A New Can Of Worms
30 January 2004
We Told You So

The Medicare prescription drug overhaul price tag just jumped 1/3 according to the White House:

"The new figures represent the first time the White House has released its projections of the bill's costs. They could deepen an election-year wedge between the White House and conservative Republicans upset over spending and budget deficits that they say have grown too high on Bush's watch.

The numbers raise questions about whether administration officials revealed everything they knew before the vote on Medicare, some conservatives complained privately. Bush signed the bill Dec. 8."

Could deepen a wedge? Any deeper and things will begin to sever. There will be a conservative revolt in the House.
Could IL Go Into Casino Business

According to today's Chicago Sun-Times:

"Illinois would be the first state to own a casino if a bid by a Pennsylvania company for the state's last-available gaming license wins at an upcoming auction.

The proposal, sources said, would see Penn National Gaming, which owns Hollywood Casino in Aurora, pay upwards of $500 million for the license and sell it back to the state for $1. "

The idea is to sell the casino back to the state and then have the Penn gaming run the casino. After the long term lease ended, the lease could be re-auctioned.

Full disclosure, I have friends at Penn Gaming so I may not be impartial, here. With that said, I'm a fan of privatization efforts.

If the state can outsource a casino, then why can't it outsource the Lottery, or why can't it outsource prisons, or other services? It would make it a lot harder to raises taxes in the future, too.

The first question has to be, "Why should the government own a casino?"
29 January 2004
Strike Three

Burried among all hubbub surrounding Bob Kjellander, the Republican National Committeeman in Illinois, in this morning's Chicago Tribune was this little nugget:

"On trade, Oberweis was alone in declaring that he would seek to lift the embargo on doing business in Cuba.

'We need to begin to build those economic ties. Otherwise, other countries move and begin to build those ties without us there.'"

Oberweis has broken the faith on the President's realistic immigration proposal, prescription drug reimportation, and now he joins George Ryan on Cuba.

On Kjellander I can only say that it won't matter to him, a liberal Republican who supported Corine Wood, one iota whether or not any of these Senate Candidates wins the primary. In his mind, he probably sees the state going democratic, anyway. Sure, he'll go through motions and won't do anything to hurt the nominee but he won't help them, either.

I think a victory on this front could merely remind everyone that the Republican party in Illinois is corrupt and ergo a pyrrhic victory in which you win the primary and then spend the general election defending the party on ethics after the "Bob Kjellander resignation."
Iraq Was Bribing France With Oil

From the The Center for Security Policy hompage:

"Documents from the Iraqi Oil Ministry reportedly show how Saddam Hussein bribed leaders in France, Russia and other countries to secure their political loyalty.

The Iraqi newspaper al-Mada broke the story, details of which were carried in European newspapers on January 28. The Paris daily Le Figaro carried a major story of its own, identifying the French individuals by name.

The Independent of London reports that Iraqi authorities will investigate claims that 'dozens of politicians, including some from prominent anti-war countries such as France, had taken bribes to support Saddam Hussein.' "

You have to be a little concerned with al-Mada because the Iraqi free press is like the wild west. They're still learning about responsible reporting. But if Le Figaro and the Independent are picking up on it, they're may be something to it.
28 January 2004
This Is Great!

The state's new ethics guide gives state employees many familiar scenarios:

"The tutorial includes scenarios involving state workers, such as when it's proper to accept gifts from contractors, whether employees are allowed to do campaign work on state time and what constitutes a conflict of interest....

...One of the scenarios involves a 'former House minority leader and head of the state Republican Party ... accused of using his staff to do political work on state time.'

While naming no one specifically, the reference describes former House Minority Leader Lee Daniels (R-Elmhurst), who remains a state representative despite being embroiled in a political scandal that involves his alleged use of legislative staffers on House campaigns while heading the House GOP. Daniels, who did not return a message seeking reaction to the reference, has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

'We're not trying to indict the former House minority leader in the scenario,' Rausch said. 'But it's a scenario the state of Illinois is familiar with and we want [workers] to know why this isn't OK.'

Another section, dealing with bribery, alluded to former Gov. George Ryan's corruption scandal. While Ryan himself was not named in the guide, it noted how state employees took bribes in exchange for commercial driver's licenses so they could contribute to the ex-secretary of state's campaign and keep their jobs."

There is a sizable contingent of Republcians in the state who haven't gotten the message. Jim Oberweis is one stark example. Until the break the code, they'll be examples of what not to do.
Chicago Tribune | U.S. plans Al Qaeda offensive

Thanks for warning them...
27 January 2004
Just Spent $3,800

Between paying for the printing of a new Illinois Policy Institute policy study and a free lance writer for another paper, today. I'm feelin' kind of broke...And thing about it is I still have to pay to update some media lists, pay for postage as well as blast faxing the report's press release.

This business isn't cheap!
Chicago Government School Teachers Overtime Fraud

1 faces dismissal, 2 resign after overtime exposed according to the Sun-Times.

My questions are a) will the taxpayers get their money back? b) Will the union pay for their defense?
26 January 2004
Property tax bills are in the mail this week

I predict more calls for property tax income tax swaps (hikes in truth).
Senate Candidates on Healthcare

The Chicago Tribune put some questions to the senate candidates on healthcare and the answers we're all over the map.

Rauschenberger and Oberweis agree that the Bush Medicare plan spent too much. Andy McKenna wants to spend more. Ryan hits the right note on giving seniors more options. I've spoken with him about healthcare in the past and found that he has a grasp of how markets operate and what they can provide.

Oberweis apparently breaks with everyone by supporting prescription drug reimportation. Between that and his immigration stand I believe that if he were elected to the Senate he'd be more of a show horse than a workhorse. The attacks on immigration and now reimportation demonstrate a penchant for demogoguery. Just what we need, a Republican version of Dick Durbin. Doesn't Oberweis run an investment firm? If so don't hire him, he doesn't understand how markets work or what a market is -- that's if he truly believes in his positions on these two issues.

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