Archive for the ‘Blank Slate Media’ category

What happened November 3? – By George J. Marlin

November 17, 2020

The following appeared on Monday, November 16, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

For months, pundits, pollsters and Democratic Party spokesmen were insisting that on Nov. 3, a blue tsunami would wash away Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants.

Joe Biden’s landslide victory, they told us ad nauseum, would make Chuck Schumer majority leader, increase Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House membership, topple GOP governors and turn numerous red state legislatures blue.

Well, the blue tsunami turned out to be nothing more than an electoral trickle.

True, Trump lost. Nevertheless, he received more votes than any Republican in history. His total, 73 million was 10 million more than he received in 2016.

Working-class folks and seniors of every race and creed came out in droves for Trump. Those voters—once the key constituencies that elected Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy—deserted the party of their parents and grandparents because they were tired of Democratic Party elites who frowned upon their bourgeois values and ridiculed them as uneducated “deplorables,” “irredeemables,” and “chumps.”

As a result, Biden won the popular vote by only 4 percent, not the 8 percent to 10 percent polling experts preceded.

As for the Senate, it is likely Sen. Mitch McConnell will remain majority leader. Predictions that Sens. Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins and Joni Ernst were slated for defeat were wrong.

Senator Collins of Maine—the key target of Democrats because she dared to vote for Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination—easily beat her opponent by 12 percentage points. Polls that had her losing by  9 percent were off by an astounding 21 points.

Democratic expectations in the House failed to materialize. Instead of picking up 20 additional seats, Democrats are currently down 11 and that could grow once all the ballots are counted.

Speaker Pelosi’s majority will be the narrowest since the 1940s.

On state levels, contrary to predictions, Republicans gained one governorship and on Jan. 1 will control the governor’s mansion in 27 states.

In state legislature elections, Ballotpedia reports that “Republicans won new majorities in at least two chambers: the New Hampshire State Senate and House of Representatives. There were no chambers where Democrats won new majorities in 2020.”

Republicans will continue to have majorities in at least 60 state legislative chambers vs. the Democrats at 38. This will give the GOP an edge in redrawing congressional district lines next year.

Most interesting, Trump made significant gains with working-class minorities.

Overall, he received 26 percent of non-white voters. Among Latinos, 32 percent cast their ballots for Trump, up from 28 percent in 2016. Support among black voters went from 8 percent in 2016 to 12 percent. An astounding 18 percent of black men voted for Trump.

In Florida, Trump made incredible gains in Latino communities. He won 55 percent of Cuban-Americans and overall Latino support for the president totaled 47 percent, up 12 points.

These numbers explain why in heavily Latino Miami-Dade County, Biden carried it by only 7 percentage points vs. Hillary Clinton’s 30-point lead four years earlier.

Texas witnessed similar shifts.

In Starr County, located along the Mexican border and over 90 percent Latino, Democrats have routinely carried it by more than 43 percentage points. This year Starr County residents, The Wall Street Journal reported, “voted for President Trump in a red wave that moved the South Texas county from Hillary Clinton’s 60-point margin in 2016 to a 5-point win for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the largest swing to Trump of any county in the U.S.”

In neighboring Zapata County, which Clinton carried by 33 points, Trump beat Biden 53% to 47%.

As for deep blue New York, Democratic expectations were also dashed. Donald Trump received 41 percent of votes cast vs. 36.52 percent in 2016. His vote total is up at least 300,000.

Republicans are poised to pick up two Congressional seats, and five Assembly seats. Democratic plans to obtain a veto-proof state Senate appear to have failed.

Yes, even in New York, many voters made it clear they reject the plans of extreme leftist Democrats led by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to raise taxes, to defund the police, and to eliminate bail, charter schools and private health insurance.

Reading the election tea leaves, State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, took a shot at AOC.

“AOC,” he said, “has no standing on how to run a general election in the suburbs and upstate. AOC is in a district that’s 6-1 Democrat and she couldn’t find a Republican in her district with binoculars … I invite AOC to come to Long Island and stand for election in one of our districts. You’ll see different results.”

While Trump may be on his way out, the conservative movement is not down and out.

And if Biden succumbs to pressure form the radicals in his party and enacts the far-left programs outlined in the Sanders-Biden 110-page Unity Manifesto, don’t be surprised if the GOP makes an even stronger comeback in the 2022 mid-term elections.

New York election boards mired in patronage – By George J. Marlin

November 2, 2020

The following appeared on Monday, November 2, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

Writing 48 hours before the polls open in New York, I am devoting this pre-election column to describing my anxiety about the ability of election boards to properly tally the results.

As a conservative commentator on 1010 WINS after the second presidential debate, I voiced my concerns about the possibility of an absentee ballot counting crisis in New York. I pointed out that I was confident the U.S. Post Office would deliver the mail-in-ballots but had little faith in the abilities of Board of Elections political appointees to handle properly the increased volume throughout the entire state.

I’m worried because county election boards are best known for being populated with political hacks. The fact is, when political bosses can’t find jobs for party faithful in village, town, city or county governments, they dump them in Board of Elections offices.

New York election law permits county leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties to appoint local election commissioners and scores of their minions. This means that in Nassau County, GOP boss Joe Cairo, and Democratic boss Jay Jacobs appoint loyal lieutenants to the top jobs that pay six-figure salaries and recommend people to lower level jobs.

For example, in the 1980s, then Democratic County leader John W. Matthews appointed himself election commissioner. He also received a government car. Why did the commissioner need a car paid for by taxpayers? Got me. It’s not as though there are emergency elections the chief must rush to.

In 2017, days after Hempstead’s Republican Town Supervisor Anthony Santino lost re-election to Democrat Laura Gillen he was rewarded for failure. He was named to an administrative assistant job at the Board of Elections that paid $160,000 annually.

When Newsday asked Lawrence Levy, executive dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, about the Santino appointment, he replied, “It’s business as usual.”

Political cronyism at the county Board of Elections is pandemic, especially in New York City.

In 1940, a government investigation concluded the city boards were afflicted with “illegality, inefficiency, laxity and waste.”

And since then little has changed.

A 2013 report issued by New York City’s Department of Investigation noted that in the five borough offices, 10 percent of employees were related to one another and found “illegalities, misconduct, and antiquated operations.”

As for the current cronyism problem, The New York Times recently reported a long list of relatives of public officials who have patronage jobs at the Board of Elections.

“It’s like being in line at a concert,” said one former employee who received her job through a City Council member. “People just get swept in.”

The Times article noted that the Board of Elections “is chronically dysfunctional” and “has a culture where ineptitude is common and accountability is rare.”

It is not unusual for staffers to show up late, punch in and go shopping or to watch Netflix on their computers, The Times said.

Pervasive incompetence may help explain the disgraceful Election Board antics in recent years which included the improper purging of 200,000 voters from the New York City registration rolls.

As for this year, The Times has reported that the city Board of Elections “failed to mail out many absentee ballots until the day before the [June] primary, disenfranchising voters, and sent erroneous general election ballot packages to many other residents, spreading confusion….”

Counting absentee ballots after the low turnout primary took over a month in Manhattan’s 12th Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney.  One can only imagine how long it will take in a general election with voter turnout that could break 70 percent.

While Biden will likely carry New York by a very wide margin, delays in vote tabulations may not matter as much as it will in the tightly contested states of Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan. Nevertheless, that does not excuse the astounding incompetence of Boards of Elections employees throughout the Empire State.

But whatever happens on Election Day, don’t expect pols to rush back to Albany to implement reforms.

They will continue to tolerate the “semi-functioning anachronism” because protecting the patronage jobs of their family members, friends and political sidekicks is the first priority of the political class.

In other words, expect “business as usual.”

Joe Biden is Captive of the Left – By George J. Marlin

October 22, 2020

The following appeared on Monday, October 19, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

Since the Democratic Convention adjourned in July, The New York Times and its media allies have been depicting Joe Biden as a “pragmatic moderate.”

True, there was a time when Sen. Joe Biden was something of a centrist.

In 1973, he criticized Roe v. Wade for going too far. He was an avid supporter of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.

During the Reagan years, he supported the Kemp-Roth tax cuts, voted for the president’s budget and tax reduction bill, and supported Reagan’s call for the line-item budget veto.

Biden boasted that the National Taxpayers Association rated him the “sixth most fiscally conservative senator.”

During the 1990s, Biden voted for the Clinton-Gingrich Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, which President Clinton declared “ended welfare as we know it.”

Biden was an enthusiastic proponent of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

The Senate version of the bill, which approved funding to hire 100,000 new cops and $6.1 billion to build prisons, was drafted by Biden with the input of the National Association of Police Organizations and was known as the Biden Crime Bill.

However, this year Biden—succumbing to the pressure from the radical wing of his party—repudiated his support of the Hyde Amendment and the 1990s Welfare Reform and Crime laws. Drug addicts, he now holds, have a disease, hence “no one should be in prison because they use drugs.”

And contrary to his denial in the first presidential debate, Biden embraced a radical leftist platform that has been memorialized in the Biden-Sanders “Unity Manifesto.”

In that 110-page document, Biden agreed to support Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $93 trillion Green New Deal, which calls for the elimination of the use of all fossil fuels by 2035 and the immediate end of fracking.

Biden bought into Sander’s “Medicare for all” via an installment plan that would eventually drive private insurance companies out of business—and leave hundreds of thousands unemployed—because, as a Wall Street Journal editorial noted, “it would further inflate the cost of private plans by making them to pay more to compensate for the government’s underpayments to hospitals and doctors.”

The manifesto endorses free college tuition, free breakfasts, lunches and dinners for public school students, forgiveness of student loans, wealth redistribution, higher taxes, federal takeover of local zoning laws, defunding of the police departments, and the replacement of law enforcement officers with social workers.

It calls for the elimination of shareholder capitalism, charter schools and cash bail.

After releasing the manifesto, Sen. Bernie Sanders boasted, “I think if those task force proposals are implemented … Joe Biden will become the most progressive president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.”

The Wall Street Journal agreed. An editorial called the Biden-Sanders manifesto, “the most radical policy document of either major party in our lifetime. It leaps to the left of the Obama administration on nearly every policy area, from education to taxes to climate change.”

Then there is the issue of the Supreme Court. Many Democratic members of Congress have called for adding more justices to the court to ensure it is dominated by leftists.

With public opinion surveys indicating that over 70 percent of Americans oppose packing the court, one would think Biden would state his position on the issue.

But that has not been the case.

When asked to tell the American people his take on the issue, he said, “They’ll know my position on court packing when the election is over.”

On another occasion, after a reporter asked Biden, “Well, sir don’t the voters deserve to know where you stand…”, Biden cut him off and said, “No they don’t.”

Since then Biden has backed off, saying he would give an answer before Election Day depending on how the Judge Barrett vote goes in the Senate.

Nevertheless, the Latin legal maxim is Qui tacet consentire —“Silence gives consent.” Hence, I can only assume Biden’s silence on the issue means he supports packing the court.

Joe Biden is not a “pragmatic moderate.” He has surrendered to the far left to obtain a lease on the White House. If elected, his administration will be dominated by big government bureaucrats intent on controlling every aspect of our lives.

Elections, like policies, have consequences. Voters should be prepared for the consequences of policies Biden will impose if they elect him president.

New York State’s Medicaid Program Failing – By George J. Marlin

October 9, 2020

The following appeared on Monday, October 5, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

Time and again Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to root out structural waste and inefficiencies in state government in general and, in particular, Medicaid.

In his 2010 book, “The New N.Y. Agenda: A Plan for Action,” Cuomo noted in a section titled “Make Medicaid More Efficient”:

“New York will spend almost $52 billion on Medicaid in 2010-11, including federal, state and local funding. State operating funds spending on Medicaid is projected to grow by another $1.8 billion in the 2011-12 fiscal year. New York must find a way to bring its Medicaid costs more in line with that of other states if we are to control overall state spending. New York state spends 69 percent more per beneficiary than the national average. New York’s Medicaid program suffers from spiraling costs, inadequate outcomes and widespread inefficiency.”

He added: “We need fundamental restructuring of Medicaid that looks to achieve long-term efficiencies and focuses on services that actually improve the health outcomes of New Yorkers.”

After 10 years in office, however, it doesn’t appear the governor has made much progress in taming the Medicaid leviathan.

In 2011, with 6 percent of the nation’s population, New York consumed 23 percent of the nation’s Medicaid spending. “By 2016,” Bill Hammond of the Empire Center for Public Policy, has reported, “New York had surged to 40 percent — and its spending has more than doubled since then.”

Total Medicaid spending for the state’s 2020-2021 fiscal year is projected to hit $80.3 billion.

That’s up 63 percent since 2010, well above the rate of inflation.

Granted, some of the growth is due to the COVID pandemic. However, hair-raising audits released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office in September, indicate there is plenty of mismanagement, fraud and inefficiencies.

The DiNapoli audits found more than $700 million in unnecessary costs and overpayments. Here’s a summary of the findings:

The state’s Department of Health has not developed “sufficient controls and oversight to ensure the most effective delivery of pharmacy services under managed care.” The DOH failed to procure the lowest net cost drugs. By failing to establish proper procedures, the auditors estimated that between Jan. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2019, $605 million was squandered on unnecessary drug costs.

Due to the failure to track Medicaid recipients who had multiple Client Identification Numbers (CIN) assigned to them, there were duplication of payments. The audit “found DOH made $47.8 million in improper payments on behalf of recipients with multiple CINs for the period Jan. 1, 2014 through March 31, 2019.”

The transmission of inaccurate or incompetent enrollment information “resulted in $11.7 million in improper payments on behalf of 1,096 recipients who had terminated coverage and another $4.9 million in improper and questionable payments was identified for 319 recipients who died.”

As for reimbursement payments to various Medicaid providers, the audit discovered improper payments to the tune of $15.4 million.

Auditors identified “$29 million in improper Medicaid payments for drugs dispensed after they had been removed from the market for safety or commercial reasons.”

Over $700 million of taxpayers’ dollars misspent. And there might be a lot more that was wasted because auditors only perform sampling tests. For example, they do not review every one of the 244 million claims for payments that were filed with the DOH between March 2019 and September 2019.

In other words, the inappropriate disbursements and overpayments that the auditors discovered may be only the tip of the Medicaid “iceberg.”

In releasing his Medicaid audit findings, DiNapoli declared “The state is facing budget gaps of billions of dollars because of the COVID-19 crisis and needs to find cost savings wherever it can. Hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved with better financial and management controls over the state’s Medicaid program.”

And before Albany Democrats impose tax increases on struggling New Yorkers to pay for the damage caused by Cuomo’s shutdown of the economy, they should heed DiNapoli’s “cri de coeur” and clean out incompetent and corrupt bureaucrats and right-size New York’s bloated government and failing Medicaid system.

The tax man cometh – By George J. Marlin

September 25, 2020

The following appeared on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 on The Island Now’s website:

The federal government’s budget deficit is hitting all-time highs and New York’s 2020-2021 state and local government budget deficits are mushrooming.

And if Joe Biden wins in November, his new spending proposals will exceed $5.4 trillion over ten years.

Where will all the money come from to plug budget gaps and to fund new spending? Tax hikes.

Biden has already proposed raising the top income tax bracket on people earning over four hundred thousand annually to 39.6 percent. The capital gains rate will jump from 23.8 percent to 39.6 percent and corporate taxes will go from 21 percent to 28 percent.

However, if the Democrats win control of the White House and both branches of the Congress, don’t expect the radicals to be satisfied with Biden’s plan. My guess is they will insist that rates for income taxes and capital gains hit at least 45%. As for the corporate tax rate, they will probably push it to 35%, the rate during the Obama years.

In New York, Gov. Cuomo has been lobbying for $59 billion from Washington to close the fiscal gaps for the state, the MTA, and local municipalities.

But even if he gets that money from a Biden administration, it’s only a one-shot revenue. It does not fix the structural deficit caused by Cuomo’s shutdown of the New York economy.

Tens of thousands of small businesses and restaurants that will never reopen and the exodus of the state’s top earners will have long-term effects on tax revenue streams.

While Governor Cuomo understands that increasing taxes will not be enough to cover the projected deficits, his message is failing to register with the Democratic-controlled state Legislature.

Those Democrats are calling for the rate on millionaires, which is presently 8.82%, to be increased to 9.6 percent for those making over $5 million annually, and for those earning over $100 million, 11.85 percent.

The most ridiculous proposal is a tax on unrealized capital gains of equity holdings of billionaires.

If enacted, people would have to pay a tax on a stock that has appreciated in value even though the owner has not sold the investment and taken again.

Here’s how that would work: An investor buys a stock on January 1 for $5 a share, that at year-end is valued at $8 a share. The owner would have to pay a tax on the $3 appreciation.

But, say in March of the next year the investment goes south and the investor sells it for $2 a share. The owner not only takes a 60 percent loss on the investment but is stuck paying an unrealized capital gain tax on April 15 on the losing stock that the investor no longer owns.

Sound crazy? It is.

A tax on unrealized gains, by its very nature, is ludicrous.

As for local governments, an important source of income—sales tax collections—continues to decline. In August, it was off 7.8 percent statewide compared to a year ago, and in July it was down 8.2 percent. In Nassau, sales tax revenues, this year, have been down 10.5 percent.

To fill the 2020 deficit hole, Nassau might be able to issue debt through the Nassau Interim Finance Authority. But that, too, is only a one-shot.

Other municipalities may go to Albany and beg for the authority to issue deficit debt.

That remedy, however, only kicks the fiscal can down the road. It sticks future generations—the children and grandchildren of today’s taxpayers—with the bill for this year’s spending.

Unless elected officials at every level of government agree to do more with less, and address the skyrocketing costs of entitlement and pension programs, every form of taxation will have to be increased.

And considering that over 400 thousand have fled New York this year, raising taxes will only exacerbate the situation.

E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the Empire Center for Public Policy agrees. “State lawmakers,” he observed, “now clamoring to jack up state and city tax rates on millionaires insist the targeted taxpayers won’t mind—and won’t respond by simply moving. But the new IRS data add to the body of circumstantial evidence pointing to an increased outflow of high earners from New York even before the pandemic.”

With federal, state and local taxes poised to go up, it should come as no surprise if the most robust corporate sector in New York is the moving van industry.