June 18, 2014



Daily Herald: Chicago seeks info on illegal cigarette sales

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and city health officials are asking the public to help stop illegal cigarette sales.

The Chicago Department of Public Health on Monday said it would offer a $100 reward to residents who report illegal sales that result in a conviction.

Licensed retailers may sell cigarettes in packs or cartons to people age 18 and older, and all packs sold in Chicago must have two visible stamps — one from the State of Illinois and one from Cook County.

Read more…

AEI: America in the slow lane: How unions and lobbying groups are ruining US transportation infrastructure

Debate around improving US infrastructure are typically funding discussions. Where will the money come from to (a) build more airports/bridges/roads and (b) repair or improve existing airports/bridges/roads? Then again, poor infrastructure and financial woes are about what one would expect when government fails to apply basic economic principles. As Clifford Winston writes in a new Mercatus study:

Prices are not aligned with users’ contributions to congestion and delays, investments are not based on benefit-cost analyses, and regulation inflates operating costs.

Those problems persist because of the limitations of government agencies and regulatory constraints, as well as political forces. Among the latter, the American Trucking Association has long opposed axle-weight charges for the pavement damage caused by trucks, and labor unions have blocked the repeal of Davis-Bacon rules that raise the costs of road building and repair by requiring federal construction projects to pay “prevailing” (i.e., union-level) wages.

Read more…

Crains: Feds say health care firm overbilled millions for Medicare, Medicaid

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago has filed suit against a Los Angeles-area hospitalist company, alleging it overbilled federal health benefits programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

The suit, filed yesterday in federal court in Chicago, was the result of a whistleblower complaint filed five years ago in Chicago by a physician formerly employed by IPC the Hospitalist Co. Based in North Hollywood, California, the company — which has an office in Hinsdale — employs about 2,500 hospitalists and other clinicians in 28 states, working primarily in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

The government’s lawsuit alleges IPC sought payment for more expensive services than were actually done, and that the company pressured doctors who didn’t bring in as much reimbursement as their colleagues to “upcode” their services to catch up.

Read more…

Chicago Tribune: Thirteen vie to host Obama library

Thirteen bidders filed paperwork by Monday’s deadline saying they want to host the Obama Presidential Library, according to the foundation established to oversee the selection process.

In a statement released today, the Barack Obama Foundation said it would run a “level and fair” process to evaluate how well each response captures the vision and goals of the future library. The foundation will narrow the list and identify finalists to present specific proposals later this summer.

“These ideas will ultimately help us build a library that reflects President Obama’s priorities and values throughout his life and career, and makes our whole nation proud,” the statement said.

Read more…

National Review: Scott Walker’s Wisconsin vs. Illinois

A new documentary from the paranoid left (“Citizen Koch”) tries to show how outside groups funded by the Koch brothers helped Governor Scott Walker beat the recall in Wisconsin. Whatever the influence of the Koch brothers, the outside group that proved most helpful to Governor Walker by far was really the government of Illinois, which was then busy ruining its own state in spectacular fashion.

Walker managed to frame the recall as a choice between Wisconsin on the road to reform and Illinois in full meltdown under progressive policies. At one point, he was invited to address the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. His message was straightforward: “If voters in our state want to know the difference between going forward or backward,” he said, “they need only look at the mess that you have in state government here in Springfield to know that it would be like if the recall ultimately prevails.” He won the recall by a margin as wide as Obama’s in Wisconsin — seven points.

Still, a century of progressive policies have left Wisconsin in a deep hole. Even after four years of Walker reforms, Wisconsin is still groaning under the burden of high regulations and taxation. Walker has cut taxes by $2 billion since he took office, but the state still has among the heaviest tax burdens in the country. I was shocked when I saw the Wisconsin state budget: In per capita terms it is twice as large as the state budget of Texas, despite federal “assistance” to the states that imposes a high budget baseline on all of them. According to Forbes, Wisconsin is still among the ten worst states for doing business (though it has a far higher quality of life than any of the other ten).

Read more…

Sun-Times: A financial time bomb in Chicago

Already facing a host of financial worries, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration could be stuck with a nearly $200 million tab as a result of betting heavily on risky interest-rate “swaps” under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The deals required the city to maintain a certain credit rating, but the rating has fallen since the Daley administration made them, putting the city at risk.

The financial institutions involved could terminate the deals and demand immediate payment if the ratings agency Moody’s Investor Service drops the city’s credit rating again — which it has warned it will do unless Chicago’s underfunded pensions are dramatically reformed.

Read more…