The “Human Toll” indeed

Rich Miller posted some legislator’s comment on the “Human Toll” of the upcoming budget cuts.

It detailed all of the pain that would be generated from some of the cuts to Medicaid that are being discussed. The comment that I placed on this post is below.

Some time around to 2005, I questioned former Rep. Fritchey on the 13% increase in school enrollment and the 157% increase in school funding. His reply?

“Yeah, but that all went to pensions.”

As all the “human tolls” are collected in the upcoming budget cuts, there is only one place to put almost all the blame.

It falls on the legislators who voted for every mandate, every payroll expansion, and every pension benefit increase in the last 10-20 years.

The facts speak for themselves. Unwilling to say no to the powerful spending, borrowing, and taxing interests, these folks (in both parties) voted future generations of Illinoisans into pension poverty and tax increase hell.

You are all now left with a choice. Fund the pension payroll, perks monster you created, or fund government services.

If the taxpayers are asked to do more, which is not an entirely unreasonable request under dire circumstances, the very least you can do is put a stiff, enforceable, and robust constitutional amendment on the ballot.

That amendment should place hard spending caps on all governmental entities, with virtually NO exceptions, and such a cap should be raised only upon a referendum, preferably requiring a super-majority of some sort.

Taxpayers should realize such a cap is worth the cost, and government employees and elected officials should realize taxpayers deserve nothing less after their decades long ride on the debt and pension gravy train.

It is NOT the taxpayer that is to blame for this situation. It is the legislature and the spending interests that purchased them. We can fund services, or we can fund out-sized benefits for too many public employees. Your choice.

Scott Walker trying to save his state from this fate

Farewell, My Lovely
How public pensions killed progressive California

As 72-year-old Jerry Brown enters his second governorship, he has an agenda to match that power, with visions even greater than those that haunted his two-term administration of the 1970s and ’80s: building 20,000 megawatts of renewable power, laying a new high-speed rail network that will connect the state’s major cities, forging a statewide infrastructure for alternative energy, hiring thousands of green employees. The new governor’s environmental agenda is ambitious, untenably expensive, and indelibly popular with voters and lawmakers.

Yet when Brown looks out on Democrat-controlled California, he seems less like Caesar at the Rubicon than Wojciech Jaruzelski at the Gdansk Shipyard. Brown is champion of a workers’ party with monopoly control, yet all his plans are being derailed by a labor movement nobody can harness.

At press time, California was being governed under a state of economic “emergency” declared by Brown’s predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in light of a staggering $28 billion budget shortfall expected in the next 18 months.

It gets worse. Medium-term unfunded liabilities for government employee pensions are pegged by the Legislative Analyst’s Office at $136 billion—and that’s a lowball figure. Legislative analyst Mac Taylor acknowledges in his current fiscal outlook report that the estimate leaves out billions in funding shortfalls at the pension funds for public school teachers and University of California employees. In the next 10 years, taxpayers will most likely be on the hook for somewhere between $325 billion and $500 billion. (Over the past five years, state revenues averaged $94.5 billion per year.)

How did this happen?

It happened because too many people were asleep at the switch, believing we could spend lavishly on a corrupt and lazy class of greedy public employees who bought the politicians they were bargaining with.

It’s time for the Big Haircut. Cut their pensions and health benefits or fire them an hire new people under new rules. It’s that simple.

When will we stop spending?

The graph below compares American spending against other OECD countries. It comes from an article in the left-leaning American Prospect that basically argues that our spending isn’t really a problem.

OECD Spending

OECD Spending

A Million Here, a Million There ?
Why federal spending never goes down, and why that’s not a problem.

Politicians can fulminate all they want about the $2 million earmark or the silly sounding $150,000 research project. But the truth is that government spending is going to continue to rise, because neither Democrats nor Republicans really want government to get smaller – at least not badly enough to cut it in a meaningful way. It can rise at a slower or faster rate, depending on the decisions we make (the biggest source of future spending is Medicare and Medicaid, a problem the Affordable Care Act begins to tackle). But no matter who wins the election this year, or in 2012, or in any other year, it’s going to keep growing.

First, the comment that ObamaCare is going to “tackle” spending is absurd.

Next, the fact is that spending does matter for all kinds of reasons, particularly for a nation that doesn’t want to go down the path of sclerotic Europe. No one knows if the Tea Party/Patriot movement is going to succeed in curtailing spending. I get the feeling that they just might. If the Republicans don’t curtail the rate of spending in some meaningful way, the loose network of activists will coalesce into a party.

For how long, and what level of success such a party has is an open question.

The answer need not be cutting spending below the previous year, but merely curtailing spending growth to a manageable number. Raise the retirement age, combine and means test Medicaid and Medicare, and outlaw public unionism at the state level.

Those 3 things alone will cure the spending problems. Get political power, and ram them through.

You heard it here first…

Daniel Henninger wrote a great piece over at the Wall Street Journal today.

The Liberal Dilemma
The Democratic Party’s capture by public unions and professional politicians is strangling much of liberalism’s agenda.

But this is only a piece of it. The financial meltdown of so many states and cities is forcing American liberalism to come to grips with a tough truth: The demands of public-sector unions and the legal obligations to pay their pensions are collapsing the ability to perform what’s left of the traditional liberal agenda.

Nowhere is this more evident than in California.

On July 8, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an admirer of New Jersey’s blunt new Gov. Chris Christie, held a roundtable in Sacramento on the public pension crisis. Listen to Jeff Adachi, a San Francisco Democrat and the city’s elected Public Defender:

“San Francisco is the most progressive, pro-union, you know, lefty, and I’m probably the poster boy for that in many ways. But the reality is, if we don’t do something, all of the important programs, not only public defense but we’re talking about children’s programs, after-school programs, education, senior programs, everything that we care about as progressives is going to be lost because it’s being sucked up by the cost of pensions.

Repeat after me…

“You can’t fund a child’s education if you are funding a vast education bureaucracy.”

As a matter of policy, the only thing that saves states from union greed is to constitutionally cap spending of every governmental entity. If spending isn’t limited, these greedy public employees will use every economic upturn and every dime of tax dollar to further enrich themselves.

Paging Steve Rauschenberger…

There is now officially a “constituency for spending cuts.”

I don’t mean to pick on the good senator, but Steve Rauschenberger was the guy who told me (a few years ago at some ILL GOP event, that “there is no constituency for spending cuts.” Nonsense!

If you are ever told this by a politician, jump down their throat and say “THE HELL THERE ISN’T! There is a huge constituency for them. We aren’t as well funded, but if you make the case, we WILL come to your aid!”

In fairness, back in 2005, when many idiots thought they could retire of their 3 bedroom townhomes that were going to be worth $2.5million someday, it may have been harder to convince the voters that teachers and public employees were bankrupting their future.

Not any more. Union and Public Union positives are below 50% for the first time in decades. Drive their numbers into the dirt and cut spending on their greed to the bone. If you are still afraid of the teachers unions, you don’t deserve to be elected to office.

Either Reagan or George W. Bush could shape the fall election

I was sent an advance copy of another poll, this one done for the Third Way, a leading moderate think tank, by the Benenson Strategy Group, which has worked for past Obama campaigns. It suggests one way of shifting the odds.

This rests on reviving, one more time, the favorite Obama tactic of 2008: Run against George W. Bush, even though he is not on the ballot.

Unprompted, only 25 percent of voters in this survey said that they think that if Republicans regain a majority it will signal a return to Bush’s economic policies. By comparison, 65 percent say that a Republican Congress would promote “a new economic agenda that is different” from Bush’s.

The difference is dramatic when Bush enters the equation. Obama’s economic agenda is preferred over Bush’s by 49 percent to 34 percent. But a generic conservative approach, pitting a leader “who will start from scratch with new ideas to shrink government, cut taxes and grow the economy” beats one committed to sticking with Obama’s policies, 64 percent to 30 percent.

We are inside a short window(2-4 years) where we can literally freeze spending Government in place for generations. Let us not waste this opportunity.

Beat the drum louder and longer – Crush Public Unionism

When lefties like Mortimer Zuckerman start to understand that Union Greed is destroying any opportunity for Government to assist the truly needy, it’s time for politicians to understand that they are safe in throwing these greedy people off their campaign bus.

In 2010, 12, and 14, taking money from a public employee union should end your political career. Work as hard as you can to make that happen. It starts with writing your State Legislators and telling them that carrying water for teachers unions is going to be toxic. Get 10 friends in your district to send that letter once every 2 months or so, and the Bozos will start to pay attention.

Mort Zuckerman: The Crippling Price of Public Employee Unions

The American public feels it is drowning in red ink. It is dismayed and even outraged at the burgeoning national deficits, unbalanced state and local budgets, and accounting that often masks the extent of indebtedness. There is a mounting sense that taxpayers are being taken for an expensive ride by public sector unions. The extraordinary benefits the unions have secured for their members are going to be harder and harder to pay.

The political backlash has energized the Tea Party activists, put incumbents at risk in both parties, and already elected fiscal conservatives such as Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Over the next fiscal year, the states are looking at deficits approaching hundreds of billions of dollars. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, estimates that this coming year alone states will face an aggregate shortfall of $180 billion. In some states the budget gap is more than 30 percent. The result is a crowding out of the state role as the supporter of adequate infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

The American public feels it is drowning in red ink. It is dismayed and even outraged at the burgeoning national deficits, unbalanced state and local budgets, and accounting that often masks the extent of indebtedness. There is a mounting sense that taxpayers are being taken for an expensive ride by public sector unions. The extraordinary benefits the unions have secured for their members are going to be harder and harder to pay.

The political backlash has energized the Tea Party activists, put incumbents at risk in both parties, and already elected fiscal conservatives such as Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. Over the next fiscal year, the states are looking at deficits approaching hundreds of billions of dollars. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank, estimates that this coming year alone states will face an aggregate shortfall of $180 billion. In some states the budget gap is more than 30 percent. The result is a crowding out of the state role as the supporter of adequate infrastructure, education, and healthcare.

NJ Senate Passes Scholarships – Chris Christie the Honest

Two great videos for your viewing pleasure.

One is an example of the liberal media getting the story right on school choice. The other is Chris Christie telling it like it is. If America produces 100s or 1000s of these types of leaders, they could shift the nation back onto a proper axis. This is true, even if they were all served only one term.

Look everyone, I want you all to think about this as you join this fight for properly educating our children. Like the USSR and the segregationists in the South, the Teachers Unions will look strong right up to the point that they collapse. That is why you need to get involved. That is why you need to get in their face. This is why you must join us in beating on them mercilessly, as they deserve.

We are close to winning. Join the fight!

Gov Christie calls S-L columnist thin-skinned for inquiring about his 'confrontational tone'

____

Hundreds rally in support of school voucher bill

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered

After a 25 year run up in obscene and unnecessary growth of greedy and corrupt government, it’s not only important to get out the the liposuction machine. It’s important to tie off the stomach. That would mean constitutional spending caps. (and yes, statutory spending caps are worthless).

New Jersey: A Blue State Deep in Debt Rethinks What’s Important

You know taxes are too high when even the liberals root for spending cuts.

New Jersey’s tough-talking new governor, Christopher J. Christie, the first Republican elected in 12 years, is grappling with a deficit in the billions by squeezing nearly everyone — school children, the elderly, mass transit, cities, suburbs, subsidized renters and home owners.

Other states are making painful cuts, too: Arizona, to name one, is ending state-funded all-day kindergarten and health coverage for 47,000 children from low income families, though its Republican governor is pressing for a sales tax increase to avoid even deeper sacrifices.

But what’s most surprising about New Jersey is how in such a blue, labor-dominated state, Democrats and union members seem to be cracking under the pressure of the state’s tax burden, revealing a kind of split-personality disorder.

The syndrome surfaced last summer during Mr. Christie’s campaign, when he vowed to bring New Jersey’s property taxes, the nation’s highest, under control. As a candidate he saved his sternest threats for the teachers’ and state workers’ unions, whose healthy pay and benefits packages, he argued, were slowly strangling the schools and running the state’s finances into the ground. Union members, state workers and teachers, it turned out, weren’t offended by his rhetoric. In fact, public opinion surveys showed they ate it up.

People who followed the New Jersey gubernatorial campaign might remember that Christie’s tough rhetoric didn’t start until the Wall Street Journal and other conservatives started complaining about how lame and milquetoast his campaign was.

The syndrome surfaced last summer during Mr. Christie’s campaign, when he vowed to bring New Jersey’s property taxes, the nation’s highest, under control. As a candidate he saved his sternest threats for the teachers’ and state workers’ unions, whose healthy pay and benefits packages, he argued, were slowly strangling the schools and running the state’s finances into the ground. Union members, state workers and teachers, it turned out, weren’t offended by his rhetoric. In fact, public opinion surveys showed they ate it up.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Poll, said the surprising reactions were a reminder that Democrats and union members are also home owners, job seekers and parents — and that things have gotten so bad that even they might be willing to swallow some tough medicine and embrace once-unthinkable policies.

Christie then started to ramp up the rhetoric and differentiate himself. That is why he’s governor. Bill Brady should do the same, stop harping on the social issues, and go after property taxes and public employee unions. When people start paying attention to the unwarranted pensions and payroll bloat, they will do exactly what New Jersey voters did, and turn out the drones who are slaves to the public unions.

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. It is time to slaughter the hogs.

Remember when you could only find these words on this site?

Public-sector unions bleed taxpayers

The results are plain to see. States such as New York, New Jersey and California, where public-sector unions are strong, now face enormous budget deficits and pension liabilities. In such states, the public sector has become a parasite sucking the life out of the private-sector economy. Not surprisingly, Americans have been steadily migrating out of such states and into states like Texas, where public-sector unions are weak and taxes are much lower.

Public Employee Unionization is unsustainable. Cut pay or cut benefits. If they say “no deal,” go PATCO on them, especially the teachers.

If you are too cowardly to take on Public Unions…

…Then you are too cowardly to save your country

Public Employee Unions Are Sinking California

The state is in a precarious position, with a 12.3% unemployment rate (more than two points higher than the national average) and a budget $20 billion in the red (only months after the last budget fix closed a large deficit). Productive Californians are leaving for states with less-punishing regulatory and tax regimes. Yet so far there isn’t a broad consensus to do much about those who have prodded the state into its current position: public employee unions that drive costs up and fight to block spending cuts.

To do that California needs to take on its public employee unions.

Approximately 85% of the state’s 235,000 employees (not including higher education employees) are unionized. As the governor noted during his $83 billion budget roll-out, over the past decade pension costs for public employees increased 2,000%. State revenues increased only 24% over the same period. A Schwarzenegger adviser wrote in the San Jose Mercury News in the past few days that, “This year alone, $3 billion was diverted to pension costs from other programs.” There are now more than 15,000 government retirees statewide who receive pensions that exceed $100,000 a year, according to the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility.

Many of these retirees are former police officers, firefighters, and prison guards who can retire at age 50 with a pension that equals 90% of their final year’s pay.[That is the definition of the word "Parasite"] The pensions for these (and all other retirees) increase each year with inflation and are guaranteed by taxpayers forever—regardless of what happens in the economy or whether the state’s pensions funds have been fully funded (which they haven’t been).

A 2008 state commission pegged California’s unfunded pension liability at $63.5 billion, which will be amortized over several decades. That liability, released before the precipitous drop in stock-market and real-estate values, certainly will soar.

One idea gaining traction is to create a two-tier pension system to offer lesser benefits to new employees. That’s a good start, but it would still leave tens of thousands of state employees in line to receive lucrative benefits that the state must find future revenues to pay for. Another is to enact paycheck protections that require union officials to get permission from their members before spending union dues on politics (something that would undercut union power).

My hope is that these and other reforms find support in unlikely places. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a well-known liberal voice, recently wrote this in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians—pushed by our friends in labor—gradually expanded pay and benefits . . . while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages. . . . [A]t some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact.”

Fire them all when their contracts run out. Start over. It’s either that, or move to Costa Rica. If you don’t kill this parasitic movement at this politically opportune time, they will bleed this nation to death.