Monthly Archives: October 2013

Safeguard your savings

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breakbankOne thing not-so-stealthy Democrat Mary Burke still isn’t talking about is whether she would attempt to repeal the Act 10 collective bargaining reforms enacted by Governor Walker and a two-house Republican legislative majority.

That’s probably a prudent decision on her part. She could get the activist Left out in the streets again with a pledge to go back to the pre-Act 10 status quo of public employee unions dictating the terms of state and local government finance, but the idea might not have so much appeal among the voters who pay the bills.

It will have even less appeal now, in light of a report last week from the MacIver Institute. They’ve crunched the numbers and found that if the Act 10 reforms had not been enacted, Wisconsin taxpayers would have seen at least an additional $2.7 billion drained from their wallets since 2011.

The bulk of the taxpayer savings result directly from pension contributions and health insurance premiums no longer being a free ride for public employees. The Act 10 changes require them to contribute to their own benefits, just like the private sector workers whose tax money provides the public employees’ income.

As a matter of sound political practice, Mary Burke—and any other candidate for state office in 2014, Democrat, Republican or what-have-you—should be made to answer whether they would reverse that situation and go back to the way things were pre-Act 10.

That there are officeholders who would turn back the clock was demonstrated last week when an elected Dane County judge made up a new excuse to sabotage the Walker reforms and Wisconsin’s attorney general had to ask two appellate courts for orders to allow Act 10’s provisions to be carried out.

As we said, be careful who you vote for.

Burke talks: big mistake

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mouthLast week we criticized Mary Burke, the Democratic Party’s anointed 2014 opponent to Governor Walker, for essentially “taking the Fifth” on what she would try to do if elected. Our criticism didn’t mean we thought clamming up was a bad idea, at least not from the perspective of a Left-wing Democrat trying to skate past the voters.

But now Burke’s started talking. Fooling the voters will no longer be an option.

She’s declined to say she would not increase state taxation. That’s distressing, given that even with nearly three quarters of a billion dollars in income and property tax cuts under Governor Walker, Wisconsin is still a conspicuously high-tax state.

Burke’s statement that she’d insist on state government living within its means doesn’t wash. We still need to know how she defines the state’s “means.” And we do know she served in a Doyle administration that regarded the state’s “means” as whatever it felt like wringing out of the taxpayers.

But why spend time picking apart the weasel words when Burke is now on the record opposing voter ID laws? Mandatory voter ID to cast a ballot typically polls at about 80 percent support, often breaking down to include a majority of Democrats.

And then there’s school choice. Burke now openly says she would not have expanded Wisconsin’s school voucher program, as was done all too modestly in this year’s state budget bill. Opposing voucher expansion is one thing, and bad enough, but Burke went on to make it clear she’d prefer parents butt out and leave their kids’ education to the government:

“That’s the role of government, where it can do things better as an organization than individuals can do on their own,” Burke said.

Keep talking, Ms. Burke.

It’s no coincidence, comrade

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ObamaCare Ahead - Caution SignOur headline was a familiar phrase in the old Soviet Union, uttered when misfortune suddenly befell someone who happened to be out of favor with the regime.  It’s equally applicable to the Laurel-and-Hardy-style rollout of the Obamacare insurance exchanges.

But almost entirely absent from millions of words of commentary is something we’ve told people for four years. The customary response is a polite nod and a bewildered expression on hearing what must seem inconceivable: namely, that Obamacare was designed from the beginning to implode. An exercise in political cynicism dwarfing anything previously seen in this country, Obamacare’s predictable failure is contrived specifically to justify a government rescue—the perverted logic being that the health care system is so badly broken, nothing can fix it short of a 100 percent government takeover.

The Wall Street Journal has come close. An editorial last Tuesday said that without young, healthy people who don’t want insurance signing up to pay the toll, premiums won’t cover the cost of claims from the sick and elderly, whereupon, “the 36 malfunctioning exchanges could take an entire market down with them.”

“Could?”  Our point is that’s exactly what Obamacare was supposed to accomplish in the first place: the extermination of private sector health insurance.

The past week’s announcement that half a million private insurance policies are being cancelled in California because providers can’t afford to comply with Obamacare coverage mandates is no coincidence.

Neither is the cancellation of hundreds of thousands more private policies in Florida and other states.

The embarrassing rollout may be a genuine surprise, attributable to the administration’s arrogance. Still, the Obama administration theoretically ends January 20, 2017 and they haven’t much time to waste. Whoever comes next might not intend to remedy a big-government disaster with a bigger one.

Headlines from Around the State – October 16, 2013

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Senate takes up property tax cut; both chambers consider mascot legislation
October 15, 2013 Wispolitics

2014 elections could shake up Wis. government
October 15, 2013 Appleton Post Crescent

House GOP floats a counter to Senate’s debt idea 
October 15, 2013 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Assembly approves 70 mph speed limit for Wisconsin freeways
October 15, 2013 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

It doesn’t have to be pretty

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gotprivilegeBy the time you read this, a deal may have been struck to restart the small portion of the federal government that’s been shut down, or not.  And the federal debt limit may have been extended to avoid a default, or not.

In both cases, the single most important thing to remember is that were it not for the Obama administration’s contrived theatrics, hardly anyone would have noticed. Absent the administration’s special efforts to create hardship where none need exist, the shutdown would have passed without a ripple. And a default would, or will, occur only if the administration deliberately chooses to spend steadily incoming revenues for purposes other than servicing the nation’s debt.

Let there be no confusion, if there is a default, it will be by the choice of Barack Obama, not of Republicans in Congress, who don’t get to make that choice.

No mystery here:  Surely most of us knew that malicious kid in the neighborhood who obtained perverse gratification by damaging other people’s things and falsely blaming others. The only mystery is how the leading nation of the free world allowed itself to be duped into twice electing a president whose daily pursuit of power consists of inflicting damage on his countrymen so as to falsely blame others.

The most innocent explanation would be that he otherwise has nothing to offer, as in n-o-t-h-i-n-g. From there, every alternative gets worse.

So even if you find their strategy ham-handed and predestined to fail, don’t judge congressional Republicans too harshly.  Standing up against a dangerously destructive political program needn’t be an artistic success. One has the sense that a majority of Americans are weary of Obama and wish him gone. It’s still up to Republicans to make sure they understand why.

The unknown unknowns

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elections 2014 postOur headline is Donald Rumsfeld’s expression for things that materialize out of nowhere to throw policy initiatives into chaos.  Now it describes next year’s electoral prospects for two of Wisconsin’s top constitutional offices:  Governor and Attorney General.

Having served as Commerce Secretary in the Doyle administration and as a member of the Madison school board, millionaire Mary Burke is known, but only to people who pay very close attention to comings and goings in state politics. To the overwhelming majority of those who will vote in the 2014 governor’s race, she is, as of now, unknown, and that’s to her advantage.

The bigger unknown is who will emerge to run for Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen’s job, now that we know it won’t be him.  We’ve heard the name of former Congressman and former Ambassador Mark Green mentioned on the Republican side. It will be interesting to see if Democrats firm up their emerging pattern of suppressing primaries and hand-picking a candidate, as seems to be the case with Burke’s gubernatorial campaign.

Here is a “known known.” The 2014 election was always destined to be a high-stakes affair, deciding whether Wisconsin stands firm with the Walker reforms or slouches back to deficit spending and all-encompassing government.  Now the stakes have doubled, because if any Democrat wins the attorney general’s office and Scott Walker is re-elected governor, you can expect attempts to brand conservative policy choices as criminal conduct. Preposterous, but they’ll say anything.

As for Burke’s prospects, they depend on how effectively the Walker campaign erases her advantage as an “unknown.”

The Governor may miss his goal of 250,000, but Wisconsin is adding jobs. Mary Burke held key responsibilities for job development in an administration known mainly for subtracting them.

The $100 million surprise

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Cutting taxesDemocrats were caught off guard this week by Governor Walker’s call for a special session to return $100 million to school districts and other local taxing authorities, to reduce individual property tax bills.

In fact, Democrats were flailing in desperation, looking for any excuse to say it’s a bad idea for people to keep more of their own money.

State Representative Brett Hulsey, the bizarre Madison Democrat, tied himself in knots objecting to Walker’s plan for a modest reduction of individual tax bills. Counting on short memories, Hulsey tried to skate around the fact that the Walker administration’s earlier budget adjustments had to include measures to cope with the $3.6 billion deficit and the legacy of higher taxes Hulsey’s party left behind.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca helped clarify why he’s the minority leader, not the majority leader, with his frantic objection to a plan that would reduce tax liability for Wisconsin residents. Barca appealed disingenuously to the authority of the Legislative Fiscal bureau to claim a tax increase.

To see just how shifty Barca’s reasoning is, it might be helpful to go straight to the nonpartisan source and find out what the Fiscal Bureau actually says about property taxes for 2013 and ‘14.

Almost as valuable as the tax reduction is the opportunity to see two Liberal pathologies on full display: Even if they’re the only ones damaged by their objections, Democrats can’t stop themselves from railing against anything that might enhance Walker’s popularity; and they can’t abide the idea of people keeping control of a bit more of the money they earn.

Walker’s proposal invited them to reveal what they’re all about, and they did not disappoint.

Negotiated Deception

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Stop Global WarmingLast week we remarked on governments who finance the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) negotiating what the IPCC would say in its latest report on global warming.

That the findings of six years’ research would be subject to “negotiation” between the scientists who did the research and the political functionaries who pay for it seemed odd, signaling alteration for political purposes, assuming that the scientists knew what they thought their report should say before they got to the meeting.

Thanks to pre-negotiation leaks, two key findings were widely known weeks ago:  1) The IPCC now thinks human activity accounts for roughly half of the late 20th-century warming, and 2) the computer models on which all global warming predictions depend can’t explain why there’s been no statistically meaningful warming for at least 15 years.

Climatologist Judith Curry, who chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech, did the hard work of combing the “negotiated” document to find what became of those two points.  And Lo! They’ve morphed into tortured language designed to suggest the computer models are spot on, and whatever warming scientists believe they’ve measured was almost certainly caused by humans. (Her 2nd and 3rd paragraphs are the new language; the 5th and 6th are what they replaced.)

Curry, who recently labeled “incomprehensible” the IPCC’s procedures in massaging its reports, has come increasingly under attack from global warming profiteers since professional honesty began moving her to ask too many questions a few years ago.

We can hope the transparently politicized result of last week’s “negotiations” will hasten the day when the only question that matters is how much longer we tolerate this ragged excuse for expansionist government and its parasitic green energy boondoggles.

Welcome to the Brave, New World

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Welcome to the spring woodland horizontalThe half-baked new health insurance exchanges launched yesterday with what the President referred to as some “glitches.”  We hope your first 24 hours in the brave, new world of Obamacare have been uneventful and free of “unintended consequences”—a phrase that must have come straight from the Handbook of Soviet Diplomacy if there ever was such a thing.

Count your blessings if you’ve found these first days uneventful, because millions of your fellow Americans have not.  Some have already been victimized by scammers playing off the government’s health insurance takeover, though in terms of outright fraud, we doubt anything will ever top Obamacare itself.

In Ohio, members of the president’s favorite union have gone on strike over lost working hours due to an utterly predictable result of an Obamacare mandate. A union rock-head at the center of the walkout didn’t see it that way, but his more sophisticated comrades do.

Ironically, just about a year ago the Supreme Genius craftily frightened children of all ages by suggesting Mitt Romney would put Big Bird out of a job by cutting the taxpayer subsidies Public Broadcasting insists are insignificant. Now, under Obamacare, Big Bird’s still working, but getting less for it.

Meanwhile:

Politico, nobody’s idea of an anti-Obama spin operation, finds more examples of the “Affordable Care Act” making health coverage less affordable.

The Internal Revenue Service takes a break from intimidating grassroots Conservatives who mistakenly assume the First Amendment is still in effect, to point out that tens of millions of Obamacare dollars—the first of tens of trillions—have gone missing.

And Neil Cavuto announces he’s had enough, in a commentary that’s about as difficult to interpret as a punch in the nose.  May there be many more like it.

What’s in a name?

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iStock_000002782474XSmall[1]A hallmark of Wisconsin politics is a bipartisan tendency toward self-congratulation for being the first to experiment with nifty policy ideas. So it’s probably not out of character that the athletic fields of Wisconsin public schools have been the battleground for two conflicting visions of human progress.

One considers it an adornment of advanced civilization to require that the names by which athletic teams call themselves pass muster with every oddball who craves notoriety and lodges a complaint that in darker centuries would have been tolerantly heard and politely dismissed.

The other holds that when state government sets out to enforce the whims of people who received insufficient parental attention growing up and thus failed to do so, civilization has veered, slightly but unmistakably, toward a rollover accident with internal injuries.

The matter will be resolved by legislation reining in the Department of Public Instruction’s license to financially bleed school districts into renouncing American Indian-related team names.  The Mukwonago School District, serving a town that itself bears an Indian name and is courageously defying a Department order, welcomed the news.

The need to dispose of this politically correct Doyle-era leftover arises from the boneheaded presumption that people who worship their teams give them names they detest. Liberals on the hunt for satisfying examples of majoritarian bigotry have the problem of explaining why a community would identify its children with people it holds in contempt.

Emblematic of this is the eternal seething over the Washington Redskins, of whom Milwaukee’s late Rev. James Groppi, in characteristic, measured fashion, once asked “Why don’t they just call themselves the [‘N’ word]?”

The correct reply to the good Father, who built a minor career by abandoning all sense of proportion, is that they didn’t, they don’t, and no team does.

Case closed.