Saturday, December 29, 2012

Why Romney And Ryan Didn't Cut It

Romney never had it in him--

Romney And Ryan Didn't Cut It In A Time For Radicalism - Forbes: " . . . Some thought Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan hinted at radicalism, but the much-ballyhooed “Ryan Plan” wasn’t radical. On the contrary, it was designed to shore up the entitlement state and still would add trillions more to the national debt. Ryan’s plan to gradually reduce deficits over the course of a decade might have sounded reasonable on paper, but does anybody think that the American public has the self-discipline to adhere faithfully to a fiscal diet for 10 straight years? Dream on! For decades, the Republicans have let the Democrats set the agenda, expanding the power and scope of the federal government and spending far beyond federal revenues. The Republicans have been reactive, agreeing to the basic premises of the transfer society while generally trying to slow the rate of growth in spending (although Nixon and Bush II took the line of least political resistance andspent as merrily as any Democrat not named Obama). The result is that Republicans are too stingy for liberals and too profligate for true conservatives and libertarians. . . . "

They're all Hogs at the Trough.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Social Security changes challenge Democrats

Some people (mainly Democrats in regard to Social Security) just can't handle the truth--

Social Security changes challenge Democrats | ". . . The term refers to changing how inflation is calculated, affecting a slew of policies including Social Security benefits and marginal tax rates. The government currently uses the consumer price index, based on a fixed set of goods. A “chained” consumer price index takes into account the fact that people are likely to substitute more expensive goods for cheaper ones as prices shift, and many economists argue it is a more effective measure of inflation. And in a town looking for ways to save money, it’s a bonanza: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a group pushing the chained CPI as part of a budget deal that follows the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s outline, estimates the switch would save $236 billion over the next decade if implemented in 2014. . . . "

Hogs at the Trough and the Trough will soon be Empty!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Unsustainable Public Worker Pay and Pensions in California

Unsustainable Public Worker Pay in CA — California Political Review: "Last week, Bloomberg News reported that California has the highest paid state workers in the 12 largest states by population.  But that didn’t tell the entire story. Sure, California has the highest paid public workers. But it also has the highest median income. Adjusting for median income levels, California still has one of the highest levels of public employee pay, as shown in Table A below. But that doesn’t tell the bigger story about the huge submerged public pension iceberg approaching California.  It isn’t only pay levels, but benefit levels that are going to overwhelm California local government budgets. . . ."

California is going down--now it is just a matter of time.

Hogs at the Trough and the Trough Will Soon Be Empty!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Owner of mental health chain pleads guilty to stealing millions from Medicare

Miami to North Carolina to . . . .

Miami owner of mental health chain pleads guilty to stealing millions from Medicare - Miami-Dade - "Kept behind bars because of fears he might flee to Cuba, Armando “Manny” Gonzalez has pleaded guilty to stealing tens of millions of dollars from Medicare by fraudulently billing the taxpayer-funded program through a mental health chain in Miami and North Carolina. Gonzalez, 50, a convicted cocaine trafficker who joined the Medicare rackets in the mid-2000 era, had opened a pair of mental health clinics in the Kendall and Cutler Bay areas. By 2008, Gonzalez suspected the feds were on to him, so the one-time Miami-Dade resident exported himself and his business to North Carolina. Before his arrest last May, he was planning to open another psychotherapy clinic in Tennessee. . . . The ALF operators were accused of taking bribes from Gonzalez in exchange for supplying a steady stream of patients, many of whom suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. They could not have benefitted from the therapy, prosecutors said. . . . ""

"Medicare rackets"-- this guy is just one of many!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thousands of public employee retirees draw pension and salary simultaneously

When can one be "retired" and work at the same time? When you retire from/work for the government!--

Report: Thousands of public employee retirees draw pension, salary simultaneously: ". . . From substitute teachers to cabinet secretaries, thousands of public employees in Wisconsin who retired in recent years returned to work, allowing them to earn both a paycheck and a state pension, according to a Legislative Audit Bureau report released Friday. And while many employees and employers like the arrangement, the system can be abused, the report found. The state lawmaker who blew the whistle on the practice last year, Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, thinks it's time for it to be abolished. "Steve is pretty emphatic — he thinks the report indicates double dipping needs to end," Nass spokesman Mike Mikalsen said. But Employee Trust Funds Secretary Robert Conlin said the audit bureau report supports continuation of the practice but with measures to crack down on those who cheat the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) by pre-arranging their return to government service. . . . "


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Right-to-work comes to Michigan

Michigan, surprisingly, is actually trying to iterate--

Right-to-work comes just in time for Michigan - Diana Furchtgott-Roth - MarketWatch: "Democrats tend to be pro-choice on abortion, but they don’t want to give workers any choice about union membership. Witness the howls of rage this week when Michigan’s Republican legislature ruled that workers won’t be required to join a union or to pay fees to unions as a condition of employment. Governor Rick Snyder signed the bill on Tuesday, so Michigan will join neighboring Indiana as a so-called right-to-work state on April 1, 2013. Only police and firefighters will be exempt. Read Wall Street Journal story “Unions Dealt Blow in UAW’s Home State.” By state statute, the new law cannot be overturned by a referendum because it contains an appropriation ($1 million for the law’s implementation and worker education activities). . . . However, this approach didn’t work in Wisconsin, where unions spent millions of members’ dues in a futile attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker, who eliminated collective bargaining for public workers. Michigan is the 24th right-to-work state, following Indiana, which became the 23rd state on Feb. 1, 2012. So far, over 200 companies have announced they will move to Indiana or expand existing operations in the state, and 90 cited the right-to-work law as a factor. . . ."


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Illinois - another new pension reform plan

Still "spinning their wheels" in Illinois--or some would say, "fiddling while Rome burns"--

Illinois rank-and-file lawmakers float new pension reform plan - "Under the proposal, retirees would get an annual cost-of-living increase on only the first $25,000 of their pensions, $20,000 for those who also get Social Security. Retirement ages would not rise for people 46 and older, but a phase-in would increase retirement ages by as much as five years for people 34 and under. Current retirement ages vary, such as 60 for rank-and-file state workers and 55 for prison guards. Employee contributions would rise 1 percentage point the first year and another percentage point the second year. Contributions for rank-and-file state workers now are about 7 percent, according to the union. The proposal also would make it clear that a failure by public employers, such as the state or a school district, would be grounds for a lawsuit if they didn't make proper annual payments — a major reason that many public retirement systems are underfunded. New public school teachers and state university workers would be part of a cash-balance plan, sort of a hybrid between a plan that guarantees employees a certain benefit and also partly relies on investment returns. The plan comes as Illinois faces a pension debt of as much as $96 billion, the worst in the nation. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has noted that increased pension payments in the coming years could cut into how much the state has left to spend on education and other government services."

Likelihood of passing? Probably zero.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Malibu residents move dead whale -- government fails

Doesn't the following story sound typical?

Malibu residents move whale carcass, ignoring red tape - "For days, a whale was left decaying -- and smelling -- on a Malibu beach as government officials debated what to do. On Saturday night, the rotting carcass of a 40-foot fin whale was quietly pulled out to sea by a private tugboat hired by Malibu residents who were tired of its stench. After days of official bickering over whose responsibility it was to deal with the landlocked leviathan, a local homeowners association stepped in, according to Fire Inspector Brian Riley. Members hired a private company to bring a tugboat to remove what was left of the 40,000-pound whale, which had washed ashore last Monday, already dead. The whale had suffered a wound to the back, perhaps the result of a collision with a boat. The tug towed the carcass some 20 miles offshore -- far enough that the remains are not expected to reappear, Riley said. . . . Previously, state and local officials said they were not sure they could accomplish the feat before higher tides arrived this weekend. . . ."

Obviously they (government officials) were right--they couldn't get the job done. I wonder who broke the news to them?


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Bring Home the Bacon"

Fox 2 News Headlines

Detroit councilwoman to Obama: We voted for you, now bail us out - Fox 2 News Headlines: "City Council member JoAnn Watson said Tuesday the citizens support of Obama in last month's election was enough reason for the president to bailout the struggling the city. (Click the video player to listen) "Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo and you ought to exercise leadership on that," said Watson. "Of course, not just that, but why not?" Nearly 75 percent of Wayne County voters pulled the lever for Obama in November. "After the election of Jimmy Carter, the honorable Coleman Alexander Young, he went to Washington, D.C. He came home with some bacon," said Watson. "That's what you do." Young served as Detroit's mayor for 20 years and served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1977 to 1981."

It's all about "bringing home the bacon."


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Municipal and state pension hemorrhage accelerating

KEEGAN: Note to Morningstar: Municipal and state pension hemorrhage accelerating « Watchdog News: "As a leading provider of investment research, Morningstar is taking an interest in government pensions because there is an intense legal debate about who gets paid first, pensioners or bondholders, when a municipality defaults or a state simply runs out of money even though it cannot declare bankruptcy. Numerous recent studies by a wide array of economists calculated that as presently operated, all defined benefit public pension funds will run out of money, some sooner, some later, but all eventually. Reforms 33 years ago intended to put government pensions on an actuarially sound basis failed. The Government Accountability Office warned in a1979 report, Funding of State and Local Government Pension Plans: A National Problem, “To protect the pension benefits earned by public employees and to avert fiscal disaster, State and local governments should fund on an annual basis the normal or current cost of their pension plans and amortize the plans’ unfunded liabilities.” State and local politicians did not, and they are proving now they never will. The defined benefit pension system is fundamentally, systemically flawed and prey to what actuaries call “moral hazard.” Politicians can make promises they know they won’t have to keep and pile up debts they won’t have to pay. To one degree or another, that is what is happening in every state and municipality, and there is nothing under the existing system to stop it. The only solution is to freeze defined benefit plans now, amortize the existing debt and shift to defined contribution or hybrid cash balance plans. . . . "

Answer: abolish all public pensions. Replace with self-funded tax-sheltered retirement accounts for everyone, including government workers.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bing Said City Workers Feel Entitled

Bing Said City Workers Feel ‘Entitled,’ Says His Job Second Only To Obama’s « CBS Detroit: "Managing expectations is his day-to-day position against people who believe the mayor can solve all of Detroit’s problems is the hardest thing he deals with every day. That’s according to an interview Detroit Mayor Dave Bing did with CNN where he talked about the community’s deep problems and how he plans to solve them. “We are in an environment, I think, of entitlement, we’ve got a lot of people who are city workers, who for years and years, 20, 30 years, think they are entitled to a job and all that comes with it,” Bing said."

Government workers feel entitled? Hogs at the Trough!


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FHA another Fannie or Freddie?

In an F.H.A. Checkup, a Startling Number - "DO we have another Fannie or Freddie on our hands — another mortgage giant headed for a rescue? Like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before it, the Federal Housing Administration is suffering in a mortgage hell of its own making. F.H.A. officials say they won’t need taxpayers’ help, but we’ve heard that kind of line before. The F.H.A. backs $1.1 trillion of American mortgages and, by the look of things, it’s in deep trouble. Last year, its mortgage insurance fund was valued at $1.2 billion. Today that fund is valued at negative$13.48 billion. . . . The F.H.A., a unit of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is not about to stop insuring mortgages. Its officials say that without the F.H.A., people would have a tougher time getting home loans, and the housing market would suffer. (The F.H.A. insures loans of up to $729,750 in certain areas and requires down payments as low as 3.5 percent.) But the sharp decline in the fund’s value is a stark reminder that the mortgage mess is still very much with us, even as the real estate market seems to be recovering. In November 2011, for example, the F.H.A.’s auditor projected that the fund’s value would climb to $9.5 billion this year. The agency acknowledged that its financial position is a hostage to insured loans that still have “significant foreclosure and claim activity yet to occur.” Whether the F.H.A. will have to turn to the Treasury for help, of course, remains to be seen. . . ."

Housing and mortgage mess continues.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Public pensions in Puerto Rico face possible insolvency

Puerto Rico may become the 51st state--but it looks like it is in the same sad state as California and Illinois--

Public pensions in Puerto Rico face possible insolvency | Retirement Income Journal - The information forum of the decumulation industry.: "After shortchanging its public retirement funds for years, Puerto Rico now has the weakest major public pension system in America, according to a report in yesterday’s New York Times.    The main fund, which serves about 250,000 government workers, current and retired, is only 6% funded and could run out of money as early as 2014. Another fund, for about 80,000 teachers, which is 20% funded, is in almost as bad shape. Police officers and teachers in Puerto Rico rely entirely on their pensions, having opted out of Social Security. The commonwealth itself has had trouble issuing bonds at attractive rates to cover its short-term financing needs. “For now, I’m not totally shaken about the possibility of the fund going broke,” said Jorge Ramón Román, a 78-year-old retired instructor for the island’s Civil Air Patrol. “But I do fear for the future, when I’ll be an even older person, more infirm and with less of a pension.”"

Answer: abolish public pensions, allow self-funded retirement funds, and expand Social Security