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Tim Bishop Remains Clueless in Online Town Hall Meeting

by Bill O'Connell on December 14, 2011

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Congressman Tim Bishop held an online town hall meeting to hear questions from constituents and give his answers. Perhaps he thought this a safer forum than a live town hall meeting. Last year’s meeting in Setauket did not go well and was soon viral on You Tube.

I will comment on three of the topics from that meeting: the payroll tax cut, regulations, and manufacturing jobs.

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The Coming Union Crackup

by Bill O'Connell on August 30, 2011

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Photo by cursedthing

We saw the beginnings with the Battle of Wisconsin. The one place were unions were growing robustly was in the public sector, surpassing the private sector for the first time in 2009. But then 2010 happened.

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Warren Buffett: Crony Capitalist

by Bill O'Connell on August 26, 2011

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Two news items yesterday, when put together, start to tell an interesting story. Warren Buffett invested $5 billion in Bank of America in a private sweetheart deal that will guarantee him a 6% return (that’s $300 million per year) and he is hosting a fund raiser for Barack Obama in New York where the tickets start at $10,000. What’s going on?

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Obama Has a Jobs Plan

by Bill O'Connell on August 23, 2011

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Obama has a jobs plan, or so we are told. He will unveil it after he returns from Martha’s Vineyard. I hope it is a little more detailed than his budget plan to cut $4 trillion that no one can find by meticulously searching the Oval Office. I don’t even know what is in the plan and I have a better one. Stay in Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. President. Set a goal to play eighteen on every PGA sanctioned golf course in the country. Don’t you have some friends and family in Hawaii that miss you?

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As I check the current price of GM stock this morning, $31 per share, and I contemplate how in the world it is going to reach the $53 per share price Americans need to fully recover their “investment” in the automaker, a recent news story lays it on the line. It’s not going to happen. The Obama administration has announced that it is demanding that auto companies double the mileage that their fleets get, to 56.2 miles per gallon, by 2025.

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What was promised vs. What We have

Actual Unemployment vs. Stimulus Sales Pitch

It was a very close race, one of the last decided in the country. Out of 180,000 plus votes the final margin of victory was just under 600 votes. In that election Tim Bishop successfully managed to hide from his record and instead he took advantage of a late Republican primary that was hotly contested and pounced with a campaign of personal attacks on his opponent that was just enough to carry the eight weeks until Election Day. His opponent, Randy Altschuler, wants a rematch and it appears the race will be decidedly different.

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Tim Bishop Outsources Jobs with Your Tax Dollars

by Bill O'Connell on October 28, 2010

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There’s good news and bad news coming out of the Tim Bishop campaign.  The good news is that he has a new ad out so we don’t have to keep watching the same ad he has been running incessantly for the past five weeks.  The bad news it’s about the one subject that Tim Bishop wants to talk about, outsourcing.  It’s the same old stuff, wrapped in a new package.  Why can’t Tim Bishop talk about his record?  Is he embarrassed by it or afraid of it.

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The Anti-Business Obama

by Bill O'Connell on June 18, 2010

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President Obama has demonstrated, as much as he would like to deny it, a strong anti-business sentiment.  He has acted in ways that remind one of a Castro or Chavez in that he is doing it in the name of the people against the greedy profiteers.

General Motors and Chrysler were bled dry by union contracts.  Management is culpable for agreeing to those contracts so they don’t get a pass in my view.  But government also piled on with CAFÉ mileage requirements that forced the auto companies to build cars at a loss (because of the union contracts) to meet this standard.  In the midst of the financial crisis the auto companies were running out of cash.  The Obama administration, rather than let them go into bankruptcy, muscles in and turns over major ownership stakes in GM and Chrysler to the unions who are loyal supporters of the Democrat Party, rather than pay bondholders who were entitled to be paid first.

The housing bubble was driven by government policies going back years.  The stated goals of the Clinton administration was to increase home ownership to as many people as possible.  When the bubble burst, the Obama administration forced TARP money on healthy banks who neither needed it nor wanted it.  The reason was to avoid showing who the real basket case banks were.  But these banks were forced by their government to take the money and then the Obama administration created a pay czar to make sure any company that took TARP money, voluntarily or not, could not pay their executives more than Team Obama said they could.

Lax regulation on the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf of Mexico permitted BP to take short cuts that led to disaster.  President Obama is put in an embarrassing position, so he cranks up the Public Relations machine to throw maximum ire upon BP.  He then tries to be a hero by shaking down BP for $20 billion.  BP has never said they would not pay.  BP waived the limit on damages that was set by, you guessed it, the government and has steadfastly said they would make things right.  But President Obama wanted to look like he was actually doing something and by taking $20 billion and putting it under his control it might look like he was.  I agree with many that President Obama did not cause the leak in the Gulf any more than Bush created Hurricane Katrina, but if, as Obama likes to say, the buck stops here, then he is responsible for the lax enforcement by his administration that could have prevented it.

To create jobs this administration created a $787 billion bailout package that did next to nothing to create real jobs.  It was pork to be paid to union members such as teachers, contractors, and not to grow the economy and create sustainable jobs.

If a business that is solidly behind the Obama agenda, like General Electric who owns the NBC and MSNBC cheerleaders, and wants to be a key player in the cap and trade exchanges, this President will treat them kindly.  But if you are an independent business trying to grow, you will be taxed to your eye sockets.

We pride ourselves on being a nation of laws not a nation of men, but since this President has taken office he has a view that he is above the law and can do whatever he feels he needs to do.  It was somewhat surreal to have Congressman Joe Barton, apologize to BP for the shakedown.  No one owes BP an apology but I understand Congressman Barton’s distaste for the administrations boorish behavior.  No one has the right to demand another’s property without due process of law, and that’s what happened.  Perhaps Tony Heywood should be fired for going along with it.

Let’s keep this in mind.  We need BP to continue to be a viable profitable company, so that every last claim can be paid.  If this administration succeeds in driving BP into the ground, guess who will be next in line to pick up the tab?  That’s right, gentle readers, you and me;  the American taxpayers.

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The Gathering Storm

by Bill O'Connell on March 7, 2010

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If we manage to escape the economic catastrophe that is ObamaCare, we may breathe a little easier, but watch the horizon for a storm is brewing that makes the health care monstrosity look like pin money.

Unions have long been in decline in private industry, but recently for the first time union membership in the public sector surpassed that in the private sector, and it is still growing.  We all know the stories about municipal workers working for 20 or 30 years, then retiring at 50% to 90% of their last year’s pay which is often inflated with heavy overtime, and then they go out and get another job where they work until retirement and a cushy life of a public pension, a handsome private 401k, and Social Security.

It used to be that it was a trade off that government workers (teachers, cops, firefighters, sanitation workers, clerical) got great benefits because they were paid poorly when compared to the private sector.  However that is no longer the case as reported in USA Today:

 USA Today reported that nearly one in five federal government employees now earn over $100,000. The paper also reported the average federal salary rose to $71,260, almost $31,000 more than the comparative average private-sector wage. 

If that doesn’t get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up as, after all you are who pays for these salaries and benefits, then perhaps this will from National Review’s March 8, 2010 issue:

The highest-paid municipal employee in Madison, Wis., is bus driver John E. Nelson, whose salary last year totaled more than $159,000. Half a dozen of his fellow drivers also earned in six figures. How is this possible? The Wisconsin State Journal explains:“A high base salary and other benefits for drivers were largely set in the 1970s and 1980s, when the city took over the bus company.” Combine that with generous, federally mandated leave provisions that make for lots of overtime, and it’s not unusual for a bus driver to out-earn the mayor (and with much better job security). In the 1950s, Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners was paid $62 a week by the skinflints at the Gotham Bus Company; he was constantly hatching schemes to strike it rich so he could quit. Today Kramden’s dreams of avarice would have been a lot simpler: get a government job and join a union. — The Week, “National Review,” March 8 , 2010

$159,000 for driving a bus.  Imagine.  I wonder what the private bus company was paying their drivers before the city took them over?  I am sure, like ObamaCare, the takeover was a cost savings measure.  After all, those greedy private companies are out to make a profit. 

Who was the most frequent visitor to the White House  at the time the White House released its visitor logs?  It was Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (government workers), which should tell you where this is going.  Remember, as well, that when the federal government took over GM and Chrysler they gave huge percentages of those companies to the unions.  So when it comes time to negotiate the next contracts the union will sit on both sides of the bargaining table, as management and labor.  How will that turn out?  It will be one of two ways, either the union will have an epiphany and realize that profits are important to staying employed, or the unions will pick the bones of GM and Chrysler clean, driving them out of business and leaving you and me, brother, holding the bag.

The Ticking Pension Bomb

The killer, however, is unfunded pension liabilities.  All those pensions that we will be paying for with retirees being retired for longer than they worked in many cases, will be like nothing we have imagined before from a fiscal crisis standpoint.  In private industry as businesses learned to appreciate the value of their human assets, they treated them accordingly and the unions withered.  However in the public sector we have elected officials writing laws, e.g., Davis Bacon, that heavily favor or require union labor.  Unions in turn, pour millions into making sure those same politicians get re-elected.  Who is looking out for you and me?  As the ultimate employers of government employees, how about a law that union contracts must be ratified by the public at the ballot box?  Too cumbersome?  Okay, how about a law that government employees cannot receive salaries and benefits that exceed what the average private employee (the public employees’ bosses) receives in that geographical area?

Tea Party Members, are you listening?

It is clear from the present administration that the statists believe that it is their destiny to rule, not govern, over the masses who they believe are their intellectual inferiors.  Keep piling it on, but don’t worry we can always tax the rich to pay for it.  But as you board that bus in Madison Wisconsin, ask yourself if Mr. Nelson behind the wheel, is the rich guy picking up the tab or is it you?  Watch out folks, if we don’t do something soon, the rich won’t be rich enough to pay for it even if we tax them at 100% and there is no law to stop them from taking their wealth and moving somewhere else where taxes are lower.  And at this rate there are a lot of places in the world where the taxes are lower.

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Too Big To Succeed

by Bill O'Connell on January 21, 2010

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In the midst of the financial meltdown the government and financial pundits argued that they had to rescue the big banks because they were too big to fail.  If we don’t save them, they could bring down the entire U.S. economy and in  turn the economy of the entire world.  Ignoring the history and responsibility for how they got there, that could be a true statement that the government had to do something to avoid a worldwide panic.

The panic averted, many banks paid the money back with interest, are in the process of paying out massive bonuses and the Obama administration is twisting itself in self-righteous knots to tax them into humility.  Good luck with that.  While they target the banks, they are hands off on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, GM and Chrysler because to tax those basket cases would just be taking money from the left taxpayer pocket and moving it to the right taxpayer pocket.  If you look to the root of the problems of the fiscal meltdown you will find the government’s hand in almost every corner, but don’t expect this administration to try to get to the bottom of it.

Back Up, Go Ahead

There was an old Abbot and Costello routine where Abbot was guiding Costello in parking a car.

Costello asked what he should do and Abbot said, “Back up.”

Costello confirmed, “Back Up?”

To which Abbot replied, “Yeah, go ahead.”

“Go ahead?”

“No. back up.”

“Back up?”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

I don’t know if the Obama administration is Abbot or Costello, but they are telling banks, “Lend more money.”  Then they tell the banks, we are going to raise taxes and take your money away.  Then they ask the bank, “Why aren’t you lending more money?”

Programs You Can Believe In

Medicare

It is estimated that Medicare loses about $60 Billion ANNUALLY in fraud.  That’s right about $60 billion of your tax dollars are stolen every year from this program.

“If you want to find Medicare fraud, the first place you should look is South Florida, where 60 Minutes and correspondent Steve Kroft were told it has pushed aside cocaine as the major criminal enterprise.” 60 Minutes – Medicare Fraud: A $60 Billion Crime

While the Obama Administration pushes their health care program one of the ways of funding the program is through savings in Medicare fraud.  However, no one has been able to stop it.  Not Republicans.  Not Democrats.

First Time Home Buyer Credit

This wonderful new program was designed to help first time home buyers achieve the American Dream.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a genius to also achieve that criminal American Dream, fleecing the government.

It’s hard not to laugh when viewing the results of the federal first-time home-buyer tax credit. The credit, worth up to $8,000 for the purchase of a home, has only been available since April of last year. Yet news of the latest taxpayer-funded mortgage scam has traveled fast. The Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, recently told Congress that at least 19,000 filers hadn’t purchased a home when they claimed the credit. For another 74,000 filers, claiming a total of $500 million in credits, evidence suggests that they weren’t first-time buyers. – WSJ – First Time Fraudsters, 10/29/2009

The  IRS even had to admit that in an investigation they found 53 cases where IRS employees filed “illegal or inappropriate” claims for the credit.

Too Big To Govern

A new president is elected once every four years, but the vast government bureaucracy remains.  It is said that a president will only be able to address 3-4 top priorities in their term.  By the time they appoint executive department heads and the Senate approves them and they set about to figure out the departments they are in charge of, it is an enormous undertaking to try to make significant changes.  To try to curb fraud, to overcome the inertia of the entrenched bureaucrats who know they will outlast the appointee, and their friends in Congress who will probably be there as long, is just too tall an order to accomplish in a four year cycle.  Every time a new liberal takes over, their first order of business is to make the bureaucracy larger.  It does not work.  It will not work.

The Only Solution

The only solution is to make the federal government smaller.  It must be bold.  It must be dramatic.  Tweaking it at the margins will fail.  Entire departments must be shut down.  The Constitution should be the blueprint for this.  If the power is not explicit in the Constitution, shut it down and allow the states or local governments to take it up if they choose.  Then drastically cut taxes accordingly.  Let people keep their money and decide at the local level if they want that service or not.  Let every state try their own solution and each state can learn what works and what doesn’t from each other.  But this idea of pushing every solution up to the federal and let one size fits all be forced on everyone is, quite simply, madness.  We need less government and more liberty.

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