Tuesday, August 30, 2011

O'Malley Pats Himself on Back for Irene Response

...I guess he wasn't one of the nearly 90% of Harford County BGE customers that lost power in a "slightly less than category 1 hurricane" (~50 mph winds)... 15% of whom still don't have power 3 days later.

from the Baltimore Sun
In addition to the national attention lavished on Gov. Martin O'Malley and other state leaders for their handling of Hurricane Irene, Maryland's governor got a nod from inside-the-beltway publication Politico.

The politics-obsessed news organization listed O'Malley among four East Coast governors who passed an executive leadership test administered by Irene.

"With the memory of Hurricane Katrina forever serving as an object lesson in crisis management gone awry, the group of potential 2016 contenders whose states stud the coastline—Republicans Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie and Democrats Andrew Cuomo and Martin O’Malley—appear to have endured Hurricane Irene with burnished reputations after an uncommonly ferocious storm where executive missteps could have cost even more lives," according to Politico's Maggie Haberman.

The Sun wrote today about the hurricane's silver lining, which also illuminated Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. The hurricane was the topic of O'Mallely's first appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, which he did from storm-watch headquarters at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Of course Irene's test is not quite over. Hundreds of thousand of Marylanders remain without power and are losing patience. O'Malley and Brown are spending the day in Southern Maryland, the hardest hit part of the state, to assess damage.

O'Malley's office asked us to note that the power outages will affect the state redistricting meeting originally scheduled for this afternoon at the Anne Arundel Community College. The hearing has been moved to the Joint Hearing Room in the Legislative Services Building at 90 State Circle, Annapolis. The meeting will be at 4:30.
...Lots of the Emergency Operations Centers Lost Power (admission in the video above)? And all, by now (August 30, 3 days later), have emergency generators? Wow. What foresight. And O'Malley PASSED the so-called "leadership test". What would it take to FAIL it? Imagine if it had been a Katrina... I think I see underwater busses...e-r-r-r-r, generators in Maryland's future. I can guarantee you one thing, they'll cost more than nuclear, coal-fired and or natural gas powered ones if Maryland's "long sighted" Democrats have any say in it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What do Virginians Think of Maryland's Governance?

from the Republican Party of Virginia
For Virginia Democrats, A Time for Choosing Contrasts don't come much clearer than this. From National Review:
"... Just days after Virginia governor Bob McDonnell announced a $544 million surplus, Maryland governor Martin O'Malley told county leaders Saturday that Maryland may need to increase taxes to solve a $1 billion budget gap next year.

What makes the contrast even more striking is the fact that McDonnell previously balanced an inherited $4.2 billion budget deficit that Gov. Tim Kaine had said could only be closed with a $2 billion tax increase, while O'Malley has already signed the largest tax increase in Maryland history during his first term."

So of all those Virginia Democrats who might be considering a run for governor in 2013 - like Terry McAuliffe, Mark Warner and Ward Armstrong - we ask a simple question:

Do you support the O'Malley model of governance, or the McDonnell model of governance?

Virginia taxpayers will be very interested in your answer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Patriot Action Alert!

From The Dagger and the Harford Campaign for Liberty:
Join us for our Monthly meeting on Tuesday, August 23, then join us for the fight at the redistricting hearing this Saturday!

Saturday, Aug. 27th at 11:00am at the Amoss Center.
200 Thomas Run Rd, across from Harford Community College, near corner of Rt 22

Senate President Mike Miller, House of Delegates Speaker Mike Busch and others will be at the hearing to.

Even if you do not want to speak, please attend and show your support for fair districts in Maryland.

The redistricting process is carried out every 10 years after the census to redraw maps based on the new census population data.

Prior to 2002 the eight districts in Maryland were made up of 4 Democrat held districts and 4 Republican districts. After the redistricting in 2002 the districts were changed to 6 Democrat and 2 Republican districts.

They now plan to redraw the districts to 7 Democrat and 1 Republican or possibly 8-0.

Our Founding Fathers rebelled because of a tax on Stamps and Tea.


1. This redistricting represents Politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their Representatives. We should be choosing our representatives and not the other way around.

2. The party in power will further reduce our ability to resist their hold on power.

3. Voting districts should be compact and comprised of communities with similar interests and goals.

4. This is an attempt at single party rule in Maryland.

5. The recent success of the petition to bring to referendum SB167 shows how out of touch the current state delegation has become. This is the petition that stops Illegal Aliens from getting In-State tuition at Maryland colleges until it is voted on by all Marylanders in November 2012 at the ballot box.

6. The current state assembly is more responsive to special interests than constituents.

Join us at Campaign for Liberty Meeting on Tuesday the 23rd at 7PM, then on Saturday, Aug. 27th at 11:00am at the Amoss Center.

200 Thomas Run Rd, across from Harford Community College, near corner of Rt 22

In Liberty,
Your Harford Campaign for Liberty Team

Lawmakers Hiding from Their Constituents?

from the Baltimore Sun
Sixty percent of House lawmakers across the county – and all but one in Maryland – are forgoing town hall-style meetings with constituents during the August recess period, according to a review released Monday by the nonpartisan group No Labels.

The group, founded by Democratic and Republican centrists, surveyed individual offices on Capitol Hill. The only member of Maryland’s delegation actively holding town hall meetings is Rep. Andy Harris. The Baltimore County Republican announced another meeting in Fruitland, Md., for Tuesday.

“Washington must hear from all Americans, not a handpicked few who (pass) a partisan litmus test or can afford to donate,” said William Galston, a co-founder of the group and a former advisor to President Bill Clinton. “Our concern is that elected officials are only hearing from their respective partisan bases and will not expose themselves to criticism.”

The number of town hall meetings scheduled by lawmakers dropped precipitously after the summer of 2009, when voters who were upset about health care legislation turned out in droves. The response forced the then-Democratic majority in the House to alter the legislation and was considered a significant victory for the Tea Party movement.

The No Labels survey found that 68 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Republicans are ditching the meetings. Congress will return to Washington after Labor Day.

Friday, August 19, 2011

...but Will They Ever Be Submitted?

from the Baltimore Sun
Union chief blasts budget cuts

The head of a leading federal employees union said Thursday that budget cuts called for by the White House for federal agencies will have a devastating effect on the economy and could also reduce public services.

John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said in a statement that the Office of Management and Budget guidance unveiled this week would translate into lost jobs in a down economy. The administration instructed agencies to plan for their 2013 budget to fall between 5 percent and 10 percent below this year's spending levels.

“Cuts of this magnitude will inevitably mean fewer staff to take care of injured veterans in our VA hospitals, fewer officers patrolling the borders, fewer inspectors to enforce our laws on clean air and water, and fewer scientists to conduct medical research and make sure that Americans are sold medications that are safe and effective," Gage said. "All of America suffers when government lacks the resources to carry out the promise of effective and efficient public service."

The federal workforce, which is heavily represented in Maryland, has been a target of recent attempts to cut federal spending, including during the debate last month over raising the nation's debt ceiling. It is not clear what cuts may be in store for federal employees in the next several months as a 12-member committee of lawmakers tries to identify $1.5 trillion in additional cuts by Thanksgiving.
Remember the Threat to Maryland's Bond Rating Last Month? Looks like it may happen yet.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Will Maryland Hit the Debt Ceiling in 2017?

from the Maryland Daily Record
Maryland could be within $43 million of hitting its debt ceiling in fiscal 2017, according to projections presented to the Capital Debt Affordability Committee.

The committee, made up of financial officials from the executive branch and legislature, heard an overview of the state’s financial projections, debt obligations, and the direction that the money is flowing. They will weigh the state’s debt service, revenue projections and the economic outlook, and recommend how much more debt the state should go into next year.

Maryland has a self-imposed limit on debt service of 8 percent of all revenues received. This means that only 8 percent of revenues in a given year can go toward principal and interest on state bonds.

The state’s debt service payment is 6.9 percent of its revenues. By 2017, debt service is projected to be 7.8 percent of revenues. (By comparison, the interest on the federal debt this year is about 10 percent of total revenues.)

“There’s not a lot of flexibility,” Patti Konrad, director of debt management for the State Treasurer’s office, said Friday.

The state is approaching its debt limit so quickly largely because of the economic drop off and subsequent recession in fiscal 2009 and 2010. Both years, the state saw a net decrease in its revenues. These decreases pulled revenue growth way down from a general upward trend, and the recession slowed the overall speed of the state’s economic growth.

While projections show the state’s debt service climbing rapidly toward the danger zone, Konrad said several items have been taken out of consideration when looking at the state’s total debt.

The $33 million in bonds to build a parking garage for the State Center complex in Baltimore are no longer considered because a lawsuit has stalled further development. Additionally, money to purchase slot machines for casinos at Rocky Gap and in Baltimore City was pulled out of the debt calculation because neither project is moving forward right now. And the money set aside for slot machines that will be purchased for the Arundel Mills casino was also reduced, based on machine purchases for the Ocean Downs and Perryville casinos.

Additionally, a new law passed by the General Assembly changed what is counted as debt service. Many environmentally friendly projects are no longer seen as adding to the state’s debt because developers are guaranteeing annual energy savings that exceed the debt service the state would have to pay. Nineteen projects have dropped out of debt calculations because of this new law.

Konrad and State Treasurer Nancy Kopp both stressed that these projections are not final. The world is in a time of financial uncertainty right now, with wild daily fluctuations in the world’s stock markets. Bond rating agencies have put the state on a negative credit watch — possible prelude to a rating downgrade — because of the large number of federal contractors based in Maryland. So the numbers presented to the committee on Friday — as well as the outlook they represent — could change drastically in a matter of weeks.

“You need to make sure everything is communicated with this giant asterisk,” Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

The Bureau of Revenue Estimates, a division in Franchot’s office, is working to make accurate predictions of where the state’s revenues might be next year. In the meantime, the Capital Debt Affordability Committee will continue to work on its recommendations next month, presenting them by Oct. 1.

“Day-to-day the numbers are going to change because the world is changing so rapidly,” Konrad said.

Because of so much uncertainty, Franchot asked the treasurer’s office to research the state’s ability to pay off debt in the worst-case scenario of a double-dip recession, where revenues decline for another couple years. Konrad said she would run the figures and present them to the committee next month.

Despite the volatile financial situation, Kopp said she was optimistic that Maryland’s economy — dependence on Washington and all — would pull through.

“It’s not going to be like they say it is,” she said. Many of the government contractors in Maryland are involved with essential services, like cybersecurity. Additionally, agencies like the National Institutes of Health, disburse grant funds nationwide.
I fully expect to see state legislators raise the ceiling as pencil whipping problems is much easier than actually solving them. Just look at Marylands educational standards. Oooops, that's right. There aren't any. Things are VERY hopey-changey in Annapolis.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Van Jones and the New Liberal Tea Party Alternative

It's called Rebuild the Dream and the Liberal Left is looking for a grassroots organization to compete with the Tea Party. Can you build a grassroots organization out of astroturf? We'll see.

Monday, August 15, 2011

From the Fringe to the Fast Lane - Obama Re-enters His Ebony Bubble on a Tour of Americaland

from UPI
CANNON FALLS, Minn., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- President Obama, his approval rating below 40 percent for the first time, hits the road Monday with a swing-state bus tour of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.

Gallup released its survey results Sunday at the end of a pivotal campaign weekend for Republicans, as U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., won Iowa's Ames Straw Poll, ending former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's White House quest, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race.

Obama kicks off his taxpayer-funded bus tour with a morning flight to Minneapolis and then a bus trip 35 miles south to Cannon Falls, Minn., a town of about 4,000 best known for the recording studio where the late Kurt Cobain's grunge band Nirvana recorded in the early 1990s.

The purpose of Obama's tour is to "discuss ways to grow the economy, strengthen the middle class and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation," the White House said in a statement Sunday night.

Obama wants to "hear directly from Americans, including small-business owners, local families, private sector leaders, rural organizations and government officials" about their economic concerns and ideas for revitalization to restore "confidence in our nation's future and enhance the sense of optimism for future generations," the White House said.

Obama is to hold a town-hall meeting in a Cannon Falls park along the Cannon River about noon CDT (1 p.m. EDT) and then travel by bus 115 miles southeast into Iowa, where GOP presidential hopefuls had been busy cultivating support.

In Decorah, Iowa, a city of about 8,000, Obama will hold another town-hall meeting about 5:15 p.m. CDT at Seed Savers Exchange, an heirloom seeds and plants preservation organization.

The White House denied the itinerary was politically motivated. GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the tour "an insult to the intelligence of every American."

Obama was to spend the night in Decorah and travel Tuesday to Peosta, Iowa, near Dubuque and the junction of Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, to host a Rural Economic Forum, the White House said.

The forum would "discuss the importance of growing small businesses and strengthening the middle class in rural America," the White House said.

In his Saturday radio address, Obama said he intended over the coming weeks to "put forward more proposals to help our businesses hire and create jobs."

"We can no longer let partisan brinkmanship get in our way," Obama said, adding he rejected "the idea that making it through the next election is more important than making things right."

Obama was to conclude the tour Wednesday with two town hall events in his home state of Illinois.

The Democratic president's approval rating has dipped to 39 percent in Gallup's latest survey. Another 54 percent said they disapproved of his performance, Gallup said.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Marylanders Defending the Vote

from the Baltimore Sun
Del. Patrick McDonough is assembling a legal team to help fight a court challenge against a popular petition seeking to repeal the MD Dream Act, a controversial law that would give illegal immigrants discounted in-state tuition rates at Maryland colleges and universities.

McDonough (pictured on the right) said that the petition is so important that it "ranks up there with Oxygen" and wants to ensure that legal challenges fail so voters can determine whether the law should be implemented. The question is set for the 2012 ballot.

He said he will add himself to the case as an intervenor next week.

Earlier this month the immigrant rights group CASA de Maryland filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the in-state tuition petition, which attracted nearly 109,000 valid signatures. Should the petition survive this legal challenge it will trigger the first state-wide referendum on a General Assembly-passed law in 20 years.

McDonough shared other gripes: He believes that Judge Ronald Silkworth, the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge assigned to the case, should remove himself because of a previous ruling.

Last year Silkworth tossed out a county-wide referendum effort on whether a casino should be constructed at Arundel Mills saying the ballot initiative would be would be illegal because the legislation to authorize the billion-dollar casino was part of an appropriation package. According to state law, appropriations - or spending allowances - cannot be decided upon by voters at the ballot box.

CASA de Maryland and its allies are making a similar argument to overturn the in-state tuition petition -- saying that the bill is budget related because it will trigger millions in state costs.

"He has prejudiced himself," McDonough said of the judge. A call to Silkworth's chambers has not been immediately returned.

With the slots referendum, Judge Silkworth's decision was overturned by the state's highest court. However, the Maryland Court of Appeals never released their reasoning. McDonough also wants that document made public, saying it will help guide legal strategy on both sides.

David Paulson, a spokesman for Attorney General Douglas Gansler said their office will not join McDonough's request to have the opinion released. Paulson said his office "respects" the high court's decision making process "and the time it may take to issue an opinion."

Gansler, a Democrat, leads the office responsible for defending state agencies. His lawyers will argue in court for the petition to go forward, as the state Board of Elections ruled.
More from Del. Patrick McDonough from The Dagger

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maryland Represented on Congressional Super-Panel

from The Baltimore Sun
Tapped Thursday for the bipartisan congressional committee that will be charged with finding $1.5 trillion in federal deficit reduction, Rep. Chris Van Hollen said the panel should focus on jobs.

“Putting America back to work is the best and most immediate way to reduce our deficit as we also develop and implement a balanced plan to establish long-term fiscal discipline and sustained economic growth,” the Montgomery County Democrat said in a statement Thursday. “Our plan should put jobs first, sharpen America's competitive edge, ensure health and retirement security, and require shared responsibility from those who have done so well even during these tough economic times. Together, we can build a prosperous and secure future for all Americans.”

Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, was chosen by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which was created last week as part of the deal to raise the federal debt ceiling.

The legislation charged the so-called supercommittee with identifying $1.2 to $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction by Nov. 23. That’s on top of some $900 billion in cuts ordered over the next 10 years.

If the supercommittee is unable to agree on the additional reductions, or if Congress does not accept its recommendations, the law imposes automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion.

Pelosi said the panel “has a golden opportunity to take its discussions to the higher ground of America's greatness and its values.”

In a statement, she said the committee must focus on economic growth and job creation; make decisions regarding investments, cuts and revenues and their timing to stimulate growth; and increase demand by offering recommendations that ensure that wages grow with productivity and reduce America’s families’ dependence on credit.

“We must achieve a ‘grand bargain’ that reduces the deficit by addressing our entire budget, while strengthening Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” Pelosi said.

Where Democrats speak of increasing revenues by closing what they characterize as tax loopholes and allowing tax cuts initially signed by President George Bush to expire, Republicans have focused on cutting spending.

Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell cited "chronic joblessness, out-of-control deficits and debt," and described entitlement programs as "the biggest drivers of our debt."

House Speaker John Boehner said “our debt and deficits are a threat to our economy, and America cannot achieve long-term job growth until we take action to address this crisis."

He said the supercommittee "presents an opportunity for both parties to bring to the table their best ideas, debate them on the merits, and ultimately come together to do what’s best for our country."

“The two parties have fundamental differences about government and its proper role in our society," Boehner said. "Where we've been able to agree, we have acted, and in a way consistent with the American people’s desire for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Still, the differences remain, and so does the urgent work of returning our economy to creating jobs and lifting the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children’s future."

The supercommittee is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans each from the House and the Senate, selected by each party’s leader in each chamber.

With Pelosi’s announcement, the membership is now complete. In addition to Van Hollen, it includes Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Patty Murray of Washington, Republican Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona, Rob Portman of Ohio and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Democratic Reps. James Clyburn of South Carolina and Xavier Becerra of California and Republican Reps. Dave Camp of Michigan, Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Fred Upton of Michigan. Murray and Hensarling have been named co-chairs.

Van Hollen, who represents parts of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland’s Washington suburbs, could use his position to give voice to the tens of thousands of federal workers whose jobs have been threatened during the deficit debate by talk of spending cuts.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When Dreams Become Nightmares

From the office of Glen Glass
To the many, many Harford County citizens who responded to the MDPetition Dream Act drive —- THANK YOU! To those who worked so hard on the Petition drive THANK YOU and to those of you who signed it THANK YOU!!

There were over 110,000 certified signatures which pushed this to a referendum vote in the 2012 election. The people of Harford County spoke and they spoke loud and clear. The citizens of Maryland are NOT divided on this issue. More than 80% of the people are against the Dream Act, the numbers are higher in Harford and Cecil Counties.

Our children and legal citizens deserve the lower in-state tuition rates. Those that are undocumented or illegal do not deserve this. We need to be sure to keep these positions available for our own children and citizens. Casa de MD is suing MDPetitions to cancel out your voice against this unjust law (SB167) and pledge to spend $5 million to stop this going to referendum. The people of Harford County and all of Maryland have spoken and asserted their First Amendment right ….“Freedom of speech”!

That being said, I also respect others opinions that are in favor of the Dream Act , even though we disagree on this issue.

For continuing updates on the Dream Act go to: www.MDPetitions.com

Thanks again and enjoy the rest of your summer!
Delegate Glen Glass
Harford & Cecil Counties

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Left's Solution to the Debt Crises "Shoot the Messenger!"

Fifteen trillion dollars borrowed, new entitlements set to kick in in 2012, and the blame for the nation's debt rating downgrade is being firmly attached, of all places, upon the Tea Party which delivered the message to Washington, DC.... "Off with their heads!" from The Hill
Liberals are growing frustrated with President Obama’s soft response to the Tea Party after fractious negotiations over the debt limit led to the loss of nation’s AAA credit rating on Friday.

Republicans and Democrats have unleashed fusillades of attack against each other in the wake of the announcement but Obama has stayed quiet, frustrating his party’s base.

“It’s hard to see how we avoid a Tea-Party recession if the president who has the biggest megaphone in the country is not willing to speak clearly on the issue,” Justin Ruben, executive director of MoveOn.org, told The Hill in a Saturday afternoon interview.

Ruben said Obama should never have allowed Tea-Party lawmakers in the House to treat a debt-limit extension as a concession to Democrats given the nation’s entire economy depended on it.

By accepting the threat of a national default as politically valid, Obama put himself at a major disadvantage in the talks, he said.

“It’s a terrible deal that will destroy jobs and big part of reason is because president accepted the premise that it was okay to hold economy hostage,” Ruben said. “Instead of saying, 'this is outrageous' and ‘You will not threaten the full faith and credit of the U.S.,’ and telling America what the Republicans are doing, he sat down and said, 'let’s bargain' and tried to show he was more reasonable.”

Ruben said a potential default should have never been within the parameters of the debate.

“That table should not have existed,” he said.

Liberal activists were instrumental to Obama beating Hillary Clinton in the caucus states — which require more opportunities for face-to-face persuasion than larger states — during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

MoveOn.org endorsed Obama on Feb. 1, 2008, shortly before Super Tuesday, a crucial round of balloting.

Obama won the nomination by racking up wins — often by large margins — in smaller states with caucus systems, such as Iowa, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, North Dakota and Nebraska. Clinton captured large states with primaries such as California, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The president has been careful not to blame the Tea Party for the nation’s credit downgrade even though many Democrats and some independent political experts think he could make a strong case.

“The President believes it is important that our elected leaders come together to strengthen our economy and put our nation on a stronger fiscal footing,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement that seemed anodyne compared to the remarks of GOP presidential candidates and lawmakers.

“The bipartisan compromise on deficit reduction was an important step in the right direction. Yet, the path to getting there took too long and was at times too divisive. We must do better to make clear our nation’s will, capacity and commitment to work together to tackle our major fiscal and economic challenges,” Carney said.

This type of response has led some of the president’s supporters to think that he is bringing a plate of muffins to a street brawl.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann led the attack against Obama on Friday night.

“America’s creditworthiness just became the latest casualty in President Obama’s failed record of leadership on the economy,” Romney said in statement. “His failed policies have led to high unemployment, skyrocketing deficits, and now, the unprecedented loss of our nation’s prized AAA credit rating.”

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), who is vying to win the Iowa Republican caucus next year, turned up the rhetoric even higher.

“This president has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending by raising the debt ceiling,” she said. “President Obama is destroying the foundation’s of our economy one beam at a time.”

Bachmann voted against the final debt deal, as well as the Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) proposal. She also accused the Obama administration of "scare tactics" for warning about a possible U.S. default if no action were taken.

Obama may be trying to neutralize the acid partisan environment in Washington, which Standard & Poor’s cited in its decision to downgrade the U.S.

“We have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics anytime soon,” Standard & Poor’s wrote in its overview.

Ross K. Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University, who has studied Congress throughout his career and served fellowships in the Senate, said he thinks the Tea Party is more responsible for standoff that led to Friday’s downgrade.

“I think they shoulder a major responsibility for the blame. They set the agenda,” Baker said. "The advent of such a large number of house members endorsed by the Tea Party made sure that budget cutting was going to be on the advantage. They pressed their advantage beyond which a point compromise was possible."

Baker characterized the president’s pushback against the Tea Party as lacking muscle.

“The president has to put some muscle in his rhetoric and go after the Tea Party as home wreckers. I think the president in following his own precept in being a conciliator. It’s great and quite noble but he’s in a situation in which he really has to stand up for things in which he believes,” Baker said.

Democratic senators did not think Obama used his bully pulpit effectively to set up the negotiations.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) told The Hill at the end of June “the leadership has to be more outspoken and make the case.”

“This is the biggest courtroom in the world, and you can’t get a verdict that is positive without making the argument,” he said.

They were more critical when speaking on condition of anonymity.

House Democratic leaders did not follow Obama’s example in reacting to Standard & Poor’s downgrading, placing blame squarely on Tea Party Republicans.

"The American people need the Republicans to stop their reckless and irresponsible political games that led to this unfortunate downgrade,” said House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.). “They have repeatedly walked away from the negotiating table whenever the two sides got close to a balanced blend of both spending cuts and revenue raisers.”

Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said: "The indisputable fact is that until this group of Roadblock Republicans forced Speaker Boehner to walk away from a deal, America never came to the brink of a default and we never experienced a downgrade. This downgrade is the direct result of Roadblock Republicans."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Harry Reid's Spectacular FAIL on the Debt Ceiling

The House Republicans passed and sent Harry Reid a VIABLE Plan that would have preserved the countries' AAA Bond Rating, and the Senate majority of Democrats THREW IT OUT and came up with their own Plan B!

from the Washington Post
Standard & Poor’s announced Friday night that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dealing a symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply worded critique of the American political system.

Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.

“It’s always possible the rating will come back, but we don’t think it’s coming back anytime soon,” said David Beers, head of S&P’s government debt rating unit.

The decision came after a day of furious back-and-forth debate between the Obama administration and S&P. Treasury Department officials fought back hard, arguing that the firm’s political analysis was flawed and that it had made a numerical error in a draft of its downgrade report that overstated the deficit over 10 years by $2 trillion. Officials had reviewed the draft earlier in the day.

“A judgment flawed by a $2 trillion error speaks for itself,” a Treasury spokesman said Friday night.

The downgrade to AA+ will push the global financial markets into uncharted territory after a volatile week fueled by concerns over a worsening debt crisis in Europe and a faltering economy in the United States.

The AAA rating has made the U.S. Treasury bond one of the world’s safest investments — and has helped the nation borrow at extraordinarily cheap rates to finance its government operations, including two wars and an expensive social safety net for retirees.

Treasury bonds have also been a stalwart of stability amid the economic upheaval of the past few years. The nation has had a AAA rating for 70 years.

Analysts say that, over time, the downgrade could push up borrowing costs for the U.S. government, costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year. It could also drive up interest rates for consumers and companies seeking mortgages, credit cards and business loans.

A downgrade could also have a cascading series of effects on states and localities, including nearly all of those in the Washington metro area. These governments could lose their AAA credit ratings as well, potentially raising the cost of borrowing for schools, roads and parks.

But the exact effects of the downgrade won’t be known until at least Sunday night, when Asian markets open, and perhaps not fully grasped for months. Analysts say the initial effect on the markets could be modest because they have been anticipating an S&P downgrade for weeks.

Federal officials are also examining the impact of a downgrade in large but esoteric financial markets where U.S. government bonds serve an extremely important function. They were generally confident that markets would hold up but were closely monitoring the situation. Regulators said that the downgrade would not affect how banking rules treat Treasury bonds — as risk-free assets.

The ratings action immediately fueled partisan wrangling Friday night. Allies to President Obama said it underscored his call for a “grand bargain” that would trim $4 trillion from the federal budget involving a mix of tax revenue and spending cuts.

Republicans criticized Obama’s handling of the economy.

“Standard & Poor’s rating downgrade is a deeply troubling indicator of our country’s decline under President Obama,” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said.

S&P has angered government officials with aggressive warnings during the past few months of a potential downgrade. S&P corrected its draft report Friday after Treasury raised concerns about the math.

Over the past few months, the multiple warnings from S&P have not worried government bond markets. What’s more, the two other major credit rating companies, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings, have said they would preserve the nation’s AAA rating for now.

S&P’s downgrade was as much a political critique as a financial conclusion. It is based on a view that U.S. political leaders would be unable to come up with at least $4 trillion in savings, which is needed to bring the nation’s debt to a manageable level over the next decade.

The debt deal swung earlier this week proposed spending cuts in two phases. Democrats and Republicans agreed to the first round, worth nearly $1 trillion. But a congressional committee must decide on the remaining $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion — and S&P questioned whether that would ever happen.

S&P added that it expects that the upper income Bush-era tax cuts will continue, despite vows from Obama to end the breaks next year.

“The majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues,” the firm said.

S&P’s downgrade served as an indictment of the gridlock that sent the nation to the edge of defaulting on its debt obligations. It is also striking in part because it reflects the tremendous power of a small group of financial analysts employed by a New York company — part of McGraw-Hill. Credit-rating companies’ reputations were sullied during the financial crisis.

In Europe, political leaders have taken aim at credit rating companies when they cut the ratings of governments struggling with heavy debt burdens.

S&P said the nation could suffer additional downgrades later on if the nation’s debt burden grows worse. “A new political consensus might [or might not] emerge after the 2012 election, but we believe that by then the government debt burden will likely be higher,” the firm said.

The company said the United States’s financial position was diverging from that of other AAA countries, including Canada, France, Germany and Britain.

Countries with a AA+ rating include New Zealand and Belgium. Among those countries with a AA rating, one notch lower, are Bermuda, Spain and Qatar.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fantasy Revenues...

Anyone who believes the REVENUE curve on the above chart has GOT to be delusional. The SPENDING curve is likely grossly understated, as well.

h/t - Bloviating Zeppelin

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

If THIS Budget Deal is a "Victory", I'd Sure Hate to Suffer a Defeat!

The current deal...

Adds at least $7 trillion to our debt over the next 10 years. The deal purports to "cut" $2.1 trillion, but the "cut" is from a baseline that adds $10 trillion to the debt. This deal, even if all targets are met and the Super Committee wields its mandate - results in a BEST case scenario of still adding more than $7 trillion more in debt over the next 10 years. That is sickening. Never, ever balances.

The Super Committee's mandate is to add $7 trillion in new debt. Let's be clear: $2.1 trillion in reductions off a nearly $10 trillion,10-year debt is still more than $7 trillion in debt. The Super Committee limits the constitutional check of the filibuster by expediting passage of bills with a simple majority. The Super Committee is not precluded from any issue, therefore the filibuster could be rendered moot. In addition, the plan harms the possible passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment. Since the goal is never to balance, having the BBA as a "trigger" ensures that the committee will simply report its $1.2 trillion deficit reduction plan and never move to a BBA vote.

It cuts too slowly. Even if you believe cutting $2.1 trillion out of $10 trillion is a good compromise, surely we can start cutting quickly, say $200 billion-$300 billion per year, right? Wrong. This plan so badly backloads the alleged savings that the cuts are simply meaningless. Why do we believe that the goal of $2.5 trillion over 10 years (that's an average of $250 billion per year) will EVER be met if the first two years cuts are $20 billion and $50 billion. There is simply no path in this bill even to the meager savings they are alleging will take place.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We're only going to START Regulating Abortion Centers Now?

Where have the state regulators been since 1973? I guess not many women must have been REALLY dying from illegal unregulated abortions after all... so what was that 1973 landmark legal case, Roe v. Wade about, again? A woman's Constitutional Right to inferior medical standards of care?

Baltimore Sun
Abortion clinics in Maryland will have to apply for a state license, provide a 24-hour hotline for patients, show that they have qualified anesthesia providers and develop emergency plans should procedures go awry according to new draft regulations the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released Friday.

Clinics failing to comply would face a $1,000 penalty -- or have their license revoked. The department is seeking public comment on the regulations until mid-August.

In a statement, the health department said the draft regs "reflect the right balance of preserving both safety and access."

The regulations were issued in response to a high-profile incident last fall when a woman was critically injured at an Elkton clinic run by Steven C. Brigham, a man who did not have a license to practice medicine in Maryland. His unorthodox approach involved initiating abortions in New Jersey and instructing patients to drive to Maryland where he completed the surgery.

Revelations about the Elkton clinic led lawmakers and religious groups to call for tighter rules governing the state's approximately 40 abortion providers. But abortion rights activists worried that that overly onerous regulations could shut down most or all clinics in the state. Both sides are expected to comment on the draft rules.

In drafting the regulations, Maryland's health department researched other times when abortions have gone awry. They found that in the past 20 years the five doctors have been disciplined for harming patients. Three of the 5 incidents stemmed from poor administration of anesthesia.
And requiring abortion doctors to have both a medical degree AND a license to practice is an overly onerous regulation??? How bad does politically correct hypocisy have to stink before common sense takes over?

Casa de Maryland says "No Democracy for Marylanders!"

...and so it begins from the Baltimore Sun
CASA de Maryland wants a court to overturn the petition drive that suspended the Maryland Dream Act, and plans to sue the Maryland State Board of Elections, a spokeswoman said. Their hope is to reinstate the controversial law and prevent it from going to referendum in 2012.

The group will hold a news conference this morning in front of the Anne Arundel County court in Annapolis this morning to describe their lawsuit, said CASA spokeswoman Kim Propeack.

More than 132,000 Marylanders signed a petition this summer to reject a state law allowing illegal immigrants tuition discounts at state colleges and universities -- nearly double the number needed to trigger a referendum. But CASA funded lawyers have spent the past few weeks poring over the petitions looking for flaws.

There's been no public polling on the issue, but my Sun colleague Julie Bykowicz wrote in Sunday's paper about Maryland's split personality on immigration issues. The state funds flow to CASA, a group that welcome immigrants regardless of status; but some counties have used their tax money to aggressively deport undocumented workers.
Why even have a democratic process when a much more efficient judicially tyrannical one works soooooo much better. One judge can now over-rule 132,000 citizens. And of course, the ACLU WILL be filing it's "friend of the court" brief which will set the stage for THEIR court challenge AFTER Maryland voter's overturn their state legislator's latest vote buying scam.