Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Military Commissions to Resume at Gitmo; Obamacare's Ponzi Scheme; NPR View of Tea Party; What Wisconsin Unions Fear Losing; Corporate Pension Also Underfunded

The Hill reveals: President Obama on Monday ordered trials by military commission to resume at Guantánamo Bay.
The move signals another defeat for Obama, who pledged to close the terrorist detention facility in Cuba within one year of taking office.
In a fact sheet, the White House said Obama “remains committed” to closing the facility, but the president’s decision to lift the ban on military commissions signals the unlikelihood that Obama will successfully transfer all of the prisoners in Cuba.  http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/147871-obama-military-commissions-to-resume-for-gitmo-detainees
The Washington Times writes about Obamacare: A major component of Obamacare is “totally unsustainable.” Those aren’t the words of Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin; no, those belong to the Obama administration’s own chief cheerleader, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. The program in question, the CLASS Act or Community Living Assistance Services and Support Act, is a massive long-term elderly care entitlement program that was quietly tucked into Obamacare and never got anywhere near the attention it deserves.
Sen. Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called the CLASS Act “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.” And then he voted for it. I suspect Bernie Madoff would be proud of Kent Conrad. The White House’s sleight of hand goes like this: CLASS Act taxes begin in Year 1 but the benefits don’t begin until Year 6, so when 10 years of revenues and five years of expenses were calculated, the Congressional Budget Office declared not only that the CLASS Act paid for itself but, as a result, Obamacare overall would reduce the deficit. However, when 10 years of revenues and expenses are counted - even accepting the White House’s rosy scenario projections - the CLASS Act goes billions into the red and Obamacare itself raises rather than reduces the deficit.
Mrs. Sebelius agrees with the Medicare chief actuary that the program “is at a significant risk for failure” with or without the accounting gimmick but - channeling the spirit of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez - she claims the law gives her “administrative flexibility” to bypass Congress and the American voters and rewrite the law to her liking. Such power.
In separate testimony last week, the HHS secretary admitted to double-counting Obamacare’s cooked books. The question posed was whether a $500 billion cut in Medicare should be counted toward preserving Medicare or funding the new law. Her own actuary previously acknowledged they must choose one or the other. Mrs. Sebelius‘ reply? “Both.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/7/obamacare-vital-signs-starting-to-fade/ 
The Daily Caller writes about the NPR, which taxpayers are partially funding, and which the Republicans are attempting to defund: A man who appears to be a National Public Radio senior executive, Ron Schiller, has been captured on camera savaging conservatives and the Tea Party movement.
On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”
Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said.
what he is “most disappointed by in this country, which is that the educated, so-called elite in this country is too small a percentage of the population, so that you have this very large un-educated part of the population that carries these ideas.”  [I take personal offense at these declarations, and would love to take this man on in a debate of the facts, wouldn't you?]
American Spectator writes about just what the unions in Wisconsin are scared of losing: If passed, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's emergency budget will allow workers to opt out of joining a union and still keep their jobs. It would allow workers to vote every year on whether they want to keep their union. And it would take away the unions' ability to automatically deduct dues from workers' paychecks. All of these threaten organized labor's power by giving workers more choice.
Unions allege that, if Walker's budget bill is passed, state employees will be subject to arbitrary disciplinary actions and firings. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Walker's budget is approved, workers will still be able to join unions if they choose, but collective bargaining will be limited to pay only. Moreover, they will still be protected by civil service laws that provide job security and perks beyond anything seen in the private sector.
According to the State of Wisconsin Office of Employment Relations, government employees will still have:
• The right to a harassment/discrimination free workplace, [as well as six more rights being preserved.]
McClatchy.com warns: State and local government pensions aren't the only ones in trouble.
Corporate pensions, too, are woefully underfunded, and the federal agency that insures them against losses is facing a dangerous deficit that taxpayers may end up covering. One government watchdog agency says the federal insurance funds are at "high risk" of failure. Moreover, the Obama administration's proposal to fix this is meeting stiff resistance from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business interests.
In its budget released last month, the Obama administration proposed giving the PBGC authority not only to raise premiums, but to set them at different rates, depending upon how it assessed the risk of any given insured company. That would mirror a decades-old approach that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. takes with banks, setting premiums based on what it determines is a bank's risk of failure.

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