Thursday, June 30, 2011

Congratulations to Governor Kasich and the Ohio Legislature

Today, Governor John Kasich kept his promise.

Many doubted it could be done. The promise I'm referring to, of course, is balancing Ohio's biennial budget, without raising taxes. In fact, an income tax cut was preserved, after being delayed by the last administration.

Governor Kasish started the process with Ohio being $8 billion in the hole. That's what the outgoing Ted Strickland administration left us with. Faced with growing expenditures, but relatively flat revenue due to essentially no population growth, the previous administration refused to restructure their last budget to reflect the economic reality.

They robbed from various funds, and took billions in federal handouts, and then patted themselves on the back for it. They refused to address the underlying problem, which was the huge difference between the state's revenues and it's spending. They chose the easy path and avoided making the hard, but necessary choices to reset Ohio's budget to one of sustainability.

Our new budget reflects reality and establishes a new, sustainable, baseline going forward, so that taxes in Ohio, already among the nation's highest, won't have to be raised. Raising taxes would only make Ohio even more uncompetitive with other states when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses, causing even further job loss.

There are some painful cuts to education spending and local governments. Cuts across most departments were necessary. But there are also a number of significant reforms as part of this budget, not just cuts. Reforms that will make Ohio state government more efficient in the services it performs.

Reforms like getting rid of the multiple-prime system for bidding public constuction projects like schools and university buildings. Ohio was the the last remaining state using such an outdated form of contracting for public buildings. This will save around 10% on future building costs.

The grownups are back in charge. They did what was necessary for Ohio taxpayers. They might not be popular for it. Nobody likes cuts, and nobody likes to make cuts. But they had a job to do, and they did it. And they did it the responsible way.

The Columbus Dispatch agrees:
Kasich and this legislature came into office in January facing a disaster: an $8 billion deficit left by former Gov. Ted Strickland and lawmakers who failed to put the state on a sustainable fiscal basis by matching spending with revenue. Instead, they kicked the problem down the road, using federal stimulus money to paper over the problem.

Putting the state back on a sound fiscal foundation, with the tools to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, is an extraordinary accomplishment.

Ohio's left and the Democrats will continue to squeal about this budget, and about the cuts they should have made but papered over with Obama money instead. And I'll say to them what I've been saying all along.

Ted Strickland, Armond Budish, Chris Refern and the like: You knew Ohio had a major multi-billion dollar deficit. You had your chance to address it the right way and make the responsible, albeit difficult choices.

You. CHOSE. Not to. Your petty sniping now is nothing more than sour grapes.

Ohio is on a path to a better financial future, due to this governor's leadership. Check out this video that highlights some of the difficulties and Governor Kasich's comments during the budget process.

So, congratulations to Governor Kasich and the Ohio House and Senate for taking the disasterous situation that was left to you, cleaning up the mess, and doing what was right.

Bytor on Twitter

How a Swim Meet Provides an Insight into Capitalism

For the third time in recent weeks (and for the "umpteenth" time in the last 5 years), we are at a swim meet with our four kids. This weekend is an "away meet" which requires travel, lodging, eating meals at restaurants, etc. We are not alone; thirty six teams in total are participating. As a former athlete, I can tell you that swimming is a grueling sport. Practices are almost year round, with summer practices usually starting at sunrise. Practice is usually 2 hours per day, 6 time a week. Swimming, like many other sports is full of sacrifices. Parents sacrifice time and money. Time is required taking swimmers to and from practice and volunteering at swim meets. The kids sacrifice as well. They sacrifice time with friends who don't swim, they spend most of their non swimming time doing homework and vacations are limited due to conflicts with swim meets. Parents sacrifice financially. Financial costs include fees to join the club, fees to swim in meets, money for equipment, money for swim suits, travel, hotels, food away from home, etc. Why do we as parents do it? First, the kids love to swim. Second, we want them to do some sport for their physical fitness. We also like the fact that they are surrounded by other kids who are "goal oriented." The kids love practice (go figure), they love meets, and they love the friends they have made.

Now, how does this have anything to do with capitalism? Swimming is all about results. For our kids, we measure our kids results by whether they are improving their times from meet to meet. At some point in time, certain time standards are important. Qualifying for State, Zone, or National meets require achievement of certain time standards. Knowing this, swimmers push themselves in practice to develop the techniques and endurance they need to try and achieve the needed time standards. Now, as with any endeavor, not all swimmers are created equal. Some are predisposed to success due to body type. Some get superior instruction. Some have parents who were swimmers who can help their children’s development. There are swimmers that are unlikely to ever develop into successful participants but they work very hard nonetheless. Our kids have enjoyed limited success as swimmers, and they earned it. Nobody gets preferential treatment on the basis of race, religion, income, education, party affiliation, etc. You either have the skill and related performance or you will not enjoy the rewards (post season meets, college scholarships, etc). Imagine if these rules applied to corporate employees and CEO's! Swimming, like many sports is the ultimate in "pay" for performance. The performance swimmers seek is black and white. Success is defined by times. If only CEO performance was so clear and clean. Many corporate employee and CEO compensation packages are focused on metrics that if achieved, may or may not reward customers or, more importantly the shareholders of the business.

For those swimmers who enjoy little to limited success in swimming, all is not lost. I believe that all swimmers have learned life lessons. They know that if you want something, you need to work hard for it. There are no hand-outs, no bailouts, no "performance redistribution." It is interesting, given the current socioeconomic environment that swimmers respect and want to emulate those who enjoy the most success. These swimmers serve as an incentive to others to work harder to improve you performance. Contrast this with the current demonizing of the successful by the media and the career politicians. Some deserve this treatment, but I would argue that the vast majority are like swimmers. They have worked for a very long time to be good at what they do for a living. They deliver economic value to their employer, their clients, their customers. The compensation they earn is a direct reflection of the value they add for their constituents. Now if only those who demonize these folks could take a lesson from the swimmers and use those feelings as motivation to improve their lot in life. Maybe it's easier to bitch and moan than to expend the effort to make yourself more valuable to your employer, clients and customers.

Sadly, the folks in Washington are making it a lot easier to take the easy way out. What this means is that these folks will be locked into a life watching others succeed. I have always wondered if the career politicians really want the "less fortunate" to find their way and care for themselves. I generally think that they do not. I remember a quote that says "Those who rob Peter to Pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul." Job #1 for career politicians is to get elected. Job #2 is to get re-elected. As such, the "Pauls" of this country will always be dependent on handouts from the government. If only they had been a swimmer they would know a better way out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Class Warfare and Demagoguery

The current occupant of the White House exposed the Liberal Playbook today at a "news" conference. He urged Congress to end tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. He said it was a "struggle between the interests of hedge fund managers and corporate jet owners against those of the elderly and college students." Of course he also called out Oil Companies to contribute to this "shared sacrifice."

There is nothing "shared" about the distribution of tax payments by Americans. The top 1% of taxpayers already pay 38% of income taxes. If income tax rates are raised, history tells us that the Top 1% will pay less going forward. I'm sure the response would be that the top 1% need to pay their fair share. If 38% is not fair, what is?

The history of tax rates suggests that changes in tax rates does not have an impact on tax receipts as a percentage of GDP. The desire of Democrats to raise taxes is to curry favor with their base. However, it does nothing to advance their goal of raising more revenue. Democrats claim that our tax system needs to be more "Progressive," where the "millionaires and billionaires" pay their fair share. I think you will be surprised about the progressive nature of the current tax system.

The top 10% of American Taxpayers pay a higher share of taxes relative to their share of income compared to Canada, the U.K., France, Germany and Japan. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development found that "Taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States."

Conservatives claim that "we don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem." This is a true statement, in my opinion. When compared to long-term (1960-2009) averages, spending is significantly above average while revenue is actually above average. The current occupant of the White House want's to spin our predicament as a revenue problem because the alternative, and accurate answer is we spend too much. America will no longer accept the "Blame Bush" strategy that the current occupant of the White House has employed since his inauguration.

As to ending tax breaks for Oil companies, it's pure politics. If the current occupant of the White House had done his homework, He would know that U.S. Corporations are at a significant disadvantage vs. their foreign competitors. In 2010, Exxon Mobil incurred a $21.5 billion tax expense. This amounted to a 41% tax rate, above the U.S. Corporate Average and much higher than foreign companies. Note that Exxon Mobile makes 8 cents of profit for every dollar they generate in revenue. Making villains of Oil Companies is interesting as recent polls indicate that 49% of voters say when given a chance, that increasing the supply of oil by finding new sources is better energy policy than reducing demand by cutting gas and oil consumption. Do you think raising taxes on oil companies is going have an impact on exploration spending?

We need to be serious about cutting spending. The longer we wait the more painful the solution will be. Just ask the Greeks.

President Clueless criticizes tax breaks for private jets that he signed into law

Today was one of those rare occasions when President Obama actually held a press conference and took questions from the media. As usual, he was blaming Republicans for not wanting to raise taxes as the reason for our humungous deficits. He went on to accuse Republicans of wanting to "keep tax breaks for corporate jets."
“If everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows and do tough things to achieve the goal of real deficit reduction, then I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and get a deal done.’’
A tax break for corporate jets? Why, that's insane! That must have been passed by the GOP Congress and signed by the evil Booooooshhhh!!!1!1 Barack Obama would never have signed off on something like THAT.


February 18, 2009 - Just a few months after lawmakers scolded auto executives for flying to Washington in private jets, Congress approved a tax break in the stimulus package to help businesses buy their own planes.

The incentive -- first used to help plane makers recover from the 2001 terror attacks -- sharply reduces the up front tax bill for companies who buy assets like business planes.

The aviation industry, which is cutting jobs as it suffers from declining shipments and canceled orders, hopes the tax break in the economic-stimulus bill just signed by President Barack Obama will persuade more companies to buy planes and snap a slump in general aviation that began last year.
So it was Obama and the Democrats who created tax breaks for private jets.

Hmm. Well, you know, it was for the purpose of creating jobs! Keeping umemployment under 8%! So, we shouldn't criticize, right? I mean, look at how well that Stimulus Act worked out!

Yeesh. Get this guy off of his teleprompter binkie, and he can't help putting his foot in his mouth, can he?

Bytor on Twitter

Josh Mandel picks up big endorsements

While we have been highlighting Senator Sherrod Brown's ridiculous policies on deficits and spending, the GOP primary field has been taking shape. Let's take a look.

First, Ken Blackwell has decided not to run.
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell will not run against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ridding Republicans of a potentially divisive primary in one of their key targeted states.

"After three months of quietly talking with my family, friends, political strategists, donors and two men who have expressed a strong interest in this Senate seat, I have decided to end my active consideration of a run for the U.S. Senate," Blackwell told the Daily Caller on Friday. "I believe it is unfair to the conservative objective of defeating Sherrod Brown to stretch out my decision making process any further."
Indeed, as I expressed earlier, a choice between a conservative veteran favorite like Blackwell, and rising star Josh Mandel, would have been an extremely difficult one.

Then, not long after Blackwell's announcement, one of my previous predictions came to fruition, regarding Senator Jim DeMint's PAC, the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF). In April, I said this:
Josh is conservative enough to earn SCF's full endorsement. With the news yesterday that he has hired the same fundraiser that DeMint uses, and this news update from DeMint's PAC coming just a day later, I'm beginning to suspect that DeMint has already reached out to Josh, or vice versa.
Two days ago, Senator DeMint announced SCF's very first endorsement in the 2012 election season, and it is no other than Ohio's Josh Mandel.
I am very proud to announce the endorsement of State Treasurer Josh Mandel for U.S. Senate in Ohio.

This is the first Senate Conservatives Fund endorsement for the 2012 elections, and we're launching an all-out SCF Surge to raise $100,000 for Josh Mandel's campaign before the end of the week. Please make a contribution today so he can defeat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the most liberal politician in the Senate.

In the Republican primary race, Josh Mandel is the candidate favored by the grassroots. SCF members in Ohio are very excited about his candidacy and have urged us to support his Senate campaign. We're answering the call today, and we're going to do everything we can to help the people of Ohio elect a new senator who shares their values.
Then, just yesterday, the Club for Growth also endorsed Josh.
Washington, DC – Club for Growth PAC today announced that it is endorsing Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel for the United States Senate seat currently held by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH):

“The Club for Growth PAC proudly endorses Josh Mandel for the United States Senate,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “Josh Mandel represents a bright future for Ohio and will be a pro-growth star if elected. Sherrod Brown has been a disaster for Ohio. Brown voted for the Stimulus, ObamaCare, and for the Wall Street bailout. Sherrod Brown’s anti-growth agenda has killed jobs and hurt Ohio. We believe Club Members will do everything they can to help Josh Mandel win election as Ohio’s next Senator.”
Kevin Coughlin is also still in the race for the GOP. However, I do not see how he is going to beat Mandel. Josh just has too much going for him right now. He has support and enthusiasm from both the Ohio GOP establishment and the tea party crowd. He has won statewide and holds a current office, thus has higher name recognition. Barring Josh getting himself in trouble via some Weiner-like scandal, he is going to cruise. I don't expect Coughlin to even be in the race when the primary comes around.

Getting back to defeating Sherrod Brown, the momentum that Josh is building already has Brown worried. Check out the email he sent out yesterday in response to the SCF and CFG endorsements.
Right-wing special interests have already started to pour money into Ohio in an effort to take this Senate seat. My campaign must raise $100,000 by June 30th to keep pace. Will you make a contribution of $25 -- more if you can afford it, less if you can’t -- right now to help me get there?
Ohio Republicans have been waiting for years to get rid of Sherrod Brown. Now, we have the additional resources from national conservative groups, plus an outstanding candidate. This race is getting very exciting.

Bytor on Twitter

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sherrod Brown & The Truth

When I got home from work, I checked my email. I found the following:

You can click on the image to see a larger image.

When Brown says he will "Discuss Protecting Medicare for American Seniors," Will he talk about the $500b in cuts to Medicare in Obamacare?

Will Brown talk about The Independent Payment Advisory Board, or IPAB, which is a United States Government agency created in 2010 by sections 3403 and 10320 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which has the explicit task of reducing the rate of growth in Medicare without affecting coverage or quality. What that means is that doctors will get even lower payments. To paraphrase the President, "If you like your doctor, he might not like you because Medicare will pay him less than Medicaid doctors.

Or, will Brown talk about the mean Republicans and their evil child Paul Ryan?

Obviously, this is a trick question. Liberal Democrats seem to have a problem with telling the truth, but that might be due to the sheer volume of goodies buried in Obamacare. Nancy Pelosi was right when she said "You have to pass the bill to see what's in it."

I hope the seniors who attend this "discussion" will hold Browns feet to the fire. If seniors are to decide between the future of Medicare under Obamacare vs. the future of Medicare under Paul Ryan's plan, they need the truth, not lies.

The Americans With No Abilities Act (AWNAA)

Washington, D.C. 28 June, 2011 - The Obama Administration is urging the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass sweeping legislation that will provide new benefits for many American voters: 'The Americans with No Abilities Act (AWNAA)'. President Obama said he would sign it as soon as it hits his desk.

The AWNAA is being hailed as a major legislative goal by advocates for the millions of Americans who have no skills or ambition.

'Roughly 50 percent of American voters do not possess the competence, skill, or drive necessary to carve out a meaningful role for themselves in society,' said California Senator Barbara Feinstein, 'We can no longer stand by and allow voters of such Inability to be ridiculed and passed over. With this legislation, employers will no longer be able to grant favors, raises, or promotions to a small group of workers, simply because they have some idea of what they are doing or succeed in their work assignments. We are going to legalize protection for a lesser class of American voters.'

In a Capitol Hill press conference, House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi (D) (whose constituents are voters with chronic inabilities) and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D) pointed to the success of the U.S. Postal Service, that has a long-standing policy of providing opportunity without any regard to performance and has installed overwhelming numbers of non-achiever postal union members to in-office "supervisory" and "manager" positions. Private-sector industries with good records of non-discrimination against the inept include retail sales, including fast-food restaurants (76%), the public utilities / public works industry (70%), construction laborers (67%), and home improvement 'warehouse' stores (65%). At the state government level, the Department of Motor Vehicles also has an excellent record of hiring Persons of Inability (a whopping 83%).
Under The Americans With No Abilities Act, more than 25 million 'middle man' positions will be created, with important-sounding titles but little real, if any, responsibility, thus providing an illusory sense of purpose and performance. [Erroneously assuming these Persons of Inability actually give a ****]
Mandatory, periodic, non-performance-based raises and promotions will be given so as to guarantee a sense of upward mobility for even the most inept Persons of Inability. This legislation also provides substantial tax breaks to corporations that promote a significant number of Persons of Inability into middle-management positions, and gives a tax credit to small and medium-sized businesses that agree to hire at least one clueless, Person of Inability, worker for every two talented and motivated hires.

Finally, the AWNAA contains tough new measures to make it more difficult to discriminate against Persons of Inability, banning, for example, discriminatory employment interview questions such as, 'Do you have any skills or experience that relate to this job?' 'Can you read or write?' '"Can you perform simple math calculations' 'Do you know the difference between six and a half-dozen?' 'Do you know what math is?'
'As a Person of Inability, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them,' said Ken 'Bubba' Cox, who lost his position as a lug-nut installer at the GM plant in Flint, Michigan, due to his inability to remember 'righty-tightey, lefty-loosey.' 'This new law will be real good for people like me,' Cox added. With the passage of this bill, Cox and millions of other Persons of Inability will finally 'see a light at the end of the tunnel' without having to do anything.

Said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL): 'As a Senator and a person with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that my fellow elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every other American voter with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American voter, regardless of his or her incompetence, inadequacy, or inability with some sort of space for them to take up in this great nation and a good salary and benefits for doing so.'

Monday, June 27, 2011

SB5 and the Columbus "Ring of Fire."

I had a conversation with my brother this weekend. His wife is a teacher in a public school system. His question was "why are they going after school teacher/employees now?" I suggested to him that with the collapse of the tech bubble, followed up by the housing bust, and the resultant reduction in State and Local tax revenues these school districts need to spend less. Some, including Obama and Sherrod Brown call this an "Assault on Unions." Is it an assault when Atlanta is cutting union benefits (by a Democratic Mayor who was supported by unions), or in Chicago, where Obama's former Chief of Staff, who is trying to reduce the cost of the public school system? No, it's merely economic reality. And yet, the Ohio Teachers unions are amassing a war chest to pass a referendum to keep their sweet compensation and benefits deals by allowing Ohioans to vote on Senate Bill 5.

Estimates of the average pay of Ohioans in the private sector are around $40,000 per year. These workers probably are contributing to a 401(k) and maybe some match from their employer. Remember too that the salary and benefits that the public unions enjoy comes out of the Ohio taxpayers pay checks. Are we in a situation, where "Joe Sixpack's" taxes is paying lavish benefits for his kids teachers? You decide. Here are some charts that show some interesting details for the school systems/districts in and around Columbus. You can click on the charts to see a more clear image. This data is from the Buckeye Institute teacher salary database.

Columbus has 78 school district employees who make more than $100,000 per year. I limited the axis so as to show the details on the other districts.

The highest paid District employee may not be a teacher.
This chart shows and annualized salary, taking into consideration that salaries are earned over 1,350 hours during the school year, not 2,080 hours during a full year of work.

Do you make more than $100,000 for working 7-8 months during the year?
Do you make more than $200,000 for working a full year?
Is your 401(k) going to provide you spend over $2,000,000 when you retire, if you can retire?
If your answer to these questions is "No," you should think about whether you want your hard earned money to pay for these salaries and benefits for your local education unions. I know that there are great teachers out there, and they deserved to be paid for their efforts. The question is how much. Do they deserve to make more money than the families who are paying their salaries and benefit? The unions will be spending a lot of money to tell you how unfair SB5 is to unions. Remember these charts. They may come in handy when you decide what is fair and unfair in the union vs. taxpayer debate.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Soak the Rich, Week 8

Senator Sherrod Brown thinks cutting federal spending is wrong, and insists we can balance the budget by raising taxes on America's largest employers. For two months now we've been calculating the results of applying Sherrod's Sure-Fire Budget Oil to evil corporations and their fat-cat CEOs. It's an uphill climb, considering the U.S. government's 2011 budget deficit of $1.62 trillion.

Starting with the ten largest corporations in the S&P 500 index, we’ve soaked 16 of the planet's most successful businesses. This is what Senator Brown and President Obama want, right? Everything they do suggests federal spending is an objective good... as long as it's not military spending. Though Brown and Obama aren’t specific about their assuredly non-socialist methodology, we’ve taken a leap to doubled corporate income taxes and fully “reclaimed” CEO pay.

If these extreme measures (view Excel summary) won’t work, there’s a tiny chance Sherrod Brown is either ignorant or dishonest to claim the budget could be balanced by making The Rich pay their fair share!

By dramatically increasing taxes on sixteen of America’s largest companies, we could reduce the 2011 U.S. budget deficit from $1,620,000,000,000 to $1,533,427,121,060. That’s a 5.344% slice of a single year’s deficit pie. Even if soaking a few hundred more employers could cover the remaining 94.656% of the 2011 deficit, would it be worth it?

Of course it would! As any Progressive will tell you, raising taxes on The Rich has no negative effects. Among the things that won’t happen if Sherrod Brown taxes his way to the chart above:

  • None of the corporations’ 4,677,960 employees will lose their jobs.
  • None of the products or services – gasoline, air travel, fast food, construction equipment, business & consumer lending, the thousands of items available at Wal-Mart, prescription drugs, medical devices, computer software, cell phone service, broadband access, Band-Aids, baby soap, iPods, laptops, servers, networking equipment, toothpaste, diapers, detergent, etc. – sold by these companies will get more expensive.
  • None of the funds or individuals holding the corporations’ 58,281,800,000 shares of stock will be ruined… unless they deserve it!
  • None of the world’s entrepreneurs or executives will stop investing in American businesses.

It’s a good thing raising taxes is an all-around win, because Sherrod Brown is our only hope and soaking The Rich is his only idea.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Polls and Fear - We have Work to Do.

Bloomberg News conducted a poll of 1,000 American between June 17 to June 20, 2011. As with most polls, I observed many "disconnects" between multiple answers. This poll in particular left me scratching my head more than other polls. Here are some of my observations of disconnects.

  • 66% think America is on the wrong track

  • The Most important issues are jobs (42%), government spending (17%), and deficits (13%)

  • Approaches more likely to grow economy and jobs - 55% say cut spending and taxes

  • 61% are not willing to pay more in taxes to reduce the deficit

  • 44% are worse off since Obama assumed the Presidency - 44%

  • 55% think American kids will have a lower standard of living than their parents

  • Real dangers (multiple answers) to the economy include interest of debt (66%), Social Security goes broke (66%) and Medicare goes broke (62%)

  • 50% disapprove of Obama's handling of Healthcare

  • 57% disapprove of Obama's handling of the Economy

  • 57% disapprove of Obama's handling of jobs

  • 61% disapprove of Obama's handling of the budget

Sounds like the answers you would get from a Tea Party member, right? Nope. 45% of those polled have a unfavorable view of the Tea Party

Here is the disconnect:

  • Who has laid out a better vision of a successful economic future for the U.S.? - the top vote getter was .... Obama (40%). Worth noting that the GOP got 37% of the poll

  • Will you be better off with the Ryan Medicare Plan or worse? 57% say worse, despite the fact that 62% said they are concerned it will go broke if not dramatically overhauled

  • Which party is doing a better job of dealing with Medicare - 43% say Democrats

  • 49% approve of the job Obama is doing as President

Does this make any sense? My answer is no, but this poll suggests to me that the American people are scared, they seem to know the major issues we face, but are concerned about the solutions to these problems. Will the solutions make their life harder, better? As a conservative, I have clear opinions on these issues, but I don't have the day to day concerns that I see in the eyes of friends and families. I think conservative solutions are the way to go in getting American back on the track to prosperity, but we need to win the hearts and minds of those who are scared. We can do it, and we must do it, and it has to be done soon.

Say Cheese: Ohio's Photo I.D. Bill not Fair to Democrats

The Ohio Senate is considering a bill that would require voters to identify themselves using photo identification. This may seem like a good idea, as photo identification is commonly required to cash a check, buy a firearm, or purchase alcohol and tobacco. However, I’m going to have to side with the ACLU and the Huffington Post on this one. Requiring a photo i.d. would be unfair to a wide variety of voters, including, but not limited to, the following:

Amazonian Tribes: Members of these cultural groups do not frequent DMVs and still believe that photographers are trying to steal their souls.

The Amish: They also don’t drive automobiles and not fond of posing for pictures.

People who are texting: Duh! They’re too busy to look up from their phones.

Celebrities: They’re, like, famous, so everyone should already know who they are.

Amnesiacs: They can't remember who the person in the photo is.

Illegal Aliens: In order to vote, these individuals would have to produce false identification, which would be against the law, except in Arizona.

Nudists: Where are they going to carry it? (Don’t go there.)

Sleepwalkers: Waking them up to ask for i.d. would be dangerous.

Al-Qaeda terrorists: Though they would desperately love to vote for Sherrod Brown, many of these individuals are on watchlists.

Vampires: They don’t show up in mirrors or photographs, though like liberals, they’re bloodsuckers who feed on unsuspecting citizens.

Anthony Weiner: Since he is no longer primarily identified by photographs of his face.

Super-rich Democrat donors: They have chauffeurs and therefore don’t need driver’s licenses. Also see ‘celebrities’, above.

Key Democrat constituencies: The homeless, the mentally ill, and other groups likely to be rounded up in busses on election day, driven to the polls, and paid to vote for Democrats.

President Obama: He’d rather use his recently found birth certificate.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

In Support of Tom Friedman

Fair readers, mark your calendars: this is the day I prove what a warm, fuzzy moderate I am. This is the day I agree with Thomas Friedman.

Because he’s such an impeccable centrist, Friedman opened Tuesday’s column by criticizing politicians in both parties:

There is something crazy about what is going on in our country today. Our fiscal condition continues on an unsustainable path, the European currency is heading for a crackup, the Arab world is in the midst of a crackup, unemployment is creeping upward and basically our two parties are telling us that they will not make the reforms that we know are necessary because it would involve too much pain and could imperil their chances of winning the presidency in 2012.

Now, if you’re wondering which of Tom’s ideas I agree with… we’ll get there. First I wanted to let Friedman’s own words illustrate that he has never heard of Congressman Paul Ryan, and is oblivious to unified Republican support for Ryan’s budget proposal. Strange things for a New York Times columnist to be in the dark about, given the fit Paul Krugman pitches at the mention of Ryan’s name.

Since friends have to be brutally honest in this flat, hot, crowded, crazy world, I’d also like to ask my new pal Tom whether this is what an unemployment rate "creeping upward" looks like -

Enough senseless bickering over a few hundred billion dollars and a few million measly jobs! Let’s hear Tom’s solution to the partisan divide in America today.

That’s right. We need to do four things at once: spend, cut, tax and invest. And unless we do all four at once we’re not going to break out of our slow decline. But to do all four at once will require a new hybrid politics, which does not conform to the political agenda of either major party.

A new hybrid politics! Like all Friedman readers, I am on board for anything that is both new and hybrid!

Maybe it is just my friends, but I find more and more people completely disgusted by this situation and looking for a serious Third Party candidate who could run in 2012 and deliver the shock therapy to the corrupt, encrusted, two-party duopoly now running the show in America.

Such a Third Party would have a simple agenda: 1) Inject a short-term stimulus. 2) Enact Simpson-Bowles. 3) Shrink our presence in Afghanistan. 4) Raise automobile mileage standards. 5) Impose a gasoline tax to pay for a massive increase in government-supported scientific research and a carbon tax to pay for new infrastructure and stimulate clean-power innovation.

Yes, Thomas Friedman! Please convince the Democrats who take you seriously that America’s troubles could be solved by – to use your numbering:

  1. More failed deficit spending
  2. Modest entitlement cuts and not-so-modest tax hikes
  3. Something President Obama is already doing with widespread support, given our leaders’ disinterest in defining any sort of “mission” or “goals”
  4. Government-increased car prices
  5. Government-increased fuel prices for new government energy boondoggles

I give this plan a five out of five for getting America on the right track! Not because any of Friedman’s ideas are especially new or good, but because a monied far-left candidate hawking what Friedman suggests would pull away enough Obama supporters to ensure a Republican landslide in 2012. More than at any point in my brief memory (I wasn’t quite old enough to vote in 2000 – do the math) the GOP, led by Paul Ryan, is taking the side of freedom over the sort of European statism Thomas Friedman endorses.

In a way, it’s impressive that Friedman managed to write an entire article about the need for a Progressive third party without once mentioning the tea party movement. In another way, it’s sad that one of the left’s allegedly great thinkers is so invested in his own spunky originality that he can’t give credit where it’s due.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from that hero.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

When Doing Nothing is Catastophic

Democrats like to use scare tactics to mold public opinion to what they want it to be (so they can get reelected). Such scare tactics are an easy compared to telling their constituents the truth. Well, we got a taste of the truth today from two Medicare Trustees. I'm sure that Sherrod Brown would call the testimony by Trustees Charles Blahous and Rober Reischauer scare tactics, because the alternative is to actually do something to reform the bloated entitlement programs so that they will be there beyond the current generation of retirees. The testimony is credible for two reasons. One, Blahous and Reischauer are Trustees of the Medicare Program. Two, they are not running for reelection, like Obama, Brown, etc. Below are video excerpts from their testimony.

For those who want to read the highlights of the video, below is a transcript.

Rep. Roskam: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Your report shows that Medicare will now be bankrupt in 2024. Americans would then be forced to either endure a massive tax hike or "an immediate 17-percent reduction in expenditures." In other words an immediate 17-percent Medicare cut. Can you explain what you mean by immediate?

Dr. Blahous: Well the way that the trust funds work, both on the Social Security side and on the Medicare HI side, is that the amount of expenditures the program can put out there is limited by what's in the trust funds. Now on the SMI (Supplemental Medical Insurance) side that's not really an issue because we just give the trust fund each year whatever is required to keep pace with costs. But once that trust fund runs out, the program lacks the authority to make benefit payments. Now there have been a lot of legal analyses that have been done of what happens when the trust fund runs out and they don't all agree, but a fairly common one is that payments would simply have to be suspended or delayed until the requisite financing came into the trust fund which would have the effect of reducing payments simply by virtue of delay.

Roskam: And that immediate is the common understanding of immediate, in other words, this present moment in time. In other words, when insolvency happens, then you immediately are prohibited based on the law and based on your understanding as a trustee from paying anything further out. And your estimation is that it would be a 17-percent benefit cut. Is that right?

Dr. Blahous: Well its 17 percent on average over 75 years, now it varies according to year. I think in 2024 specifically it's about 10 percent and that increases, then it becomes 25 percent by the 2040s.

Dr. Reischauer: What I think my colleague was describing is when the trust fund became insolvent, money would still be flowing in from tax receipts and Medicare would delay paying bills, and so a hospital would send this bill in and rather than being paid in 24 days, it might have to wait five months. The CMS and intermediaries and other payers would be writing out the checks and transferring the resources to the hospital, hospice, whatever, on a much delayed basis.

Roskam: So that cut just so I'm clear, is not a hypothetical cut, it's not a hypothetical delay, it's an actual delay in payment to the point of reaching this 17-percent number based on your own projection. Is that right?

Dr. Blahous: That's right. The Social Security Act which deals with these trust fund issues is very explicit that payments can only be made from the trust funds.

Roskam: So there's no other flexibility. If the revenues aren't there, if an insolvency is declared, you have no other remedy but to move forward and make those cuts. Is that right?

Dr. Blahous: Right. The programs don't have the authority to borrow in excess of the resources provided by the trust funds.

Roskam: And absent some change in the program your prediction is that is where our nation will be in 2024. That's right?

Dr. Blahous: That's right.

Dr. Reischauer: With respect to the hospital insurance system.

Roskam: I understand. So when the gentleman from Wisconsin said that there's a proposal that's out there by the Majority on this Committee that ends Medicare. In fact, Medicare as we know it will end in 2024, absent some change in policy or some change in moving forward. That's right isn't it?

Dr. Blahous: Yes.

Paul Ryan has the honesty to tell you what he thinks we need to do to save the program for more than the current generation of retirees. He as been accused of using scare tactics to pass his legislation. It's safe to say that the Medicare Trustees confirm his concerns. The bottom line is that doing nothing is not an option. In 2024, Medicare would end itself unless actions are taken to save the program. Those actions would be massive tax hikes or an immediate 17% reduction in expenditures.

Seniors have a choice. They can educate themselves about the Ryan Plan, which will preserve Medicare. The Ryan plan will only apply to those who are 55 & Under. I had a senior citizen tell me "don't touch my Medicare." She is 70. Democrats have done a good job of having people fear something that is false.

If you are over 55, nothing will change. You will enjoy the Medicare your currently have. If you're under 55, pick your poison. Support the Ryan plan. You will have insurance options that are similar to the Federal Employees insurance options. You will need to augment that coverage with your own money. Medicare Part D is a private managed care program that is very popular with seniors. Think about the Ryan Plan as an insurance version of the Part D program. You have to take a side in this debate because doing nothing is catastrophic.

Clarence Thomas, Public Enemy #1

Guest post by Jake

After spending the better part of the past two and a half years failing to sell us on Obamacare, the left is gearing up for a potential health care reform showdown in the nation’s highest court. With the most carefully considered and strategized plan to prevent Obamacare’s destruction, many on the left are poring through legal scholarship, getting anecdotal evidence, and . . . ha, just joking. They’re trying to intimidate the only black guy on the Supreme Court.

But I guess what is the left supposed to do at this juncture? Instead of putting forth a budget or a jobs plan to help the economy, Democrats have turned to their common role as race card players and “grandma-killing GOP” alarmists. Why would they expect that they have to do anything different when fighting the potential end of Obamacare? Nah, it’s better to launch an enormous coordinated effort to destroy credibility of distinguished jurist Clarence Thomas and eventually force him to give up his vote, or even his post, as a Supreme Court Justice. Many could say (this is my obligatory Obama strawman argument) that this is an unprecedented high-tech lynching of a brilliant Justice. However, it does have precedent. Heck, just about 20 years ago the left tried to do the same thing to scare Clarence Thomas from taking his position as Justice of the Supreme Court. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I suppose.

The newest scandal dealing with the most ethically-challenged, despicable, disgraceful, insulting Justice in our nation’s history is . . . sit down, you don’t want to be standing up when you read this . . . he got a wealthy friend to help another man preserve and restore a cannery where Thomas’s mother once worked. Oh. That’s not, um, too sexy, but I bet Justice Thomas did it in a very unethical, evil, maniacal way and he needs to go.

Yep, that seems to be the gist of the scandal. Read it at the New York Times for yourself. To be honest, the New York Times did point to the many ethical scandals of Clarence Thomas, like having rich friends. I guess having friends who know somebody who know somebody who might be in front of the Supreme Court is wrong, becoming unethical under the “Sixth Degrees of Kevin Bacon” section of the Judicial Code of Conduct.

Keep in mind, it might not be wise to take the New York Times at its word. As we saw with the Breitbart/Weinergate situation, if anybody has ever made a mistake, he/she has lost all credibility. And I remember in 2008 a New York Times article alleging that John McCain was having an affair. The real story? Well, not so much.

Now as I type this, there is a tweet from Think Progress stating that 100,000 nimrods have signed a petition urging Justice Thomas to resign. Pathetic. Think Progress also has a tweet saying that Justice Thomas heard cases in which AEI filed a brief after AEI had given a gift to Justice Thomas!! OH MY STARS!!! Corruption, corruption, corruption. Well, actually, not really. AEI was never a party in the case, but facts don’t need to get in the way.

I guess part of this new pressure coming down results from the impromptu resignation of the face (and torso) of the Democratic Party, Anthony Weiner. Weiner was making the rounds (many times wearing clothes) on cable earlier this year, incomprehensibly screeching about how Justice Thomas should recuse himself from an Obamacare case in front of the Supreme Court, in the event that a case does get to the Supreme Court. Apparently, Justice Thomas’s wife has a job (consider her lucky in this economy that Weiner helped create) and part of that job entailed saying bad things about Obamacare! Not only that, but she was paid to do that job! Well I never. Granted, I would think that this would lead Justice Thomas to finding Obamacare constitutional so that his wife keeps her job, but I’m not a Congressman without morals, class, and decency.

There are some other accusations too, like Justice Thomas forgetting to report his wife’s income, gifts received, speaking engagements, his attendance at conferences, etc., but there is very little talk about what it is that Justice Thomas specifically is doing that is unethical. Unless you read Think Progress or Daily Kos, you won’t find too many outlets calling Justice Thomas corrupt. What you will read is that there is an appearance of corruption, and in that event Justice Thomas should recuse himself to preserve integrity and confidence in the Court.

This whole notion to the appearance of being influenced is a novel, easily manipulated test. It’s not a strict test for Supreme Court justices to follow. They have the discretion in deciding when they should recuse themselves in a case. Many times, this is to prevent the appearance of impropriety. In Justice Thomas’s case, it’s a concerted, relentless effort to take his predictable vote out of the ballgame. We know how Justice Thomas will vote. His jurisprudence is consistent (because of that whole nutty staying true to the Constitution thing he believes in). Justice Thomas isn’t going to be bought or persuaded by money or gifts if Obamacare gets up to the Supreme Court. However, to change the rules, many media outlets and law professors are pushing the adoption of the “appearance of impropriety” test. And, pray tell, how is the best way to give off the appearance of impropriety? Well, by having the media, elected officials, law professors, etc. spend many hours and ink making flimsy connections and half-assed accusations of ethical violations or corruption. Eventually, other media outlets and TV shows pick this up, maybe the late-night hosts start maybe jokes about it, and now it has become a part of the national dialogue. With his credibility destroyed, he has no other choice than to recuse himself and, possibly, resign in disgrace. Pathetic, but it’s still the best way to win the battle, I suppose. Just wake me up when the New York Times, Think Progress, and Daily Kos start investigating Kagan about how much of a role she played in drafting Obamacare.

I close by addressing my favorite aspect of this whole ordeal. Many left-wing blogs have compared Justice Thomas to Abe Fortas, a former Supreme Court justice who resigned amidst controversy. These blogs show a bullet-proof comparison between the two situations, saying that like Justice Thomas, Abe Fortas liked to associate with wealthy individuals, which apparently led him to resign. However, that’s not really the case. Abe Fortas signed a contract with the foundation of a Wall Street financier to get paid $20,000 a year for the rest of his life, and then his widow for the rest of hers. The financier was under criminal investigation, and it was expected that Fortas would help the financier stave off some of the charges or get a Presidential pardon. While Fortas denied the allegations, proof has come out to show that Fortas did broach the subject with LBJ. Plus, there were allegations of Fortas dodging taxes.

Any idiot can see the differences between these two situations (and that’s why I understand the liberal blogs are still running with these stories.) All that Justice Thomas has done wrong is befriending wealthy people. The best the left can do is allege that maybe his friends might know someone or something that comes in front of him. But this coordinated effort will not stop until Justice Thomas is gone. The media and the left lost badly when they tried to stop Thomas from getting to the bench. In what could be their last stand against him, the media and the left will pull out all the stops to finally eliminate Justice Thomas. Pathetic.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Let's not be NICE to Cancer Patients

In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration conditionally approved Avastin, a drug taken by women who have late-stage breast cancer. According to the Wall Street Journal, Avastin didn't lengthen patients' overall survival time, but it did slow tumor growth. What this means is that dying patients get a few extra months of quality time with family and friends. A small percentage were cured. Permanent approval of Avastin relied on additional studies focused on "Progression-free survival." The additional studies did not meet the FDA's endpoint of overall survival, despite extending patients lives by 5 and a half months compared to the alternative treatment. The FDA was not impressed, and moved to revoke Avastin's approval for breast cancer last year. A hearing is scheduled for next week to determine the fate of the use of Avastin in breast cancer.

This reminded me of the U.K. National Health Service (NHS). Within the NHS is the "National Institute for Health and Clinical Evidence (NICE). NICE notes that "With the rapid advances in modern medicine, most people accept the fact that no publicly funded health care system, including NHS, can not possibly pay for every medical treatment." So, who decides who get treatment in the UK? It's a beancounter. NICE does an tidy calculation called the Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALY). This calculation compares quality of life on standard treatment to the quality of life on the new treatment multiplied by any extra months or years of survival. Then they decide if the cost of that extra survival is too high.

Back in the U.S. we have Dr. Donald Berwick. Obama appointed him to be the Administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS makes "coverage determinations" on what drugs will be covered by these programs. The problem is that Dr. Berwick is a big fan of the NHS, and NICE in particular.

There is no question that Avastin is expensive. The Journal said it best in saying "The expected value of treatment for any given patient—the abstract "median"—seems small, so a private health plan may understandably balk at paying such a tab. But cost-effectiveness calculation isn't the FDA's job, and in fact the law forbids the agency from considering anything but a product's safety and effectiveness while it's evaluated." Sadly, Dr. Berwick may have the final say on whether Medicare/Medicaid pay for Avastin for breast cancer patients.

If Obama and Senate Democrats would deal with our deficits and our National Debt, we wouldn't have to put a price on a breast cancer patient. Let's not bet NICE.

AARP: Don’t Let the Denture Grip Smile Fool You

AARP has launched a membership campaign featuring Betty White, who, by the way, looks great for being a one hundred thirty-year-old woman. The spots tell viewers that if they think joining AARP will make them old, they need to GET OVER IT. AARP claims that anyone over fifty can join, but there have been recent reports of AARP recruiters trolling sweet sixteen parties trying to drum up interest in the organization. The group is also running disingenuous ads suggesting that our country’s budget crisis can be fixed by cutting “wasteful spending” without touching Social Security.

While I too favor cutting useless programs (like Obama’s not-so-shovel-ready stimulus jobs), anyone with half a brain and a calculator knows that the cost of these budget items is a drop in the bucket when compared to the long-term costs of Social Security. Conservative economists like Thomas Sowell have been warning politicians and citizens about this for more than three decades.

AARP sells itself as a nice group of folks trying to help elderly people get discounts at Kings Island and Hometown Buffet. In reality, they are one of the country's most powerful lobbying organizations which seeks to exploit the current entitlement system. Sooooo . . .

If you think that most senior citizens eat dog food four nights a week and work as Walmart greeters to avoid living under bridges, GET OVER IT!

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the U.S. poverty rate for those age 65 and over is 14 percent, substantially lower than the 18 percent rate for adults 19-64, and almost half of the 27 percent rate for children. Furthermore, while the overall unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent, and the rate for teenagers is a dizzying 24 percent, the unemployment rate for those 55 and over is less than 7 percent. Simply put, most seniors are doing all right, while a quarter of our nation’s children are poor, with decreasing opportunities to make their lives better.

If you think AARP gives a crap about younger workers, GET OVER IT!

What’s even more warming about the statistics above is that the current entitlement state that AARP supports redistributes wealth from poorer, younger workers to older, wealthier non-workers. How very . . . unprogressive. At a time when families are struggling to pay their mortgages, afford gas for their cars, and keep food on the table, younger workers, including those who work minimum and low wage jobs, continue to pay 6.2 percent of their income to Social Security and another 1.45 percent to Medicare. And often overlooked is the fact that these contributions are matched by employers, which keeps wages low and prevents businesses from hiring more workers. So roughly 10-15 percent of the total compensation for young, low-wage workers who haven’t already been laid off continues to be poured into soon-to-be-bankrupt programs.

If you think Ponzi schemes have been outlawed, GET OVER IT!

Younger workers put their money into the Social Security pot and older retirees draw from it. For years of course, the program has taken in more money than it needs, but resourceful Washington politicians have borrowed from it to spend on everything from ACORN to WIC. Nevertheless, in the very near future, with 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day, a smaller number of workers will be relied on to support each retiree. Retirees, by the way, who will live much longer than the system ever anticipated, as younger workers continue to foot the bill.

If you think those IOUs will ever be repaid, GET OVER IT!

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past three decades, the federal government is getting broker by the minute. Are we going to borrow even more yuan, yen, and euros to pay back our own Social Security system? The only way to provide both financial security for retirees and fairness for younger workers is reform that includes personal accounts, or, brace yourselves liberals, partial privatization.

If you think AARP wants older Americans to have financial security, GET OVER IT!

When George W. Bush expanded Medicare, AARP was all for it, especially since they profited from offering prescription drug plans. But when Bush tried to lead on Social Security, they joined the Democratic demagogues and scuttled reform. The gradual privatization of Social Security would mean that more senior citizens would retire wealthy, rather than depending on a government check and living in constant fear that politicians in Washington might cut off their allowance. And that’s exactly what resistance to entitlement reform seeks to perpetuate: dependence on government until the day you die.

If you think older Americans can’t enjoy their retirement without belonging to AARP, GET OVER IT!

There are a number of conservative organizations that are great alternatives for retirees, including The Association of Mature American Citizens, Generation America, and American Seniors. It’s time for Americans to get over their support for the entitlement thugs at AARP.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Silliness of a Liberal

I recently read Jason Hart’s blog entry about death panels, in which he plays a video clip of Nobel-prize winning economist and part-time lawn gnome Paul Krugman. It reminded me of just how unbelievably wrong Professor Krugman, as his acolytes refer to him, is about almost everything on a consistent basis.

In the days after Obama’s stimulus and the Fed’s first Quantitative Easing back in 2009, Krugman had a field day poking fun at conservative concerns about inflation. As stated in television appearances and on his blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal," his position was that there were no “inflationary pressures” on the horizon, and that much greater governmental efforts to stimulate the economy were needed. He cited the example of Japan’s quantitative easing, which he claimed similarly produced no inflationary effects. While comparisons between countries as different as Japan and the U.S. aren’t as informative as they seem, especially since the former has had to deal with a cataclysmic natural disaster, the Wall Street Journal recently reported about potential inflation hazards in . . . wait for it . . . Japan!

And that’s usually all you have to do regarding inflation when you print reams of cash to prop up your economy: wait for it. The effects of inflation are like exposure to toxic substances. You don’t always feel sick immediately, but deleterious health problems continue to pop up for years afterward. Eventually all of those additional dollars catch up to the relatively unchanged amount of goods and services they’re chasing. At first businesses attempt to absorb the costs in the hopes that the rise in prices will be temporary. But eventually they have to pass on the increased costs to consumers.

And, after another round of quantitative easing and talk of a third, that’s precisely what’s happening in the U.S. today. Based on the Consumer Price Index, inflation is at its highest annual level in nearly three years. What’s more, prices are up for essentials consumed by all Americans, including the many who are struggling these days. Energy prices are higher, as are prices for food, cars, and medical care. More change we can believe in.

A categorical problem with liberal economists like Krugman is that they’re foolishly short-sighted. Conservatives have warned for years that the federal government should not pressure banks into giving money to risky lenders, but they were dismissed as "uncaring" or "alarmist". And when the housing bubble burst, liberals blamed it on “greedy Wall Street bankers” and insufficient government regulation. The reality is that too much government intrusion into the markets catalyzed this recession, and repeated intrusions by those with Krugman’s misplaced faith in government have exacerbated it.

As manifested by the departure of Christina Romer, Larry Summers, and Austin Foolsby from the Obama economic team, I guess the real world is a lot harder to deal with than theoretical economic models.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Soak the Rich, Week 7

Because seven is such a lucky number, many of you are thinking the seventh week of Soak the Rich is the one where we fill in the 2011 U.S. budget deficit - a $1.62 trillion gap - by cranking up taxes on big corporations. Many of you are 5.215% correct.

Starting with the ten largest corporations in the S&P 500, we’ve soaked 14 of the most successful businesses in the world. Though sophists like Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama aren’t specific about their assuredly non-socialist methodology, we’ve taken a leap to doubled corporate income taxes and fully "reclaimed" CEO pay.

If these extreme measures (view Excel summary) won’t work, there’s a tiny chance Sherrod Brown is either ignorant or dishonest to claim the budget could be balanced by making The Rich pay their fair share!

Soak the Rich, Week 7

By dramatically increasing taxes on fourteen of America’s largest companies, we could reduce the 2011 U.S. budget deficit from $1,620,000,000,000 to $1,535,510,754,960. That’s a 5.215% slice of a single year’s deficit pie. Even if soaking a few hundred more employers could cover the remaining 94.785% of the 2011 deficit, would it be worth it?

Of course it would! As any Progressive will tell you, raising taxes on The Rich has no negative effects. Among the things that won’t happen if Sherrod Brown taxes his way to the chart above:

  • None of the corporations’ 4,457,460 employees will lose their jobs.
  • None of the funds or individuals holding the corporations’ 56,628,800,000 shares of stock will be ruined… unless they deserve it!
  • None of the products or services – fast food, construction equipment, business & consumer lending, the thousands of items available at Wal-Mart, prescription drugs, medical devices, computer software, cell phone service, broadband access, Band-Aids, baby soap, energy, transportation, iPods, laptops, servers, networking equipment, toothpaste, diapers, detergent, etc. – sold by these companies will get more expensive.
  • None of the world’s entrepreneurs or executives will stop investing in American businesses.

It’s a good thing raising taxes is an all-around win, because Sherrod Brown is our only hope and soaking The Rich is his only idea.

Wait, I nearly forgot – Sherrod Brown would be happy to cut defense spending! Because that isn’t one of the few things the U.S. Congress is actually supposed to spend money on.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I-P-A-B spells "Death Panel"

Sarah Palin's reportedly ignorant belief that Obamacare cuts cost by way of a "death panel" of bureaucrats passing down coverage decrees is nearly as notorious as Palin herself. Mind you, Palin was being ridiculed for this long before The Krugman, a bearded novelty act who does a traveling show for The New York Times, sung the praises of government-rationed care in an ABC appearance:

Here's the infamous paragraph from Palin's 08/07/2009 Facebook post:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Palin was responding, in part, to a statement by Rep. Michelle Bachmann, another crazed right-wing nut. If you have a memory or possess the power of Google, it's not hard to recall the dinosaur media's response. Smarmy leftists at The New York Times and MSNBC ranted and raved about lies and incited mobs, while slightly-better-hinged commentators settled for dismissing Palin's thoughts as partisan nonsense.

Conservative pundits continue working to inform the public that Obamacare - sorry, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - relies exclusively on rationed care for the only cost savings that aren't fabrications. As George Will details in a Washington Post op-ed, death panels by any other name are still terrible policy:

The point of PPACA is cost containment. This supposedly depends on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, which is a perfect expression of the progressive mind, is to be composed of 15 presidential appointees empowered to reduce Medicare spending – which is 13 percent of federal spending – to certain stipulated targets. IPAB is to do this by making “proposals” or “recommendations” to limit costs by limiting reimbursements to doctors. This, inevitably, will limit available treatments – and access to care when physicians leave the Medicare system.

Will's closing line is brilliant:

The essence of progressivism, and of the administrative state that is progressivism’s project, is this doctrine: Modern society is too complex for popular sovereignty, so government of, by and for supposedly disinterested experts must not perish from the earth.

So, Ohioans - have you signed a petition supporting the Health Care Freedom Amendment yet?

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero and Columbus Tea Party.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Albany Begs for Bargaining Reform

The Ohio Education Association (OEA) affiliate in New Albany is serious about cutting costs, and the union is making the tough decisions to prove it.

The proposed agreement would extend the contract through June 2014 and would stretch out a 3 percent cost-of-living raise slated for the 2011-12 school year to 1 percent during the next three school years.

Reduced raises!

Also, step increases – annual salary bumps awarded for education and years of service – would be reduced by 2 percentage points. Steps originally ranging from 4 to 5.4 percent would now be from 2 to 3.4 percent.

About 80 percent of the district’s 329 teachers are eligible for steps. The average step is 3.1 percent.

Even more reduced… other raises?

Quick: name an industry where employees get two types of pay increase, neither of which is tied to merit. If you came up with an answer that wasn’t “public education,” let me know.

To their credit, the union has also agreed to increased health insurance premiums:

Under the proposed pact, teachers on a “single” plan would contribute 15 percent toward health-care premiums, 5 percentage points more than they currently pay. Those on the family plan would remain at 15 percent. Teachers also would pay more for co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses.

With the economy in Franklin County and throughout the country suffering, yet another OEA local crows about reduced raises and a slightly-less-terrific health plan as if we should cheer their sacrifice and cough up some more taxes. While this agreement is a testament to fiscal sobriety compared to what’s happening at Columbus City Schools and Hilliard City Schools, I can’t imagine it wins many converts to the OEA’s cause.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from that hero.