have not visited a dentist in the past year,14and 30% of seniors did not receive a flu vaccine15. Health reform will ensure coverage for kids’ dental, vision, and hearing needs, and will promote quality coverage for America’s seniors, including recommended immunizations.

    Also, a poll from June commissioned by opponents of health care reform finds majority support for a public option across the country (I haven’t been able to find polling numbers for the entire state of Tennessee, though I know it’s favored in the district of “Bush Dog” Jim Cooper).

    I suppose, though, that this is about what you would expect from someone who said “we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a ‘Katrina’” (here), even though Blackburn supported the emergency Katrina appropriation all the same (sounds like the “blind squirrel finding the nut” again).

  • DanBush

  • Former Bushie (and Indiana governor) Mitch Daniels (left in the pic) opines as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal today (on the matter of states having to get their fiscal houses in order due to the recession) …

    …the political impulse to protect government largess leads many states to aggravate their dilemma. Already more than half have raised taxes, often on businesses, serving only to chase them and their tax payments away and into the open arms of states like Indiana. Our traffic flow of interested investors is as heavy as it was in 2007. Since January we have welcomed the consolidation of more than 30 firms that closed up shop elsewhere and chose us as the low-cost, enterprise-friendly environment among their current locations.

    Indiana was near bankruptcy five years ago but is relatively solvent today because we have spent the intervening years making hard choices. We have reformed state procurement, contracted out some jobs, cut costs, and relentlessly scrutinized expenditures in pushing for annual improvement in departments large and small. We’ve also reduced the number of state employees by some 5,000 from the 2004 level.

    In contrast to the national pattern, our per capita state spending has cut, on average, 1.4% each of the past five years. Indiana is now the sixth thriftiest state by this measure. And if we Hoosiers are realizing that we need to re-examine what we can afford to have our government do, what must they be thinking in Albany, Lansing or Trenton?

    Yep, typical Bushie…never misses an opportunity to score a political point or two against those baad “blue states” (even though Obama won Indiana last year).

    To me, this is a case of “right message, wrong messenger.” I’m not going to comment on what may or may not be working in Indiana, since I don’t know enough about the state to say anything. And fiscal prudence is always a good thing wherever you live.

    However, Brad DeLong tells us here of a moment when Daniels could have stood up to his White House pals and, as a result, probably relieved some of the burden we currently face (Daniels was Bushco’s OMB director at the time)…

    One of the threads of Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty is that Mitch Daniels simply did not do his job as Bush’s OMB Director. The OMB Director is the principal–indeed, the only–voice inside the White House for fiscal prudence, for trying to ensure that the money the government spends is spent well and that the resources the government raises are adequate for the spending plans the White House evolves. While he was Bush OMB Director, Daniels simply did not do his job.

    Page 219:

    Mitch Daniels became agitated. He blurted out, “Well, yes, but if you can’t do the right thing when you’re at 85 percent approval, then when can you do the right thing? I think it’s time to say no.” Everyone looked with surprise at Daniels–he has a way of expressing what others are thinking but don’t say. Often, he’d find himself doubling back when he got an arched brow from Cheney or Rove…

    And page 296:

    The Commerce Secretary echoed much of what had been said…. As usual, not a real discussion, O’Neill thought as he looked over at [Mitch] Daniels…. He knew Daniels was focused on the perils of rising deficits, but it would take gumption to air those concerns in a room full of tax cut ideologues. “I think we need to balance concerns,” Daniels said…. “You need to be out front on the economy, but I am concerned that this package may not do it. The budget hole is getting deeper… we are projecting deficits all the way to the end of your second term.” From across the table came glares from the entire Bush political team. Daniels paused…. “Ummmm. On balance, then, I think we need to do a [tax cut] package… accelerate the rate cuts and the double taxation of dividends…” O’Neill looked with astonishment at Daniels… turn 180 degrees in midsentence…

    And Daniels was just as wrong here on pending cap-and-trade legislation, by the way.

  • fastfood_huge.52.263738

  • Finally, I give you the comedy stylings of Michael G. Franc and James Sherk of the National Review Online (here)…

    Why has teenage unemployment jumped so sharply? In part the deteriorating economy. But also because Congress voted to put teenagers out of work. The August employment report is the first after the minimum wage increase took effect at the end of July. Of course, that is not what Congress said it wanted to do when it raised the minimum from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour.

    But no matter what Congress sets the minimum wage at the true minimum wage is always zero. Employers do not have to hire workers, and they will not when hiring an additional worker brings in less money than that workers adds to the company. Consider an unskilled teenage worker whose labor increases a restaurant’s earnings by $7.00 an hour. The restaurant will pay up to $7.00 an hour to hire that worker. But when Congress raises the minimum wage to $7.25 that worker will lose his job. No restaurant will hire workers for a loss. Any business that did so would quickly go bankrupt. By raising the minimum wage Congress voted to lay off every worker who produces less than $7.25 an hour.

    I have no word on what formula these two pundits know of or came up with to compute the profit an employee generates for his or her employer and how that determines that person’s wage (sooo…then these two shouldn’t be paid the same amount if their online “hit” count goes down, for example?), but I believe this post from about a year ago debunks the rap that an increase in the minimum wage leads to greater unemployment…

    It ascribes a significant part of the problem of high teenage unemployment rates to high state minimum wages (or “maximum folly” according to the editorial). This claim disintegrates, however, under even the most cursory examination. Here’s why. Teenage unemployment rose from 13.1% to 17% between 2000 and 2004. According to the (Wall Street) Journal’s argument, the increases in teen unemployment should have been higher in states with higher minimum wages than in those with low minimum wages. What actually happened was the reverse: Teenage unemployment rose 3.4% in the high minimum wage states, compared to 4.2% in the others.

    So in response, I have a question to ask Franc and Sherk (assuming their line of reasoning is applied to themselves and they end up having to seek other employment)…

    Can I have fries with that?


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