Pivoting off Abdon Pallasch's Sunday Sun-Timesarticle, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow devoted a segment to GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk's lengthy record of misstatements last night. It serves as a great recap of the whole controversy:
Those audio clips from Kirk's WLS interviews? You heard them herefirst.
It looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and his
caucus leadership has broken a promise with jobless Americans. Before
the body went on recess, Reid said he planned to take up a bill
this week extending the filing deadline for emergency unemployment
benefits. Well, the Senate is back in session today and unemployment
insurance isn't on the docket. From The Hill:
fate of the measure is uncertain. At this point, the Senate probably
doesn't have enough votes to pass the measure, and it's unknown how the
House would react to changes.
Jackie Headapohl at MLive points out that any
major change to the bill would force it back to the House for another
vote, where passage is not assured -- this despite the fact that 74 percent of Americans think it's too early to cut off emergency assistance, according to a new Hart Research Associates poll (PDF). Meanwhile, the severity of the
long-term unemployment crisis is growing. On average, the National Employment Law Project estimates (PDF) that current unemployed workers are without work for 34.4 weeks, or over eight full months. That's worse than the latest estimate from the Economic Policy Institute, whose data only extended through 2009.
UPDATE (6:20 p.m.): Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) tells the Hill that the Senate leadership is "close" on a deal to get the so-called "extenders" bill. It appears they will introduce it some time tomorrow.
Last week, we spent some time cataloging the barrage of media criticism GOP Senate nominee Mark Kirk received after making excuses for needlessly mischaracterizing his own military record. The Sun-Times' Kate Grossman gave her two-cents on WTTW's Chicago Tonight
last Friday, questioning why Kirk keeps suggesting his
embellishments were accidental. "The part that [the Sun-Times editorial board] was disappointed with is
that he just calls these mistakes," she said. "These are not mistakes. These are
exaggerations." Watch it (full video
of the panel discussion is available here):
Alexi Giannoulias' campaign has also been tracking the various pundit reactions on their YouTube channel.
State lawmakers decided not to pass any major tax increases or
spending cuts this session, preferring instead to confront the state's
massive deficit next year (or so they say). They didn't leave Springfield without approving any
new revenue, however. Among the one-time payments passed
was a tax amnesty bill that grants delinquent taxpayers an opportunity to pay
back-taxes without penalty. Former Paul Simon Public Policy Institute director Mike
Lawrence didn't like the idea when the General Assembly tried it seven years ago -- and he likes it even less now. In his latest State Journal-Registercolumn, he notes the "long-term fiscal and moral implications" and cites research showing that tax amnesty "imperil[s] future revenues by devaluing compliance."
needs to pay its bills, so it's hard to turn down the estimated $250 million the plan could generate next year. But it begs the
question: Of the revenue proposals that were seriously debated in
Springfield, why didn't House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) call
a bill (SB 44) to raise the state's cigarette tax by $1 per pack? It's incredibly popular, it's recurring, and it would raise roughly the same amount of resources in FY 2011 as the tax amnesty bill. Also, it would deliver real public health benefits.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported
last week that the measure "could still be revisited this summer or in
the regular fall session." We'll see. With this
legislative body, such projectins always deserve a big grain of salt.
Rep. Mark Kirk may have lied repeatedly
about the nature of his military service, but according to
Rep. Peter Roskam, those fibs aren't
comparable to Alexi Giannoulias' Broadway Bank troubles. "I think the nature of what Giannoulias was doing
... of putting the federal taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of
millions of dollars, is different then overstating a resume," the Republican congressman said on WFLD's Fox Chicago Sunday this past weekend. Watch it (full video available here.):
just one flaw with Roskam's argument: the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corp (FDIC), which took over Broadway at a cost of $394 million in April, receives
no congressional appropriations. Instead it is financed by investment
earnings on U.S. Treasury securities and premiums paid by banks so
their deposits can be insured. In February, FDIC officials told the Tribune that they had enough cash on hand to deal with a Broadway Bank collapse without borrowing from the Treasury.
In other words, the bank's takeover can't be described as putting "taxpayers on the hook."
UPDATE (1:10 p.m.) Roskam repeated the claim on WIND's Big John and Amy this morning. For the full segment, click here. Comments begin at the 25:50.
Asked by WIND Radio's Big John and Amy to name one thing he would have liked to have done differently as Cook County Board
President, Todd Stroger ignored the unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase or his error-laden budgeting. The Tony Cole fiasco, his patronage problems,
and his broken promises to modernize county government apparently didn't come to
mind, either. Instead, he took a parting shot at his arch-nemesis: the Chicago media. "I would more vigorously stand up and call the press
liars," he told the hosts. Listen (full audio of the interview available here):
That constant defensiveness really captures the essence of Stroger's disappointing reign.
Despite the start of the Blagojevich trial, the ballooning controversy over Mark Kirk's embellishment of his military record took precedence on the Sun-Times' front page today:
We rounded up the latest batch of apologies last night. But be sure to check WGN's report, which includes blistering reactions from a local veterans at a Chicago VFW hall. In response to Kirk's false claim that he received the Navy's "intelligence officer of the year" award in 2000, one of the interviewees remarks: "He should be able to read the certificate and see what it says." Watch it:
Earlier this week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Kevin McDermott devoted a blog post to the latest Illinois Policy Institute memo on disparities between private sector and public sector pay. He specifically zeroed in on the comparison of prison barbers (who make an average salary of $66,000) with normal barbers (who make around $27,000, on average) and even quoted the Institute's executive vice-president suggesting ways to bring the state's barber costs down.
McDermott described the Institute as "testing the theory that the government is more wasteful (or, put another way, more generous) than private businesses." But he failed to note -- in clear, obvious language -- that the conservative think tank's method was wholly unscientific. Indeed, in our response to their report, we just as easily found occupations in which the state pays less than the private sector.
Any discussion of this nuanced issued should note the comprehensive and rigorous study recently conducted at the University of
Wisconsin which found
that local and state employees often make 15 percent less than their
private sector counterparts.
Jon Burge may have tortured Chicago citizens, but he sure didn't
commit perjury. That's the argument the former police commander's
defense team is making in court this week. In his latest post
at Vocalo, John Conroy -- who has covered the Chicago police torture
scandal for two decades -- explains that Burge's lawyers are suggesting their client was not required byoathto tell the
truth when he filed written responses to two separate lists of
questions in a 2003 civil case. That's important because the trial is
only concerned with charges of obstruction of justice and perjury, not
the actual acts of torture he allegedly (and all but undoubtedly) committed.
sums up the frustrations of many when he writes that "it may be
something of a small miracle that there is anything at all to indict
Burge for." His recap also underscores how ridiculous
it is that state law imposes a statute of limitations on crimes human rights organizations describe as torture. Hopefully, that's the lesson pols and the media
will take away from these proceedings.