Wisconsin union law saves school district

And here are the results: A Wisconsin school district has gone from failure to success as a result of the new law limited union power.

The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it’s all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

Are we finally seeing a sea change in the war between the right and left?

This story today from what is generally considered a Democratic newspaper, suggests that the political debate has shifted strongly in favor of the Republicans and against Obama and the Democrats. From the Los Angeles Times: Deficit battle shaping up as GOP victory

Even as the political battle mounts over federal spending, the end result for federal policy is already visible — and clearly favors Republican goals of deep spending cuts and drastically fewer government services.

President Obama entered the fray last week to insist that federal deficits can’t be reduced through spending reductions alone. Federal tax revenue also must rise as part of whatever deficit reduction package Congress approves this summer, he said.

Obama has been pushing to end a series of what he calls tax loopholes and tax breaks for the rich. But even if Obama were to gain all the tax-law changes he wants, new revenue would make up only about 15 cents of each dollar in deficit reduction in the package. An agreement by the Republicans to accept new revenue would be a political victory for Obama because “no new taxes” has been such an article of faith for the GOP.

But substantively, budget experts note, the plan would still be dominated by cuts to government programs, many of them longtime Democratic priorities, such as Medicaid and federal employee pensions.

For a liberal newspaper to recognize and describe in detail the absurdity of Obama’s position on taxes versus cuts is remarkable. Normally a liberal newspaper would ignore the fact that the President’s suggested tax-law changes will bring in practically no significant revenue, and focus instead on the so-called refusal of Republicans to compromise. That the Los Angeles Times is not willing to carry water for Obama and the Democrats shows that the Democratic position is incredibly weak politically, and is likely to collapse if the Republicans stand firm. That the newspapers is also willing to describe fairly the Republican position, something liberal newspapers have almost never done in the past two decades, also suggests that they have had enough, and have finally realized how much their creditability has suffered in recent years by their unwillingness to cover political news honestly.

If this pattern spreads, the Republicans might find themselves getting everything — and more — of what they want. And that will be something I have not seen in almost fifty years of watching political life.

Minnesota government shuts down over budget and taxes

The Minnesota state government shut down on Friday over budget and taxes.

“We have divided government, and a governor that believes that he has a mandate to raise taxes and increase spending, and we have a Legislature that believes we should cut taxes and reduce spending,” said House Majority Leader Matt Dean. “It is a sort of a microcosm, in the middle of the country, of what’s going on throughout the nation.”

Astronaut Mark Kelly says he won’t run for political office

Astronaut Mark Kelly says he won’t run for political office, leaving politics to his wife, Gabrielle Giffords.

It was a terrible tragedy that Giffords was so seriously injured in the Tucson shooting in January. However, I am completely baffled why people think this incident has somehow elevated the qualifications of both her and her husband for higher office. How does getting shot in the head make you a better leader/executive? It is absurd. If anything, this injury should sadly force us to question her ability to continue in office. As for her husband, mere name recognition isn’t enough. I respect him for recognizing that and bowing out.

U.S. National Parks’ Cultural and Natural Resources Threatened

The pigs begin squealing again: According to a report written by a D.C. advocacy group, the national parks face serious problems due to a lack of sufficient funds.

It’s never enough. The National Park Service budget [pdf] has grown from $2.5 billion in 2003 to $3.1 billion in 2011. At the same time, they have increased fees on all public lands, often introducing fees where none had ever existed before.

Somehow, they managed for decades on smaller budgets. At this time of unimaginable federal debt, I have no sympathy for them, despite the fact that I am a passionate lover of the natural wonders contained in the national parks.

An independent panel of scientists has found that a $1.4 billion plan put forth by environmentalists to save the salmon of the northwest by destroying four hydroelectric dams and restricting water use was based on junk science.

An independent panel of scientists has found that a $1.4 billion plan put forth by environmentalists to save the salmon of the northwest by destroying four hydroelectric dams and restricting water use was based on junk science.

According to the just-released 350-page assessment, funded by the Fish and Wildlife Service, experts expressed “strong reservations” that the expensive effort could significantly increase the Chinook salmon population in the Klamath River system. . . . The report also states, “There are many pieces of information we do not know about the Klamath system, and none we know with absolute certainty. The process of developing the model, trying to reproduce historical conditions … must be internally consistent.”

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