Daily Archives: June 16, 2011

>Ethanol Suffers Rare Loss in Senate

>Wasn’t it just earlier this week that the Senate rejected the idea of ending subsidies for Ethanol producers? Evidently that rejection wasn’t the end of the debate and now by a large bi-partisan majority, the US Senate has by a vote of 73-27 decided that in the name of deficit reduction the country can no longer afford to give away $6 billion a year to an industry that hasn’t produced the savings at the gas pump that was expected when the tax breaks went into effect 3 decades ago.

The following excerpt is from a Wall Street Journal report that has just recently been posted online:

A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted Thursday to end more than three decades of federal subsidies for ethanol, signaling that other long-sacrosanct programs could be at risk as Democrats and Republicans negotiate a sweeping deficit-reduction deal.

The tax breaks, which now cost about $6 billion a year, had long been considered untouchable politically because of the power of farm-state voters and lawmakers. Iowa’s role as the site of the first presidential caucuses has further elevated the political potency of the biofuel.

The Senate voted to repeal a $6 billion tax credit for ethanol producers, a move that could signal the end of some federal subsidies as part of an eventual budget compromise. Joe White has details.

Presidential hopefuls made a quadrennial ritual of going to Iowa and pledging to support the tax breaks, tariffs and mandates that supported production of ethanol motor fuels from corn. This year, however, some Republican presidential candidates have pointedly refused to endorse ethanol tax breaks.

Thursday’s vote doesn’t by itself doom federal support for the corn ethanol industry. The House is expected to reject it on the grounds that changes to the tax code, under the Constitution, must originate there, and the White House says an outright repeal is too abrupt. But the 73-27 vote signals that in a time of fiscal challenges, programs that once appeared unassailable now could be vulnerable.

The ethanol vote was driven by a coalition of liberal lawmakers and fiscal conservatives—it was sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Tom Coburn (R., Okla.)—who want to end subsidies for wealthy interest groups before slashing social welfare programs. They were opposed by a bloc of farm-state lawmakers seeking to fend off the repeal or slow it down.

The Senate action could also open the door to attacks on other tax breaks, such as those benefiting oil companies, in the interest of deficit reduction. Republicans have been wary of doing so, but 33 Republicans joined 40 Democrats and Independents in supporting Thursday’s repeal, which has the effect of raising taxes on oil refiners….

You can read more by clicking ….Here

1 Comment

Filed under biofuels, corn growers, ethanol subsidies, flex fuel, high gas prices, Oil industry, US Senate, Wall Street Journal

>Be Like Dirk

>From FunnyorDie.com

Everyone playing basketball nowadays knows that if you want to be the best you have to be like Dirk Nowitzki. No one wants to Be Like Mike, everyone wants to Be Like Dirk.
http://player.ordienetworks.com/flash/fodplayer.swf

Be Like Dirk – watch more funny videos

My congratulations to Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Dallas Maverick winning the NBA Championship this Sunday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Funny or Die.com, NBA, NBA Championship

>Fine Print: Senate Bill No. 2937 Proposed legislation would dictate sweeping changes to public employees’ pensions and healthcare benefits

>By John Mooney – NJSPOTLIGHT.com

Synopsis: “An act concerning public employee pension and health care benefits, and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law and repealing P.L.1999, c.96 and P.L.1985, c.414. Makes various changes to pension and healthcare benefits for public employees”

Related Links
Senate Bill No. 2937

Primary sponsor: Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester)

What it means: The 120-page bill makes sweeping changes to public employees’ contributions to their pension and health benefit plans, and to the rules that dictate those benefits. Pensions and benefits have been at the center of debate between Gov. Chris Christie and the legislature since Christie took office, and the apparent agreement on this bill — at least for now — has consumed Trenton for much of the last week and likely for the next.

It’s all in the details: The new bill, introduced yesterday, would require public employees pay up to an additional 2.5 percent of their salaries toward their pensions, and up to 30 percent of their healthcare premiums. But how the law meets those thresholds represents the key differences between what Christie has sought and what Sweeney now proposes, with the Democratic leader phasing in some of the increases and also scaling the healthcare contribution, depending on salary. Low-paid public workers will barely make any contribution at all.

Riding off into the sunset clause: Sweeney struck a deal with Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) in introducing the bill to also include Oliver’s proposal that the health benefits changes would have a “sunset clause” and revert to being a subject of collective bargaining in 2014. Christie has not yet commented on the proposed sunset, but has appeared reluctant to back any reforms that have a limited shelf life.

What’s next: The Senate budget committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill tomorrow, with the Assembly budget committee slated to hold its own hearing on the companion bill on Monday.

The reaction: Needless to say, public employees unions aren’t taking too well to the ideas, and have big protests planned tomorrow for the Statehouse and maybe legislators’ homes. The New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) is also holding a press conference today to point out what it calls the false assumptions and savings in the proposals.

Will it pass? That of course, is the bottom line. It’s as close as ever to passage, to be sure, but it faces lots of questions both in substance and politics. Sweeney has said he will push it through, even if it means defying some of his Democratic caucus. Oliver has been less willing, and has indicated she may not post it for final vote without consent of her members.

In the end, it will require what was once unfathomable: a sizable number of Democrats going against organized labor during an election year. But these are remarkable times, with similar measures passing in other states with Democratic support.

2 Comments

Filed under Gov. Chris Christie, health benefits and pension reform, NJEA, NJspotlight, public unions, senate bill 2937, Sheila Oliver, Stephen Sweeney

>After TEA Party and Coffee Party What’s Next? A Tequila Party of Course

>While Republicans enjoy TEA and Progressives partake in Coffee another group would rather party with Tequila.

That’s right, there is a new party in town called the Tequila Party and both sides of the political fence should start taking notice because now the potentially largest minority voting block, the Hispanics, has come together to see that their interests in jobs, immigration and education do not go unnoticed by Republicans and Democrats in office.

…The newly formed grass-roots group sprouted from a growing frustration among Hispanic voters that neither party is doing much to help the nation’s immigrant population and that the tea parties have turned the tide against them.

Rather than swear allegiance to one party or the other, Tequila Party members said they plan to form a Hispanic voting bloc so strong that they can no longer be ignored.
“We’re not telling anybody how to vote. We don’t care, because we do bad anyway at the polls. Right now, we need to get over that hurdle,” said DeeDee Garcia Blase, the group’s founder and president….
…”Democrats take the Latino community for granted, and Republicans tend to assume that Latinos don’t vote or that they always vote Democrat,” Quasius said. “We think both parties’ perceptions of Latinos need to be fairly shaken up.”…
You can read more about this online at Roll Call

Leave a comment

Filed under Coffee Party, Democrats, immigration, Latino and Hispanic voters, Republicans, Roll Call, Tea Party, Tequila Party

>It’s Your Town – Newsletter Volume 3, Issue 11- 6/6/11

>The latest edition of It’s Your Town newsletter is available for downloading. This edition of the newsletter covers the monthly workshop meeting of the Middletown Township Committee.

As is the new norm since no Democrats currently sit on the Township Committee, the meeting was over shortly after 9pm, it lasted just barely and hour. So one can imagine just how much public information was actually discussed in public.
Interestingly enough what was discussed was that the Township Committee is planning to raise a few various fees in town.
It was only about a year ago when those on the Middletown Committee were calling the fees increases imposed by the State, just another tax. Now it is their turn.
It was announced that the Township budget will be passed in early July, but I doubt it seeing how the Township will not receive surplus funds from the Library by then.
It should be noted thought that the budget $4M less than last years, but our property taxes will be increasing 2.9%. Go figure!
You can read all about these and other points of interest from the June 6th workshop meeting by downloading the current edition of the newsletter >>> Here
As always, happy reading.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 budget, Its Your Town, Middletown Library, Middletown Township Committee, Newsletter, resolutions and ordinances, surplus funds, workshop meeting