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

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where There's Smoke.....

When I first heard reports of the latest woman to accuse Herman Cain of having a sexual relationship, it seemed to long and involved to be true. The woman alleged a 13-year liaison, including sexual encounters.

Then, only hours later, on a Fox News program, it was disclosed that, although the woman was said to have money problems, she did have text messages from Cain, and a copy of one of his books inscribed by him to her personally. Cain admitted knowing the woman for that time period, but categorically insisted there was no 'relationship.'

I thought perhaps he mentored her platonically, and she took a different view of his kindnesses.

Then I heard that she had some 61 text messages from Cain, coming, to cite Sean Hannity, either 'at all hours' or 'at early hours in the morning,' suggesting a clandestine, inappropriate involvement.

Stepping back, you have to wonder by now just what is it about Herman Cain that draws these allegations from multiple women?

In a field of 7-8 other candidates, nobody else has had these issues. We all know about Gingrich's infidelities, so that's different. And you'd think, if Newt had stepped out on his latest wife, we'd have heard about that muy pronto.

Guys like Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman would seem likely candidates for similar allegations, but nothing has surfaced. Not a peep. Nothing for Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann, either.

So just going by the statistics, you have to wonder why only one candidate out of a group of 8 or so has received all the public allegations of prior marital infidelities?

It may seem unfair, but it does give one pause. And make you reconsider Cain as a candidate. His fumbling of the initial accusations, for which he had over a week to consider his response, was unimpressive.

But, now, this 13-year thing, with saved text messages, just seems so odd. It's like he attracts this sort of thing, or has exercised poor judgement in the past in his associations with women.

Whichever it is, whether fair or not, it's almost certainly derailed his candidacy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Barney Frank Announces Retirement!

It was a red letter day yesterday. Longtime liberal Democratic Representative Barney Frank, a major co-architect of the financial crisis of 2007-08, announced his retirement from Congress.

It's an event that should bring joy to conservatives and, for that matter, all taxpayers, since the latter are who have paid for Barney's corruption and demands that Fannie and Freddie guarantee more housing loans to those too poor to actually afford the mortgages they received.

Then there was the abominable Dodd-Frank law, which will continue to burden all Americans with passed-through costs of excessive, largely-pointless over-regulation of the financial sector.

To be sure, all America will be better off with this liberal idiot gone from Congress.

Why do you think he chose this term as his last? Do you think he actually feared a loss of his seat next year? Or perhaps, having enjoyed four years in the majority recently, couldn't stomach continued service as a minority party Representative?

Whichever, let's all rejoice for a tiny step forward for better government as Barney Frank leaves Congress next year.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fred Siegel on Public Sector Unions Displacing Old-Style Democrait Machines

Here are some key passages from the Wall Street Journal's weekend edition interview. Matthew Kaminski sat down with Fred Siegel, producing the following insights.

Excerpts from the Interview

A former editor of the left-leaning Dissent magazine, Mr. Siegel has written several well-received books on New York, including the 1997 "The Future Once Happened Here." He calls his hometown "the model for cross subsidies" in America. "Wall Street makes money off the bonds that have to be floated to pay the public sector workers in New York."



Born in 1945 and raised in the Bronx, Mr. Siegel got his first political education by listening to feverish debates at home about Bundists and Bolsheviks. His grandfather, a militantly anti-Communist socialist, was vice president of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and a strong influence on him. In 1972, Mr. Siegel worked on the McGovern campaign—"you shouldn't print that!"—and calls his discussions with the Democratic candidate "enormously consequential" in shifting his world view. "I like to say I was center left before I became center right," he says.



Thanks to union clout, he notes, salaries and benefits for teachers, bus drivers and city secretaries have outgained the private sector during this sluggish economy. "Spending is never ratcheted down. It's unconnected to productivity. That can only be sustained by a boom or these extraordinary subsidies we're getting now from the Federal Reserve. But that's gonna stop at some point. And then what happens?"


And the ground may already be moving. Many American localities are already at the crisis point. Rhode Island's legislature last week sharply cut retirement benefits for current and retired public workers. "A 300% Democratic state!" marvels Mr. Siegel, who was one of the first to sound the warning on the public pensions crisis.



In Mr. Siegel's estimation, only Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has tried the needed fix after last year's elections. "Part of the reason Walker has become such a lightning rod" is that he pushed "straight up, unambiguous structural reform." His move to restrict collective bargaining for state employees isn't as important, says Mr. Siegel, as ending the requirement that state workers pay union dues. On his first day in the governor's mansion in 2005, Indiana's Mitch Daniels also stopped deducting dues automatically; most workers chose not to pay. "The union has a guaranteed flow of income, which they then use to lobby the government," says Mr. Siegel. This reform, he adds, "evens the playing field."


Dues money is the coin of political influence for organized labor. So not surprisingly, it is bankrolling the pushback. Mr. Walker faces a recall campaign. Ohio voters this month overturned Gov. John Kasich's legislation to limit collective bargaining for state workers. Mr. Kasich should have eliminated the dues "check off" instead, according to Mr. Siegel, and worked harder to connect with voters. "Too many Republicans treat workers as if they are their employees," he says. "The virtue of Ronald Reagan is he talked to workers as one of them."


It is often forgotten how many New Deal Democrats were skeptical about public-sector unions. Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the idea of strikes by government workers "unthinkable and intolerable." New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia said, "I do not want any of the pinochle club atmosphere to take hold among city workers." But union organizers would eventually tap into the language of the civil rights movement to present collective bargaining as another overdue "right."



New York Mayor Robert Wagner extended collective-bargaining rights to government employees in 1958. He saw early that, says Mr. Siegel, "public sector unions are displacing political machines as the turnout mechanism for the Democratic Party. They are the new Tammany Hall." Coming off a nail biter of an election, President John F. Kennedy saw this future as well. In 1962, he signed Executive Order 10988 to give federal workers the right to unionize, though not to collectively bargain. By 1980, half of all delegates to the Democratic convention worked for the government. Government-employee rolls kept growing through the Reagan years. During the presidency of George W. Bush, the number of government workers who belong to a union surpassed the number of unionized private workers.


Mr. Siegel observes that public-sector unions have "become a vanguard movement within liberalism. And the reason for that is it's the public sector that comes closest to the statist ideals of McGovern and post-McGovern liberals. And that is, there's no connection between effort and reward. You're guaranteed your job. You're guaranteed your salary increase. There's a kind of bureaucratic equality."


In turn, he continues, "this vanguard becomes in the eyes of many liberals the model for the middle class. Public-sector unions are what all workers should be like. Their benefits are the kind of benefits everyone should get."


Government workers make up a growing share of the middle class. And perversely, says Mr. Siegel, unions can justifiably claim to defend the interests of the middle-class worker. "That's because the costs that they've imposed have driven out the private-sector middle class. They are the disease of which they proclaim themselves the cure."



I've highlighted in red what I consider to be among the most essential comments by Siegel, among others which are also valuable to understand.

Don't you find it chilling to hear, from a former leftist, the straight scoop on just who did what, when, and to whom in this sordid mess?

Friday, November 25, 2011

MF Global's Corzine Continues To Get A Pass From Liberal Media

The tab for missing, improperly applied customer funds at MF Global has now risen to $1.2B, twice what was reported during the first week after the firm declared bankruptcy.

Yet, as Fox News' Charles Krauthammer observed, the liberal media continues to turn a blind eye to the potentially-criminal actions of former Goldman Sachs co-head, US Senator and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine.

 Even CFTC chairman Gary Gensler, who recused himself on the case, has stated publicly that it looks very likely that Corzine committed criminal acts.

Yet the liberal Democrat, former Senator and Governor, is largely ignored by the New York Times, CNN and MSNBC.

Had Corzine been a Republican, you can bet he'd have been roasted, pilloried and tried in the media constantly as a criminal 1%-er.

There's your media double standard. Only, because the liberals are silent on this one, it's harder to see it for what it is.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"No Off Ramps" for Congress, eh??!!

You have to laugh.


After spending the year impeding any sort of adult activity in Congress to cut spending, Wonderboy was rejoicing over the failure of the so-called SuperCommittee to deliver $1.5T+ spending cut deal.

The other day, he solemnly intoned, like some harsh school teacher, that he would veto any attempt by Congress to set aside the sequesters on spending in the wake of the failure of the special 12-member panel.

'There will be no off ramp' the First Rookie exclaimed.

Really? Sounds kind of like a dictator, doesn't he?

In reality, all Congress needs to do is decide, by veto-proof majorities, to simply repeal those provisions of the debt limit increase bill which created the SuperCommittee.

And, by the way, even if Congress doesn't, it's unclear that Wonderboy will even have the job would allow him to block any changes. It's quite likely that by January of 2013, the year in which the sequesters occur, Republicans will hold the House, the Oval Office, and perhaps the Senate. Or have enough clout to co-opt sufficient Democratic Senators to simply tear up the debt-ceiling increase bill and start over with a much tougher-minded GOP President at the helm.

Wonderboy's blowing smoke up everyone's ass on this one. He doesn't have a leg to stand on, and he knows it. He's just trying to energize every liberal, youth and minority he thinks will vote for him next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rick Perry's Part-Time Congress Concept

I find Rick Perry's 'part-time Congress' idea to be a little too goofy to take seriously.

Texas isn't the United States, doesn't have a standing army, navy or air force, or embassies abroad. Back in the early 1800s, before the US was a world power, and communications were poor, a part-time legislature, both at the state and federal levels, was basically just reality.

But once America came into the 1900s, and the government, post-Civil War, had, for good or bad, Constitutionally or not, swollen in size and responsibility, it became unrealistic for Congress to only serve part of every year or term.

But one idea Perry has echoes my own- cut Congressional staffs. I don't know what details he proposed- probably none, knowing Perry.

If I'm not mistaken, I think it was even one of my 10 things I'd do to reform government.

But I believe I advocated only two aides per Representative or Senator. And no compensating budget to hire temps or consultants.

I want members of Congress themselves writing bills- not their hired, degree-heavy, detail-crazy, bribable staffs.

That's what I want...a lean Congress without staffs and coddlers, full of members who actually do all the work themselves.

Then, as the subheading of this blog suggests, we'll be a bit safer because those 435 elected members simply won't have the time and ability to write so much intrusive legislation that affects the rest of us and gives them such ongoing power.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Predicting From An Aberration

The Lexington column in the November 12th issue of The Economist opined on a political analyst's theory that the 2008 US presidential election is a harbinger of an unstoppable Democratic-friendly demographic.

The crux of the piece is a contention by Ruy Teixiera that minorities including blacks and Latinos will comprise 54% of the American electorate by 2050 so, QED, they'll just elect Democrats as president til the cows come home.

Teixiera evidently provided many two-way analyses of the 2008 vote, cited in the Lexington column, to cement his conclusions. For good measure, a Pew Research Center report is cited supporting the prior contentions of Democratic sweeps of the newly-emerging majority of voters.

To provide a cautionary view, though, the piece cites Brookings Institute's Bill Galston, a former Clinton aide, believes that Obama's campaign team is making a serious mistake in relying on newly-Democratic states like Colorado, while running away from Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

What I find almost laughable is that nowhere in the column does the editor's voice observe that the 2008 presidential election was singular for having an electable black candidate. And a voluble debater, at that. There's a half-hearted comment that 'Obamanania is over.'

But it's much, much worse than that.

Perhaps only an external-to-the-US editorial board or reporter could fail to understand how many whites voted for Wonderboy out of misplaced guilt over prior racial discrimination which occurred prior to their even being born. It's amazing that the popular vote spread was only about 6 percentage points.

Add to that one-off victory Obama's choice of failed New Deal-style liberal spending and business-bashing tactics and programs, and you have a sure-fire loss of votes in 2012.

The bottom line is that you'd have to be a complete idiot to base any long term voting pattern changes on the 2008 presidential election which featured the first viable black candidate from either party.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Regarding Newt Gingrich's Freddie Mac Consulting

I caught Newt on Greta Van Sustern's Fox News program last night defending his consulting firm's $1.6MM from Freddie Mac. According to Gingrich, he didn't lobby members of Congress. Rather, he and his firm allegedly 'provided ideas and solutions' to problems posed by Freddie's management. Elsewhere, I believe in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that one of those 'problems' was how to posture Fannie to conservatives in order to curry favor with them and avoid constraints, if not wholesale destruction.

My problem with Newt's consulting in this matter was that it's inconceivable that he would have needed all the billable hours required to amount to $1.6MM to tell Freddie's management they were pissing up a rope, and that there was no way of doing what they envisioned.

That conservatives would never see a benefit from a poorly-regulated, vote- and protection-buying bonus machine which crowded out saner, more explicitly risk-priced alternatives for securitizing US residential mortgages.

Sadly, in response to Greta, Newt began to place great emphasis on the pricing levels of his consultancy work, insisting they were below-average to average among other competitors.

But that's hardly the point. The point is a conservative of Gingrich's stripe should never have had that much to offer Freddie. And Newt should have had the good sense, as a former Speaker of the House, to understand how it would look, in retrospect, when someone discovered how much his firm earned from essentially consorting with the enemy.

This is more about a serious lapse in political judgement, which seems to be Newt's salient liability as a candidate.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Destroying Jobs One Energy Sector At A Time

You have to wonder if the First Rookie really is schizophrenic. Or perhaps his campaign manager and staff simply have such a low opinion of the American electorate that they don't believe anyone has noticed how anti-growth, anti-jobs Wonderboy truly is.

The Keystone XL pipeline is the latest example. Using the excuse that the State Department thinks there are irregularities in some of the permit applications already accepted, and that the Nebraska sandhills and aquifer are at risk, although existing pipelines seem fine, is completely transparent.

The result? About 20,000 lost high-value, truly skilled construction jobs. Alienating Canada's PM Harper and handing the Chinese a nice new energy supply for nothing.

How can a president speak out of one side of his mouth about needing to reduce reliance on overseas oil supplies, then shut down our own offshore oil production and stop a heaven-sent pipeline from Canada?

Isn't that the sort of extreme liberal shift that created the Reagan Democrats of 1980, in the wake of the Democrats' shift leftward with McGovern's campaign and Carter's governance?

No matter what David Plouffle may believe, these moves, in addition to the 'lazy companies' remark, are going to be featured video clips in the GOP presidential campaign come late next year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lazy, Soft US Companies

You can't make this stuff up.

Wonderboy has recently castigated US companies for being 'soft' and 'lazy' in competing for global trade. See the first few minutes of this video for the footage.

video

This from a guy with absolutely no business experience whatsoever.

Does he even realize how the EPA is purposely working to raise the price of electricity by forcing the shuttering of coal-fired power plants? That his administration has said 'no' to our own offshore drilling, while welcoming Brazil and other countries to do it, instead?

That his nearly trillion dollar stimulus crowded out private investment, while his crony capitalism of rescuing GM and giving a large chunk of it to his UAW backers prevented capital from flowing to new businesses?

His constant demonizing of banks, bankers and large corporations hardly seems of a piece with the remarks in the first minutes of that video, does it?

I don't think Wonderboy actually understands how schizophrenic and scatterbrained he appears with these various messages.

One thing is sure. He had no sense whatsoever that over-regulation and government intrusion into business retards investment, which leads to slower job growth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Supreme Court's Review of ObamaCare

Yesterday's unsurprising announcement that the Supreme Court will review ObamaCare next June brought out a tidal wave of punditry.

I heard everything from predictions that the law, or at least the mandatory health insurance purchase component, will be rejected on a 5-4 vote, to Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton's health care so-called expert, claiming that it won't even matter what happens to the mandate. Reinhardt's comments were especially odd, since so much effort was expended by Democrats to use the mandate to fulfill Congressional attempts, amid a lot of outright falsehoods, to have the CBO score the bill, which will add 30 million people to the insured roles, as actually reducing US health care expenses.

On a general note, it feels as if one is living through a court decision like Dred Scott, Brown, Roe, or Marbury. One thing on which everyone can agree is that this is likely the acid, final test for our nation of the unfortunately vaguely-worded commerce clause.

It was disappointing to read Appellate Judge Silber's naive statement that the courts have to presume that Congress passes only Constitutional laws.

Is that not a basis for term limits on the federal bench, all by itself?

On Bret Baier's Fox News program, conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer described the four parts on which the Supreme Court will rule on the law:

- the Constitutionality of the mandate under the Commerce clause
- severability of the mandate from the remainder of the law
- standing of those bringing suit a priori to paying the tax for failing to purchase coverage
- Medicare funding related to the bill

Thus, several combinations of outcomes could occur from rulings on the various elements under consideration.

Justice Kagan is not recusing herself, although it is clear she was involved in support of the law as Solicitor General for the administration. However, one has to pragmatically ask if it would really do any good to have a 4-4 tie on these components. Or if the arm-wrestling over who would be a replacement ninth Justice would do the nation any good, either.

I'm a big proponent of things happening for a reason, and people receiving the justice they deserve. On that basis, if Kagan's participation results in the key rulings of the Commerce clause/mandate being upheld, and the it being severable anyway, so be it. Americans will reap what they sowed by electing the president and Congress that passed this monstrosity.

But, back to summer of 2012.

Some hold that if the mandate fails, and it isn't severable, so the law is unconstitutional, then Wonderboy can run away from the whole issue and claim no harm was done.

That's ridiculous on its face. As Krauthammer noted on Baier's program last night, Obama did nothing else of import for the past three years but pass ObamaCare and waste nearly a trillion dollars on useless 'stimulus' spending. Nobody's going to forget he spent so much time and capital on this law.

Will he, if so defeated by the court, then turn to run against the GOP House and the Supreme Court? Perhaps, but I don't think that will cut any ice with the independents who elected him.

The more interesting question is how a Supreme Court affirmation of the first two points will affect the November election. I suspect it will galvanize support for the COP presidential candidate and its Senate candidates, in hopes of overturning the whole mess.

The second-order issue then becomes how this plays out if Romney, the original architect of the ObamaCare approach in Massachusetts, is nominated by the GOP? Won't he appear hypocritical for railing against the Court and a plan he basically signed into law as a state governor?

However those mechanics play out, I think it's more instructive to see this as perhaps the final test of the Commerce clause as capable of completely gutting the Constitution which our Founders intended. If the Supreme Court greenlights this last firewall against Congress essentially being given the right to pass any law as Constitutional because the Commerce clause is omnipotent, we will wake up the next day to a different America. And the only way the prior one will be restored will be via a Constitutional amendment specifically altering the Commerce clause to remove its elasticity and overturn decades of bad law underpinning its misuse.

It could well be that we have to endure more liberal attacks on the Constitution, and perhaps another four or more years, in order to build sufficient support for a broadscale, Constitutionally-based roll back of what has been a 110 year battle to undermine the deliberately-minimal federal powers originally provided in the Constitution.

However, at this particular point in our nation's history, our economic position won't sustain the ramifications of  a liberal Democratic victory on ObamaCare by the Supreme Court.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Why The SuperCommittee May Not Matter

Despite the hand wringing of many media pundits and members of Congress concerning the fate of the work delegated to the 12-member Congressional supercommittee, there could be considerably less to the situation than they believe.

As we learned from FDR's NRA and much of Ronald Reagan's accomplishments, what one Congress does, a subsequent one may undo. Especially when one party controls both Houses and the White House.

When you read the presumed impacts of failure of the supercommittee to make the requisite cuts in the federal budget, they sound dire. Draconian cuts in defense and entitlements are mandated.

Yet, those cuts, while alleged to hit earlier than a successful supercommittee deal- which tells you something already about how effective such a plan would be- it still isn't until 2013.

Between then and now, of course, is next November's election. If the Republicans hold the House, regain control of the Senate, and, for good measure, the White House, all bets are off concerning the entire supercommittee deal. A new Congress and President could repeal the entire original deal which created the supercommittee and its attendant rules consequences as early as the afternoon of January 21st, 2013.

If such electoral results don't occur, the subsequent ongoing political gridlock will make the mandated cuts look minor by comparison with the fiscal problems which will likely be visited upon the US. And if the Democrats keep what they control now and somehow retake the House, well, the US will take its place behind Italy as the next large OECD economy to face a fiscal disaster.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peggy Noonan Comes Around To My Way of Thinking

Peggy Noonan's weekend Wall Street Journal editorial is largely about the Wednesday evening CNBC GOP candidates' event. I wrote my initial reactions about the event here.

Noonan begins with a humorous send up of manic, maniacal Jim Cramer's performance, as well as Maria Bartiromo's. On these we agree. She then meanders through the rest of her half-page piece to arrive at two succinct paragraphs,

"Republicans should sober up. They should be thinking not about what the Republican at the local GOP meeting is thinking, but what the independent across the street is thinking. He's catching the Cain story on TV and thinking: "This guy may have a problem. I want more evidence, but if it's true, then man, we don't need to go there again."

That independent is a pretty important guy. The GOP better start doing a better job of considering how he sees things. He doesn't live in Republo-world, but he's right across the street, and he votes. He's going to pick the next president."

Which is exactly what I've been contending for many months. Only I would go, and have gone, further. I think the GOP should be making sure, if among the publicly-available polls, none does this, of providing timely poll numbers, before each major primary event for the major candidates, for independents' preferences among the GOP candidates.

That's all that will matter, so there's really no point being concerned about who registered Republicans favor. With only about 25% of the voting public registered with a major party, that leaves the 50-60% of independents as far more important than the registered Republicans will be in electing a president next year.

I endorsed Cain prior the recent sexual harassment allegations. But the truth is, no matter who I'd like to see nominated by the GOP, I'll vote for the candidate on the ballot who has the highest poll numbers among independents, assuming I can learn who that is by the day of my state's primary election.

If by referring to "the GOP better start doing a better job of considering how he (independents) see things," Noonan means party officials, she's being opaque. She should explicitly counsel the RNC to publicize the GOP candidates' poll numbers among independents and make a better case to GOP voters about this important strategy for nominating a winning candidate next year.

 If she means GOP voters, she's probably right. I don't know if enough Republicans realize what I have long held, and Noonan has now belatedly also come to see.

But it is critical. I tell every Republican I know about this approach to voting for a nominee. It's the only way the party will retake the White House next year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fighting Crony Capitalism In Residential Housing Brokerage

Wednesday's Wall Street Journal carried an editorial excoriating Ron Phipps, president of the National Association of Realtors, for his misleading and largely false letter to the editor in the same edition of the paper.

Here's Phipps' letter in its entirety:

The Wall Street Journal would have people believe that hard-working, middle-class families are not affected by lower conforming loan limits, when nothing could be further from the truth ("More McMansion Subsidies," Review & Outlook, Nov. 1). The representatives in Congress who support higher loan limits understand that this is not a partisan issue, as you are trying to make it out to be.



The majority of markets impacted by the loan-limit decline are not high-cost areas. For example, more than 100 counties throughout the Midwest and more than 200 counties in the South have seen loan limits decline by more than $64,000.


And despite how your editorial tries to position the issue, the loan limits are not the same as reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Allowing the mortgage loan limits to expire in October was an arbitrary decision. Creating more market disruptions before reforming mortgage markets will only hurt our recovery.

The Senate measure to reinstate the limits is temporary—restoring the higher limits while the housing and mortgage markets stabilize. Recently, economist Mark Zandi said policy makers could shore up the housing market by "extending the current higher conforming loan limits that are set to decline in a few weeks." Borrowers, not taxpayers, will bear the entire cost of the higher loan-limits provision.


As people across the country are trying to gain a foothold in these trying times, we need to give them the resources to do so. The National Association of Realtors applauds the members of Congress who are standing up for America's families rather than turning their backs on them.

Ron Phipps
President
National Assn. of Realtors
Washington


Here's the related staff editorial referring to Phipps' letter:


To understand why 90% of U.S. mortgages are still underwritten by taxpayers, look no further than the nearby letter from Ron Phipps of the Realtors lobby. He makes clear that the Realtors, like the rest of the housing-subsidy crowd, are working hard to get Congress to reinstate a $729,750 loan-limit for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantees.



Notice how Mr. Phipps doesn't mention that dollar figure, perhaps because it makes a howler of his claim that the loan-limit reduction in October to $625,500 is somehow a blow to the "middle class." As House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus and several colleagues note in a November 7 letter to GOP appropriations conferees, "the lower loan limits only affect a very small slice of wealthier homeowners in high cost areas." Only 1.3% of all loans done by Fannie, Freddie and the Federal Housing Administration would be affected by the change.


Another lobby classic is Mr. Phipps's claim that letting the loan-limit fall in October was "arbitrary" and that the Realtors only want a "temporary" extension. But any temporary program has to end sometime, and Congress first raised the loan limit on a temporary basis in 2008. It has since extended the higher loan-limit three times, and if it were extended again the Realtors would no doubt plead for another "temporary" extension the next time it expires, ad infinitum.


Reducing the loan limit is a modest attempt to restore some private competition to the mortgage market, at least at the high end. Mr. Phipps says this issue shouldn't be "partisan," by which he seems to mean that both parties should remain wholly owned Realtor subsidiaries. For Republicans who run the House, this is not a test of their partisanship. It is a test of their alleged free-market, tea-party principles.


The Realtor letter is at least educational, a reminder that one reason the U.S. economy is so burdened with government is that many alleged capitalists want government to guarantee their business. That's known as crony capitalism.

I wrote in this recent post concerning a Paul Ryan speech vilifying this sort of crony capitalism. It's helpful to see it up close in Phipps' letter. This is what my Congressman, Leonard Lance, is supporting, as I explained in this recent post.

John Boehner's House GOP will continue to be vulnerable so long as morons like Lance consent to be used by crony capitalists like Phipps to mindlessly feather the nests of the nation's realtors while those house brokers lie about the real situation.

Mark Zandi is a liberal, neo-Keynesian, hacked-up economist who believes in more government in business and more government spending for everything. He's a Democratic patsy.

Realtors don't want housing prices to fall to market-clearing levels because they'll share the pain of falling prices, not to mention that their business is fighting off competition from cheaper, online-based sales channels for housing.

It's also very clear now, in the wake of a decade of disastrous federal housing policies, primarily driven by wrongheaded Congressional mandating of stupid GSE mortgage-backed bond guarantees for low-income housing, that housing isn't and shouldn't be a major drive of the US economy.

Housing isn't a good bet as an investment for most Americans. It retards labor mobility and exposes owners to bad local and state fiscal policies which result in higher property taxes and lower housing values.

It's time we put an end to this particular variant of crony capitalism. John Boehner and Paul Ryan would be well-advised to muzzle the GOP House members who are supporting Phipps and his association in trying to prolong higher lending limits for GSEs and, instead, speed exit of the GSEs from the market, then kill them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Last Night's CNBC GOP Candidate Event

Here's a link to the post I wrote on my companion business blog today about last night's latest faux-debate travesty.

Because the event was ostensibly concerning economics, I thought it appropriate to post there, and cross-post here.

Dorothy Rabinowitz Makes The Case For Newt Gingrich's Nomination

Some weeks ago, I wrote a post endorsing Herman Cain for the GOP presidential nomination. It was triggered by the Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger's editorial in support of Cain.

The past two weeks have seen Cain engulfed in a flurry of sexual harassment charges, mostly by anonymous women. Frankly, the lateness of the charges- some 14 years or so after the alleged fact- and the anonymity of several of the women, make them less credible, in my opinion. And most people with business experience understand that there is a sort of cottage industry in people getting small- to medium-sized settlements for making unsubstantiated allegations go away, rather than cost an organization much more in legal fees.

If Cain becomes severely wounded by these allegations, e.g., even one becomes a confirmed instance, in direct contradiction to Cain's assertions last night, he's finished.

Who would I then like to see as the GOP nominee?

In prior posts, I have written of how I believe Newt Gingrich is the most intelligent GOP candidate, probably the most appropriately experienced, and, to paraphrase a Fox News Contributor, in a debate he'd 'make Obama wish he'd never left Chicago.'

But conservative friends of my age share my concerns over Newt's ego, ethical issues, and multiple marriages, with infidelities apparently leading from one to the next. Character does matter, and Newt's continues to be in question.

Never the less, here's Wall Street Journal columnist and editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz discussing why she believes Newt may yet be the GOP nominee for 2012.

If Newt's numbers among independents were in the same range as Romney's, then I'd clearly support Gingrich.

video

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Regarding Public School Teachers' Compensation

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal published this an important editorial entitled Public School Teachers Aren't Underpaid. Written by Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and Jason Richwine, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. It is drawn from a new paper, "Assessing the Compensation of Public School Teachers" (aei.org/paper/100259).




The Journal piece carried the rather shocking subheadline,
"Our research suggests that on average—counting salaries, benefits and job security—teachers receive about 52% more than they could in private business."

Because I feel so strongly about this issue and this article, I'm going to simply repost it in its entirety.

Public School Teachers Aren't Underpaid
 A common story line in American education policy is that public school teachers are underpaid—"desperately underpaid," according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a recent speech. As former first lady Laura Bush put it: "Salaries are too low. We all know that. We need to figure out a way to pay teachers more."


Good teachers are crucial to a strong economy and a healthy civil society, and they should be paid at a level commensurate with their skills. But the evidence shows that public school teachers' total compensation amounts to roughly $1.50 for every $1 that their skills could garner in a private sector job.


How could that be? First, consider salaries. Public school teachers do receive salaries 19.3% lower than similarly-educated private workers, according to our analysis of Census Bureau data. However, a majority of public school teachers were education majors in college, and more than two in three received their highest degree (typically a master's) in an education-related field. A salary comparison that controls only for years spent in school makes no distinction between degrees in education and those in biology, mathematics, history or other demanding fields.


Education is widely regarded by researchers and college students alike as one of the easiest fields of study, and one that features substantially higher average grades than most other college majors. On objective tests of cognitive ability such as the SAT, ACT, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and Armed Forces Qualification Test, teachers score only around the 40th percentile of college graduates. If we compare teachers and non-teachers with similar AFQT scores, the teacher salary penalty disappears.


While salaries are about even, fringe benefits push teacher compensation well ahead of comparable employees in the private economy. The trouble is that many of these benefits are hidden, meaning that lawmakers, taxpayers and even teachers themselves are sometimes unaware of them.


Data on employee benefits from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), for example, do not include retiree health coverage, which for teachers is worth about an additional 10% of their salaries. Because of differing accounting rules between the public and private sectors, BLS data also make teachers' defined-benefit pensions appear only slightly more generous than the typical 401(k) plan found in the private sector.


In reality, a teacher who retired after 30 years of service with an annual salary of $40,000 might receive guaranteed annual pension benefits of about $20,330. Under a typical private 401(k) plan, a guaranteed annual benefit might be only around $4,450 (assuming the money is invested in U.S. Treasuries and the employee buys an annuity).


BLS data on paid leave for teachers count vacation days only during the school year, omitting summer and long holiday breaks. A valid pay comparison should include this extra time off, in which teachers can enjoy longer vacations or earn additional income.


Properly counted, a typical public school teacher with a salary of $51,000 would receive another $51,480 in present or future fringe benefits. A worker in private business with the same salary would receive around $22,185 in fringe benefits.


Finally, despite recent layoffs, teachers still have greater job security than workers in private businesses. While employment in education declined by 2.9% between September 2008 and July 2011, according to BLS data, overall private-sector employment declined by 4.4%. Moreover, from 2005 through 2010 the unemployment rate for public school teachers averaged 2.1%, versus 4.1% for private school teachers and 3.8% for occupations that some consider comparable, such as computer programmers and insurance underwriters.


Job security protects against the loss of compensation suffered by the unemployed, and it also protects a position in which total wages and benefits are on average above market levels. This job security is surely valuable.


Consider that one-fifth of the highest-performing public school teachers in Washington, D.C., recently declined to give up even part of their job security in exchange for base salary increases of up to $20,000. According to our model—which factors in the probability of becoming unemployed, the average duration of unemployment, the level of unemployment insurance benefits, and the risk aversion of public employees—job security is worth about an estimated extra 9% of compensation.


One important caveat: Our research is in terms of averages. The best public school teachers—especially those teaching difficult subjects such as math and science—may well be underpaid compared to counterparts in the private sector.


Nevertheless, most public school teachers would not earn more in private employment. According to our analysis of the Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation, the average person who moves into teaching receives a pay increase of almost 9%, while the average teacher who leaves for the private economy must take a pay cut of over 3%.


This is the opposite of what we would expect if teachers were underpaid. It also helps explain why more people seek teaching jobs—as measured through the number of teaching graduates and applications for teaching positions—than can possibly find them.


In short, combining salaries, fringe benefits and job security, we have calculated that public school teachers receive around 52% more in average compensation than they could earn in the private sector.


The compensation premium is especially relevant today, as states and localities struggle with budget deficits. Restraining the growth of teacher compensation—in particular, pension and retiree health benefits that outstrip what comparable private-sector workers receive—could help balance budgets and perhaps restore school resources lost to rising labor costs. Broader pay reform should give school administrators greater flexibility to reward the best or most-needed teachers with high salaries and benefits, while encouraging the least effective ones to improve or to leave the profession.


Effective reform, however, requires knowing all the facts about teacher pay. Policy makers and the public should not accept at face value that the typical teacher earns far less than he or she would in the private sector. The evidence points to a very different conclusion. (End of editorial)

I sent this editorial via the Journal's email link to a public school teacher friend. She replied that she would now feel better knowing she was being paid above-average compensation for being an above-average teacher. I replied by quoting the passage below and lamenting that she obviously doesn't "get it,"

"However, a majority of public school teachers were education majors in college, and more than two in three received their highest degree (typically a master's) in an education-related field. A salary comparison that controls only for years spent in school makes no distinction between degrees in education and those in biology, mathematics, history or other demanding fields.



Education is widely regarded by researchers and college students alike as one of the easiest fields of study, and one that features substantially higher average grades than most other college majors. On objective tests of cognitive ability such as the SAT, ACT, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and Armed Forces Qualification Test, teachers score only around the 40th percentile of college graduates. If we compare teachers and non-teachers with similar AFQT scores, the teacher salary penalty disappears."


I am sure my readers do get the point. As it happens, my friend is a walking textbook case of the editorial's point. She has only education-related degrees. Science and math are mysteries to her. If you told her she received her degrees in "one of the easiest fields of study," she'd lash out angrily. But, really, is anyone going to believe that teaching reading requires anything remotely like the education it takes to teach mathematics or science?

By the way, in the school which my daughters attended, it was predominantly math and science teachers who left, frequently in mid-year, either for better teaching positions or more money in private industry. Never, to my knowledge, reading teachers or most run-of-the-mill primary or middle school teachers.

This is the dirty secret I think most thinking citizens understand. The teachers they know are rarely among the most intelligent or best-educated in their social circle. But they wear this 'I'm teaching your kids so back off, buddy' Teflon mantle. As if merely doing this thankless task entitles them to compensation far above parity for their actual skills or educational accomplishments.

The friend to whom I sent this article frequently contends that she is underpaid as a teacher, and should be making much more, because she would have in the private sector. The research cited, of course, shows her belief to be false.

But it's truly shocking to learn that, on average, her kind are paid more than 50% above the compensation they'd receive in the private sector.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Faux Populism from Wonderboy

George Melloan, a former Wall Street Journal senior staffer, wrote a good editorial in the paper's Friday edition drawing attention to Wonderboy's attempt to run on a populist platform, while economically damaging the very base to whom he is trying to appeal with that approach.

Melloan ticks off a litany of bad economic data, including declining median personal income, exploding federal debt and money supply, and rising food commodity prices.

The First Rookie's rhetoric may make some liberal lower income voters feel better temporarily. But when they return home to buy more expensive food with fewer real income dollars, the truth will out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Liberal Democrats, Occupy Wall Street, & The Oakland Riots

Frisco Nan praises Occupy movements. Especially their 'spontaneity.'


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Wonderboy endorses Occupy movements, rather liberally interpreting their motivations and inserting his own agenda. Somehow, I don't think the movement's members are as deeply contemplative as is Wonderboy, spinning this surreal narrative concerning the protestors' thinking.

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Then we have the recent Occupy Oakland riots. Despite Democrats' attempts to equate OWS with the Tea Party movement, the latter never engaged in, nor spawned riots in its wake. Here we see Oakland, ironically in Frisco Nan's backyard, exploding in violence. The Occupy Oaklanders claim it wasn't them, but this is the point. These movements have been infiltrated and hijacked by others with a much more violent, anti-establishment message and motivations.

The Tea Party sought to work within the existing governmental frameworks, and helped elect one of the largest classes of new House members. OWS, like its 1960s student protester ancestral movements, seeks to abrogate existing governmental structures and simply demand and take what they want.

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I just searched YouTube this morning for these clips. Let's hope dozens of GOP candidates will do a more thorough job pinning the OWS mayhem to Democratic opponents who have been foolish enough to ally themselves with the movement.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Paul Ryan On Crony Capitalism

At the end of a predictably dull and meandering column in last weekend's edition of the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan launched into an attack on crony capitalism.

She began by fingering Franklin Raines and James Johnson for having taken advantage of Fannie's and Freddie's GSE status to reap outsized bonuses while wrecking the companies and leaving them to be seized by the government at a cost to taxpayers of some $140B.

Next, Noonan mentions Paul Ryan as having the good sense to identify, in a speech at the Heritage Foundation, such crony capitalism as what occurred at the GSEs.

He railed against 'corporate welfare,' which is an accurate charge.

Perhaps his most concise line, as recounted by Noonan, was this one,

"The 'true sources of inequity in this country are the corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless. The real class warfare that threatens us is 'a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society.' "

Noonan concluded her piece opining,

"If more Republicans thought- and spoke- like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn't be seeing his numbers go up."

She's right. Thus my anger at recent news concerning my own Congressman, Leonard Lance's involvement in another bid to give more power to Fannie.

Ryan's remarks explain why those who consider themselves of common interest with the Tea Party, like me, grow disgusted with even elected Republicans. In my state, the GOP is far more liberal than it is further west. My own Representative clearly embodies that against which Paul Ryan rails.

I wonder if Ryan even acknowledges Lance and, if so, what he thinks of my Congressman.

Ryan's clear speaking and thinking suggest he could, if he has the stomach for it, eventually occupy the Oval Office. He has the sensibilities and intellect to get there. But the rest of what is required to be elected, including the sort of character assassination being visited upon Herman Cain this week by anonymous parties, could be too much for the Wisconsin Representative.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big Brother Lance Is Watching

Sitemeter is wonderful. It gives so much information about my readers.

For example, as expected, my post yesterday concerning my hacked-up pol of a Representative, Leonard Lance, R-NJ, drew the expected visits from the US House's Information Systems. I have an IP address, but it's the same one for four different visits on my post about Lance, from computers using four different operating systems.

Two visits were touch n' go's, but the last two were for over two minutes, and one viewed two pages. I'm guessing perhaps yesterday's post, and the prior one about Lance.

Just so you know, though, a little political blog like mine publishes one post critical of a sitting US Representative and- WHAM!- the House or Senate webcrawlers are all over it.

In a way, it's a good thing. Maybe one of Lance's staffers who is smarter than he is- not too hard to imagine- will explain to the idiot that he shouldn't be favoring his crony capitalist housing campaign contributors when he will be exposed for it.

Regardless of what you think of him, Jefferson was right. Newspapers and their modern technological descendants shine bright lights on suspect, stupid behavior of our elected representatives.

In this case, perhaps Lance, dim-witted as he is, will realize his mistake and retract his signature on and support of this dumb idea of further empowering the two money-losing GSEs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why I Despise My Congressman- Leonard Lance

I don't respect my Congressman. Don't like him, either. He's one of those hacked-up former state pols who slithered into a largely red district, but was never ready for prime time on the Hill.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal named him- Leonard Lance, R-NJ, as a signatory to a letter from Bill Posey, R-FL, asking to raise Fannie's and Freddie's maximum loan limits again.

This is the sort of boneheaded crony capitalism about which Paul Ryan spoke in a speech referenced in Peggy Noonan's weekend column in the Journal. About which more later this week.

I wish I could have voted for someone more conservative and less, well, hacked-up than Lance in 2010. He's an embarrassment to the GOP. His 'finest' moment had to be when he had question time in front of Ben Bernanke, and all he could manage was to stumble through the script written by his aides, which contained no questions, but, rather, video/sound bites for Lance's next campaign.

Disgusting.

So is Lance's empty-headed agreement to give two GSEs which have cost taxpayers $142B in losses more lending authority. I liked the Journal's comparison of Posey's claim that the amendment won't cost taxpayers "one dime," so reminiscent of Bubba Clinton's promise, in 1995, that doing the same back then wouldn't "cost the taxpayers on extra cent?"

Yeah. Right.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Political Bad Lip Reading

Due to connectivity issues arising from the recent October snowstorm, I haven't really composed deep thoughts on the past few days' political goings on.

So I'm presenting two politically-oriented Bad Lip Reading clips.

Obviously, I find this first one more humorous. It's Wonderboy.

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The second one is of Rick Perry. Not as funny, in my opinion.


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Friday, October 28, 2011

OWS's Embarrassing $500,000 Problem

I read with amusement that the OccupyWallStreet group has now received some $500K of cash donations, and must begin to, well, organize in order to use it.

A Wall Street Journal piece revealed that the group currently is operating under another non-profit's tax ID and umbrella, thus making that group, the name of which escapes me, technically capable of vetting all spending decisions.

The article explained that the OWS protesters don't want to divulge their names, which some would have been were they have filed as a legal non-profit with the IRS.

Truly, this is becoming more and more a Tom Wolfe story. The rich ironies of a bunch of kids from well-off families pretending to behave like the homeless, eschewing all forms of conventional power and authority, find themselves with half a million dollars and no way to spend it without adopting- horrors!- conventional power structures such as governing committees, officers, and such.

How long before we learn of some financial malfeasance? Some embezzlement, drug dealing or other embarrassing use of the money by one of the more-equal-than-others OWS member?

As it is, local homeless people are showing up at OWS to feed themselves from the apparently bounteous spreads. Other stories report theft of computers and problems maintaining security from night time burglary.

The decision-making process is allegedly a daily all-members meeting which grinds slowly and exhibits the incredible inefficiency and cumbersomeness of non-representative attempts at democracy.

With cold weather nearly here, disease and infections beginning to appear among OWSers, how long before New York City shows some spine and finally clears out the squatters? Perhaps quite soon. After all, Oakland showed itself capable of that earlier this week. And then the protesters revealed their true, latent violent tendencies.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rick Perry's Tax Plan & Tax Reform Scoring

GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry unveiled his tax reform plan earlier this week to mixed reviews.

Conservatives and Republicans appreciate that, regardless of how Perry's plan differs from Herman Cain's, two candidates are now "all in" on promising to send rather substantial tax code reform plans to Congress, should they defeat Wonderboy next November.

Perry's plan, unsurprisingly, is far more timid than Cain's. First, Perry would allow filers to choose which of two approaches- his new postcard-style tax form, or the current 1040, to use. This will not reduce IRS staff and taxpayer effort but, rather, increase it. Much like filing joint or separate, giving taxpayers a choice typically means they must calculate their tax liabilities under both methods. I don't know whether Perry's plan allows the choice each year, or whether, once in the new system, they can't return- pun intended- to the old approach.

Beyond that, the plan lowers tax rates, removes some preference items, but leaves others intact.

It's more complicated than Cain's plan, but at least it's a nod in the direction of doing something more than tinker with only rates.

Of course pundits immediately jumped all over Perry for the 'cost' of the plan. That is, observers are quick to cite one or another of several little-known, presumably-independent think tanks which have ostensibly estimated how much tax revenue the proposal will generate, versus existing revenue collections.

There's a problem with that, however. And a recent Wall Street Journal editorial by Martin Feldstein highlighted it. Depending upon the baseline data used, and assumptions generated from them, new tax rate plans have significantly different impacts on revenue collection.

Feldstein noted how his own analysis of post-1986 tax reform returns demonstrated real behavior change by taxpayers. And, thus how vital it is that dynamic scoring be used for analyzing new tax reform plans. Such scoring, of course, is subject to assumptions regarding how taxpayer behavior will change in response to rate and other changes, i.e., the coefficients which govern how much more money may be earned, and taxed, when rates decline, and vice-versa.

Do any of my readers know which think tanks scored Cain's or Perry's plan? I don't as I sit writing this post. Even if I did, I can't say I'm familiar with the specific methods any of them employ. Do they use dynamic scoring?

Since the CBO, unbelievably, still won't use dynamic scoring, it's unlikely any of the think tanks do, either.

Which is why I basically ignore their claims, and the claims of the candidates based upon the think tank evaluations. Unless, of course, the candidate or the think tank come forward with specific details on the scoring of the tax reform plan.

But here's another angle on these GOP tax reform plans.

Why don't the candidates emphasize that their reforms are what they would propose, but they understand that Congress must actually pass the final legislation. Therefore, they expect Congress to change their plan, and, thus, the scoring will change, too. So there's really little point in getting all excited about the revenue-neutrality scoring of any reform plan that is destined to be changed anyway.

For example, Cain's 9-9-9 plan would almost certainly have an income-level exemption for its sales tax. Who knows what would be done to Perry's more complicated plan?

So why don't these candidates wise up and just acknowledge that their proposals indicate their intentions, but they don't honestly expect the plans to pass Congress unchanged.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

That's Incredible! Harry Reid's Attempt To Defend Wonderboy's Jobs Act

"It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers, and that's what this legislation is all about."

Just incredible.That's Harry Reid's defense of Wonderboy's public sector union-hiring proposals, according to a recent Wall Street Journal staff editorial.

The piece noted that 111.8MM Americans were employed in the private sector at the end of 2008. As of last month, the number was 109.3MM, a loss of roughly 2.5MM private-sector jobs, and a 2% decline. At the federal level, government employed 1.9MM FTE in late 2008, which increased to 2.1MM at the end of last year, for a 11% gain.

State and local government employment numbers in the editorial don't go back to 2008. Instead, the Journal reports that local governments cut just 210,000 by last month out of 14.28MM a year earlier. For state governments, the numbers were 49,000 and 5.14MM. That's only a quarter of a million state and local government employees cut out of some 19MM, or just a 1.3% decline. Even so, these numbers are polluted by the first stimulus having paid for some of those workers in prior years. That also would make comparisons from the end of 2008 problematic.

What's clear, however, is that the private sector has taken the most pain in terms of job losses.

You would like to think the Senate Majority Leader would at least be able to understand that fact.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Challenging RomneyCare

Last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal's lead staff editorial discussed the need for Mitt Romney to reconcile various statements and actions of his regarding Massachusetts' RomneyCare, ObamaCare, and what he would do if elected president.

Specifically, the editorial observed,

"Mr. Romney has every right to cling to theories that were flawed in conception and have proven false in practice, though the rest of the GOP field has the responsibility to challenge his canned answers. The mental contortions that his health-care record requires need to be dissected- the way Mr. Obama will do if Mr. Romney is the nominee- to give GOP voters a chance to weigh the political liabilities that his candidacy might pose in 2012.

Or, if he is the nominee and if he is elected, to drive him to reject the Romney-Care model in favor of patient-centered, market-driven health-care reform. Mr. Romney laid out such a plan in Ann Arbor in May, even as he now evinces an unaffordable faith that government must pay to reduce the uninsured rate."

A few lines on, the piece waggishly notes that Romney supports a market-based health-care system "everywhere except Massachusetts."

All joking or sarcasm aside, I'm pleased that a major media outlet has finally, explicitly noted Romney's tortured, conflicted positions on this topic over the past decade and calls for him to make a clarifying explanation of his current beliefs. As well as the reasons why he's changed his mind, if so, or, if not, why not.

But I disagree with the Journal editorial staff that other GOP candidates should be challenging "his canned answers."

Isn't that what the media are for? To hold candidates accountable for their positions- past or, if now different, present?

I'd prefer other GOP candidates to stick to their own campaigns and positions. If they want to highlight their differences with Romney's ideas- if they can figure out what those are- and why theirs are better, fine.

But it seems a breach of Reagan's 11th Commandment for other candidates to just open fire on Mitt. This is precisely the sort of thing about which Brett Baier should be grilling Mitt in his "Center Seat" segment.

If the major media, either in interviews, so-called debates or other formats, can't do this, for what are they any good in this campaign season?