Archive for February, 2013

Numbers for Medicaid expansion don’t add up

Obamacare supporters want to talk numbers when it comes to expanding Medicaid in Georgia. OK, let’s talk numbers:

When they returned last month, Georgia’s legislators already faced a $774 million hole for Medicaid through June 2014. That was before any expansion, and even after assuming renewal of the “bed tax” that brings in some $700 million a year for the program.

Medicaid is already the fastest-growing part of Georgia’s budget. Including PeachCare for kids, it will consume $1 of every $7 in state funds in fiscal 2014, up from $1 per $9 a decade ago.

That increased ratio means almost $616 million will go to Medicaid next year instead of transportation, tax cuts, whatever. State lawmakers can do precious little to arrest the trend.

Still, Obamacare supporters want Medicaid to grow faster.

Pressure is mounting on Nathan Deal to follow the path taken by some other Republican governors — Florida’s Rick Scott and New Jersey’s Chris Christie joined the list in the past eight …

Continue reading Numbers for Medicaid expansion don’t add up »

Obama has the authority to ensure sequester cuts don’t bite

Facts 1, Democratic Scare Stories of All the Carnage to Result From Cutting $85 Billion Out of a $4 Trillion in Spending 0. From the Wall Street Journal:

[I]f any of these cataclysms [mentioned by President Obama and congressional Democrats] do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama’s own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom.

According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal “projects, programs and activities,” or PPAs. Except for the exemptions in the 2011 budget deal, the White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is. Food inspectors, say, will be treated the same as subsidies for millionaire farmers.

Not so fast. Programs, projects and …

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From Italy, your latest warning about the danger of having three (or four, or five . . .) political parties

Every time you think our political system produces too much gridlock, or that more political parties might somehow make things better, there’s a good chance some European country is holding an election whose results will prove you wrong.

This week, it’s Italy. If you didn’t notice what happened there, your 401(k) almost certainly did yesterday. Here’s the Wall Street Journal’s explanation of the election results there:

Early Tuesday, the left-wing coalition led by the Democratic Party’s Pier Luigi Bersani appeared to have gained a razor-thin victory in the lower house of parliament over the center-right coalition headed by Mr. Berlusconi — 29.6% to 29.2%, final data from the Interior Ministry showed. By leading the vote count in the lower house, the Democratic Party will automatically get the majority of 340 out 630 seats and, therefore, will likely receive the mandate to form a government.

The Senate, however, appeared headed for political impasse. The Democratic Party was …

Continue reading From Italy, your latest warning about the danger of having three (or four, or five . . .) political parties »

Oh, that dreaded, awful sequester

With the automatic spending cuts known as the sequester set to kick in Friday (March 1) unless an alternative deal is reached, be ready to hear about all the terrible, horrible, unfathomable effects of cutting … less than 3 percent of all federal spending.

To put things in perspective, economist Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute (and a double Dawg) prepared this graph from Congressional Budget Office data:

Mitchell sequester cut graph

Note that, even after the sequester, spending continues to rise every year — in large part because the sequester doesn’t touch entitlements, which are the fastest-growing part of the budget.

Will there be an effect on some people? Of course: The only way there wouldn’t be is if the feds were simply taking tens of billion dollars a year and lighting them on fire. But as far as a modest measures for beginning to curb runaway spending go — and not even this White House is denying any longer that this country has a spending problem — we will hardly see anything more modest …

Continue reading Oh, that dreaded, awful sequester »

With House on verge of ethics reform, give Ralston his due

It’s dangerous to heap too much praise on an unfinished product, particularly when there’s still politics to play out. But with a major ethics bill headed for likely passage in the Georgia House of Representatives Monday, it’s worth noting just how much of an unexpected, pleasant turn of events this is.

The bill’s not perfect — show me a bill that is — and it shouldn’t represent the last word ever in Georgia on the topic. It is, however, a bigger step forward than this supporter of ethics reform thought we’d see so soon.

And “soon” is the right word. It was just two years ago, following reports Speaker David Ralston had taken a lobbyist-funded trip to Germany with his family over the previous Thanksgiving, that the latest round of calls for ethics reform got under way.

Nothing came of those calls in that year’s session. As recently as nine months ago, Ralston was casting aspersions on his fellow Republicans who were going along with “media elites and liberal special interest …

Continue reading With House on verge of ethics reform, give Ralston his due »

And the Oscar goes to . . .

The Oscars are this weekend and, as I’ve seen only one film in the running for Best Picture (”Argo”), I can’t give you the slightest hunch as to who will win the big award. (Insert joke here about just how reliable my gut feelings are.)

If getting to the movie theater with two small children weren’t so hard, I’d like to have seen some of the others — especially “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” I’m sure I’ll see them at some point, even if it’s at home.

If any of you got to see more of the nominees, let’s hear which of them you think deserves the award. Or any of the other awards. Or, take this cue to swap YouTube links, talk baseball (the Braves’ Grapefruit League season is officially under way!) or hoops, or what have you.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Continue reading And the Oscar goes to . . . »

State of the Georgia Senate race

It’s been four weeks since Georgia’s senior senator, Saxby Chambliss, announced he would not run for re-election next year. That news triggered an avalanche of speculation about who would run for the seat, with the field expected to get very crowded very quickly. That hasn’t happened. No one has entered the race or even admitted to giving it serious consideration on the Democratic side, and the GOP field has been developing only slowly:

  • Congressman Paul Broun, R-Athens, was the first to file his paperwork to run and has been running online ads for a couple of weeks now. Yesterday, he touted the endorsement of TheTeaParty.net, a Washington, D.C.-based outfit that bills itself as the nation’s largest tea-party group.
  • Last week, Congressman Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, said he was running for Senate while speaking to the Forsyth County GOP. The very fact Kingston was speaking to a Republican group in a county a couple of hundred miles from his district tells you about all you need …

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Advice on self-protection in a gun-controlled America, courtesy of Crazy Uncle Joe

Only Joe Biden could promote gun control in a way that encourages people to break the law and is more likely to injure innocent people than potential threats.

First, here’s what Biden said, during a Facebook chat Tuesday, he had advised his wife to do:

“I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.’ … You don’t need an AR-15 — it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!”

Now, in a secluded, mostly wooded area, like the one where Biden said he and his wife live in Delaware, that might not be the worst advice. Not the best, either, but not the worst. But not all Americans live like that. In fact, in his state’s largest city, his advice could land someone in jail. From U.S. News and World Report:

A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city …

Continue reading Advice on self-protection in a gun-controlled America, courtesy of Crazy Uncle Joe »

School choice: We can’t help the poor by helping only them

Opponents of school choice measures such as vouchers or tax-credit scholarships love to do a little two-step.

First, they insist choice measures be limited only to low-income families — for the sake of being “fair.” Then, they note the tuition charged by existing private schools and say these families couldn’t possibly make up the difference between those prices and the value of the voucher or scholarship, and thus we might as well scrap the choice measures.

With that, they sit back and fold their arms, confident they’ve done something other than prove the basic laws of economics apply to education.

Before we burst their bubble, let’s take a step back.

The goal of anyone interested in education should be to see that all children attend quality schools. Right?

In a triumph of hope over experience, choice opponents think this can be accomplished through existing public schools alone. If only we spend more and more (and more) money on them.

The rest of us understand the public …

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Obamacare fallout: Part-time employees losing their health insurance

With Obamacare now about 10 months from taking effect, get used to more stories like this one from the Orlando Sentinel:

Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government’s health-care overhaul.

The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers “only until December 31, 2013.”

The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal’s plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.

Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as “mini-med” plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable …

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