The Kochs “have been handed the keys to the governor’s office,” said state Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Democrat. “They have a tremendous amount of influence in Kansas politics and nationally.”
Melissa Cohlmia, the director of corporate communication for Koch Cos. Private Sector, said the Kochs have given generously to Brownback because they share similar ideals related to free-market economics and fiscal responsibility.
Bill Kassebaum, a Republican former state representative and son of former U.S. senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-Kan.), said Brownback has struck a tone that, so far, has resonated with many Kansans.
“I would say the majority of voters are happy with it,” Kassebaum said. “I don’t think the realities or consequences of pursuing these policies have kicked in yet. When they do it’s going to be the age-old question, ‘What do we want as far as services from the government?’ ”
“I think a lot of people don’t realize the role government plays in their lives until it’s gone,” he added. “They may not be happy with what’s left.”
In a windswept corner of the prairie, Julie Britton is the economic development director of tiny Rawlins County — population 2,519. She voted for the governor. But she is also a member of an arts group that works in the isolated rural counties that lost $9,000 in cutbacks. As a result, her town will have just two shows this year, a guitar concert and a children’s performance of “Chicken Little.”
“We all expected him to have to make some changes,” she said. “We didn’t expect for him to make as many drastic changes as he has made.”
One of Brownback’s top lieutenants was Robert Siedlecki Jr., a former legal adviser on faith-based initiatives in the George W. Bush administration. Brownback hired Siedlecki this year to be Kansas’s secretary of social and rehabilitation services.
Siedlecki cut dozens of jobs, closed offices, doubled the size of the team that investigates welfare cheats and rewrote state contracts to encourage providers of state services to promote pro-fatherhood and pro-family ideals. He also hired a Florida pastor, Rick Marks, to head the state’s new healthy-marriage initiative. Marks has been described by some as the state’s “marriage guru.”
After less than a year on the job, Siedlecki resigned this month. But some of his legacy remains.
To help fund its new fatherhood initiative, Kansas has shifted $600,000 from an Early Head Start program in Riley County, which has double the state’s percentage of residents in poverty. Head Start officials said they already have strong fatherhood programming in place and that they would rather have used those funds to get children off the waiting list for day care.
“Dr. Marks — we have a ‘marriage guru’ now — came out to our program, and he was shocked at all the things we do at Head Start,” said Korey Hensley, the director of Heartland Early Education in Salina. “He said, ‘Oh, you do family preservation!’ I said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”
As the opening session of the state legislature approaches in January, officials are preparing for another bruising budget battle. Brownback plans to revamp the state’s tax system with cuts to the income tax rates and plans to change the 20-year-old funding formula for schools, a move that opponents fear could benefit wealthier districts.
“It will be a bloodbath,” said state Sen. Laura Kelly, a Democrat. “There’s going to be a raft of things that will come, but details are lacking. It’s all been so clandestine.”
For his part, Brownback sounded a triumphant note during his recent speech in Wichita.
“We’ve started our reforms,” he said. “It’s going to take some time. We’ve gotten off to a good start.”
Staff researcher Magda Jean-Louis contributed to this report.
TOPEKA - A political organizer who helped a Democratic challenger knock off a Republican incumbent in Kentucky will take over as executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party.
Jason Perkey will leave his position with the Kentucky Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign in Louisville, KY, to start as the KDP’s executive director on Jan. 3.
“Jason has a wealth of campaign experience, good management experience, and he is committed to the values of education, opportunity and responsibility that the Kansas Democratic Party holds dear,” said Joan Wagnon, chair of the Kansas Democrats. “The energy he brings to Kansas will surely make a difference in the coming months.
Perkey said he is happy to be coming to Kansas. “I am very excited to be leading an incredibly smart and talented team,” he said. “I am especially looking forward to unleashing the enthusiasm and energy of Democratic activists all over the state.”
In 2010, Perkey managed the campaign of Democrat David Yates who defeated incumbent Republican Doug Hawkins for the District 25 seat on the Louisville Metro Council. Perkey has also worked on presidential, gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative campaigns in Kentucky, Illinois and Virginia. He speaks Spanish fluently and has taught English, Spanish and political science in Spain. An attorney, Perkey has represented clients in whistleblower cases, employment discrimination cases and other federal litigation. In 2003, Perkey earned a law degree from Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT. In 1997, he received a BA in political science from Coker College in Hartsville, SC. He is also a professional golfer who has competed in golf tournaments in both the United States and Europe.
Working with the state chair and state Democratic committee, the executive director manages all of the Kansas Democratic Party’s programs and fundraising activities.
By GAYLE WEBER
ATWOOD — An $8 million project to construct new patient rooms at Rawlins County Health Center is nearing completion.
An open house for the new wing on the east side of the hospital is planned from 4 to 6 p.m. Jan. 17. Acute care patients will be moved into the new space the following week.
The new patient wing is the second phase of new construction at the 60-year-old hospital. A new front entrance and admissions area opened to the public in March, and construction on the new patient wing began shortly thereafter.
“Our room sizes are very small, some of them don’t have their own bathroom,” said Amber Withington, clinic manager and physician recruiter at RCHC.
The need to update facilities had existed for quite some time, and Julie Britton, a certified grant writer and Atwood native, helped the hospital realize its potential.
Britton began working at the hospital in 2007, securing a Community Development Block Grant for the front entrance that required no matching money because it was funded through the government’s stimulus package.
She then was able to obtain a tax credit for the hospital to upgrade the physical therapy and cardiac rehabilitation departments. Since the upgrade, volume has nearly doubled in the wing.
“We’re to the point now that we have to add equipment for cardiac rehab to keep up with capacity,” Withington said.
A $7 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other grants totaling approximately $1 million are paying for the new patient wing.
The investment in the Atwood community is one of the largest in quite some time, but rightfully so. RCHC is one of the county’s largest employers with 82 employees, Britton said, and more than 80 percent of them live in the county.
“It’s so great to see so much new stuff here in Atwood,” said Britton, who also serves at Rawlins County’s economic development director.
Along with housing the 15-bed acute care wing, the more than 10,000-square-foot addition also will accommodate the emergency room, providing a separate entrance for ER patients from those entering the hospital and clinic.
Looking ahead, RCHC is getting ready to enter into a capital campaign, which will fund equipment upgrades throughout the hospital, Britton said. When patients have vacated the old acute care wing, hospital officials hope to be able to start another phase of construction – renovating the wing to bring RCHC’s rural health clinic closer to the front entrance for easier patient access.
“We’re making a patient’s stay as enjoyable as possible, and as convenient as possible, too,” Britton said.
Readers may be interested to know that these wreaths — some 5,000 initially — are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. This year will be 100,000 wreaths in total to be placed at Arlington, some of which are donated by Mr. Worcester, and the remainder are paid for by a non-profit fund started by him and which receives contributions year-round. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He’s done this since 1992. A wonderful guy. Also, most years, groups of Maine school kids combine an educational trip to DC with this event to help out. Making this even more remarkable is the fact that Harrington is in one of the poorest parts of the state.
Women candidates are leading the way in Democrats keeping the Senate. A record-breaking 11 women are expected to be the Democratic nominees in their respective states. And it is possible all 11 can win.
In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren is leading Sen. Scott Brown by 7 points. In North Dakota, Heidi Heitkamp is leading Rep. Rick Berg by 5 points. And in Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin is in a statistical tie with multiple potential GOP opponents.
From Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
My thanks to WenDee Rowe LaPlant for sharing her videos and impressions of the special visit by President Barack Obama to Osawatomie Kansas on Dec. 6th, 2011.
Uploaded by WenDeeRLaPlant on Dec 8, 2011:
I was one of the lucky ones who was offered a ticket to see the president give a speech about the economy in Osawatomie on Tuesday, December 6, 2011. It was one of the highlights of my life and I’ll be forever grateful to Peg Britton, Sammy Finke and Marci Penner.
WenDee Rowe LaPlant’s short video of the Osawatomie auditorium gathering for Obama’s speech Dec. 6, 2011.
New York Times Opinion Page
Obama in Osawatomie
Published: December 6, 2011
After months of Republican candidates offering a cascade of bad ideas about the economy, President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie, Kan., Tuesday came as a relief. He made it clear that he was finally prepared to contest the election on the issues of income inequality and the obligation of both government and the private sector to enlarge the nation’s shrinking middle class.
The economic downturn, combined with ideological gridlock, has created a “make-or-break moment” for the middle class and for those trying to enter it, he said. Mr. Obama correctly framed the choice for voters: The country can return to policies that stacked the deck for the wealthy and left everyone else to fend for themselves, creating what he called “you’re on your own economics.” Or elected officials can step in to keep competition fair and ensure the government has enough money to protect the vulnerable and invest in education and research.
The speech felt an awfully long time in coming, but it was the most potent blow the president has struck against the economic theory at the core of every Republican presidential candidacy and dear to the party’s leaders in Congress. The notion that the market will take care of all problems if taxes are kept low and regulations are minimized may look great on a bumper sticker, but, he said: “It doesn’t work. It has never worked.” Not before the Great Depression, not in the ’80s, and not in the last decade.
The president repeated his calls for the rich to pay higher taxes, for financial institutions to be more closely regulated and for education to become a national mission. What set this speech apart was the newly forceful explanation of why those policies are necessary. Incomes of the top 1 percent, he noted, have more than doubled in the last decade while the average income has fallen by 6 percent.
The chances of a poor child making it into the middle class have severely diminished since World War II, he said. That, he said, “flies in the face of everything that we stand for.”
It is rare for a president to be so explicit about a national income gap, but it is hardly “un-American” to think about it, as Newt Gingrich said recently. In fact, it is a pressing issue that goes back more than a century. Mr. Obama spoke in the same town where Theodore Roosevelt issued his call for a square deal in 1910. In demanding “a new nationalism,” Roosevelt supported strong government oversight of business, a “graduated income tax on big fortunes,” an inheritance tax and the primacy of labor over capital. For that, he was called a socialist and worse, as Mr. Obama observed, having endured the same.
Mr. Obama was late to Roosevelt’s level of passion and action on behalf of the middle class and the poor, having missed several opportunities to make the tax burden more fair and demand real action on the housing crisis from the big banks that he excoriated so effectively in his speech.
But he has fought energetically for a realistic plan to put Americans back to work and has been stymied at every step by Republicans. That seems to have burned away his old urge to conciliate and compromise, and he is now fully engaged against the philosophy of his opponents.
Tuesday’s speech, in fact, seemed expressly designed to counter Mitt Romney’s argument that business, unfettered, will easily restore American jobs and prosperity. Teddy Roosevelt knew better 101 years ago, and it was gratifying to hear his fire reflected by President Obama.
The Food and Drug Administration will not be removing age restrictions for a morning-after birth control pill — a decision that’s likely to prolong a fight that has raged for more than eight years.
In a statement today, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said she was convinced that the product, called Plan B One Step, is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse for women of all ages. Currently the product is available without a prescription only to those age 17 and over. As long ago as 2003, two FDA advisory panels recommended the product be made available over the counter without age restrictions.
Hamburg, however, was overruled by her boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. As a result, the drug makers’ application to remove the age restriction has been denied, and girls under age 17 will still need a prescription.
In her own statement, Sebelius says:
“It is common knowledge that there are significant cognitive and behavioral differences between older adolescent girls and the youngest girls of reproductive age. If the application were approved, the product would be available, without prescription, for all girls of reproductive age. … Because I do not believe enough data were presented to support the application to make Plan B One-Step available over the counter for all girls of reproductive age, I have directed FDA to issue a complete response letter denying the supplemental new drug application.”
Summit County CO., CPA
A Date Which Will Live in Infamy
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor that propelled the United States “officially” into World War II. The consequences of that single event still reverberate today, in dozens of unseen ways — including how you pay the taxes that support the national security apparatus that works to prevent such an attack from ever happening again.
World War II has been called the single most significant event in world history. So it’s no surprise that financing the war led to some of the most significant taxes in history.
The Roosevelt administration had been gearing up to support the war effort long before the actual attack. When bombers struck on December 7, 1941, taxes were already high by historical standards. There were a dizzying 32 tax brackets, starting at 10% and topping out at 79% on incomes over $1 million, 80% on incomes over $2 million, and 81% on income over $5 million.
Just a few short months after the attack, in April, 1942, President Roosevelt proposed a 100% top rate! At a time of “grave national danger,” he argued, “no American citizen ought to have a net income, after he has paid his taxes, of more than $25,000 a year” (roughly $300,000 in today’s dollars). Patriotic Americans were eager to pay more to support the war effort — starlet Ann Sheridan, known as Hollywood’s “Oomph girl,” even famously announced “I regret that I have only one salary to give for my country.”
Roosevelt never got his 100% rate. However, the Revenue Act of 1942 raised top rates to 88% on incomes over $200,000. (It also introduced the first deductions for medical expenses and personal investment expenses.) By 1944, the bottom rate had more than doubled to 23%, and the top rate reached reached an all-time high of 94%.
World War II also marked the introduction of payroll withholding, which is the “dirty little secret” that makes today’s tax system work. Traditionally, the government had collected taxes “in arrears,” when taxpayers actually filed their returns. But as the war accelerated, government couldn’t wait for the new, higher taxes. That created a problem, though — how could Americans afford to pay their 1942 taxes at the same time employers were withholding tax on 1943 income? To solve that problem, the Current Tax Payment Act of 1943 actually cancelled 75-100% of the lower of 1942 or 1943 individual tax liability.
Tax rates remained high for decades following the war. It wasn’t until President Reagan took office in 1981 that the top rate dropped below 70%. Today’s top rate of 35% is actually low by historical standards — and tax collections are at post-war lows as well.
Seventy years after that sunny Sunday morning at Pearl Harbor, the world is once again safe for democracy. Yes, we face real threats to our security, ranging from Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons to China’s growing economic might. But none threaten us so directly as did World War II’s Axis powers. Military spending, which reached 42% of Gross Domestic Product in 1942, has fallen to just 6% today — even accounting for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The generation that fought the war is often called the “Greatest Generation.” What would those who made such awesome sacrifices back then think of today’s tax debates? Would they side with those who feel “taxed enough already” to support today’s peacetime needs? Or would they side those who call for more sacrifice from the wealthiest Americans? What do you think?
Photo by Ryan Fields
From The New York Times
By A. G. SULZBERGER
Published: December 6, 2011
OSAWATOMIE, Kan. — Laying out a populist argument for his re-election next year, President Obama ventured into the conservative heartland on Tuesday to deliver his most pointed appeal yet for a strong governmental role through tax and regulation to level the economic playing field.
“This country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, when everyone does their fair share and when everyone plays by the same rules,” Mr. Obama said in an address that sought to tie his economic differences with Republicans into an overarching message.
Infusing his speech with the moralistic language that has emerged in the Occupy protests around the nation, Mr. Obama warned that growing income inequality meant that the United States was undermining its middle class and, “gives lie to the promise that’s at the very heart of America: that this is the place where you can make it if you try.”
“This is a make-or-break moment for the middle class, and all those who are fighting to get into the middle class,” Mr. Obama told the crowd packed into the gym at Osawatomie High School.
“At stake,” he said, “is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, and secure their retirement.”
Mr. Obama purposefully chose this hardscrabble town of 4,500 people, about 50 miles south of Kansas City, Kan., where Theodore Roosevelt once laid out the progressive platform he called “the New Nationalism” to put forth his case for a payroll tax cut and his broader arguments against the Republican economic agenda in what his aides hoped would be viewed as a defining speech.
Though it was lacking in specific new policy prescriptions, the hour long speech, and the days of buildup that preceded it, marked the president’s starkest attack on what he described as the “breathtaking greed” that contributed to the economic turmoil still reverberating around the nation. At one point, he noted that the average income of the top 1 percent — adopting the marker that has been the focus of the Occupy movement — has gone up by more than 250 percent, to $1.2 million a year.
The new tack reflected a decision by the White House and the president’s campaign aides that — with the economic recovery still lagging and Republicans in Congress continuing to oppose the president’s jobs proposals — the best course for Mr. Obama is to try to present himself as the defender of working-class Americans and Republicans as defenders of a small elite.
Republicans, though, portrayed the visit to Osawatomie as an effort by the president to paper over his failed stewardship of the national economy. Though unemployment levels dropped to 8.6 percent last month, they remain higher than the level at which any president has been re-elected since the Great Depression.
Mitt Romney, one of the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, dismissed the president’s address. “I thought, ‘In what way is he like Teddy Roosevelt?’ ” Mr. Romney said. “Teddy Roosevelt founded the Bull Moose Party. One of those words applies when the president talks about how he’s helped the economy.”
The trip was Mr. Obama’s third out of Washington in as many weeks to press for passage of the payroll tax break, which would reduce the how much employees pay for Social Security to 3.1 percent from the already reduced level of 4.2 percent. Under the Democratic proposal, which Republicans have blocked, the cut that would go to most working Americans would be offset in the budget by a 1. 9 percent surtax on those with modified adjusted gross incomes of more than $1 million. If Congress takes no action, the tax will revert back to 6.2 percent next month.
In Washington, the two parties remained at an impasse in their efforts to write legislation to extend the tax cut, with Senate Republicans rejecting the latest Democratic proposal and House Republicans still writing their own plan.
Though the earlier speeches on the payroll tax took place in swing states, the fact that the president brought the message to one of the most reliably Republican states in the country shows that he and his party are increasingly confident that they have found a message that resonates with voters.
This speech, however, was cast in broad historical terms, with Mr. Obama declaring that that after a century of struggle to build it, the middle class has been steadily eroded, even before the current economic turmoil, by Republican policies intended to reduce the size and scope of government — ranging from tax cuts for the wealthy to deregulation of Wall Street.
“Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success,” he said. “Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and investments than ever before. But everyone else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t — and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt.”
Mr. Obama sought to pre-empt a Republican response that he was engaging in class warfare. “This isn’t about class warfare,” he said. “This is about the nation’s welfare.”
The visit was unusual for its setting in a state that he lost decisively despite his own family roots — his mother was born in Kansas. The vast majority of his visits as president have been to swing states like Pennsylvania that are expected to play an important role in next year’s election. But it was here, 101 years ago, that Theodore Roosevelt laid the intellectual framework for his unsuccessful bid for a third term after leaving the Republican party. That speech, which Mr. Obama referred to repeatedly, touched on many of the same themes — often in similar language — like concentration of wealth and the need for government to ensure a level playing field. Central to progress, Mr. Roosevelt said, was the conflict between “the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess.”
Mr. Obama, to laughter from those familiar with attacks against him, noted: “For this, Roosevelt was called a radical, he was called a socialist, even a communist.”
After the speech, one woman in the audience, Debra Harrison said the president put voice to her concerns about this community, which has been eroded by job losses and depopulation.
“We’re doing what the middle class has always done in this country,” said Ms. Harrison, 51, who works at a nearby bank, shaking her head. “We work hard. We teach our kids to work hard. But it’s very hard for us to keep our heads above water these days. And it’s even harder for our kids.”
Helene Cooper and Robert Pear contributed reporting.
COTTON BOWL at Dallas Cowboys Stadium
Cotton Bowl: Kansas State Wildcats Vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
Dallas Cowboys Stadium Arlington, TX
Friday 1/6/2012 7:00 PM
ANNUAL GIVEAWAY AT IMMANUEL LUTHERAN CHURCH
905 Stanberry, Ellsworth, Kansas
Saturday, December 10 from 1 to 3 PM
Gently used clothing for children, women and men, bedding, toys, Christmas decorations,
household items and miscellaneous items are available at no cost. Everyone is welcome to attend.
If you have questions please call the church office at 785-472-4045 (mornings).
WASHINGTON, DC - On Tuesday, December 6, President Obama will travel to Osawatomie, Kansas where he will deliver remarks on the economy. The President will talk about how he sees this as a make-or-break moment for the middle class and all those working to join it. He’ll lay out the choice we face between a country in which too few do well while too many struggle to get by, and one where we’re all in it together – where everyone engages in fair play, everyone does their fair share, and everyone gets a fair shot. Just over one hundred years ago, President Teddy Roosevelt came to Osawatomie, Kansas and called for a New Nationalism, where everyone gets a fair chance, a square deal, and an equal opportunity to succeed.
The President’s remarks at Osawatomie High School are open to pre-credentialed media and ticketed members of the public.
Obama will be speaking around 1 pm at Osawatamie High School
The event is free and open to the public. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. One ticket per person will be distributed. Due to limited event space the White House will only be able to distribute a limited number of tickets. Tickets are not for sale or re-sale.
Tickets are required and will be available at the following ticket distribution location:
Osawatomie High School Main Lobby
12th and Trojan Drive
Osawatomie, KS 66064
For security reasons, do not bring bags and limit personal items. No signs or banners are permitted. All attendees will go through airport-like security.
I simply spaced out posting the totals for October. The total number of hits during October 2011 was 311,848.
September 2011 - 298,870
August - 314,193
July - 311,966
June - 279,629
May - 237,749
April - 263,402
March - 331,639
February - 371,653
January - 385,212
December 2110 - 436,057
Total - 3,831,326
My thanks to all of you who stop by to see my postings. I appreciate all your comments.
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