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 on: March 02, 2015, 01:37:06 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
Many of the possible campaign themes have already been used so Hillary advisers are scrambling to meet her planned April announcement plan.

Nixon 1972 had, Now more than ever.  Reagan 1984, Morning Again in America.  Bill Clinton 1996, Building a bridge to the twenty-first century and don't, stop, thinking about tomorrow.  Barack Obama, Yes we can, Forward, and now Hillary Clinton 2016,  Double Down on Failure!

 on: March 02, 2015, 01:25:13 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: March 02, 2015, 01:20:43 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: March 02, 2015, 01:16:26 PM 
Started by ccp - Last post by DougMacG
All other things equal, I like the background preference to have a two term governor be President and have sufficient public sector executive experience coming into he first day.  Yet I don't put that above getting it right on policy and possessing the ability to connect, communicate, persuade people and lead.

The problem with Barack Obama is not his relatively young age nor is it his lack of executive experience.  His biggest problem is that he is headed in the wrong direction.

Truman didn't have a college degree and Lincoln didn't have executive experience. didn't crash because of Obama's short tenure in the Senate.  His programs are failing because they are wrongheaded, IMHO.  This is not a competence election coming up.  We are not looking for who can best manage our giant status quo of bureaucracy.  This is a change-of-direction election.  We are looking for who has the best vision and detailed plans to turn this around and who can connect, change minds and lead people to get it down.

 on: March 02, 2015, 01:15:15 PM 
Started by G M - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: March 02, 2015, 01:01:19 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: March 02, 2015, 12:59:31 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Debt-Saddled Municipal Budgets Get a Lifeline
A unanimous Supreme Court held that health benefits for retired workers can be renegotiated or reduced.
Robert C. Pozen And
Ronald J. Gilson
March 1, 2015 5:32 p.m. ET

While underfunded public-employee pensions capture the headlines, health-insurance benefits for retired state and local workers are also a huge problem. But a recent ruling by the Supreme Court may help state and local governments scale back these benefits.

Unlike public pension plans, retiree health benefits aren’t funded in advance; they are typically paid out of current tax revenues, so they compete with other budget priorities like schools and police. This competition will only grow more intense, as unfunded retiree health benefits are close to $1 trillion, according to a recent study in the Journal of Health Economics.
Photo: Getty Images

Several cities and states have tried to reduce the scope of retiree health-care services, or to increase the portion of the premiums paid by retired workers going forward. Public unions have frequently sued, claiming the benefits are vested for life—roughly parallel to the legal arguments the unions have made against efforts to curb future pension costs.

In late January, however, the Supreme Court issued an unanimous decision that will increase the chances of local governments winning such lawsuits. While the case involved a private business and its union, the principles should generally apply to public-sector agreements.

M&G Polymers vs. Tackett involved a collective-bargaining agreement that provided certain retirees, along with their surviving spouses and dependents, with a full company contribution toward the cost of their health-care benefits “for the duration of [the] Agreement.” The contract was subject to renegotiation after three years, but the critical legal question was whether the retirement health-care benefits continued even after the agreement expired—in effect whether the intent was to vest these benefits for life.

The union argued that the contract did vest these benefits for life and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. The Supreme Court reversed, noting that to prevail, the plaintiffs, in this case the union, had to supply concrete evidence—“affirmative evidentiary support”—that lifetime vesting of retiree health benefits was what both parties to the agreement intended.

Normally, the explicit terms of a contract are taken to reflect the parties’ intentions; only when a contract’s language is ambiguous does a court look to the parties’ intent. Here the Supreme Court followed a traditional rule of contract law: If a contract is ambiguous, proof requires evidence of what the parties intended, not what a court—in this case the appellate court—might infer from the ambiguous contract.

Two principles in Tackett should be especially relevant to reductions in retiree health-care benefits where the duration of these benefits is often unclear. The court, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, supported the “traditional principle that courts should not construe ambiguous writings to create lifetime promises.” Similarly, he wrote that the court endorsed the traditional principle that “contractual obligations will cease, in the ordinary course, upon termination of the bargaining agreement.”

This is where the Supreme Court’s decision is particularly significant for the public sector. There must be explicit proof that a collective-bargaining agreement intended long-term commitments to bind a city or state long past the incumbency of the public officials who signed the agreement.

Today elected officials trade generous retiree benefits in the future for current wages. By doing so, they avoid having to take responsibility for current cutbacks in state and municipal services that would accompany wage increases.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Tackett means that lifetime benefits cannot be inferred but must be made explicit. As a result, if public officials now attempt to revise the benefits in a current or new collective agreement, unions will doubtless demand that any long-term promises be made explicit. But public officials who make these promises explicit send a strong signal that they are putting potentially enormous burdens on future taxpayers and elected officials. This makes it harder for current officials to make such promises. That is a step forward—not just in interpreting contracts but also in enhancing political accountability.

Mr. Pozen is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Mr. Gilson is a professor of law at Columbia and Stanford law schools.
Popular on WSJ

 on: March 02, 2015, 12:56:44 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog

8:29 pm ET
Feb 28, 2015
Walker, Reagan and Patco

    Comments (37)

    Drew Lewis
    Peggy Noonan
    Ronald Reagan
    Scott Walker


On Friday at the winter meeting of the Club for Growth, in Palm Beach, Fla., Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination, was pressed for specifics of his foreign-policy views. Walker referred to policy professionals with whom he’d recently met, and then suggested that what is most important in foreign policy is not experience but leadership. The “most consequential foreign-policy decision” of his lifetime, he said, was President Reagan’s handling of the air traffic controller’s strike. “It sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world.” The message: “We wouldn’t be messed with.”

That caused a lot of raised eyebrows. I here attempt to return them to a more relaxed state. In the 1990s, when I was researching and interviewing for my biography of Reagan, “When Character Was King,” I became more deeply aware of the facts and meaning of Reagan and the flight controllers, and I discovered an element of the story that I think had not previously come fully to light:

It was the spring of 1981. Reagan was still a new president, and recovering from John Hinckley’s attempt to assassinate him in late March. Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis met with Reagan at Camp David to give him bad news. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or Patco, wanted to go on strike. The union’s 17,000 workers manned radar centers and air traffic control towers across the country. These were tough, high-stakes, highly demanding federal jobs. The union’s contact was up, they had been working under increasingly difficult conditions, and they wanted a big pay increase.

Lewis told me Reagan was sympathetic: The increased pressures of the job justified a pay increase, and he offered an 11% jump—this within a context of his budget cutting. But Patco demanded a 100% increase. This would cost taxpayers an estimated $700 million. Reagan rejected it outright. He told Lewis to tell the union that he would not accept an illegal strike, nor would he negotiate a contract while a strike was on. He instructed Lewis to tell the head of the union, Robert Poli, something else: As a former union president he was the best friend they’ve ever had in the White House.

Reagan’s tough line was not completely comfortable for him, personally or politically. He’d had little union support in the 1980 election, but Patco was one of the few that had backed him. Not many union leaders had been friendly to him, but Patco’s had. And he was a union man. he didn’t want to be seen as a Republican union buster.

Still, Reagan believed no president could or should tolerate an illegal strike by federal employees, especially those providing a vital government service. Not only was there a law against such strikes, each member of Patco had signed a sworn affidavit agreeing not to strike.

Talks resumed, fell apart, and by the summer 70% of the air controllers walked out.

They had thought Reagan was bluffing. He wouldn’t fire them, they thought, because it would endanger the economy and inconvenience hundreds of thousands of passengers—and for another reason, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The walkout became a crisis.

Reagan did what he said he would do: He refused to accept the strike and refused to resume negotiations. He called reporters to the Rose Garden and read from a handwritten statement he’d composed the night before. If the strikers did not return to work within 48 hours, they would be fired—and not rehired. The 48 hours was meant as a cooling-off period. In the meantime, Reagan made clear, nonstriking controllers and supervisory personnel would keep the skies open

What Reagan did not speak about was an aspect of the story that had big foreign-policy implications.

Air traffic controllers in effect controlled the skies, and American AWACS planes were patrolling those skies every day. Drew Lewis: “The issue was not only that it was an illegal strike. . . . It was also that a strike had real national-security implications—the AWACS couldn’t have gone up.” It is likely that even though the public and the press didn’t fully know of this aspect of the strike’s effects, the heads of the union did. That’s why they thought Reagan would back down. “This hasn’t come up,” said Lewis, “but the Soviets and others in the world understood the implications of the strike.”

The administration quickly put together a flight control system composed of FAA and Defense Department personnel, and private controllers, to keep commercial traffic—and US military aircraft—in the air.

It was an international story. The French government pressed the administration to make a deal. Britain backed Reagan. Canada’s flight controllers shut down the airport in Gander, Newfoundland, in solidarity with Patco. Lewis, with the president’s backing, told them that if they didn’t reopen within two hours the U.S. would never land there again. They reopened.

The administration could have arrested the strike leaders but didn’t. Congressional Democrats could have used the strike for partisan advantage and didn’t, or didn’t much.

Sen. Edward Kennedy and Lane Kirkland of the AFL CIO played helpful and constructive roles. Persuaded the administration had a case—a 100% increase was asking too much, a strike against the public safety was illegal—both kept a lot of Democrats on the Hill and in the labor movement from coming out strong against the administration.

Lewis said there were unhelpful moments from a few of the president’s longtime supporters. Some were wealthy men who owned their own jets and didn’t want to be inconvenienced. One called Lewis and told him he was going to get him fired. Lewis called the Oval Office. “I said, ‘Mr. President, you’re going out to California soon and Justin Dart and all these guys have private planes and they’re all raising Cain with me.’ I said, ‘I hope you don’t cut my legs out from under me.’”

Reagan, said Lewis, responded: “I‘ve never cut the legs out from anybody in my life. You let me worry about my friends, you worry about the strike.”

When the two-day cool-off period ended, 70% of the air controllers were still out. They all lost their jobs. “We fired 11,400 traffic controllers,” said Lewis. “That’s a lot of families. . . . And the union had supported us, and it was a good union. It was very sad. We were both upset about the firing. [Reagan] was almost in tears that he was going to hurt those families.”

So why was, and is, the story of Reagan and the flight controllers an important one?

What was at issue was crucial and high-stakes. What Reagan did worked: The administration promised to keep the skies open and did. The Patco decision set the pattern for wage negotiations over the next eight years, not only for the federal government but for local and state governments. The U.S. Postal Service’s half million workers were readying to go on strike shortly after Patco walked out. They didn’t. Mayors soon observed that a new climate seemed to have taken hold in their municipal negotiations.

Foreign governments, from friends and allies to adversaries and competitors, saw that the new president could make tough decisions, pay the price, and win the battle. The Soviets watched like everybody else. They observed how the new president handled a national-security challenge. They saw that his rhetorical toughness would be echoed in tough actions. They hadn’t known that until this point. They knew it now.

This is why Reagan’s secretary of state George Shultz said that the Patco decision was the most important foreign-policy decision Reagan ever made.

Everyone knew at the time that it was a domestic crisis. It wasn’t until years later that they came to appreciate that it was foreign-affairs victory.

So was Scott Walker right about the importance of Reagan and Patco?


But two caveats. One is that Ronald Reagan himself would never suggest, on the way to the presidency, that all you need to understand foreign policy is a good gut and leadership abilities. You need knowledge, sophistication, grasp. He’d been studying foreign affairs all his adult life. He walked into the Oval Office with a policy: We win, the Soviets lose. A talent for leadership doesn’t tell you where to go, it helps you get there. Wisdom tells you where to go.

Second, in January Walker said that documents released by the Soviet Union proved the Soviets treated the U.S. differently after the strike. I have never heard of such documents. No one I spoke to for the book referred to them. The Washington Post has quoted former Reagan ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock, saying “There is no evidence of that whatsoever.” I suspect that is correct.

If Walker got it wrong, he should say so. Though I’m not sure it matters in any deep way. Of course the Soviets saw and understood what had happened with Reagan and the union. Of course they would factor it in. They had eyes. They didn’t have to write it down.

 on: March 02, 2015, 12:53:25 PM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by DougMacG
This is not amnesty, but a penalty and payment proposal for converting people from illegal to legal status.

1)  Secure the borders first.  Must be proven over time.  No new inflow.  No overstaying visas.  No hesitation by the government to deport any new entrants.

2)  The plea bargain, penalty settlement should look something like this:  Pay your share of our accumulated debt before you share in our privileges.  That would be roughly 18 trillion divided by 330+ million people, or $55,000 for every man, woman and child who wants to live here and be a voting, American citizen, 220k for a family of four.  Come on in!  (That is not unreasonable, about what a private college charges for one person over 4 years.)  There is an incentive to come out of the shadows and agree quickly before national debt goes up more!  Then, before they vote, the new citizens will have a stake in the ownership and sensitivity to the high cost of government and entitlement programs.  Deportation only for those who do not agree to a schedule or do not keep up with their payments.  

 on: March 02, 2015, 12:50:45 PM 
Started by Dog Dave - Last post by Crafty_Dog

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