A Badge Does Not Make You King

It appears that the store owner did not like having a black man sitting outside his shop. The female cop decided to first harass and then arrest this man for the crime of sitting in public.  If no crime has been committed then the officer is not entitled to your name.  This sort of behavior keeps the charge of institutional racism alive in politics today.  The police are the problem in this instance.  When enough police thuggery occurs, we get rioting in the vein of Ferguson, Watts, etc.  The fact is that race hustlers like Jackson and Sharpton make their living off of incidents like this.  Polite society should not tolerate a single instance of police behaving as in such a manner.   Charges should be filed.  If the officers are found guilty, badges should be collected, pink slips handed out, and the officer spend some time behind bars contemplating the price of violating the public trust.

The man, identified by the City Pages Blog in Minneapolis as Chris Lollie, was waiting to pick his kids up from day care.   He was heading towards them, patiently speaking to the female police officer when the male officer arrived, behaved hyper-aggressively and decided Chris was going to jail for the crime of walking in a mall.  The price Chris had to pay for respectfully asking for his right to be left alone was to receive an electric shock from a tazor.

Previously I wrote an article about police attitude of dread towards the public in general.  Reason magazine provides a money quote on the issue:

If it’s a war zone out there for cops, it’s the “civilians” that often seem most at risk.

Police aggression is rooted in two things: fear and entitlement. The sense that an officer is always right is most notable when the Blue Wall is in play.  It only feeds the us v. them mentality, and if an officer speaks up, even to another officer in confidence he may experience pressure to recant.  This all or nothing attitude will pave a road to hell.

Being reasonable, does not require you to put up with police harassment. Being reasonable, does not require you to give your name to the thug with a badge who is on a power trip.  Chris Lollie was respectfully refusing to comply with an illegal demand made by the Officer.  Our right to live free from harassment and privacy is being eroded steadily.  The police deserve our gratitude for the work they do.  They do not deserve to behave as our lords and masters.  Mr. Lollie is dead right when he said, “You don’t rule me!”

The Police Are Going Rogue II

kellythomasafter_thumb_5I wrote previously about the horrific death of Kelly Thomas.  The police ended this man’s life and did it brutally, acting more like predators than police.  I hate to see such behavior as the actions of these cops only make it harder on the rest who are doing a tough job.

In Georgia a teen, Christopher Roupe, 17, of Euharlee, was shot answering his own front door.  Why?  The officer mistook the Wii controller in his hand for a pistol.  Chris dreamed of joining the US Marine Corps.  Chris had no record.  The officer, Beth Gatny, broke down into tears, but the department is insisting that Christopher had a gun.  If so, why the tears?  390-wii-0219Why is the police department trying to defend the indefensible?  Obviously the officer at the door was in fear for her life before the door was opened.  Why was she in this frame of mind?

A big part of the issue is the police have become highly fearful of the public they are supposed to be protecting. “A cop is killed every 58 hours.”  OK.  There are over 1 million police in our country.   The life of each cop is worth preserving.  Still two questions need to be answered, first “What caused the officer’s death?”, and, “Is the police response & threat posture relative to the threat reasonable?”

When it comes to fatalities an officer is in more danger when driving than he is interacting with the citizenry.  48 Officers died last year in traffic accidents; 33 were shot. This is the lowest number since the 1880’s.  The issue then is police response and expectation of danger.  The numbers demonstrate that the civilian populace is not gunning our police down.

The question is why are the police so fearful, and thereby trigger happy, given that statistically they are not in much greater danger than the rest of us, given the mortality rates?  Policing is a tough job, but there are 14 jobs in the US more dangerous.  The narrative that it is a jungle out there throughout the nation is false.  We have far lower rates of crime than at any point in the past 50 years.  Violent crime rates are DOWN more than 66% since 1973 according to GALLUP.  When one considers that violent crime is focused in big cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Camden and Detroit – the attitude of the police and the public at large outside of these jurisdictions only becomes more perplexing.

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The fear in the ranks of the police is real. The militarization of the police is real. The Us v. Them worldview is real. The three combined is a dangerous cocktail. Deescalation is in order.  Frankly is is past due.  Over 5000 people have been killed by the police since Sept 11, 1991.  That is more than the number of soldiers that where killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  This is an alarming statistic.

The narrative that police are under siege is doing the public a disservice – last year over 400 people where kill by the police. This narrative is breeding police who are fearful and suspicious of the citizen living in their jurisdictions.  The nation has to walk itself back from the path it has taken.  The war on crime.  The war on drugs.  The war on gangs.  Every crime fighting initiative is couched in a martial tone and the end result is a militarized police force, divorced from the community, and far too ready to use lethal force.

You’re Eight Times More Likely to be Killed by a Police Officer than a Terrorist.

Police training needs to shift its focus from SWAT tactics back to community policing.  The number of SWAT teams in the US has grown exponentially.  We simply do not need that many SWAT teams.  The crime statistics do not demonstrate such a need.  They need to take off the flak jackets both physical and mental.  Police need to  be retrained to de-escalate situations instead of taking SWAT’s military approach of subdue and defeat.  The police should not be in a wartime frame of mind.  They are peace officers, deputies, constables.  They are not warriors or soldiers.  Our law enforcement personnel work by and large in peaceful environments.  Their policing and methods should reflect this.

The 2016 Republican nominee better have an alternative to Obamacare

There is a lot of discussion about the effects and wisdom of the Halbig decision, including some amusement at the site of a leading Obamacare architect turn himself into a rhetorical pretzel. However, one thing that has not really been addressed is the need to be serious about “repeal and replace.”

Republicans need to remember that if the Supreme Court actually follows the D.C. Circuit Court panel and knock down all subsidies in states that do not have their own exchanges, millions will find themselves with unaffordable health insurance – and likely go back to the ranks of the uninsured. When that happens, the GOP needs to be ready with an alternative health care reform plan that brings these people back into the insurance market, while reducing the effect of the government’s “invisible foot” in health care in general.

The earliest the Court will hand down a decision is the summer of 2015 (and it could be the summer of 2016). Either way, it will land somewhere in the presidential campaign, meaning the Republican candidate(s) need to spend some time addressing this issue, or get drowned out by the Democrats screaming, “Republicans ended the subsidies and deprived millions of health care just to score political points against Obama.”

Of course, there is plenty of space for right-of-center health care reform: ending the tax-favoritism towards group plans, breaking the AMA’s de facto monopoly on health care prices (handed to them by the federal government), addressing the health-care-provider shortage with supply side economic reforms specific to that industry, etc.

If the defeat of 2012 taught us anything (besides never nominated a TARP backer again), it taught us that an unpopular plan (Obamacare) still beats no plan (Romney’s complete lack of an alternative). The dynamics of a post-Halbig American will drive that lesson home even further. The Republican ticket in 2016 will either learn that lesson, or lament their defeat.

Cross-posted to RWL

Ed Gillespie says GOP “learned a lesson,” then proves it by opposing Ex-Im Bank

Roughly a month after he earned the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, Ed Gillespie – consummate Establishment man – spoke to Rick Sincere (a.k.a., the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner) about his campaign going forward. He addressed head on complaints about his former employer, President George W. Bush (emphasis added).

“The difference between Republicans and Democrats,” he told the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner at Claudius Crozet Park, “is, I think, Republicans have learned a lesson.”

Continuing, he noted that “the fact is, I agree that when Republicans had the House, the Senate, and the White House that we spent too much money.”

That experience from the first decade of the 21st century, he added, “pales in comparison to what the Democrats did when they got control of all three – the House, the Senate, and the White House – but that’s not enough.”

What was far more important, however, was Ed’s first example of a government program that needs to go:

One (program) that I have said already that I believe should not be reauthorized and doesn’t deserve to be continued in funding is the ExIm Bank.

If Gillespie has talked about winding down Ex-Im, I missed it, but that’s my problem, not Ed’s.

The point is this: Ed Gillespie’s willingness to put the “Bank of Boeing” on the chopping block is a sign he really has “learned a lesson” about the Republican Party’s mistakes. For a fellow of his Establishment pedigree to openly oppose the Bank is an excellent sign.

I had my concerns (driven by TARP) about Gillespie before the nomination, but he is the party standard bearer now, and more importantly, his opposition to Ex-Im reveals that he does indeed know the party needs to go in an anti-corporatist direction.

Good for him, good for the Republican Party, and very good for Virginia.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Obama is Rewriting Obamacare … Illegally

The constitutional scholar does not appear to understand what are the legal, legislative limits of the US Presidency.  Senatorial Candidate Sasse of Nebraska is pointing this out brilliantly.  The one year delay of the employer mandate was nothing but a political maneuver, to help get his fellow Democrats elected in 2014.  Obama is now telling Holder to not enforce the law. Obama is declaring that insurance companies do not have to follow the ACA’s regulations for a period of one year … arbitrarily.   This is but another maneuver to help Democrats get elected in 2014.  What is worse is that it is illegal,  Obama does not have the power to choose what parts of a law are to be enforced.

It appears that the worse thing that can happen for Obama and the Democrats is that the ACA Web Portals will start to work flawlessly … for then people will see what is in store for them under this misbegotten law.  It appears that even though only 50,000 have signed up, some one million have visited and decided not to enroll. The saw the deal and decided to walk away.  These plans would not survive in a free market.  Which is why this laws proviso’s focus more on tax collection and the IRS than on healthcare delivery.  You can keep your plan only if Obama and his liberal cronies like it — the arrogance is this is mind blowing.

Our sagging, battered Republic, is supposed to be a nation of laws, not men.  Obama is president.  Not a king.  Obama cannot change laws at a whim.  He must go through the congress.  Obama does not get to choose which parts of a law or our Constitution he and Holder will enforce.  Obama swore an oath to uphold the constitution he is shredding.  Obama is nosing us into a constitution crisis with his criminal behavior.  Our nation is at a cross roads — ‘the way forward’ means vastly different things to different people.  The progressive ideals of government control being required to bring about equal outcomes does not work outside of academia, Obama must realize this if he is to be able to finally lead.  Critically Obama must finally realize that he is President of the entire United States, not just the King of the Democrats of Chicago.

Obama Lied, Healthcare Died

Watching Obama attempt to gain control and manage one sixth of the U.S. economy by executive fiat is painful; the President is not even following the guidelines of his namesake law.  I cannot help but experience sadness for I take no pleasure watching the suffering of the 5 million people who have lost their insurance. I take no pleasure in our country looking like a laughing stock because of the abysmal state of the healthcare exchanges.  We look like a third world country – the incompetence is on display every day.

I see this law doing exactly what was predicted by its opponents. It is wrecking havoc on our economy. How many small businesses have laid off their full time workers in anticipation of this law?  I see our nation made smaller by this law.  I see this nation harmed by this law.  It is tragic.  I see the overweening hubris of this president on display; the health care ship is sinking and Obama thinks he can raise it up from the waves with an executive order and a speech, for working with congress is beneath him.

Can’t Obama swallow his pride and finally sit down across the table from speaker Boehner and work out a deal that will satisfy both parties?  That is the true nature of a bipartisan deal, both sides give a little and both sides win.  A win-win outcome is unthinkable to the community organizer.

What is not beneath Obama is lying to the American people.  He will not compromise with congress, or negotiate with the representatives of the people, but he is willing to fabricate from whole cloth untruth to sell a half baked plan for remaking healthcare in America:

Obama, Aug. 15, 2009: I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening, if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health care plan.

Obama, June 28, 2012: First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable.

This statement, or its equivalent, was repeated some thirty times to the American people.  The President knew that this was a blatant untruth from the beginning.  He repeated it.  Like Obamacare, the President owns this.

As if that was not enough, all who opposed this were cast in the worst light.  There was never any compromise in the writing of this bill.  No disagreement was tolerated.  For Obama there was no legitimate reason why 2700 pages of legislation should be subject to scrutiny or amendment.  It was war by other means:

Obama, March 25, 2010: From this day forward, all of the cynics, all the naysayers, they’re going to have to confront the reality of what this reform is and what it isn’t.

In the end without a single Republican amendment, or vote, the Democrats pushed this mess through the process.  It became law even though many of the rules of the senate were broken along the way.  The Democrats own this law.  It is theirs and theirs alone.  It is causing a lot of pain.  They own that pain.

The result of this legislation:

  • Doctors are retiring in record numbers.
  • Hospitals are closing in record numbers.
  • Employers are laying people off in record numbers and hiring part time help to replace them.
  • The labor participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1978 – back when most women still stayed home from work.  We have over 90,000,000 adults not working.
  • Medical schools have seen a sharp decline in enrollment.
  • Medical research and development is dropping off.

This is being saved?  This is reform?

We are heading toward a system of rationing and stagnant innovation.  We will see a drop in Physician quality as medical schools will allow those less qualified to enroll as the best and brightest are now going elsewhere.  We will have longer waits before patients are seen for serious issues.  Our cancer survival rate is currently far better than Europe’s.  This advantage will disappear.  The worst of it is that it still won’t be fair because Congress and Obama’s political allies will be exempt from Obamacare.  What is tragic is that vast majority of the the uninsured … will remain uninsured.

Obama lied about what this law would do.  It raises premiums and lowers service.  It does not save the American public money, it raises the cost of healthcare by over 40%.  It bankrupts many in the middle class in the name of fairness — how this is fair escapes me.  It is a tax on the middle class to support the poor.  It is a tax on the healthy to help the sick.  It is a tax on medical innovation and excellence.  It is a tax on life, as the old and sick will be given pain medication to ease their passing instead of treatment to improve their condition.  Obama lied. Our nation’s healthcare died.

About that sequester…

One of the amber-encased pieces of conventional wisdom regarding the sequester is that the Administration has no room to maneuver on what spending it can reduce. The sequester demands across-the-board, so it gets across-the-board, supposedly.

Byron York (DC Examiner) explains how that is completely untrue:

Congress tells executive branch agencies how much money they can spend and how they should spend it. Sometimes the instructions are broad, and sometimes they are quite detailed. Cabinet secretaries and lower-downs are bound to work within those congressional directives.

But if Cabinet officers want to spend the money differently, there is a long-established process for doing so: They ask Congress for permission. It happens all the time, with lawmakers routinely giving the executive branch the OK to spend money in different ways than originally planned.

That could be happening now. All those Obama administration officials complaining about across-the-board cuts dictated by sequestration could come up with plans to make the same amount of cuts in ways that would create fewer problems for federal workers and services. Then they could ask Congress for permission to do so. Lawmakers would say yes, and things would be fine.

But it’s not happening. And the fault is not with Congress.

In recent weeks, House Republicans have been virtually begging administration officials to ask for permission to move money around. If one program could be more easily cut than others, those Republicans say, just ask us, and we’ll let you do it.

“We sent out on Feb. 28 a letter to every Cabinet officer asking them what changes they’d like to have — pluses, subtractions and so on — to give them an opportunity to show us at least one program they would like to have cut, which would then save on sequestration,” Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in an interview Tuesday night. “We did not receive a single answer.”

In other words, any federal department that wanted to prioritize funding during the sequester could have asked Congress to let them do it. In fact, they still can. They’re just choosing not to do so. Congressional Committee chairs have even asked the Departments why they haven’t come forward asking for the authority to move money around in order to protect what they (the Departments) think are vital programs. The Education Department responded: “The wheels are turning.” This is the same Education Department that claimed the sequester would lead to teacher firings…

The last quote from Chairman Issa says it all: “If you find programs that you can cut altogether or programs that you can combine, the authority for it would be only hours away.”

Yet the Administration that can scream bloody murder to any camera in sight…has no answer for Congress.

Maddening.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

DHS: Never Mind The Terrorists – Beware Of Wet Mittens!

Our vaunted Department of Homeland Security, mocked for once having had color-coded terrorist alert levels, is now issuing warnings to stretch before you shovel snow and “change wet clothing frequently.”

I thought DHS was a bad idea to begin with when it was first proposed (Homeland Security — gee, isn’t that the job of the Department of Defense?), but now it has devolved to this level of lunacy.

This isn’t the first time that DHS has delved into the realm of the trivial, but it is now abundantly clear that this is a needless cabinet department that merely duplicates the mission of the more capable Defense Dept.  The next Republican president should abolish it.

Bill Whittle outlines the way forward for conservatives

An excellent and practical video. It’s well worth the hour you’ll spend watching it, and for those of us who have been extremely discouraged by the results of the election, Bill give a gracious-but-firm kick in the butt!

Please vote Yes on Question 1 in Virginia

Amidst the whirl and rush about the candidates, there is a critical ballot initiative up in Virginia tomorrow. Question 1 would enshrine in the state constitution private property rights against eminent domain – rights that were presumed to be in the federal Constitution until the Kelo decision.

This is an excellent example of the dangers of relying to heavily on the federal document – which does little to restrain overreaching state and local governments even with Amendments IX and XIV. This proposed amendment to the Virginia Constitution would put a badly needed limitation on a document ratified in the Big-Government-knows-best era (1971, to be exact).

So please vote Yes on Question 1.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Loudoun BOCS Once Again Shows Up PWC

WMAL reports this morning that the Loudoun Board of County Supervisors will vote tonight on whether to launch an investigation to determine if long-time Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio improperly used county resources to benefit his political campaign. A former staffer has charged that he made her do campaign work on county time in county offices.

Time will tell if there is anything to this or whether this is just a disgruntled former employee and he will exonerated. That said, Loudoun’s BOCS is doing the right thing in at least taking the first step to decide if an investigation is warranted or not.

Contrast that with Prince William County’s Board where for months there has been mounting public evidence, not just disputed allegations, that multiple BOCS members including Brentsville’s Wally Covington, Neabsco’s John Jenkins, and Potomac’s Maureen Caddigan have used county resources, staff, and funds for political purposes. What has the PWC Board done to address this? NOTHING. Not a peep as to whether this is something that should be looked into. If their intention is to solidify the county’s reputation as a corrupt backwater jurisdiction, they’re doing a heck of a job at accomplishing it. Is it any wonder that the region’s high tech firms and defense contractors largely bypass PWC in favor of Loudoun and Stafford counties respectively?

Kudos to Loudoun for doing the right thing to address the appearance of impropriety and continued shame on PWC for sweeping its growing pile of dirt under the rug.

UPDATE:  The Loudoun BOCS has unanimously voted to go forward with an independent investigation.

At the board meeting Wednesday, the supervisors unanimously supported a motion by board Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) to retain an outside party to investigate the allegations against Delgaudio. The board authorized up to $15,000 to fund the investigation, the results of which will be addressed publicly, York said.

York reiterated that Mateer’s complaint had been previously provided to Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney James E. Plowman (R), who referred it to the commonwealth attorney’s office in Arlington County. That office did not recommend pursuing charges against Delgaudio, York said.

Excellent supply-side analysis from John B. Taylor on the weak recovery

John B. Taylor – an economist at Stanford University – provides a vital supply-side explanation for the weakness in the post-Great Recession recovery since 2009. On his Economics One blog, he compares the post-2009 recovery with it’s post-1982 counterpart.

One measure of the difference between the regulatory policies in the two recoveries is shown in the next chart. It compares the number of federal workers engaged in regulatory activities in the years before and during both recoveries. Note that in the early 1980s the number of federal workers in these regulatory areas was declining, in sharp contrast to the situation now, even when TSA workers are excluded as in this chart.
 
While correlation does not prove causation, regulations, whatever their benefits, tend to raise the cost of doing business and thus discourage business expansion and economic growth.

As I teach my students in every economics class I teach, business see regulations as costs. Higher regulation means higher cost, which decreases supply. In the microeconomic world, that means price rises and output falls. Expanded to macroeconomics, higher regulations across the economy means higher cost to business across the board, meaning aggregate supply (as we call it) falls or is held back, as does economic output.

Unfortunately, far too many policymakers in Washington have listened too long to economists too heavily focused on aggregate demand – not aggregate supply. Republicans began listening somewhat to supply-siders in the 1980s, but the deeper supply-side argument regarding the economy was drowned out in the cacaphonic argument over the Laffer Curve. The supply-side view is about more than just taxes, however; it is focused on all cost to businesses, and how they impact economic growth.  This is not just an American phenomenon either. The halls of power and punditry in Great Britain are full of discussion over what “supply-side reforms” Britain needs to get out of its double-dip recession.

One can only hope the voters, who have seen the aggregate-demand-obsessed-Keynesian “consensus” disappear before their eyes over the last few years, can understand this, although it would help if the Romney-Ryan campaign made this a topic of discussion.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

Breaking Government’s Power Vaccuum

A guest post by Charles Cooper. Previously released at
Freedom Forge Press.
In America, government is a system. It is a system whose object is to promote freedom for her people. It is no mistake that the system manual, the Constitution, puts almost all of its emphasis on restraining the system instead of restraining the people.

And yet, our system grows in scope and power every year—often to the detriment of her people’s freedom. Our government may have recently met the only restraint that could contain it, the availability of money. Yet Congress sweeps this problem under the rug and out of view while concealing the ever growing financial crisis that if left unchecked threatens to throw the country into economic ruin sometime in the near future.

The only goal of our government is to ensure the most freedom for the greatest number of our citizens. Everything else is up to those citizens and to some extent, luck. To achieve this goal, the Constitution limits government’s power—not the liberty of its people. But how do we the people ensure that the government obeys its own supreme law? I would suggest, as a means of containing government, is an establishment of the scope of government as an absolute. The only thing Government can do that individuals cannot is use force to achieve an end, moderate disputes among her people, and make agreements with our fellow nations.

Second, we must agree on three principles as fundamental and then integrate them into a staged-gate algorithm where failure at any one stage prevents something from becoming a law. These principles are:

1. Equality: Toward that end, all people will be treated as equal under the law without regard for any characteristic or choice they have made.

2. Property Rights and the right to contract: All people will have without fail the fundamental right to own property and to make bargains and trades as they see fit. Two consenting adults make an agreement.

3. Justice: Government cannot correct for the natural results of decisions made by people. It will only be allowed to interfere where some fraud or other violation of rights has occurred.

Through those filters, the algorithm for law making looks like this:

1. Is the purpose of the bill to enable freedom, choice, or otherwise create the opportunity for people to further their potential? Yes, continue to the next question. No, stop here: this is not a question for our government.

2. Does the law apply equally to all citizens all of the time? Yes, continue to the next question. No, stop here: this is not a legal action for our government.

3. Is there a private sector, market based solution currently in place? Yes, stop here: this is not an issue for government. No, continue to the next question.

4. What is the best approach for solving this issue, creating a market or creating a law? If market, then create a private sector solution. If Law, continue.

5. By now, you’ve found that Government only has two purposes, defending the people and their rights and ensuring that people reasonably uphold contracts. Everything else belongs to the states or the people, and I question the role of the states outside of the same algorithm.

Every individual in this world has a “power pie” that divides neatly into only two pieces. Those pieces are the power that one has and the power that one gives away. In order for all people to achieve their full potential, they must retain as much power as possible. It is no wonder, then, that when the Government of the United States was so small and constrained, our people achieved so much. Government is a power vacuum, drawing on your potential, feeding itself and growing larger and stronger. This is why every generation is called on to fight for its freedom. This is why the fight to constrain government seems so futile and so lost.

But the fight for freedom and to limit government’s power is not futile: a biannual peaceful revolution is built into our government, every four years a complete revolution at the ballot box. It is designed to allow for a reset constraining its growth. This begs the question, where is the will to reset? Where is the will to eject the specter of power from its place of establishment?

The answer is just as simple. The will to reset government’s seeming one-way track to more power and more resources is in each of us. The desire to make our own destiny instead of accepting a mundane fate of common outcomes and common mediocrity pervades who we are as a people. We must seize on this desire to be free and act on it by choosing elected representatives who share a love of freedom before the cost of our patience is blood.

GOP Prez. Candidates Side-By-Side Competitiveness Plans

Continuing Virtucon’s series of side-by-side comparisons of GOP candidates’ stances on the key issues using their own words from their websites, we now turn to the issue of Competitiveness.

Newt Gingrich Ron Paul Mitt Romney Rick Santorum
Eliminate the thirty-nine White House “Czar” positions created during the current administration. The president does not have the authority to appoint bureaucrats to power who are not accountable to the Congress.

 

Oppose all unfunded mandates and unnecessary regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Veto any unbalanced budget Congress sends to his desk.

Refuse to further raise the debt ceiling so politicians can no longer spend recklessly.

Fight to fully audit (and then end) the Federal Reserve System, which has enabled the over 95% reduction of what our dollar can buy and continues to create money out of thin air to finance future debt.

Legalize sound money, so the government is forced to get serious about the dollar’s value.

End the corporate stranglehold on the White House.

Repeal Obamacare.

Repeal Dodd-Frank and replace with streamlined, modern regulatory framework.

Amend Sarbanes-Oxley to relieve mid-size companies from onerous requirements.

Initiate review and elimination of all Obama-era regulations that unduly burden the economy.

Impose a regulatory cap of zero dollars on all federal agencies.

Require congressional approval of all new “major” regulations.

Reform legal liability system to prevent spurious litigation.

 

Cut spending by $5 trillion over 5 years.

Repeal ObamaCare and other onerous regulations .

Cut non-defense spending to 2008 levels.

Support legislation to prevent members of Congress from being paid if they don’t pass fiscally responsible spending bills on time.

Pass a balanced budget amendment to discipline Congress and limit federal spending to a maximum of 18% of gross domestic product.

Eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s federal housing role.

Reduce non-defense related federal workers by at least 10% and eliminate all energy and most agriculture subsidies.

Goal is for the American economy to be growing at least 4% to 4.5% a year in his first term as president, more than double President Obama’s; by one estimate this would help create 10 million jobs in three years.

Implement reforms and cost savings of up to $100 billion contained in the March 2011 GAO report on duplication and waste.

Review all spending cut proposals and restructuring reforms of the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, American Enterprise Institute, and the Simpson-Bowles Commission for additional savings.

Promote tort reform and alternatives to litigation for federal policies and programs; and incentivize the states to expand these reforms across our economy.

VA House Dems Have Some Good Ideas On Government Reform

Several news outlets are reporting today on a series of government reform ideas being put forward by House Democrat leaders in the Virginia General Assembly.  Chief among them is a proposed constitutional amendment allowing Virginia governors to serve two consecutive terms rather than the “one and done” (with an option to return later) system we are currently operating under.

Del. Bob Brink of Arlington said this makes the governor “a lame duck the minute he takes his hand off the bible.”  He is exactly right and is also correct in the impact this has on long-term issues.

According to the WashPo:

The proposed constitutional change was part of a broader package of government reform measures that Democrats intend to push in the coming General Assembly session. Many of the other measures are aimed at improving government transparency.

They included proposals to: record all subcommittee votes; require a hearing and favorable committee vote before a bill comes to a floor vote; and conduct all governor’s commission meetings in public.

The Democrats had several other proposals aimed specifically at the budget process. Those include reexamining all tax credits and requiring that the budget conference report be made public at least 24 hours before it comes up for a vote.

These are positive, constructive items which for the most part can probably win broad bipartisan support.  The item mandating a hearing and favorable committee vote before a bill can come to a floor vote may have to be tweaked in order to address emergency matters and there may have to be some executive session provisions relating to governor’s commission meetings where a portion of a meeting may be closed to discuss personnel / legal / contract matters.

On the whole, though, this seems to be a pretty solid proposal.  (What a difference the departure of Ward Armstrong makes!)

I would add a few additional provisions here including party registration for voters who wish to be enrolled with a party (primaries could then be restricted to party members or party members and unenrolled voters) as well as listing the party affiliation of all candidates who are nominated by a party on the ballot so we can finally get rid of the annoying “sample ballots” that volunteers must pass out every year.  Right now, only federal and state level candidates are listed with a party affiliation while local candidates are not.  Nonpartisan offices (school board, town council, etc.) could remain so or else could also be changed.

There may never be a better time than now to sweep away the remnants of the old Byrd machine and bring Virginia politics and government into the 21st century.

. . . and they call it austerity

I have written before on how Greece continues to do “austerity” in a bass-ackwards, counterproductive, and useless manner.

Sadly, they are still at it. Check out the latest attempt (New York Times):

Still, the plan to cut 30,000 jobs is modest by any measure. It amounts to about 4 percent of the public work force and would affect mostly people close to retirement. They would get a soft landing, too: 60 percent of their pay for a year while they remain in a “reserve” pool. After that, those who did not retire or find another job in the administration would be laid off.

In other words, for a full year, the would-be laid-off workers get 60% of their salaries; then they may be let go. Throughout this entire wrenching ordeal of tax hikes, salary cuts, and pension reductions, not a single government job has gone by the boards. As I mentioned earlier, the Greeks want to cut the cost of government without cutting the size or scope of government – and it just doesn’t work that way.

Not that the Times gets it either:

Greece’s Constitution grants its public servants lifetime tenure.

That is not correct. The actual Article (#103) states that “Civil servants holding posts provided by law shall be permanent so long as these posts exist.” They can’t be fired without an insane review process, but their positions can be eliminated.

Yet Greece’s left-wing government refuses to let any public sector worker go (in no small part because the public sector is its political base – and it should be noted that the center-right opposition didn’t exactly “mind the store” very well when it was in power before 2009). Instead, they are trying, literally, austerity on the cheap.

Good luck with that.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

About last night . . .

No bones about it, last night’s New York result was a defeat for the Republicans – period. Had Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-gadfly Jack Davis won 20% of the vote – or even 15% – perhaps some solace could have been taken for the GOP. Instead, he only won 9%, meaning just about every would-be Republican voter was gleaned from him. Tellingly, he did worst in the home county of the Democrat who won - Kathy Hochul. Hochul took 48% of the vote as it is; the idea that over 80% of Davis’ votes would have gone to Republican Jane Corwin is nonsense. The Republicans lost. Full stop.

That said, Hochul and the Democrats revealed their strategy – scare everyone over 50 to death on entitlements – with more than a year to go until Election Day 2012. That gives the GOP time to make adjustments, and as any NBA or NFL fan will tell you, adjustments decide the game. Whether the Republicans will make the correct adjustments is another issue. We shall see.

Moreover, we’ve already been down this road with upstate New York. Lest we forget, the Democrats took New York’s 23rd from the GOP in 2009. In fact, the Dems kept NY-20 NY-23 in 2010, and we saw what that meant to the rest of the country.

Finally, it should be noted that this district in western New York had been electing pro-life Republicans to Congress for over 40 years (Jack Kemp, Bill Paxon, Tom Reynolds, and Chris Lee). Corwin, by contrast, was not a pro-lifer. In this district, that almost certainly hurt her.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

The rubber’s about to hit the road in New York

It’s time for the New York state legislature to take up the state budget: usually a comedy of errors, waste, and graft that makes New Yorkers squirm.

Once again, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is trying to bring back the millionaire’s tax and nix the dramatic Medicaid reform deal that includes a cap on medical malpractice awards (New York Post). Meanwhile, one Republican in the State Senate has already said he’ll back the millionaire’s tax, for “smaller class sizes” (Post again). The Republicans barely control the State Senate, and the NY GOP is hardly known as a valiant defender of the taxpayer. Even now, they’re borrowing from the discarded handbook of the pre-2008 Virginia GOP and trying to open the door for local tax hikes (NYP).

Observing all of this – and unhappily – is Governor Andrew Cuomo, who repeated his threat to effecitvely shut down state government if his no-new-taxes budget is not approved (NYP). Cuomo’s continued opposition to the almost-phased-out millionaire’s tax remains one of the many fascinating aspects of this budget fight. If Cuomo wins – still a large if – he would be one of the very few Governors who managed to cut taxes in the midst of the Great Recession, and probably the only one with a D next to his name.

The budget deadline (and expiration of the tax – which hits income earners at one-fifth its namesake) is April 1, less than three weeks away.

Cross-posted to RWL

Scott Walker is Right…

…and he explains how recent history shows that both public workers and the taxpayers will benefit from the collective bargaining reform for government-employed workers.

First, Walker provides an example on how the unions are preventing the improvement of education…

In 2010, Megan Sampson was named an Outstanding First Year Teacher in Wisconsin. A week later, she got a layoff notice from the Milwaukee Public Schools. Why would one of the best new teachers in the state be one of the first let go? Because her collective-bargaining contract requires staffing decisions to be made based on seniority.

Ms. Sampson got a layoff notice because the union leadership would not accept reasonable changes to their contract. Instead, they hid behind a collective-bargaining agreement that costs the taxpayers $101,091 per year for each teacher, protects a 0% contribution for health-insurance premiums, and forces schools to hire and fire based on seniority and union rules.

My state’s budget-repair bill, which passed the Assembly on Feb. 25 and awaits a vote in the Senate, reforms this union-controlled hiring and firing process by allowing school districts to assign staff based on merit and performance. That keeps great teachers like Ms. Sampson in the classroom.

Later in the article Walker points out that the contributions workers will be asked to make are very modest (still enviable), and even gets a little jab in at the hypocrisy of the Obama administration’s stance on this issue in Wisconsin…

While it might be a bold political move, the changes are modest. We ask government workers to make a 5.8% contribution to their pensions and a 12.6% contribution to their health-insurance premium, both of which are well below what other workers pay for benefits. Our plan calls for Wisconsin state workers to contribute half of what federal employees pay for their health-insurance premiums. (It’s also worth noting that most federal workers don’t have collective bargaining for wages and benefits.)

Yet, Walker putting state employees on the same level as most federal employees is, according to Barack Obama, an “assault” on unions and working Americans?  Give me a break!  The hypocrisy of Obama’s attempt to disparage Walker is palpable, here.

Here’s where recent history comes into play, and bolsters Walker’s position and disproves the unions…

When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.

Truth hurts, doesn’t it?

The fact of the matter is, if you are guaranteed your salary because you have tenure and because your union is given so much power, you have no incentive to do your job to the best of your ability unless you’re one of the rare few who do it for “the love of the job”.  Most people will do their best for the love of the job, but they want to be recognized and rewarded for their performance.  People like having an incentive to do more than a merely satisfactory job.  It gives you something to strive for…besides simply earning another year in tenure.  Unfortunately, the public worker unions wouldn’t allow that in Wisconsin.

Now, the government employees in Wisconsin won’t have to worry about waiting around for tenure to protect them…now, the quality of their job performance will protect newer employees from the chopping block, should layoffs ever come.  If that’s not incentive to step it up your performance (and, in turn, create more efficient and effective public services that cost less in taxpayer dollars), I don’t know what is.

Now, before you go and comment that I’m somehow anti-union, and that I don’t know anything about why unions are a “good thing”…it should be known that my father is a retired DC Firefighter and he was a member of the IAFF (Local 36), and he agreed with this.  It should be known that my mother is a teacher and a current member of the NEA, and she agreed with this.  They recognize the facts in this matter, and they don’t see where the teachers or the other public workers are going to be hurt by this.

On Wisconsin!

When most Americans think about hotbeds of political drama, Wisconsin normally doesn’t register. History says something different: Wisconsin was the birthplace of the modern Republican Party, the Progressive movement (arguably), and Joe McCarthy’s career (inarguably).

Today, to hear it as the left calls it, Wisconsin is supposedly the front line in a battle to kill unions. I’m sure it will be a shock to learn it isn’t quite so.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker - in an attempt to keep his state out of the red – is proposing legislation that would make public employees contribute some to their retirement (they contribute nothing now) and more to their health insurance premium costs. He also wants to tweak the public-employee labor laws – and this is what led the mob to descend upon the state capital and, in some cases, threaten Republican lawmakers.

Again, to hear the left say it, Walker wants to destroy collective bargaining and unions – never mind that not even FDR supported the public-sector unions he and the GOP is “targeting.”

In fact, of course, there’s a lot less than meets the eye (WTMJ – Milwaukee):

Unions still could represent workers, but could not seek pay increases above those pegged to the Consumer Price Index unless approved by a public referendum. Unions also could not force employees to pay dues and would have to hold annual votes to stay organized.

Union-busting? Hardly. It does lessen the power union bosses would have over their own members (by making dues voluntary and forcing the union to be re-elected, as it were, every year), and that, I suspect, is why union leaders are acting like their thuggish predecessors and elected Democrats are on the lam.

Falling for the union bosses’ rhetoric is foolish. Amplifying it (as in current DNC Chair and would be Senate candidate Tim Kaine is doing) is flatly reprehensible.

Cross-posted to RWL

Christie throws down the gauntlet to House Republicans

So House Republicans trying to work their way through entitlement reform are hearing from Teabrewers, party activists . . . and the Governor of New Jersey (Weekly Standard):

This afternoon at the American Enterprise Institute, New Jersey governor Chris Christie said he wants House Republicans to “put up or shut up” on entitlement reform and had a message for those candidates he campaigned for in 2010: “If the people who I campaigned for don’t stand up and do the right thing, the next time they’ll see me in their district [it will be] with my arm around their primary opponent,” Christie said. “Because you asked me to put my reputation on the line for you based on a promise that you were going to deal with these hard issues.”

I know several Teabrewers who themselves wouldn’t go that far – at least not yet, anyway.

Christie then approached the “third rail” of American politics . . . and french-kissed it (WS again):

“What’s the truth? The truth that no one’s talking about?” he said. “Here’s the truth that nobody’s talking about: You’re gonna have to raise the retirement age for Social Security.”

“Whoa ho! I just said it, and I’m still standing here,” Christie exclaimed, as the audience laughed. “I did not vaporize.”

“We have to reform Medicare because it costs too much and it is gonna to bankrupt us,” Christie continued. “Once again, lightning did not come through the window and strike me dead.

“And we have to fix Medicaid because it’s not only bankrupting the federal government, it’s bankrupting every state government.

“There you go. If we’re not honest about these things–on the state level about pension benefits and on the federal level about Social Security, Medicare, and Mediciad–we are on the path to ruin.”

“I did not vaporize!” Good one, Guv.

I would add this: if the Republicans win control of the NJ legislature in November, it’s much more likely Christie runs for President. He’s smart enough to know any hint of doing so now will embolden the Democrats who control the legislature (and who are currently cowed into submission by him). They can them claim his crisis talk was all a ruse to win primary votes, and reclaim some of the political capital Christie took from them. With a GOP-controlled legislature, that goes away – and unless Trump or Giuliani manages to catch fire (the former is possible; the latter, inconceivable, IMHO), the field will be wide open for a budget-cutter from the Northeast.

You heard it here first; unless I’m wrong, in which case, you didn’t hear anything.

Cross-posted to RWL

The Deficit Commission votes down the Co-Chairmen’s proposal . . .

. . . and after some consideration, I’ve decided that’s a good thing.

After the initial release of the first draft won so much applause, I was inclined to support it. Then I began to look at the details, and the more I saw of it, the less I liked it.

In fact, its early response showed nothing else but how inured we have become to the cowardice and ignorance that has infected the nation’s capital. It’s the only way this could ever be considered “brave” or “groundbreaking.”

There are five reasons why I could not support the Co-Chairmen’s proposal.

The spending “cuts” are mythical: As Veronique de Rugy noted in her post on NRO‘s Corner, under the Commission’s plan, spending actually rises by nearly 50% – or $1.6 trillion in ten years. Health spending practically doubles during that time (so much for Democare “bending the cost curve”). Instead of cutting spending, the Co-Chairmen simply slow down spending growth. Furthermore, there are no mechanisms in place to lock in the slower growth long term. Have we forgotten the early 1990s, when two different “deficit-reduction plans” under two different presidents of different parties relied on tax-hikes now and spending cuts later? In both cases, he tax increases slowed the economy (and made hash of the revenue projections) while the spending cuts were forgotten and ignored.

Democare isn’t touched: Despite an election in which the party calling for its repeal won nearly 60% of the House and over 67% of Senate races on the ballot one month ago, the “bipartisan” co-chairs swallow the budget-busting health-care deform whole.

Entitlements are largely unchanged: Hardly anything is done to Medicare and Medicaid, while Social Security’s retirement age doesn’t get changed beyond “current law” until 2027 (by which point, according to Jim Bacon, the game will already be up). I am repeatedly stunned by how so many in Washington refuse to notice that Americans under 40 have no expectations of Social Security, and therefore some more forceful changes here would be welcomed. I’m beginning to think that any reform effort that still has yours truly receiving a Social Security check in my lifetime is a sham. Perhaps that’s just me; then again, I also know that the program was started to keep seniors from dying in 1935, and the rest is a de facto Ponzi scheme that, had it been started in the private sector, would have landed its founder in prison.

The tax increases will devastate the economy: Now, just to be clear, I’m not talking about removing the tax credits and tax deductions that have repeatedly triggered the Christmas tree metaphor to describe the tax code. However, those phase-outs should be entirely matched by rate reductions, not partially matched by them. Net tax increases are not beneficial to the economy, and for that reason never get the revenue they’re projected to gain anyway. This is especially true in this case because the Co-Chairman included a massive capital-gains tax hike that will cripple investment, thus bending the growth curve downward and costing revenue in the process.

Finally, but most importantly, the steady-state (2035 and beyond) is NOT a balanced budget, but $900 billion deficits as far as the eye can see. The report “caps” spending and revenue at 21% of gross domestic product (GDP). There’s only one problem with that: revenue has historically averaged 19% of GDP, not 21%. Using the Co-Chairmen’s own GDP and inflation projections (themselves borrowed from the CBO), a 2% difference in GDP translates to $904 billion.

So, in summation: the proposal that failed in the Commission vote today would raise taxes, hurt the economy, increase spending, have no mechanism to ensure spending inccreases would slow down, accepts Democare, make no more than cosmetic adjustments to entitlements, and make a $900 billion mistake about the future of the country.

The real outrage, frankly, was that it got 11 votes in the first place.

Cross-posted to RWL