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

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Impeachable New Start Behavior By Reid & Wonderboy?

I'm beginning to think that Harry Reid, Wonderboy and all the Senators voting to rush the flawed New Start nuclear weapons treaty through a vote in this lame duck session should be impeached.

After all, are they not violating their oaths to uphold the Constitution, meaning  "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," including, one supposes, the part about "provide for the common defense."

By rushing this treaty through a lame duck session and denying it appropriate time for debate, these office-holders are effectively abdicating their responsibilities.

And what about China? Why is such a treaty only with Russia? Is equal effort being expended on similar efforts with the Chinese? If not, isn't it nutty to only deal with Russia, possibly dealing away our rights to missile defense systems by virtue of an agreement with only one other nation?

So much about this thing smells that it just seems wrong to ratify it. Certainly not in a lame duck session when so many Senators won't be around in two weeks. And with insufficient time for debate and public reaction.

I can't really believe our nation has come to the point of twisting Congressional rules to ram a bloated, unaffordable healthcare bill through, then add insult to injury by doing the same with a treaty that helps to strip away our defenses.

The Chinese must be laughing themselves silly, believing Christmas is especially fruitful this year.

Subsequent Congresses may be capable of reversing the health care fiasco, but I don't know that they will be able to undo the damage done by ill-considered ratification of this treaty.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Final Tax Deal & Wonderboy's New Image

Much is being made by pundits as solidly conservative as Charles Krauthammer that Wonderboy's 11th hour tax deal will reposition him to the center of the political spectrum and perhaps even salvage his 2012 re-election prospects.

I confess to having difficulty sharing Mr. Krauthammer's conviction on this point.

It seems that polling done just after the actual signing showed the First Rookie's approval rating was up significantly. And then there's the usual spiel that the far-left has nowhere to go, so there won't really be an ultra-liberal challenge to Wonderboy for his re-nomination.

Is it really going to be so easy for the president to wipe out two years of liberal ideology, budget-busting behavior and general philosophy of saddling working voters with ever-more costs of supporting their non-working fellows? Will voters really forget Wonderboy's snarky initial press conference on the tax deal, wherein he castigated all other parties to the negotiations?

I just don't think so. He's on record as hating those voters who succeed financially, and I just don't see him retracting those views. He signed the bill because to veto it would have encumbered him with the clear label of raising taxes and weakening the economy. But that doesn't mean he liked it, or will suddenly change his stripes.

We have a year ahead in which to see how Wonderboy maneuvers against a Republican-led House bent on curtailing the implementation of Obamacare and, generally, slowing down this administration's attempts to govern by agency rule-making.

I don't think the First Rookie can hold his temper and tongue in check for that long. Especially as he begins his own re-nomination campaign.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sarah Palin Backs Paul Ryan's "Roadmap"

Sarah Palin's plans to eventually run for the Republican presidential nomination were reinforced with her Wall Street Journal editorial on December 10th endorsing Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future.

By contrasting Ryan's Roadmap with the recent Bowles-Simpson Commission's recommendations, Palin hopes to demonstrate an appreciation for the policy nuances contained in both, as well as re-stating her conservative bona fides.

The difference between the two plans is fundamentally ideological. The former attempts to square the deficit circle by jiggering various details of existing programs- social spending and taxation- while Ryan engages in wholesale programmatic changes to provide for more individual responsibility and less borrowing and federal spending.

In fact, Palin does many a service by concisely and clearly re-stating Ryan's recommendations in just a few paragraphs. In doing so, she allies herself with those calling for an overhaul of federal social programs which exhibit such poor, 1930's era design. I've written about this in prior posts.

Social Security is surely one of the most poorly-designed old-age insurance schemes ever. It contains no total spending constraints, employs a single communal pot of so-called assets from which to play uncapped, unlimited claims, and featured no conditional payout changes based on the forecasted financial solvency and sustainability of the program.

This insane model was then carbon-copied for Medicare and Medicaid, when all three could just as easily have been designed as personal, portable defined-contribution schemes.

There's much about Palin that I don't trust in the context of her being president. But her clear-cut explication of Ryan's plan, and solid support of it probably helps the overall GOP presidential primary campaign environment by challenging other candidates to match her unequivocal endorsement of Ryan's Roadmap.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Capping States' Spending: What Works & What Doesn't

Two weekends ago, the Wall Street Journal published a fascinating piece by Matthew Mitchell, "a research fellow at George Mason University's Mercatus Center," entitled How to Control State Spending.

I wouldn't have given this topic much thought, as I assumed that the states which had passed constitutional amendments or had laws to this effect more or less all took the same path. But that's wrong.

Mitchell writes of failures, like Florida, which used a cap based on "the sum total of residents' income" growth.

In contrast, he writes,

"Another variety of TEL (tax-and-expenditure limitation), which limits spending, according to the sum of inflation plus state population growth, has a better record."

Colorado successfully used this approach and is now "experiencing the country's fastest economic growth between 1995 to 2000."

Mitchell continues by observing,

"Six other states have enacted a TEL like Colorado's. My research shows that- after controlling for other factors, including per capita income and the unemployment rate- this type of TEL reduces state and local budgets by 3%."

He mentions three tools with which Florida, and other states, could improve their control over state spending:

-item-reduction veto
-a supermajority requirement for tax increases
-stronger balanced-budget laws and practices.

What's interesting about Mitchell's work, besides the obvious lesson that some approaches to state spending control work better than others, is the lesson of Federalism.

That is, by allowing the 50 states to vary their approaches to problems, it's possible to observe and discover which approaches work best, and, through work like Mitchell's, allow those to be adopted by all interested states.

Yet another reason for a limited Federal government, and more robust, stronger state governments.

And another reason to repeal Wonderboy's draconian, top-down federal health care legislation, in order to allow continued experimentation with solutions at the state level.