Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick Hits - September 9-10, 2012

The latest example of the Chicago way leads many of the news reports this morning as the Chicago public school teacher's walked out on strike after a failure to reach a new contract with Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration.  This is the first time in over 25 years that the teacher's union has striked.  The issue - wages, benefits, teacher evaluation / job security, and Board of Ed requests for the teachers to work longer days.

The city offered the teacher's union a 4 year contract with a total 16% pay increase.  Today, before benefits, Chicago's public school teachers have an average salary of $76,000.  This is for about a 40 week per year work requirement (some teachers work 38.6 weeks per year others work 42.6 weeks per year).  It is also the highest average salary in the nation.

Other major points requested by the city of the teachers and their union is that teacher evaluations have 50% of their ratings based on the test scores of the students - and to extend their work day by between 30 and 45 minutes.

All in all, the Chicago Board of Education, which is facing a $1 billion deficit this year, forwarded an offer worth $400 million to the teachers which were rejected.

The Chicago Teacher's Union is demanding a 22% wage increase as well as guarantees for job security and not evaluating teachers by the test scores / graduation rates.  The justification for the wage increase, in an environment where the average middle class income decreased by 8% since 2009, is for the 'longer work day' being requested by school administrators.

This is in a school district which trails significantly the national averages in all standardized testing categories and only 60% of the 402,000 students graduate high school (75% is the national average).

At this point, who should we be most aggravated with?  The teacher's union for their demands for higher wages and benefits - given a work schedule that is at worse, no heavier than a standard middle class worker,  and their unwillingness to be held accountable for their performance - just as nearly every other private sector worker is?  Or the Board of Ed and Chicago city leadership who, in the face of a $1 billion deficit in the current year, is willing dive another $400 million into debt in order to appease the union - which played a major role in electing the city leadership.

Rush Limbaugh opened his program this morning, wondering out loud if this entire kerfuffle is nothing more than a set-up to help President Barack Obama's reelection effort - with the President riding to the rescue of the 402,000 Chicago students and stepping in to 'solve' the problem and end the strike.

I'm sure many of us are cynical enough, at this point, to believe that is a real possibility - particularly given the past actions of the President to spin a yarn about how wonderful he is as a leader.

Unfortunately, with or without the President's involvement, this strike is going to get settled in a way where the union wins and the taxpayer / public school student of Chicago gets the shaft.  Drive north of Chicago a ways, and one enters the state of Wisconsin.  They faced this same issue across the entire state - where hundreds of school districts were faced with major financial challenges as the teacher's unions demanded more and more with less and less accountability.

Governor Scott Walker and the Republican legislature addressed this - and in multiple electoral fights over the last 18 months, won.  That is the model of what needs to be done to stand up to the public sector union greed and lust for power / control.  School districts swung from deficits to surpluses - which resulted in expanding programs and hires.  Union members are no longer forced to pay dues to the union - unless they see a value in it for them to do so.  Union membership is done - but there are no widespread stories of abuses of teachers by administrators which unions were supposedly in place to prevent.

Chicago's strike is a current example of the bankruptcy of public sector unions and the progressive mindset.  Why should these teachers, among the highest paid in the country, gain a 16% (let alone the 22% they demanded) pay increase when the rest of us, on average, have seen our wages drop 7%?  Why should these teachers be exempt from being evaluated based on their job performance and primary duty - to educate the children of Chicago?  Is extending their work day by 30-45 minutes that big of a hardship?

The last deal reached between the city and Chicago Teachers Union required the city to rehire 500 teachers that were dismissed because the district couldn't afford to pay them.  The district still couldn't afford to pay them, but for the union, this was 500 more employees paying dues every month to the union.

That level of greed is far worse that the oft cited greed of 'Wall Street' or 'corporate leaders'.

California shares the same bankrupt progressive agenda and viewpoint as does the leadership of Chicago / Illinois.  Illinois is the only state in the US with a worse credit rating than California.

The political leadership of both share not only a common arrogance towards the taxpayer and reality, but a contemptuous belief that additional revenues, when needed, are always available either through tax increases or new bond issues.  They don't believe they are, or should be, held accountable for their actions and decisions....after all they are making that 'big sacrifice' of public service.

This November, in California, incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein is seeking another 6 year term to represent the once Golden State.  Feinstein is a perfect example of the entrenched progressive politician who believes they are unaccountable to the voter / taxpayer of California.  She is very confident of her reelection - given the progressive demographics of CA (and the fecklessness of the CA GOP).  How confident?  Senator Feinstein walked out of an interview with a San Francisco ABC affiliate, KGO, when she was asked why she will not debate her GOP challenger....

One of the major themes of last week's Democrat National Convention were attacking the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan over the OPTION they promote where in 2023, new Medicare eligible seniors can select a voucher program in lieu of the current Medicare coverages for their healthcare coverage.  The message hammered was that vouchers = bad / evil.

Quietly, lost within the August jobs data news focus last Friday, came word of a new HHS mandate coming out from Kathleen Sebelius - in a manner not dissimilar to the announcement of the mandate that ignored the First Amendment (Religious freedom) of the US Constitution.  This mandate takes 2 million seniors today on Medicare and places them on a voucher program for their healthcare coverage.

When Republicans promote a voucher program as an alternative (not the only option available to those eligible for Medicare in 2023), that is bad.  But mandate via administrative regulation that 2 million current Medicare recipients are moved onto a voucher program and have a 'D' after your name - and it's all hunky dory.

If it weren't for double standards, some would have no standards at all.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a report last Friday that ruled that the Obama executive order to revamp the 1996 Welfare Reform Act - which focused on weakening the workfare requirements defined within the law signed by President Bill Clinton - was illegal.  The GAO noted that only new legislation by Congress, signed and enacted into law by the President, could change the 1996 law.... a President does not have the rights under the Constitution to amend laws on his own.

This is not the first time that the President has acted in this manner.  Not even one of the first dozen times he's acted outside of the limited powers he, as Chief Executive, is awarded via the Constitution.  Remember the President's promise to the Russian President this spring - that after winning re-election, the President sees himself as being even more free to act without concerns of accountability.

Why isn't this an issue being raised by the Romney-Ryan team?

The Washington Poo's Bob Woodward 'cut his teeth' during the Watergate break-in cover-up which cost Richard Nixon his Presidency.  Every several years, Woodward writes a DC insider's book looking into the President - and generally tries to remind whomever is President of the power of the press to make or break the person holding the office.  During the Bush Administration, Democrats were eager to cite Woodward as an 'insider' who knew the real story behind George W. Bush as President - and did not paint a flattering picture of the President or his Administration - particularly around the War on Terror / Iraq War.

Woodward's latest book, 'The Price of Politics', takes aim at the Obama Administration.  One of the focuses of Woodward's tome is on the feckless leadership of Barack Obama and his Administration.  One of the examples from the book speaks volumes about the President's personality, narcissism, and contemptuous arrogance during the debt-ceiling debate of August 2011.  During this 'crisis', the President delivered an address from the White House on his viewpoint / position of the debate where the WH invited a number of Congressional leaders to attend - including the Chair of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan.

With Ryan sitting in the front row of the audience, Barack Obama then launched a long and direct attack at Paul Ryan and his proposal / position regarding the national fiscal condition and Ryan's recommended solution.  Even the mainstream media, sympathetic to Obama, was appalled by the attack and arrogance demonstrated by the President.

In an interview with Woodward for the book, the President is now admitting that the attack was a mistake - but as is far too commonplace with Obama, then proceeds to get many of the core / basic facts wrong...

President Obama told author Bob Woodward that he didn’t know Rep. Paul Ryan was going to attend at a major speech he delivered last year on spending and debt, and says in retrospect that it was “a mistake” to dress down Ryan and his budget plans to his face in that setting. …

“I’ll go ahead and say it – I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack Ryan was going to be sitting right there,” the president told Woodward according to audio transcripts of their conversations, provided to ABC News.

“And so I did feel, in retrospect, had I known – we literally didn’t know he was going to be there until – or I didn’t know, until I arrived. I might have modified some of it so that we would leave more negotiations open, because I do think that they felt like we were trying to embarrass him,” Obama continued. “We made a mistake.”
The only reason Representative Paul Ryan was at the event, sitting in the front row, was because the White House - the Obama White House - invited him to attend the event.  Then, on top of that, Barack Obama doesn't even know the name of the Chairman of the House Budget Committee - either referring to his one time (2004) Senate opponent or to Tom Clancy's hero of many fictional novels?

It's sad that far too many voters pay too little attention to these insights into who Barack Obama really is.

Here's another example.  Right now, General Motor's Chevrolet division has their 'green car', the Chevy Volt  on the 2nd one month production hiatus of the year.  Sales for the Volt, promoted strongly by the Administration as the car of the future, are dismal - well below the optimistic projections offered by both GM and the Administration.  Why?  The car doesn't work.  It's expensive - over $41,000 list price before the federal tax credit for the hybrid vehicle.  It has a tendency to catch fire.  It has a dismal range on electricity - generally 20-25 miles at the most before the gas engine has to kick-in.

Rumor has it that GM is looking to permanently halt production of the car....because every vehicle sold results in a $49,000 loss to General Motors.

This is the cornerstone of the efforts of the Obama Administration to 'save the US auto industry'.  GM became Government Motors - with the Administration sacking the Chairman of the company in early 2009, then, in addition to putting the US taxpayer into the company to the tune of a $35 billion loss thusfar, awarded 60% of the company to the United Auto Workers union while non-union employees lost equity and pensions.  The 'new' management is producing a car that costs it basically $90,000 to make - that has no real market - and sells it for $41,000.

Only a progressive can see that math working, right Mr. Clinton?

Let's wrap up today's with another example of progressive math.  During the Bush Administration, and in the midst of the 'jobless recovery' of 2004 - when unemployment was under 6% - the common refrain of the progressive Democrats to the job gains each month was, 'but those are low paying jobs, not 'real' jobs...'

The National Employment Law Project has just completed a study that has taken a look at the Obama economic recovery - the one that 'created' 4.5 million jobs since June 2009 (even though we have about 5 million fewer workers in the labor pool today than in June 2009) and looks at the jobs lost and the jobs created.

This study determined that 60% of the jobs lost during Obama's Administration were middle income jobs - hitting directly the middle class worker.  Of the jobs created - 58% of these were low wage jobs - at or just above minimum wage primarily in the service industry (retail & restaurant) - or as they were defined in 2004, 'McJobs'.

The false meme in 2004 was promoted as fact....and when it is fact in 2009-2012, it remains unreported.

I wonder why?

No comments:

Post a Comment