The president told Americans to gird for a disaster. Sequestration would result in unspeakable suffering. The elderly would starve; kids would miss vaccinations; teachers would be laid off; airplanes would crash mid-air due to a dearth of air traffic controllers. And don’t bother calling for help—no one’s coming thanks to massive layoffs of police and firefighters.
Fast forward to today. America is still standing. The public is still waiting for the wave to hit. Now President Obama has launched a charm offensive toward the Republicans who called his alarmist bluff.
Sadly, such alarmism isn’t limited to budget debates and sequestration cuts. Today, alarmism permeates nearly every nook and cranny of our culture. Americans are told to be on high alert about everything from their common household cleaners, toys, plastic bottles and canned food, to their child’s favorite pair of sandals, garden hoses, school supplies and playground equipment.
Women—particularly mothers—are the prime target for such messaging. For mothers, there’s nothing more distressing than the idea that something might harm her child. In today’s information age, mothers face a daily avalanche of information—much of it meant to terrify.
[…] Alarmism also presents vast opportunities for politicians. If you tell a mother that a product might harm her child, she’s far more likely to utter those magic words — the words every alarmist yearns to hear — “something must be done!” Enter the helpful, eager and desperately concerned politician who will suggest regulations, bans and taxes to address the so-called problem.
In this case, the alarmist is meant to convince Americans that any kind of spending cut will create so much pain and danger that they must no longer demand cuts – and allow our spendaholic politicians to continue digging us into deeper debt to the tune of over $48,000 PER SECOND.
Visitors to the nation’s capital looking for a White House public tour are out of luck starting this weekend, courtesy of what the Secret Service says is its own decision to deal with the sequester cuts.
But while the agency said it needed to pull officers off the tours for more pressing assignments, the budget ax didn’t swing early or deep enough to curtail a host of recent Secret Service-chaperoned trips like President Obama’s much-discussed Florida golf outing with Tiger Woods and first lady Michelle Obama’s high-profile multi-city media appearances.
Knowing sequestration was looming, there was still enough money for an extra $15 million in Pakistan aid, $50 million for TSA uniforms and even hundreds of thousands for portraits. Even post sequestration they were somehow still able to scrape $250 million from under the country’s couch cushions to give to Egypt.
OK, I made that last one up. But in a state with billions in unfunded liabilities, business-strangling environmental regulations, and an overtaxed, overburdened private sector, unicorn rides are about as realistic as any of their other demands.
The state’s largest public-sector union released a list of its bargaining demands on Thursday, and a few of them venture outside the traditional parameters of bargaining.
The Service Employees International Union Local 503 is asking the state to restore financial cuts it has made in recent years by dropping furlough days, boosting wages, granting a cost-of-living adjustment between 2 percent and 6 percent in each year of the contract, and adding vacation days.
Know anybody in the private sector who has gotten a sweet deal like that since the Great Recession began four years ago? Yeah, neither do I. Why should they get perks that the struggling taxpayers who pay their salaries don’t get?
Sadly, this is nothing new. They’ve been pumping this revisionist garbage into the heads of new school teachers for decades, to make sure they teach America’s children a tainted version of history. It’s only now that they’re expanding the indoctrination to other fields that people are starting to take notice.
Footage of the United States Department of Agriculture’s compulsory “Cultural Sensitivity Training” program reveals USDA employees being instructed to refer to the Pilgrims as “illegal aliens” and minorities as “emerging majorities” — at “a huge expense” to taxpayers.
[…] “I want you to say that America was founded by outsiders – say that – who are today’s insiders, who are very nervous about today’s outsiders,” he said in the clip.
“I want you to say, ‘The Pilgrims were illegal aliens,’” he continued. “Say, ‘The Pilgrims never gave their passports to the Indians.’”
Throughout the session, Betances had the employees shout “Bam!” to reinforce his points.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order to end the pay freeze on federal employees, in effect giving some federal workers a raise. One federal worker now to receive a pay increase is Vice President Joe Biden.
According to disclosure forms, Biden made a cool $225,521 last year. After the pay increase, he’ll now make $231,900 per year.
Members of Congress, from the House and Senate, also will receive a little bump, as their annual salary will go from $174,000 to 174,900. Leadership in Congress, including the speaker of the House, will likewise get an increase.
The prospect of pitching over the federal “fiscal cliff” isn’t stopping the White House from moving forward with President Obama’s year-end Hawaii vacation plans.
Even as Republicans and Democrats report minimal progress so far in talks to meet a deadline to avoid sharp tax hikes and spending cuts, the White House was moving forward with the first family’s and friends’ $4 million vacation to Mr. Obama’s native state.
Perhaps the most ironic part about the President’s trip is that it will run the State of Hawaii and the American taxpayer up to $4 million in bills… during a crisis that was caused by too much government spending.
Both parties agree that Washington is blowing too much money: that is certainly not under debate. Interestingly enough, Republicans seek to cut entitlements, but Democrats are hoping to slash military spending. Yet, the Hawaii Reporter article indicates that the President will be spending almost a half-million dollars (or more) on C-17 military aircraft transports for limos, a Navy SEAL mobile security detail, and the list goes on…
The country is on the brink of an economic apocalypse and the president has his eyes on his upcoming $4 million family and friends holiday trip to Hawaii.
Someone’s priorities are a bit out of whack. He’s either not serious about the responsibilities of being president, he actuallywants the country to go over the cliff, or the coming crisis is not as serious as we have been led to believe it would be. If the stakes are really as high as all that, the family Christmas trip needs to be put on hold—or moved to someplace close like Camp David. Being president means shouldering the responsibilities of the presidency—something for which Obama has not exactly shown much enthusiasm. He’s comfortable with the trappings of office, the symbols of power, but on the responsibilities he’s been kind of out to lunch in a lot of ways. He hasn’t shown much leadership beyond stating what he wants and expecting folks to fall in line. And, having done that, he once again feels the need to get out of town while letting other people hash the details out. This is not leadership. It’s not even good management. It’s a recipe for chaos, which should leave no one unclear about whose responsibility the current mess actually is.
Must be nice to live high on the hog with other people’s money…that was taken by force. Mark Steyn calls it the “Royal Presidency“:
Say what you like about a high-living, big-spending, bloated, decadent, parasitical, wastrel monarchy, but, compared to the citizen-executive of a republic of limited government, it’s a bargain. So, while the lovely Duchess of Cambridge nurses her baby bump, the equally radiant president of the United States nurses his ever more swollen debt belly. He and his family are about to jet off on their Christmas vacation to watch America slide off the fiscal cliff from the luxury beach resort of Kailua. The cost to taxpayers of flying one man, his wife, two daughters, and a dog to Hawaii is estimated at $3,639,622. For purposes of comparison, the total bill for flying the entire royal family (Queen, princes, dukes, the works) around the world for a year is £4.7 million — or about enough for two Obama vacations.
[…] Just for the record, William and Kate actually spent an “incredible” £51,410 — or about $80,000 — for nine business-class tickets on British Airways to Heathrow. At the check-in desk at Los Angeles, BA graciously offered the Duke and Duchess an upgrade to first class. By now you’re probably revolted by this glimpse of disgusting monarchical excess, so, if it’s any consolation, halfway through the flight the cabin’s entertainment consoles failed and, along with other first-class passengers, Their Highnesses were offered a £200 voucher toward the cost of their next flight, which they declined.
By contrast, in a republic governed by “we, the people,” when the president of the United States wishes to watch a film, there are two full-time movie projectionists who live at the White House and are on call round the clock, in case he’s overcome by a sudden urge to watch Esther Williams in Dangerous When Wet (1953) at two in the morning. Does one of them accompany the first family on Air Force One? If the movie fails halfway across the Pacific, will the president and first lady each be offered a $2 million voucher in compensation?
In his recent bookPresidential Perks Gone Royal, Robert Keith Gray, a former Eisenhower staffer, revealed that last year the U.S. presidency cost American taxpayers $1.4 billion. Over the same period, the entire royal family cost British taxpayers about $57 million. There’s nothing “royal” about the current level of “presidential perks”: The Obama family costs taxpayers more than every European royal house put together.
Labor leaders said they plan to mobilize their members in the coming weeks to press Republicans to support the extension of tax cuts for middle income families. Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, said labor needs to remain “as engaged as we were in the election throughout the rest of this year to make sure we get the Republican House to say yes to tax cuts for the middle class.”
Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.
In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.
Author Robert Keith Gray writes in “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” that Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. But the amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in.
Gray told The Daily Caller that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”
“The most concerning thing, I think, is the use of taxpayer funds to actually abet his re-election,” Gray, who worked in the Eisenhower administration and for other Republican presidents, said in an interview with TheDC on Wednesday.
“The press has been so slow in picking up on this extraordinary increase in the president’s expenses,” Gray told TheDC.
Specifically, Gray said taxpayer dollars are subsidizing Obama’s re-election effort when he uses Air Force One to jet across the country campaigning.
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.
Supporters had a straightforward pitch: Pensions for city workers are unaffordable and more generous than many private companies offer, forcing libraries to slash hours and potholes to go unfilled.
“We believe people are tired of having services cut back because of big pensions,” San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican who is being forced from office by term limits, said recently.
Shrinking tax revenues during the recession are also responsible for service cuts, but pensions are an easy target. San Diego’s payments to the city’s retirement fund soared from $43 million in 1999 to $231.2 million this year, equal to 20 percent of the city’s general fund budget, which pays for day-to-day operations.
As the pension payments grew, San Diego’s 1.3 million residents saw roads deteriorate and libraries and recreation centers cut hours. For a while, some fire stations had to share engines and trucks. The city has cut its workforce 14 percent to 10,100 employees since Sanders took office in 2005.
San Jose’s pension payments jumped from $73 million in 2001 to $245 million this year, equal to 27 percent of its general fund budget. Voters there approved construction bonds at the beginning of the last decade, but four new libraries and a police station have never opened because the city cannot afford to operate them. The city of 960,000 cut its workforce 27 percent to 5,400 over the last 10 years.
[F]ollowing this defeat, union officials say they’ll challenge the outcome in court. Well, let them.
San Diego and San Jose are emblematic of the tidal wave of pension liabilities faced by cities across California — and, indeed, the U.S. It’s unsustainable.
Politicians took money and votes from public unions in exchange for ridiculously generous pay and benefits. They figured that sucker taxpayers would just pay the bill later — long after they were out of office.
Well, the bills have come due, and the taxpayers are mad — voting mad. As we noted in an editorial on Wednesday, polls show public sector unions have become increasingly unpopular with the general public — and even their own members — in recent years.
Now, the public unions’ day of reckoning is at hand.
For California, which has been laid low by years of obscenely excessive spending for public-sector pensions and other benefits, this can’t come too soon. If liberal California recognizes the depths of its public-sector union problems, no doubt others will too.
For the unions, this wasn’t merely an election — it was an earthquake. And, as we all know, the biggest earthquakes often happen in California.
Bake sales, the calorie-laden standby cash-strapped classrooms, PTAs and booster clubs rely on, will be outlawed from public schools as of Aug. 1 as part of new no-nonsense nutrition standards, forcing fundraisers back to the blackboard to cook up alternative ways to raise money for kids.
At a minimum, the nosh clampdown targets so-called “competitive” foods — those sold or served during the school day in hallways, cafeterias, stores and vending machines outside the regular lunch program, including bake sales, holiday parties and treats dished out to reward academic achievement. But state officials are pushing schools to expand the ban 24/7 to include evening, weekend and community events such as banquets, door-to-door candy sales and football games.
The Departments of Public Health and Education contend clearing tables of even whole milk and white bread is necessary to combat an obesity epidemic affecting a third of the state’s 1.5 million students. But parents argue crudites won’t cut it when the bills come due on athletic equipment and band trips.
“If you want to make a quick $250, you hold a bake sale,” said Sandy Malec, vice president of the Horace Mann Elementary School PTO in Newtonville.
Maura Dawley of Scituate said the candy bars her 15-year-old son brought to school to help pay for a youth group trip to Guatemala “sold like wildfire.” She worries the ban “would seriously affect the bottom line of the PTOs.
“The goal is to raise money,” Dawley said. “You’re going to be able to sell pizza. You’re not going to get that selling apples and bananas. It’s silly.”
When debate over public unions flared up in Wisconsin last year, educators claimed Gov. Scott Walker’s austere reforms would require thousands of teachers to be laid off.
They were wrong.
With small changes in pension and healthcare contributions while allowing school districts to buy health insurance plans on the open market, Walker’s reforms have resulted in what could be considered a statewide teacher-retention program. School districts such as Wauwatosa, hometown of Governor Walker and the Weekly Standard‘s Fox News star Stephen Hayes, faced a $6.5 million deficit and planned to lay off dozens of teachers. But Walker’s reforms allowed all those teachers to remain employed.
At other large school districts such as LaCrosse, Racine, Wausau, and Beloit, if there were any layoffs at all, they were limited to two or fewer. And in addition to retaining teachers, the reforms have instituted merit-based pay systems that allow excellent teachers to be rewarded.
However, not all school districts adopted Walker’s reforms so readily. Milwaukee’s school district, which is immediately east of Wauwatosa, rammed through a union contact in December, just in time to avoid being subject to the reforms.
Now it appears the Milwaukee district is reconsidering its hasty action.
After the City of Milwaukee announced last week that Milwaukee Public Schools would have to contribute almost 10 million additional dollars to the city’s pension plan (which covers non-teaching employees, such as engineers and educational assistants), the Milwaukee teachers union made the unusual move to write a joint letter with the non-union school board and administration, requesting an additional 30 days to negotiate compensation and benefits.
This request comes on the heels of a 90-day window between November and February to adjust teacher contracts. As the legislation signed by Walker, known as Act 10 and Act 65, makes it impossible to alter existing agreements without nullifying them, a decision to extend this window will have to be made very soon, as the Wisconsin legislature’s general session completes its work today.
However, no matter how badly reforms are necessary, other union leaders are not happy with the Milwaukee teachers union for essentially admitting that Gov. Walker was right, especially before the recall election.
The reforms did a number of things. They ended the automatic collection of union dues by the state, causing an immediate drop in union income and the laying off of numerous union employees. They required that state employees kick in 5.8 percent of their salaries towards their own pensions and to pick up 12.6 percent of their health insurance premiums, bringing public employees more in line with private employee realities. Most important, it limited collective bargaining to salaries (and even that bargaining is limited by the rate of inflation).
For the first time in decades, school administrations are now actually able to administer their districts without union interference, and the savings have been huge. The MacIver Institute, a Wisconsin think tank, reports that of the 108 school districts that completed contracts with employees, 74 of them, with 319,000 students, have reported savings of no less than $162 million. If this is extrapolated out to all districts, it would amount to savings of nearly $448 million.
The biggest area of savings have been in health insurance. The teachers union insisted that districts use the union’s own health insurance company to provide coverage. No longer forced to use a monopoly provider, districts have either switched providers or used the threat of switching to force the union health insurance company to dramatically lower premiums. Savings have averaged $730,000 in districts that have switched providers or forced competitive bidding.
As a result of these dramatic savings, districts that have been able to benefit immediately from the reforms (some districts are locked into long-term contracts and cannot) have been able to avoid laying off teachers despite a significant drop in state aid and to avoid raising school taxes. Indeed, school tax bills that went out last December had an average increase of only 0.3 percent.
Don’t expect the mainstream media to report this. The Democrat party depends enormously on union money, and unions depend largely on money forcibly extorted from taxpayers via collective bargaining (often with the very politicians whose elections they paid for).
Neither the Leftist media nor the unions are interested in true reforms that benefit taxpayers, teachers and students alike. All they’re interested in is staying in power over the taxpayer gravy train.
Across the nation, many states are going bankrupt trying fulfill promises to public workers that are unsustainable, and that politicians KNEW were unsustainable when they made them (they knew that the bill wouldn’t come due until they were personally out of office and left the fallout for us to deal with). This has become all the more apparent in the past three years as continued recession, massive debt and unsustainable government spending have brought the issue front and center nationwide. The stark reality is that most governments from the local to federal level are flat out BROKE, and taxpayers can’t afford to meet public union demands any longer. Something has to give.
Courageous Gov. Walker of Wisconsin was one of the first to try and broker a realistic deal with the unions in his state, but they wouldn’t have it. They fought tooth and nail because they’re terrified of that other states who are swimming in debt and unsustainable demands will finally get the courage to face reality and tell the unions “no.” Gov. Christie in New Jersey has faced similar opposition.
Unions in California are determined to defeat this initiative because they know that it could threaten their confiscatory revenue stream and with it, their iron grip on the state’s budget. The intimidation tactics have already started:
The California State University Employees Union is encouraging its members to intimidate people who are gathering signatures for a so-called “Paycheck Protection Initiative” that would limit the ability of unions to use automatic payroll deductions to gain political contributions from their members. […]
These tactics clearly are designed to scare people away from signing petitions by using bullying techniques that could become confrontational and even violent. They certainly are meant to keep people from exercising their political rights and are tactics that would not be tolerated if they came from organizations on the political right.
The SEIU, AFL-CIO, UAW, and other unions know that they can’t survive without compulsory union dues taken automatically from worker’s paychecks. They don’t have enough people who are willing to voluntarily support them any longer. They are overwhelmingly dependent on coercion: both forced unionization and forced union dues.
Obama used the National Labor Relations Board to institute the “card check” system that couldn’t get passed through congress, which eliminates secret ballot elections and allows unions to organize an entire workforce with only a fraction of the workers turning in signed cards, or even being aware that an election was happening. This allows the unions to begin deducting forced dues before many workers even realize that they’ve even been unionized.
Late last month, union representatives visited night shift workers at group homes under false pretenses, urging employees to sign a survey they were told was for Fellowship, Dziobek said.
He claims that the papers were actually union authorization cards.
The union needs to get at least 30 percent of employees to sign authorization cards for the labor board to authorize a vote on whether to unionize, Dziobek said.
“What I take exception to is the tactics,” he said. A staff person at a group living program in Eastham turned union representatives away at 9 p.m. but they came back at 12:30 a.m. and left only after the staffer threatened to call the police, he said.
Fellowship employees also have complained about being visited three or four times at home by union representatives, Dziobek said. “Staff are pretty upset,” he said. They are asking, “How did they get my personal cell phone number?“
How did the union bosses get non-union workers’ phone numbers and home addresses?
Obama’s NLRB changed the rules to require employers to turn over their employees’ personal information to union bosses, so that organizers could hound them into unionizing:
No wonder they love him. They’re truly dependent on his reelection to boost their ranks and keep the cash flowing, or they won’t survive. They’re willing to do almost anything – legal or not – to make sure he wins and that legislation or ballot measures that threaten their gravy train are stopped.
They are the key organizers and funders behind the Occupy Wall Street protests, knowing that raising taxes on “the rich” is the only thing that will feed their voracious appetite at the taxpayer trough – at least until those individuals and businesses are driven offshore or bankrupted like so many before them.
RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs — including in-home day care centers — to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home.
When home-packed lunches do not include all of the required items, child care providers must supplement them with the missing ones.
The girl’s mother — who said she wishes to remain anonymous to protect her daughter from retaliation — said she received a note from the school stating that students who did not bring a “healthy lunch” would be offered the missing portions, which could result in a fee from the cafeteria, in her case $1.25.
“I don’t feel that I should pay for a cafeteria lunch when I provide lunch for her from home,” the mother wrote in a complaint to her state representative, Republican G.L. Pridgen of Robeson County.
The girl’s grandmother, who sometimes helps pack her lunch, told Carolina Journal that she is a petite, picky 4-year-old who eats white whole wheat bread and is not big on vegetables.
“What got me so mad is, number one, don’t tell my kid I’m not packing her lunch box properly,” the girl’s mother toldCJ. “I pack her lunchbox according to what she eats. It always consists of a fruit. It never consists of a vegetable. She eats vegetables at home because I have to watch her because she doesn’t really care for vegetables.”
When the girl came home with her lunch untouched, her mother wanted to know what she ate instead. Three chicken nuggets, the girl answered. Everything else on her cafeteria tray went to waste.
“She came home with her whole sandwich I had packed, because she chose to eat the nuggets on the lunch tray, because they put it in front of her,” her mother said. “You’re telling a 4-year-old. ‘oh. you’re lunch isn’t right,’ and she’s thinking there’s something wrong with her food.”
This is what happens when we allow government to stick its nose where it doesn’t belong in the name of the “common good.” Individual rights get trampled. Human beings simply cannot be trusted with unlimited powers over their fellow men. The temptation to abuse those powers is too great, and nobody is immune to it. That’s why our founders designed our constitution specifically to limit federal powers.
We The People must rise up and demand the abolition of every federal program, department, and agency that does not fall under the explicitly enumerated powers granted in the constitution. The longer we wait, the more of our liberties are threatened.
How embarrassing this must be for President Obama, whose major speech theme so far this campaign season has been that every single American, no matter how rich, should pay their “fair share” of taxes.
Because how unfair — indeed, un-American — it is for an office worker like, say, Warren Buffet’s secretary to dutifully pay her taxes, while some well-to-do people with better educations and higher incomes end up paying a much smaller tax rate.
Or, worse, skipping their taxes altogether.
A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama’s executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven’t paid any share, let alone their fair share.
Previous reports have shown how well-paid Obama’s White House staff is, with 457 aides pulling down more than $37 million last year. That’s up seven workers and nearly $4 million from the Bush administration’s last year.
Nearly one-third of Obama’s aides make more than $100,000 with 21 being paid the top White House salary of $172,200, each.
The IRS’ 2010 delinquent tax revelations come as part of a required annual agency report on federal employees’ tax compliance. Turns out, an awful lot of folks being paid by taxpayers are not paying their own income taxes.
The report finds that thousands of federal employees owe the country more than $3.4 billion in back taxes. That’s up 3% in the past year.
The wealth gap between those governing the U.S. and the people they represent has dramatically widened, research shows.
Against a backdrop of a vast budget deficit and fears of the fragility of the economy, analysis by the Washington Post shows that the median net worth of a member of Congress has nearly tripled over 25 years while the income of an average U.S. family has actually fallen.
It calculated that their median net worth, between 1984 and 2009 and excluding home equity, rose from $280,000 to $725,000.
Over those same 25 years the wealth of the average U.S. family slipped from $20,500 from $20,600, a University of Michigan study shows.
But in the public sector doesn’t produce wealth. It siphons wealth away from the private sector through forced taxation. Therefore, when government employees such as congressmen grow wealthier, they do so on the backs of the taxpayers they supposedly serve and represent.