Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tireless Rutherford

Whatever you think of him, Dan Rutherford's a tireless campaigner.  Here he is in Dixon (check the guy in the picture to Rutherford's left holding his head in his hand.  He represents a lot of Illinoisians struggling with the depths of our fiscal mess.)

Then Rutherford in South Beloit, and La Salle.

This race is going to come down to Rutherford's relentless retail politics vs Rauners clever big buck ads.

Don't count Rutherford out. 

Ryan Cooper: Time for Obama to Go Big on Pardons

Ryan Cooper wants Obama to start issuing more pardons. You get bet the White House has Tony Rezko's sitting there in a drawer ready for signiture sometime after the midterms.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat

Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat

KHN: Minnesota Exchange Chief Resigns Amid Criticism

More Health Exchange woes via Kaiser Health News,
The head of Minnesota's health insurance marketplace resigned Tuesday after facing criticism over the troubled rollout and a questionably timed vacation in Costa Rica.
 
April Todd-Malmlov submitted her resignation during an emergency closed session of the government board of MNsure, Minnesota's version of the insurance exchange that's tied to the federal health care overhaul. She had been under increasing pressure over insurance sign-up problems and failed to get a vote of confidence from Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton last week.
 
A top official from the Minnesota Department of Human Services will be the new leader at MNsure.
 
Assistant Commissioner for Health Care Scott Leitz will serve as the interim executive director for MNsure until the agency can find a permanent replacement for Todd-Malmlov.
 
MNsure's technological problems coincided with ongoing political fallout from Todd-Malmlov's decision to go on a two week international vacation at the end of November with her partner, James Golden -- the state Medicaid director, who has been working on the rollout of MNsure.

Probably smarter to have just stayed on the beach in the sun with that partner than face families now without Health Insurance in a bleak Minnesota winter.

Megan McArdle: Is Obamacare Really an Improvement on the Status Quo?

Megan McArdle today from: Is Obamacare Really an Improvement on the Status Quo? We'll start the year with more Americans having lost their Health Insurance due to the Affordable Care Act than have gained it. And the Insurance Companies who are well aware of this disaster not keen to say so almost certainly in fear of retribution from the Feds. I can't recall anything in recent History where the Federal Government has inflicted so much damage on Americans. Really an amazing story here.
"Insurers privately tell Bob Laszewski that they think more people will have lost insurance by January 1 than the number who have signed up for Obamacare by January1.

"'I was out making some client calls this week with a number of different carriers and they know exactly how many policies they canceled and how many who reupped. And they know how many people have come in through the exchange,' says Laszewski. 'And I didn't find one of them who thought they were going to be net ahead on January 1. They all think they're going to net behind on January 1. That's where it's trending so far.'

"So far, at least 4.8 million Americans have received insurance cancellations notices, but Laszewski predicts that the total Obamacare enrollment will be less than half that number on January 1.

"'My guess is that we'll have somewhere around a million and a half people signed up for Obamacare on January 1 in the states and in healthcare.gov,' he says. The big question then, he adds, is 'why have we gone through this whole dislocation of the American health insurance system if only a million and a half to two million buy health insurance?'"

Maybe we’ll make up some of the gap with Medicaid. But at the current pace of enrollment, it would be a big hurdle to make up all the losses. Which means that we may well start the year with fewer people insured than we had in January 2013. There’s reason to think that that may be what the administration is seeing in the latest enrollment numbers.

If you like your Senator, you can.....

Monday, December 16, 2013

Jachsonvill Journal-Courier: Pension numbers yet another gimmick

Journal Courier on Illinois Policy Institutes analysis that "Pension Reform" merely pushes some costs out too 2016 when an accounting change kicks in and posts $6 to $8 billion of the "savings" back onto the taxpayors tab.
 
Another can kicked down the road in Illinois.
 

 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Truth-boom! Brit Hume crushes Obamacare with one question, devastating answer

Truth-boom! Brit Hume crushes Obamacare with one question, devastating answer

Yuval Levin: Pressing the Panic Button?

Yuval Levin writes the Admininstraion's
 
.....asking insurers to pay claims for consumers who haven't paid their premiums, to treat out-of-network doctors and hospitals as though they were in-network, and to pay for prescription drugs not actually covered by the plans they offer.
[...]
The move also puts HHS in the position of playing the role central manager of the American health-care system—telling private insurers to do various things that have nothing in particular to do with the law, as though they work for the government. It is an eerie prefiguration of where the administration would like to get with this system, but it's also surely something they didn't want to be doing so publicly at this stage.

 
Almost at though Obama's Nationalized the Carriers but without paying anything for them.  Just issuing the orders now on how they'll do business.

 

Wife of Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Says U.S. Government Abandoned Her Husband

Wife of Pastor Imprisoned in Iran Says U.S. Government Abandoned Her Husband

Modern Healthcare: Fitch lowers not-for-profit hospital outlook to negative

Via Modern Healthcare,


About 365,000 people have bought insurance through an insurance exchange in the first two months that the marketplaces were operational. That number—far below projections—may increase, but Fitch is still "somewhat suspect" that the coverage expansion will mean greater profitability, LeBuhn said.

He added that the majority of plans expected to be sold will be "silver" or "bronze" plans—which means they'll have significant cost sharing, which could lead to increased bad debt for providers.

Moody's Investors Service last month also
affirmed a negative outlook on the not-for-profit healthcare sector, for the sixth straight year.

Rating agencies tossing sand in the eyes of the Healthcare System Engineers behind the Affordable Care Act.  Engineers who thought more coverage would bring more profitability.  Instead the risk falls on the patient and the bad debt will fall on the Hospitals and Providers.

IR: Gay activist who threatened State Rep. Ives wants charges dropped

Via IR,
 
Gay marriage activist Stephen Bona says the messages he left on State Rep. Jeanne Ives' (photo right) voice mail this past March weren't really threats, and believes the charges against him should be dropped. The first voice mail Ives reported to Wheaton Police said:
 
Your Tea Party brethren Sarah Palin put up a map that included the names, locations, and faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the cross hairs of a gun...perhaps we should do the same for you. We know where you live. There's no longer a ban on assault weapons. Think about that before you speak next time, (expletive).

Bona doesn't say he's sorry.  He doesn't express remorse.  He just wants us to think he didn't mean what he said.  Can't do the time Bona, don't do the crime. He ought to get the book tossed at him.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hill staffers warned not to rely on info from ObamaCare exchange | TheHill

Hill staffers warned not to rely on info from ObamaCare exchange | TheHill

Bird's-Eye View Of 'Euromaidan' Protests In Kyiv

Couldn't have paid me enough to take this video.

Ukrainian protests

Via The Guardian,
 
Thousands of riot police carried out a co-ordinated crackdown on protest barricades in Kiev during the night. Columns of riot police closed in on Independence Square, hub of the protests that erupted after President Viktor Yanukovych pulled out of an association pact with the EU

Follow the link above for some good photos.
 

Charles Ornstein: Payment Due: The Obamacare Deadline No One Is Talking About

Only 5 to 10 percent of people getting through the enrollment process have paid their first premium.
But amid the rush to enroll as many people as possible by the Dec. 23 deadline [3], there's a huge caveat that isn't getting much public attention: For coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, enrollees must pay their first month's premium on time. (The deadline varies somewhat by state and by insurer.)
That's slow going, according to consultants and some insurers, raising the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than the figures HHS is releasing.

 This will be the next ACA crisis come the first of next year.

Ben Yount: Enemy of his enemy: Conservative candidate could help Illinois governor win back unions

Ben Yount wonders if the "likely" GOP for Guv candidate Rauner will help Quinn win back Unions
 
I thought Rauner went a bit overboard with some of his Union comments but if he keeps it focused on public Unions and Karen Lewis, who's managed to become of the face of public Unions in Illinois, Rauner just might pull it off against Quinn in the General.


 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Prairie State Report: A Spate of Pro and Anti William Kelly News Making the Rounds

PSR finds Judy Baar Topinka (no relation of mine) kicking $20k to Bill Kelly. 

I'm not one to call foks RINO's, or lay out Conservative tests, or raise the decibel level over who's got the purest beliefs.  I've always like JBT; although I think she's long overstayed her time in Illinois Politics.  (The run against Blagojevich should have been it.)

Maybe if I would have spouted off some though, she would would have kicked me a few points too?

It's a strange state our Illinois.


 

Sunday, December 08, 2013

ObamaCare Architect Zeke Emanuel: If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Pay More

Zeke's a piece of work



AP: Calif. Health Exchange Shares Data Without Consent

California handing out your name and address to Insurance Brokers,
The California health exchange says it's been giving the names of tens of thousands of consumers to insurance agents without their permission or knowledge in an effort to hit deadlines for coverage. 
The consumers in question had gone online to research insurance options but didn't ask to be contacted, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. 
Officials with Covered California, the exchange set up in response to the federal health law, said they began providing names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses if available this week in a pilot program. They said they thought it would help people meet a Dec. 23 deadline to have health insurance in place by Jan. 1. 
The state doesn't know exactly how many people are affected by the information sharing. Social Security numbers, income and other information were not provided to the agents, exchange officials said.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Who Really Betrayed Detroit? by Steven Malanga - City Journal

Who Really Betrayed Detroit? by Steven Malanga - City Journal

It wasn't George Bush.

Those Pro Rauner AFSCME members

Over at Capitol Fax Rich Miller finds it a bit far-fetched that Rauner would have union support,

Rauner, by the way, was on Roe Conn's show yesterday and claimed he's been meeting with AFSCME members and teachers…
"Many of them are supporting our campaign."
You gotta wonder what his definition of "many" is.
Listen to the interview…
 Consider half of AFSCME's membership bailed in Wisconsin when given a chance.  It's not far-fethed to think there's a similar disenchament in Illinois and AFSCME members who might think a solvent Illinois the best gurantee of their economic security... now, and in the future.  Yeah, they could be talking to Rauner's campagin.

STATE REP. IVES ON PENSION BILL: "SOMETHING A ROGUE NATION, RUN BY DESPOTS, WOULD DO"

H/T Illinois Review... Jeanne Ives gets a whoa out of Speaker Madigan when she points out Illinois's Pension "Reform" plan allows the legislature to take back employee 401k plans at will.



Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Illinois Policy Institute's Jim Tillman on Illinois's meager pension reforms.

An email from IPI's Jim Tillman,

Today the Illinois General Assembly sent a pension bill to Gov. Pat Quinn. It is important to be clear about what this bill is and is not. Let's start with what this bill is not.
 
This bill is not the sweeping reform that Illinois has been waiting – fighting – for over the past few years. This bill does not fundamentally change the way pensions are calculated and paid out in Illinois. This bill does not set up a system that is fair to both taxpayers and government workers.
The passage of this bill was not the moment in which the very same politicians who drove this system into the ground finally stood up, did the right thing and fixed it.
Here is what the bill does: delays addressing the problem head on. It buys time.
 
The conversation about pension reform became serious in 2011. At that time, Illinois had an unfunded liability of approximately $80 billion.
 
Today, the official unfunded liability is $100 billion. The bill passed today would – at best – reduce the unfunded liability to $80 billion. It dials back the crisis just to 2011 levels.
 
The bill passed today purportedly cuts the state's pension payment by $1 billion next year. Know where that gets us? To the same level payment as the state had for the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2013.
 
It's universally accepted that this bill does not represent a "solution" to Illinois' pension crisis. Many politicians who voted for this bill have said as much, and have defended their vote by saying, "This is not a solution; it is a first step."
 
A "first step" necessarily means there is a second step. Now the real reform begins; now we start working toward the next step.
For examples of what that next step is, look around the country. There is something in common with states enacting pension reform and turning their fiscal houses back in order: Michigan, Alaska, Rhode Island. They're all moving away from pensions and to the defined contribution model.
 
If Illinois is going to turn around, it will have to do the same. In February 2013, we proposed a landmark bill that would pay government workers everything they've earned so far in the pension system, and start a 401(k) system for all benefits going forward. It would immediately cut the unfunded liability in half, by $46 billion, and would save the state more than $221 billion over the next 30 years. The benefits would be so generous that it also would not require the state to participate in Social Security.
 
The bill that passed today may get the governor's signature, but it does not mean the pension crisis is solved. We will continue working diligently to enact real pension reform to get Illinois back on the path to prosperity.

In liberty,

John Tillman



Monday, December 02, 2013

Dan Proft: ILGOP Legislative Leaders in the Super-Minority and Loving It (Apparently)



Dear Bill,
 
This article is also available at IllinoisOpportunity.org.

"The action is the juice." – Michael Cherrito, "Heat"
If you want to understand why Illinois Republicans are in the super-minority in the General Assembly despite the record amassed by Chicago Democrats in charge of state government, all you have to do is watch the behavior of the mislabeled House and Senate Republican legislative "leaders" on what has been purposely mislabeled, "pension reform."

Nearly two-decades of short-term fixes (perhaps, as someone once said, we need to "unfix an Illinois where the fix is in"…hmmm) to the state's pension systems—from Jim Edgar's ramp to nowhere to the Blagojevich/Quinn years of borrowing at payday loan prices—have done nothing but deepen Illinois' unfunded liabilities. Those short-term fixes have left Illinois ranked as the 3rd worst-managed state, according to 24/7 Wall Street's annual ranking, with the worst credit rating in the country.

Yet Republican legislative leaders remain unchastened. They are action junkies. According to their conduct, being the wheelman for Chicago Democrats' latest heist of Illinois taxpayers (and public sector pensioneers) is morally superior and politically preferable to not participating in the crime.

Rather than leveraging the crisis brought about by decades of cynical gamesmanship of state pension funds by House Speaker Mike Madigan, Republican legislative leaders are choosing to provide Illinois Taxpayer Enemy #1 and his dutiful caucus mates with the political cover they desire.

And for what?

A faint promise from the same people who engineered this crisis for back-end savings three decades from now that Republican legislative leaders admit cannot be guaranteed.

If past is prologue, who loses if the same liars continue lying?

Chicago business leader Ken Griffin, a man who built a multi-billion dollar empire by having a fairly good grasp of math, offered this prediction in a recent op-ed:

"Our state is going to be forced to break its promises to our government employees and retirees. They will receive less than they bargained for. Our state's taxpayers will see the 67 percent 'temporary' tax increase converted into a permanent tax increase. And soon we will hear that even further tax increases are needed to meet our obligations. This is the price we are all going to pay for sending the wrong leaders to Springfield for too many years."

I would like to see Senate Super-Minority Leader Christine Radogno and House Super-Minority Leader Jim Durkin command majorities in their respective chambers. To borrow from an old Milton Friedman formulation, I am on their side. They are not.

They are on the wrong side of history today just as they were two-and-a-half years ago when Illinois Republican legislative leaders generated this blaring headline, "GOP rejects Wisconsin approach to unions." (Rockford Register Star, 4/4/11)

Sen. Radogno appeared on the WLS radio show I co-host in Chicago this morning defending her support for the Madigan pension deformation legislation wherein she said, "I didn't come (to Springfield) to play partisan games."

Clearly. And that post-partisan patter is precisely why Republicans are in the super-minority.

- Dan Proft