Monday, June 28, 2010

Sen. Durbin's Statement on the Death of Sen. Robert Byrd at age 92

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today after the death of Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV):

“Senator Byrd carried a copy of our Constitution close to his heart every day. It was a constant reminder of his life's mission to honor the values which gave us this great nation.

No one in the history of the Senate could match Byrd's thunderous oratory; his sense of history; his determination to teach every President the limits of his power and his lifelong passion to fight for West Virginia.

Daniel Webster, set another chair at Heaven's table, Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia has arrived.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sen Brady (R) Comments on Downgrade of Illinois Credit Rating

"For the second time in two weeks, another independent voice has downgraded our state's credit rating citing a fiscal crisis under the leadership of Governor Pat Quinn. The downgrade by the widely respected Fitch rating agency will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and, according to Fitch, makes Illinois second only to California as the worst rated state in America.

The moves by Fitch and other independent rating agencies are a stark reminder of the failed economic policies under the Quinn-Blagojevich administrations. Illinois cannot afford four more years of taxing and spending under Pat Quinn."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rassmussen Shows Kirk Up 3 Pts Over Giannoulias


Illinois’ hotly contested race for the U.S. Senate between Republican Congressman Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is once again a virtual toss-up.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Kirk barely ahead of Giannoulias 42% to 39%. Seven percent (7%) would prefer another candidate, and 12% more are undecided at this point.

In late April, Kirk earned a modest pick-up in support in the first survey conducted after the government's seizure of the failed Broadway Bank, the institution owned by Giannoulias' family. Since then, Kirk has been forced to apologize for misstatements about his military record.

Kirk’s support is similar to results found in early April and in March. Kirk picked up 46% to Giannoulias' 40% in the first survey after the two won their party primaries in February.

Despite news of the bank seizure, support for Giannoulias has changed little since March. The Democrat held a modest 44% to 41% edge at that time.

While Kirk earns majority support from men in Illinois, Giannoulias holds the edge among women.

Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, Kirk holds a 50% to 24% lead.

Additional data from the survey will be released over the coming week at
(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.
The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Illinois was conducted on June 7, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/-4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Illinois voters say they’ve been following news stories about Kirk and his military service, and 63% say this news is important in terms of how they vote this November. Thirty-two percent (32%) say Kirk’s misstatements about his military record are not important in how they vote.

These numbers include 27% who say the misstatements are Very Important to how they vote and 11% who say they are Not At All Important.

Fifty-four percent (54%) in Illinois favor repeal of the health care plan, slightly lower than the view nationally, while 42% oppose repeal. Those numbers include 42% who Strongly Favor repeal and 36% who Strongly Oppose it.

Kirk picks up 69% support from those who Strongly Favor repeal of the law, while Giannoulias picks up 74% from those who are Strongly Opposed.

Thirteen percent (13%) of Illinois voters share a Very Favorable opinion of Kirk, while 15% view him Very Unfavorably.

Nine percent (9%) view Giannoulias Very Favorably and 23% view him Very Unfavorably.

At this point in a campaign, Rasmussen Reports considers the number of people with strong opinions more significant than the total favorable/unfavorable numbers.

Most Illinois voters (56%) still approve of how President Obama has been doing his job, down slightly from the previous survey. Forty-four percent (44%) disapprove. This is higher approval than Obama earns nationally in the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll.

Latest Rasmussen Poll Shows Sen Brady (R) with 11 Point Lead Over Gov Quinn (D)

From Rasmussen

Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn and his Republican challenger Bill Brady are aggressively duking it out for governor of Illinois, but the numbers in the race aren’t moving.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state finds Brady with 47% of the vote, while Quinn chalks up 36% support. Eight percent (8%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and 10% remain undecided.

The numbers have scarcely budged since early March when Brady was declared the winner of the GOP Primary by 193 votes out of 750,000 cast. In the first Rasmussen Reports survey after the state election board’s decision, Brady posted a 47% to 37% lead over Quinn. In late April, the Republican was ahead 45% to 38%.

Quinn continues to fall well short of the 50% level considered critical for incumbents at this stage of a campaign. This is especially telling in President Obama’s home state which has trended Democratic in recent years.

Despite Brady’s narrow primary win, he now has the support of 80% of Republican voters. By comparison, Quinn who also narrowly defeated a primary challenger gets just 60% of Democratic votes. Voters not affiliated with either party prefer the Republican by better than two-to-one.

But Quinn, who became governor when Rod Blagojevich was impeached by the State Senate for corruption, also faces major budget problems which have led to a recent downgrading of the state’s credit rating. State legislators just approved a budget with a $13 billion deficit and, after rejecting Quinn’s calls for an income tax hike and higher taxes on cigarettes, left it to him to make cuts to close the budget gap.

Additional information from the survey will be released during the week at

Only 37% of Illinois voters are at least somewhat confident that Quinn will make the right choices when it comes to cutting the state budget, but 60% don’t share that confidence. This includes eight percent (8%) who are Very Confident in the governor and 31% who are Not At All Confident.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

GOP Gov Candidate Bill Brady's Statement on Start of Blagojevich Trial

from the Bill Brady campaign

June 8, 2010

Statement from Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Brady on today's start of the Blagojevich corruption trial:

"The beginning of disgraced Governor Rod Blagojevich's criminal trial is a stark reminder to voters that too many Illinois politicians have long placed their own interests before the people's interests. Enough is enough.

This election marks one of the best opportunities in a generation to finally put an end to the back room deals, and the go along, get along culture of politics as usual in Springfield. But we can't change Illinois by electing politicians like Governor Pat Quinn, who publicly stated that Rod Blagojevich -- whom he served alongside -- is an "honest" politician with "integrity." We need a clean break.

These criminal proceedings are just another example of the choice voters will face this November -- more insider politics as usual under Governor Quinn, or a fresh start for Illinois taxpayers."

Column: Governments Are Destroying Democratic Capitalism

These are the personal views of Peter Morici, a professor at the University
of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and former chief economist at the U.S. International Trade Commission:

Democratic capitalism is in eclipse.

From Berlin to Tokyo, governments struggle to instigate enough growth to pay
their bills and gainfully employ workers. Meanwhile China enjoys breakneck

Democratic capitalism is not flawed. Rather, government policy makers are
destroying a system through deception, delusion and abuse that took mankind
from dark feudal superstitions to cracking the secrets of life.

From Athens to Sacramento, Calif., politicians have deceived voters by
telling them pension systems can be constructed allowing retirement at ages 55
or 60. Whether funded by savings and investments or taxes, no solvent pension
system is possible that permits educated professionals, unionized workers and
government employees, who get most of the income and benefits, to work only 30 or 35 years and retire for another 20 or 25 years.

In the U.S., President Barack Obama has convinced American families earning
less than $250,000 a year they can have guaranteed health care that costs 50%
more than what Germans and Canadians pay, and double what the British shell
out, without paying a dime in additional health insurance premiums and taxes.

To make that work, he will have to start selling shares in the Brooklyn
Bridge; thankfully New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg owns it.

Sadly, after Greece defaults the dominoes won't stop in Berlin but rather in

Politicians have deluded themselves into believing an education system that
encourages young people to "find themselves," instead of "finding something
productive" will give society enough scientists and engineers to solve the
tough problems needed to perpetuate growth. They have deluded themselves into
thinking that professors spending six hours a week or less teaching and the
rest thinking great thoughts or verbally pistol-whipping the society that
supports them is somehow wealth-creating.

Finally, free markets can't be wholly free but from Tokyo to Berlin national
leaders have peculiar notions about who should compete, who should be regulated
and how.

Most national leaders, having been educated in squeaky-clean environs like
Harvard University, the University of Oxford and the University of Tokyo,
believe anything created by hand, other than through a computer keystroke or
cooking an exquisite meal, is somehow unworthy of Western postindustrial

Hence, they have granted virtually free access to Western markets for
manufacturers from China. For its part, China maintains high tariffs and other
arcane import barriers on Western products, subsidizes exports through an
undervalued currency, and offers other inducements to keep Chinese products
artificially cheap on world markets. China grows at 10% a year, and the West
sheds millions of "unworthy" manufacturing jobs and stagnates.

Meanwhile, in New York, London and elsewhere 30-year-old MBAs pull down
bonuses of $1 million, $10 million and $20 million a year for trading
securities that really don't exist and creating havoc that has cost U.S. and
European governments upward of $4 trillion to clean up.

Simply, on Harvard Square and at King's College, where tenured professors
define our values, remember where Obama learned about law and economics. The
intelligentsia has decided IT entrepreneurs, financiers and Hollywood stars
should be paid more than God.

The rest of us, suffering this abuse, should be satisfied with low pay,
unemployment benefits and subsidized health care, all paid for by borrowing
from the Chinese.

From Obama to German Chancellor Angela Merkel the system is suffering from
delusions of grandeur, self-deception and good old-fashioned abuse by leaders
who address the world as Ivy League intellectuals think it should be, rather
than how the facts of physics, demography and economics define it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

States Look to Reduce Unaffordable Benefits to Workers & Retirees


In New Jersey, the pension system lost $15 billion in the
year ended June 30, 2009, a period in which the S&P 500 dropped
28 percent. That left state funds, which cover about 800,000
teachers and government workers, with $89 billion of assets to
pay $135 billion of benefits, according to the most-recent
actuarial report. The state has set aside nothing to cover $56
billion in health-insurance benefits promised to retirees.
In response, Christie, a 47-year-old Republican who took
office Jan. 19, proposed that employees still working after Aug.
1 contribute to health care and get lower benefits, encouraging
those like the Hartmanns to retire now under current terms.
“The pension for our retirement was part of the reason we
took these jobs,” said Mark Hartmann, 59, a business manager in
the Treasury Department’s tax division in Trenton, the state
capital. His wife, Janet, 58, a reading teacher since 1976 in
Hillsborough in central New Jersey, wants to keep working, he
said at a retirement seminar last month. “But if it’s going to
cost her in her retirement, how can she?”

Added Costs

The 3,294 teachers who began collecting benefits last year
through New Jersey’s Teachers Pension and Annuity Fund, the
largest of the state’s seven retirement systems, receive on
average $49,378 a year, the fund’s latest report says.
Christie’s plan to charge retirees 1.5 percent of their benefits
to pay for health care would cost each about $741 a year.
Christie also has proposed rolling back a 9 percent benefit
increase that was approved by state lawmakers in 2000, a change
that would cost retirees of the age and experience of the
Hartmanns about $2,500 a year, based on the most-recent
actuarial reports.
“We need to get to the problem of present employees,”
Christie said in his Manhattan Institute speech. The state must
“say no” to unions that assert they have “a birthright to
ever-increasing benefits,” Christie said.
Christie and others unfairly blame public workers for
pension-funding gaps caused by poor investment returns and
deferred state payments, said Robert Master, legislative and
political director in New York and New Jersey for the
Communications Workers of America, New Jersey’s largest state-
worker union.

Private Destruction

“You’ve seen the destruction of the defined benefit almost
completely in the private sector,” he said in a telephone
interview, referring to pensions with guaranteed payments. “So
it becomes very easy to whip up resentment against public
Michigan, whose school-employee pension fund lost almost $5
billion in the year ended Aug. 31, according to its most-recent
report, is trying to lure 28,000 of its 270,000 teachers and
other education workers into early retirement. Those who leave
by June 11 would receive enhanced benefits, saving school
districts $681 million this year by replacing higher-cost
veterans with entry-level staff.
New York, the second-largest public pension fund after
California, cut benefits for those hired in 2010 after assets
declined $45 billion in the year that ended March 31, 2009, to
$109 billion. In Nevada, where the $19 billion pension lost $3.5
billion in the year that ended June 30, 2009, benefits were
lowered for new hires and the retirement age went to 62 from 60
for most.

25 Percent Loss

U.S. public pension funds posted a median loss of 25
percent in 2008, according to Wilshire Associates. As the value
of assets declined, benefit payments to retirees grew 8 percent,
to $175 billion in 2008 from $162 billion a year earlier,
according to the Census Bureau.
New York’s pension costs rose 16 percent annually between
1999 and 2009, faster than any area of spending except property-
tax relief and almost triple the overall growth rate, documents
for a recent bond sale show. Pennsylvania’s payments will rise
to $4.6 billion in 2013 from $561 million this year without
changes, Governor Edward Rendell’s February budget proposal
New Jersey’s $3 billion payment for the fiscal year that
starts July 1 is almost four times what it contributed in 2004
and more than 10 percent of its entire $29.3 billion budget,
according to documents for a 2010 bond offering. The state will
skip the payment, as it did with $4.6 billion of installments
due in 2009 and 2010, to balance its budget.

Borrowed Payments

Illinois, which finished the 2009 fiscal year with less
than 40 percent of the funds needed to cover promised benefits,
borrowed $3.5 billion this year to make its payments. The state
will borrow a similar amount for pensions next fiscal year under
Governor Pat Quinn’s proposed budget.
To protect its credit rating, the second-lowest of any
state after California, Illinois cut benefits and raised the
retirement age for future employees to save its pension $250
billion over 35 years. States that don’t do likewise “could be
setting themselves up for greater hardship,” Standard & Poor’s
said last month.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mark Kirk's Fmr. Commanding Officer Refutes Charges Kirk Lied About Military Award He Received

Statement of Mark Kirk's former Commading Officer, Captain Clay Fearnow United States Navy (Retired) as released by the Kirk for US Senate campaign

As a retired Navy Captain and Mark Kirk's commanding officer during Operation Allied Force, there are two things that have deeply troubled me since I read the Washington Post's story about Mark's intelligence officer award.

First, the complete lack of a benefit of the doubt - the idea that someone could make an honest mistake has become so foreign that the immediate assumption has become - you misrepresented or worse you lied. In Mark's case neither is factual.

And second, that an honest mistake related to the identification of a military award is the same as pretending to be in Vietnam when you were not. This also doesn't apply to Mark Kirk.

Mark Kirk served under my command in Aviano, Italy, during Operation Allied Force - the Kosovo campaign. For his exceptional service as the lead intelligence officer of a combat intelligence action team - the largest EA-6B intelligence shop in the history of naval aviation which he assembled - I nominated then Lieutenant Commander Kirk for a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award. He received both.

When I nominated Mark for the Rufus Taylor award I thought it was more specific to Mark and not his team. But the reality is, there would have been no team without Mark Kirk's leadership and there certainly would have been no award. I can certainly understand why he would have referred to this award over the years as intelligence officer of the year - it's how I viewed the award. And in actuality, the two awards in question are of equal stature and significance.

Mark Kirk is the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down. His wealth of knowledge during this conflict put him in a position to take charge of intelligence members from the four deployed squadrons and meld them into a combat intelligence action team.

Any suggestion that Mark Kirk did not earn or receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award is incorrect. I would further add, assertions I've seen that Mark Kirk embellished or exaggerated his record are ridiculous - he is one of the finest Naval Officers I have had the honor to work with. His intelligence, leadership skills, and keen understanding of global affairs are an asset that the Navy and, today, the Congress are fortunate to enjoy.

Study Shows No Direct Link Between Political Donations and the Awarding of Recovery Contracts

from National Institute on Money in State Politics

Helena, Mont.—Although Congress and the President got credit for initiating and passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), it was governors and state lawmakers who decided how a significant amount of that federal money would be spent. A new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics examined what role 2008 contributions to state political campaigns played in the awarding of ARRA contracts.

The report shows that entities that gave money represented only 4 percent of the total number of non-governmental organizations that received contracts in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2009. These organizations gave $47.4 million to state-level candidates and committees in 2008, and received $7.6 billion in ARRA contracts, or 14 percent of the total amount awarded.

However, while these numbers show that some donors received substantially more than they gave, those who gave the most to candidates in their state generally didn't receive the most money in ARRA contracts. In fact, the only organization among both the top ten campaign contributors as well as the top ten ARRA recipients is Florida Power & Light (or the parent company FPL Group), which gave candidates and committees $1.6 million and received $200 million in contracts. In sharp contrast, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)-Frederick Inc. only contributed $13,600 to candidates and committees in 2008 and received contracts worth $319.6 million.

"While we did not find a huge overlap of contributors and recipients of contracts, this information provides a necessary baseline as the nation watches how the rest of the ARRA funds are spent," said Edwin Bender, executive director of the Institute.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics collects and analyzes campaign contribution information on state-level candidates, political party committees, and ballot committees. Its free, searchable database of contributions, as well as the full text of the report is available online at


Voices for Illinois Children Fear Budget Cuts Will Fall Hardest on Children

From Voices For Illinois Children

The legislature adjourned last week after passing most of the core elements of a state budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. But as they left the capitol, lawmakers also left behind as many unresolved questions as answers.

Our new budget Q&A provides more information about what last week’s budget action means – and what questions remain. These include:

Which vital services for children will be cut, and how deeply? This remains to be seen, as the Governor determines programs’ individual appropriations with the lump-sum amounts and sweeping budget powers given him by the General Assembly.

What are the budget’s new revenue sources? These are largely one-time dollars that will go away next year – and one or two significant revenue sources remain at least temporarily missing from legislators’ plans, not to mention more sustainable reforms.

What about other reforms? Beyond several cost-saving measures – such as taking-on furlough days and prohibiting cost-of-living increases for a variety of state officials – legislators set-aside several more fundamental reforms.
Too many of these questions still lack adequate answers. But while last week’s actions are troubling, our collective work towards a more responsible budget continues to have an impact.

Many policymakers remain concerned about the state’s overall fiscal picture and legislative champions are continuing to work with their colleagues towards passage of balanced, comprehensive revenue reforms. We must continue these efforts to ensure the well-being of children and families.