Archive for August 31st, 2009

Having spent 6 years in the Delaware Legislature gave me an appreciation of the power of the legislature versus that of the Executive. While the Executive has a strong ability to “define the playing surface” (i.e. what are the policy ideas and initiatives that get worked on), the Legislature has the ability to decide many of the specifics within those confines. Governor Minner basically abdicated the role of the Executive branch during her tenure to disastrous effect for Delaware. Governor Markell learned (I hope) how to define the “surface” a little better after this first session where he put all his “chips” (pun intended) into gambling and an 8% salary cut. He lost both of these bets. Being a pretty bright guy, I expect that his second legislative session will be more successful.

At the federal level, the President has been following the Minner approach by allowing Pelosi & Reid define not only the specifics, but the whole playing surface, and it has been brutal on the President’s popularity and his effectiveness. But even worse, it has destroyed his future flexibility because the budget is shot. According to the CBO,

CBO released updated economic and budget projectionsa [August 28], showing baseline (i.e., current law) budget deficits of about $1.6 trillion for the current fiscal year that ends on September 30 and roughly $7.1 trillion for the 2010-2019 period. That 10-year total is about $2.7 trillion higher than the baseline projection CBO published in March 2009. As noted in our report, about half of that revision is attributable to legislation enacted since March (primarily from extrapolating the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009), while the other half stems from technical factors and updates to our economic forecast.

So, from March to today, the Democrats have passed Supplemental Appropriations that have increased the deficit by $1.3 trillion (a 20% increase in the deficit and also a stack of $1,000 bills over 80 miles tall). The economy itself has added another $1.3 trillion. These numbers are before the CBO has “updated [its] analysis of the President’s budget to reflect our new economic and technical assumptions”. The OMB’s estimate of the impact of the Administration’s proposals added $2.8 trillion to the baseline budget, so I think that it is safe to assume that the CBO estimate of the Administration’s proposals will be at least $2.8 trillion more. That would bring the total 2010-2019 budget deficit to $10 trillion. Note that in 2008, the total US GDP was about $14 trillion.

By allowing Pelosi & Reid to drive the policy bus, the President is now fiscally stuck. Maybe he should go back to what got him elected… tax cuts for 95% of Americans and fiscal responsibility.


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Seventy Years Ago

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 1, 2009, marks the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

Appropriately enough, foreign dignitaries are gathering in Gdansk, Poland to commemorate  the beginning of hostilities between Poland and Nazi Germany. Most history books record that the shooting started at dawn when the obsolete German battleship Schleswig-Holstein turned its guns on the small Polish military garrison located on the Westerplatte peninsula. That garrison’s brief, but heroic, seven-day resistance in the face of overwhelming odds has, rightly, become a point of Polish national pride.

Some in Poland, however, believe World War II began not with the shelling of a legitimate military target, but rather, with the purposeless bombing of a civilian one.  According to residents of Wielun:

On the road into this community of 24,000, a “Welcome to Wielun” sign looms large. Three numbers stick out: “4:40”.

That was the time the Luftwaffe bombs rained down, five minutes before the battleship Schleswig-Holstein opened fire at a Polish garrison in Danzig (modern-day Gdansk), triggering six years of warfare around the world.

“We want people to remember that the barbarity started here,” Mieczyslaw Majcher, Wielun’s 53-year-old mayor, told AFP.

“But we have the impression people ask: ‘What’s Wielun?'”

Eugeniusz Kolodziejczyk, 82, knows only too well.

“I remember standing right by this tree. That’s when I saw the planes coming in,” he said, gesturing skywards to a flight-path branded into his memory.

He was at the station seeing off his father, who had been called up by the army as war clouds gathered.

“I can still see it clearly. I shouted to him: ‘I can hear a loud noise! I can see planes!’ Then the bombs started falling,” said Kolodziejczyk, one of 42 remaining eyewitnesses.

“They fell on the hospital, the synagogue, the church, the houses. I remember the rubble. The whole place was on fire, stinging our throats. It was like fog, you couldn’t see more than five or ten metres (yards).

“I’ll never forget it until the end of my days. We didn’t stand a chance.”

Further raids hit around 7:00 am, 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.

Three-quarters of Wielun was destroyed. Around 1,200 of its 15,000 inhabitants were killed and many more were injured. Half of the dead were Jews, who made up around a third of the population and mostly lived in the centre.

Regardless of where the shooting commenced, Poland arguably suffered the worst fate of any European nation during the war.  Conquered and then divided by Nazi Germany and the USSR, her towns and cities lay in ruins, and over 6,000,000 of her citizens (including at least 3,000,000 Jews) where killed before the shooting in Europe stopped on May 8, 1945.    Poland was also the site of some of the Nazi’s worst atrocities, including the death camps of Auschwitz, and  Sobibor.

Sadly, liberation from the Nazi’s did not bring liberty for Poland.  Sacrificed at Yalta, Poland exchanged one brutal totalitarian despotism- National Socialist occupation, for another- the long night of communist oppression.  In many ways, dawn did not break in Wielun or Gdansk until 1989 and the end of communist rule.

Tomorrow,  pause and remember the barbarity that began seventy years ago on this day.

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This was a great segment from Friday’s 20/20.  John Stossel shows how insurance has made healthcare more expensive.   Includes interviews with John Mackey (co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods), a couple doctors and Mark Horn (a father of four from North Carolina who unsuccessfully tries to shop for the best price from doctors).

When insurance companies pay the tab for everything — down to flu shots and sprained ankles — it makes health care more expensive for everyone. Why? Because when someone else pays for your health care, you aren’t likely to ask, or even care, how much it costs.

Good argument about Lasik eye surgery – rarely covered by insurance and the price has dropped 30% over the years because people shop around for the best deal.  This is worth watching, no matter what side of the debate you are on:

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As some of you may be aware Vance Phillips is the President of Sussex County Council and for the past 14 years has hosted a crab feast that usually attracts 300 plus supporters. In fact, it is a must event for any GOP candidate running statewide to appear at.

Well this year he changed the flavor with all proceeds going to a youth substance abuse progam in Sussex.

Many Democrats came out in support and the crowd hit 400 and the food table soon looking like the locusts from the Ten Commandments had swarmed in.

There was very little left.

The Councilman has done a good thing and deserves recognition.

Oh, there were no government entities involved and the program kept all the money which at 400 x $35.00 a piece isn’t too bad.

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