Archive for November, 2010
This morning, King Banaian made his first appearance on talk radio since Carol Lewis’ gracious concession speech on Hot Talk. One of the things King mentioned was that he still hoped HF1 would be his zero-based budget legislation. I suspect it still will because of Kurt Zellers’ commitment to it when King announced his candidacy:
King announced that, if elected, the first bill heâ€™d submit is for using zero-based budgeting in putting together Minnesotaâ€™s budget. King said that zero-based budgeting forces the legislature to justify every dollar of spending â€œinstead of quibbling overâ€ â€œthe last dollars spent.”
This would make tons of sense because it’d force agency chiefs to justify their spending decisions, which they haven’t had to do as frequently as they should be required to do. Like I wrote earlier this week, the DFL didn’t do a good job of keeping track of how money was spent:
Obviously, DCâ€™s Democrats and Minnesotaâ€™s DFL donâ€™t have a good track record of keeping track of how our money is spent. Thatâ€™s the main reason why they were run out of the majority in the Minnesota legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives. Simply put, people saw how irresponsible they were with the taxpayersâ€™ money.
I wrote this as commentary to Mark Sommerhauser’s article in this Sunday’s St. Cloud Times, which talked about how difficult it is to track projects from Legacy Act revenues.
That’s just tracking the revenues from the Legacy Act. Imagine tracking money from the entire general fund budget. Then imagine the DFL not holding in session oversight hearings on general fund spending.
Zero-based budgeting would provide much-needed accountability to assure Minnesota’s taxpayers that this legislature will pay attention to how their money is spent. For that reason alone, the legislation should be the first legislation in the hopper and the first legislation signed into law. If Dayton won’t sign it the first time, keep passing it until he either signs it or is punished by Minnesota voters for vetoing it.
This legislation was the biggest motivating factor among many motivating factors for getting King elected. Now that he’s all but sworn in, it’s time to do everything possible to get this legislation passed. It’s too important to not hold politicians and bureaucrats accountable.
PS- I’ll be posting something later today about how King got elected on this blog. Make sure and check back to this blog for that post.
If there’s anything I can’t stand, it’s when progressive politicians attempt to use the Bible to score cheap political points. That’s apparently what the Rev. Howard Bess is attempting to do in this op-ed. First, here’s the editor’s offensive introduction, along with Rev. Bess’s opening:
Editorâ€™s Note: The Republican electoral resurgence, like Ronald Reaganâ€™s original coalition, combines collaborative but often contradictory forces, from anti-government Tea Partiers and libertarians to corporatists who feast on government contracts and Christian nationalists who want government-imposed â€œmorality.â€
But the â€œChristianâ€ element of this coalition is especially problematic because it also tends to favor policies, from brutal warfare abroad to harsh treatment of certain minorities at home, that ignore Jesusâ€™s core teachings of tolerance.
The Tea Party is especially clear in rejecting the â€œlove thy neighborâ€ aspects of Christianity, insisting that government should get out of the business of seeking social and economic justice, as the Rev. Howard Bess notes in this guest essay:
According to the Luke gospel, after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer, he withdrew for 40 days to think, ponder, and pray.
His next stop was a synagogue gathering in his home community, Nazareth. Jesus read from an Isaiah scroll, and then laid out his four-point agenda.
First, he was going to take up the causes of the poor. Second, he was going to work for the release of the people, who were incarcerated or oppressed. Third, he was going to bring sight to the blind. Fourth, he was proclaiming The Year of the Lord.
That was a huge agenda for a 30-year-old rabbi from a tiny village, who had no experience, no following, and no formal training.
Particularly challenging was the fourth proposal. The Year of the Lord was a reference to an Old Testament law that required a complete redistribution of wealth. Every 50 years all land holdings were to be abandoned and redistributed among the Israelites. It had never been done, but the law was still on the books.
First, Rev. Bess can’t know for certain whether this Year of the Lord had been observed because the Old Testament is silent on it being observed. It’s true that the Old Testament tells how to observe the Year of the Lord, mostly in the book of Leviticus and the book of Numbers. After that, it’s silent.
According to this website, though, it’s easy to prove that land holdings weren’t to be redistributed. That’s because, according to the Bible, God owns the land. When Israel entered the Promised Land, with Joshua as their leader, each of the 12 tribes of Israel was given a parcel of land with the exception of the tribe of Levi. Each tribe then parcelled out land according to the number of people in each tribe.
The bottom line is this: At some point, the land belonged to that specific family. Ergo, that isn’t redistribution of land. It’s the return of land. Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of redistribution:
Economics. the theory, policy, or practice of lessening or reducing inequalities in income through such measures as progressive income taxation and antipoverty programs.
Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of return:
to revert to a former owner: The money I gave him returns to me in the event of his death.
Clearly, the definition of redistribution from an economic perspective was the leveling of a supposedly unlevel playing field whereas returning something simply meant giving back something that was once another person’s.
To be factually accurate, only the land that had been transferred from the original landowner to another landowner was returned. The land that had been in the family for generations wasn’t redistributed.
This is an important distinction because the intents are dramatically different. The intent of the redistributionist is to make level that which they think isn’t fair. The intent of the person returning something is to return something that didn’t belong to that family.
That’s quite a difference and the difference isn’t unintentional.
The editor argues that the TEA Party activists have rejected the â€œlove thy neighborâ€ aspects of Christianity…” As a TEA Party organizer, I can say without hesitation that “insisting that government…get out of the business of seeking social and economic justice” isn’t high on our priority list. The reality is that our priority is that our highest priority is setting in place policies that help people prosper and letting them achieve great things.
This next section of the op-ed is sickening:
I recognize that translating a stump speech from 2,000 years ago into a meaningful action plan in 2010 is a tough job. However, abandoning the Jesus agenda is not acceptable to anyone who calls himself/herself a follower of the rabbi from Nazareth.
Jesus was committed to building a just kingdom of God on earth. His followers cannot deny that he gave preference to the poor and gave no respect to the rich. Imprisonment of anyone was not on his agenda.
Sight, hearing and a working body for everyone was an important commitment. Fair wages and a fair tax system were all a part of his proposal.
That Rev. Bess thinks of Jesus’ messages as “a stump speech from 2,000 years ago” is disturbing enough. That he thinks Jesus’ ministry was about “building a just kingdom of God on earth” illustrates Rev. Bess’s misunderstanding of the Bible. In the Book of Hebrews, we’re told that earth isn’t the Christian’s home, that we “desire a better, that is, a heavenly country.”
Rev. Bess appears to be making Christianity all about worldly things. The goal behind everything Christ and His apostles did was about bringing people to a deeper understanding of Christ. PERIOD.
Christ healed the blind and cured the ill first so He could minister to their spriritual needs shortly thereafter.
Finally, nowhere in the Bible that I’ve read does it say directly that governments should take the initiative in ministering to people. In fact, in Exodus, God gives clear instruction that His people were to minister to each other.
Finally, I can’t not respond to this bald-faced lie:
Implicit in the Jesus vision of justice is accepting responsibility for oneâ€™s neighbor. While Jesus expressed a special interest in the poor, Tea Party members make no secret of their conviction that the strong have a right to dominate and control the weak and the poor.
It’s stunning to think anyone would publish this nonsense. For Rev. Bess to say that “Tea Party members make no secret of their conviction that the strong have a right to dominate and control the weak” isn’t factually accurate. In fact, it’s an outright lie. This isn’t just a personal observation. It’s borne out in articles like this, written by the NYTimes’ Nicholas Kristof:
Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, â€œWho Really Cares,â€ cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
Other research has reached similar conclusions. The â€œgenerosity indexâ€ from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.
Does Rev. Bess think that Republicans giving 30 percent more to charities than Democrats give to charities sound like proof that TEA Party members have a need to “dominate and control the weak and the poor”?
This is another example of how progressives have hijacked the English language for political purposes. Here’s Dictionary.com’s definition of the word charity:
generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless: to devote one’s life to charity.
a charitable fund, foundation, or institution
Paying taxes to the government, which then appropriates money to government programs is many things but it isn’t charity. First, paying taxes isn’t charity; it’s paying money to the government. Noncompliance is punishable by force of law. Only the most twisted logic could call paying taxes that pay for Welfare, Medicare or Medicaid could call that charity.
Rev. Bess’s op-ed proves that he, like most progressives, don’t have a clue about the TEA Party’s priorities or virtues. Before he shoots his mouth off again, I’d recommend that he first attend a good school of theology, then actually attend a TEA Party.
Based on this article, it looks like Jim Talent and Claire McCaskill might be heading for a rematch:
Fewer than 50,000 votes separated Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill and Republican incumbent Jim Talent in Missouri’s 2006 U.S. Senate race, a difference of only about a dozen votes from each precinct. McCaskill won.
Now McCaskill and Talent may be headed toward a role-reversal rematch in the 2012 elections. This time, McCaskill will be the incumbent. And Talent could be the challenger.
Although no one is officially a candidate yet, the 2012 political season already is quietly under way as potential candidates are calling around to prospective contributors and party stalwarts to gauge their support. The candidacy intrigue centers mainly on the Republican Party, because Democrats already have incumbents in the U.S. Senate, governor’s office and most other statewide offices up for re-election in Missouri.
This time, Sen. McCaskill won’t get a free pass. This time, she’ll have to defend her campaign’s actions, her voting twice for ARRA and Obamacare and her campaign’s illegal activities:
Speaking at a public event last Thursday in St. Louis sponsored by Environmentalists for Claire, McCaskill revealed a plan to use publicly-financed employees for partisan political purposes in violation of the civil service rules of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County which bars employees from participating in political campaigns and specifically prohibits â€˜coercionâ€™ of any taxpayer funded employees to participate in partisan political activities.
â€œâ€¦here (St. Louis) and in Kansas City the mayor and the county executive have donated 150 employees to work on the election on Election Day,â€ McCaskill said.
First, then Candidate McCaskill, if this report is accurate, broke campaign laws by using union workers while they’re getting paid to do their jobs. Either these workers shouldn’t have gotten paid by the government or they shouldn’t have been used by the McCaskill campaign.
Certainly, Missouri voters shouldn’t tolerate that type of corruption.
Another difficulty facing Sen. McCaskill is something that she’s tried addressing the past 2-3 weeks. I wrote earlier about how Sen. McCaskill voted for the stimulus and Obamacare bills, twice each, when a no vote would’ve killed those bills.
By now, it’s established fact that the stimulus failed miserably. Well, it’s established fact except with Sen. McCaskill.
Sen. McCaskill better hope she isn’t heading for a rematch with Jim Talent because she’ll lose if that’s the matchup in 2012.
Michael Barone’s latest column is a great argument for cutting some public employee unions down to size. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s paid attention to California’s, Michigan’s, Illinois’ and New York’s budget crises. It’s time we dealt with these crises. Mr. Barone writes that, whether legislators deal with the crises or not, markets quickly will. Here’s how Mr. Barone thinks these states will ‘get religion':
The prospect is that the bond market will quit financing California and Illinois long before the federal government. It may already be happening. Earlier this month, California could sell only $6 billion of $10 billion revenue anticipation notes it put on the market.
Individual investors have been selling off state and local municipal bonds this month. Meredith Whitney, the financial expert who first spotted Citigroup’s overexposure to mortgage-backed securities, is now predicting a sell-off in the municipal bond market.
So it’s entirely possible that some state government; California and Illinois, facing $25 billion and $15 billion deficits, are likely suspects; will be coming to Washington some time in the next two years in search of a bailout. The Obama administration may be sympathetic. It’s channeled stimulus money to states and TARP money to General Motors and Chrysler in large part to bail out its labor union allies.
But the Republican House is not likely to share that view, and it’s hard to see how tapped-out state governments can get 60 votes in a 53-47 Democratic Senate.
How to avoid this scenario? University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel, writing in The Weekly Standard, suggests that Congress pass a law allowing states to go bankrupt.
Skeel, a bankruptcy expert, notes that a Depression-era statute allows local governments to go into bankruptcy. Some have done so: Orange County, Calif., in 1994, Vallejo, Calif., in 2008. Others, perhaps a dozen small municipalities in Michigan, are headed that way.
Governors like Jerry Brown and Pat Quinn won’t tighten things on unions, even though their states are being ruined by union pensions and out-of-control state spending.
With Brown and Quinn, it’s likely that these corrupt politicians won’t tighten things up because they’re getting substantial political contributions from the public employee unions for their campaigns.
In Nixon’s time, that practice used to be known as setting up a slush fund. Today, it’s just business-as-usual. By either term, it’s a form of corruption.
The reality is that it’s likely that bond markets will prevent states from borrowng money to fuel their spending addiction. The longer the addiction isn’t curtailed, the more painful the remedy will be when it eventually arrives. And it will arrive if we don’t change our spending habits.
The threat of bankruptcy would put a powerful weapon in the hands of governors and legislatures: They can tell their unions that they have to accept cuts now or face a much more dire fate in bankruptcy court.
It’s not clear that governors like California’s Jerry Brown, who first authorized public employee unions in the 1970s, or Illinois’s Pat Quinn will be eager to use such a threat against unions, which have been the Democratic Party’s longtime allies and financiers.
But the bond market could force their hand and seems already to be pushing in that direction. And, as Bowles notes, when the markets come, they will be swift and severe.
The policy arguments for a bailout of California or Illinois public employee union members are incredibly weak. If Congress allows state bankruptcies, it might prevent a crisis that is plainly looming.
With the federal deficits in excess of $1,000,000,000,000, with unemployment almost 10 percent, with a GOP majority in the U.S. House and with bond markets destabilizing, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to picture a scenario under which a federal bailout might pass.
The only conditions under which it might pass is with a tightly-enforced spending cap being included in the legislation. Even then, it’s still an uphill fight at best.
With Speaker Boehner, Budget Committee Chairman Ryan and other fiscal hawks ready to shoot down the Democrats’ extensive wish list, how willing will Democrats be to fight for more union bailouts? I’m not betting they’ll be that excited to fight for another round of unpopular bailouts.
With the American people not being in a spendaholic mood for the foreseeable future, it isn’t likely that Republicans will get hurt by saying yes to sane spending habits. Similarly, it isn’t likely that Democrats will be helped by being spendaholics.
Based on this article, it isn’t a stretch to think President Obama’s foreign policy was long on ideology and short on dealing with reality:
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.
The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.
The Saudi king was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”, one cable stated. “He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah’s meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.
Thanks to Jim Hoft’s digging, we know that Sen. Obama criticized President Bush for not pursuing diplomacy:
â€œIt is absolutely clear that this administration and President Bush continues to not let facts get in the way of his ideology..They need, now, to aggressively move on the diplomatic frontâ€¦They should have stopped the saber rattling, should never have started it.
It’s clear, based on the cables released by Wikileaks, that then-Sen. Obama was an appeaser when it came to Iran, that his policy was based more on cooing like a dove than on sounding like a tiger.
President Obama obviously didn’t learn the Reagan Principle. Simply put, the Reagan Principle is to not negotiate with rogue nations or superpowers until he’d built up his forces until these rogue nations or superpowers were scared of his military superiority. Only then did Reagan start negotiations with America’s enemies.
Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, “we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both”.
It’s time that the Obama administration admitted that their national security policies are incoherent and based more on Obama’s proclivity towards passivity than on reality.
The more I read on the subject, the more President Obama reminds me of Jimmy Carter’s appeasement. Looking back through history, thoughtful people understand what a disaster Carter’s national security policies were and how they started the modern terrorist movement.
This morning, Rep. Keith Ellison told WCCO’s Esme Murphy that Democrats would likely have to compromise with Republicans in the 112th Congress. It was apparent that his heart wasn’t into that though he tried selling it as best he could.
Rep. Ellison said that he wouldn’t let Republicans repeal Obamacare, something he might not have a vote on. I posted yesterday that the judiciary might eliminate it without congressional involvement.
It’s apparent that Rep. Ellison is still attempting to work from the same paradigm that Speaker Pelosi and President Obama operated from. That won’t fly with the next Congress just like it won’t work with the American people.
This November, voters told Democrats in emphatic terms that they’d spent too much, that they’d pushed too radical of an agenda and that they’d supported tax increases that the American people didn’t want.
While it’s true that the American people aren’t thrilled with Republicans, it’s equally true that they’re appalled with the Democrats’ agenda. That’s why they booted Pelosi from the Speaker’s office. Like P.J. O’Rourke said, this wasn’t an election, it was a restraining order.
People like Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Ellison won’t stop spending just because the American people said they should stop spending irresponsibly. What’s needed is for conservatives, both in the Minnesota state legislature and in the U.S. Congress, to be the adults that the American people are hoping for.
I’ve heard people say that politicians got it right when both sides are unhappy. I couldn’t disagree more emphatically. Politicians got it right when the people emphatically praise politicians for doing the right thing.
Anything short of that is failure.
What’s needed to accomplish that goal, though, is for conservatives to hold more high profile townhall meetings that do a better job of explaining their policies so people see the benefit of enacting their policies.
The thing I came away with was that Rep. Ellison is hoping to tread water through this session, have President Obama veto some bills he doesn’t like, then hope to retake the House in 2012. Honestly, I think that plan isn’t realistic but I think it’s what Rep. Ellison is hoping for.
Look for TEA Party activists to hold both parties’ feet to the proverbial fire on spending and fiscal responsibility. That means turning up the heat on repealing Obamacare, keeping taxes low and on conducting oversight hearings to ensure the taxpayers’ money isn’t being spent foolishly.
If this Republican majority in the House offers sensible solutions to America’s problems while keeping spending and taxes at a reasonable rate, they’ll be the majority party for a decade or two.
If the DFL has developed a mantra regarding the gubernatorial recount, and they have, it’s that a Gov. Dayton is inevitable. Their inference is that judges are infallible.
This morning on @Issue With Tom Hauser, Ember Reichgott-Junge, Denise Cardinal and Matt Entenza essentially said, each in different wording, that there must’ve been a good reason why the Minnesota Supreme Court dismissed Tom Emmer’s case this quickly.
While I’ll agree that the Minnesota Supreme Court had a reason, I won’t agree, at least at this point, that their reason is an intellectually solid reason. First, I’d possibly give them the benefit of the doubt had they published their opinion. They didn’t, leaving their ruling open to scrutiny.
Next, let’s admit the obvious: that judges aren’t infallible. In their recount ruling, there is a clear statute that the Minnesota Supreme Court apparently ignored. I wrote here how that statute reads:
Subd. 2. Excess ballots. If two or more ballots are found folded together like a single ballot, the election judges shall lay them aside until all the ballots in the box have been counted. If it is evident from the number of ballots to be counted that the ballots folded together were cast by one voter, the election judges shall preserve but not count them. If the number of ballots in one box exceeds the number to be counted, the election judges shall examine all the ballots in the box to ascertain that all are properly marked with the initials of the election judges. If any ballots are not properly marked with the initials of the election judges, the election judges shall preserve but not count them; however, if the number of ballots does not exceed the number to be counted, the absence of either or both sets of initials of the election judges does not, by itself, disqualify the vote from being counted and must not be the basis of a challenge in a recount. If there is still an excess of properly marked ballots, the election judges shall replace them in the box, and one election judge, without looking, shall withdraw from the box a number of ballots equal to the excess. The withdrawn ballots shall not be counted but shall be preserved as provided in subdivision 4.
Again, this is what’s written in Statute 204C.20. The language is straightforward and easy to follow. If there are more ballots cast than there are signatures on the sign-in sheet, ballots must be removed until the number of ballots is equal to the numbers of signatures on the sign-in sheets.
During her panel time with Michael Brodkorb, Miss Cardinal implied that the judges’ ruling was beyond question. Until we’ve read their opinion and seen how they voted, that’s farther than I’m willing to go. I’m perfectly willing to say that it’s possible that the judges got their ruling wrong.
If the justices don’t issue their opinion explaining their ruling, then I won’t be alone in thinking that they haven’t been totally transparent in their ruling. In my opinion, that’s reason enough to question their opinion.
Another reason why I’d question their ruling is because their ruling runs totally contrary to well-established Minnesota election law. As far as I know, the Supreme Court might’ve ignored the statute entirely. I’m not saying that’s what happened but I can’t prove otherwise at this point.
That isn’t the way to bring transparency and credibility to the election process. In fact, that’s the argument Dan Severson made in his campaign against Mark Ritchie. It appears Rep. Severson’s argument was accurate.
At this point, I can’t prove that the courts or the canvassing board followed the law. I know that they’ve made the argument that, in their eyes, it’s ok to use receipts to do reconcilliation. According to the law, which hasn’t been changed, only sign-in sheets can be used for reconcilliation.
Until it’s proven that that’s what’s happened, the courts and the canvassing board can’t prove that they’ve obeyed the law. Until they’ve obeyed the law, Minnesotans shouldn’t buy the DFL’s hype that our election system is the gold standard.
Frankly, that myth needs to be dispelled. I won’t hesitate in admitting that our election laws are the gold standard in the nation. I’ll do more than hesitate in admitting that our election officials have done what the law tells them to do.
Finally, let’s dispel another myth, namely that things must be right if both sides complain about the end result. If clearly written law isn’t followed, then something is wrong. Telling me that another method is just as good, which is what the DFL is implying, doesn’t tell me anything except that the DFL is willing to cut corners on something that should be done right 100 percent of the time.
Mark Sommerhauser’s article does a good job outlining how difficult it is to track the revenues raised by the Legacy Act Amendment. The inadvertent result of the article is to highlight the lax oversight that existed during the DFL’s time in the majority:
Voters amended their state Constitution to impose a three-eighths-cent sales tax to fund such projects. State legislators quickly divvied up revenues from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, appropriating about $400 million for projects in fiscal years 2010 and 2011.
But itâ€™s tough for taxpayers to determine where their dollars are being put to work, two years after they endorsed the Legacy Amendment. The public can learn, in broad terms, how Legacy Amendment funds are being used by public agencies and other groups.
But try to link Legacy dollars to the specific projects throughout the state, and tracking your tax dollar gets a lot tougher.
At teh urging of their political allies, the DFL quickly got their amendment on the ballot. Unfortunately, they didn’t think alot about tracking how the money got spent:
Linking Legacy Amendment dollars to projects is complicated by the sheer number of public agencies administering the projects. Seventeen public agencies are expending Legacy funds, according to the Office of the Legislative Auditor. Legislators allocate the Legacy money to the agencies.
I’d bet that most of the projects are being done by the DFL’s political allies. At this point, that’s just a hunch but it isn’t a stretch. There’s no way to know at this point because the DFL didn’t establish a tracking system for Legacy Act projects.
Within 2 years, we’ll know, though, because we’ll be able to track the projects by organization, then see if people employed by those organizations contributed to the DFL.
The bottom line is this: the DFL didn’t worry how our taxes were being spent. Oversight wasn’t a priority. It’s never been a priority. I know because I asked Tarryl Clark about whether they’d conduct oversight hearings during the 2007 regular session after a January, 2007 townhall meeting:
After the meeting, Sen. Clark stopped to talk with Leo & I. I asked Sen. Clark if adopting a zero-based budget was a possibility. Sen. Clark said that thatâ€™s something they were looking into and that it might happen for the â€˜08 legislative session but that there wasnâ€™t enough time to adopt it for the â€˜07 session. Not willing to let it go at that, I asked if they would at least schedule oversight hearing that would identify the wasteful spending thatâ€™s already there. I was assured that they would be holding vigorous oversight hearings. (I phrased the question specifically to establish the fact that waste existed & that it was just a matter of determining how big the amount was.)
Pressing forward, I then asked Sen. Clark why six tax increase bills were introduced the first week. She said that â€œthere were really only 2 tax bills, one to lower property taxes, the other to raise them.â€ She assured us that the other bills werenâ€™t going anywhere and that they â€œwere introduced by individualâ€ legislators and â€œwerenâ€™t part of the leadershipâ€™s agenda.â€
Letâ€™s consider the fact that one of those proposals is a constitutional amendment to raise the Minnesota sales tax 3/8ths of a cent. That type of legislation isnâ€™t something that just happens. Thatâ€™s something that is carefully planned.
I’d forgotten that the Legacy Act amendment was mentioned at the meeting. That matters because the DFL tried getting it passed in 2006 but it failed because it didn’t have the support of the arts community. Before it passed the House and Senate for the 2008 ballot, the DFL added the arts to the bill to guarantee support from that special interest group.
This matters because the DFL knew this, not just months ago, but years ago. There’s no excuse for them not to have established a tracking system for Legacy Act projects with that generous timetable.
After Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment, or stimulus, Act, federal officials created a website where taxpayers could look up stimulus projects nationwide. They also posted signs at stimulus project sites so taxpayers could see the federal funds at work.
But in Minnesota, itâ€™s even been slow going for the state to develop a logo for Legacy Amendment projects.
Legislators in 2009 charged the state arts board with designing a logo that could be posted at project sites. Nearly 18 months later, the DNR is now responsible for the project, and is running a statewide contest for the public to design a Legacy Amendment logo.
Before anyone criticizes Gov. Pawlenty for not getting the logos designed, it’s apparent that the agencies were told what to do but that they simply didn’t complete their assignment. If Gov. Pawlenty wasn’t paying attention, how did the logo assignment get shifted from the State Arts Board to the DNR?
Let’s remember that the ARRA website wasn’t a great success either. This transcript shows why:
SULLIVAN: Your next guest has just announced his run for Congress from the phantom Double-Zero district of New Hampshire, one of those mentioned in the stimulus plan that donâ€™t actually exist. Grant Bosse says that if itâ€™s good enough to be cited as creating jobs, it ought to have a congressman.
Grant Bosse, Brian Sullivan in for Neil today. Forgive the tongue in cheek.
BOSSE: Oh, of course.
SULLIVAN: The Fighting Double-Zero, isnâ€™t that what youâ€™re calling it up there?
BOSSE: The Fighting Double-Zero. Itâ€™s about time we had representation in Congress. Just because we donâ€™t exist doesnâ€™t mean we shouldnâ€™t count. Weâ€™re just as serious, weâ€™re just as real as the jobs that were created under the stimulus plan.
SULLIVAN: What is your phantom platform?
BOSSE: Well, to keep the jobs here that the stimulus bill created.
SULLIVAN: Real jobs, though, right? Double-Zero would be happy to push them out to a real New Hampshire district, I assume?
BOSSE: We supposedly found out this week, through the Franklin Centerâ€™s report on 440 fake congressional districts nationwide, that New Hampshireâ€™s Double-Zero District got about 2,800 jobs from the stimulus plan, which was quite a shock to the people who donâ€™t live there because it doesnâ€™t exist. And then when they changed the website, they took those 2,800 jobs away, so Iâ€™m gonna fight to bring them back and I think we need the type of fake jobs that, umâ€¦
SULLIVAN: If I was a fake member of that fake district, Iâ€™d be really upset because I was being discounted as being fake.
BOSSE: And thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m asking you to pretend to vote for me.
SULLIVAN: You know, youâ€™ve got my pretend vote. Now the problem is that itâ€™s in real reports. So itâ€™s not a fake report. Thatâ€™s the problem. Itâ€™s a fake district with fake jobs but itâ€™s a real report.
BOSSE: Yeah, we spent $84,000,000 as part of this stimulus plan for the recovery.gov website and what we got is a very nice website with a great interactive map and the data on it is complete garbage. And in fact, the people that run that website now admit that they canâ€™t tell how many jobs the stimulus bill created because the data, they never bothered to check if the data was any good or not.
SULLIVAN: Listen, if I get up to the Phantom Fighting Double-Zero District, weâ€™ll go out for a fake burger, a fake beer and a real conversation.
BOSSE: No, the beer will be real.
SULLIVAN: Thatâ€™s the best part. Grant Bosse, thank you very much and good luck with your campaign.
BOSSE: Weâ€™ll need it.
Obviously, DC’s Democrats and Minnesota’s DFL don’t have a good track record of keeping track of how our money is spent. That’s the main reason why they were run out of the majority in the Minnesota legislature and the U.S. House of Representatives. Simply put, people saw how irresponsible they were with the taxpayers’ money.
The DFL should rest assured that I’ll remind people between now and the 2012 election that the DFL championed taxation on autopilot and nonexistent oversight. I’m betting that voters won’t approve of that.
If they don’t tighten their ship considerably, the DFL, President Obama and DC’s Democrats will suffer another bloodbath 24 months from now. Taxpayers don’t like having this much of their money taken. They certainly don’t like having this much of their money taken and being spent this irresponsibly.
Rest assured, if Democrats don’t tighten things up, the TEA Party will take it out on them for being this irresponsible.
Let’s be clear from the outset that when I question the UN’s IPCC report, I’m questioning the agenda behind the headlines. This post by Newsbusters’ Noel Sheppard includes a transcript that’s both enlightening and infuriating. Here’s what I’m talking about:
NZZ AM SONNTAG: The new thing about your proposal for a Global Deal is the stress on the importance of development policy for climate policy. Until now, many think of aid when they hear development policies.
OTTMAR EDENHOFER, UN IPCC OFFICIAL: That will change immediately if global emission rights are distributed. If this happens, on a per capita basis, then Africa will be the big winner, and huge amounts of money will flow there. This will have enormous implications for development policy. And it will raise the question if these countries can deal responsibly with so much money at all.
NZZ: That does not sound anymore like the climate policy that we know.
EDENHOFER: Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization. The climate summit in Cancun at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War. Why? Because we have 11,000 gigatons of carbon in the coal reserves in the soil under our feet, and we must emit only 400 gigatons in the atmosphere if we want to keep the 2-degree target. 11,000 to 400, there is no getting around the fact that most of the fossil reserves must remain in the soil.
NZZ: De facto, this means an expropriation of the countries with natural resources. This leads to a very different development from that which has been triggered by development policy.
EDENHOFER: First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.
Clearly, in Edehoffer’s thinking, the highest priority of the IPCC is wealth redistribution. Climate control is just a secondary priority.
In fact, the key word in that phrase is control. With that control comes the opportunity for third world corruptocrat enrichment. Notice how Edenhoffer says that “Africa will be the big winner” if “global emission rights are distributed” “on a per capita basis”?
Notice, too, that “the climate summit” isn’t “a climate conference”, that it’s “one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.” Let’s take the blinders off and understand that the IPCC is about redistributing wealth and exercising control over superpower nations like the United States.
The only way to stop these corruptocrats is by defeating Obama in 2012, replacing him with someone who’ll fight for our sovereignty. This crisis isn’t going away just by wishing. It’ll take a serious commitment to the principles laid out in our founding documents.
If other nations make bad decisions, that’s their problem. It isn’t like other nations help us out when we make bad decisions. And we make more than enough mistakes.
The bottom line is this: one of the leaders of the IPCC has admitted that their report isn’t based on the desire to limit pollution. It’s based mostly on wealth redistribution. It’s now our responsibility to expose the UN and the IPCC for being in the wealth redistribution business.
Thanks to this Washington Post article, we now know that Obamacare isn’t just flawed, it’s fatally flawed. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Want an appointment with kidney specialist Adam Weinstein of Easton, Md.? If you’re a senior covered by Medicare, the wait is eight weeks.
How about a checkup from geriatric specialist Michael Trahos? Expect to see him every six months: The Alexandria-based doctor has been limiting most of his Medicare patients to twice yearly rather than the quarterly checkups he considers ideal for the elderly. Still, at least he’ll see you. Top-ranked primary care doctor Linda Yau is one of three physicians with the District’s Foxhall Internists group who recently announced they will no longer be accepting Medicare patients.
“It’s not easy. But you realize you either do this or you don’t stay in business,” she said.
Doctors across the country describe similar decisions, complaining that they’ve been forced to shift away from Medicare toward higher-paying, privately insured or self-paying patients in response to years of penny-pinching by Congress.
And that’s not even taking into account a long-postponed rate-setting method that is on track to slash Medicare’s payment rates to doctors by 23 percent Dec. 1. Known as the Sustainable Growth Rate and adopted by Congress in 1997, it was intended to keep Medicare spending on doctors in line with the economy’s overall growth rate. But after the SGR formula led to a 4.8 percent cut in doctors’ pay rates in 2002, Congress has chosen to put off the ever steeper cuts called for by the formula ever since.
One of the things touted by Democrats during the Obamacare debate was their cutting $500,000,000,000 from Medicare. They said that this cut would increase Medicare solvency, which they knew was a bald-faced lie. (They knew it because they were using this money to pay for another entitlement.)
If this 1997 provision is implemented, which I’m not certain it will be, Medicare will essentially be crippled.
That’s before talking about the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion:
The administration argues that other key provisions do not depend on the insurance mandate. Those provisions include establishing health insurance exchanges, subsidizing premiums through tax credits and expanding Medicaid eligibility, all scheduled for 2014.
The federal government doesn’t have the right to demand a state fund federal programs. That’s beyond their authority. A respectable argument might be made that if a state accepts federal money, then the federal government can impose restrictions on the use of that money.
That’s different than telling a state they have to implement a program. Putting a state budget together is the state’s responsibility and that state’s responsibility alone. Imposing spending on a state also affects a state’s tax policy, too, which is likewise beyond the federal government’s authority.
First, it isn’t certain that Obamacare won’t get struck down by SCOTUS. The government spent a ton of time on TV saying that the individual mandate wasn’t a tax. Now that they’re arguing the case in court, they’re arguing they have the authority because of the government’s taxation authority.
That’s an uphill fight, especially considering the fact that taxes are levied on economic activity. It’s difficult to argue that existing is a form of economic activity.
Speaker Pelosi said that we’d have to pass Obamacare to find out all the positive things contained in the bill. Nor surprisingly, the more we find out about the legislation, the more there is to be disgusted with. I wrote months ago about the $670 billion in tax increases in the bill. I wrote here that seniors aren’t happy with the Medicare cuts:
Most senior citizens (59%) also favor repeal. Earlier, voters over 65 had been more opposed to the health care plan than younger adults. Seniors use the health care system more than anyone else. But 58% of those 18 to 29 also support repeal of the plan which requires all Americans to have health insurance.
Now we’re finding out that doctors and hospitals are deciding to drop coverage of Medicare patients. Things won’t get better with time for Obamacare.
In fact, Pelosi’s quote about having to pass the bill to appreciate it will be her epitaph and possibly the most embarassing quote from any House Speaker in history.