Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obamacare causing local governments to eliminate jobs and cut back on worker hours

This is the top article on Investors Business Daily at the time of writing.

Excerpt:

[W]hile private companies are getting all this unwelcome and hostile attention, local governments across the country have been quietly doing exactly the same thing — cutting part-time hours specifically so they can skirt ObamaCare’s costly employer mandate, while complaining about the law in some of the harshest terms anyone has uttered in public.

The result is that part-time government workers — many of them low-income — face pay cuts that can top $3,000 a year, and yet will still be left without employer-provided benefits.

Here is just a small sampling of local news reports about what local government officials are saying about ObamaCare, and the steps they’re taking to avoid or minimize its costs.

[...]Dearborn, Mich.: “If we had to provide health care and other benefits to all of our employees, the burden on the city would be tremendous,” said Mayor John O’Reilly, explaining why the city is cutting its more than 700 part-time and seasonal workers down to 28 hours a week. “The city is like any private or public employer having to adjust to changes in the law.”

Indiana: “What I’m seeing across the state is school districts, unfortunately, having to reduce the hours that they are having some of their folks work, primarily so they don’t have to worry about the (ObamaCare) penalties, or they don’t have to provide them health insurance, which would be very, very costly,” said Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. Ft. Wayne Community Schools, for example, are cutting yours for nearly three-quarters of its part-time aides.

Omaha, Neb.: “The biggest problem is everyone said that ObamaCare is only going to help cut costs. Nothing could be further from the truth,” said Mike Kennedy , who serves on the board of Millard Public Schools, just outside the city, and figures ObamaCare will raise its costs by $400,000. A neighboring school district is reducing hours for up to 281 part-time employees to avoid $2.5 million in new costs, which will result in pay cuts of up to $3,300.

Long Beach, Calif.: “We are in the same boat as many employers,” said Tom Modica, Long Beach’s director of government affairs. “We need to maintain the programs and service levels we have now.” So the city is going to cut hours for 200 part-time workers so it doesn’t have to pay $2 million to provide health benefits.

Salt Lake City, Utah: “With new provisions in the Affordable Care Act, there was going to be a significant burden upon Granite School District and our taxpayers to offset the cost of benefits,” said spokesman Ben Horsley. He says covering the district’s part-time workers would cost about $14 million, and so about 1,000 will have their hours cut to 29 a week.

[...]Virginia: “The Commonwealth of Virginia is grappling with the same issues that many businesses in the private sector are as they struggle to deal with the costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act,” Paul Logan, a spokesman for Gov. McDonnell, said. The state is requiring that about 7,000 part-time government workers put in no more than 29 hours a week.

Texas: “The Affordable Care Act has added so much complexity and administrative burden that there is nothing affordable about it,” said Jared Pope, who is consulting with Texas municipal governments on ObamaCare. Dallas expects its health costs to climb $2.1 million next year. Plano is cutting hours to avoid $1 million in new costs.

Kern County, Calif.: “It will affect multiple departments, a majority of departments,” said the county’s deputy administrative officer Eric Nisbett, explaining that unless the county cut worker hours for 800 employees, ObamaCare would cost it up to $8 million a year.

Allegheny County, Pa.: “There’s frustration and anger and sadness and resentment, you know, but you don’t have a voice,” said adjunct English professor Clint Benjamin in the wake of the Community College of Allegheny County’s decision to cut hours for about 400 adjunct faculty and other employees so it wouldn’t have to pay $6 million in ObamaCare-related fees next year.

Medina, Ohio: “We feel bad as a city administration and as a council in having to cut hours from 35 to 29,” Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said. “We have the budget to pay the people, but we do not have the budget to pay for the health care.” If they hadn’t made that cut, the city faced up to $1 million in new health costs courtesy of ObamaCare.

It’s not just private companies who are cutting back on hours in order to escape being forced to pay for health insurance. I think I can pretty much guarantee that no one on the left thinks about where money comes from when they are giving these speeches about how much they care about everyone and how they will give everyone free money. The truth is that if you have a job, you are paying for people who don’t have jobs so that they can have the same life that you have without having to work. That’s what progressivism means. Equality regardless of wisdom and prudence.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

Obama administration tells 60,000 Border and Customs agents to take furloughs

If you needed any proof that Obama does not have the temperament to be President, here it is in this Newsmax article.

Excerpt:

Sixty-thousand federal employees responsible for securing the nation’s borders and facilitating trade will be furloughed for as many as 14 days starting next month because of $85 billion in cross-government spending cuts.

The federal government notified the workers on Thursday, CNN reports.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the furloughs and other austerity measures would cause delays at ports of entry, including international arrivals at airports, and would reduce the number of border patrol officers on duty at any one time, CNN reports.

[...]Customs collects more money for the federal government than any agency other than the Internal Revenue Service, the National Treasury Employees Union said in a statement.

“There is no escaping the reality that sequestration is having serious effects on the traveling public and on vital commerce,” the union’s president, Colleen M. Kelley, said in the statement.

Late last month, Napolitano and other Obama administration officials came under fire — particularly from officials in Arizona — for the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants held in local jails to save money as the sequester neared.

Napolitano has since promised to release more illegals, primarily on supervised release, saying the sequester had left her no choice.

“We’re going to continue to do that for the foreseeable future,” Napolitano said at a March 4 breakfast meeting hosted by Politico. “We are going to manage our way through this by identifying the lowest-risk detainees, and putting them into some kind of alternative to release.”

The border is a national security issue, because anyone coming through with a weapon of mass destruction could cost the lives of many Americans. The Border and Customs programs are not what is driving our debt. The biggest driver of our debt is entitlement spending, especially spending on Medicare. But that’s not what Obama is choosing to focus on. He wants to hurt the American people rather than doing the hard work of cutting back big government. There are lots of places where we could cut billions without impacting effectiveness. Why not look at cutting fat (Solyndra) rather than muscle (border security)?

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paul Ryan questions Chief Actuaries of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security

I found all of this stuff on the House Budget Committee web site.

Medicare and Medicaid

Paul Ryan interviews Richard Foster, Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Excerpt of transcript:

HBC CHAIRMAN RYAN: As you may know, I’ve been working across the aisle with a member of the Oregon delegation from the Senate on a premium support plan that uses competitive bidding to help determine the contribution. Competitive bidding we’ve seen has worked well in Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage.  I’d like to get your thoughts on choice and competition as it relates to these previous successful reform plans. Given what we’ve seen in these aspects of Medicare, do you believe that competitive bidding is a process that can be successfully applied Medicare-wide?

CMS CHIEF ACTUARY FOSTER: Yes, I think it can. Obviously, it would represent a large change from the status quo, but I think it could work. We’ve seen the signs of this – you mentioned the Part D prescription drug program, for example, where the different drug plans compete against each other on the quality of their benefit package and the premium level. And we’ve seen – every year since Part D started – a migration of beneficiaries to more efficient plans with lower premiums. So that can help. We’ve also seen for durable medical equipment that competitive bidding, in this particular area of Fee-For-Service Medicare, reduced prices that we had to pay by 40 percent.

RYAN: By forty percent?

FOSTER: Forty percent, that’s right.

RYAN: Those are the kinds of cost savings we’re going to have to achieve if want to make good on the promise of the Medicare guarantee.  This should not be a partisan issue. Competitive bidding is something Alice Rivlin has been a champion of, Ron Wyden has been talking about, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and more. There is a lot of data out there that competitive bidding when applied Medicare-wide can achieve the benefit of keeping these benefits going while attacking the root cause of cost growth.

It sounds to me like there is a real crisis, that Ryan has a plan to solve it, and that the person who is the most aware of the finances of these two entitlements agrees with Ryan.

Social Security

Paul Ryan interviews Stephen Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration.

Excerpt of transcript:

HBC CHAIRMAN RYAN:  If we do [nothing], then we have an across-the-board cut of about 23 percent that occurs in benefits. Is that correct?

SSA CHIEF ACTUARY GOSS: Exactly… The Commissioner standing at that time would simply have 77 cents available for every dollar of scheduled benefits, and would not be permitted to spend more than that. We do not have borrowing authority. So a decision would have to be made about who would get the money. We could have an across-the-board 23% cut immediately, or a Commissioner could say, ‘Well we’re not going to pay the March benefits in March. We’ll wait until April – wait until more revenues come in to allow full payment a month late.’ After a few months we would perhaps then have to start paying benefits twomonths late. So this would be a way that it could be handled. Of course, if people have to pay rent on time, that would be a difficulty. There’s no easy way out on this… We hope and pray that Congress would indeed act well before we ever hit the Trust Fund reserve exhaustion.

RYAN: Given that we have this abrupt 23% cut that occurs in law – current law – is it not wise so start reforming now, sooner, so that the distribution of the change is spread more broadly and evenly across income cohorts? Let me ask it this way: does that abrupt 23% cut hit current senior cohorts? A person who is turning 62, or 65 today – that affects them as well, correct?

GOSS: It certainly would. They would be at an older age at that time but clearly it would affect them. That is assuming that we wait and do absolutely nothing until that point.

RYAN: So if one provides reforms soon, could you not prevent these kinds of effects from hitting those current cohorts? Could you not phase reforms in gradually that prevent that 23% cut from happening so it doesn’t affect people who are currently in or near retirement? Could you structure reforms that prevent that from happening if you act sooner?

GOSS: Absolutely. We have a number of proposals – including yours Chairman Ryan – and many other proposals that would take exactly that approach. Our trustees and everybody who speaks on this has opined extensively about the value of acting sooner rather than later, so that we can have gradual changes phased in and we have more options if we act relatively soon.

In 2006, Nancy Pelosi was asked when she would be willing to fix these entitlement programs. Her reply? “Never. Is never good enough for you?“. Democrats hate children – they want to pile debt upon debt onto future generations, who will not even have mothers and fathers to take care of them. First they smash the family with no-fault divorce and same-sex marriage. Then they run up trillions and trillions of dollars in debt handing out bailouts and green energy grants to their election fundraisers. It’s sick.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Michele Bachmann’s miscarriage shaped her pro-life views

Michele and Marcus Bachmann

Michele and Marcus Bachmann

From Life News.

Excerpt:

Campaigning in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said a “devastating” miscarriage helped shape her pro-life views on abortion. The compelling personal story ties in to her rationale for becoming a foster care mom.

While on the campaign trail in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the Minnesota congresswoman revealed she had a miscarriage decades ago and that the event led her to solidify her pro-life views and prompted her and her husband to become a foster home to 23 children over the years.

“After our second child was born, we became pregnant with a third baby,” Bachmann said, according to a Politico report. “And it was an unexpected baby, but of course we were delighted to have this child. And the child was coming along, and we ended up losing that child. And it was devastating for both of us, as you can imagine if any of you have lost a child.”

She said the miscarriage also prompted Bachmann and her husband Marcus to re-evaluate their personal and professional life goals.

“At that moment we didn’t think of ourselves as overly career minded or overly materialistic,” she said, according to Politico. “When we lost that child, it changed us. And it changed us forever.”

“We made a commitment that no matter how many children were brought into our life, we would receive them because we are committed to life,” she added.

Reporters at the event say Bachmann shared it about halfway through her town hall at Winthrop University on Wednesday night. The miscarriage story is not one that Bachmann has shared much and Peter Hamby from CNN reports that “Even some of Bachmann’s staffers were caught by surprise when she talked about the miscarriage and had not heard [the] story before.”

You can see pictures and videos of the event at Right Wing News, courtesy of John Hawkins. I really appreciate that John has been broadly supportive of Michele, because he is a major figure in the conservative blogosphere.

You can also find out more about Michele Bachmann from interviews, campaign speeches and speeches in the legislature.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AT LAST! Michele Bachmann is officially running for President in 2012

Full text of the announcement is here.

Excerpt:

This election is about big issues, not petty ones. When all is said and done, we cannot be about big government as usual. Then America will lose.

In Washington I am bringing a voice to the halls of congress that has been missing for a long time. It is the voice of the people I love and learned from growing up in Waterloo. It is the voice of reasonable, fair-minded people who love this country, who are patriotic, and who see the United States as the indispensable nation of the world.

My voice is part of a movement to take back our country, and now I want to take that voice to the White House. It is the voice of constitutional conservatives who want our government to do its job and not ours and who want our government to live within its means and not our children’s and grandchildren’s.

I am here in Waterloo, Iowa to announce today: We can win in 2012 and we will. Our voice has been growing louder and stronger. And it is made up of Americans from all walks of life like a three-legged stool. It’s the peace through strength Republicans, and I’m one of them, it’s fiscal conservatives, and I’m one of them, and it’s social conservatives, and I’m one of them. It’s the Tea Party movement and I’m one of them.

Photos:

I stole those pictures from the UK Telegraph. Canada’s Sun News Network had this segment on Michele Bachmann as well.

Campaign speeches, interviews and debates

Speeches:

Reactions from her recent debate performance:

Profiles of Michele Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann on television news

Let Americans spend their own money

Time to prioritize spending

Obama’s plan is to raise your taxes

Michele Bachmann in the legislature

Against socialism:

For economic growth:

Against ACORN funding:

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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