File the following under the category of “NO DUH”.
In a recent Rasmussen poll, only 7% of Americans believe that Government employees work harder than those in the private sector. 70% believe workers in the private sector work harder than government workers, while 23% are too busy watching reality TV and are undecided. I think we can add those that would send America to war, sorry a kinetic military operation, while on Spring Break in Brazil.
So not only do government employees get paid more and receive better retirement benefits that the private sector … they do less for it. I guess this can explain why only 16% think the US would be better off if most incumbents in Congress were reelected and why Americans have a pretty poor view of politicians in general.
According to a Rasmussen Reports poll released today, just seven percent of Americans believe that government employees work harder than their counterparts in private sector. The same poll finds that 44 percent of government workers agree.
As we’ve learned recently, not only do public-sector workers get paid more than private industry employees doing comparable tasks, they get better benefits, they can retire earlier, and are much harder to fire.
I noted the other day to someone that once Gadhafi’s forces figured out how to adapt to the coalition presence and tactics, they’d probably begin to swing the momentum back to their side. Why? Because they’re better trained and equipped than the “rebels”. According to AP that has already begun:
Gadhafi’s forces have adopted a new tactic in light of the pounding that airstrikes have given their tanks and armored vehicles, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. They’ve left some of those weapons behind in favor of a “gaggle” of “battle wagons”: minivans, sedans and SUVs fitted with weapons, said the official, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss sensitive U.S. intelligence on the condition and capabilities of rebel and regime forces. Rebel fighters also said Gadhafi’s troops were increasingly using civilian vehicles in battle.
The change not only makes it harder to distinguish Gadhafi’s forces from the rebels, it also requires less logistical support, the official said.
This was both predictable and inevitable.
Think about it – what is the hardest thing to distinguish? Whether or not a civilian vehicle is occupied by good guys or bad guys – or neither. Make your side pretty much identical from the air to the other side or just regular civilians and it makes the job the coalition has undertaken much harder. That’s precisely what the Gadhafi troops have done.
AP also throws this out there:
The shift in momentum back to the government’s side is hardening a U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition is probably incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention – either an all-out U.S.-led military assault on regime forces or a decision to arm the rebels.
I hear a lot of talk about the US (or others) arming the rebels and how that will make the difference. Nonsense. While not having the weaponry that the other side has is indeed a disadvantage, it isn’t the rebel alliance’s biggest problem. Their biggest problem is they’re an untrained and undisciplined rabble. And an untrained and undisciplined rabble confronting even marginally trained troops with at least a modicum of discipline are going to lose if all else is equal.
While weapons may help, they certainly won’t make the difference.
The battlefield setbacks are hardening a U.S. view that the opposition is probably incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.
I assume our “unique capabilities” will again be in demand as others “volunteer us” to be a part of the “intervention” that seems inevitable. However, if there are NATO “boots on the ground” in the future, there won’t be any Arab League in the coalition.
Obviously Obama doesn’t want this going on for long but it appears that Gadhafi and his supporters have both the will and the means to defy Obama’s wish. That leaves the US with the specter of a long and drawn out civil war with the coalition ineffectively hanging out at 30,000 feet trying to decide which minivan is a bad guy.
Finally, we find out today that the CIA is operating among the rebels. Given their huge history of success in these sorts of endeavors, that has to give you a warm fuzzy feeling, huh? And while I wouldn’t technically claim it violates Obama’s “no boots on the ground” pledge, it does stretch it a bit.
Washington (CNN) – You can tell baseball season is just around the corner: Just listen to the House of Representatives debate education reform. During Wednesday’s debate over restarting a school voucher program for District of Columbia residents, lawmakers quoted from the noted educators Leo Durocher, Yogi Berra, Satchel Paige (Twice!) and Casey Stengel.
The baseball greats were on the minds of members from both sides of the aisle.
Republican Representative Rob Bishop of Utah led off: “Durocher always said for his team, that, ‘I make a great effort to argue for the issues but there are two things against me: The Umpires and the Rules.’” Bishop explained his analogy by saying opponents of vouchers have two things against them: The unique Constitutional relationship between the Congress and the District of Columbia and the “underprivileged kids” who will benefit from the bill.
Florida Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings noted a previous Democratic Congress had allowed a DC voucher program to expire and dismissed the effort to revive it as a “shallow attempt” to “appease the right wing of the Republican party.” “My colleague used Leo Durocher. He played with and against Yogi Berra,” Hastings continued. “Yogi Berra reminds me, if I were to use an analogy, this is ‘Déjà vu all over again.’”
In his next at-bat in the debate, Bishop said, “Since, Mister Hastings also used a baseball reference to tie me, I have to one up him one more time. In the words of the great Satchel Paige, who was consulting a struggling pitcher who was failing to get it over on the corners, he just said, ‘Throw the pitch. Just throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.’” Bishop explained the voucher program is “one of those strikes.”
Hastings tossed it right back at Bishop: “Satchel Paige also said, ‘Don’t look back.’”
Later in the debate, Bishop tossed-out another baseball analogy. “Casey Stengel, at one time, -talking about, I think, one of the best second basemen ever, Bobby Richardson- said ‘I just can’t understand it. He doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t stay out at night and he still can’t hit .250.” Admitting it was a non-sequitur, Bishop then complained he couldn’t understand why anyone would oppose the voucher bill because it, “only expands choices for DC’s least-financially-blessed school kids.”
DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton took the floor to complain about the use of “public money for private schools” and, her voice raised, condemned the Republican proposal: “Self government means nothing if the District of Columbia can still be a dumping ground for every pet project and pet idea of the majority. We have our own pet ideas and will insist on the respect for our own pet ideas and not yours!”
She struck out.
The voucher bill passed 225- 195.
In 2009, Rhode Island accepted a block grant from the Bush administration that capped the amount of federal Medicaid funding it could receive for five years, in return for increased flexibility over the program. Now, as Republicans in Congress look to lower federal Medicaid expenditures, they’re pointing to the state as an example of what block grants can accomplish.
During a February 15th Senate Finance Committee hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) announced that the 2009 block grant has lowered health care spending and suggested that its success could be duplicated elsewhere. “Well, my question for you is if Rhode Island can save 15.8 percent, why don’t we just block grant every State and let them, and take the rules off and let them do these strategies that you’re outlining rather than spending money in Washington telling them what to do,” Coburn asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who was testifying before the committee.
The answer to Coburn’s question is simple: if every state received a Rhode Island-type grant, Medicaid expenditures would increase dramatically. That’s because the Bush administration established a cap that was “above what the federal government otherwise was expected to spend” and gave Rhode Island additional federal Medicaid funding to help pay for services it had previously self-financed.
Most states won’t be so lucky. A recent block grant proposal introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Alice Rivlin would reduce federal Medicaid spending by $ 180 billion and establish caps below what the government would otherwise spend. States would receive an annual federal appropriation that would be less than current projected growth of the program and would be forced to, as the CBO put it in examining the Ryan/Rivlin Medicaid proposal, “provide less extensive coverage, or to pay a larger share of the program’s total costs, than would be the case under current law.” The proposal, in other words, shifts a greater burden of funding Medicaid to the states, which would either have to spend more on their Medicaid programs or cut services and eligibility.
Rhode Island’s alleged cost savings, meanwhile, are partly the the result of the Recovery Act and lower than expected enrollment, not block grant funding. From a recent Center on Policy and Budget Priorities (CBPP) report:
The state has received $ 400 million in additional federal Medicaid funds as a consequence, a level that will reach about $ 470 million by June 30, when this temporary federal aid ends. These additional federal matching funds — not any savings attributable to the waiver — are the reason that Rhode Island’s state-funded Medicaid expenditures declined in 2009. Rhode Island would have benefited from these savings whether it had a global waiver or not. […] Rhode Island’s Medicaid expenditures grew more slowly than other states before as well as after the global waiver went into effect, because enrollment in the program has not increased. In the five years preceding the start of the global waiver, combined federal and state spending on Rhode Island’s Medicaid program grew at an average annual rate of only 2.2 percent… In federal fiscal year 2009, which includes the first three quarters that the waiver was in effect, Rhode Island’s spending increased by 3.3 percent over the prior year.
An analysis of how states would have fared under a previous GOP block grant proposal from 1995 concluded that the one-year reduction in federal funding under the block grant would have been so great, that it would have “exceeded federal Medicaid spending on prescription drugs or home and community-based services and would have equaled half of all Medicaid spending on nursing homes.” As a result, “more than 6 million people would have lost Medicaid coverage in 2002″ if states did not make up the difference.
Kentucky center Josh Harrellson was among the three players that Kentucky basketball brought to the podium for a media opp this afternoon before the team leaves Wednesday for the Final Four. As a side note, Pedro Gomes of ESPN is in town and is apparently working on a piece about Harrellson.
Jonathan Cohn offers some insight into Gov. Mitch Daniel’s (R-IN) much touted Medicaid reform program (The Healthy Indiana Plan), which Republicans are presenting as the anti-Obamacare success. Cohn explains that the plan — while built on the conservative philosophy that people would use less care if they had more skin in the came — pairs a high deductible health care plan with a health savings account (standard conservative fare) but also includes some rather progressive elements that are also part of the Affordable Care Act:
In some respects, though, the program is not as conservative as its reputation suggests. For one thing, Healthy Indiana applies cost-sharing with discretion. The monthly contributions into the Power Accounts [ vary between 2 percent and 5 percent of income, with the poorer recipients paying a smaller share than the richer ones. And that’s only for people who have incomes. About one-third of the program’s beneficiaries pay nothing at all. The state also regulates the insurers that participate in Healthy Indiana, requiring that they cover preventative care free of charge. These are the sorts of features favored by liberals, most of whom agree there should be some “skin in the game” but worry about placing excessive burdens on the poor and chronically ill.
Still, Healthy Indiana would not meet most liberals’ expectations — because it doesn’t really qualify as adequate insurance. The program doesn’t require coverage of vision, dental or even maternity care. It also has lifetime caps on benefits, the kind that the very sickest patients inevitably reach. “The track record of Healthy Indiana to date does not show that it is a truly affordable, accessible program for all uninsured adults in Indiana,” says Roos, noting that even token financial contributions can be a real hardship.
That last part about adequate coverage is really key because Medicaid spends most of its money on low-income disabled and elderly population who need chronic care and can’t afford to pay for it. Daniels’ approach — like the general conservative principle about high deductible coverage — won’t work for this population and Republicans in the state seem to be exploring ways to bolster the coverage provisions.
So it’s certainly not perfect, but it’s some kind of a start that offers us an important glimpse of how the GOP’s “skin in the game” health care theories operate in practice.
The Democratic walkout that shut down the Indiana House for five weeks is over, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Democrats were last on the House floor on Feb. 21 and have been in Urbana, Illinois ever since to prevent a quorum and consideration of Republican legislation that they believed was an assault on labor unions and public education.
Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire
Sen. Harry Reid is now giving advice to Speaker John Boehner on what to do about the budget battle.
The nation’s richest are trying to sell us on yet another shell game to keep from paying their fair share of taxes. Their lobbyists are pushing a so-called repatriation tax holiday—a huge cut in the tax rate on money companies are holding outside of the country.
The trick here is that we tried this before and it didn’t work out so well for taxpayers, so of course they want to do it again.
Dave Johnson, writing for the Campaign for America’s Future, spells out how this shell game works: companies manufacture a product in China or some other low-wage country and then sell and resell it through another shell company in a tax haven like the Cayman Islands. That shell then sells it to the U.S. company at a high price. So the profit is in the Caymans, where the cost was low and the sell price was high. And the U.S. company, which made a little profit, pays a low tax. Researchers say this shell game costs taxpayers $ 100 billion a year.
As long as the actual money isn’t brought into the United States, the company’s owners-the very rich (see chart above) don’t pay U.S. taxes on it. So after years of this scheme, a ton of cash—about $ 1 trillion- is sitting in these tax-haven countries. But the rich can’t use the cash to buy mansions, yachts and whatever else in the United States, if it’s sitting in a bank in the Caymans, but they don’t want to taxes on it.
So their lobbyists are trying to get Congress to pass a “repatriation tax holiday” on the profits they are holding outside of the country. They claim bringing the money home at a reduced tax rate would create jobs. But we’ve been burned once by that scheme. In 2004 Congress let corporations bring profits back to the U.S. at a tax rate of 5.25 percent, instead of the top corporate rate of 35 percent.
And the companies that got the money kept on cutting jobs and used the money to repurchase stock or pay dividends — and to send more jobs overseas according to the Congressional Research Service.
So, rather than trying to balance the budget by cutting services, Congress should look at figuring out way to put that $ 100 billion to work for ordinary Americans and not the very wealthy.
Click here to read Johnson’s full column, “Lobbyists Admit Corporate Tax ‘Holiday’ Didn’t Work, But Demand It Again.”
A defensive Brian Williams appeared on Wednesday's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon to explain away Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Libya. He also hit the show's for having a "political 'tude" against the President, complaining, "I've never heard you go into this area before."
After the comedian knocked Obama for "playing soccer in Rio," Williams labeled that "unfair." He added, "The President has scrambled phones. He's got video conferencing."
Following jokes from Fallon about the President's NCAA picks, the NBC Nightly News anchor sarcastically replied, "I think we've seen a little political 'tude coming out tonight. This is interesting."
The journalist did allow that the White House has a perception problem, but continued to defend the President being out of the country: "Even though he's with his daughters and they get very little time off. He's down in South America, three country tour, doing all of the official business."
Williams oddly closed his appearance with an assertion of journalistic independence: "I don't work for [The White House]. I cover them all equally, Democrats, Republicans."
A transcript of the March 23 segment, which aired at 12:50am EDT, follows:
JIMMY FALLON: And it feels like to me, that President Obama is playing soccer in Rio with kids and Hillary Clinton seems to be weirdly stepping up, almost like she's being very presidential, I feel like. Isn't it weird?
BRIAN WILLIAMS: It might be a bit unfair. He- you've got to remember, Jimmy-
WILLIAMS: The machinery of the presidency, a lot like when you travel, the machinery of the presidency comes with the President. When you travel, you get, you know, the Late Night computer and your paging devices, so that decisions back in New York about guests, musical order can be made by you. The President has scrambled phones. He's got video conferencing. He's got the three big Irishmen in his life, [Tom] Donlan, Brennan and [William]Daley, who are part of his inner circle. He's got all of his people. They are all reachable. While he may come back early from this trip to South America, I think the command and control- American people like to see the President in the White House.
FALLON: But, why is he there again?
WILLIAMS: Well, this was a trip that, to have cancelled this-
FALLON: It costs so much money? [Laughs]
WILLIAMS: Yeah, right.
FALLON: He can't get a refund? Come on. what is going down? He's making NCAA- doing his brackets on ESPN. I'm like, "Who is advising this?"
WILLIAMS: Wow. I think- I think we've seen a little political 'tude coming out tonight. This is interesting.
FALLON: Come on. A little.
WILLIAMS: I think this is interesting. I've never heard you go into this area before.
FALLON : I don't usually do it, but I feel like- I get upset. I go, what- I mean, I have better people advising me than the President does.
WILLIAMS: Actually, I've met your staff.
FALLON: Yeah, and- Yeah, you're right.
WILLIAMS: Just one thing to remember. Every cruise missile, about like $ 1 million, 162 of those, think of what goes into launching each one.
FALLON:: Sure, yeah, yeah.
WILLIAMS: Target selection, all of that. It's-
FALLON: I mean, it's a tough job. It's a crazy job.
WILLIAMS: You feel like you have to hang on to something.
FALLON: I'm always- I'm very patriotic. I'm always rooting for the President. I just feel like- I feel like I want to hear from him.
WILLIAMS: Well this is a tough perception. The White House has to deal with this. Because, seriously, if you're saying it and you do hear this across America, it means it's real. And it means they've got to deal with the perception. Even though he's with his daughters and they get very little time off. He's down in South America, three country tour, doing all of the official business. I don't work for them. I cover them all equally, Democrats, Republicans. They've got an appearance issue, if you're saying they do. You have that kind of sway across this country.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.
Part of Barbour’s secret, colleagues say, is that unlike many politicians, he has no qualms about asking for money.
"I’ve been there when he asks someone for a million dollars, and he enjoys it," said Henry Barbour, his nephew and top political advisor.
(via GOP 12)
By Ilya Shapiro
For almost two year now, Cato has been running a highly successful legal associate program. Talented recent law school grads have come to work for us during the time that their law firms have “deferred” their start dates (from a few months to a full year), with commensurate stipends. The firm deferral phenomenon seems to be mostly played out as firms have adjusted their employment policies, but some law schools are now picking up the slack by creating post-grad fellowships with similar conditions.
Now that we’re again approaching graduation season, I thought I’d put out another call for more potential legal associates. We can always use the extra brain, you can always use Cato on your resume, and your firms/schools can always use your getting substantive legal experience/counting as “employed” for US News rankings – we all win!
And so, the Cato Institute invites graduating (and recently graduated) law students and others with firm deferrals or post-grad funding – or simply a period of unemployment – to apply to work at our Center for Constitutional Studies. This is an opportunity to assist projects ranging from Supreme Court amicus briefs to policy papers to the Cato Supreme Court Review. Start/end dates are flexible. Interested students and graduates should email a cover letter, resume, transcript, and writing sample, along with any specific details of their availability to Jonathan Blanks at [email protected]. Note again that this announcement is for a non-paying job: we’ll give you a workspace, good experience, and an entree into the DC policy world, but we will not help your financial bottom line. You don’t have to be a deferred law firm associate or funded by your school, but you do have to be able to afford not being paid by us.
Please feel free to pass the above information to your friends and colleagues.
For information on Cato’s programs for non-graduating students — or graduates who would like to be part of our internship program (which does come with some minimal compensation) – contact Joey Coon at [email protected].
I had just finished paying for some magazines at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport before heading back to San Diego when the cashier asked me:
“Do you want some gum with that?”
“No,” I told her.”
“A newspaper? “
“How about a candy bar?”
“No!! Just the magazines.”
I went to my doctor due to a stomach problem. After the exam the doctor asked me:
“Do you want a prostate exam with that?”
“How about that exam where I grab you where the government does and say, ‘Now cough’?”
“No. I just wanted the physical.”
“A face lift?”
It’s called suggestive selling.. Sales mavens absolutely insist that that this so-called “add on selling” is the easiest and cheapest way to increase sales and customer satisfaction. And here I always thought it was just pushy, obnoxious, aggressive, pain-in-the-posterior selling. But they insist it works. Books, CDs, tapes, costly workshops, detailed employee training programs – all focus on suggestive selling which “gives customers options.” It’s a nice way of saying pestering someone until they break down and they agree to buy something else.
And these days EVERYONE is doing it.
For instance, right after President Barack Obama decided to tilt on the side of the Arab League on Libya and make the U.S. part of the no fly zone coalition, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turned to him:
“Mr. President. How about we do a little more than the no fly zone?”
“A teeny weenie bit more?”
“Gaddafi’s lying to us and still butchering his people. How about we lob a few missiles his way?”
“How about we lob more than a few missiles? How about we send out 100 missiles at a total cost of $ 100 million in a single day? That’ll make a dent!”
“Do you want some gum with that?”
“How about some cigarettes?”
”YES! But don’t tell Michelle.”
GO HERE to read the rest.