Monday, February 28, 2011

Opinion: Media No Help When it Comes to Budget Cutting

Opinion: Media No Help When it Comes to Budget Cutting

Now that budget battles have begun in earnest all around the country, those advocating spending cuts, Democrat and Republican, had better not expect any help in furthering their cause from the mainstream news media. In fact, the news media might be their most formidable foe.

How so? Well, now that we know the targets of the cuts, the news media, suckers for a sob story, are already throbbing with carefully orchestrated, heart-rending tales about what devastation those cuts will cause:

Children who won't be fed; students unable to afford college; classrooms bursting at the seams; cancers that will not be treated; trains that won't run; roads that won't be built; families becoming homeless or freezing in their unheated homes; single mothers who will lose child care and job training; food that will not be inspected; water and air that will be more polluted; farmers forced from their land; playgrounds, parks, museums, libraries and health clinics closed ...

You know the drill.

Even public radio and television stations, facing a threatened loss of federal funding, are using the airwaves to repeatedly warn of what programming might disappear unless listeners and viewers contact members of Congress and plead their case.

"We urge you to call your representative and voice your concern," said a spot aired Tuesday on WETA in Washington.

All around the country, the news media are already awash in stories of the devastation that local, state and federal budget cuts will cause. And advocacy groups out to resist the cuts are flooding editors and reporters with news releases that outline in graphic terms how bad these cuts will be for those served by their organizations or causes.

These dire stories from this week are illustrative:

Los Angeles Times -- "The president's plan would give less energy assistance for poor households and less money for reducing neighborhood blight and beach pollution."

Denver Post -- "Some teachers likely would be laid off, colleges would get less money and Colorado would close four state parks and a prison as a result of the revised 2011-12 budget Gov. John Hickenlooper is submitting today."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution -- "Grady Memorial Hospital will cut 100 jobs and may consider trimming programs to help bridge a $25 million shortfall in federal funding."

Boston Globe -- "Funding would be eliminated altogether for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and AmeriCorps, the national service group."

Wilmington News Journal -- "Thousands of senior and low-income Delawareans would lose federal help paying their heating and cooling bills under President Barack Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2012."

This is only the beginning. Over the next several days and weeks, more and more stories on the hardships budget cuts will cause will become a staple of news reporting, making it even more difficult for budget cutters to stand up against the pressure. The steady thump of emotional media reports of people who will be hurt makes cutters seem callous and mean if they follow through.

Sponsored LinksEven President Barack Obama, who has taken heat from the press this week for his spending cut proposals, is following this unfortunate script. "Are we willing to cut millions of young people off when it comes to student loans that help kids and families on their college education? ... If we're cutting infant formula to poor kids, is that who we are as a people?" he said at his press conference Tuesday.

Obama added that he wants a "full, open debate with the American people" about how to get spending and deficits under control.

There would be a better chance of that if the media would stop waging war against any and every spending cut proposal.

Richard Benedetto is a retired USA Today White House correspondent and columnist. He now teaches journalism and politics at American and Georgetown universities.

Obama: Defending the Privileged, As Usual

Obama: Defending the Privileged, As Usual  by John Hinderaker/Powerline

It is infuriating to see our President weighing in on behalf of overpaid, underworked and greedy members of public employee unions. They are among the more privileged members of our society, but, as full partners in the Democrats' scheme to suck up ever more money even if it bankrupts the country, they have Obama's complete support. Michael Ramirez comments; click to enlarge:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Apocalypse Now: Wisconsin vs. Big Labor

Apocalypse Now: Wisconsin vs. Big Labor - Michelle Malkin - National Review Online Michelle Malkin

Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.

The lowdown: State-government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new Republican governor Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public-employee share of health-insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor’s collective-bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.

As the free-market MacIver Institute in Wisconsin points out, the benefits concessions Walker is asking public-union workers to make would still maintain their health-insurance-contribution rates at the second-lowest among Midwest states for family coverage. Moreover, a new analysis by benefits think tank HCTrends shows that the new rate “would also be less than the employee contributions required at 85 percent of large Milwaukee area employers.”

This modest call for shared sacrifice has triggered the wrath of the White House–Big Labor–Michael Moore axis. On Thursday, President Obama lamented the “assault on unions.” AFL-CIO and Service Employees International Union bosses dubbed Walker the “Mubarak of the Midwest” while their minions toted posters of Walker’s face superimposed on Hitler’s. Moore goaded thousands of striking union protesters to “shut down” the “new Cairo” while the state’s Democratic legislators bailed on floor debate over the union reform package.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan spurned the opportunity to condemn thousands of Wisconsin public-school teachers for lying about being “sick” and shutting down at least eight school districts across the state to attend capitol protests (many of whom dragged their students on a social-justice field trip with them). Instead, Duncan defended teachers for “doing probably the most important work in society.” Only striking government teachers could win federal praise for not doing their jobs.

Yes, the so-called progressives truly believe that bringing American union workers into the 21st century in line with the rest of the workforce is tantamount to dictatorship.

Yes, the so-called progressives truly believe that by walking off their jobs and out of their classrooms, they are “putting children first.”

If ever there were proof that public unions no longer work in the public interest, this is it. Big Labor dragoons workers into exclusive representation agreements, forces them to pay compulsory dues that fatten Democratic political coffers, and then has the chutzpah to cast itself as an Egyptian-style “freedom” and “human rights” movement.

Meanwhile, union leaders elsewhere are quietly forcing their low-wage members to share the sacrifice in order to preserve teetering health funds. In New York State, Skidmore College campus janitors, dining-service workers, and other maintenance employees received late notice from the SEIU that 4.15 percent of their gross earnings will now be deducted from their paychecks to cover the cost of the health plan provided through the behemoth 1199 SEIU Greater New York Benefit Fund. (If the name sounds familiar, it’s because this is one of several privileged SEIU affiliates that have received an Obamacare waiver.)

These workers are forced to join the union in order to preserve their jobs, and unlike non-union workers, they are locked into a single health plan. The SEIU has now decreed that they must pay new fees to include spouses on their plans and has hiked employee co-pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs.

What’s necessary for New York union workers is necessary for Wisconsin union workers — and for the rest of the protected union-worker class in bankrupt and near-bankrupt states across America. The “persuasion of power” so ruthlessly and recklessly exercised by the SEIU and its thuggish allies must be broken by the moral courage of fiscal discipline. It’s now or never.

— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies (Regnery, 2010). © 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

55% Say Obama’s Budget Doesn’t Cut Enough

55% Say Obama’s Budget Doesn’t Cut Enough
Wednesday, February 16/Rasmussen Reports

Most voters don’t think President Obama’s proposed $3.7 trillion federal budget includes enough spending cuts, and despite House Republican plans to cut substantially more, a plurality of voters don’t think the GOP goes far enough either.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 55% of Likely U.S. Voters say, generally speaking, that the president’s budget proposal cuts government spending too little. Ten percent (10%) say it cuts too much, while 26% say his budget cuts about the right amount. (To see survey question wording, click here).

While congressional Republicans are criticizing the president for not cutting enough and are planning much bigger budget cuts, 40% of voters say, generally speaking, that the changes proposed by the GOP also cut government spending too little. Twenty-eight percent (28%) say Republicans want to cut too much, while 18% think their planned budget cuts are about right. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure.

Republican voters are even more critical of the legislators from their own party. Fifty-one percent (51%) of Republicans say the changes proposed by congressional Republicans cut too little, a view shared by 41% of voters not affiliated with either of the major political parties. Forty-six percent (46%) of Democrats think the GOP wants to cut too much.
The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on February 14-15, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

As they have for years, most voters continue to feel that cutting taxes and reducing government spending are best for the economy. But only 60% of Americans recognize that 1954 was the last year that overall government spending declined from one year to the next.

Eighty-three percent (83%) of voters say they have been following recent news stories about the president’s 2012 budget which was made public on Monday. That includes 43% who say they have been following Very Closely.

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 59% of unaffiliated voters say the president’s proposed budget cuts too little. A plurality (49%) of Democrats says the planned cuts are about right.

Conservatives overwhelmingly think Obama’s budget cuts too little, and most say the same of planned GOP spending cuts. The majority of liberals say the president’s proposed cuts are about right but say planned Republican budget cutting is too much.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Mainstream voters say the president’s budget doesn’t cut spending enough, while 81% of the Political Class think the proposed cuts are about right. Nearly half (48%) of those in the Mainstream also think Republicans are planning to cut too little, while Political Class voters are evenly divided on the question.

Despite talk from congressional Republicans and the president’s State of the Union comments about debt reduction, 54% of voters think Congress is unlikely to make major spending cuts in the near future. Even though Republicans have taken over the House, voters still expect government spending, taxes and the deficit to go up over the next two years.

Fifty percent (50%) of voters oppose the new spending in areas like education, transportation and technological innovation that the president proposed in his State of the Union address. Forty-one percent (41%) support it.

By a 57% to 28% margin, voters believe that cutting government spending would do more to create jobs than building a high-speed rail network which is one of the president’s proposals.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Is Federal Spending Restraint Possible? Of course.

Is Federal Spending Restraint Possible? Of course.  by John Hinderaker/Powerline

This video by Dan Mitchell of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity is good background for a consideration of President Obama's FY 2012 budget proposal. It is easy to be defeatist about the prospects for getting federal spending under control, but, as Mitchell points, out there is hopeful precedent from both the Reagan and Clinton administrations:

In total, the administration's FY 2012 budget represents an infinitesimal, one-time cut when compared to current spending levels, followed by continuing, inexorable increases. In essence, it not only perpetuates but worsens the current spending levels that everyone recognizes are unsustainable. I will have more specific comments on the FY 2012 budget later in the day.

Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending

Two-Thirds of Wisconsin Public-School 8th Graders Can’t Read Proficiently—Despite Highest Per Pupil Spending in Midwest By Terence P. Jeffrey

Students from Appleton West High School protest a proposal by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that would make teachers pay a fraction of their own pension and health-insurance costs. (AP Photo/Sharon Cekada)

( - Two-thirds of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools cannot read proficiently according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest.

In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009—the latest year available [2]—only 32 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a “proficient” rating while another 2 percent earned an “advanced” rating. The other 66 percent of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below “proficient,” including 44 percent who earned a rating of “basic” and 22 percent who earned a rating of “below basic.”

The test also showed that the reading abilities of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders had not improved at all between 1998 and 2009 despite a significant inflation-adjusted increase in the amount of money Wisconsin public schools spent per pupil each year.

In 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Education, Wisconsin public school eighth graders scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. In 2009, Wisconsin public school eighth graders once again scored an average of 266 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test. Meanwhile, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil expenditures from $4,956 [4] per pupil in 1998 to 10,791 [5] per pupil in 2008. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator [6] the $4,956 Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1998 dollars equaled $6,546 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1998 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $4,245 in real terms yet did not add a single point to the reading scores of their eighth graders and still could lift only one-third of their eighth graders to at least a “proficient” level in reading.

The $10,791 that Wisconsin spent per pupil in its public elementary and secondary schools in fiscal year 2008 was more than any other state in the Midwest.

Neighboring Illinois spent $10,353 [5] per student in 2008, Minnesota spent $10,048 per student; Iowa spent $9,520 per student. Among Midwest states, Nebraska was second to Wisconsin in per pupil spending in its public schools, spending $10,565 per student.

Of these nearby states, only Minnesota did slightly better teaching reading to its public school students. In 2009, 39 percent of eighth graders in Minnesota public schools earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading, and the average eighth grade reading score in the state was 270 out of 500.

In Illinois, only 32 percent of eighth graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading, and the average eighth grade reading score was 265 out of 500. In Iowa, only 32 percent of eighth graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading, and the average reading score was 265 out of 500. In Nebraska, only 35 percent of eighth graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in their public schools, and the average reading score was 267 out of 500.

Nationwide, only 30 percent of public school eighth graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading, and the average reading score on the NAEP test was 262 out of 500.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress explains its student rating system as follows: “Basic denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade. Proficient represents solid academic performance. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter. Advanced represents superior performance.”

In other words, despite the $10,791 that taxpayers were paying to educate students in Wisconsin public schools, two-thirds of eighth graders in those schools showed at best only a “partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work” at that grade level.

In fiscal 2008, the federal government provided $669.6 million in subsidies to the public schools in Wisconsin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Union Bonds in Wisconsin Fray--non-public workers say "Go Walker!"

Union Bonds in Wisconsin Begin to Fray


JANESVILLE, Wis. — Rich Hahan worked at the General Motors plant here until it closed about two years ago. He moved to Detroit to take another G.M. job while his wife and children stayed here, but then the automaker cut more jobs. So Mr. Hahan, 50, found himself back in Janesville, collecting unemployment for a time, and watching as the city’s industrial base seemed to crumble away.

Among the top five employers here are the county, the schools and the city. And that was enough to make Mr. Hahan, a union man from a union town, a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker’s sweeping proposal to cut the benefits and collective-bargaining rights of public workers in Wisconsin, a plan that has set off a firestorm of debate and protests at the state Capitol. He says he still believes in unions, but thinks those in the public sector lead to wasteful spending because of what he sees as lavish benefits and endless negotiations.

“Something needs to be done,” he said, “and quickly.”

Across Wisconsin, residents like Mr. Hahan have fumed in recent years as tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs have vanished, and as some of the state’s best-known corporations have pressured workers to accept benefit cuts.

Wisconsin’s financial problems are not as dire as those of many other states. But a simmering resentment over those lost jobs and lost benefits in private industry — combined with the state’s history of highly polarized politics — may explain why Wisconsin, once a pioneer in supporting organized labor, has set off a debate that is spreading to other states over public workers, unions and budget woes.

There are deeply divided opinions and shifting allegiances over whether unions are helping or hurting people who have been caught in the recent economic squeeze. And workers themselves, being pitted against one another, are finding it hard to feel sympathy or offer solidarity, with their own jobs lost and their benefits and pensions cut back or cut off.

“Everyone else needs to pinch pennies and give more money to health insurance companies and pay for their own retirement,” said Cindy Kuehn as she left Jim and Judy’s Food Market in Palmyra. “It’s about time the buck stops.”

In Madison, the capital, which has become the focus of protests, many state workers and students at the University of Wisconsin predictably oppose the proposed cuts.

But away from Madison, many people said that public workers needed to share in the sacrifice that their own families have been forced to make.

The effort to weaken bargaining rights for public-sector unions has been particularly divisive, with some people questioning the need to tackle such a fundamental issue to solve the state’s budget problems.

But more often the conversation has turned to the proposals to increase public workers’ contributions to their pensions and health care, and on these issues people said they were less sympathetic, and often grew flushed and emotional telling stories of their own pay cuts and financial worries.

Here in Janesville, a city of about 60,000 an hour southeast of Madison, Crystal Watkins, a preschool teacher at a Lutheran church, said she was paid less than public school teachers and got fewer benefits. “I don’t have any of that,” she said. “But I’m there every day because I love the kids.”

In Palmyra, a small village bounded by farmland and forests, MaryKay Horter remembered how her husband’s Chevy dealership had teetered on the brink of closing after General Motors declared bankruptcy, for which she blamed unions.

Ms. Horter said she was forced to work more hours as an occupational therapist, but had not seen a raise or any retirement contributions from her employer for the last two years. All told, her family’s income has dropped by about a third.

“I don’t get to bargain in my job, either,” she said.

And in nearby Whitewater, a scenic working-class city of 15,000 that is home to a public university, Dave Bergman, the owner of a bar, was tending it himself on Sunday. He has been forced to cut staff and work seven days a week.

“There are a lot of people out of work right now that would take a job without a union,” Mr. Bergman said.

By some measures, Wisconsin, a state of 5.6 million people, has not suffered as much as other Midwestern states in the recession, according to Abdur Chowdhury, an economist at Marquette University.

Its unemployment rate, 7.5 percent in December, is lower than the nation’s. But a significant percentage of jobs lost in Wisconsin during the recession were in manufacturing, and this is a state where the proportion of the work force in manufacturing is among the nation’s highest.

Meanwhile, some of the state’s well-known companies — Harley-Davidson, Kohler, Mercury Marine — have recently sought concessions from their workers.

The battle over public workers has changed the tone in a state that prides itself on Midwestern civility. A growing number of homemade bumper stickers are popping up with messages like “Fire Them — Democrats Too.”

Among the state’s political leaders, the partisan gulf seems to have widened further. Traditionally, the state is nearly evenly split between Republicans and Democrats (along with a third group of independents) — making it a perennial battleground in presidential elections, with margins of victory that have sometimes come down to a matter of a few tenths of 1 percent. Wisconsin is the state that gave birth to government unions in the 1950s, but also to Joseph McCarthy, who railed against people he accused of being Communists.

“The Republicans are really Republicans here, and the Democrats are really Democrats, so the candidates who come out of primaries reflect that,” said Ken Goldstein, a political scientist from the University of Wisconsin.

Two years after the state elected President Obama by a wide margin, it elected conservative Republicans — some of them supported by Tea Party groups — to the state legislature, the Senate and the governor’s office.

The flip has emboldened Mr. Walker, the new Republican governor who has proposed the cuts to benefits and bargaining rights, arguing that he desperately needs to bridge a deficit expected to reach $3.6 billion for the coming two-year budget.

Union leaders have said they would accept the financial terms of Mr. Walker’s proposal. The more controversial provisions, though, would strip public employees of collective-bargaining rights.

In Whitewater, Ben Penwell, a lawyer whose wife is a public employee, said he saw no reason to strip away workers’ bargaining rights if they had agreed to benefit cuts.

“They’re willing to do what’s necessary fiscally without giving up rights in the future,” he said.

And Pat Wellnitz, working in his accounting office on Sunday, wondered why such bargaining provisions were needed if the real problem was simply saving money.

“That’s pretty drastic even for a staunch Republican,” he said.

But others suggested that unions had perhaps had outlived their usefulness. Carrie Fox, who works at a billboard advertising company, said she hoped that the battle would encourage other governors to rein in public- and private-sector unions.

“I know there was a point for unions back in the day because people were being abused,” she said. “But now there’s workers’ rights; there’s laws that protect us.”

A. G. Sulzberger reported from Janesville, and Monica Davey from Madison, Wis.

Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President

Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President

Lincoln and Clinton next on the list; Washington fifthby Frank NewportPRINCETON, NJ -- Ahead of Presidents Day 2011, Americans are most likely to say Ronald Reagan was the nation's greatest president -- slightly ahead of Abraham Lincoln and Bill Clinton. Reagan, Lincoln, or John F. Kennedy has been at the top of this "greatest president" list each time this question has been asked in eight surveys over the last 12 years.

Presidents Day, celebrated on the third Monday of February each year, officially commemorates the Feb. 22 birthday of George Washington. The country's first president is not regarded by Americans as the nation's greatest president, however. Gallup's Feb. 2-5 update shows that Washington comes in fifth on the list, behind Reagan, Lincoln, Clinton, and Kennedy.

In the eight times Gallup has asked this same "greatest president" question over the last 12 years, one of three presidents -- Lincoln, Reagan, and Kennedy -- has topped the list each time. Reagan was the top vote getter in 2001, 2005, and now 2011. Lincoln won in 1999, in two 2003 surveys, and in 2007. Kennedy was on top in 2000, and tied with Lincoln in November 2003.

Americans as a group have a propensity to mention recent presidents, not surprising given that the average American constantly hears about and from presidents in office during their lifetime, and comparatively little about historical presidents long dead. Four of the five most recent presidents are in the top 10 greatest presidents list this year -- Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, and Reagan.

Reagan Tops Among Republicans, Clinton Among Democrats

Americans clearly evaluate presidents through partisan lenses -- with Democrats and Republicans each most likely to choose a greatest president within their own party. Republicans name Reagan substantially more than anyone else, followed by Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, and then George W. Bush. Democrats are most likely to say that Clinton was the greatest U.S. president, followed by Kennedy, Barack Obama, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lincoln. Independents name Lincoln and then Reagan as top choices.

Use link for charts of all responses and by party:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I've joined 69000 citizens in Standing With Gov. Scott Walker via @afphq


Go to link; Sign the petition; Do it now; it only takes a minute.

Government debt now equals the entire US economy

Government debt now equals the entire US economy

The Washington Times reports:

President Obama projects that the gross federal debt will top $15 trillion this year, officially equalling the size of the entire U.S. economy, and will jump to nearly $21 trillion in five years’ time.

Amid the other staggering numbers in the budget Mr. Obama sent to Congress on Monday, the debt stands out — both because Congress will need to vote to raise the debt limit later this year, and because the numbers are so large.

Mr. Obama‘s budget said 2011 will see the biggest one-year jump in debt in history, or nearly $2 trillion in a single year. And the administration says it will reach $15.476 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, to reach 102.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — the first time since World War II that dubious figure has been reached.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The IRS seeks an additional $119 million to enforce ObamaCare

The IRS seeks an additional $119 million to enforce ObamaCare

Politico reports:

The IRS is asking for $119 million in additional funds to enforce the tax portions of the health care overhaul in fiscal 2012, including the 1099 provision that has been targeted for repeal by a bipartisan majority in Congress.

The money would go towards hiring hundreds of new full-time employees and set up an account that would fund new technology and infrastructure.

“Implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 presents a major challenge to the IRS. ACA represents the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years, with more than 40 provisions that amend the tax laws. Although the new law goes into effect gradually over many years, many provisions required immediate action,” the Treasury Department said in its presentation of the budget request.

The IRS also is asking for some $23 million to help taxpayers understand the new law and the changes coming in 2014. Some provisions of the law have already come into effect, including the small business tax credit and the tax on tanning. The implementation of the tanning tax will cost $11.5 million, the IRS estimates.

Opponents of the ACA have focused on the IRS request as proof the law continues to harm the country’s economy.

“As the IRS says, Obamacare represents the largest set of tax changes in more than 20 years,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “Adding hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars to the IRS isn’t going to make care better or more available for anyone. I will continue to fight to repeal and replace Obamacare with patient-centered reforms that help the private sector – not the IRS – create more jobs.”

Democrats defended the request.

"The IRS needs funding to implement hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits for small businesses and American families. If Republicans want to stop this funding and raise taxes on small businesses who are currently giving their workers health care, they should be honest about it," said a House Democratic aide.

© 2011 Capitol News Company, LLC


HOW DEEP ARE THOSE PROPOSED SPENDING CUTS? NOT VERY. “The next time you hear howls of anguish over deep, tough, painful cuts in the federal budget, you might want to ask yourself how you’d feel if you had 7 percent more to spend next year than you did last year.”

And among the accompanying graphics, the one on spending as a percentage of GDP should undercut any claims that Obama is just continuing Bush’s big-spending ways. Bush spent big. Obama is spending disastrously big.

Related: This budget is no way to Win The Future. Depends on who you’re winning it for, I guess.

 by Glenn Reynolds

The headlines appear to say it all. "Painful Cuts in Obama's $3.7 Trillion Budget." "Budget Director Calls Steep Budget Cuts Necessary." "Obama Budget Pivots From Stimulus to Deficit Cuts." "Cuts to Target Working Poor, Middle Class and Students." On and on they go.

But how deep are these cuts really? Take a closer look, and they turn out to be less than meets the eye.

Consider: President Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposes to spend $3.48 trillion on everything except interest on the national debt. That's a 7 percent increase over what the government spent in 2010. And keep in mind that in 2010, there was a lot of stimulus money flying out the door.

Source: White House Office of Management and Budget.If you look at a slightly longer-term picture, the spending cuts start to pale into even greater insignificance. Obama's budget would have the federal government spend twice in 2012 what it did just 12 years before. Even after accounting for inflation, that's a 57 percent increase.

Nor do the cuts look like much when you measure them against the economy as a whole.

In 2000, the last year Bill Clinton was in office, federal spending accounted for 18.2 percent of the economy. Obama's 2012 budget would soak up 23.6 percent of the economy, and by 2016, it would still account for 22.6 percent.

In other words, even if all the painful cuts the president is proposing were enacted, the federal government's share of the economy would be far higher than it was when the last Democratic president left office.

Still, President Obama is at least talking about crimping the spending hose a little, and in doing so he is taking plenty of heat from his own side of the aisle. He deserves credit for that.

But the next time you hear howls of anguish over deep, tough, painful cuts in the federal budget, you might want to ask yourself how you'd feel if you had 7 percent more to spend next year than you did last year.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Goodbye to All that (Bush Derangement Syndrome)— 2004-2007

Works and Days » Goodbye to All That — 2004-2007

Days of Rage

In times to come, the period between the failed campaign of John Kerry and the Democratic control of the Congress, coupled with the beginning of the successful surge, should be known as “The Insane Years.” This was the era in which Guantanamo was a gulag, renditions were the stuff of Hollywood movies, and Bush and Cheney were deemed veritable war criminals. Was it all a dream, those nightmare years of 2004-7?

I recall all that only because Oprah was just quoted as calling for more civility to be shown President Obama (“even if you’re not in support of his policies, there needs to be a certain level of respect”), echoing the president’s own post-Tucson insistence on a new amity between opponents. Bill Maher recently expressed outrage over the uncivil tone shown Barack Obama in Bill O’Reilly’s Super-Bowl Day interview. I think such concern for deference and conciliation is altogether fine and good; but, again, do we recall the crazy years of not so long ago?

This was the period in which Michael Moore called for U.S. defeat in Iraq and dubbed the Islamists who were killing our own soldiers “Minutemen.” Indeed, in April 2004, he wrote on his website: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow — and they will win….I oppose the U.N. or anyone else risking the lives of their citizens to extract us from our debacle…the majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe — just maybe — God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.” I think in the old days such sentiments of calling for the deaths of one’s countrymen were called “treasonous.” Yet, such ranting in and of itself was not surprising given Moore’s ideology and crassness. But what was inexplicable was the Democratic Party’s reaction to his mythodrama, Fahrenheit 9/11, and his royal presence at the Democratic convention of 2004, when all of the above was well known.

Oprah and Bill Maher, of course, were quiet when Nicholson Baker wrote the novel Checkpoint in 2004, imagining the death of George Bush — a topic that was the theme of a docudrama by Gabriel Range that earned him a first prize at the Toronto Film Festival. Wait. In fact, Bill Maher did say something a little more outrageous than Bill O’Reilly’s apparent rudeness (“very disrespectful”) shown President Obama. In early 2007, he said of an apparent assassination attempt against Vice President Cheney: “But I have zero doubt that if Dick Cheney was not in power, people wouldn’t be dying needlessly tomorrow. … I’m just saying if he did die, other people, more people would live. That’s a fact.”

The Age of No Civility

Such a weird era that was, when British liberals wrote letters to those in Ohio, beseeching Americans to vote against George Bush in the key battleground state. I recall an op-ed, widely circulated in 2004, in the Guardian by one Charles Brooker, with the infamous line, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley, Jr. — where are you now that we need you?” Did Oprah deplore that climate of violence? Was that “very disrespectful”?

John Glenn (“the old Hitler business”), Al Gore (“digital brownshirts”), and Senator Robert Byrd all evoked brownshirts and Nazis, in George Soros fashion, to demonize the president of the United States. Do we even remember how Cindy Sheehan and her rantings, often virulently anti-Semitic, were found useful by the Democratic Party? Hollywood made in those years a succession of money-losing, poorly scripted propaganda films on Iraq. Do we recall some of them (and why did the genre die after January 2009?) — In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Lions for Lambs, Redacted? Do we recall the legion of those who clamored to go into Iraq and in that era suddenly were blaming others for spoiling their three-week victory and not finding arsenals of WMD — as if the Congress had not voted for twenty-three reasons to authorize the war?

My god, I do remember 2007, when the New York Times gave a discount to for the ad hominem “General Betray Us” ad. Hillary that day suggested the general’s testimony required a suspicion of disbelief. Barack Obama assured us the surge had failed, and Joe Biden lectured Petraeus on trisecting Iraq — in the days before Iraq became, in Biden’s words, “our greatest achievement.”

Yes, yes, I remember those eerie times well. There was Jonathan Chait’s New Republic essay about why “I hate President George W. Bush.” (Oprah, where were you?) Garrison Keillor was more clever in his hate of Bush’s Republicans: “brown shirts in pinstripes.” Howard Dean, likewise now angry over the incivility of today’s politics, in that era declaimed, “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Do we recall the NAACP chairman of the time, civil rights movement veteran Julian Bond, saying of Bush & Co.: “Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and the Confederate swastika flying side by side”? (Oprah, where were you?)

So yes, bring on the new civility. Let us by all means respect the president and his office, and focus on his policies, not the person, agreeing when we can, disagreeing when we must. But, please, let us also never forget that not long ago things were not as they are now. Not by a long shot.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Reasons This Budget Won’t Win The Future. Hell, it’s not even winning the present.

REASON TV: Three Reasons This Budget Won’t Win The Future. Hell, it’s not even winning the present.

Thanks, Barry--ObamaCare=jobs lost and deficits up!

Thanks, Barry by John Hinderacker/Powerline

In what should be one of the major news stories of the day, but won't be, CBO director Doug Elmendorf testified before the House Budget Committee that Obamacare, if implemented, will destroy 800,000 jobs by 2020. Here is the key exchange with Congressman John Campbell:
REP. CAMPBELL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, we'll -- and Dr. Elmendorf -- and we'll continue this conversation right now.

First on health care, before I get to -- before I get to broader issues, you just mentioned that you believe -- or that in your estimate, that the health care law would reduce the labor used in the economy by about 1/2 of 1 percent, given that, I believe you say, there's 160 million full-time people working in '20-'21.

That means that, in your estimation, the health care law would reduce employment by 800,000 in '20-'21. Is that correct?

ELMENDORF: Yes. The way I would put it is that we do estimate, as you said, that the household employment will be about 160 million by the end of the decade.

Half a percent of that is 800,000. That means that if the reduction in the labor used was workers working the average number of hours in the economy and earning the average wage, that there would be a reduction of 800,000 workers.

In fact, as we mentioned in the -- in our announcements last summer, the legislation also creates (inaudible) that might affect the number of hours people work might affect the tendency to work with lower and higher income people. We haven't tried to quantify those things.

But the impact is that these 800,000 might not be exactly the number...



ELMENDORF: ... but the equivalent of withdrawing 800,000...

REP. CAMPBELL: Sure, but that's your best estimate at this point. You just pointed out that the health care law, also beyond 10 years, increases the deficit.

More unemployment, higher deficits: that is the legacy of the Obama administration.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

CPAC Presser: The great Pigford fraud from PJ Tatler

CPAC Presser: The great Pigford fraud from PJ Tatler

Rep. Michele Bachmann delivered opening remarks, noting that the Pigford scandal isn’t a partisan issue. She also hailed Andrew Breitbart’s role in gathering the facts on the massive fraud that Pigford has become. Congress has spent more than $1 billion on Pigford settlements and will spend another $1 billion, yet the black farmers at the heart of the story were done an injustice. They lost their land and have not been paid what is due them.

Andrew Breitbart delivered remarks, saying that Al Pires created a system to exploit black farmers in the South, who only numbered about 3,000 expected claimants at the outset. Pigford has ended up with about 94,000 claimants, thanks in no small part to Sen. Barack Obama’s sponsorship of a bill to extend Pigford when he was in the Senate. Meanwhile, black farmers who were actually discriminated against by the USDA were scammed to benefit the class action attorneys involved, who made a killing off of Pigford. The farmers, meanwhile, lost their land and continue to be victims of the entire process.

Film maker Lee Stranahan showed undercover video that he obtained, which proves that the lawyers involved defrauded the black farmers, while also teaching others how to scam the government out of money by exploiting the Pigford settlement. Stranaham’s undercover film also shows proof that Pigford is being used as a stealth reparations program.

Rep. Steve King delivered remarks following Stranaham. King looked into the Pigford settlements almost a decade ago, when a researcher delivered evidence to his office that about 75% of the Pigford I settlements were fraudulent. King noted that there were black farmers who were discriminated against, and they should be made whole. But the Pigford settlements have far exceeded the number of actual farmers who were harmed. King called for a congressional investigation into Pigford, to uncover the full extent of a “crime against the American taxpayers.”

Stranaham is showing clips of the full two-hour audio that will be released at Big Government today.

Cronyism Isn't Capitalism

Cronyism Isn't Capitalism By David Harsanyi

When will you wing nuts stop referring to our economic restructuring as "socialism"? Winning the 21st century is all about business.

This week, a pro-business Barack Obama implored the rent-seeking CEOs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to look into their sinister hearts: "Ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy and to invest in this nation."
Have our American businessfolk neglected to ponder the possibility that they could hire more employees and "support" the economy? Somehow I doubt it. But if corporate America is merely a cesspool of mindlessly selfish cretins who refuse to "invest" in the future by creating unproductive jobs to help build the subsidized ammunition we'll need to win future centuries, maybe they just need some prodding.

What we need is an economy run by technocrats to guide our business efforts through regulatory agencies, pick winners and losers, and mete out economic justice; business, as the president explained, should "share" their profits.

But which corporations are behaving admirably? Whom do we turn to in these dark times? Who can be bought to do the right thing?

"Right now, businesses across this country are proving that America can compete," Obama explained, listing a number of businesses that get it, such as Caterpillar, Whirlpool, Dow and a company named Geomagic.

All of these phenomenal success stories (thanks to Ira Stoll at the blog "The Future of Capitalism" for pointing this out) also share, in one way or another, the privilege of feeding at gov'ment's welfare trough. Oh, yes, these exemplars of good corporate citizenry prove they can compete in a marketplace with taxpayer funds. Which will no doubt make them more compliant with the administration's wishes.

General Electric's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, whom Obama recently appointed to lead his new panel on "job creation," understands this new reality. One of the nation's most effective cronies, Immelt's company has benefited from government bailouts, waivers and lines of credit. A real icon of capitalism, Immelt.

On a completely separate issue, Immelt has also supported every initiative the president has forwarded from the stimulus -- "Bold, visionary action!" -- and cap and trade (under which, unlike you, GE would benefit financially), and he embraces all the subsidies that come with the progressive green agenda.

It's comfortable, no doubt, to be insulated from failure and market-driven innovation and competition. But even an administration as uncontaminated by greed and corruption as Obama's may become susceptible to political favoritism as it offers an ear and help to those who help it.

Now, we hear that the putrid job situation -- kept at an illusory 9 percent through an exodus from the job marketplace -- has nothing to do with instability created by regulatory overreach in various departments of government. It has nothing to do with a $1 trillion federal deficit or a $14 trillion debt hanging over the entire economy. And it's got absolutely nothing to do with a new health insurance mandate that brings higher taxes and costs with every new hire a company undertakes.

If this were true, the administration wouldn't have had to grant more than 700 waivers -- 40 percent to unions representing only 7 percent of the private work force of the nation -- to help companies avoid the regulatory burden and cost of Obamacare even before all the goodness trickles down to the common man. These entities will be very grateful, no doubt.

But do we want more corporate welfare or less? Do we want more subsidized industries or fewer? What Obama has been championing might work for GE, but how it would work for the rest of us is a mystery.

Reach columnist David Harsanyi at

Copyright 2011 Creators Syndicate, Inc.

Friday, February 18, 2011

California taxes away jobs while Texas adds them

California taxes away jobs while Texas adds them

Part three of a five-part series

While many states have been struggling through the economic downturn, there's been a giant neon sign hanging over Texas that says "OPEN FOR BUSINESS."

California vs. Texas: Comparing a bust state to a boom state

Monday: Texas booms while California busts

Tuesday: Dividing taxpayer money among politicians

Wednesday: Texas adds jobs while California taxes them away

Thursday: California environmental regulations cause economic blackout

Friday: California unions stand in the way of a Texas-sized success

In 2008, 70 percent of all the jobs in the country were created in Texas. In 2009, all of America's top five job-creating cities were in Texas.

More recently, "Texas created 129,000 new jobs in the last year -- over one-half of all the new jobs in the U.S. In contrast, California lost 112,000 jobs during the same period," according to "Texas vs. California: Economic growth prospects for the 21st Century," a new report by the Texas Public Policy Foundation released in October.

Texas is home to 64 Fortune 500 companies -- more than any other state in the union. (California has 51 and New York has 56.) For five years in a row, Texas has topped Chief Executive magazine's poll of the best state to do business.

Meanwhile, California is ranked dead last in the Chief Executive's survey. California state treasurer Bill Lockyer even went so far as to pen a Dec. 20 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times denying "the claim that we have a hostile business climate."

So why are businesses flocking to Texas and fleeing California? Well, as a recent headline from The Economist put it, in California "They paved paradise and put up the parking taxes."

Texas has no personal income tax. With a top rate of 10.3 percent, California has the third-highest state income tax after Oregon and Hawaii.

The tax advantage goes much deeper. The Tax Foundation cites California as having the 33rd highest corporate income tax topping out at 8.8 percent -- much higher than Texas' modest 1 percent gross receipts tax on business.

California's capital gains tax is the highest in the country, whereas Texas levies no tax on capital gains. California's sales tax is the second highest in the nation and its energy taxes are the highest in the country.

And as California's taxes have gotten higher, the state's revenue has become more unstable.

"When you're taxing income that high you're not taxing wage income, your taxing capital gains and dividends, which is tying you to the most volatile form of taxation -- the corporate income tax," Kail Padgitt, economist and author of the Tax Foundations' annual State Business Tax Climate Index.

"That's the problem for California -- boom-time budgeting. Texas is more dependent on property taxes and stable forms of taxation and Texas' two year budget cycle requires more planning, and that's helped them."

The result is that California is inordinately dependent on taxing the wealthy, which has proven to be a poor economic strategy. The decline in tax revenues from households making over $200,000 accounts for 93 percent of California's total decline in tax revenues since 2007.

When states tax wealthy earners too much, they often get up and move to where the tax burden is lower -- such as Texas.

While high-tax states like California are foundering, not-tax states are thriving. From 1997 to 2008, Texas and the other nine states with no personal income tax created 89 percent more jobs and had 32 percent faster personal income growth.

The lessons learned from California's progressive taxation apply to the whole country. A 2008 survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found "taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States" -- even more so than socialist Europe.

If there are benefits of having high progressive tax rates, California shows that economic stability and job creation aren't among them.

Mark Hemingway is an editorial page staff writer for The Examiner. He can be reached at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Four Reasons Why Big Government Is Bad Government

At Obama's Department of Justice, It Is Politics First

At Obama's Department of Justice, It Is Politics First

The Department of Justice under Barack Obama and Eric Holder has been politicized to an alarming degree, as we have noted on many occasions. Today Chris Adams at Pajamas Media revealed another bombshell: the DOJ is systematically discriminating against "unfriendly" sources in responding (or not responding) to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. Adams spells out the pattern in specific detail; here is the conclusion:

Eric Holder's Justice Department has even politicized compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. According to documents I have obtained, FOIA requests from liberals or politically connected civil rights groups are often given same day turn-around by the DOJ. But requests from conservatives or Republicans face long delays, if they are fulfilled at all.

At Barack Obama's Department of Justice, it is politics, not justice, that comes first. The House Judiciary Committee should look into this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fact-Checking President Obama's Claim: 'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once'--YOU LIE!

Fact-Checking President Obama's Claim: 'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once'

From Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama:

O'REILLY: Do you deny that you are a man who wants to redistribute wealth.

OBAMA: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: You deny that?

OBAMA: Absolutely. I didn't raise taxes once. I lowered taxes over the last two years.I lowered taxes for the last two years.”

Let’s break down the statement, starting with Obama’s “I didn’t raise taxes once” claim. This assertion
is blatantly false, as President Obama has signed into law at least two dozen tax increases:
•Americans for Tax Reform, Obama Makes Super False Tax Claim: “I didn’t raise taxes once”; In Pre-Super Bowl Interview, President Obama Fumbles His Record on Taxes

The idea that Obama did not raise taxes is just plain wrong. He signed legislation raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products soon after taking office; that money goes to pay for children's health insurance programs. The law went into effect in 2009. He also signed the health care law, which includes taxes on indoor tanning that went into effect last year. (Regular PolitiFact readers will remember our fact-check of reality TV star Snooki and her complaint about the new tax last year.)

The new health care law also includes a tax on people who decide not to have health insurance, as an incentive for them to get coverage. The tax phases in gradually, starting in 2014. By 2016, the tax would be $695 per uninsured person up to a maximum of three times that amount, or $2,085. The law includes exemptions for people who can't find affordable insurance, and a few other special circumstances.

More significantly, the health care law includes new taxes on the wealthy, starting in 2013. Individuals who make more than $200,000 and couples that make more than $250,000 will see additional Medicare taxes of 0.9 percent. They will also, for the first time, have to pay Medicare taxes on their investment income at a 3.8 percent rate. (Current law is that all workers and employers split a 2.9 percent Medicare tax; the self-employed pay all of it.)

The small percentages may not sound like a lot, but those taxes are expected to generate $210 billion over 10 years, or just over half of all the new revenues the health care law authorizes. Other provisions include new fees on health insurance companies and prescription drug manufacturers, and a new tax on high-cost "Cadillac" health insurance plans.
•, President Barack Obama Says He Didn't Raise Taxes Once

The Presidency is demanding, and with the Egypt mess and his other duties, perhaps Mr. Obama has forgotten some of his tax achievements. Allow us to refresh his memory. In his historic health-care bill, for example, there is the new $27 billion "fee" on drug companies that is already in effect. Next year, device manufacturers will get hit to the tune of $20 billion, and heath insurers will pay $60 billion starting in 2014—all of which are de facto tax increases because these collections will be passed on to consumers as higher costs. Of course, these are merely tax increases on business.

As for tax increases on individuals, perhaps he forgot the health-care bill's new 0.9 percentage point increase in the Medicare payroll tax for families making over $250,000 and singles over $200,000. That tax increase takes effect in 2013, as will the application of what will be a 3.8% Medicare surtax (up from 2.9% today) to "unearned income" for the first time. This is a tax hike on investment and interest income, which will reduce the incentive to save and invest.
•Wall Street Journal editorial, 'I Didn't Raise Taxes Once': Refreshing the President's Memory

The Administration's FY 2012 Budget: A First Look

The Administration's FY 2012 Budget: A First Look  by John Hinderacker/Powerline
The Obama administration published its budget for Fiscal Year 2012 today, and headlines are full of references to the "cuts" it contains. But memories tend to be short, and I thought it would be interesting to compare the administration's 2012 budget to the first one it prepared, for FY 2010. The 2010 budget had projections for the following ten years, including, of course, a projected budget for FY 2012. So how does the administration's actual 2012 budget compare to the 2012 budget that it forecasted when it first took office?

In its 2010 budget, the Obama administration projected that in FY 2012, total federal outlays would add up to $3,662,000,000,000. In its actual FY 2012 budget, the administration is asking for total outlays of $3,729,000,000,000. That's right: the Obama administration has responded to skyrocketing deficits and heightened concern about federal debt by increasing the amount it is requesting for next year, compared to its projections of just two years ago, by $67 billion. Only in Washington is this a "cut."

Moreover, in its 2010 budget, the Obama administration projected that in FY 2012, it would run a deficit of $581 billion, or 3.5% of GDP. Now, the administration tells us that its FY 2012 budget will run a deficit of $1.1 trillion, or 7% of GDP, nearly double what it had projected. The press expects us to take seriously the claim that Obama's budget "would cut deficits by $1.1 trillion over the next decade." But it doubles the FY 2012 deficit, compared to its own projection of just two years ago. Why on earth should we take seriously the administration's new, revised projections for the next decade, grim as they are?

Some Republicans are describing Obama's FY 2012 budget as "business as usual," but it is actually worse than that. It represents an increase in federal spending and debt, compared to the administration's own stated plans. It is hard to imagine how an administration could foist a more cynical fiscal policy on the American public.

UPDATE: It is hard not to laugh out loud at news coverage like this in The Hill, which leads its story, with a straight face:

Steep cuts are necessary to rein in the deficit, President Obama said Monday in defending his 2012 budget.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Are Health-Care Waivers Unconstitutional?

Are Health-Care Waivers Unconstitutional? - Philip Hamburger - National Review Online

The president cannot simply decide who does and does not have to follow the law.

The constitutional dispute over the health-care law has thus far centered on the lawfulness of the statute itself — most dramatically when, last week in Florida, a federal judge held the act to be void. Waiting in the wings, however, is another constitutional question, one concerning not the statute, but waivers from it.

The Department of Health and Human Services has granted 733 waivers from one of the statute’s key requirements. The recipients of the waivers include insurers such as Oxford Health Insurance, labor organizations such as the Service Employees International Union, and employers such as PepsiCo. This is disturbing for many reasons. At the very least, it suggests the impracticability of the health-care law; HHS gave the waivers because it fears the law will cost many Americans their jobs and insurance.

More seriously, it raises questions about whether we live under a government of laws. Congress can pass statutes that apply to some businesses and not others, but once a law has passed — and therefore is binding — how can the executive branch relieve some Americans of their obligation to obey it?

The dangers of inequity are obvious. Will only corporations and unions get waivers, or can individuals also get them? For example, if a family physician feels financial pressure under the health-care law to fire one of his employees, will he get a waiver to avoid adding to unemployment?

Indeed, can even a small corporation get a waiver? Small businesses provide most new jobs, but the answer is obvious: Waivers are mostly, if not entirely, for politically significant businesses and unions that get the special attention of HHS or the White House. The rest of us must obey the laws.

As it happens, waivers have a history. In the Middle Ages, the pope granted waivers, known as dispensations, and English kings soon followed suit. Technically, these grants relied on what were called “non obstante clauses” — clauses in which the king specified that, notwithstanding a particular law, the recipient of the grant could do as he pleased. Supplementing this dispensing power was the suspending power. Whereas a dispensation waived compliance with a statute for a particular individual or corporation, a suspension waived compliance for everyone.

The underlying justification was that the king had absolute power — a power above the law — and this caused consternation. Men had speculated about God’s power to perform miracles or otherwise act above His own laws, and it was troubling enough that the pope, in imitation of God, excused individuals from canon law; but it was even more immediately worrisome that the king now was dispensing with statutes and sometimes suspending them, for this suggested that he had power above the law of the land. Recognizing the danger, the chronicler Matthew Paris in 1251 lamented the introduction of dispensing grants in England. These clauses, he complained, amounted to saying, “Notwithstanding any old liberty, the matter shall proceed.” This sort of provision allegedly provoked a judge — Roger de Thurkeby — to sigh, “Alas! Alas!#…#The civil court is now tainted by the example of the ecclesiastical one, and by the sulphurous spring the whole river is poisoned.”

By the late 17th century, Parliament restricted the suspending and dispensing powers. English kings used the suspending and especially the dispensing power for theoretically good purposes, such as to ensure religious toleration. In acting above the law, however, and thereby freeing others from the law, these monarchs revealed the danger of the suspending and dispensing powers.

After the Revolution of 1688, in the English Declaration of Rights, Parliament declared the royal exercise of either power to be illegal, except where authorized by statute. As a result, what nowadays are called “waivers” were lawful only by legislative delegation.

Americans went even farther: In their state constitutions, they followed the English pattern of recognizing legislative delegation of the power to suspend laws, but they entirely rejected the dispensing power. The suspending power seemed to be a specialized, temporary type of legislation, and its legislative character was so widely accepted that when state constitutions established their legislatures, they did not have to spell out that the legislative power included a power to suspend. Instead, the state constitutions merely provided that the suspending power should never be exercised except by the legislature or under its authority — the goal being to leave room for legislative delegation of the suspending power to the executive. ... (Use link for page 2)

Read page 2:

Obama displayed redistributionist, socialist beliefs to C of C

"If we're fighting to reform the tax code and increase exports, the benefits cannot just translate into greater profits and bonuses for those at the top. They have to be shared by American workers, who need to know that opening markets will lift their standard of living as well as your bottom line," President Obama told the Chamber of Commerce on Monday morning."

Monday, February 14, 2011

NAACP won’t directly address racism leveled against Clarence Thomas at progressive protest

NAACP won’t directly address racism leveled against Clarence Thomas at progressive protest « The Daily Caller – Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment By Matthew Boyle

The NAACP won’t directly address the racism displayed by progressive protesters outside a summit hosted by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch at the end of January in Palm Springs, Calif., but the organization did call for an end to all “vitriolic language.”

In response to The Daily Caller’s request for comment on a video showing progressive protesters calling for somebody to “string up” African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, or “send him back into the fields” or “cut off all his toes and feed them to him one-by-one,” NAACP spokesman Hilary Shelton pointed to the organization’s recent resolution calling for a “civil political discourse.”

“Last summer, the NAACP passed a resolution calling for a civil political discourse,” Shelton said in an e-mail to TheDC. “We continue to call on all Americans to abandon vitriolic language. It serves as a distraction from the real issues our society need to address and distorts the challenges we as Americans have to confront to make our nation greater still.”

Shelton would not, however, address the content of the video directly.

WATCH: Progressive protesters make racist remarks at rally outside conservative summit

This isn’t the only time in recent years that the NAACP has chosen not to condemn racism directed against black conservatives, according to Deneen Borelli, a fellow with the black conservative group Project 21. Borelli has called on Shelton and the NAACP to denounce racist remarks she has received as recently as last summer.

Appearing together on Fox News Channel’s “Geraldo At Large” in mid-July, Borelli asked Shelton if he and the NAACP would issue a public statement condemning racist remarks that have been directed against her.

Shelton answered her by saying, “Why, yes, ma’am. Just give us some details. The very broad answer is: Yes, we repudiate anybody calling you a bad name in the political arena.”

WATCH: NAACP spokesman tells Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli he would denounce racist remarks against her

Borelli says she sent the evidence of the racist remarks directed against her for being a black conservative to Shelton and the NAACP in late July 2010, but the self-described “civil rights” group has yet to release any statement. Shelton, according to Borelli, hasn’t even acknowledged receiving the documentation.

One of the sample e-mails Borelli sent to Shelton reads: “You faggot niggas need to be lynched by the Klan. I pray a nightrider strings up every one of you no count good for nothing niggas, it would serve you right for trying to think that these crackers love you. I hate a house nigga worse than I do a Klansman. Rot in hell you scurvy dogs. I would laugh to see you body strung up. It would save us real brothers the time and trouble to do it.”

The NAACP ran a full court press campaign against alleged racism within the Tea Party movement in the months preceding the 2010 midterm elections, and launched websites like that featured video and reports from left-wing advocacy group Media Matters, liberal blog ThinkProgress and misleading video-journalist duo New Left Media. But, the NAACP didn’t address the racist remarks made toward black conservatives during that same time period, including Borelli.

Borelli told TheDC that she sees a double standard.

“My takeaway is the significant double standard that is displayed here when it comes to what we’ve witnessed on this video versus how black conservatives are also attacked and the NAACP remains silent,” Borelli said in a phone interview. “The NAACP, and I’m sure you know this, they were basically hired by George Soros to track racism in the Tea Party movement.”

The NAACP did condemn racist attacks against former black secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Read more:’t-directly-address-racism-leveled-against-clarence-thomas-at-progressive-protest/

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Proving the shameless hypocrisy of hard left--hate speech

The PJ Tatler » So Much For Civility

So Much For Civility

The silence of liberals is sometimes just as revealing as what they say. What would be the reaction if protesters at a Tea Party rally were heard saying the following about Attorney General Eric Holder?

• He should be impeached and “put… back in the fields.”

• We should “cut off his toes one-by-one and feed them to him.”

• “I’m all about peace… but I would say torture” him.

• “String him up… and his wife, too.”

• “Hang him.”

Of course, none of these vile, racist and violent things were said about Eric Holder at a conservative political rally. But they were said at a liberal protest affiliated with a Common Cause-sponsored conference on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on January 30 in Rancho Mirage, California. This was captured on video by an independent journalist.

This has been well covered by conservative opinion and news websites – Bryan Preston posted the video on The Tatler last Thursday. But unlike what happened just a few weeks ago, information about this protest and what was said have not made it to the front pages of liberal media outlets. It has been more than a week since this information surfaced; yet there have been no loud calls denouncing such violent rhetoric from the Left. In fact, it has pretty much been ignored.

As Deneen Borelli of Project 21 correctly says, “calls for torture and lynching are not a matter of left and right – they are always wrong.” Bryan asked where the Southern Poverty Law Center and the NAACP were. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for liberal websites to cover this or for organizations like the NAACP to denounce it, given the double standards they have long exhibited in their unfair and degrading criticisms of principled black conservatives like Justice Clarence Thomas.

'Death Panels' Revisited How Sarah Palin helped defeat ObamaCare's deceptive advertising.

'Death Panels' Revisited How Sarah Palin helped defeat ObamaCare's deceptive advertising. By JAMES TARANTO

"At a time when there is virtually unanimous agreement that health care reform is needed in this country, it is hard to invalidate and strike down a statute titled 'The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,' " Judge Roger Vinson observed Monday in his ruling in Florida v. HHS, which did just that.

It would have been a lot harder had ObamaCare enjoyed wide political support. But it did not and does not. Americans never bought the bill of goods that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and their supporters in the formerly mainstream media tried to sell. A good deal of the credit goes to Sarah Palin, for coining the phrase "death panel" in an August 2009 Facebook post.

Four months later, a project of the left-leaning St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, named the phrase "lie of the year":

Her assertion--that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care--spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, "Death panels? Really?"

In truth, PolitiFact was more vulnerable to the charge of lying than Palin was, for its highly literal, out-of-context interpretation of her words was at best extremely tendentious. What she wrote was this:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Palin put the term "death panel" in quotes to indicate that she was using it figuratively. She was not lying but doing just the opposite: conveying a fundamental truth about ObamaCare. Proponents were describing it as a sort of fiscal perpetual-motion machine: We're going to give free insurance to tens of millions of people and reduce the deficit! As a matter of simple arithmetic, the only way to do that is by drastically curtailing medical benefits.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions," Palin wrote. ObamaCare necessarily expands the power of federal bureaucrats to make such decisions, and it creates enormous fiscal pressures to err on the side of death. Whether it establishes literal panels for that purpose is a hair-splitting quibble. By naming this "lie of the year," PolitiFact showed itself to be less seeker of truth than servant of power.

President Obama, meanwhile, treated Palin's criticism as a joke. As we noted at the time, he told a New Hampshire town meeting: "The rumor that's been circulating a lot lately is this idea that somehow the House of Representatives voted for 'death panels' that will basically pull the plug on grandma because we've decided that we don't--it's too expensive to let her live anymore." The transcript records that the audience laughed at this callous "joke."

The perpetual-motion claim wasn't the only deception at the heart of the argument for ObamaCare. Consider the individual mandate, whose unconstitutionality was the center of Judge Vinson's ruling. In a footnote, Vinson quotes a critic of the idea as observing, "If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house." Guess who? digs up the full context:

"Both of us want to provide health care to all Americans. There's a slight difference, and her plan is a good one. But, she mandates that everybody buy health care. She'd have the government force every individual to buy insurance and I don't have such a mandate because I don't think the problem is that people don't want health insurance, it's that they can't afford it," [then-Sen. Barack] Obama said in a Feb. 28, 2008 appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' television show. "So, I focus more on lowering costs. This is a modest difference. But, it's one that she's tried to elevate, arguing that because I don't force people to buy health care that I'm not insuring everybody. Well, if things were that easy, I could mandate everybody to buy a house, and that would solve the problem of homelessness. It doesn't."

Obama ran for office on opposition to the individual mandate, then made it the centerpiece of his signature legislative initiative. Perhaps this should have been "lie of the year." At, it wasn't even a runner-up.

And what is the individual mandate, anyway? In September 2009, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos argued in an interview with the president that it is a tax increase. Obama strenuously denied it and indeed accused Stephanopoulos of dishonesty: "For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. . . . George, you--you can't just make up that language and decide that that's called a tax increase."

By last July, the administration was--well, just making up that language and deciding that that's called a tax increase. As even the New York Times reported:

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government's "power to lay and collect taxes."

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

Lie of the year? Nope, again not even a runner-up. The winner for 2010, announced Dec. 16, was "The Democrats' health care reform law is a 'government takeover of health care.' " This was a "lie," PolitiFact averred, because the government did not formally nationalize the health-insurance industry via the so-called public option.

The same day that PolitiFact was announcing its 2010 "lie of the year," an exchange in Judge Vinson's courtroom was giving the lie to it. As Bloomberg reported:

"We've always exercised the freedom whether we want to buy or not buy a product," Vinson told the Obama administration's lawyer.

[Justice Department lawyer Ian] Gershengorn said health insurance is "a financing mechanism," not a product. "It's not shoes," he said. "It's not cars. It's not broccoli."

As we wrote at the time:

Under the scheme envisioned by ObamaCare, in which insurers would be obliged to cover all comers, a medical policy would no longer be insurance--that is, a contract to indemnify the policyholder against risk. It would instead be, as Gershengorn describes it, a "financing mechanism" for medical services. . . . Because participation would be mandatory, the "premium," and not just the penalty for failure to pay it, would effectively be a tax.

In a famous 2003 video, Barack Obama, then an Illinois state senator, declared, "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal health-care program." That is, Obama wished for a system of outright socialization of health-care costs, in which the government would pay for medical treatment using tax dollars. ObamaCare differs from such a system only in that ostensibly private insurance companies act as the government's middleman, collecting the taxes and paying the benefits.

"Government takeover," like "death panel," is a true description of ObamaCare's essence. These phrases are "inaccurate" only in that they cut through formal distinctions designed to deceive the public. (We wish we could use a barnyard vulgarity in place of the unwieldy clause "formal distinctions designed to deceive the public," but The Wall Street Journal is a family newspaper.)

"Death panel" was especially effective at cutting through the hockey. Lots of people warned about rationing, but, as PolitiFact grudgingly acknowledged, it was Palin's vivid language that "launched the health care debate into overdrive. The term was mentioned in news reports approximately 6,000 times in August and September, according to the Nexis database. By October, it was still being mentioned 150 to 300 times a week."

Many of these media mentions were disparaging, "raising issues," as PolitiFact prissily puts it, about "the bounds of acceptable political discussion." In other words, Palin's statement was widely propagated by journalists who thought it "unacceptable." Americans recognized the essential truth of Palin's words and strongly opposed ObamaCare.

Palin got the truth out with the help of journalists determined to bolster the deceptions at the heart of ObamaCare. She was instrumental in winning the political argument that looks increasingly likely to render ObamaCare's legislative victory a Pyrrhic one. Sarah Palin outsmarted the formerly mainstream media simply by being blunt and honest. That is why they burn with a mindless rage against her.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Liberals For Lynching--They couldn't find this at Tea Party rallies

Liberals For Lynching  by John

In my experience, both violent rhetoric and racism are primarily found on the left--I am tempted to say, almost exclusively on the left. So scenes of liberals behaving badly shouldn't come as any surprise. If you haven't already seen it, this video by Christian Hartsock was shot at the Common Cause rally in Palm Springs. The demonstrators--mostly the usual suspects who were bused in--protested a meeting that was being held by Charles and David Koch. Hartsock describes the event at Big Government.

We were then ushered outside to the parking lot across from the hotel in which the Koch brothers were holding a meeting, whereupon we were encouraged to yell at the building, decrying not only the Kochs, but Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia for their Citizens United ruling. Oh, and Fox News while we were at it.

We were joined by at least half a dozen busloads of public sector union members and common demonstrators from AFFCE, The Ruckus Society, 350, Greenpeace, Code Pink, and the Progressive Democrats of America, among others, without whose valuable contributions to the yelling, the rally would've been just a lousy bust. Video camera in hand, I purposely engaged them to get beyond their programmed talking points, only to find some rather colorful agenda items - particularly for Justice Thomas.

Here is the video:

To some degree, Hartsock egged on the leftists by pretending to be one of them. But there is no way to sugarcoat the crude hate that these liberals displayed
This is, of course, exactly the kind of footage liberals have hoped to get at Tea Party rallies for the last year and a half. They have failed, because this kind of hate-mongering is pretty much unknown among conservatives

The British Disease, Coming Soon to a Bureaucracy Near You

The British Disease, Coming Soon to a Bureaucracy Near You By Roger Kimball

A specter is haunting America, the specter of public-sector unions.

You’ve seen New Jersey Governor Chris Christie confront the teachers’ union [1]. You’ve seen him confront the police union [2]. Unless you happen to belong to one of those unions — and possibly even if you do belong to one of them — you have probably cheered Christie’s honest, no-nonsense approach to the fiscal emergency brought on by out-of-control public sector unions.

You cheered him, figured he was winning, and turned the channel.

No so fast. We’ll see what happens with unionized state and municipal workers in New Jersey. Christie just might make a difference, and bully for him if he does.

But what about the larger problem of federal unionized employees? How are we doing there? As you may have noticed, Barack Obama is no Chris Christie when it comes to dealing with unions (or anything else, for that matter). Instead of confronting them, he coddles them — and why not? They are his most reliable constituency, indispensable to the livelihood of the contemporary Democratic Party. He takes care of them, and they “encourage” their members to vote for him and other Democratic candidates. It’s a time-tested formula.

Consider, to take but one example, Executive Order 13522 [3], which Barack Obama signed in December 2009. The stated purpose of “Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services” is “to establish a cooperative and productive form of labor-management relations throughout the executive branch.”

But, as an editorial in the Washington Examiner points out, this anodyne bureaucratese conceals a worrisome power-grab by — or, more accurately, a power-gift to — the unions. It provides for what the Examiner’s editorialist calls an injection of “a massive dose of the British disease into the daily operation of the federal government.”

Remember Britain in the late 1970s? There were labor strikes, shutdowns, slowdowns everywhere. “Company owners and managers,” the Examiner reminds us, “had to secure prior approval from union bosses before carrying out even the most routine workplace tasks. As a result, productivity plummeted, and exports of once-popular British products like cars and motorcycles dropped sharply or disappeared entirely. Economic growth stagnated, investors fled overseas, and the country’s standard of living declined.”

Executive Order 13522 is supposed to “improve delivery of government services.” But as the Examiner points out, the only thing that will be improved is the ability of union bosses to tell managers of government agencies what they may and may not do.

Not only that, but you, the public, won’t even know what is going on:
What makes this an even more extraordinary turn of events, however, is the fact the Obama administration has empowered union bosses to exercise this new power behind closed doors without fear of exposure via the Freedom of Information Act.

Another victory for “the most transparent administration [4]” in history.

Once again, the devil is in the diction. Savor the use of the phrase “pre-decisional involvement”:

According to a recently distributed guidance memorandum signed by Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Jeffrey Zients, federal managers must “allow pre-decisional involvement with unions in all workplace matters to the fullest extent practicable, without regard to whether those matters are negotiable subjects of bargaining.”

Use of the term “pre-decisional” means documents produced prior to a specific policy decision are exempt from disclosure under the FOIA. And requiring federal managers to involve union bosses on all matters regardless of whether they are negotiable under the law effectively gives them a veto on virtually any workplace issue. Such power represents the essence of the British disease and thanks to Obama, it’s now established policy in the federal workplace.

In other words, the only thing the public, the people paying for all this, will ever see is a series of faits accomplis. Along, of course, with the bill in the form of higher fees/taxes and more burdensome regulations and bureaucratic intrusiveness.

I suspect that the person or committee writing Executive Order 13522 (think about that: there are at least 13521 others!) had at least a little sense of humor, for there is this lovely sentence: “Labor- management forums, as complements to the existing collective bargaining process, will allow managers and employees to collaborate in continuing to deliver the highest quality services to the American people.”

Got that? The order will help The Bureaucracy to continue “to deliver the highest quality services to the American people.” What a card!

But that’s the only funny moment the order contains. For what it presages is another giant engorgement of an insatiable anti-democratic bureaucracy that is teetering out of control. The unions brought Britain to knees in the 1970s. It took Margaret Thatcher to break them and restore sanity and prosperity. Is there a Thatcher on the horizon for us?

Article printed from Roger’s Rules: