“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Friday, October 8, 2010

Glenn Beck Gets The Language Right On Taxes

The other night on Glenn Beck's Fox News program, he finally and, to my knowledge, became the first person to correctly frame the discussion of the topic known as,

"extending the Bush tax cuts."

Quite simply, Beck noted that, for about seven years, the so-called "Bush tax cuts" have been the law of the land.

Thus, any change to end them are tax increases!

Further, it's wrong to suggest, or state, that they must be "paid for" if "extended."

Instead, Beck pointed out that they are part of the existing fiscal fabric, and, as such, "cost nothing."

That is, continuing them doesn't "cost" any more than continuing any other tax code provision. To single out just that particular part of the tax code from 2003 is no more legitimate than to single out any other provision, passed in any other year, for special attention.

This entire language construction, Beck suggested, is merely Wonderboy's administration's way of framing the issue in order to completely avoid having voters see it for what it is.

And that is.....a very large Obama tax increase.

I think Beck is entirely correct.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eric Cantor's WSJ Interview

Last weekend's 'Weekend Interview,' by Steve Moore, was GOP House leadership member Eric Cantor of Virginia.

One could wax on at length about Cantor's comments. I'm a huge fan of both Cantor and Moore, and can only guess how much fun they both had in the interview.

For me, though, the major insight came near the end. Moore was probing about how Cantor really gets along with Boehner. Specifically, he wrote,

"I can't avoid asking about the rumors that his relationship with Mr. Boehner has become prickly. "First, I support Boehner as speaker, period. And it's a good working relationship," Mr. Cantor says. But he doesn't deny there are policy disagreements, which he attributes to the fact that "he's in a different generation." Then he hastens to add: "It's the Democrats who are in utter disarray right now . . . Pelosi can't hold her caucus together. We're the ones who are unified." "

You can almost hear Cantor's relief when he seizes on Pelosi and the Democrats, thus steering the conversation completely away from Boehner's values and policies.

A few days later, on CNBC one morning, Cantor was drilled about the differences in values between him and Boehner. About earmarks, and why they weren't in the Pledge.

Well, in Moore's interview, he quotes Cantor as saying,

"Don't mistake this year's Republican caucus with next year's," Mr. Cantor responds. "We're going to do real earmark reform even though it was missing from the pledge. If you look at the makeup of the conference right now, and then add on that the incoming freshmen class, those folks aren't coming to Washington [for]....pork-barrel spending. They really aren't."

I believe Cantor's right. I also believe he is simply ignoring the obvious- that those same freshmen who will force earmark reform, probably over Jerry Lewis' still-warm corpse, will also, without prompting, vote for Cantor to be the next Speaker.

It's even reasonable that the three authors of the just-released "Young Guns" book, of which Cantor is one, will brace Boehner, if the latter is allowed, against common sense, to be elected Speaker by a GOP House majority.

I think Cantor is simply biding his time, saying the right things in public, giving nobody, least of all Boehner, cause to eject him from the caucus pre-emptively.

But after the election, if the GOP retakes the House, look for Cantor to be open to running a close second to Boehner come the post-swearing-in GOP leadership elections.

Cantor knows most of the prospective incoming GOP Representatives won't prefer Boehner to one of the Young Guns. Ryan's a bit too wonky and focused on the budget.

No, Cantor is the best choice for Speaker in a GOP-controlled House come January.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Truth About Those Democratic House Blue Dogs

Chris Chocola, president of the Club for Growth, wrote a highly useful and informative editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal concerning the deceit being perpetrated on American voters by the Democratic so-called Blue Dog caucus in the House.

Mr. Chocola began by providing some history,

"In the House of Representatives, the 54 members of the Blue Dog Coalition are the self-described fiscal conservatives in the Democratic caucus. Unfortunately, the description doesn't fit.

Organizing into a coalition after the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, the Blue Dogs branded themselves loyal but conservative Democrats. They were, in the words of Rep. Pete Geren of Texas, yellow dogs who had been "choked blue" by the strident economic liberalism of their party leaders.
In their first Congress, the Blue Dogs mostly lived up to the hype (albeit in an economically conservative environment). In 1995, the average Blue Dog's score on the National Taxpayers Union's congressional score card—which measures how well members vote on matters of taxes, spending and debt—was 52%, while the average Democratic score was 28%."
So far, so good, right? It would seem that this group was poised to limit the worst excesses of Frisco Nan's legislative lurch leftward. Instead, as Mr. Chocola relates,

"Afterward, though, the Blue Dogs' performance fell precipitously. Democrats retook the House in 2006, partly because of victories by Blue Dogs such as Brad Ellsworth in Indiana and Heath Shuler in North Carolina. Blue Dogs' average NTU scores since then, during Nancy Pelosi's first three years as House speaker, were 10%, 15% and 18%—hardly distinguishable from the average Democratic scores of 6%, 11% and 8%.

Every year since 2007, the Democratic advantage in the House has been fewer than the number of seats held by Blue Dogs: If they had wanted to, the Blue Dogs could have made themselves masters of the House. They could have held an effective veto over any bill they pleased, insisting that Mrs. Pelosi, Majority Leader Harry Reid and even President Obama himself heed their call for fiscal responsibility.

Instead, the Blue Dogs became Mrs. Pelosi's lap dogs, voting with her 80% of the time on economic issues. Every one of them voted for the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sixty-three percent voted for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program; 91% voted for the stimulus package in February 2009; 85% voted for the cash-for-clunkers program; 74% voted for President Obama's debt-tripling 2010 budget; 73% voted for the auto bailout; and 54% voted for the federal takeover of health care.

The evidence is overwhelming: The Blue Dogs are not fiscal conservatives, and only a few can credibly claim even to be fiscal moderates."

Thus, Mr. Chocola removes the Blue Dogs' cloak of importance and moderation. They are, he reveals, all bark, as it were, and no bite.

For example, he notes,

"Consider the Blue Dogs' signature legislative priority: "paygo," the pay-as-you-go rule requiring the House to offset any new spending and tax cuts with spending cuts or tax increases elsewhere in the budget. In 2007, to much Blue Dog fanfare, House Democrats established paygo as a standing rule of the House.

Yet the House has since voted 31 times to grease the skids for new spending by waiving the paygo rule—and Blue Dogs supported the waivers 86% of the time. Five Blue Dogs have voted to waive paygo every single time.

The Blue Dog Coalition isn't a vehicle to help conservative Democrats influence policy. It is a marketing brand to help vulnerable Democrats deceive voters.

If there is one thing voters dislike more than our fiscal crisis, it is the self-serving cynicism of their elected representatives. On both scores, the Blue Dogs are part of the problem, not the solution."

Hopefully, voters will realize this, with the help of Mr. Chocola and others. Perhaps the election coming in less than 40 days will replace these frauds with some truly fiscal conservative legislators.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Pat Leahy's Unconstitutional Supreme Court Plans

Leahy wants to certify ex-Supreme Court judges to replace those who recuse themselves, to avoid potential 4-4 splits.

This is a classic example of an unconstitutional 'solution' for a non-existent problem. The nation has functioned since 1789 without the benefit of this enlightened fix.

Why is Leahy so concerned now?

A Wall Street Journal article in yesterday's edition noted that just-seated justice Kagan will likely recuse herself, as former Solicitor General, from dozens of cases. In order to get a liberal tilt to any decision, Leahy wants to use retired justices, all of whom are either liberal, or more liberal than conservative (Sandra Day O'Connor).

It's a very transparent and cynical ploy on Leahy's part. And likely totally unconstitutional, as well.

But when has that ever stopped either party's Congressional Members in the last hundred years?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Questions of Bias On The GASB

Friday's Wall Street Journal highlighted a rather shadowy issue involving the Government Accounting Standards Board.

Essentially, the GASB sets rules regarding how municipalities and states should account for and value their pension plans. The article observed that three of the seven members of the GASB "work for local, state or county governments, giving them a vested interest in accounting standards that would help public pension funds minimize future contributions."

It continues to explain,

"At the heart of the debate is the issue about how funds calculate the size of their future obligations to retirees. By reducing this discount rate, GASB could force some governments to put more money into their plans.

Critics say the current rates used by many funds are too high, because they largely are based on unrealistic return expectations for the funds' investments."

So, connecting the dots, the concern is this. Unionized employees of state and local governments sit on a government accounting board and have influence on keeping pension fund expected return rates high, so that pension shortfalls are lower, and voters are lulled into apathy regarding the true nature of the funding emergency across the nation. At the same time, such shortfalls would, the article notes, "likely trigger(ing)  increases in required contributions from employers and employees.

Further, being so lulled, they will not mobilize to cut back the government workers' pensions, make them pay more, and, in general, end the existing gravy train of low- or no-cost pensions and healthcare plans, higher-than-private-sector average pay, and defined benefit, rather than defined contribution, pension plans. And the unionized government workers will not experience immediate higher deductions for their own pension and healthcare plan contributions.

By disguising the existing government worker pension plan obligations and shortfalls, these few key board members can delay the onset of voter outrage across the nation.

This is no small matter. On one hand,  some claim that having state and municipal workers on the GASB lends practical experience. On the other hand, it is putting foxes on the board overseeing the chicken coop.

We should all be more interested in this arcane financial backwater than we probably have been until now.