Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Quick Hits - June 6, 2012

With a lot to cover on the recap of Wisconsin's recall election as well as California's vote, this edition of QH might run a little long...

Photo from Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell for 6/6/12

Republican Governor Scott Walker defeated the effort to recall him in Wisconsin last night, winning with a larger margin than many expected.  He gained 53% of the vote while 46% supported the challenger, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D).  This is a larger margin of victory over Barrett than Walker achieved in the November 2010 contest that elected him Governor.  This was also a larger margin of victory than the last polls showed prior to the balloting yesterday - and what exit polls seemed to portend.

Governor Walker was not the only Republican elected official subject to recall as the Lt. Governor and 3 GOP State Senators also defeated their recall efforts.  One GOP State Senator is trailing by some 700 votes in a race that could temporarily give the Democrats control of the State Senate through November's election.  The effect of this?  Negligible - as the State's legislature is out of session until after the November election (where the GOP is expected to regain the majority) unless Walker calls it into a special session. 

The recall election was organized primarily by organized labor, in particular public sector unions, who strongly opposed the reforms that Walker enacted with the Republican majority in the State Legislature to address the state's fiscal crisis - $3.6 billion budget deficit and the severe fiscal pain many school districts were experiencing.  The reforms included requiring union members to pay more (but still less than private sector workers) for their healthcare and pensions, the loss of some collective bargaining rights (including the ability to force governments and school boards to only buy health insurance from union owned companies at inflated prices), and eliminating the mandatory union membership and payment of union dues via payroll deduction.

These changes have resulted in the first drop in property taxes in a decade across the state.  The budget deficit has dropped to $154 million.  Unemployment in the state is down 1 full point - and is below the national unemployment rate.  The state created 23,000 new jobs last year.  School districts that implemented Walker's reforms saw their budget crisis disappear - and programs were expanded as opposed to those who opposed the reforms and remain in fiscal crisis with shrinking programs.

The effects of the Walker reforms created a very clear comparative vision for the voters of Wisconsin - to adopt the conservative policies of Walker - or to return to the progressive policies of Democrats and organized labor.

With that comparison and the results of the vote, it is clear that unions suffered a major defeat in Wisconsin.
They picked a fight they weren't able to win,” said Gary Chaison, a labor expert at Clark University. “This shows them at their weakest. They'll try to put a happy face on this but this is nothing less than a calamity for them.”

Similar reforms in other states could further decimate unions — and Chaison predicted Walker’s win would encourage politicians to press such measures.

“The loss means a lot more mayors and governors will probably feel comfortable pushing on legislation like this,” he said. “It's very different from 20 years ago. Back then the public sector unions were a force to be reckoned with. Nowadays, public officials look at the unions as someone to be opposed to.”

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said before the results that a Walker win would give other Republicans encouragement to fight harder against unions.

“It will embolden other Tea Party types to continue the work that he’s already started,” she told The Hill last Thursday.
Tea Party types...heh.

As the Heritage Foundation noted in their Morning Bell report -
Walker’s victory will send shockwaves across the country. Last year, the governor took a strong stand for the proposition that public sector unions should not negotiate their taxpayer-funded benefits with politicians they helped elect using mandatory dues. And he also stood for reforms that curbed spending and got his state’s budget under control — without raising taxes.

The Wall Street Journal's take on the Wisconsin vote -
The resounding failure by unions and Democrats to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on Tuesday is a significant moment for democratic self-government. It shows that an aroused electorate can defeat a furious and well-fed special interest that wants a permanent, monopoly claim on taxpayer wallets.

The crisis unfolding in Europe is less about the euro than it is about whether the union-dominated entitlement state can reform so it can pay its bills. In Wisconsin as in Greece and France, unions and the political left were trying to demonstrate that power and privileges once granted are eternal. They wanted to run Mr. Walker out of Madison as an object lesson that trying to limit collective bargaining and mandatory dues collection for government unions will end your political career.

One of the stranger analyses of the Wisconsin brawl has been that it could have been avoided if only Mr. Walker had sought "consensus." We're all in this together, yada, yada. Tell that to Governor John Kasich, who passed similar reforms in Ohio to much less fanfare, only to see unions use a referendum last year to repeal his collective-bargaining changes. Public unions are never going to cede their dominance over taxpayers without a fight.

And it's worth recalling how brutally they fought. They occupied the state capital for weeks. They harassed GOP lawmakers and their families, tried to recall state Senators and defeat a conservative Supreme Court judge, while Democratic lawmakers abdicated their legislative duty by fleeing the state. They lost in the end because Mr. Walker and Republicans rode out the storm, passed their reforms, and are now able to show Wisconsin voters the beneficial results.

And it is this success of this vision over the progressive vision (union-dominated entitlement state) that scares the progressives the most when we look forward to November's election. This result confirms what I suspected when I updated my 'Wargaming' the 2012 election post - that Wisconsin is clearly in play and up for grabs.

The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol has this suggestion to the Romney campaign....
The Romney camp has been uncertain as to whether to associate its man with, or distance him from, the sometimes controversial and divisive, Tea Party-infused, anti-establishment Republicanism of 2010. Walker's victory—and his ability to increase his margin from 2010—might well have tipped the balance in the Romney camp toward running at the head of a phalanx of bold conservative reformers, who have after all been pretty successful at governing, rather than running away from them. Or, to put it differently: The Romney camp may conclude that Scott Walker, his message and his spirit, are not part of the problem but rather part of the solution to Romney's electoral task (especially with working-class voters, including private-sector union members). After all, if Romney could hold 94 percent of Walker's vote from last night in November, he'd win Wisconsin, and the presidency.

Combine this with another collateral effect of the Wisconsin recall election...a rift building between President Obama and Unions?
Though public sector unions throughout the country broke their backs and piggy banks to win him the presidency in 2008, ever the calculating politician willing to throw his supporters under that over-crowded bus, Obama refused to show up and rally for the Wisconsin rank-and-file for fear a loss might give him a bad news cycle or two.

Unions contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to Obama's 2008 campaign. If that money stops or lessens - the President's fundraising challenges grow., always a great source for liberal bias and angst, has a growing collection of posts showing liberal broadcasters and journalists becoming unhinged or spinning massively trying to downplay the effects of the failure of the Wisconsin recall election. Many of these highlight the usual collection of clowns on MSNBC like Laurence O'Donnell pontificating that "Obama is the really big winner in Wisconsin" over his strong support in exit polling information; Morning Joe, hosted by the pinhead Mika Brzezinski, going 69 minutes into its broadcast this morning before having a Republican guest; the bombastic loon Ed Schultz worrying about 'damn scary stuff' from the GOP as a result of the Walker win and noting the Walker win means "Not going to be an easy night for many broadcasters who are liberal" and outright lying saying Walker "could be indicted in the next few days".

Politico, flushing away any remaining claims to not having a progressive bias, highlights one of the now standard excuses for the Union / Democrat defeat - that they were widely outspent by Walker who received millions from out of state sources - and ignoring the millions that the unions spent for the recall, for the petition signatures, etc.

Richard Fernandez, of the great blog Belmont Club, highlights and comments about the statement from the Chair of the DNC, the feckless Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, based on the results of the Wisconsin recall election.
[Excerpt of Wasserman's statement:] Despite the disappointing outcome of tonight’s election, there is no question that over the past year this recall effort sent a message to Scott Walker that his brand of divisive politics is offensive and wrong. Thousands of Wisconsinites mounted this effort in the face of a flood of out of state, secret and corporate special interest money– amounting to a massive $31 million war chest for Governor Walker to just $4 million on our side.

Readers will recall that Wasserman Schultz was accused of abandoning the Democrat activists to their fate as it became clear there was little hope that Walker could be defeated.

He goes on to cover more of DWS's statement, and notes this bottom line that brought a chuckle to me...
One wonders who Wasserman Schultz’s speechwriter is. The tone of her statement seems straight out of Radio Tokyo in the closing days of World War 2 when they boasted of having sunk “17 American aircraft carriers, 28 battleships, 73 cruisers and 200 destroyers” without bothering to mention that the supposed fleet action was taking place right off the shores of Japan with completely the opposite results.

Roger L. Simon, the CEO of PJ Media and one of its founders, has a thought provoking post that should send shivers down the spines of the leaders of Barack Obama's reelection campaign. He notes the late polls in Wisconsin showing a narrowing race - and the exit poll data has the President still getting stronger support than Mitt Romney for the November race and wonders, what if all of these polls are wrong - because of the Bradley Effect.... After all, Walker not only won by a larger margin than the polls demonstrated, but he won by a larger margin than he did in
So if I were a member of the Democratic Party this morning, if I were David Axelrod and his team of so-called wise men, I would be wondering – what if all the polls are wrong? What if this is true across the entire country?

Even if these polls are wrong by three or four points in only a handful of states, the results of the coming election could be disastrous for the Democrats. Romney could win in a walk and bring a Republican House and Senate with him. And then, if the economy revives….

Are these polls being 'cooked'? Are those who are answering the questions being honest or saying what they think the other person wants to hear?

Here in California, we had not only the Presidential Primary, but also saw the first ballots of the 'jungle primary' for the other races - where candidates are not segregated by party affiliation and the top 2 finishers face off in November even if the two are in the same political party.

Turnout in California was very low, perhaps setting a record low for a Presidential primary election. Even with the low turnout, there were some interesting results.
Voters in two major California cities overwhelmingly approved measures to cut retirement benefits for city workers Tuesday in contests being closely watched as states and local governments throughout the country struggle with mounting pension obligations.

In San Diego, 67 percent voted in favor of Proposition B while 33 percent were opposed. More than 65 percent of precincts reported.

The margin in San Jose was even wider, with 71 percent in favor of Measure B and 29 percent opposed. Nearly half of precincts reported.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed called the vote a victory for fiscal reform.

"The voters get it, they understand what needs to be done," he said in an interview.

Proposition 28, a major change to the 22 year old voter approved term limit program, passed by a large margin.

Proposition 29, which proposed an increase of $1 per pack for cigarettes, which had 66% support in March, is being termed by many media outlets as still too close to call - but the state Secretary of State Elections page has the measure being narrowly defeated 51% to 49%.  One of the main issues around this tax increase was the nebulous use of the revenues and the creation of a new limited accountability state bureaucracy for 'cancer research' which could have spent these tax dollars outside of California.

Congressional district, State Senate, and State Assembly primaries had a new importance, not only under the 'jungle primary' rules, but based on the effects of a contentious redistricting that took place in the wake of the 2010 census. This supposedly non-partisan commission redrew districts which are thought to increase the current Democrat Congressional advantage of 34 seats to 19 seats by 4 or 5 seats. Even with this, there are some key battles were some incumbents are at risk - like in the San Fernando Valley where Democrat heavyweights Brad Sherman and Howard Berman will face off or LA where Democrat Representative Janice Hahn will battle Democrat Representatives Laura Richardson to return to DC.

Here in this Valley, we've also had some interesting results. While Congressman, and Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon got nearly 50% support and will face Democrat Lee Rogers in November, Mr. McKeon's wife Patricia finished a distant third in her bid for State Assembly. Former McKeon staffer Scott Wilk defeated Mrs. McKeon in a very rough campaign. In another repercussion over this rough campaign, the Tea Party for the area managed to seize control of the local GOP apparatus over the establishment GOP.

Under reported in all of this - that Mitt Romney won all 5 GOP Presidential Primary races yesterday in California, New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana.

President Obama makes his third trip in the last month to the Golden State today for another series of 5 fundraisers in Silicon Valley and Hollywood...
Obama has spent the bulk of his time in California on fundraising junkets — including a much-hyped fundraiser with A-lister George Clooney, which pulled in $15 million. The California News Service estimated recently that 80 percent of his trips have included at least one fundraiser.

And when Obama visits the state on Wednesday and Thursday, with two stops in San Francisco and three stops in Los Angeles, he’ll reap the financial benefits of his endorsement of same-sex marriage, observers say.

With that, let's watch the latest Crossroads GPS advertisement that starts airing in battleground states....

Today is the 68th anniversary of the D-Day landings - the Normandy invasion in World War II.

President Obama, focusing on his fundraising effort in California, is not scheduled to commemorate the anniversary today...again.

Google, with its history of not commemorating Memorial Day or Veterans Day - choose to mark the 79th anniversary of the first drive-in theater rather than the D-Day invasion.

One President, however, did make one of the best commemorations of the D-Day invasion and its importance on the 40th anniversary of the landings. President Ronald Reagan, speaking from the top of the cliff at Pointe du Hoc, honors all of those who charged Gold, Sword, Juno, Utah, and Omaha beaches or dropped behind the German lines....

The Republican Senator from South Dakota, John Thune, has a op-ed today that raises a very real concern about the European Union ignoring American sovereignty in their effort to tax US airlines in the name of 'climate change'...
As of the first of the year, the E.U. now includes aviation in its so-called E.U. Emissions Trading System. Practically speaking, this means U.S. airlines and passengers will be forced to pay a climate change tax for flights originating in or destined for the E.U. This tax is not just being levied for flight time spent in E.U. airspace, but for time spent in international and U.S. airspace as well. Needless to say, the E.U. has no authority to impose a tax on Americans flying in American or other non-E.U. international airspace. Its attempt to do so is an affront to America’s sovereignty and to international law.

International law as it relates to civil aviation is governed by the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as the Chicago Convention), which clearly prohibits the E.U. from unilaterally imposing such a tax. While countries do have the right to impose certain restrictions on airlines flying in their airspace, the E.U. has absolutely no authority to tax a U.S. jet flying over Florida.

In France, the new socialist government under Francois Hollande is already trying to address their version of 'Hope and Change'....moving to freeze rents at their current levels...
In France, rent is already controlled by default; once a tenant signs a lease, the landlord can only raise rent up to a value indexed on inflation and set by the government. This results in landlords not being able to afford regular maintenance and refusing to do basic repairs unless required by law. It is common for French tenants to have to paint their apartment, call and pay for handymen themselves. On the other hand, it takes a hefty legal bill and a minimum of a year for a landlord to be able to evict a tenant who defaulted on rent.

To protect themselves, landlords screen their applicants and demand very strong financial credentials from prospective tenants and guarantors alike, as well as large deposit. This deadlock situation is creating one of the toughest rental markets on earth. Applicants who do not have wealthy relatives as guarantors are denied apartments they could otherwise afford and landlords are not willing to rent decent apartments. The rental market in Paris is thus left with overrun condos in bad conditions and overpriced to account for the risk of default. With the new law, and landlords not even able to raise rent at a new lease, signature things are about to get worse.

As all eyes turn to Germany to see what they will do regarding the growing Eurozone crisis (as they are the only real nation with the ability to bail out their other nations), the liberal magazine der Spiegel is calling for Germany to give up its power, its sovereignty, and spend billions (trillions?) to save the Euro and the Eurozone...
Thus it is in Germany's interest to solve the life-threatening problems within the currency union both swiftly and sustainably. But steps more radical than Germany has been willing to take will be necessary to achieve this -- and that goes for both Chancellor Angela Merkel's government and the German people at large, who have vehemently rejected the prospect of their country having to give up any power or money to save the euro.

But that's what it must come down to in the end. Without an economic government and a true fiscal union, the euro won't survive. Some elements have already been established. European leaders already have significant influence on the budgets of those countries in crisis. Furthermore, the planned fiscal pact, agreed on by 25 of the EU's 27 member states at a summit in January, also requires signatories to pursue fiscal responsibility. But these measures are both incomplete and provisional.

Saving the euro requires European countries, including Germany, to give up more sovereignty and to accept more joint decisions. Ultimately, it also requires euro-zone countries to be collectively liable for their debts.

It would be a huge mistake if Germany decides to follow this advice to surrender their principles, their sovereignty, and cash to bail out the failing entitlement states. If it would, it would prove once again what we already know about socialism - that it does not bring the poor up to the middle class, but rather brings the middle class and except for a small rich leadership caste, the wealthy, down in terms of their wealth.

This Day in History

1833 - President Andrew Jackson boards a Baltimore & Ohio train for a pleasure trip to Baltimore - becoming the first US President to ride on a train.

1918 - The Battle of Belleau Wood begins - the first large scale battle fought by US soldiers in WW1. The three week battle saw the US Marines become victors - but at a cost of nearly 10,000 dead.

1933 - The first drive-in movie theater opens in Camden, New Jersey.

1944 - D-Day, the Allies launch the invasion of Normandy – 5 landing beaches and massive paratrooper (18,000) drops – British and Canadians landed and secured Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches. The US landed and secured Utah beach. However, the US forces at Omaha beach faced a tough defense that cost nearly 2,000 dead before they succeeded in securing the beachhead. By the end of the day, 155,000 Allied troops were ashore in France.

1949 - George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four is published.

1968 - Senator Robert F. Kennedy dies after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles hours after winning the California Democrat Presidential Primary.

No comments:

Post a Comment