Friday, February 05, 2010

Mass. Families Faced with Hefty Taxes for Not Carrying Health Insurance. Find your Mass. Health Insurance Fee for Non-Compliance.

A call last evening from a family in Massachusetts speaks volumes about the Commonwealths version of Universal Health Care. The call to this blog was one of frustration. The family, middle class, and struggling with a variety of increases in utilities, etc. al due to the round of tax increases passed in the Commonwealth in July, expressed frustration over the fact that they owe the Commonwealth $1100 in fees for non-compliance with Mandatory Health Care. The fact that a policy for a family in their income bracket is, according to the Commonewalth Connector, has a monthly premium of $34, however that does not always include the reality of every day expenses and or other factors that make the $4,100 annual investment in health insurance doable. The Commonwealth then, assesses a fee, in this case $1,100, which is due April 15th. The question poised and answered at the same time: What will happen to that money collected? It will go to those who don’t work for a living!

What should happen, is those fees assessed for families caught in this economic morass due to being taxes left, right and center, should be used for that family to purchase affordable health care, or at the very least credited to their health coverage. One wonders how much the Commonwealth will make at tax time with “fees” from the Commonwealth Connector which is deep in the “red”, and how those fees will be applied, with so many individuals and families unable to afford the steep premiums with few options given to the Citizens of the Commonwealth. If there were choices such as catastrophic coverage, it would be a perfect system, as it now stands, only a select few carriers are allowed to operate within the state, and mandates have caused private pay plans to increase by 11% driving more into non-compliance.

For citizens of the Commonwealth who may not be sure what fee they can expect to pay for non-compliance, the rule is rather simple. The Department of Revenue has a table here that taxpayers can use as a guideline to find their “fee”.
First one finds their income based on the federal poverty guidelines and then the one will be assessed. For example: A family of 3 earning $54,000 is considered to be at the top of the heap in Massachusetts – this is pre-tax income. The Penalty for this family is: $1116 due and payable on April 15th.

Bill Clinton Brings Pay-Go Legislation Back – Former President Rally’s Democrats in Congress to get Bill Passed - So Much for Obama.

Bill Clinton recently came back to the Congress to rally the troops; so to speak, into signing legislation that resembles his 1984 pay-go principle. The concept is that the Congress cannot spend unless it cuts somewhere else and stems from a principle Clinton proposed in the 1980’s to balance the budget. His presence and the concept were necessary to bring so-called “Blue Dog” Democrats into the fold. In addition to the pay-go legislation, the Democrats also approved an increase on the debt ceiling – go figure.

Politico has an article here noting that the President “welcomed” the pay-go option.
The question now remains, with former President Bill Clinton making trips to the House to get the job done; will he also hit the campaign trail to aid those Democrats who clearly need a cheerleader? The Baltimore Sun article here , headlines: “Vulnerable Dems seek distance from Obama”: we saw this coming. After losses in states such as Massachusetts, but, even more poignant, relative to Obama’s time spent, New Jersey, those Senators and Represenatitves that are barely polling near or below their Republican rivals, are clearly interested in keeping the President, whose popularity remains below 50% ((Rasmussen)elsewhere during the campaign season.

Longing for the good old days (that eight year period where Clinton managed to balance the budget with the help of a Republican Congress and Senate) – in other words, a time where Clinton, as a moderate, succeeded. However, this is 2010, where the administration is intent to shove legislation through the Congress, without input from the Republicans who are locked out of every meeting, at the speed of light. Although Obama (and those with like minds) continue to shout “Bush-Cheney and the newly coined “Party of No” from the rooftops in order to cast blame elsewhere - it appears that the general public, for the most part (meaning the majority) are not buying that line from the Oval office. The preceding speaks volumes as to the chaos the machine that is the DNC is in total disarray. Barak Obama, after all, is the titular head of the Democrat Party.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Earl Sholley, Mass. 4th District Candidate for U.S. Congress Offers Hour Long Blog-Talk Radio Progam

Earl Sholley, candidate for the Massachusetts 4th District U.S. Congressional Seat, currently held by Democrat Barney Frank, began an hour-long radio broadcast last night. The broadcast, from 6 to 7 pm, is on Blog-Talk radio, inviting callers to “Ask Earl” his views on a host of issues. The first broadcast was held last night, and was quite successful.

One can listen to last evenings broadcast here at Blog Talk Radio. Lisa Camp, Sholley’s Campaign Manager, indicated the broadcast will be a weekly feature, allowing 4th district voters, and anyone interested in the Massachusetts 4th district race, to get to know Sholley and how he stands on the issues.

Although the program appeared to get off to a rocky start (with a few missed calls), Sholley got through the “technical difficulties” and delivered a particular brand of populist think that appeared to resonate with those calling in from his district, as well as areas of Massachusetts outside of the 4th. One caller, who asked a question about Card Check, began by calling Sholley, “Sir”. Sholley immediately shot back: (paraphrasing) “Don’t call me “Sir”, I work for a living”. Sholley’s response was refreshing – given the fact that most of our U.S. Congressional representatives appear to be welded to their seats.

Sen. Elect Scott Brown (R) MA, to Be Seated Today – Gov. Deval Patrick Dallied in Case of Brown Certification

Scott Brown (R-MA) to be Sworn into Office Thursday, February 4th, 2010 image Scott

The WashingtonPost article headlined: “Scott Brown to be sworn in to Senate a week early” is a bit disingenuous, as the Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Galvin, had not disputed the results of Brown’s election. In fact, Galvin had sent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a letter on the 19th,(immediately following the election) stating that Brown had won the seat.

However, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, decided to wait until the votes were certified, a period of up to 10 days following the election. After the 10 day period, the certification papers are then sent to the Governor’s office to be signed. (Although the decision could have been made to Seat Brown at any time from the 19th forward). This would have put the certification papers on Duval Patrick’s desk on the 30th of January - yet the date chosen to seat Brown was February 11th.

In an appeal to “Massachusetts Officials”, Brown requested to be certified and seated without delay.

Brown will be seated sometime today, after Governor Deval Patrick signs the certification papers.

Some facts to consider:

In a Massachusetts Congressional special election, Democrat Representative Niki Tsongas, was sworn into office immediately following the election on in October of 2007. Deval Patrick, certified results immediately, based on a similar letter signed by Galvin.

Interim Senator, Democrat Paul Kirk, has continued to vote on legislation despite the results of the election. The delay in seating Brown allowed Kirk time to vote, legally or otherwise, on legislation in the Senate.

It is, as Brown noted, the “people’s seat”, however, Massachusetts Democrat Governor, Deval Patrick, in collusion with his Washington counterparts, continued to treat the will of the people with disdain.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Illinois - Primary Results for U.S. Senate Seat Currently Held by Obama replacement Burris, Analysis

The Illinois state 2010 primaries were held yesterday for several Congressional races, among them the race to fill the seat currently held by Democrat, Roland Burris. Burris was appointed to the seat by former Illinois Govenor, Democrat, Rod Blagojevichto replace Barack Obama, who was elected to the seat in 2004, and used that platform to began a successful bid for the Presidency in 2007.

One would think that the State of Illinois and the electorate would, therefore, trend heavily Democrat in the Primary, however, the results tell a different story. With 99%of the precincts reporting in, a total of out of five Democrat candidates, Barack Obama’s protégé, Alexi Giannoulias, bested his nearest competitor by 5 points, garnering 345,265 votes. The Republican primary, with 6 candidates vying for the slot, gave Mark Kirk, the current U.S. Congressional Represenative from North Chicago’s 10th Congressional District the nod, with a 37 point lead over his competitors. Kirk Received 416,853 votes in this primary. One must understand that more Democrats voted in the primary than Republican’s, overall, however, the margin of victory is telling.

Which may be why David Axelrod , political guru for Massachusetts Govenor Deval Patrick and Barack Obama is concerned about holding onto the seat, according to Axelrod’s concerns stem from the fact that he preferred another candidate to Giannoulis, the current Illinois State Treasurer, who worked with former Govenor Blagojevich, and fears the Republican, Kirk will be “formidable”.

Despite recent Democrat losses in key races in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, one would think that the seat held by Axelrod’s protégé, would be firmly in the grapes of those Progressive Chicago Democrats. That said, one merely needs to review polls averages at Real Clear Politics in order to get a clear picture of which way the wind is blowing.

As it currently stands: the first poll to pit Giannoulias against Kirk, near the primary gave the Democrat an 8 point lead. The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, queried 47% Democrat, 31% Republican and 23% Independent. Marignals here. As the State of Illinois publishes voter tally’s, without party designation, it is difficult, at this point, to know if those marginal’s accurately reflect that State's current voter registration. If so, then according to the primary results, Kirk has the definitive advantage.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick’s New Campaign Slogan - Yes! We Need More Taxes!

Deval Patrick, Campaigns on More Taxes! - Photo Boston Herald

Anyone living in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has noticed that they have been paying a lot more for simple things, including necessities, since the June round of taxes proposed by Governor Deval Patrick and passed by the Massachusetts Legislature went into effect. From cell phone bills, cable and satellite TV bills, to the increase in the bottom line of any given grocery receipt, a few dollars here, a few dollars there, adds up - especially in an economy where many find themselves choosing between eating and paying the rent. There are taxes and fees aplenty in the Commonwealth – all designed to boost a budget deficit that continues to outpace the income the Commonwealth derives from those individual working taxpayers and businesses that remain in the state.

In an election year, one finds U.S. representatives, and the Govenor, filling our mailboxes with brochures and flyer's touting constituent services (more on this subject at a later date). However, what one does not expect to see is the Incumbent Governor of the State known as “Taxachusetts” proposing yet another round of Taxes! From candy and soda (those are bad to you excuse) to Tobacco products that did not fall under a cigarette tax, such as cigars and pipe tobacco, (same excuse) to an increase in prescription drug fees for Medicaid recipients, a bottle tax on water and juice, and a surcharge on auto insurance – the later intended to drive those already struggling under the yoke of taxes, those underemployed, unemployed, and the elderly, to the very brink of destitution. Is he nuts?

Of course, the Governor, who is aware that his approval rating has tanked in recent months, (A recent Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire poll (Known to be generous to a certain political party – see Coakley plus 15 in the Brown/Coakley race while other pollsters had Brown up anywhere from 5 to 12 points) gave Patrick a 44% approval rating.) but believing in the power of the catchy and recycled slogan: “Yes, we can” - he decided that now is the time to raise taxes, again.


Enter the Trojan Horse.

The Governor faces a three way contest in November: Tim Cahill, Life-long Democrat conveniently turned Independent, and either the team of Republican Charlie Baker and Richard Tisie, or Republican/Independent Christy Mihos. With recent events in the Commonwealth clearly indicating that those who tax and spend – fail and retire - one has to ask why Deval Patrick continues on his path of potential taxing political suicide. Maybe he’s not as obtuse as one would believe.

The Cahill Factor: Tim Cahill, a life-long Democrat, began his career as a City Councilor, moving to the position of Country Treasurer and lastly elected State Treasurer in 2002. Cahill, who oversees the State Lottery, has had his share of notoriety. The Boston Globe report from December of 2009, talks about Cahill’s legal fees and use of “high profile, elite lawyers at the taxpayers’ expense. Apparently, when Deval Patrick began to tank in the polls, Cahill got “religion”. As of now Should Cahill receive more than 6%of the vote usually donated by the good citizens of the Commonwealth to the “Independent” running, he will insure that Deval Patrick is reelected. Sounds like a plan.

In reality, Tim Cahill may be sincere, but timing, as they say, is everything. With a disenchanted and depressed electorate, the candidates running for the governor’s office will be put under a proverbial microscope by the people of the Commonwealth – In real election terms, it is far too early to count anyone in or out, however, as the race shapes up during the summer, the handwriting should be on the walls (or in the polls).

Prediction: Deval Patrick takes the die hard progressives (26% of the 35% Democrats enrolled): Tim Cahill takes the balance of the Democrats who truly want a moderate, and 10% of the independents who believe he's truly found religion (that 19% and that is generous.) Looking more Baker/Tisie by the minute, take the balance. (12% Republican vote and the remaining 41% of the independent vote).

Monday, February 01, 2010

Harry Reid – Fundraising Ability versus the Reality of a Low Job Approval Rating – Money, in some instances, can’t buy a Senate Seat.

Harry Reid Stands to Lose Senate Seat - image LA Times Blog

Recent articles regarding Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid’s, ability to raise large sums of cash (and then spend it in a heartbeat), have appeared in several papers over the past week, of interest is one that appeared in the Washignton Post on January 29th. Although Reid had amassed approximately $2,000,000 for his campaign, he immediately spent it on advertising, perhaps in the hopes of improving his image with Nevadans. Reid’s currently polling between 8 and 10 points behind one of the republican challengers, Danny Tarkanian. Public Policy Polling, an allegedly left centered polling institute has Reid with an 8 point disadvantage at this point in the game. Public Policy Polling has correctly called races for Govenor (New Jersey and Virginia) and the U.S. Senate (Massachusetts).

Polling began back in August on this particular race, and the numbers have remained fairly consistent.

Comparing Harry Reid to Tom Daschle - Reids Numbers Much Lower - image broadcast blog

From an historical standpoint, the last majority leader of the Senate (and the first to lose his seat as an incumbent) was Tom Daschle, who’s poll numbers going into the end of the race, showed a smaller margin against his challenger Republican John Thune. Daschle apparrenlty had a higher job approval rating than Reid currently holds, however, his constant gaffes and his role of “attack dog” for the Kerry campaign, eventfully led to his demise. Reid, has had consistently low approval ratings: as late as January 10th, of this year Reids approval was at 33% and has remained at that approximate number since August.

Therefore, keeping in mind that historically, Daschle, the last Democrat Senate Majority Speaker who lost his seat had much better polling and approval rankings within his own state, more money, at this point is not going to save Harry Reid’s seat. All politics being local, it will be the Nevadans who determine Reid’s fate, and their main objective appears to be one of a fairly consistent desire to remove him from office. Another factor: Reid’s opposition is not yet determined (there are two Republican’s vying for the nomination who fare almost equally well against Reid in polls), once the opposition is set, the grassroots supporters as well as the GOP, will surely push that candidate’s war chest equal to or past Reid’s. Therefore, spending $2,000,000 here or $10,000,000 there will have the same effect as riding a stimulus backed pork-laden monorail to nowhere. Although too early to call any 2010 races, one can, based on the aforementioned data, be fairly certain that Reid will not be returning to the U.S. Senate.

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