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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Report: Sensenbrenner's Town Hall on Pelosi healthcare

Health care, Legislation, President Obama, Special events, TAXES

Click for version with photos

One look at the crowded parking lots affirmed my suspicions: Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner's Town Hall meeting was going to be packed!

The meeting was in Elm Grove's Village Hall courtroom. About 175 people packed the room with about another 75 out in the hallway. Prior to the meeting, one woman summed up the sentiment in the room when she greeted a friend in the audience, "I've never been to one of these before, but I'm so mad!"

The colossal 1,990 page bill was sitting on the judges bench. Congressman Sensenbrenner posted the bill on his website, if you need a little light reading. State Representative Leah Vukmir was also present, but since ObamaCare (my term throughout for government health insurance reform) is a Federal issue, most of the questions were directed to Congressman Sensenbrenner.

To aid you in viewing the subject matter, the question - Q: - or concern will be stated first, the response - A: - after. Subjects are in bold.

Q: Government control: Nearly all of the attendees who spoke, were against ObamaCare in any shape or form. The first question cut to the heart of the issue, This isn't about health care, it's about controlling our lives. Judging from the reaction of the crowd, the vast majority agreed with her statement.
A: Congressman Sensenbrenner pointed out that ObamaCare doesn't train 1 more doctor, 1 more nurse or build 1 more hospital, yet it is to cover millions more Americans. [How many more? 36 million is often referenced.] When you put all these new people in the system, we are going to have delays. I hate to use the word rationing, but we are going to end up having delays and [some government board] will decide, this person's problem is worse than this person's, Sensenbrenner explained.

Q: We're broke! Question 3 was puzzling. A woman, who was quick to point out she was an independent, chided Sensenbrenner and the audience, I'm angry at all people who think the government must pay for them. We're out of money! In other words, she was yelling at us for wanting ObamaCare!
A: Sensenbrenner replied, With all due respect, we [Republicans] all voted against the stimulus, etc....then added that the President said he will not sign a bill that adds "1 cent to the deficit". [The audience laughed.] We should not be spending money on ourselves and sending the bill to our grand and great grandchildren.

Q: What can we do to stop this?
A: Sensenbrenner: Contact your Senators and remember who votes which way 1 year from now! Good advice. Calls do influence.

Q: Republicans shut out? Is it true that Republicans aren't allowed into meetings?
A: Our bill was written in Democratic Caucus. [Yes] I will give Baucus some credit, he welcomed 3 Senate Republicans in committee [Olympia Snowe was one of them] BUT since it got out of committee, Reid re-wrote the bill. Snowe doesn't support the government run [insurance option] now in the bill.

All new private insurance company policies illegal after 2013: Sensenbrenner affirmed what we have all heard, but the president, senate, and house leaders have denied: The bill does make it illegal for anyone to sell private insurance after [ObamaCare] takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013! He then gave the example of an employer who opts out of providing group insurance to their employees after the January 1st deadline. They might do this because they can choose to pay the 8% penalty instead of the average 15% of payroll costs. Opting for the penalty saves them money. Now you, the employee, have no choice but to sign onto the government run option because it is now illegal for private insurance companies to write policies.

This private insurance policy prohibition also carries over to Supplemental Medicare plans. Not to be confused with Medicare Advantage, these are the plans that seniors purchase--at a monthly premium--to pay for the remainder of health care expenses that Medicare doesn't cover. So Supplemental Medicare policies will also be outlawed under ObamaCare.

Medicare Advantage, the privately run voluntary Medicare plan, will also suffer under ObamaCare. In Sensenbrenner's district alone, about 25,000 of those enrolled now, will lose their coverage.

Q: Constitution: What provisions in the Constitution are there to order an individual to buy a product they don't want? (Applause)
A: They say the Commerce Clause, "necessary and proper" will be used. [Sensenbrenner didn't believe this was a proper application for that clause. The Constitution's Commerce Clause deals with the activity of commerce or regulating interstate or international commerce, not mandating or regulating activities.]

Q: Hardship for small business: A small business owner expressed concern that by being forced to pay an 8% penalty because he didn't provide insurance for his workers, he would either have to drop employees, vacation days, or other benefits to pay for the new 8% penalty.
A: Sensenbrenner agreed the insurance requirement/penalty would be a hardship. One half of all jobs in the country are from small businesses...raising taxes is already a job killer, in a recession it's even more... the last guy who raised taxes during a recession was Herbert Hoover!

Q: How many unelected bureaucrats will this bill require?
A: The CBO doesn't talk about how many will need to be hired, but you don't administer a new program without people to do it. One recent program was Cash for Clunkers. It ran out of money early on, auto dealers weren't paid [on time]. ...IF we couldn't deal with a $2 billion clunker program, how will we with a $900 billion one for health care? [House Republicans have found 111 New Bureaucracies in the Health Care bill.]

Q: Voter Fraud: Our president took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. What can we do to relive this man of his office? ...Joe Wilson was right. [...crowd affirmation of President being less than truthful.] We don't have free elections anymore. How do we go about stopping voter fraud?
A: By showing a picture ID, Sensenbrenner said. [Crowd affirmation] Since this is a state issue, Rep. Leah Vukmir was able to address how Wisconsin had a chance to finally get a Voter ID referendum question on the ballot last spring, but a certain Senator voted against bringing it to the ballot. [State Senator Jim Sullivan was one of 2 who voted to defeat the measure last year, if memory serves correctly]

Q: ObamaCare and organ transplants: One woman was for ObamaCare because she was involved with [advocating] raising money for transplant patients. [I can't see the government program, which must delay and ration care to make it fiscally viable, will be handing out organ transplants.] Is there anything you see in ObamCare that is positive?
A: If they don't allow amendments, we can't make it better. If Sensenbrenner could, he would get rid of pre-exisiting conditions, allow shopping across state lines, offer group plan rates for small businesses, use vouchers for health insurance for the poor, add medical liability reform, use health savings accounts, equalize the tax treatments for employer and private purchaser plans. He then added, I don't know what will happen with organ transplants because Pelosi's bill will have government boards making this decision vs. doctors.

Q: Doctors paid only 20% of fees: A doctor from Elmbrook Hospital: The bill is said to be backed by the AMA, I haven't belonged to the AMA for years. This bill is strictly a vehicle to control the Dr./Patient relationship. It is a single payer option. I lose 80% of income under Medicare. [Who will want to invest in becoming a doctor to only be paid 20%?] It is a misnomer that doctors get reimbursed 80% under Medicare, It's NOT TRUE.

[General affirmation]

Other questions dealt with the crushing debt level, Amnesty bill, concern over the Copenhagen Treaty, ACORN funding [still unfunded until Dec. 19th], The Fairness Doctrine, and abolishing the Federal Reserve.

There is a lot of talk about abolishing the Federal Reserve, but Sensenbrenner was quick to point out that if that were the case, monetary control would revert to the Congress! The cure would be worse than the ill, he said. Sensenbrenner does favor the audit of the Federal Reserve.

One bit of excitement was a woman fainted in the back of the courtroom. Is there a doctor in the house? A nurse friend of mine, who happened to be in the audience, promptly attended to her needs. The Elm Grove police were also of service. I believe the woman was fine.

There was a little discussion of Cap and Trade, or Cap and Tax, as Sensenbrenner likes to characterize it, and our massive deficit leading to inflation, the tax increase no politician has to vote for but every politician can run against.

2 protesters: There were 2 young men there with protest signs, Health Insurance Reform Now [signs were loosely folded, not held up], in the back of the room. They left the courtroom before the meeting officially started. Another older man stated his support for ObamaCare.

The meeting ended at about 2:30pm. The remaining portion of time was devoted to specific problems with government agencies. Representative Leah Vukmir and Congressman Sensenbrenner stayed to assist their constituents.

Congressman Sensenbrenner was on the Jay Weber radio show on Monday. He mentioned many of the same points he made at Saturday's Town Hall meeting. Program highlights.

The Pelosi version of ObamaCare, as well as the Reid Senate bill, both cover taxpayer funded abortion and insurance for illegal aliens. House Republicans have proposed many health care reforms, but they do not receive media or house floor attention. House Republicans are expected to unanimously vote against The Worst Bill Ever this week.

Will the Democrat Blue Dogs join in the nay saying? Time will tell.

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UPDATE: Call State Representative & Senator: VOTE NO on AB458 State Mandated Sex Ed

HG&D (sex-ed), Education, Elmbrook, Legislation, WISCONSIN

Wisconsin's State Assembly will vote on bill AB 458 today, Thursday, Nov. 5th. This bill would seriously alter Wisconsin's current human growth and development (sex education) statutes. If passed, AB458 would remove local school board's control over how sex ed is taught in each district.

Assembly Republicans were able to temporarily block the vote on Tuesday, but it will come to the floor today, the last day the Assembly meets for the year.

Considering the countless hours Elmbrook's Human Growth & Development curriculum committee spent on evaluating our proposed HG&D program, the state usurping our and other school board's local control, disregards the sacrifice of time and talent these committees invested in their programs. The bill disregards the right of local boards to make decisions for their districts.

I urge you to call your State Representative and tell them to vote NO on AB 458. My Rep. is Leah Vukmir 608-266-9180. Rep. Rich Zipperer 608-266-5120 represents the west side of Brookfield. (Even though the Republicans are against this legislation, I still call to voice my support for their position.)

What is so bad about the bill? Senator Glenn Grothman explained on Jay Weber's radio program Wed. morning how AB 458 would change HG&D instruction in Wisconsin (should it pass) Here are my notes:

  • We would have to do [teach] it in a way that doesn't create any bias against those sexually active.
  • It would ban abstinence centered and abstinence only teaching like Thiensville['s program.]
  • This would force districts to allow Planned Parenthood into the classroom for condom demonstrations, starting at age 12.
  • It would normalize teen sex, which is illegal according to state law for children under age 16.

Sen. Grothman mentioned that the Assembly Republicans tried to get an amendment to "provide instruction in marriage and parental responsibility," included in the bill, but that provision was rejected by the Democrats. (That language is currently in the state statutes.)

Pro-Life Wisconsin's Monday Update outlined more specifically what AB 458 would do.

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Fall of Berlin Wall's 20th Anniversary gladdens and saddens

Health care, History, President Obama, World News

Remember the fall of the wall in 1989? It was like a dream come true to those like me who recall it's construction and lived through the height of the Soviet Union's power.

Fast-forward 20 years and today we celebrate the anniversary of that momentous day. But when I compare the state of our country in 1989 to the U.S.A. of today, it saddens me.

Our House of Representatives just passed the most expensive and oppressive health care reform bill AGAINST the wishes of the majority of Americans.

Ordinary citizens have risen up in unprecedented numbers for Tea Party rallies, Town Hall meetings and an impromptu' House Call press conference on the stairs of the nation's Capitol, all to no avail. Turning a deaf ear, 220 Representatives ignored their constituents' wishes and voted for it.

The house bill includes what I believe are unconstitutional mandates for insurance purchase and a hefty $25,000 fine and/or up to 5 year imprisonment for noncompliance. So much for America being called the Land of the Free.

I don't know which saddens me more: the fact that our president didn't think the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall was important enough to merit his time? Or that if he would have gone, any commentary from him about New Berliners being freed from oppression would ring hollow, considering his own socialist agenda.

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ObamaCare passed House: Some frogs must like it hot!

Conservatives, Constitution, Health care, Legislation, President Obama, Socialism / Marxism, TAXES, THE ECONOMY, United States

Sunday's news, Health Bill Passes House, sickened me, especially because the vote was so close. Although there was little hope that the Pelosi version of ObamaCare would fail, if ever there was a week that might give a House Democrat pause to rubber stamping Pelosi's ObamaCare legislation, you would think the recent turn of events would do it.

For Democrats, last week was not a good one:

We often compare the slow creep toward controversial positions to a frog being boiled in a pot of water: The water heats so slowly, the frog fails to notice he is in danger, the frog doesn't jump out to safety.



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Thank you, Veterans, for the final salute

History, Holidays, Special events, Veterans

Click for 5 photo version

Shortly before Memorial Day, my father, a WW2 Veteran, died. He was 90 years old and even though declining health had taken its toll since his stroke, he still held his Marine Corps days with high regard.

In planning his funeral, we were asked if we wanted military honors. Knowing how Dad valued his Marine Corps service, we said, yes.

At the internment, 9 senior veterans from the Badger Detachment of the Marine Corps League and 3 young Marines performed the honors.

First there was the 3-volley salute. Eight of the 9 Marine Vets raised their rifles and fired 3 rounds,* while the 3 active duty Marines stood at a distance facing the casket.

After the 8 gun salute, the 3 Marines approached and commenced with their ceremony.

The bugle player paced to the left and played Taps while the remaining 2 soldiers gave a final, white gloved salute.

The 2 remaining Marines then removed the flag from the casket and performed the flag folding ritual.

It was a solemn ceremony, and as the soldiers carefully folded the flag until only a triangle with stars** in the field of blue remained, the quiet time allowed each of us an opportunity to contemplate a life well lived.

When the young Marine came forward to present me with the flag, my eyes welled up with tears. I thought of this young man, and how my dad was once a young man just like him. They both had hopes and dreams. They both enlisted to serve, and possibly die for their country. I also thought of my neighbor, whose 2 sons had enlisted in the Marine Corps since 9/11. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for their service.

The young Marine handed me the flag with great solemnity and these traditional words: "On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and Corps." I managed to whisper, Thank you.

Our Pastor finished the internment service with some scripture, a few words, and prayer. It wasn't a sad occasion but a celebration of a life lived well. Because of our faith, it was a celebration of the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.

Dad was always proud to have served as a Marine. It stayed with him until the end. They call these ceremonies, Military Honors. I can only say that it was truly an honor to witness these activities.


Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our country and for the final salute.
SEMPER FIDELIS

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Oh my! A Lib blog thanks and apologizes to Bush and Chaney?

Blogging, President Obama

It is amazing to me that President Obama's approval numbers are still around 47%, when so many supporters are showing signs of voter's remorse.

Obviously, the President has lost his invincible, I'll solve it all, image, and many people are quietly changing their minds about him. But rarely do we see a turn around such as this one from a Pro-Hillary Clinton blog written by some gay guys in Chicago!*

Read this amazing post from their HillBuzz blog, Thank you former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush Here are some highlights:

If you have been reading us for any length of time, you know that we used to make fun of 'Dubya' [Bush] nearly every day…

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Brookfied 2010 Budget: Public hearing and vote tonight, 7:45pm

City of Brookfield, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

The City of Brookfield is voting on the proposed 2010 budget tonight. There is a short public hearing segment on the budget at the beginning of that meeting. This is your chance to voice a concern. The Hearing/Council Meeting will begin at 7:45pm, in Common Council Chambers at Brookfield's City Hall. Agenda/Alderman Packet (Thanks Fairly Conservative)

There are certain city services most of us would agree are necessities, regardless of cost. You know, police and fire protection, keeping roads in good condition, maintaining city utilities, etc.

As for the niceties, things like bike paths, sidewalks on one or both sides of the street, boulevard plantings, faux painted retaining walls, etc., one change I would love to see is that a price tag be attached to these unnecessary expenditures. Price tag being defined as the total cost and cost per average household for initial expenditure and yearly maintenance.

It is very easy to say, yes, I like having the boulevards planted with grass, trees and flowers, or faux field stone retaining walls, or paved sidewalks/bike paths. But what are the yearly costs associated with maintaining the plantings? How about the faux painted retaining walls? How much does path snow plowing cost?

I know this is small potatoes, but as we see these types boulevard plantings becoming more commonplace, know that the cost is not just for the initial installation, but in the maintaining. Ongoing nicety maintenance payroll costs are a concern to me.

In times of plenty, maybe we can afford these niceties. But in a troubled economy, where people are unemployed or underemployed, any increase in their property tax bill is a hardship. Commercial property owners also have a tough time paying their taxes in bad times. When the mall owner has vacancies, they can become delinquent taxpayers.

Creating labor intensive niceties is creating a larger dragon as they say, and that dragon must be fed in the lean times too.

We can play all sorts of bookkeeping magic to make the 2010 budget (bottom pp4) look like it is less than last year's, but the bottom line for me is, are my property taxes going up this year as compared to last year's bill?

2010 Proposed Budget
Summary of City fund budgets
Tax Levies and Rates
General operating fund budget summary

Finance Committee Amendments


Mayor's budget calls for 2.4% rise in levy

Links: 

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Good Grief, President Obama, The Buck Stops With YOU

History, President Obama, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

President Harry Truman often said, "The buck stops here." He even had a little plaque that sat on his desk in the Oval Office, bearing that motto. It served as a great reminder that he was ultimately responsible for what went on in his administration. Truman said, "The President—whoever he is—has to decide. He can't pass the buck to anybody. No one else can do the deciding for him. That's his job."

Fast forward 60 years to the Obama administration. We have a president who doesn't seem to realize he is the man at the helm; he is responsible.

Today's latest Obama news from Beijing, China made me see red: Obama: Too much debt could fuel double-dip recession:

     "President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession."

   ..."It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession," Obama said.

Unbelievable.

True, the debt is piling up. Lookie Mr. Obama! Click the link to see the Federal Budget Deficit as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product at a glance. The graph shows this year's amount of 9.9% is over 3 times that of last year's. (That would be President Bush's deficit, a level that alarmed conservatives like me.)

But with all due respect to the office of the president, who do you think pushed/is pushing for all that deficit spending? Obama said the Stimulus was absolutely necessary to prevent unemployment from going above 9%; it is currently at 10.2%--more accurately, it's over 17%. (The Stimulus jobs haven't even been created.) Who took over GM? Who is pushing for Cap and Trade? Who is saying we must reform health care even though it carries an unsustainable price tag?

If the President is looking for someone to blame, he can just look in the mirror. The buck stops there.

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Bad News Friday or what will Obama dump on us today?

President Obama

It seems every week there is some new policy change, gaffe, apology for America, or assault on liberty coming from President Obama or his administration. If you have been paying attention, you've noticed how many times the bad news is delivered on a Friday. It is very wearing.

It must be getting to other people too. On Wednesday, Nov. 18th, two related opinion pieces from Monica Crowley, A 'What now?' presidency, The endless series of unfathomable decisions and Karl Rove, The Permanent Campaign Continues, The KSM trial announcement was too important for a Friday news dump, summed up what I and other Americans are feeling. Both are worth reading in their entirety.

What is interesting to me is that they follow a similar format: They each list Obama's bad decisions in chronological order. The only real difference is that Rove supplies dates--all on Fridays.

A friend and I were just talking about this very thing: The Obama Presidency is wearing us out! Monica Crowley must have been listening in on that conversation. She wrote:

"Over the past 10 months, President Obama has subjected the country to a grueling and dizzying whirligig ride. Every day brings a new outrage, failure, resignation, scandalous revelation, incompetence, untruth, laughable spin and, most important, horrifyingly bad policy.

You cannot open a newspaper, go to a news Web site, or turn on cable news without seeing a new story that is more appalling than the last. Just when you think you've heard it all from Team Obama, the next day brings another jaw-dropper.

The man is exhausting."

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It's Health Care "Let's Make a Deal", Call Senators today!

TAXES, THE ECONOMY, Health care, President Obama, Legislation

Don't you love it? The rumor was, not to worry, healthcare was dead in the senate. Oh, by the way, they will begin proceedings at 10am and take vote on a motion to proceed to debate* (cloture) at 8pm this Saturday! And the arm-twisting is in full force.

Arm twisting? Yup. Can you tell me what a $100 million dollar Medicaid subsidy for "certain states recovering from a major disaster" has to do with a health care bill?

Plenty, if you must have Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's support to make ObamaCare fly. Cloture on the motion to proceed requires 60 votes. Sen. Harry Reid needs her. From ABC News: (My emphasis)

"Here's a case study [on arm twisting]: On page 432 of the Senate bill, there is a section increasing federal Medicaid subsidies for "certain states recovering from a major disaster.. ...that it would be states that 'during the preceding 7 fiscal years' have been declared a 'major disaster area.'

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Defeating ObmaCare isn't about inflicting punishment!

Bigger picture, Conservatives, Health care, Legislation, President Obama, TAXES, THE ECONOMY

Late Saturday night, I checked Drudge to see if there was any news on the Senate healthcare procedure vote and found Historic health care bill clears Senate hurdle. The opening paragraph revealed a strong media bias. (My emphasis throughout):

"Invoking the memory of Edward M. Kennedy, Democrats united Saturday night to push historic health care legislation past a key Senate hurdle over the opposition of Republicans eager to inflict a punishing defeat on President Barack Obama. There was not a vote to spare."

The article then quoted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's absurd comparison that the Republicans trying to squelch debate on his health care bill was like preventing debate on ending slavery or granting the right to vote!

"Imagine if, instead of debating whether to abolish slavery, instead of debating whether giving women and minorities the right to vote, those who disagreed had muted discussion and killed any vote," Reid said. (By the way, Republicans championed abolition.)

Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell summed up the real reason for opposing Reid's ObamaCare. McConnell "said the vote was anything but procedural -- casting it as a referendum on the bill itself, which he said would raise taxes, cut Medicare and create a 'massive and unsustainable debt.'"

The bill does create MASSIVE and UNSUSTAINABLE DEBT. That is the REAL reason for opposing ObamaCare, not to just deliver a defeat to the president! Someone has to be the grownup here and say, no. Bottom line is, we cannot afford this legislation.

By the way, Sen. Mary Landrieu corrected the perception her vote was purchased for $100 million in aid to her state; it was really $300 million! She held out for a better deal.

It is ironic that Harry Reid views his health care legislation in terms of abolishing slavery or granting rights when in reality it will*:

  • Create 3,425 new mandates for individuals and businesses
  • New mandates will be managed by 111 NEW bureaucracies
  • Creates massive and unsustainable debt
  • Fails to cover 12 million Americans
  • Costs closer to $2.3 trillion over 10 years; $6.4 trillion if impact on private sector is factored in
  • Mandates taxpayer funded abortion

Does that sound like abolishing slavery or re-instituting it?



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