Thirteen years ago Massachusetts enacted a constitutional provision which required an adjustment in the pay of state legislators and other elected state officials based upon the rise, or fall, of the median household income in the Commonwealth. That income declined by .5% over the period of time used in the estimate. What is the result? Ordinary members of the Massachusetts Legislature have had their yearly salary of $61,440 reduced by a whopping $307.

SUNDAY, 9 JANUARY 2011

Giffords shootingAfter a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, left at least six dead and more than a dozen wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), the politicization of the tragedy has already begun. And despite an absence of much concrete information on the shooter’s motives — who at this point appears to be a deranged leftist — efforts to demonize the Second Amendment and conservatives in general are already taking flight.

John BoehnerPrior to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known colloquially as ObamaCare, the Congressional Budget Office issued an analysis of the bill stating that it would result in a reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion between 2010 and 2019. This projected deficit reduction was never very convincing. It relied on politically untenable cuts in Medicare and Medicaid physician reimbursement — cuts that have already been forestalled for another year by Congress and the President. It counted as savings minor reductions in enormous future outlays. It was skewed because the tax increases in the bill began almost immediately while much of the spending — including, for example, a long-term at-home healthcare benefit that the CBO projected would “add to future federal budget deficits in a large and growing fashion” — will not commence for several years. And it did not include $115 billion in probable additional spending because of the speed with which the bill was rammed through Congress. (Most of these matters were raised by Richard Foster, chief Medicare actuary, in a pair of reports, one during the congressional debate on the bill and one last August.)

CongressFrom Ninthers, and Tenthers to the Second Amendment Foundation, it seems there’s an advocacy group for every amendment in the Bill of Rights. The inertia propelling these organizations has increased since the inauguration of President Barack Obama (see the story — perhaps apocryphal — regarding the increase in gun sales since November 2008).

In response to evidence that rank-and-file members and supervisors within the New York City Department of Sanitation intentionally refused to carry out their duties after the recent blizzard as a way to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s policies, the New York City Council is launching hearings on Monday January 10 into the matter. Prompted by the uncovering of damning evidence by Queens Councilman Dan Halloran, the Council is holding two citywide oversight hearings, as well as a series of public hearings to fully gauge the impact of the sanitation department and union’s failure to adequately respond to the crippling snowstorm.