Tag Archives: government unions

Dems in Denial Over Walker Win

This is one time I actually do wish it was the river in Egypt.

-Dave 
(h/t: Our good friend bkeyser)

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Obama to cut health benefits of active and retired military

If Obama has his way, military benefits will be drastically reduced for all active and retired military.
As an example, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048!
Obama claims this is in the interest of reducing our $5 trillion national debt by trimming the federal government’s bloated budget. That’s a pile of horse manure because his proposed health benefits cuts do not apply to civilian defense workers. Why’s dat? Because they belong to government unions! — and unions are the political base of Obama and the Democrat Party.
H/t beloved Miss May.
~Eowyn

Bill Gertz reports for the Washington Free Beacon, Feb. 27, 2012:

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.
The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.
The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.
Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.
“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”
Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.
Military personnel from several of the armed services voiced their opposition to a means-tested tier system for Tricare, prompting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey to issue a statement Feb. 21.
Dempsey said the military is making tough choices in cutting defense spending. In addition to the $487 billion over 10 years, the Pentagon is facing automatic cuts that could push the total reductions to $1 trillion.
“I want those of you who serve and who have served to know that we’ve heard your concerns, in particular your concern about the tiered enrollment fee structure for Tricare in retirement,” Dempsey said. “You have our commitment that we will continue to review our health care system to make it as responsive, as affordable, and as equitable as possible.”
Under the new plan, the Pentagon would get the bulk of its savings by targeting under-65 and Medicare-eligible military retirees through a tiered increase in annual Tricare premiums that will be based on yearly retirement pay.
Significantly, the plan calls for increases between 30% to 78% in Tricare annual premiums for the first year. After that, the plan will impose five-year increases ranging from 94% to 345%—more than 3 times current levels.
According to congressional assessments, a retired Army colonel with a family currently paying $460 a year for health care will pay $2,048.
The new plan hits active duty personnel by increasing co-payments for pharmaceuticals and eliminating incentives for using generic drugs.
The changes are worrying some in the Pentagon who fear it will severely impact efforts to recruit and maintain a high-quality all-volunteer military force. Such benefits have been a key tool for recruiting qualified people and keeping them in uniform.
“Would you stay with a car insurance company that raised your premiums by 345 percent in five years? Probably not,” said the congressional aide. “Would anybody accept their taxes being raised 345 percent in five years? Probably not.”
A second congressional aide said the administration’s approach to the cuts shows a double standard that hurts the military.
“We all recognize that we are in a time of austerity,” this aide said. “But defense has made up to this point 50% of deficit reduction cuts that we agreed to, but is only 20% of the budget.”
The administration is asking troops to get by without the equipment and force levels needed for global missions. “And now they are going to them again and asking them to pay more for their health care when you’ve held the civilian workforce at DoD and across the federal government virtually harmless in all of these cuts. And it just doesn’t seem fair,” the second aide said.
Spokesmen for the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not respond to requests for comment on the Tricare increases.
The massive increases beginning next year appear timed to avoid upsetting military voters in a presidential election year, critics of the plan say.
Additionally, the critics said leaving civilian workers’ benefits unchanged while hitting the military reflect the administration’s effort to court labor unions, as government unions are the only segment of organized labor that has increased in recent years.
As part of the increased healthcare costs, the Pentagon also will impose an annual fee for a program called Tricare for Life, a new program that all military retirees automatically must join at age 65. Currently, to enroll in Tricare for Life, retirees pay the equivalent of a monthly Medicare premium.
Under the proposed Pentagon plan, retirees will be hit with an additional annual enrollment fee on top of the monthly premium.
Congressional aides said that despite unanimous support among the military chiefs for the current healthcare changes, some senior officials in the Pentagon are opposing the reforms, in particular the tiered system of healthcare.
“It doesn’t matter what the benefit is, whether it’s commissary, PX, or healthcare, or whatever … under the rationale that if you raise your hand and sign up to serve, you earn a base set of benefits, and it should have nothing to do with your rank when you served, and how much you’re making when you retire,” the first aide said.
Military service organizations are opposing the healthcare changes and say the Pentagon is “means-testing” benefits for service personnel as if they were a social program, and not something earned with 20 or more years of military service.
Retired Navy Capt. Kathryn M. Beasley, of the Military Officers Association of America, said the Military Coalition, 32 military service and veterans groups with an estimated 5 million members, is fighting the proposed healthcare increases, specifically the use of mean-testing for cost increases.
“We think it’s absolutely wrong,” Beasley told the Free Beacon. “This is a breach of faith” for both the active duty and retiree communities.
Congressional hearings are set for next month.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Feb. 23 called on all military personnel and the veterans’ community to block the healthcare increases.
“There is no military personnel issue more sacrosanct than pay and benefits,” said Richard L. DeNoyer, head of the 2 million-member VFW. “Any proposal that negatively impacts any quality of life program must be defeated, and that’s why the VFW is asking everyone to join the fight and send a united voice to Congress.”
Senior Air Force leaders are expected to be asked about the health care cost increases during a House Armed Services Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday.
Congress must pass all the proposed changes into law, as last year’s defense authorization bill preemptively limited how much the Pentagon could increase some Tricare fees, while other fees already were limited in law.
Tricare for Life, Tricare Prime, and Tricare Standard increases must be approved, as well as some of the pharmacy fee increases, congressional aides said.
Current law limits Tricare fee increases to cost of living increases in retirement pay.

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Union Protection

Union pervert


 Having a government union job pretty much means you can get away with anything. Here at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) there’s an employee that is still employed after several run-ins with the law.  And they aren’t DUIs or traffic tickets…
WSDOT Engineer Pleads Not Guilty to Stabbing, Robbing Women
A WSDOT engineer accused in a series of violent crimes is out on bail following a court hearing on Thursday. Corey G. Wight pleaded not guilty to assault charges during the hearing. He’s accused of picking up prostitutes earlier this year then stabbing and robbing the women.
According to the statement of probable cause, Wight, 55, picked up a woman and paid her to perform a sex act and as she was getting out of his car, he told her to hand over all her money, detectives said. Wight then pulled out a knife and stabbed the woman twice, in the arm and in the hip, according to investigators. He tried to stab her a third time, but she managed to jump out of the truck. Wight took all of the woman’s cash out of her wallet before throwing it out of his truck and driving off, detectives said.
The woman told investigators as he drove off, “I saw on his face this look of satisfaction like it was sadistic, like he got off on what he had done to me. Like it satisfied him, like he just looked like a serpent that had just swallowed a rodent.” The woman described her attacker to a detective who recognized the description as that of someone he’d recently investigated. The detective showed the woman a photo montage, and she “immediately picked Wight out of the montage, saying she was positive he was the man that stabbed her,” the document said.
Investigators later learned another woman had been stabbed in a similar robbery incident in March. That woman was picked up by a man who paid her to perform a sex act. While the woman was getting out of the man’s truck, he said to her, “You forgot something,” then stabbed her in the leg with a large flat-tipped screwdriver, the statement said. The woman tried to fight back, using her purse to shield herself. But when the man yelled, “Give me that purse (expletive)!” she dropped the bag and ran, she told detectives. When shown a photo montage, she identified Wight as her attacker and “confirmed ‘100 percent’ he was the man that attacked her,” investigators said.
According to the WSDOT, Wight was placed on leave on April when the investigation began. He was allowed to return to work on Aug. 1; however, he was demoted to an engineer of a lower tier and was not compensated for the time he was on leave. His current annual salary is $61,296. Wight has been employed by WSDOT for 27 years.
Wight again was placed on administrative leave from his WSDOT job last week, but the WSDOT says it can’t fire him if the offense wasn’t directly related to his job. “There is no provision in state law or the collective bargaining agreement that allows WSDOT to terminate a represented employee’s employment based merely on the existence of a criminal conviction not directly related to the scope of his or her employment,” the WSDOT said in a statement.
Wight has a prior conviction for third-degree assault. And guess what that was for? In January of this year he was arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old prostitute at his apartment. That charge was later reduced and he pleaded guilty to 3rd degree assault — a felony. He served just 2 days in jail.  Wight’s supervisors at WSDOT found out about the incident with the 16-year-old, and placed him on paid reassignment from Jan. 14 to April 4. They later suspended him without pay for nearly three months. Transportation supervisors ended up demoting Wight and gave him a pay cut of approximately 10%.
I recently obtained employment at a private firm and had to go through a criminal and driving record background check.  Our personnel manual has a section on “personal conduct”.  It states: “The conduct of the company’s business and how it is viewed by its clients is very important to FIRM NAME and to its employees.  The business actions the company takes puts it reputation on the line.  Employees are expected to conduct themselves in a truthful, ethical and professional manner at all times in contact with colleagues, clients, competitors, and the public.”  Furthermore, our firm does a lot of work with the federal government.  Our business ethics and conduct plan states, “When the company accepts government contracts or subcontracts, it has an added obligation to the public trust.”
WSDOT has this statement about “Excellence and Integrity” on their website: “Our employees will work in a culture of workplace excellence and diversity that encourages creativity and personal responsibility, values teamwork, and always respects the contributions of one another and of those with whom we do business. We will adhere to the highest standards of courtesy, integrity, and ethical conduct.”
If Wight held a private sector job, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been fired by now.  I asked HR today if they would hire a recent felon.  Her answer, “no way”. Instead of recognizing their obligation to the taxpayers (their employers) and their own excellence and integrity standards, the union once again shows their true purpose is to protect their due payers, instead of the taxpayers.
DCG

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EB-5 and the Prostitution of America

For 20+ years, I had taught a course on Economic Development to undergrads and graduate students — why Third World countries are poor and how they can develop their economies and so catapult themselves to join the developed First World.

But developing an economy requires capital or money, and Third World countries, by definition, are underdeveloped and capital-poor. If a country’s people had the surplus capital to invest in factories and businesses, it wouldn’t be a Third World country to begin with.

So the standard economic development strategy is to devise ways to attract cash from countries that are developed — and rich — by offering them sweet deals so they will invest in the poor country. That capital is called Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

Poor countries typically employ tax incentives (low or no taxes), low wages, and lax or no labor laws to attract FDI. The smarter Third World governments jealously guard their national sovereignty and autonomy to avoid being exploited by foreign capitalists and becoming dependent on FDI, to the detriment of their own national wellbeing. The smart ones insist that the foreign investors train domestic workers into skilled labor, anticipating that day in the future when the poor country becomes developed and no longer must bow to wealthy foreigners.

In all my years of studying, teaching, and writing on economic development, I have never come across a developed First World country so desperate for FDI as to prostitute itself.

But that is what the federal and state governments of the United States of America are doing.

Let me ask you:

  1. Is America a poor country and thus lacking in affluent citizens with money to invest in starting up businesses in America?
  2. Does our country have a dearth of entrepreneurs, investors, businessmen and women?
  3. As if we don’t already have an illegal immigrant problem, is the United States so sparsely populated that we must offer incentives for people around the world to immigrate here?

The answer to all three questions is clearly “No.”

Then why is it that, instead of persuading American businesses to stop “outsourcing” exporting jobs overseas, our government is prostituting America to attract foreigners to invest?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has a program called EB-5 which, in the name of “helping create jobs,” grants foreigners permanent U.S. residency in exchange for bringing in Foreign Direct Investment.

EB-5, the immigrant investor visa program, was created by the Immigration Act of 1990 in the Bush Sr. administration. Yes, the same George Herbert Walker “we need a New World Order” Bush:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rc7i0wCFf8g]

EB-5 offers a green card for foreign nationals who invest at least $500,000, creating at least 10 jobs. The minimum amount of FDI for urban areas is higher — at least $1 million — whereas investment in rural or targeted employment areas is $500,000. The investment must also remain “at-risk” without repayment for a period of two full years.

EB-5 investment can only be received by an economic unit defined as a Regional Center — “an economic unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment.”

Translated, this means that to be a “Regional Center” requires the designation and approval of government, specifically the USCIS. This, in turn, means yet more government bureaucracy, more “public” employees, and their attendant unions!

There are USCIS-approved EB-5 Regional Center projects in Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas/Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin.

Tomorrow we will take a look at Idaho’s EB-5 projects, specifically what its state government has done to lure in Chinese FDI.

Ponder this: America, a rich First World country, is so desperate that we have offered China — a developing and, as China’s leaders insist to this day, still poor country — to bring in FDI in exchange for permanent residency and U.S. citizenship.

Stay tuned!

H/t beloved fellow Tina.

~Eowyn

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