Republicans

The Economist Magazine Investigates Preppers

“Some Americans find survivalists sinister. After Adam Lanza shot 26 people in a school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012, the media made much of the fact that his mother was a gun-stockpiling prepper. Yet there is no evidence that preppers in general are more dangerous than their compatriots. On the contrary, when natural disasters strike, it is useful to have neighbours who know how to stormproof a house and have bandages to spare.”

-The Economist website, December 17, 2014

Late this morning, I stumbled on an article on The Economist website about preppers. I just finished reading “Preparing for the apocalypse: I will survive,” and thought I’d blog about it a little. The author (couldn’t find a name attached with the piece for some reason) did a pretty good job writing about preppers/survivalists, not falling victim to the usual stereotypes/generalizing echoed in a comment on the article. From “walrusandthecarpenter”:

Preppers are people who are unhappy with their life and can’t wait for the end of the world to come and the tables to turn. They are excited for it to happen.

Me? I like my smartphone. I have a first aid kit though.

“I like my smartphone.” What a goof.

Like I was saying, the author did a pretty good job (points deducted for trying to link those Westboro folks to preppers) with the material. I found what James Wesley, Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com-fame had to say particularly interesting. From the article:

So how might TEOTWAWKI come about? The biggest threat, says Mr Rawles, is a huge solar flare. The last big one, in 1859, known as the “Carrington Event”, disabled telegraph lines. A similar disaster today would “fry the circuitry” of electronic devices and take out the power grid “from end to end”. It would take years to reactivate. Perhaps 60% of the American population could die, predicts Mr Rawles…

I’ve seen some put that die-off figure at 90 percent.

There was also this about present-day preppers:

Survivalists vary politically—just as they are dispersed geographically—and their views colour their apocalyptic imaginings. Many are conservatives, worried about crime, terrorism and hyperinflation and sure that the state cannot be relied upon to protect ordinary citizens. But a fair number are environmentalists, convinced that the planet can only take so much abuse before it becomes uninhabitable. The movement is broad enough to encompass anyone who suspects that disaster is looming, for any reason. It used to be mostly “Bible-believing Christian conservatives”, says Mr Rawles, “But now we have a lot of alfalfa-munching Birkenstock-wearing leftists.” He adds: “The more the better.”

One more reason for me not to bash specific political ideologies/parties- except when they really ask for it, of course.

(Editor’s note: Any former readers of Boom2Bust.com out there remember when I used to savage “Dubya” and Hank Paulson? Thinking of that reminds me this giant economic mess belongs to both sides of the political aisle.)

Jason Charles, a New York firefighter of Doomsday Preppers-fame (blogged about here), is also featured in the piece.

You can read the well-written article in its entirety on The Economist website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois Named Worst-Run State In America In 2014

“‘We don’t have the time to mess around. We are in deep, deep trouble financially,’ [Illinois Governor-elect Bruce] Rauner told a meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau at a downtown Chicago hotel. ‘The next 24 months are going to be rough. And I apologize. I ain’t going to be Mr. Popularity for a little while. That’s OK. Four years from now I think, though, everybody will appreciate what we did.’”

-Chicago Tribune website, December 8, 2014

Talk about lists you don’t want to be on. In 2012 and 2013, Illinois was the 3rd worst-run state in the annual best- and worst-run states in America survey conducted by New York City-based financial news and opinion organization 24/7 Wall St.

So how did the “Land of Lincoln” fare in 2014? From the 24/7 Wall St. website on December 3:

How well run is your state? Assessing a state’s management quality is hardly easy. The current economic climate and standard of living in any given state are not only the results of policy choices and developments that occurred in the last few years, but can also be affected by decisions made decades ago, and by forces outside a state’s control.

Each year, 24/7 Wall St. attempts to answer this question by surveying various aspects of each state. To determine how well states are managed, we examine key financial ratios, as well as social and economic outcomes. This year, North Dakota is the best-run state in the country for the third consecutive year, while Illinois replaced California as the worst-run state

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Ouch. Worst part is, the people who brought us this mess are the same ones still in charge, more or less. It will be interesting to see how much of a difference Governor-elect Rauner- who ran on the Republican ticket- can make in the Democrat-controlled state.

24/7 Wall St. went into more detail about my home state’s latest “honor.” From the piece:

Illinois is the worst-run state in the nation. Like many other low-ranked states, more people left Illinois than moved there. Illinois lost more than 137,000 residents due to migration between the middle of 2010 and July 2013. A poor housing market may partly explain the exodus. Median home values fell 16.2% between 2009 and 2013, the second largest drop nationwide. Illinois has extremely poor finances by many measures. Just 39.3% of Illinois’ pension liabilities were funded as of 2013, worse than any other state. Further, the state’s reserves are estimated at just 0.5% of its general fund expenditure, the second lowest reserves rate nationwide. Both Moody’s and S&P gave Illinois the worst credit ratings of any state, at A3 and A- respectively. According to Moody’s, the state’s rating reflects its low fund balances and high pension obligations, as well as its “chronic use of payment deferrals to manage operating fund cash.”

As for our neighbors, Indiana is ranked 28th and Wisconsin comes in at 26th in 2014- down from 19th and 21st- respectively.

That’s quite a hit (9 places) the Hoosiers took from last year. Wonder what’s behind the drop?

Curious as to where 24/7 Wall St. ranked your state in 2014? Head on over to their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Quote For The Week

“Have you met Joe Biden?”

-U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC 4th District), on impeaching President Obama for issuing an Executive Order granting amnesty to illegal immigrants in the United States

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Glenn Beck: ‘I Think We’re In The Most Dangerous Period Now Than The Republic Has Been In Since The Civil War’

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Glenn Beck, the American television/radio host and producer, political commentator, author, and entrepreneur down at his Dallas studio. I was already familiar with his work from FOX News and TheBlaze, and in-person he seemed like a pretty knowledgeable guy who’s able to grasp the big picture in terms of where our country is most likely heading. Here’s what the host of The Glenn Beck Program is saying these days about where U.S. President Barack Obama is going to try and take the country now that the midterm elections are over. To which he adds a dire warning. In an exchange with Bill O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor Wednesday night:

O’REILLY: So you’re sitting there with your pie up and your Fred MacMurray sweater and you’re watching the returns roll in- what are you saying to yourself? Are you cheering? Is it good for you? Do you feel vindicated? What’s the feeling?
BECK: My feeling is the President is disconnected from the American people entirely. You saw there was no humility in his press conference today. And he is also disconnected from the Democrats. Hillary Clinton has already separated herself, so now she’s going to play the moderate. He announced yesterday when the election was still going on- that’s usually when the president is quiet- he came out yesterday and said by Christmas he will have his Executive Order on illegal immigration. I think this president- and I hope this is not true- but I think this president is going to go more radical. He doesn’t have anything to lose. He is going to super-serve the uber-left. And the Republicans are not prepared for this. They’re playing politics circa 1975. And they’re not going to be prepared for it. I think we have a very bad scenario headed our way where somebody- because the Democrats won’t be blamed on it because they’ll say “We didn’t have anything to do with it” and “You know what? We’re not as extreme as he is.” And so somebody is going to be able to play the middle ground between the evil Republicans and this president. And I think it could get ugly. I think we’re in the most dangerous period now than the Republic has been in since the Civil War. From now until probably spring of 2017…


FOX News Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Specter Of 1994 Looms Over Democrats In Renewed Push For Gun ‘Control’

Speaking of Barack Obama and gun “control” this morning, I hear the Democrats are doubling-down on the issue months before the crucial November mid-term elections. Ned Resnikoff reported on the MSNBC website last Thursday:

Gun control, long a dormant issue in American politics, surged to the forefront of the Democratic agenda following December 2012’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Yet in the following months, as bill after bill failed to pass through Congress, the renewed push for gun control once again subsided – until now.

One hundred sixty-three House Democrats – over 80% of the entire caucus – signed onto an open letter Thursday addressed to Republican House Speaker John Boehner demanding that he allow “a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.” The timing of the letter suggests that Democrats are prepared to make gun control in an issue in the 2014 midterm elections…

“The timing of the letter suggests that Democrats are prepared to make gun control in an issue in the 2014 midterm elections”

Just like they did in the lead up to the 1994 mid-term contests?

I’ve suggested it before on this blog- history could “rhyme” again soon for the Democrats.

On September 13, 1994, Congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included a 10-year ban on so-called “assault weapons.” U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the legislation into law the same day.

In the months that followed, Democrats were being swept out of office left and right during the “Republican Revolution.”

Now, some doubt the impact of the gun “control” push on this turnover. Here’s what the former president had to say about that period of his administration in his 2005 autobiography My Life:

Ironically, I had hurt the Democrats by both my victories and my defeats. The loss of healthcare and the passage of NAFTA demoralized many of our base voters and depressed our turnout. The victories on the economic plan with its tax increases on high-income Americans, the Brady bill, and the assault weapons ban inflamed the Republican base voters and increased their turnout. The turnout differential alone probably accounted for half of our losses, and contributed to a Republican gain of eleven governorships

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This, from the man himself.

As I pointed out in that 2013 post and an earlier September 2012 piece about the Democratic Party’s adopted National Platform, the Democrats own gun “control.”

And evidently, they’re trying to remind the American people of that fact in the months leading up to November.

Political hara-kiri all over again?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Resnikoff, Ned. “Democratic House members demand gun control vote.” MSNBC.com. 26 June 2014. (http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/democratic-house-members-demand-gun-control-vote). 30 June 2014.

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Quote For The Week

“Are we witnessing right now the most radically, extremely liberal, ideological president of our entire lifetime right here in the United States of America, or are we witnessing the most incompetent president of the United States of America in the history of our lifetimes? You know, it is a difficult question. I’ve thought long and hard about it. Here’s the only answer I’ve come up with, and I’m going to quote Secretary Clinton: ‘What difference does it make?’”

-Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, speaking at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual conference yesterday

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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U.S. Senator Michelle Obama (D-IL)?

“SUPER WIN FOR CHICAGO AND AMERICA!”

-Comment on website of Chicago NBC affiliate Channel 5 tonight regarding speculation surrounding a U.S. Senate run by First Lady Michelle Obama

Could First Lady Michelle Obama be our next United States Senator here in Illinois?

I spotted the following on The Great Debate blog on Reuters.com earlier this evening. Keith Koffler wrote last night:

Speculation about a possible political future for Michelle Obama has naturally centered on the White House. But that’s the wrong place — at least for now.

Illinois has a Republican senator, Mark Kirk, and he is up for reelection in 2016. He’ll be formidable, particularly given his brave recovery from a stroke. But Illinois is a heavily Democratic state, and the race could be close.

No Illinois Democratic candidate would bring the star power and nationwide fundraising capacity that Obama would.

She has proven herself a superb speaker on behalf of her pet projects and is now a veteran campaigner for her husband. She’s also remained highly popular — even as the president’s ratings have plummeted.

She could represent the Democrats’ best chance to pick up a desperately needed — and winnable — seat. A December 2012 Public Policy Polling survey put her ahead of Kirk, 51 percent to 40 percent. Democratic leaders’ pressure on her to run might get intense…

Personally, I believe that if Mrs. Obama runs for Senator Kirk’s seat, she might just win it.

Nothing against Kirk. But Koffler isn’t kidding when says the “Land of Lincoln” is a heavily Democratic state. A super-majority in both the Illinois House and Senate attests to that. And there’s always “The Machine,” which is still in good working order in Chicago.

That’s not the say the city or state is, though.

I previously thought the Obamas would bid farewell to the “Windy City” after POTUS leaves the Oval Office. But if Michelle decides a Senate seat is something she wants, then it could be several more years still…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Koffler, Keith. “Is Michelle running for the Senate?” The Great Debate. 4 Jun. 2014. (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/06/05/is-michelle-running-for-the-senate/). 5 Jun. 2014.

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014 Government, Political Parties 2 Comments

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan Vows To Get State Income Tax Hike Made Permanent

The Illinois House of Representatives approved a $35.7 billion state spending plan yesterday which didn’t factor in funds from a 2011 temporary income tax hike being made permanently available. I surmised Tuesday:

So does this mean Illinois Democrats have abandoned their push to make the temporary income tax hike permanent? I doubt it. This is “Madiganistan,” after all. And what Mike wants, Mike gets.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of maneuvering being carried out to eventually land these funds. Perhaps another “temporary” increase in such taxes sometime after the November 2014 election, with buzz words such as “fiscal emergency” and “for the children” being used to justify the measure?

Monique Garcia, Ray Long, and Maura Zurick reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Speaker Michael Madigan acknowledged the budget proposal would leave unfinished business and vowed to spend the summer and fall working to get the income tax hike made permanent to provide more money to run state government. The approach also ensures the governor’s race will continue to be framed up by opposite positions on a tax hike Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner have staked out.

“My expectation is that this issue will be taken into the general election and I think the governor will be supportive of an extension of the income tax increase through the general election,” Madigan said. “My expectation is that Mr. Rauner will be against. So you’ll have a clear line of division going into the election. And people can make their choice.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Hmmm. Should Governor Quinn be re-elected, one more buzz word I suspect Illinoisans might hear before legislative action is taken by the Democrats to make the income tax hike permanent is “mandate,” as in “Illinois voters have given us a mandate to make the temporary income tax hike permanent during this fiscal emergency. Remember- it’s for the children!”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Garcia, Monique, Long, Ray and Zurick, Maura. “State budget would put off tough decisions until after election.” Chicago Tribune. 27 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-state-budget-would-put-off-tough-decisions-until-after-election-20140527,0,6506902.story). 28 May 2014.

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Illinois Millionaire Tax Hike Could Pass As Part Of Class Warfare Push By Democrats

While I’ve been putting a lot of time lately into my offshore Web projects, Illinois Democrats have been grabbing the local headlines as they replicate President Obama’s class warfare strategy to win votes in November. Monique Garcia, Ray Long, and Maura Zurick reported on the Chicago Tribune website last Friday:

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns…

The newest front in the campaign battle came as Madigan held a rare news conference to announce he wants lawmakers to put a question on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters whether the state should raise the income tax by 3 percentage points on those who make more than $1 million a year.

The powerful Democratic speaker said the tax hike on millionaires is a way to generate more than $1 billion for elementary and high schools. Madigan based his calculations on what he said are roughly 13,675 millionaires that lived in Illinois in 2011, brushing aside a question about whether such a tax hike might drive them out of the state.

“Well, if they’re in Illinois today, they’re probably so much in love with Illinois that they’re not going to leave,” Madigan said

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I’m not as optimistic as the 71-year-old Speaker of the House is about Illinois millionaires sticking around if they’re targeted with a tax hike.

After all, money typically gravitates to where it’s being treated the best.

And recent demographic data suggests Chicagoland and Illinois residents may not be “so much in love” with the area as Mr. Madigan claims.

That includes the rich as well.

“Cook County’s population grew by 17,000 people in 2012, about .3 percent- but much of that gain came from immigrants, according to Census Bureau estimates released Thursday.

The figures showed that about 32,000 more domestic residents moved out of Cook County than moved in. But a net increase of 17,000 immigrants, along with a high ratio of births over deaths, contributed to an overall gain for the county…”

-Chicago Sun-Times website, March 13, 2013

Moving Out
The top outbound states for 2013 were:

1. New Jersey
2. Illinois
3. New York
4. West Virginia
5. Connecticut
6. Utah
7. Kentucky
8. Massachusetts
9. New Mexico”

-United Van Lines press release, January 2, 2014

“As the Great Recession churned job prospects for many, Cook County lost about 13,000 residents with six-figure household incomes to other places, despite the widely hyped revival of downtown housing and jobs…”

-Crain’s Chicago Business website, February 14, 2014

“Roughly 13,675 millionaires that lived in Illinois in 2011”

Should Illinois Democrats jack up their income taxes, I suspect the number of Illinois millionaires right before the tax hike is implemented will plummet. Revenue will follow. Out-of-state vacation homes in Indiana and Wisconsin will be declared as primary residences.

“A way to generate more than $1 billion for elementary and high schools”

I highly doubt that.

So does the proposed millionaire tax hike have a chance of becoming reality?

Consider what Greg Hinz blogged on the Crain’s Chicago Business website Friday:

Springfield Democrats have such big legislative majorities that they won’t need any Republican votes to pass the measure if they hang together. And Springfield insiders are saying that odds are much better that Democrats will unify behind the speaker’s proposal- which, after all, would affect only millionaires like Bruce Rauner- than behind another plan being pushed by Senate Democrats to implement a graduated income tax, which would affect far more voters.

Stay tuned. If you can stomach it.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Garcia, Monique, Long, Ray, and Zurich, Maura. “Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme.” Chicago Tribune. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-21/news/chi-speaker-madigan-proposes-asking-voters-to-raise-taxes-on-wealthy-20140320_1_tax-hike-bruce-rauner-income). 24 Mar. 2014.

Hinz, Greg. “GOP leaders blast Madigan’s millionaires tax, but idea likely has legs.” Greg Hinz On Politics.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 21 Mar. 2014. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140321/BLOGS02/140329950/gop-leaders-blast-madigans-millionaires-tax-but-idea-likely-has-legs). 24 Mar. 2014.

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Republican Candidates For Illinois Governor Split On ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban?

This November, an election will be held for Governor of Illinois. The four Republican candidates for the office- State Senators Bill Brady, Kirk Dillard, State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and businessman Bruce Rauner- were recently given campaign questionnaires by the Associated Press, in which gun rights was one of the topics.

According to the AP, two of the four candidates may support a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

From last Tuesday:

In a campaign questionnaire for The Associated Press, the four candidates — state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard, state Treasurer Dan Rutherford and businessman Bruce Rauner — all said gun rights need to be protected but that some public safeguards should exist.

The four differed over assault-style guns — high-capacity weapons that have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings. They currently aren’t illegal statewide, and a proposed statewide ban backed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was pulled from consideration last year in Springfield…

Dillard, of Hinsdale, and Rauner, of Winnetka, both left open the possibility they would support a ban. Rutherford, of Chenoa, and Brady, of Bloomington, oppose such a ban

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

However, the Chicago Sun-Times website is reporting that only one of the four candidates may be open to an “assault weapons” ban. Natasha Korecki wrote last Thursday:

Three of the four Republicans competing in the gubernatorial primary say they believe all Illinois residents have the right to own assault weapons.

Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford of Chenoa, state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington and venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka said Thursday night that they believe it’s a right…

Only Dillard sidestepped the question — saying he believed it was better left up to the federal government to decide…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

So what about Rauner? The Associated Press did think his questionnaire answer was “more vague” than Dillard’s. Turning back to their piece:

Rauner gave a more vague answer, saying he supports background checks that keep guns away from criminals and people with mental illness.

“Going beyond that requires a very careful balance between promoting public safety and protecting constitutional rights,” Rauner wrote…

Unless Kirk Dillard and Bruce Rauner actually come out and say they are against a state AWB, I would chalk them up as possibly being in support of an “assault weapons” ban if the political winds were blowing in that direction.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Governor candidates split on gun control measures.” Associated Press. 25 Feb. 2014. (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20140225/News/140229532). 1 Mar. 2014.

Korecki, Natasha. “Owning assault weapons a right, three GOP candidates say.” Chicago Sun-Times. 27 Feb. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/25882530-505/owning-assault-weapons-a-right-three-gop-candidates-say.html). 1 Mar. 2014.

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Quote For The Week

“I’ve said it before, but if Barack Obama had been president instead of Ronald Reagan, I’d still be a citizen of the Soviet Union.”

-Garry Kasparov, Russian (formerly Soviet) chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, in a February 22 “tweet”

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Ready For Hillary?

This afternoon I pulled up the Chicago Tribune website to see what’s going on locally. The home page loaded up, and lo and behold, I was treated to the following:

Ready For Hillary Ad
“Ready For Hillary” Ad

Interesting. And nicely designed if you ask me.

Clicking on the ad brings you over to the “Ready For Hillary” website (readyforhillary.com). From that site:

Started by two volunteers in January 2013, Ready for Hillary quickly became a nationwide grassroots movement encouraging the former Secretary of State to run for president in 2016. Now, with over one million supporters and over 25,000 grassroots donors, Ready for Hillary is the vehicle through which Americans of all walks of life are expressing their support for a potential Hillary run. Every day, thousands more people are joining this movement, signing the petition encouraging Hillary to run, and showing her that if she decides to run for president, she will have a grassroots army of supporters behind her who are ready to help her win.

I’ve heard increased chatter about Hillary Rodham Clinton and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie being the frontrunners for their respective political parties in the next presidential election. I can’t help but wonder what difference it makes (pun intended) which of these two politicians is elected U.S. president in November 2016, as I suspect there’s a good chance the financial crash I’ve been warning about could rear its ugly head during the next administration, with the actions taken to combat it probably being similar between the two camps (Governor Christie doesn’t particularly strike me as being a dedicated follower of the Austrian School of economics). And I suspect the nation’s finances will significantly preoccupy whoever sits in the Oval Office from 2016 to 2020- and beyond.

Regardless, from what I spotted on the Tribune website this afternoon, it seems it’s just a matter of time before “Hillary” throws her hat in the ring.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 Fiscal Policy, Government, Political Parties No Comments

WSJ Calls Proposed ‘Fix’ To Illinois Public Pension Crisis ‘Fake’

Today’s the day Illinois lawmakers may vote on SB0001 to “fix” the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

But according to the Wall Street Journal last night, the whole thing’s a “fake.”

From the WSJ website Monday evening:

Illinois’s Fake Pension Fix

Democrats in Illinois have dug a $100 billion pension hole, and now they want Republicans to rescue them by voting for a plan that would merely delay the fiscal reckoning while helping to re-elect Governor Pat Quinn. The cuckolded GOP seems happy to oblige on this quarter-baked reform.

Legislative leaders plan to vote Tuesday on a bill that Mr. Quinn hails as a great achievement. But the plan merely tinkers around the edges to save a fanciful $155 billion over 30 years, shaves the state’s unfunded liability by at most 20%, and does nothing for Chicago’s $20 billion pension hole.

Most of the putative savings would come from trimming benefits for younger workers. The retirement age for current workers would increase on a graduated scale by four months for 45-year-olds to five years for those 30 and under. Teachers now in their 20s would have to wait until the ripe, old age of 60 to retire, but they’d still draw pensions worth 75% of their final salary.

Salaries for calculating pensions would also be capped at $109,971, which would increase over time with inflation. Yet Democrats cracked this ceiling by grandfathering in pensions for workers whose salaries currently top or will exceed the cap due to raises in collective-bargaining agreements.

Democrats are also offering defined-contribution plans as a sop to Republicans who are desperate to dress up this turkey of a deal. These plans would only be available to 5% of workers hired before 2011. Why only 5%? Because if too many workers opt out of the traditional pension, there might not be enough new workers to fund the overpromises Democrats have made to current pensioners.

At private companies, such 401(k)-style plans are private property that workers keep if they move to a new job. But the Illinois version gives the state control over the new defined-contribution plans and lets the legislature raid the individual accounts at anytime. That’s a scam, not a reform.

Even under the most optimistic forecasts, these nips and tucks would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion— which is where it was after Governor Quinn signed de minimis fixes in spring 2010 to get him past that year’s election…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Would only slim the state’s pension liability down to $80 billion.”

Sounds like this legislation would only “kick the can down the road” as the public pension crisis is concerned- once again.

I shouldn’t be surprised to read any of this.

After all, it’s what Illinois state legislators have been doing for quite some time now on this issue.

At the end of the day- including today, if a pension “fix” is signed into law- it looks as if public sector retirees participating in these particular pensions are the ones who will be most screwed.

Illinois taxpayers won’t be far behind.

Consider what Kenneth Griffin, the richest Chicagoan and Illinoisan who’s also CEO of the global financial institution Citadel Group, had to say in a Chicago Tribune piece on November 29:

The bitter truth is that our politicians have sold government employees a fraudulent bill of goods. Absent extraordinary economic growth, our state is going to collapse under the weight of generous pension promises made by union leaders and politicians. And with each passing day, the $100 billion gap between what has been promised and what is provided for grows by roughly $5 million.

Here is where this story will inevitably end: Our state is going to be forced to break its promises to our government employees and retirees. They will receive less than they bargained for. Our state’s taxpayers will see the 67 percent “temporary” tax increase converted into a permanent tax increase. And soon we will hear that even further tax increases are needed to meet our obligations. This is the price we are all going to pay for sending the wrong leaders to Springfield for too many years.

I don’t think shaving $20 billion off that total will change Griffin’s prognosis much.

An $80 billion public pension funding gap.

Wonder if that will fake out the credit rating agencies?

Something tells me it won’t, and rewinding the clock only three-and-a-half years will still leave us with an ongoing public pension crisis.

The Wall Street Journal did a nice job picking apart the proposed “fix.” You can read the entire article on the WSJ website here or on the Illinois Policy Institute’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Griffin, Kenneth. “Guaranteeing financial ruin in Illinois.” Chicago Tribune. 29 Nov. 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-11-29/site/ct-illinois-pension-reform-financia-ruin-1129-20131129_1_tax-increase-state-income-tax-bill). 3 Dec. 2013.

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Why Illinois Lawmakers Chose Tuesday To Possibly ‘Fix’ The State’s Public Pension Crisis

Yesterday, I blogged about Illinois lawmakers possibly voting on legislation Tuesday to “fix” the state’s $100 billion public pension crisis.

Why did the Democratic leadership in the Illinois General Assembly- in concert with Republican leaders- decide tomorrow might be a good time to tackle this problem?

From an editorial that appeared on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

This week Illinois lawmakers may reform the nation’s worst-funded state pension system. After Monday’s deadline for candidates to file petitions for the March 2014 Illinois primary, incumbents might vote for a pension bill, secure that angry public employee unions no longer could recruit candidates to challenge them.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I’m guessing these particular unions are pretty angry right now, seeing that the political party they’ve traditionally bedded down with looks to be turning its back on them.

Perhaps we’ll have a better idea if that’s really the case tomorrow.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“Editorial: The Illinois reckoning.” Chicago Tribune. 2 Dec. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-illinois-election-edit-1202-20131202,0,210180.story). 2 Dec. 2013.

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State Of Illinois Unpaid Bills Could Reach $9 Billion By End Of December

More bad news for the State of Illinois on the financial front.

In January 2011, the state government was on the hook for an estimated $8 billion in unpaid bills. That month, massive personal and corporate income tax hikes went into effect in the “Land of Lincoln.”

This morning, I read that the backlog is now approaching $9 billion.

Doug Finke reported on The State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois) website Sunday:

According to Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka’s office… payment delays are once again getting longer. The backlog of bills waiting to be paid in the comptroller’s office has grown by $3 billion since the spring, when the state was flush with tax revenue…

[Topinka spokesman Brad] Hahn said the office believes the total will hit $9 billion by the end of December, exactly where Topinka predicted it would be last summer. It is the second year in a row the backlog will sit at about $9 billion at the end of the calendar year.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Any other Illinois readers starting to think those January 2011 “temporary” tax hikes won’t be so temporary after all?

I blogged back on January 13, 2011:

The legislation that was pushed through by Democratic lawmakers, who have controlled Illinois state government since 2003, hikes the 3 percent personal income tax rate to 5 percent until 2015, when the rate is supposed to drop to 3.75 percent. However, the last time income tax rates in the “Land of Lincoln” went up in 1989, politicians also claimed it was as a temporary increase to combat a financial “rough patch.” But the rates never came down and by 1993 were designated permanent. Until now, that is.

In an attempt to gain more support among Democrats (no Republicans in the Illinois House or Senate backed the legislation), the measure calls for lowering the personal income tax rate in 2025 to 3.25 percent.

For businesses, the 4.8 percent corporate income tax jumps to 7 percent until 2015, when it would drop to 5.25 percent. In 2025, the corporate rate is then supposed to fall back down to 4.8 percent.

If those “temporary” tax hikes in Illinois are indeed repealed in 2015, look for the State of Illinois to find some other way(s) to make up for that lost revenue.

Source:

Finke, Doug. “Bill backlog growing again and so are payment delays.” The State Journal-Register. 24 Nov. 2013. (http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x450320106/Bill-backlog-growing-again-and-so-are-payment-delays?zc_p=0). 25 Nov. 2013.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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