Before Slashing Budgets, Find the Savings

Before Slashing Budgets, Find the Savings

It was a bold move for a government entity. In 2005, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania hired a private company to overhaul the archaic way it buys goods and services. It seemed simple enough, but what was innovative — and daring — was a key condition: 30 percent of the contractor’s compensation would come from the savings achieved. No savings, no payment.

Putting such a risk on the contractor paid off handsomely. Among other things, officials combined the buying clout and pricing data of all 89 executive branch agencies and departments to strike better deals. Without cutting a single program or service, Pennsylvania saved more than $140 million, or 21 percent, from its annual $700 million tab for everything from office and cleaning supplies to information technology services and tires. The savings far exceeded projections.

Pennsylvania is not alone. Similar value-based contracts enabled the New York City Board of Education to shave $86 million from its $720 million procurement budget, and state and local agencies are experiencing similar savings. Continue reading “Before Slashing Budgets, Find the Savings”

Opinion: Big labor could use some love

By Juan Williams – 09/04/12 05:00 AM ET

It was so quiet yesterday at the 2012 Democratic National Convention site that the media focused on street protests.

Big Labor is joining Occupy Wall Street protests to send a message to President Obama and the Democrats: If you win the election in November, it will largely be because of our efforts — and you will owe us.

It is no secret that the labor unions are livid at the Democrats for holding their convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state where only 2.9 percent of the workforce is unionized — the lowest in the entire nation.

The actual venue for the convention, the Time Warner Cable Arena, was constructed with non-union labor and uses non-union workers.

Not a single hotel in Charlotte, where the convention speakers and attendees will be staying, has unionized workers. Continue reading “Opinion: Big labor could use some love”

Unions dig in for Obama despite disappointment with his record

By Kevin Bogardus – 09/03/12 09:48 PM ET

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Organized labor is working hard for President Obama, looking upon him as the lesser of two evils compared to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Labor has been repeatedly let down by Obama, who didn’t put his strength behind legislation that would have made it easier to organize unions and signed trade deals opposed by workers.

Unions only reluctantly supported his healthcare law, which lacked the public option championed by labor. And they were deeply upset by his decision to extend the Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy in a December 2010 deal with congressional Republicans. Continue reading “Unions dig in for Obama despite disappointment with his record”

Rosie Ruiz Republicans

Rosie Ruiz Republicans

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: September 2, 2012 637 Comments

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Remember Rosie Ruiz? In 1980 she was the first woman to cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon — except it turned out that she hadn’t actually run most of the race, that she sneaked onto the course around a mile from the end. Ever since, she has symbolized a particular kind of fraud, in which people claim credit for achieving things they have not, in fact, achieved.

 And these days Paul Ryan is the Rosie Ruiz of American politics.

This would have been an apt comparison even before the curious story of Mr. Ryan’s own marathon came to light. Still, that’s quite a story, so let’s talk about it first.

It started when Hugh Hewitt, a right-wing talk-radio host, interviewed Mr. Ryan. In that interview, the vice-presidential candidate boasted about his fitness, declaring that he had once run a marathon in less than three hours.

This claim piqued the interest of Runner’s World magazine, which noted that marathon times are recorded — and that it was unable to find any evidence of Mr. Ryan’s accomplishment. It eventually transpired that Mr. Ryan had indeed once run a marathon, but that his time was actually more than four hours. Continue reading “Rosie Ruiz Republicans”

Obama up 7 in Michigan

Obama up 7 in Michigan

PPP’s first likely voters poll in Michigan this year finds Barack Obama with a solid lead in the state, 51-44. That’s down a good bit from our last registered voters poll in July which found Obama ahead 53-39. That’s a reflection of the fact that the state could be looking at a very different electorate in 2012 than it had in 2008. We find that 34% of likely voters on this poll are Republicans compared to 33% who are Democrats. Exit polls last time showed 41% of voters as Democrats and just 29% as Republicans.

Nevertheless Obama still has a healthy lead. That reflects the fact that despite his ties to the state, Michigan voters just don’t embrace Romney. Only 45% have a favorable opinion of him to 49% with an unfavorable one. They don’t accept Romney as one of their own either- only 34% consider him to be a Michigander to 57% who do not.

One thing that’s definitely not helping Romney in Michigan is the position he took on the auto bailout. 53% of voters think Obama has been better for the automotive industry in the state compared to only 31% for Romney. And this is something voters care about- 80% of voters say the candidates’ record on the automotive industry is important to them, and 48% deem it to be ‘very important.’ Continue reading “Obama up 7 in Michigan”