Thursday, February 24, 2011

In The News And Other Stuff

Tea Party backed Republicans in Congress lost out on their bid for an additional 22B “For the children” cuts in social services. Unfortunately everyone has a turf agenda to “protect” certain interests such as The Crying Man Speaker still attempting to get those jet engines for his district. But the deficit conscious Republicans did manage to slash 61B while providing protection for certain companies. Now on to the Senate and then to the President. Chances are it will eventually be watered down or eliminated. Bottom line is everyone is going to get nailed if the spending and deficit is to be controlled.

Governor “two and out” Patrick refused to up the unemployment for MA employers thus saving 400M in extended costs to businesses that would have to eventually be passed along in the pricing chain.

A charity started by two returning vets of Iraq and Afghanistan proved to be a sham. They were even given office space in the state house by the administration only to be outed by Gatehouse News. One expenditure was $800 at Foxwoods. Ouch! Looks like the lesson learned was how to mirror the rampant corruption of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Republicans - first year branch - and Obama managed to agree on a minor budget slicing last week of alternative jet engines that would trim 450M from the budget. Not much in the context of the federal budget but more than the budgets of Middleboro, Bridgewater, Lakeville, Carver, Raynham, Wareham, Halifax and a few other towns combined.

Senator Marc Pacheco has made my political phony sidebar in the past and I could easily toss him out there again. Marc now is exploring being mayor and a state senator. Living proof of what we all know that being “In the House” in Massachusetts is a part time job with full time pay. Of course what has been dragged out is “others have done it.” Gee…a history of hacks padding their pension.

Maybe Pacheco is a political Mormon so instead of two wives he has two jobs.

Wisconsin has done what BB would love and - hey, BB, it’s the Republicans doing it! They are slashing the pensions and proposing a rewriting of collective bargaining laws with state workers. One of the proposals is to have the workers pay 12.5% of their health care cost. 12.5%! The other proposal is to have them fund half their retirement. Democrats actually left the state rather than be forced into watching this pass. Similar situation is surfacing in NY where a liberal Democrat Andrew Cuomo has all of a sudden become a fiscal conservative going to war with public service unions.

Governor Walker of Wisconsin did exactly what he said he would do if elected. He was elected and actually followed through. Now leaving the state in a snit is not part of the political process since if you are disturbed by his policies just vote him and his cronies out of office on the next round and make changes.

The fiscal tsunami that has hit the United States first surfaced in Europe where governments have had a “smell the coffee” moment and realize the stark reality that the money is not there. To get the money would require a round of oppressive tax increases.

Back home the same reality is now firmly in place as pragmatic democrats and republicans attempt to come to grips with the fiscal realities.

In Middleboro the annual shortage has been going on for decades and I imagine more this year. You have a community with the lowest median income of any town in the county, rising health care costs, mandated programs to fund, contractual obligations and really quite limited new revenue and no rescue on the horizon. Labor costs are the big budget buster and unfortunately that is where the axe will eventually fall. After four rounds of failure with 2 and ½ I doubt any life line will show up.

The value of a second opinion also applies to cars. My wife - The Lovely Cynthia - had a “noise” emanating from her pristine vehicle. Muffler? Don’t know. Had it checked out and was told it was a possible transmission problem which they do not handle. Go to a transmission service and have them look at it. I know from previous experience this is $2,000+ so I went to get a second opinion. This time it was a wheel bearing. Mechanic on the test drive with me said so after about 15 seconds. Bearing replaced. Noise gone. Savings? A bundle.

Local UFC or former UFC fighter is in the news. Has quite a path of destruction with assaults and destruction of property. Time to get some help.

The IRS is one government agency that scares the bejabbers out of us. They have attempted to become more reasonable through the years but this next little missive is not about that but about their web site. User friendly. You can track your refund. They also answer tax questions via the internet. That has been an excellent source for me.

I’d love to see a one time tax free holiday for car buying. This is the ultimate big ticket item and I just refuse to buy a new one when I have to toss away 6.5% on top of an excise tax.

National Grid offers a series of rebates for those wishing to purchase a new high efficiency gas burner which I did. Next comes getting that rebate. How many roadblocks can one company put in place to avoid paying? They are requesting information that was not even on their checklist. Somehow I am getting the whiff of small claims court.

There is a web site that lists what the honorarium for speakers of some notoriety. Bill Belichick has a fee of $50,001. What is the one for?

Airline tales of joy. I have a friend who is going to Hawaii and when he went to get his flight the airline was going to bump him since he was a non revenue passenger (airmiles). Eventually his compensation was a night room at the airport Hilton with several food coupons. A flight the next day first class on both legs. And finally a check - not a voucher - for $800. That is the best one I can ever recall.

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