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By Ron Brzoska

I was going to blog about how bad a deal the Obama Administration brokered with Iran, but last night news came out of an even worse deal: the Illinois Pension Reform Deal that Illinois lawmakers are being brought back to Springfield to vote on next week.

The point of pension reform is different depending on who you ask. The public employees receiving the pensions want the current pension rules preserved. The public employee unions want that to go one step further and preserve the pension rules for future generations as well. The tax payers want lower taxes. The legislators want to make everyone happy while keeping the state solvent. As you can see, that is the General Assembly’s problem. They can’t accomplish their goal. They can’t keep everyone happy and pay all of the bills. They have to pick a side, and they are caught in a Catch-22 situation. Whatever they pick is going to upset a lot of people… enough people that they fear for their re-elections. With so many competing interests, the goal should be to satisfy only one master: math. Anyone else that is happy is a bonus. If we don’t satisfy the math, then no one is going to be happy. We will have failed everyone.

For that reason, the General Assembly should reject this latest compromise bill. The key points can be found here in this Illinois Review story. http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2013/11/pension-reform-details-released.html#more

The math just isn’t there. This reform will not do anything to keep the pension system solvent or keep Illinoisans from seeing significant tax increases. I don’t pretend to be a pension system expert, nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I do know that 1 +1 = 2. Without getting tied up in the minutiae, here is why the newest plan is destined to fail and take us all down with it.

  • Our pension obligations are about $100 billion currently.
  • The state will add supplemental payments to the pension systems beginning in 2019 and totaling $1 billion per year starting in 2020 until 2045. For arguments sake, let us say this is $26 billion. $100-$26 billion is still a $74 billion shortfall. Will the grandfathering in of existing benefits coupled with new COLA adjustments close the gap? It’s hard to believe so. Also, where does this extra money come from? Hmmm… TAXES?
  • Employees will contribute one percent less to their pensions. How does paying in less help fund a pension plan?
  • Pensions are put to the front of the line and paid first before all other state bills. It is admirable that we take care of the retirees and make certain that the promise made to them is fulfilled. No one can say this is bad or irresponsible. However, if this means that more and more vendors are going to be subjected to late or non-payment, then this point only serves to rob Peter to pay Paul. If this requirement forced us to take a hard look at what really are essential state services and it forced us to make real cuts in government, then this could turn out to be an excellent point to rally around. Unfortunately, history has proven that the courage to make the tough decisions is lacking in Springfield.

We have not seen the bill yet, so maybe some of my questions are answered. Common sense however tells you that people only let you see what they want you to see. The lack of details where extra funding for the pensions is to come from, and how exactly all of the math adds up gives new credence to the expression “the devil is in the details.”

By Ron Brzoska

Today we are one more step towards a monarchy. Today Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats chose the “nuclear option” and changed the senate rules on filibusters to allow a simple majority to close a filibuster rather than requiring 60% for the Senate to close debate and call for a vote on judicial appointments. Democrats argue that this is necessary to stop the Republicans from spitefully blocking President Obama’s nominees from appointment. They argue that this stops gridlock and speeds up the business of government.

They are correct. They are correct because you can’t have gridlock without debate. They are correct about speeding up government, because you can’t stop if you remove the brakes. You may still wonder why we should be concerned. Doesn’t this make government more efficient? Doesn’t this stop the senseless bickering? Isn’t it ok because the same rules will apply when Republicans are in charge?

If by being efficient, you mean that there are no longer any checks and balances on presidential appointments, then yes, you would be correct. Going back to my earlier analogy about removing the brakes, does removing the brakes from your car make for a better car, or one that just blows through stop signs? You are not safer. This is not better government. This is a rubber stamp. This means that the only thing that can stop an Obama appointee from confirmation is scandal. The healthy debate over the course of policy in our country will not take place. This is what John Locke referred to as tyranny of the majority. All appointments will be made along party lines. The people are not being considered; agendas are.

But why? Why would the Democrats do this? Why would they have been so much against this in the past that they would do a 180 now? Where did this come from anyway? The truth of the matter is that President Obama will be making judicial appointments soon. In order to stave off the challenges to the executive orders and other overreaches his administration has put in place, he will need a very like-minded activist court that has an evolving interpretation of the Constitution. The ability to filibuster nominations forces President Obama to nominate more moderate judges to these posts in order to avoid filibusters and fill the vacancies. It is not a lock that a moderate judge will agree with the Obama Administration’s interpretation of the constitution and may vote in favor of a more Republican traditional interpretation. By taking away the filibuster, Harry Reid allows the president to appoint the most progressive judicial candidates, thereby insulating their policies from challenge.

If you agree with the policies of President Obama and Senator Reid, then you might tell me that it’s too bad. My side lost, get over it. This is what happens when you win elections. I respond by saying that winning and losing elections is not the point. American government is not supposed to be so knee-jerk. The United States is a representative republic. We cannot deny a party their right to participate. Would it be right if Mitt Romney had won Republicans were behaving the same way? No. It is not about the letter next to the Senator’s name. This is about consensus and cooperation forming policy, not partisanship. President Obama promised to be a post-partisan president. Today’s actions in the senate make him a hyper-partisan president.

capitol

By Ron Brzoska

In the last week there has been a lot of talk regarding the spending caps being removed on the Illinois gubernatorial candidates. It started last week with Republican candidate Bruce Rauner pumping $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. Good for him, there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would refer to this as a non-story because it should never have been a question of would Rauner self-fund his campaign, but when.
Today however, brings us something noteworthy. It was announced that former AllScripts CEO Glen Tullman donated $250,000 to the Rauner campaign. By all accounts, Mr. Tullman is a Democrat. A simple search shows that his history is one of an Obama supporter, Obama-care supporter, frequent visitor to the White House during the Obama administration, health technology advisor to the 2008 Obama campaign, as well as not thought throughout the industry as a person out for himself more than society. Sources are below:

http://www.thedoctorweighsin.com/why-ehrs-really-havent-made-us-healthier-a-response-to-glen-tullman/

http://www.fierceemr.com/story/ex-allscripts-head-glen-tullman-gop-meaningful-use-arguments-incorrect/2013-05-24

http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/tag/glen-tullman/

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/business/a-digital-shift-on-health-data-swells-profits.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1384970508-Dt5ZFt/6xYfSlfGHpvbYYQ

0929_glen-tullman2_320x181
Maybe I’m being hard on the man. Maybe, like many wealthy men (Bruce Rauner included), Tullman gives to both sides of the aisle to hedge his bets. Nope. Tullman’s campaign contribution history in the state of Illinois shows that until Bruce Rauner, all of his donations went to Democrats. http://www.elections.il.gov/campaigndisclosure/ContributionsSearchByAllContributions.aspx?ddlContributionType=All+Types&ddlLastOnlyNameSearchType=Matches&txtLastOnlyName=Tullman&ddlFirstNameSearchType=Matches&txtFirstName=Glen&ddlAddressSearchType=Starts+with&txtAddress=&ddlCitySearchType=Starts+with&txtCity=&ddlState=IL&txtZip=&txtZipThru=&ddlOccupationSearchType=Starts+with&txtOccupation=&ddlEmployerSearchType=Starts+with&txtEmployer=&txtAmount=&txtAmountThru=&txtRcvDate=&txtRcvDateThru=&ddlOrderBy=Last+or+Only+Name+-+A+to+Z&ddlVendorLastOnlyName=Starts+with&txtVendorLastOnlyName=&ddlVendorFirstName=Starts+with&txtVendorFirstName=&ddlVendorAddress=Starts+with&txtVendorAddress=&ddlVendorCity=Starts+with&txtVendorCity=&ddlVendorState=&txtVendorZip=&txtVendorZipThru=&ddlPurpose=Starts+with&txtPurpose=
Tullman’s federal campaign contributions total is $253,156.00. All but $500.00, or 0.2%, went to Democrats. Who was the lucky Republican? Mark Kirk. So if you are like me and recognize the truth that Mark Kirk isn’t really a Republican, then every single dollar that Glen Tullman has spent for political purposes has been for Democrats. http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/qind/
Is it possible that Mr. Tullman has been struck by the light that turned Saul into St. Paul, and he is a born-again conservative? Yes, but doubtful. For those of us that are skeptical of Kirk Dillard’s assertion that accepting donations from unions such as the Illinois Education Association won’t influence his votes and policy initiatives, we need to look at Bruce Rauner’s donors with equal scrutiny. A quarter of a million dollars is not just a token handout for a campaign. That kind of money is an investment. What kind of return is Mr. Glen Tullman expecting?

I have a game to play with you today. It’s called “Which Lie Is Worse?” I will give you two situations where a politician or apparatus of government lied. It is up to you to decide which lie was worse. I’ll change the names to protect the guilty, but the photos I’ll use in this post will probably give them away.

rahm2The first is a lie told by the mayor of a town that begins with “C”, ends with “O” and has a “hicag” in the middle. (Anyone remember the super-fans out there?) For the purposes of this game, I will call him “Tahm” Emanuel. Mayor Emanuel (shucks, I gave him away) created a new speed camera system in Chicago that places cameras a certain points in the city that are in the vicinity of schools for the purposes of catching speeders near schools that may be endangering children. It just so happens that the radius being monitored near schools encompasses about 90% of the city of Chicago. That isn’t the lie. That’s just an unfortunate (if you are a lead foot) circumstance. The lie comes from where the money collected from the speeding tickets is supposed to go. See, Mayor Emanuel sold the speed camera concept on the promise that the money collected from the fines would go into a special fund for the children of Chicago. A few days ago the mayor unveiled his 2014 budget. Strangely, there was no line item in his budget for a fund for children. Instead, nearly $70 million dollars will go into the general fund. I guess that’s one way to get people to vote for their own tax increases. Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-rahm-emanuel-speed-camera-funds-1119-20131119,0,7114410.story?r=5779D8151256F1Y

censusThe second lie comes from the “Consensus Bureau.” The Consensus Bureau takes a census every month (Doh! Did I give it away?) of people and their employment status each month. This data is used to help create our monthly unemployment report that we hear on the news outlets. It turns out that for some time, the bureau had directed one of its people to fabricate data used to create the unemployment statistics. This fabrication escalated as we got closer to the presidential election. This resulted in a 3 point drop just before the election that made it appear that President Obama’s economic policies were working. It can be strongly argued that these better unemployment figures stole an election and changed history. Source: http://nypost.com/2013/11/18/census-faked-2012-election-jobs-report/

 

So we have a tough one here. You decide which one is worse: Raising taxes in the name of children and using the money elsewhere, or lying to a nation in order to steal an election.
nixon

foreverstamp

By Ron Brzoska

On Thursday I wrote a blog entitled You Are All Missing the Point. In that post I talked about how President Obama’s offer to allow health insurers to extend the plans of people they had cancelled was both hollow and illegal. My opinion was very much in line with many of the news reports and pundits reporting on it. I also talked about how Republicans need to stop trying to help cover this critical mistake by the democrats by trying to help them fix it. Seize the momentum. Even John McCain has stopped capitulating for the moment and is advocating scrapping Obama-care. The mantra needs to remain “Repeal and Replace.”

Unfortunately, there are still too many Republicans that are calling for delaying the individual mandate for a year without removing the law. It leaves this voter with the feeling that they aren’t concerned with repealing Obama-care, but rather are interested in being popular enough to win election/re-election by appearing to be against it.  Maybe the problem is that instead of listening to the constituents, Congress seems to think the media are its constituents and base their actions on the headlines. That would explain why after Thursdays headlines spoke of President Obama’s “fix” for the cancelled plans, the GOP decided to craft and vote on a bill of their own “fix” that mimicked what the president came up with. The bill passed overwhelmingly with all but 4 Republican votes and managed to take 39 Democratic votes with them.

This is a good thing right? NO! First, it has now attached the Republicans to the Affordable Care Act. They are voting to delay it which gives the plan time to entrench, and they are giving a life line to pols on the ropes like Dick Durbin who keep asking for Republicans to help fix Obama-care instead of opposing it. The bill also gave cover to those 39 Democrats that voted with them. The 39 can now claim on their campaign lit that they voted to keep your plan when a week ago, the Republican challenger could say on their literature that Congressman “X” voted for Obama-care which made millions of Americans lose their health insurance. Idiots! Finally, it’s a hollow bill. It only puts off the suffering. It doesn’t remove it.

Let me paint you a picture from my own congressional district, the 11th in Illinois. My congressman is Bill Foster. Two days ago, he was the congressman that admitted that he didn’t read the AFA before voting for it in 2009. He was voted out of office in 2010, but thanks to gerrymandering, is now my representative. Until yesterday, he had no defense to protect him from Obama-care backlash in the next election. Foster voted yesterday with the Republicans. He now can claim compassion for those that lost their plans rather than being a poster-child for what needs to removed from Washington. The DNC should give John Boehner a thank you card for his efforts to help Bill Foster re-election. foster2

There are five Republicans that are hoping to represent the party as Foster’s challenger in the general election. One of and perhaps the leading candidate, Darlene Senger either doesn’t get it either or she is receiving bad advice. She has a new website to compliment her campaign, www.delayanddisclose.com. Again, while well-meaning, the premise is weak. Don’t delay, repeal! Delaying puts off the pain. It doesn’t remove it. Disclose refers to giving us the number of enrollees in the Affordable Care Act in Illinois and the number of cancellations. Almost as soon as the website went up, we are given the number of enrollees in Illinois: 1,370. Pathetic, but so what? Even if the number were 100 times that, it wouldn’t change the fact that Obama-care is awful and destructive. Even worse for State Rep Senger, her initiative is falling flat. As of this writing, only 396 people have signed her petition. That’s only about a third of the anemic Obama-care enrollment numbers. In order to not only win elections, but to effect positive change, we need to make bold, decisive statements and present the corresponding policies and initiatives. Come out and say Obama-care needs to go. Come out and say I am the candidate to do it. Haven’t the adventures of the past week proven to us all the more that when you put politicians together and give them a problem to fix, all they do is come up with a swirl of mud? Hands off my healthcare, now and forever. Get it?senger

By Ron Brzoska

There is a lot of excitement and consternation over the insurance plan cancellations and lackluster enrollment numbers of Obamacare. The numbers are so bad that even democrats are turning on the president and channeling their inner Ted Cruz. Many of the Republicans that thought Cruz, Mike Lee, and others were being unreasonable are now calling for a delay in the individual mandate.  Democrats up for re-election had a special meeting with President Obama asking him what to do. ACA

Again, these republicans are missing the boat. They are too timid. While MILLIONS of Americans are clamoring for their old plans and rejecting Obamacare, these republicans are failing to listen. Instead of pushing for repeal and replace, they are only asking for a one year delay. What good is a delay? The Affordable Care Act would still be intact and enforced. They are asking for the real enrollment numbers. Who cares? What does that information get you besides a clever slide show?

These same republicans will now claim a victory with what President Obama did today. What did he do exactly? Well, he seemed to make people happy by saying you can keep your plan if you like it … for one more year… IF…

  • Your plan didn’t change, or…
  • Your plan was cancelled and your service provider offers it back to you, and…
  • Your service provider tells you what their plan is lacking in achievement of the Obamacare standards, and…
  • Your service provider tells you which government plan will cover you, and…
  • It may not matter anyway since regulation is left up to the states. (http://money.cnn.com/2013/11/14/news/economy/obamacare-insurance/index.html?hpt=hp_t1)

If you are paying attention, this means that the president did a lot of talking, but didn’t say much of anything. President Obama put the responsibility on the insurance companies to fulfill conditions he knows they do neither have the time, nor the resources, to comply with. An insurance company is not allowed to offer your old plan back to you unless they do your homework for you. Why should they do all of this extra work to keep you for only one more year? That’s just bad business. In what world is it sound for one company to provide the customer with competitor information for the sole purpose of driving you AWAY from their product? Even better for Obama, the insurance companies have no obligation to offer you your old plan. This again is designed to make the government the good guys. If you don’t get your old plan back, they can claim it is because of those evil insurance companies. We didn’t win anything today.

bhoBut even what I said above is missing the point. That is because the above doesn’t address the fact that no one, not even the president, has the kind of power to just arbitrarily change the laws to satisfy the mob. We still have a Constitution. Laws are created by the legislature and enforced by the executive branch. They are not wielded by one power. The ease in which President Obama does this and no one utters a peep should be so alarming that it gives us all pause.

What are we becoming, or should I ask: what have we become?

I got this joke emailed to me today, but on a serious note, it puts things in perspective.

WWII    -   December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 equals 3 years, 5 months, 1 day.
Obamacare Website -  March 21st 2010 to October 1 2013 equals 3 years, 6 months, 10 days.

Think about it!
From the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day Germany surrendered is not enough time for this federal government to build a working webpage.
Mobilization of millions, building tens of thousands of tanks, planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc.   Turning the tide in North Africa,     Invading Italy, D-Day,   Battle of the Bulge,     Race to Berlin -
All while we were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific!!
And these incompetent clowns can’t build a workable webpage?
And they are gonna be charge of our health care?    God help us.

I’m a few days late from capitalizing on the headline, but I wanted to take the time to let the dust settle, learn a little more about the situation, and see if after that my opinion would change. It didn’t.

I’m talking about the Virginia governor’s race, the loss of Ken Cuccinelli, and the tragedy inflicted on the people of Virginia.  It didn’t have to happen. Blame has been thrown around from every sector you can imagine. Each side is looking for a scapegoat and a person to declare war on. In simplest terms, it boils down to either it’s the Republican establishments’ fault or it is a rejection of the flawed conservative. However, the blame doesn’t belong with any one person. It belongs with everyone.

…because WE are all idiots! ken-cuccinelli-is-fighting-to-keep-virginias-kids-safe

The Republican establishment DID quit on Ken Cuccinelli. RNC Chairman Reince Preibus claims otherwise and argues that $3 million and the ground game the RNC helped create were not the actions of a quitter. The fact remains that the money spent was only one third of what the RNC spent in the last election and the only ground game to be seen was the grass roots and large numbers of out of state supporters of Cuccinelli. The fact is that resources were withdrawn by the RNC in October. The reason that resources were withdrawn is where conservatives jump the shark. The reason they withdrew support was not about some ideological divide. They just were afraid of throwing good money after bad. Was it bad intelligence? Yes. More resources would not have been a waste.  Worse yet, the Republican party is making a habit of running from a fight. Any fight. Unfortunately, the Cuccinelli campaign ended up mirroring the Romney campaign. Romney didn’t go for the jugular (the reason doesn’t matter, only the fact that he did) and the RNC wasn’t “all in” here either. It was a big mistake, not only based on what we know now, but that the Virginia election was a referendum on Obamacare. President Obama even campaigned for McAuliffe. This is the key campaign issue that helps Republicans. If we don’t carry the flag and charge against Obamacare now, for the first Attorney General that sued the government over Obamacare, when will we ever? The RNC retreat is demoralizing for the base. Put your money where your mouth is RNC … literally.

But the base is not without fault, and it could be argued, more fault. I have been guilty of applying the much deserved charge of RINO. I have been guilty of throwing my hands up in the air and saying “I can’t support this RINO. I don’t even want to vote.” I HAVE wanted to vote for a third party. The thing that stops me from following through is that I’m not stupid. That’s right. I said it. Let me be clear. The 6.6% of Virginians that voted for the Libertarian candidate are idiots. First off, your guy wasn’t even a libertarian. He was planted by the democrats to run under your banner. How the heck does this happen under your nose? Let me be fair, that 6.6% of votes for Sarvis were not all Libertarians. Second, the big kahuna of Libertarians, Ron Paul, came to Virginia and flat out told you not to waste your vote on Robert Sarvis. But you guys voted for him anyway. What did it get you? Governor Terry McAuliffe. Are you happy now?

I get it. I hate it myself. I can’t stand it when I am told that I have to hold my nose and vote for a Republican that votes with the Democrats more than half the time. You didn’t have that problem Virginia. So what is your problem? mcauliffe

The bottom line is that we have to realize what is our worst possible future (in this case Governor Terry McAuliffe), and do everything we can to keep that from happening. If we are ever going to pull our country back to the center-right, we have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We like to think we are the best on fiscal issues because math is on our side. While that may be true, Democrats seem to be better at math when it comes to winning elections.

By Ron Brzoska

This past week, the Chicago Public School system released maps of safe passage routes to their schools that are opening for the new year on August 26th.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-cps-releases-maps-of-safe-passage-routes-20130809,0,4881483.story

The stories and spin surrounding the release of the maps has centered around the need for these safe passage maps was brought on by the school closings that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago Board of Education voted for earlier in the year. The stories say that if it weren’t for the 47 elementary school closings, the children would not be forced to cross gang lines and be in danger. They also like to point out the costs of this safe passage program ($8 million). With the danger and the dollars being hi-lighted, the reader is supposed to be outraged. The Chicago Teachers Union loves the way the press is telling this story.

The problem is that if you read the story and don’t do any of your own thinking, and know your history and your math, you will be outraged. You will think this is all Rahm Emmanuel’s fault. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it most certainly is not his fault. It is ours. We as a society have created this problem. images

Let’s talk about the symptoms first. The CPS has to spend $8 million dollars extra this year on its safe passages program (which was started in 2009 by the way). Why, that’s an outrage! They have no money to spend. Isn’t the CPS in debt. If they are cutting staffs and closing schools, where are they getting the money? I’ll wait for a second and hope you get the answer on your own. Ok, time’s up. Did you figure it out? They got the money from the savings created from cutting staff and closing schools. In response to a $1 billion dollar budget deficit, the CPS cut staff and closed schools to save $867 million over a ten-year period. Adding $8 million back into the budget means that they still cut costs by $787 million. If you take this from a dollars and sense standpoint, then this move makes all of the sense in the world.

But there is a human factor that must be considered. The kids are in danger. But is it because of Rahm Emmanuel and the Board of Education? No, they had to cut costs because there is no money left. Karyn Lewis, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union and her supporters say that this is another reason why they shouldn’t close schools and cut staff. What Ms. Lewis is hoping for is that we have forgotten the recent past. When the CTU went on strike, the mayor’s office and school board said that if they gave the teachers union what it wanted, it would need to lay off teachers to pay for it. The union fumed at the threat and didn’t think it was real. Guess what happened? They cut teachers to pay for the raises to the others. Emmanuel kept his word. Oh my God! Stop the presses! A politician, a Democrat at that, kept his word. So don’t let believe the blather coming from Karyn Lewis and the CTU. They knew that some teachers had to be sacrificed to pay for their demands. If they didn’t, they are too dumb to be teaching your kids. It’s the feeling of entitlement… the feeling that it won’t be one of them on the chopping block… that makes them feel everything is going to work out fine. The Chicago Teacher’s union has as much blood on their hands for any child harmed as does Mayor Emmanuel. untitled

But we are still COMPLETELY missing the point. The real point is that we are failing as a civilized society. The truth is that the safe passages program shouldn’t have to exist. This is not Afghanistan. This is Chicago. Children are walking to and from school. They are not a foreign army. They are defenseless. They are harmless. They are innocent, and have every right to walk through their neighborhoods. No one is talking about the real problem: the gangs. They shouldn’t be there, let alone preying on their own. Why should any 17-year-old gang member feel threatened by a ten-year old walking to school? Why are we taking gangs as a given, and that we have to work around them? Shouldn’t we be channeling the effort we are making to usher our children to school safely into ways to reduce gang activity. Are we hostages in our own neighborhoods? Do we realize that if it is ok to accept gangs determining our school districts, then it is only logical to think that gangs can rule us as adults as well? Don’t be mad at Emmanuel. Don’t be mad at Lewis. Don’t be mad at the teachers. Be mad at the barbarians (just like those that sacked Rome, we have barbarians sacking our largest cities) that kill with no rhyme or reason.

…and now for the controversial comment. Don’t be mad at the barbarians. Be mad at their parents. imagesCA4ESQWA

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