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AP takes note of anger brewing over public employees’ benefits

Today, Yahoo! featured an AP article on the brewing anger over government workers’ benefits, suggesting that the stand-off in the Badger State means additional scrutiny of the power of public employee unions.  In the article, writer Geoff Mulvihill interviewed not just individuals upset at the spiraling costs of offering lavish benefits to the public workforce, but also scholars who have studied labor markets:

“It’s the government sector worker who’s the new elite, the highest-paid worker on the block,” said David Gregory, who teaches labor and employment law at New York’s St. John’s University.

For instance, most non-uniformed public employees who have worked in New Jersey for 30 years with an ending salary of $85,000 can look forward to retiring at 55 with an annual pension of about $46,000. Working until age 60 and a salary of $90,000 can bring a pension of $57,000. And many of the New Jersey’s public-sector retirees have no or low premiums for their health insurance.

For a private-section worker who retires at 55, relying solely on a 401(k) without an employer match, it would take a $100 contribution to a plan every week for 30 years and getting an annual return over 7 percent to get to the same level of pension benefit as the public worker retiring at that age. Those benefits would run out after 25 years for the 401(k) retiree. . . .

The government entities spent 1.7 times as much on health care per employee-hour worked and nearly twice as much on retirement costs. Public-sector workers — who are more often represented by unions — are far more likely to have defined-benefit pensions with promises to pay for the retirees’ whole lives.

The more people learn not just about the costly benefits which public employees have secured, but also the favors which states have granted their unions (such as requiring local school districts to “buy health insurance from a union company“), the more likely they are to supposed those like the modest one Governor Walker has proposed in Wisconsin.

Mito Aviles & Scott Schmidt for West Hollywood

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:40 pm - March 8, 2011.
Filed under: Post 9-11 America

While I still believe Mito Aviles and his partner Chad Michael Morrisette behaved badly in the way they mocked then-Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin during the 2008 campaign, as I follow the race for West Hollywood City Council, I feel increasingly confident I made the right choice in endorsing this young entrepreneur and will be voting for him and Scott Schmidt later this afternoon — once I have decided which candidate will get my third vote in this contest.

Mito was profiled today on West Hollywood Patch and again reminded voters of his concern for transparency at City Halli:

“The public and the residents need to know what exactly is going on in their city,” he says. “If you are an elected official, you are a public servant. That said, there’s a lot of closed-door meetings that happen, there’s a lot of interaction that happens behind closed doors that the residents don’t know about. And they should know, or at least be able to know, about everything and anything going on in City Hall.”

Seems the president and his team could learn from their fellow Democrat.  Mito may be a Democrat, but he has shown an independent streak in articulating his approach to facing the city’s challenges.  And he’ll provided a fresh voice in contrast with the stale rhetoric coming from the entrenched incumbents, one who has been in office since Mito was in pre-school.

If you live in those Los Angeles jurisdictions which are voting today, make sure to vote.  And to my fellow residents of West Hollywood, get out and vote for Mito and Scott Schmidt.

Twenty years ago, George H.W. Bush was considered unbeatable

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:09 am - March 8, 2011.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Obama Hopenchange

While acknowledging that President “Obama will be difficult to beat” in 2012, Byron York reminds us that a few years back, the conventional wisdom held that another incumbent, riding much higher in the opinion polls than the Democrat is now, would also be tough to knock off:

In early March 1991, all the smart people in politics knew one thing about the upcoming 1992 campaign: President George H.W. Bush was unbeatable. . . .

“Will anybody run against George Bush in 1992?” asked Juan Williams in the Washington Post on March 10, 1991. “There are no candidate footprints in the pristine snows of New Hampshire this winter and the Iowa cornfields are untrampled.”

York believes that “whatever the differences,” between this year and 1991, “the similarity is that for Republicans, victory is possible for a candidate with daring, confidence, and skill.”  Read the whole thing.

Not just that, in 2012, Obama can’t run as a well-spoken blank slate running against Washington and promising change.  He, as I wrote last week, “hasn’t been the change agent he promised to be.  He isn’t the new kind of post partisan politician presented to us in the presidential campaign.

To win a second different, Barack Obama is going to have to change his narrative from the one who used to great effect in 2008.  And he’s untested running as the insider defending the status quo.

Truant Wisconsin Democratic Senators Want a “Border Summit”?

This is rich.  In order to resolve the budget “impasse” that they created by fleeing the state, the fourteen Democrats elected to represent various jurisdictions in the Wisconsin state Senate have invited the Republican governor to meet with them near the border of a neighboring state.  That good man wisely dismissed the letter in which they suggested the meeting:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday dismissed as “ridiculous” a letter from a Democratic state Senate leader who suggested a meeting “near the Wisconsin-Illinois border” to discuss the state’s budget impasse.

Sen. Mark Miller sent the letter to Walker on Monday, offering a border summit as a way to resume stalled negotiations on the state’s budget.

Border summit?  Huh?  Are they attempting to resolve tense relations between the Badger State and the Land of Lincoln?  Will they need intermediaries from a neutral state?

Shouldn’t they return to Wisconsin if they wish to resolve Wisconsin‘s budget impasse?  Maybe the governor might meet with them if they returned to the state they were elected to serve.

In what Moe Lane calls, “one of the better official political letters“, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald reminds his Minority counterpart how representative democracies work:

As you know, your opportunity to compromise and amend the bill was on the floor of the state Senate. As you know, you forfeited that right and opportunity when you decided to flee the state instead of doing your job.

Just love the way the Republican who has remained in his jurisdiction doing his job addresses the letter to the flighty Democrat:  “Sen. Mark Miller/Parts Unknown, IL.”