June 15, 2012
We Don’t Need No Education
By PAUL KRUGMAN, New York Times, June 14, 2012
Hope springs eternal. For a few hours I was ready to applaud Mitt Romney for speaking honestly about what his calls for smaller government actually mean. …. In the remarks Mr. Romney later tried to deny, he derided President Obama: “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Then he declared, “It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” …. For once, he actually admitted what he and his allies mean when they talk about shrinking government. Conservatives love to pretend that there are vast armies of government bureaucrats doing who knows what; in reality, a majority of government workers are employed providing either education (teachers) or public protection (police officers and firefighters). …. But the more relevant question for the moment is whether the public job cuts Mr. Romney applauds are good or bad for the economy. And we now have a lot of evidence bearing on that question.
America’s Looming Pension Shock
MARK FUNKHOUSER | JUNE 14, 2012, Governing
…. State and local elected officials across the country are moving ever more boldly and aggressively to rein in pension costs, cutting benefits and increasing employee contributions. But Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School in New York City and author of "When I'm Sixty-Four: the Plot against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them," would tell these government leaders that cuts in government workers' pension benefits are contributing to another impending crisis that they should begin to think about. The poverty rate for people over age 65 dropped dramatically over the last several decades. Today it is the lowest of any age group, at about 9 percent. The aged vote, and so they drove the creation of a system of programs that lifted them out of poverty. That system has virtually disintegrated, but we have not yet felt the shock. We will. …. Smart public officials like John Nixon need to begin to consider the ramifications of the coming steep decline in the standard of living of millions of older constituents.
The Clown and the Cop
By TIMOTHY EGAN, New York Times, June 14, 2012, 9:00 PM
…. In Romney’s view, these public servants are dishonorable, and maybe even less American … Again, this is simply not true. Under Obama, public sector employment has fallen by more than 600,000 workers. Obama has tried to increase these rolls — adding teachers, cops and firefighters under federal grants used for the last 50 years — but has been stymied by a Congress that wants to end his presidency by sabotaging the economy. And so long as people believe government money is more likely to be spent on a clown instead of a cop, the Congress can act without consequence.
Senate panel rejects attempt to overturn labor board ruling
By Erik Wasson - 06/14/12 11:36 AM ET, The Hill
Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday blocked a Republican attempt to overturn a National Labor Relations Board ruling that would allow unions to form smaller bargaining units. The amendment to the 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services measure was defeated on a 15-to-15 vote after a heated clash between Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was pushing for the overturn, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). Sen. Mark Pryor (R-Ark.), whose state is home to Wal-Mart, was the only Democrat voting in favor of the ban.
In Ohio, Obama and Romney Both Offer Few New Economic Proposals
JUN 14 2012, 3:38 PM, The Atlantic
Neither President Obama nor former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said anything on Thursday that Ohioans hadn't heard a million times before. Every four years stretching back decades, presidential candidates swing through Cleveland and Cincinnati and towns in between to proclaim middle-class workers are getting screwed and that if we just cut taxes, or make better government investments, or crack down on China, everything will be all right again for the hard-working people of the state.
House Dems lay out path to majority
By Josh Lederman, The Hill, 06/14/12 05:05 PM ET
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a memo released Thursday, laid out the math behind their argument that Democrats can flip the 25 seats they need to reclaim the majority in the House. Buoyed by their victory on Tuesday in the special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the DCCC offered five reasons they believe the odds are in their favor. Among them, they say redistricting improved the map for Democrats, that voters prefer their candidates in generic-ballot polls and that Democrats have put more than enough seats in play.
Inside Koch World
By: Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico, June 15, 2012 04:35 AM EDT
The Koch brothers’ political operation has increasingly come to resemble its own political party — and later this month in San Diego, it will hold what amounts to its most ambitious convention to date. Many of the dozens of rich conservative invitees are expected to write huge checks to a pool of cash distributed among Koch-approved groups, potentially boosting the Kochs’ 2012 spending plan beyond their historic $395 million goal. And it’s also a chance for the Kochs to show off their increasingly robust political machine, including a growing voter database project called Themis that played a major role in conservatives’ recent efforts in Wisconsin and in which POLITICO has learned Koch operatives have discussed investing $20 million. … Attendees are warned not to “post updates or information about the meeting on blogs, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, or in traditional media articles,” according to a packet distributed to participants at the June 2010 session that was obtained and posted by the liberal blog ThinkProgress.
'Moneyball' Godfather Bill James Tackles Politics In Super PAC Age
Sam Stein, huffingtonpost.com, : 06/15/2012 6:38 am
…. For underfunded campaigns in need of a quick boost, attention has turned away from far-reaching policy proposals like immigration reform and toward campaign operational features. Democrats have invested heavily in get-out-the-vote operations. The union super PAC, Workers' Voice, has made it an almost exclusive focus, while the Obama campaign has sought to soothe supporter anxiety over Romney's fundraising superiority by noting how much further ahead they are in ground-game operations. The strategy is a logical extension of the Obama campaign's grassroots operation in 2008, as well as labor's traditional role in organizing.
Americans want to cut the deficit, but they’re loath to give up much to do it
Suzy Khimm, Washington Post, 09:00 AM ET, 06/15/2012
…. “Americans don’t like most of the big changes that would be necessary to reduce the deficit in a meaningful way, explains Pew Research Center president Andrew Kohut in a new brief on the issue…. While they overwhelmingly support reducing the deficit, more Americans would prefer to increase than reduce spending in nearly every major policy area, from Medicare to aid to the needy, Kohut points out, citing a 2011 Pew Research poll. There are only two areas where more Americans want to cut spending than increase it: unemployment benefits and foreign aid, neither of which would make much of a dent in the deficit. There is some support for changes on the tax side, particularly for provisions hitting wealthier Americans.
Medicaid Fraud Audits Cost Five Times Amount U.S. Found
By Alex Wayne - Jun 14, 2012 12:01 AM ET, Bloomberg
A program to fight fraud in the Medicaid health system for the poor has cost the U.S. at least $102 million in auditing fees since 2008 while identifying less than $20 million in overpayments, investigators found. The majority of the audits conducted by 10 companies were discontinued, produced “low or no findings” or were “put on hold,” the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, said today in a report. Three companies won’t have their contracts renewed, and two others will be reassigned, said Peter Budetti, the director of program integrity at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Editorial: RomneyCare, the sequel, falls short
USA Today, June 15, 2012
…. Mitt Romney got it right the first time: As governor of Massachusetts, he championed a plan that required virtually everyone to have health insurance and provided subsidies for those who couldn't afford it.
With Justices Set to Rule on Health Law, 2 Parties Strategize
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and MICHAEL D. SHEAR, New York Times, June 14, 2012
House Republicans are not waiting for the Supreme Court verdict on the new health care law to plot their strategic response. If the measure is not thrown out entirely, House leaders plan to force a vote immediately to repeal the law to reinforce their deep opposition to the legislation, opposition that has become central to their political identity. ….. House Democrats have been issued a “pocket card” to carry with them, spelling out in big numbers how the law has already helped people: 86 million who have received free preventive care, 105 million who no longer face a lifetime cap on benefits, and as many as 17 million children who can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing health conditions.
Red states eye health exchanges
By: J. Lester Feder, Politico, June 14, 2012 10:38 PM EDT
Some conservative experts see reason to hope the states that have been fighting the health care reform law could become hotbeds of health policymaking if the Affordable Care Act fails. They say the work many red states have been quietly doing to comply with the law in case they lose in the Supreme Court could be repurposed to create state-based reforms on a more conservative model. Some states, for instance, may look at their own version of Utah’s small-business insurance exchange.
Case Studies / Insurance companies and public hospitals worry about a future without an individual mandate. Hospitals may have the most reason to be concerned.
by Margot Sanger-Katz, National Journal June 14, 2012 | 3:00 p.m.
A Supreme Court decision to strike down the individual mandate in the 2010 health care law but leave the rest standing could have repercussions that are different from those widely expected. The insurance industry, often seen as the biggest potential loser in such a scenario, might not be as adversely affected as its representatives are predicting. Meanwhile, a less-noticed cog in the health care system—public hospitals that treat lots of poor and uninsured patients—could face significant hardships.
Lawmakers Question Small-Business Group's Funding
By ANGUS LOTEN, Wall Street Journal, June 14, 2012, 5:37 p.m. ET
…. The National Federal of Independent Business, a non-profit small-business lobby based in Washington, D.C. with roughly 340,000 members, is a lead plaintiff in the legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act, initially launched by 13 states back in May 2010. … The group, whose members typically have 10 to 15 employees, says it brought the lawsuit on behalf of small-business owners – many of whom are struggling with weak sales and can't afford health-care coverage, as required under the law. It says that mandate is unconstitutional. But in a letter this week to NFIB president Dan Danner, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of more than 70 House Democrats, questioned the NFIB's ties to "corporate-funded activist groups," rather than small firms.
Many Lacked Preventive Care Before Health Reform Law: U.S. Report / Only about half of American adults got screenings, medications to ward off disease
June 14, 2012 RSS (HealthDay News) US News & World Report,
Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, only about half of U.S. adults received preventive health services such as screenings, consultations and prescriptions, government researchers report. Increased use of preventive health services could save tens of thousands of lives, according to the researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PRISONS, COLLEGES, AND THE PRIVATE-SECTOR DELUSION
Margaret Talbot, THE NEW YORKER JUNE 14, 2012
Republicans have been touting the inherent superiority of the private sector over the public at least since the Reagan era, but in the past few years it seems to have congealed into an unassailable mantra: the free market as the ultimate guarantor of good services, low costs, and a free and happy citizenry. ……. Like the for-profit college industry—but with a longer track record—the for-profit prison industry devotes ample funds to lobbying and to campaign donations. As a result, it has been able to keep alive the notion that it does the job more efficiently than public prisons, even when evidence to the contrary keeps piling up.
AFL-CIO Now, 6/14/2012 Mike Hall
A federal judge in Texas today blocked an election by 10,000 American Airlines passenger service agents that the National Mediation Board (NMB) last week ordered to begin June 21. Last month, American filed suit against the NMB’s decision to allow the workers to vote on joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA).
CA: Court workers offer unpaid work to reduce layoffs
By Kevin Roderick | June 14, 2012 10:55 PM, LA Observed
The union that represents some of the Los Angeles Superior Court support staff facing layoffs on Friday offered to have workers go unpaid for one work day a month in lieu of the job reductions. ….. Starting Friday morning, the legal paper says, "the court will lay off 157 employees and shift another 108 from full-time to part-time status, as it seeks to cut $30 million from its budget. "Officials with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a union representing about 20 of the workers losing their jobs, said they offered furloughs in a Thursday meeting with court officials. In the meeting, union representatives told court officials that all of the roughly 1,300 AFSCME workers at the court would voluntarily work one day a month without pay to ensure no AFSCME members would lose their jobs.
CA: LA mayor eyes possible referendum on pension reform
June 14, 2012|Barbara Liston | Reuters
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on Thursday he was prepared to take public pension reform directly to voters next year after recent referendums approved cutting pensions in two of California's biggest cities. "We're proposing it to the City Council. If they don't pass it, we're going to put it on the ballot," Villaraigosa told Reuters in Orlando where he is presiding as president of the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors.
CA: Thousands of Protestors Say “Enough” to More IHSS Cuts; Dozens Arrested at Capitol
15 June 2012 By Laura Reyes, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, California Progress Report
A record-breaking 10-day campaign by thousands of IHSS providers and consumers from throughout the state reached its crescendo June 13th as some five thousand IHSS consumers and members of UDW Homecare Providers Union, SEIU, and California United Homecare Workers rallied at the State Capitol.
CA budget bill deletes state worker furlough language -- for now
Sacbee.com, June 14, 2012
The Legislature's 2012-13 state budget proposal eliminates language that Gov. Jerry Brown proposed that would have allowed him to furlough or make other payroll-cutting moves against rank-and-file state workers if their unions refused to negotiate a 5 percent pay reduction. The unions have been pushing Democrats in the Legislature to make the change, which strengthens their position in negotiations with the administration to cut a total $839 million from the state's payroll costs.
CA: San Diego and San Jose Voters Approve Sweeping Public Sector Pension Reforms
Friday, June 15, 2012 By Randall Jensen, Bond Buyer
…. Unions in both cities filed lawsuits before and after the election to try and block the pension changes. San Jose employee unions contend the changes violate the state constitution and impair legally protected, vested retirement benefits. …. In San Diego, a judge Wednesday heard a union challenge that had been delayed until after the election. The suit argues that the city had an obligation to meet and confer with unions before putting the initiative on the ballot since the mayor is an author of the proposition and lead negotiator with the unions. … At least one such reformer, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has demonstrated the courage to become highly unpopular among a large segment of the state electorate in order to restore fiscal health and build a populist coalition that crosses party lines. He's paid a price, but his enemies may wind up paying a higher one.
Connecticut Adds Jobs in May, Unemployment Ticks Up
By MARA LEE The Hartford Courant, 12:27 p.m. EDT, June 14, 2012
…. The May data shows 1,400 jobs were added to the state's economy. In the last year, the private sector has added 9,900 jobs, but job cuts in state and local government has meant that the overall job tally is only up 6,200. …. The number of government jobs dropped by 1.5 percent in the last year.
FL: Jackson Health System chairman: Hospitals must change to turn around insolvency
BY JOHN DORSCHNER, MIAMIHERALD.COM 06.14.12
With the recent layoffs of more than 900 persons and other cost-cutting, “maybe we have stabilized the patient, but now we have to prepare ourself for the 12-hour ... complicated brain surgery,” Lapciuc said at the board’s monthly day of committee meetings.
Florida voters roll listed Gov. Rick Scott as dead in 2006
Marc Caputo | The Miami Herald • June 15, 2012
Rick Scott was shocked. He was dead. Or at least that’s what he was told when he went to cast an early vote ballot in 2006 at Naples City Hall. “You can’t vote because you’re dead,” Scott — who’s now embroiled in a voter-purge controversy as Florida governor — recalls a poll worker saying. “You passed away, according to our voter rolls.” So Scott pulled out his driver’s license and insisted he was alive. ….. For Scott, the experience helped bolster his feeling that provisional ballots aren’t all bad, contrary to the fears of liberal-leaning voting-rights advocates who have bashed Scott’s push to purge the Florida voting rolls of noncitizens.
FL: Senate President Mike Haridopolos steered millions to company with connections
By Carol Marbin Miller and Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, Thursday, June 14, 2012
When a politically connected company was in danger of losing a $9.4 million no-bid contract with the state, Senate President Mike Haridopolos came to the rescue of the outfit — a firm that employs his good friend and political benefactor as a lobbyist. …. The move allowed Evidence Based Associates, a Washington-based probation program, the exclusive contract to handle the state effort to divert at-risk youth from costly prison beds into community programs. The company kept the business despite recent reports that it had failed to comply with key terms of the agreement — and to the chagrin of a long list of providers who wanted to compete for the work.
IL: Records might shed light on facility closures
June 14, 2012 6:00 am • BY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern
State purchasing records may shed some light about which state facilities Gov. Pat Quinn plans to shut down in the coming months. In February, as part of a budget-cutting maneuver, the Chicago Democrat threatened to lay off nearly 3,000 state employees working at scores of large and small state facilities. While the budget approved by lawmakers last month provides enough money to continue operating the targeted prisons, developmental centers and psychiatric hospitals, Quinn could nonetheless still close some or all of the facilities.
IL: AFSCME: Woman injured after being moved from JDC
By DOUG FINKE The State Journal-Register Jun 15, 2012
The largest state employee union says a former Jacksonville Developmental Center resident was injured after she was hurriedly moved out of JDC and into a community-based home. In a letter to the state Department of Human Services, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said a private contractor hired by the state to move residents out of JDC is ignoring guidelines designed to ensure residents’ best interests are protected. The union said residents are sometimes being moved with just 48 hours notice, and objections from JDC’s professional staff are being ignored.
MI: EM repeal measure clears hurdle for ballot
JUNE 14, 2012 BY CURT GUYETTE, Metro Times
An air of jubilation filled the auditorium at the AFSCME building in downtown Detroit on Thursday as members of the Stand Up for Democracy coalition celebrated a victory in their fight to have Michigan’s emergency manager law overturned. “Rumors of the death of democracy in Michigan are somewhat premature,” announced coalition attorney Herb Sanders.
Michigan Senate holds off on pension reform vote, educators say they'll now plan budget cuts
Thursday, June 14, 2012, 7:48 PM By Dave Murray | mlive.com
State Senators backed away from a plan to overhaul teacher retirement and healthcare plans, frustrating educators who say they'll now have to cut budgets and state House leaders who said they had agreed to a deal.
MI: Detroit advisory board to meet
BY DARREN A. NICHOLS THE DETROIT NEWS, JUNE 15, 2012 AT 1:00 AM
A significant milestone in the city's consent agreement with the state takes place today as the nine-member board charged with overseeing Detroit's precarious finances meets for the first time.
MT: Half of state workers in Montana executive branch get raises despite freeze
CHARLES S. JOHNSON Missoulian, June 15, 2012
HELENA – About half of the executive branch employees in state government have received pay increases this fiscal year under the state’s “broadband” pay plan, even though the 2011 Legislature froze their base pay. …. “The unfairness of the broadband is that not every state agency has money,” Eric Feaver, president of the MEA-MFT union, said Thursday. “So the personnel services can be met easier some places than others.“
NJ: Democrats' tax cut deal would be based on state hitting revenue figures, sources say
Thursday, June 14, 2012, 10:41 AM By Jarrett Renshaw/NJ.com
Gov. Chris Christie may get a tax cut, but he'll have to earn it. The framework of a deal hammered out by Democrats includes a tax cut, but only if certain economic conditions are met, such as Christie hitting his own revenue targets, according to two sources who are familiar with the plans but not authorized to speak about it publicly. ….. Estimated revenue shortfalls for the state range from about $705 million, which the Christie administration has projected, to $1.4 billion offered by the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services through the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
NM: Pay List on State Website Spurs Suit
By Dan Boyd / Journal, Fri, Jun 15, 2012
New Mexico’s largest public employee union is arguing that Gov. Susana Martinez provided too much sunshine – and violated state law -by posting the names and salaries of rank-and-file state government employees on a state-run online database. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18 filed a lawsuit this week in state District Court in Albuquerque to compel Martinez to remove the information added last year to the state’s Sunshine Portal. … “It’s our position that the portal law was written pretty clearly to protect rank-and-file employees from having their names associated with their salaries,” Albuquerque attorney Shane Youtz said.
WI: Gov. Scott Walker to Mitt Romney: Channel your inner Ronald Reagan
By Linda Feldmann, / June 14, 2012 The Christian Science Monitor
If he could have a do-over, Gov. Scott Walker (R) of Wisconsin says he would have done a lot more explaining before he pushed for austerity measures that cut the collective bargaining rights of most public unions in his state.
Wisconsin governor remains defiant on health care law
By Larry Bivins, Gannett, June 15, 2012
Even if the nation's high court upholds the health care reform law, Gov. Scott Walker's administration would then pin its hopes of evading the law's reform mandates on the outcome of the presidential and Senate elections in November, the governor said Thursday.
WI: Union leaders worried about right-to-work despite Gov. Walker denial
The Business Journal by Rich Rovito, Friday, June 15, 2012
Organized labor leaders are preparing to educate private-sector union members about right-to-work legislation in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker’s convincing victory in a recall election over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
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