Reconciliation Bill Makes ObamaCare Worse

The Reconciliation bill, currently being debated in Congress, won’t ‘fix’ anything and Phillip Kerpen, writing at FoxNews.com gives five reasons why:

First and worst, the bill hikes the investment tax on capital gains and dividends. That’s the most anti-growth tax hike possible. The Reconciliation Act creates a new 3.8 percent Medicare tax on single filers over $200,000 and married filers over $250,000. The rich? Not quite. This slams business owners and makes it harder for them to raise capital for needed equipment purchases, expansion, and job creation. And there is no inflation indexing, so it will directly hit more and more taxpayers over time.

Investment taxes are especially inappropriate as a “pay-for”; that’s because every capital gains hike has actually lowered revenues due to the economic damage and behavioral changes it caused.

Second, the reconciliation bill makes the business assault of the new health care law much worse. It raises the penalty on employers from $750 per uncovered employee to $2,000.

Third, the bill takes over the private aspects of the student loan industry, putting tens of thousands out of work in the private sector while building up a big new student loan bureaucracy. And this is supposed to happen by next semester, so you can expect lots of headaches for students in the short term as well the long-term costs of bigger government.

Fourth, the “fix” to the Cadillac tax actually makes it worse. Under current law the exemption amount is indexed to CPI plus 1 percent. That’s is already not a high enough inflation bar to keep up with medical costs. The reconciliation bill delays the start of the tax by five years, from 2013 to 2018, but it cuts the inflation adjustment to plain CPI. The lower inflation adjustment means this tax will hit more people faster.

Finally, the Nebraska “fix” (the only one of the infamous and corrupt deals Obama signed into law yesterday that’s actually revisited in the reconciliation) is now a much worse deal for taxpayers. Nebraska no longer gets special treatment, but the new Medicaid funding formula puts federal taxpayers on the hook for 90 percent of the cost of expansion for all states, with special funding increases for 17 states and the District of Columbia. This is welfare reform in reverse; we should be building on the AFDC block-grant model of state control and innovation that worked so well in the 1990s, not federalizing Medicaid.

This is tyranny being proposed by our Government. Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, it has. Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO on the reconciliation bill.

Our kids deserve to have the same chances growing up that we did.

New NFL Overtime Rules Are Crazy

The NFL yesterday voted to change the playoff overtime rules.

Under the new system, the team that gets the ball first in overtime could win the game with a touchdown. If that team scores a field goal, the other club would have a chance to get a possession and tie the game with a field goal or win it with a touchdown. If that team gets a tying field goal, the game would proceed on a sudden-death basis. If neither team scores on its first possession of overtime, the game would be sudden death from there.

Regular season games, at least for now, will continue to use the sport’s current overtime format, in which a coin flip determines which team gets possession first and the first team to score wins.

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Between 1974 and 1993, the team that won the overtime coin toss won the game 46.8 percent of the time, and the team that lost the coin toss won the game 46.8 percent of the time in regular season play (the other games ended in ties). Since 1994, when kickoffs were moved back five yards, the team that won the overtime coin toss won the game 59.8 percent of the time, while the team that lost the coin toss won the game only 38.5 percent of the time.

The thinking by the NFL’s competition committee is that it’s become too easy to win the game on the first possession of overtime thanks to the fact that they moved the kickoff back from the 35 to the 30-yard line in 1994. So then, why not move the kickoff line up in overtime? Is the problem that sudden-death FGs on the opening drive are too easy? Under this crazy scenario, if a team goes for three on the first drive and your team comes back and kicks a field goal, they win the game. Anyone else see the problem?

What would be better is, why not adopt the exciting college rules where each team gets the ball until one scores and the other fails to answer. That would be exciting. One of the greatest college football games I’ve ever seen was the Miami v. Ohio State National Championship double overtime thriller.

But when it comes to rules like this, it is just another reason the NFL is known as the No Fun League.

(Cross posted to SportingNews.com)
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Red Light Cameras Active In Alexandria Again

Austin Danforth at the Alexandria Times, has a report on amendments that have been made to the state’s red light ticketing law. As soon as the City finds a vendor to process the tickets, they will be active.

A little history on red light cameras in Alexandria.

On Monday, June 15, 2009, the Alexandria Police Department began an active Photo Red Light Enforcement Campaign to help reduce red-light runners throughout the City. The cameras are located at the following intersections:

For those of you that don’t know, Alexandria and other jurisdictions in Virginia used to have red light cameras until 2005 when the General Assembly passed a law prohibiting their use because of the increase in the amount of accidents they were causing and the ten year experiement had come to an end so they declined to reauthorize photo enforcement.

The Legislature then reversed course after a two year battle with municipal lobbyists and the insurance industry, and re-authorized the use of red light cameras.

So do red light cameras actually make driving safer? No. As P-Diddy used to say – “It’s all about the Benjamin’s baby!”

An exhaustive study in 2007 of all seven Virginia red light camera programs showed an overall increase in injury accidents has occurred where the devices are installed. The study was performed by The Virginia Transportation Research Council at the request of the state transportation secretary.

TheNewspaper.com had this to say about the results:

Despite a distinct sympathy in favor of camera enforcement, the researchers found a “definite” increase in rear-end accidents and only a “possible” decrease in angle accidents. Most importantly, the net effect was that more injuries happened after cameras are installed. Camera proponents explain this away by asserting angle accidents are more serious, but this claim has not been scientifically studied according to this report. The rear end collisions caused by the cameras still produce injuries — the original promise of camera proponents was that they would reduce accidents and injuries, not rearrange them.

So if the red light cameras pose a risk to drivers why then has the City of Alexandria decided to bring them back? Money – pure and simple – as the City has missed the revenue that came from the tickets. So what about the 43% increase in accidents that the study found happened in Alexandria after the cameras were installed?

In the Police Department’s press release, Chief David Baker stated, “This grace period will give motorists an opportunity to become familiar with the red-light photo enforcement system in Alexandria. This is a public safety program and our goal is to deter red-light runners and prevent accidents resulting from these violations.”

This is crap and here’s why.

In a March 24, 2008 memo to City Council, Alexandria City Manager James Hartman wrote: “The Red Light Camera program is not considered a core public safety service.” So, they don’t really care about your safety, just your money. There is also a catch to this which we’ll get to in a moment.

TheNewspaper.com continues its well done piece on this by breaking down the politics that has gone on behind the scenes (emphasis mine):

The return of red light cameras is helping to boost ticket collections for Fiscal Year 2010 to $4.6 million, an 11.8 percent increase from the previous year. With three cameras installed, gross photo ticket revenues are expected to be $450,000 per year with private vendor American Traffic Solutions (ATS) pocketing $180,000. Payments to ATS are made through a “cost neutral” contract which compensates ATS on a per-ticket basis up to a level capped at approximately $5000 per intersection per month. The group CameraFraud.com argues that this arrangement directly violates a state law banning per-ticket payments for red light camera programs.

This was one of the amendments which fixed the law.

The catch? When the law was reauthorized in 2007, lawmakers failed to update the old law which had a loophole. You do NOT have to pay the red light ticket if it is mailed to you.

The Virginia Transportation Research Council explains this in their study of the red light camera progam:

Although the statute permits the jurisdiction to make the initial attempt to summon the accused to court via mail, if the person fails to respond, he or she is not considered to have been satisfactorily served with notice. However, personal service on all violators is obviously a very expensive proposition, involving many personnel hours, and would defeat one of the primary motivating factors for employing automated detection systems in the first place’a reduction in the number of officers required to enforce red light laws.

Thus, unless a jurisdiction is willing to devote resources to implementing extensive in-hand service, citations mailed for red light camera violations become essentially unenforceable. The average citizen is probably not aware of this loophole, but if word were widely disseminated, such knowledge could completely undermine the effectiveness of red light camera programs, as citations issued to violators would lose their practical impact. Again, this is a practical, but not legal, challenge. (Page 17)

So, fellow drivers be extra cautious when traveling through the above named intersections. And remember to look out for us pedestrians when we are in the middle of the crosswalk.

Kerry Donley Thinks Voters Are Stupid

Last year, after the May Council elections, the Democrats in Alexandria (my hometown) were SO steamed that they lost two seats in the election.

They tried (and failed) to challenge new Councilwoman Alicia Hughes’ eligibility to serve and the lame duck members along with many of the current Democrats on Council voted to move the spring elections to November.

In June, during the last public hearing of the last Council, with two lame duck members attending, Council voted 5-2 to move the elections to November even though the number of people in opposition to the move far outweighs those in support. This is even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1 in Alexandria.

Many Democrats and Republicans spoke at the hearing (about 5-1 against the move) and the Mayor and 4 liberals on the Council ignored the will of the people. The vote, which included former Councilman Wilson and former Councilman Lovain, was a clear abuse of power by the liberals in Alexandria. The move is a ploy by the Democrats to keep them in power for years to come.

Think I’m wrong?

Arlington County, which moved their elections to November years ago, have seen one (1) Republican win since. One.

So, the Alexandria City Council has been stuck since on whether to have the elections in November 2011 or November 2012 and whether or not to have staggered terms. As it stands right now, Alexandria’s next general election date, November 2012, is coupled with a presidential election year.

In November 2012, what’s going to matter more to voters in Alexandria? Getting President Obama re-elected or the local City election. With up to $2 billion dollars that is going to be spent in the next election, the City election will get second billing.

Councilwoman Alicia Hughes, during a recent Council meeting, threw her hat into the ring by proposing a resolution to have the voters decide what Council has yet to decide. Vice Mayor Kerry Donley, a big spending liberal, said the following:

“Quite frankly, the Council is elected to make decisions and I don’t see that a referendum right now should substitute for our inability to arrive at a compromise…”

Meaning you and I are too stupid to decide this via a referendum vote. The Vice Mayor then said (emphasis mine):

Because we can’t arrive at a decision … would we start doing the same thing on land use planning and fiscal matters?” he said. “I don’t think so.”

Councilman Smedberg said (think he’s on the side of the people?):

“I’m disturbed that we are even talking about this
[…]
I hope we can tone down the rhetoric.”

Councilwoman Hughes responded:

“Let the people decide. The people, not politicians, should rule.”

The Alexandria Times has a list of what the Hughes resolution wants voters to decide.

Hughes’ drafted resolution called for the Hobson Commission — a bipartisan committee that recommended preserving the status quo election process in 2007 — to fashion the wording of three referendum questions: Whether Alexandria’s next election should be in November 2011 or 2012, if terms should be staggered or remain in a single block and if the terms should be changed from three to four years.

The voters in Alexandria are too stupid to decide this? I don’t think so and the hundreds I’ve spoken with don’t think so either.

No, it probably doesn’t come from the banks or the tea partiers. The photo below which shows Ronald Reagan next to the words ‘Remember Real Hope & Change?’ probably comes from the same folks who posted the ‘Miss Me Yet?’ George W. Bush billboard (which ended up being a group of small business owners in Minnesota who feel Washington is against them).

This anonymous ad is on I-94 in the outskirts of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolis area, just outside of Albertville on the way from St. Cloud to Minneapolis.

Ed Morrissey, himself from Minnesota, notes the irony of the ad.

Ronald Reagan never won Minnesota in either of his two national elections, but clearly someone recalls him fondly. It’s not cheap to pay for this kind of advertising, and it would be interesting to discover who’s behind this one.

I guess people just wish it was morning again in America as President Reagan liked to say.

An Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer (Video)

This is just plain brilliant.

With Hollywood remakes occurring more and more often (see the upcoming Nightmare on Elm Street, Clash of the Titans, and Karate Kid as three examples), it is refreshing to see a clip like this. Every Hollywood story trick is in the clip.

The comedy team of BriTaNicK is the brains behind this clip. You can see them this weekend in Austin at the South by Southwest Festival.

Mark Levin @ The Reagan Library

The great one, Mark Levin, gave a fantastic speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation library last Friday as part of the foundations ‘A Reagan Forum’ series.

It’s a fantastic speech and well worth the 70+ minutes of your time.

For more information on the ongoing works of President Reagan’s Foundation, visit them online. If you can, you can donate to the Foundation here.

(H/T Mark Levin Show)