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Bannon: There’s a 70 percent chance of Trump ouster

Bannon: There’s a 70 percent chance of Trump ouster

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Conservative firebrand Steve Bannon reportedly believes that President Donald Trump has a paltry 30 percent chance of finishing his term in the White House due to threats that the president’s Cabinet could throw him out of the Oval Office using a legal maneuver outlined by the 25th Amendment.

That’s according to a source who spoke with Vanity Fair for a recent piece conjuring notions of a White House crippled by internal turmoil caused in part by “a president who seems to be increasingly unfocused and consumed by dark moods.”

Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!” (A White House official denies this.) Two senior Republican officials said Chief of Staff John Kelly is miserable in his job and is remaining out of a sense of duty to keep Trump from making some sort of disastrous decision. Today, speculation about Kelly’s future increased after Politico reported that Kelly’s deputy Kirstjen Nielsen is likely to be named Homeland Security Secretary—the theory among some Republicans is that Kelly wanted to give her a soft landing before his departure.

One former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. “Would they tackle him?” the person said. Even Trump’s most loyal backers are sowing public doubts. This morning, The Washington Post quoted longtime Trump friend Tom Barrack saying he has been “shocked” and “stunned” by Trump’s behavior.

Personal Liberty’s Jay Baker artfully analyzed the Vanity Fair piece in a column Thursday, noting that it is part of a broader establishment effort to portray the president as unhinged and a potential threat to national security.

These establishment attacks on the president aren’t surprising– but Trump’s handling of the attacks, which are beginning to look more and more like the makings of a coup in progress, should be a little puzzling to anyone who views the president as a master tactician.

Last month, I warned readers that a handful of recent changes at the White House were aimed at isolating Trump from some of the strongest allies he’d gained during his outsider ascent to the nation’s most powerful elected office. Kelly’s appointment as the president’s chief of staff was a matter of particular concern for me as I read report after report about the a retired four-star Marine general’s efforts to place the president on lockdown within the Oval Office.

From that piece:

In late July, Kelly took over from former RNC chairman Reince Preibus as President Trump’s White House chief of staff. He’s now in charge of just about everything the president sees and hears– and, by extension, he largely holds the key to what the president is going to think about any given situation.

Kelly, according to reports, has the West Wing on lock down… at least when it comes to access for the kind of “outsiders” Trump’s administration promised to empower in Washington.

People have begun to take note of the changes within the White House. It was, of course, hard to miss that things were changing when the administration abruptly cut ties with conservative strategist Steve Bannon, who was largely credited with creating the populist conservative message that got Trump elected.

Late last month, former UN Ambassador John Bolton declared that he is one of many people the president is no longer permitted to meet with as the establishment regains order in Washington.

The whole thing is worth a read because it provides plenty of background on how Trump went from victorious outsider surrounded by supporters to telling Schiller, “I hate everyone in the White House!”

Now, we have Vanity Fair’s report relaying that Bannon warned Trump of threats from within months ago:

Several months ago, according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former chief strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn’t impeachment, but the 25th Amendment—the provision by which a majority of the Cabinet can vote to remove the president. When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, “What’s that?” According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it the full term.

The 25th Amendment allows Congress to remove a president from office if his Cabinet declares that he’s unable to fulfill the duties of the office either because of mental or physical incapacitation.

Never Trump factions began fantasizing about removing the president on grounds that his mental state is in decline earlier in the year. And the media has spent months spinning various iterations of the “unhinged Trump” narrative.

When Bannon was relieved of his White House duties, remember, there was little explanation from the president. Some reports indicated that Trump’s ego may have gotten in the way, suggesting the president felt Bannon was taking too much credit for his successes. Other explanations centered on theories that Trump was advised or pressured to cut ties with Bannon, either to distance himself from nationalists or as an effort to soften the political establishment to his administration’s agenda.

Whatever led Trump to kick Bannon out of his inner circle, it’s now crystal clear why the establishment wanted the conservative media executive out of the way: The Breitbart CEO was likely one of very few people warning the president of what now clearly looks like a conspiracy to undo the administration from within.

The outsiders once closest to the president are now out of the White House and he’s evidently surrounded by people working to make his life a living hell. It may now only be a matter of time until they go for the president’s throat.

Source: Will County News

4 Signs It’s Time to replace your furnace

4 Signs It’s Time to replace your furnace…

old furnace

If your old furnace is dying call RCM for a quote today.

It’s hard to know when it is a good time to replace your furnace. Our technicians are skilled and experienced to know when it’s time for you to think about replacement! When that time comes for a lot of home owners we can fear cost, and also what the long term options with a new unit are! If you are deciding on whether to replace, here are 4 signs:

1.      Age: A typical unit is designed to last 15-20 years (with good maintenance). With age, comes less reliability and less efficiency. You will notice more breakdowns and worn out parts. Some repair costs can add up close to the cost of a new unit!

2.      Furnace Repairs: Notice an increase of parts wearing down and your furnace not working properly? Occasional wear and tear is normal; otherwise technicians should not be frequenting your home. These costs can eventually add up, hence our technicians recommending a replacement.

3.      Weird Noises: A rumble when the unit kicks on is normal when it is starting up. Clicking, popping, and banging are not noises you should be hearing. If heard in an older unit, it may be a sign it’s towards the end of its lifespan.

4.      Rising Costs: Increased heating bills aren’t just due to the cold. Sometimes this can be a sign of an inefficient unit. If your furnace is older and you’ve noticed an increase in your heating bills from the last few years, this could be a sure sign of furnace failure.

If you have any questions about your furnace or are interested in a new furnace call us at 815-485-6525 or visit us online at www.rcmheating.com.

 

If you like our articles stop in and check out our FACEBOOK page

Source: Will County News

Taxpayers should flex their muscle, pick their punches

Berg: Taxpayers should flex their muscle, pick their punches

Sugary drink tax
Shutterstock photo

It wasn’t exactly the Boston Tea Party, but it took everything short of dumping Diet Coke into Lake Michigan for Cook County residents to force the repeal of an unpopular tax on sweetened beverages.

The county’s penny-per-ounce “soda tax” will be no more come Dec. 1. And Illinoisans across the state should take heart.

Even the most powerful machine politicians – yes, including House Speaker Mike Madigan – are not above the wrath of the voting public.

Internal polling for one Cook County commissioner showed more than 90 percent of constituents opposed the soda tax. Even Cook County Commissioner Ed Moody, an appointee and longtime political worker for Madigan, flipped his vote in the face of such extreme numbers.

Ultimately, political support for the repeal became nearly unanimous.

Tax repeals are some of the rarest birds in Illinois’ political kingdom. Gov. Jim Thompson’s repeal of the state’s punitive inheritance tax in 1982 and Chicago City Council’s vote to repeal the city’s feudal “head tax” in 2011 are a couple notable examples.

Years before the soda tax repeal, 2013 marked the death of a particularly unpopular sales tax increase in Cook County, which pushed Chicago’s sales tax to the highest in the nation among major cities. It took the ousting of a board president to kill the increase. But it was only a matter of time before that tax hike came back.

Today, Chicagoans are again stuck paying the highest sales tax of any major city in the country, soda tax or no soda tax.

A similar dynamic has played out at the state level. Former Gov. Pat Quinn signed a temporary income tax hike into law in 2011, which partially sunset at the start of 2015. There was a political cost. Quinn lost the governorship. But billions of dollars in new revenue only further cemented the state’s terrible spending habits, so when the tax was partially rolled back the books looked even worse.

Cut to this summer, when Illinoisans watched lawmakers ram through the largest permanent income tax hike in the state’s history.

Therein lies the lesson for Illinoisans who are rightly indignant about their tax bills.

One can righteously rail against tax increases ad nauseam. It might even have consequences at the ballot box. Indeed, nine of the 15 House Republicans who cast at least one vote for the state income tax hike have already announced they won’t run for re-election in 2018. Illinoisans should never forget that their voices have power.

But if aggrieved taxpayers don’t also demand fixes to underlying spending problems, calls for additional tax hikes will return. And they’ll be stronger than ever.

In Cook County, effective taxpayer advocacy means putting pressure on commissioners to address a practically bankrupt pension system, where the average career worker will receive about $2 million in total benefits over the course of his or her retirement.

Hate the soda tax?

Of course, tell your commissioner. But also push for the county to extend 401(k)-style retirement plans currently offered to state university workers to its own workforce in order to begin an end to the pension crisis.

Property tax bill higher than your mortgage payment?

By all means, shout it from the rooftops. But also call for local government consolidation, limits to the extremely broad scope of government union bargaining power, and reform of the state’s prevailing wage laws, which overinflate the cost of public projects.

Fed up with yet another income tax hike without reform?

Call your state lawmaker. But also demand he or she stand up to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which is still pushing for huge raises for the highest-paid state workers in the nation who also receive platinum-level health insurance at a fraction of the cost.

It’s easy to rejoice in the defeat of an onerous tax.

What’s harder? Pushing for reforms needed to change the political battlefield altogether.

Austin Berg is a writer for the Illinois Policy Institute. He wrote this column for the Illinois News Network. Austin can be reached at aberg@illinoispolicy.org.

Source: Will County News

Abundance of governments is one driver of collar county property taxes

Abundance of governments is one driver of collar county property taxes

Consolidating governments in the collar counties could help lower residents’ high property taxes.

Consolidating governments in the collar counties could help lower residents’ high property taxes.

Illinois’ nearly 7,000 units of government, the most of any state in the country, can be expensive for taxpayers. And residents in Chicago’s collar counties know this well.

Of the five collar counties, Lake County leads the way with 184 units of government, followed by DuPage (174), Will (159), Kane (113) and McHenry (104), according to data collected by The Civic Federation.

Lake has 10 more governments than DuPage despite having roughly 25 percent fewer residents. Of its 184 governments, Lake has 45 municipalities and 18 townships, both more than any other collar county.

With so many units of government, it’s not much of a surprise the collar counties pay the highest property taxes in the state and among the highest property taxes in the country. At a median rate of $6,881, Lake County taxpayers pay the highest property taxes in the state and the 21st highest in the nation. DuPage, at a median rate of $6,274, is second in the state and 27th in the nation. The collar counties account for five of the top six most expensive counties in the state for property taxes.

But there are many places to consolidate and cut local governments, if politicians are willing. School district consolidation would be an obvious area – Illinois has 859 local school districts, the fifth most in the nation, with many of these districts serving few students but carrying high administrative costs. By just cutting the number of school districts in half, Illinois could save nearly $130 million to $170 million annually in operating costs and could conservatively save the state $3 billion to $4 billion in pension costs over the next 30 years. If savings here could be found in collar county school districts, it would be a boon for taxpayers.

Municipal government is not immune to possible consolidation either. In Lake County, for example, Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Park and Round Lake Heights– all of similar makeup and between 2,000 and 30,000 in population – share a fire department and park district, but each maintain separate police departments, elected officials and village administrators making as much as $180,000 per year. Just by consolidating duplicative service between Round Lake and Round Lake Beach alone, taxpayers could save up to $3 million each year.

A bill in Springfield in 2016 would have expanded local governments’ ability to consolidate. But state Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, proposed an amendment that would prevent any reduction in personnel or in compensation or benefits for union-represented government employees if a unit of local government were to dissolve. That bill did not become law, but Yingling added similar language to a consolidation effort – Public Act 100-107 ­– that did become law in 2017, significantly hobbling cost savings.

The law also allows for consolidation of road townships, and other lawmakers have taken small, incremental steps to allow for consolidating services. But with the nation’s highest total of governments – and the nation’s highest property taxes – more significant steps are needed. To its credit, DuPage County has led the way, creating an initiative in 2012 to look for ways to consolidate local government. Residents have responded positively: Voters in the DuPage city of Naperville in 2016 overwhelmingly said they support consolidation efforts at the local level.

However under PA 100-107, DuPage, McHenry and Lake counties will not enjoy the same consolidation powers they had before. Previously, all three of those collar counties were allowed to pursue more aggressive reforms that cut duplicative local governments and the high cost of the government workers they employed. But starting in January 2018, DuPage, McHenry and Lake county voters will not be able terminate the government-worker contracts of the offices they’ve voted to get rid of.

This severely limits the public’s abilities to save costs, which will pose significant hurdles for residents seeking to ease the collar counties’ massive property tax burden.

Taxpayers in the collar counties are clamoring for tax relief, and they’re protesting with their feet: More than 9,000 people left DuPage County and more than 5,000 people left Lake County from July 2015 – July 2016, causing both county populations to drop. Kane, McHenry and Will counties also all saw domestic out-migration in that timeframe. A September 2016 poll from the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute shows taxes as the No. 1 reason to leave.

If lawmakers and local elected officials want to reverse these trends, government consolidation would be a positive step. For collar county taxpayers, that can’t come soon enough.

Source: Will County News

Ted Cruz to GOP: Fulfill promises, or prepare for 2018 bloodbath

Ted Cruz to GOP: Fulfill promises, or prepare for 2018 bloodbath

Senator Ted Cruz
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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned his Republican colleagues Friday that failure to make good on promises to repeal Obamacare and rework the nation’s tax system could bring the party to its knees when voters head to the polls during the 2018 midterms.

Cruz issued the warning during a moderated discussion in front of around 100 wealthy donors affiliated with billionaire conservatives Charles and David Koch’s political action organizations.

“If tax reform crashes and burns, if [on] Obamacare, nothing happens, we could face a bloodbath,” Cruz warned.

According to the Texas conservative, Republicans could see a level of defeat not suffered by the party since the 1974 election cycle when the Watergate scandal cost the GOP 48 House seats, five in the Senate and control of several statehouses throughout the nation.

At the time, the scandal-driven GOP losses were heralded by liberals as the dawn of a new era in American politics. The left dominated Washington with substantial power in the House for nearly two decades, until the GOP finally gained control of Congress in 1994.

The problem Republicans have today isn’t a massive scandal, despite the best efforts of the media and Democratic establishments to create one– rather, it’s that the establishment’s inability to wield power effectively under the leadership of a Washington outsider is demonstrating that the DC “swamp” is not necessarily a Democratic construct.

And that helps to explain why establishment organization’s like the Senate Leadership Fund are so invested in keeping other conservative outsiders from joining the legislature. Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who the establishment money pushers announced this week they don’t plan to help very much in the state’s December special election, is only the first of many GOP outsiders likely to get the establishment’s cold shoulder, even if they successfully beat out GOP incumbents in coming primaries.

The name of the game is minimizing challenges within the party which highlight the ways in which the establishment isn’t working for voters. As Cruz pointed out, the best way to do that would be making good on promises to voters. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. That isn’t how politicians operate… they have lobbyists to please.

For voters, that means it’s time to think about donating, volunteering and working on behalf of any conservative challenger who looks like he has a fighting chance in coming elections.

Source: Will County News

Renewing American Confidence Starts with Remembering American History

Renewing American Confidence Starts with Remembering American History

More and more Americans are concerned about our country’s future. A recent poll by Rasmussen Reportsfound that 62 percent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track.

One way to help renew our nation’s confidence is to heed the advice of former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “education is the cornerstone of liberty.”

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich

These wise words from our nation’s longest-serving first lady are still true for America today.

Specifically, learning American history and understanding how the past has shaped our present is critical to preserving the values and principles our nation has followed for more than 240 years. Unfortunately, many children today are failing to learn our American history.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress shows only 20 percent of 4th graders demonstrate proficiency in U.S. History. As children progress in school, this figure appears to drop. The NAEP figures show only 12 percent proficiency for high school seniors.

These findings are alarming and suggest that we are letting our shared understanding of what it means to be American slip away. We must do all we can to see that our children understand the founding principles upon which our country was built. This is the only way America can remain the freest, most prosperous country in the world.

It is this belief in learning American history that led Callista to write her newest children’s book, Remember the Ladies. It was released on Tuesday and is the seventh book in the New York Times bestselling Ellis the Elephant series.

In Remember the Ladies, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest first ladies and discovers their many contributions to American history.

Ellis begins his adventure by meeting and learning about Martha Washington, our nation’s premier first lady, who defined the role and provided inspiration to the people of our newly formed country. He then meets Abigail Adams, who urged her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies” when he helped write the Declaration of Independence. The words of Abigail Adams are the inspiration for the title of Callista’s book. Ellis goes on to meet and learn about other first ladies such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, and more.

As children and parents read this book, they will learn that the stories and actions of our nation’s first ladies are fascinating – and often as impactful – as those of our presidents.

I encourage you to share Remember the Ladies with the young people in your lives.

Order Remember the Ladies here>>

Your Friend,
Newt

Source: Will County News

Illinois’ pension debt grew more in one year than half of states’ entire budgets

Illinois’ pension debt grew more in one year than half of states’ entire budgets

    • By Cole Lauterbach and Greg Bishop | Illinois News Network
FILE - TRS - Teachers' Retirement System

Greg Bishop | Illinois News Network

ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK

In one year, Illinois’ pensions added more debt than 25 U.S. states’ entire budgets.

The Illinois Department of Insurance released its two-year report on every public pension in the state. From 2015 to 2016, Illinois’ 671 pension funds added $17 billion in additional unfunded liabilities, bringing it up to $185 billion. That one-year debt growth is larger than 25 state budgets in fiscal year 2016.

“It’s bad and it’s getting worse,” said Bill Bergman, director of research at Truth in Accounting.

The Teachers’ Retirement Fund is the state’s largest pension. At an estimated $71.4 billion in unfunded liabilities, it also carries the most debt. Director Dick Ingram says their main issue is that the older, Tier 1 pensions cost more than lawmakers paid into the fund.

“The albatross that’s still out there is the Tier 1 unfunded,” he said.

Historically, pensions were a way to attract workers, but the generous benefits that many say are no longer affordable, as well as years of “pension holidays” when lawmakers and local leaders didn’t contribute their share into the funds so they could spend on other areas, led to the unfunded liability.

“Whether we bought past service at the expense of future taxpayers is another question,” Bergman said.

To make matters worse, the $185 billion may be optimistically low. Public pensions often say they plan on getting much higher returns on stock investments than they really do. This difference in expected versus actual returns often increases the projected liability.

“This $185 billion, which went up $17 billion last year, is actually far understating the scope of the problem,” Bergman said.

In May, credit ratings service Moody’s estimated that the state’s pension funds alone have $251 billion in unfunded liabilities.

Illinois’ pensions are the least-funded of any state.

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Source: Will County News

Trump teaches GOP a lesson in leadership on Obamacare repeal

Trump teaches GOP a lesson in leadership on Obamacare repeal

Being a good leader means sometimes having to take flak for making unpopular decisions. As President Donald Trump goes about reworking Obamacare “piece by piece,” he’s going to catch plenty of criticism. But in the end, it’ll be members of  the GOP establishment who suffer.

“Obamacare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great healthcare it deserves!” Trump declared via Twitter Friday morning.

Trump began late Thursday the process of dismantling the healthcare law with a declaration that taxpayers will no longer be in the business of bailing out insurance companies via cost sharing reduction payments, which amount to about $7 billion in annual spending to pad insurers’ bottom lines.

“Based on guidance from the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that there is no appropriation for cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies under Obamacare. In light of this analysis, the Government cannot lawfully make the cost-sharing reduction payments,” the White House said in a statement.

These are the same subsidies House Republicans sued the Obama administration over and won last year. The Obama administration appealed the federal court’s ruling, however, and the GOP establishment seemingly gave up on arguing that the Obama administration usurped Congress’s role in appropriating federal money.

Following that setback for Obamacare repeal, the GOP establishment tried and failed to push legislation that would rework the healthcare law. But Republican lawmakers were unable to come to an agreement on the scope and follow-up for any such effort. A handful of conservatives declared they’d settle for no less than the full repeal promised to voters.  Meanwhile, Republicans in states that accepted Medicaid expansion funds via the healthcare law floundered, worried that a full repeal would mean budget turmoil at home.

The problem remains that almost everyone in Washington who isn’t a member of the Democratic leadership has already conceded that Obamacare’s payments to insurers are unlawful.

“The bailout of insurance companies through these unlawful payments is yet another example of how the previous administration abused taxpayer dollars and skirted the law to prop up a broken system. Congress needs to repeal and replace the disastrous Obamacare law and provide real relief to the American people,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this week.

It certainly seems Republicans are not going to repeal Obamacare. In fact, the GOP leadership has already pretty much told voters that it wants to move on to other issues. The latest legislative vehicle on offer for repeal, the establishment Graham/Cassidy bill, doesn’t have the support needed to pass on Capitol Hill. And even if it did, Republicans wouldn’t be very likely to rush for passage as only around 20 percent of GOP voters believe the legislation takes the right approach to repealing the healthcare law. Consensus among true conservatives is that Graham/Cassidy would do little more than re-brand Obamacare as a Republican healthcare scheme just as insolvent as the law its supporters claim it would replace.

The bottom line on Trump’s decision this week is that the president is taking on the politically unpopular task dozens of GOP lawmakers have refused to handle despite years of promises to voters. And he’s going to get hit with criticism from all sides. Insurers will attack because they stand to lose major funding. Democrats will say Trump is killing the poor. Republicans in Medicaid expansion states will complain about budget issues.

California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff lashed out at the president on Twitter Friday morning, declaring: “Latest reason why President Trump is the worst President in modern history: Deliberately undermining people’s health care out of spite.”

That’s expected. But what’s really going to be worth watching is how Republicans in Congress proceed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan praised the president’s move in a statement: “Today’s decision … preserves a monumental affirmation of Congress’s authority and the separation of powers. Obamacare has proven itself to be a fatally flawed law, and the House will continue to work with the Trump administration to provide the American people a better system.”

But here’s the deal. There’s already bipartisan legislation that would remove constitutional concerns about the payments via congressional appropriation. And, despite what they say about ending the subsidies, many Republicans (the same establishment lawmakers who championed the weak Obamacare reforms that have so far failed to excite conservatives promised a repeal) are likely to quietly support the deal in an effort to avoid a standoff with the powerful insurance lobby.

There’s also the problem of the pain cutting off the payments will create on Main Street. The Congressional Budget Office reported in August that ending the subsidies would drive insurance premiums up by about 20 percent for Obamacare plans and kick around 1 million Americans off the plans altogether.

Congress is likely to meet this emergency with approval of a plan to extend the payments. A bipartisan proposal to do just that is currently being considered by leaders of the Senate health Committee. If passed, the proposal would appropriate money for the payments for two years, essentially keeping Obamacare as it currently exists afloat in spite of Trump’s efforts to dismantle the healthcare law “piece by piece.”

What Americans are watching unfold right now is Trump versus The Establishment: Obamacare Edition– and when the dust settles, conservative Republicans will have a clear picture of who in Congress they can truly trust. So far, Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.) (a stand-out in recent months as the GOP’s strongest voice for the kind of Obamacare repeal voters were promised) looks like the president’s strongest ally in picking the healthcare law apart bit by bit.

Paul repeatedly called for an end to the subsidies as well as a rule change to allow for insurance sales across state lines, which was also achieved by Trump’s executive order this week.

“When you get Rand Paul on your side, it has to be positive, that I can tell you,” President Trump said Thursday as he signed the order. “Boy.”

Source: Will County News

Wildly mismanaged Chicago school district won’t lose a dime in state funding, no matter how many students it loses.

Under Illinois’ new education funding formula, the wildly mismanaged Chicago school district won’t lose a dime in state funding, no matter how many students it loses.

Illinois’ new education funding formula signed into law in August gave the Chicago Public Schools everything it wanted, and more. CPS got to keep its old subsidies, it got the state to pay for its pension costs and it got permission to raise property taxes yet again.

And it got a new education funding formula that was written with a combination of rules that benefit CPS more than most other districts. It was a full-fledged  bailout. And as a result, CPS is expected to get $450 million in additional funding next year.

It’s easy to see how some of those bailout elements are playing out by looking at CPS’ annual enrollment. The new formula forces state taxpayers to pay for CPS’ inefficient and underutilized schools.

CPS is shrinking. Its student enrollment is projected to fall by another 8,000 this year, according to the Chicago Tribune. That’s on top of last year’s loss of nearly 11,000 students.

In fact, CPS’ student enrollment fell 13 percent between its last peak in 2002 and 2016 – a loss of over 57,000 students. And with the city’s overall population declining as well, there is no reason to believe the loss of students won’t continue.

A decline in the number of students should logically result in a smaller amount of total state aid for the district. But thanks to the state’s new education funding formula, CPS won’t lose a dime in state funding, no matter how many students it loses.

That’s because of the “hold harmless” rule in the new funding formula that says no district can ever get less money from the state than it did the year before.

Yes, there are many school districts that will benefit from this rule, but CPS is one of the major beneficiaries simply because of its massive size. That means millions of dollars that could have been distributed to needy, growing school districts, will stay in CPS.

As a result, CPS gets propped up, allowing the district to avoid the reforms it should be making.

School consolidation is one reform CPS officials have avoided. They use state dollars to keep schools open when they should be shut down due to a lack of students.

An Oct. 6 Chicago Tribune editorial highlighted how widespread the issue of empty seats in CPS schools is.

A 2013 school closings commission concluded that 330 schools in Chicago – more than half – were underutilized. And 140 schools were found to be less than half full.

In the same year, the district closed or consolidated 50 schools. The resulting backlash resulted in a moratorium that prevented additional schools from being closed through 2018.

The underutilization problem has only grown worse since then. CPS has lost at least 20,000 students since 2013. And as of 2015, 50 CPS high schools were considered underutilized, with nearly three dozen of them less than half full.

With the school-closing moratorium set to expire in 2018, CPS officials should be looking for ways to combine and close the most underutilized schools – while also focusing on minimizing the disruption to students and parents.

But there is little chance district or city officials will do that. With so much new state funding rolling in, they’ll have no reason to endure the wrath of Chicagoans by making necessary school closures.

So the moratorium will continue, unofficially. And state taxpayers will effectively pay for CPS to keep its underutilized and inefficient schools open.

Source: Will County News

Bitcoin Headed to $20,000… Then What?

Bitcoin Headed to $20,000… Then What?
By Luke Burgess
Written Friday, October 13, 2017
In 1903, Henry Ford hired local attorney Horace Rackham to draw up the incorporation papers for the Ford Motor Company.

Horace Rackham 10%2F17

Mr. Rackham was paid $50 for his service.

But Ford gave Rackham something far more valuable…

The opportunity to invest in Ford’s new company.

Rackham would become one of only 12 original shareholders… in on the ground floor.

Rackham wanted in. But he didn’t have the cash to invest.

So Rackham went to the Michigan Savings Bank for a loan — yet he found getting the money not so easy.

You see, the president of the bank was skeptical of this newfangled auto and considered Ford a swindler. He told Rackham:

The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.

Fortunately for Rackham, he was able to convince the bank to loan him $5,000 anyway.

This loan bought Rackham 5.6% of the new Ford Motor Company and a seat on the Board of Directors.

By 1919, Rackham’s Ford stock had already paid him $2 million in dividends… worth about $30 million today.

Then Henry and Edsel Ford bought Rackham’s shares back for an additional $12.5 million.

Rackham’s $5,000 original investment — the one the bank president called a “fad” — turned into $14.5 million.

Inflation-adjusted, Rackham’s gain would be worth well over $200 million.

Today there is similar sentiment surrounding cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

A few weeks ago, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sent the cryptocurrency market into a frenzy after calling Bitcoin a “fraud” and saying he’d fire anyone trading it for being “too stupid.”

And Dimon isn’t the only big name to slam Bitcoin…

Economist Robert Shiller says Bitcoin is the best example right now of a bubble.

Paul Krugman says Bitcoin is antisocial and impractical.

Joe Foster, fund manager at investment giant VanEck, recently wrote to his clients saying:

Bitcoin and other digital currencies are a FAD that has attracted the attention of programmers, speculators, and early adaptors.

But like the president of the Michigan Savings Bank, these guys fail to see the bigger picture.

Is Bitcoin in a Bubble?

The short answer is: yes.

But before the Bitcoin fanboys get their panties in a bunch, that doesn’t mean price collapse is imminent.

The Bitcoin bubble is still clearly in an expansive phase. The price of Bitcoin cracked an all-time high yesterday of nearly $5,300. And it’s still aiming higher.

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In fact, I think the price of Bitcoin will be $7,000–$8,000 by this time next week.

And from there I don’t see any reason why speculative mania couldn’t drive the price of Bitcoin to over $20,000.

After that?

Who knows.

But let’s just assume for a minute that the price of Bitcoin skyrockets to $20,000, then collapses. What then?

What happens after the bubble bursts?

The fact is, price bubbles occur in markets all the time. But when bubbles pop, it rarely destroys the entire market.

Just consider the real estate bubble…

Did the burst in the bubble completely stop people from buying houses forever?

Did the burst of the dot-com bubble kill the internet?

Did the collapse of the video game market in the early 1980s kill that market forever?

Let’s even consider the most famous price bubble of all time: the 17th century Dutch tulip bubble.

It was reported that during this bubble, one bulb was priced five times higher than the average house at the time. And then, all of a sudden, the bottom fell out of the market.

But the market for tulips did survive over the long term. Of course, the price of tulip bulbs has fallen. But today the demand for the flower is so large that tulip production in the Netherlands is at a record high.

In the same way, after the Bitcoin price bubble bursts (and it will eventually), it’s highly unlikely that a price collapse will kill the cryptocurrency forever.

It’s even more unlikely that a collapse in the price of Bitcoin will destroy the entire cryptocurrency market permanently.

A change has occurred…

The World is Now CryptoPermanent

Pandora’s box has been opened. And there’s no containing the crypto market now.

Bitcoin is simply one of hundreds of cryptocurrencies currently on the market. It could even go completely bust, and the crypto market would still continue. And the main reason is the usefulness of the underlying technology supporting all these cryptocurrencies: distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Simply put, DLT uses a large network of independent computers to verify and synchronize digital data. It’s simply a system of independent checks and balances.

And right now, every major industry (not just banking and finance) is considering how it can implement this technology into its own systems. Just to name a few…

  • Agriculture: DLT could be adapted to track grains and livestock through supply chain.
  • Energy: DLT could allow energy producers and consumers to trade directly.
  • Transportation: Airlines could use DLT to better keep up with frequent schedule changes.

DLT could even be used in the future to store identities digitally to build a secure electronic-voting system.

One day you might vote for the president on a blockchain or similar distributed ledger.

The potential is only now being discovered.

But there’s a bit of a problem for investors…

You can’t buy distributed ledger technology directly.

The only way most people know to get exposure to this incredible new technology is through owning Bitcoin or one of the other cryptocurrencies.

But I’ve found a “back door.”

I’ve discovered a way to continuously profit from the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency market without having to own any digital currency or all the volatility that comes with them.

I need to wrap up for today, but if you’re interested in learning more about my “back door” into the Bitcoin market, click here.

Until next time,

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Luke Burgess

Source: Will County News