Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sherrod Brown was against raising the debt ceiling before he was for it

Remember this campaign ad against former Senator Mike DeWine? Sherrod Brown hopes you don't.

So, Senator Brown and his Democrat buddies thought raising the debt ceiling to $9 trillion was a bad thing. I agree! We never should have let our national debt reach such a ridiculous level. Thus, I assume Sherrod is absolutely opposed to raising the debt ceiling again, per the White House's request. Right?

Not so much.

In a letter to Vice-President Biden, he is insisting that the ceiling be raised and that taxes be raised on energy companies at the same time.

So, let me get this straight, Senator Brown.
  • You want to increase the debt ceiling.
  • You don't think any spending cuts are necessary.
  • And you think the answer to the deficit is higher taxes on gasoline, at a time when gas is $4.00 a gallon.

We'll be sure to help you get that message out, Senator.

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Exclusive 3BP Q&A with Congressman Steve Stivers

Congressman Steve Stivers, who represents Ohio's 15th district, took questions from us here at Third Base Politics, and answered them on video from Washington. Topics discussed include the Ryan budget, the debt ceiling debate, defense spending, Obamacare repeal and others.

Click the video to watch.

The Congressman's answers are music to this conservative's ears. Those of you fortunate readers in the 15th district are well represented. He and his GOP colleagues in the House are on the right track to getting our national fiscal policy back into one of sanity. Of course, President Obama and the Senate are standing in their way. We have a very good chance of capturing the Senate in 2012, and Obama will also be beatable. Be sure to get involved and support Steve or your district's GOP candidate.

We thank Congressman Stivers and his Communications Director, Courtney, for reaching out to us. We'd love to do it again in the future. I'm sure our readers feel the same.

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The Tea Party, Ross Perot, and 2012 Politics

When I began attending Tea Party rallies a couple of years ago, progressive acquaintances would snipe, “How come you weren’t concerned about the deficit when Bush was President?” I’d want to use figures and charts to explain the explosion of federal spending. But knowing how bad liberals are at math, I’d resort to, “I was concerned. It’s just WAY BIGGER now.”

Predictably, they would leer at me, as if to say, “The only reason you oppose Obama’s policies is because he’s Black, you biggot.” However, we learned recently that the President is also Irish, and rumor has it that he may change the spelling of his name to “Barach O’Bamaugh” to attract Irish voters. So maybe I’m more concerned with federal spending now because the President is Irish? Naught.

Conservatives have been concerned about government spending since the nation’s founding. For example, Benjamin Franklin noted, "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." And every time the government extends its “generosity” as a vehicle for greater control over people’s lives, they become increasingly dependent on it. That’s what’s so insidious about liberal social programs, and why today’s necessary budget cuts and entitlement reforms are so contentious.

A couple of decades ago, concerns about spending was manifested in the presidential campaigns of H. Ross Perot. Two of Perot’s main issues in the 1992 campaign were the federal deficit and national debt. George H. W. Bush had lost his street cred as a conservative since he’d reneged on his “no new taxes” pledge. In a year when it was supposedly “all about the economy,” Perot captured nearly 19 percent of the popular vote, allowing Bill Clinton to win the Presidency. After founding the Reform Party, Perot ran again in 1996, when, despite the presence of a good economy, he still managed to garner 8.4 percent of the vote, almost identical to Clinton’s margin for re-election over moderate Bob Dole.

Fast forward a dozen years, and the Tea Party emerges as a response to the Obama-Pelosi-Reid triumvirate. After taking a 62-seat shellacking last fall, Democrats have been heartened by the special election in New York’s 26th congressional district. An under-reported likelihood about that race is that the Republican sex scandal that opened the seat, and the Republicans' choice to run a moderate over a conservative, likely dampened conservative turn-out. Nevertheless, Democrats are sporting toothy grins and dusting off the old Mediscare playbooks for next November.

But they’re overlooking two very important intervening elements: time and our resolve. In the 17 months until the next election, conservatives should:

1. Advocate a broad-based conservative agenda that focuses on economic prosperity and less intrusive government. This liberal experiment is a failure, but when there’s no clear conservative in the race, voters can make bad decisions. We need to communicate that the party of “hope and change” is really the party of unemployment, insolvency, and misery.

2. Combat liberal lies by telling the truth about the difficult choices our country faces. Most of our problems, from the housing bubble to the recession to immigration to the need for health care reform, have been caused or exacerbated by failed liberal policies.

3. After a vigorous debate during the primary season, unite to defeat the liberal-progressive machine. Their greatest hope is to fracture the conservative-Republican-Tea Party coalition, which would allow Ireland’s newfound son to step-dance his way to a second term. Rumor has it that Donald Trump may launch a run as an independent. If he does, he needs to get exactly 2 votes: his and his hairdresser’s.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mean King Kasich and the Local Leaders, Part 1

Governor Kasich, whose reign includes such war crimes as cutting 4% of the Columbus City Schools budget, is making all sorts of enemies. This week protestors in Mahoning County – bluer than blue on the electoral map, redder than red financially – complained that the GOP budget “passes the buck,” forcing local governments to operate with fewer state dollars.

“We know the games are being played,” said Youngstown City Councilman Mike Ray. “It’s just a shell game, and like I said, it’s just pass the buck, and we need to work together.”

“We need to work together,” or in other words, “Ohioans need to pay more taxes to fund Youngstown government.” Democrats are all for passing bucks as long as they’re going from The Rich to Democrat constituencies. Does Councilman Ray think increased taxes will bring residents (down 8.1% since 2000) and jobs (down 15.6%) back to Mahoning County?

It isn’t news that class warfare plays well in Youngstown – and as the saying goes, “all politics is local.” Tip for Progressive readers: Don’t try explaining that saying to the farmer in Miami County or the barber in Hancock County whose state taxes wind their way from Columbus into the pockets of Youngstown politicians!

Throughout the state, professional leftists insist governor’s office salaries preclude any conservative criticism of local pay. As usual, there’s an obvious difference the left refuses to acknowledge: if I think John Kasich pays his staff too much, I can vote for somebody else. I’ve got no say over who Youngstown voters elect, but Democrats take it as given that I should be on the hook for Youngstown’s budget decisions.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from that hero.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Soak the Rich and everyone else

Guest post by Duke

According to the National Debt Clock, we have $14.3 trillion in debt. On this day in 2015, using Congressional Budget Office projections, the National Debt will be $18.5 trillion. The President, the Democratic Party and selected “Republicans” don’t seem to think that this is a serious issue that requires action today. They are outraged at spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs (Social Security and Medicare.) These two programs are the biggest budget items, and they will grow faster that the economy and the rest of the budget for decades.

Servicing this debt costs a little more than $208 billion dollars this year. This will grow along with increase in our national debt. This item would be larger if interest rates were not near historic lows courtesy of the Fed’s “Quantitative Easing.”

So, what are we to do? We know that tax increase and confiscation of CEO compensation won’t make a dent in our National Debt or our annual deficits. Dramatic actions are required. The 500 companies in the S&P 500 Index have a market value of about $12.5 trillion dollars. One solution would be the “Joe the Plumber” plan also known as the “Mother of all wealth re-distribution?”

Let’s seize the ten largest companies and give them to China in exchange for the debt we owe them. This would result in selling off Exxon Mobile (evil), Apple, Chevron (evil), Microsoft, IBM, General Electric (good guys), Berkshire Hathaway (Warren always advocated redistribution), Wal-Mart, Procter & Gamble, and AT&T. That should do it, right? Nope! These companies are worth, in total $2.3 trillion. O.K. it’s time to get serious. Let’s expand our reach to the next 240 companies; seizing half should do the job, right? Nope. These 240 companies are “only” worth $8.5 trillion. So, after seizing half of the largest publicly traded companies in America, and we’re still $3.5 trillion in debt. Enough is enough; let’s seize the remaining 250 companies. That will leave us debt free, right? Nope. We will still owe $1.8 trillion. That should end our worries about the Debt Ceiling for generations!

Not so fast. In this process, you have wiped out most, if not all of Americans retirement savings, the pension plans of workers still lucky enough to have an employer sponsored retirement plan. Add on to that the endowment funds of educational institutions, not-profits, to name a few. So, maybe this is a bad idea.

Maybe those spending cuts and reforms to Medicare and Social Security are not as radical as they say. Maybe the Governor of Indiana (sadly not a candidate for President) was correct when he says:
“What people will eventually understand is that the real enemies of Medicare, the real enemies of Social Security are these people who are saying leave them as they are. They will explode or implode.“

Of course, we are engaged in scare tactics. Having unfunded liabilities for the very benefits we have promised to seniors via Social Security and Medicare, that are multiples of the National Debt is not a problem.

Sadly for America, this will be evident after “Our” Government has tried every other option, including raising taxes dramatically on all Americans.

Of course, our “Progressive” Senator Sherrod Brown opposes entitlement reform, in particular Medicare. Brown calls the Paul Ryan Plan “reckless and irresponsible.” He urges Obama to “Protect American Seniors.” Apparently defending an unsustainable program is providing protection to seniors. This begs the question...

What is Sherrod Brown's solution to the deficit, the debt and the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security?

Peace for Our Time


From: The Nobel Peace Prize Selection Committee

To: President Barack Obama

Subject: WTF

Dear Mr. President:

When we hastily awarded you the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, it was obvious to everyone that the decision was not based on merit. Of course you didn’t deserve the award, but we give the Peace Prize to lots of people who don’t deserve it, like Yasser Arafat, Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore.

While we cited your "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," everybody knows that the real reason we chose you was to thumb our collective noses at that warmonger, George W. Bush. You were different: a man of reason, and peace. You seemed so meek and mild, some of us on the selection committee gave you the nickname “Obambi.” So since we all despise Mr. Bush, for the love of Pete, we’d greatly appreciate it if you would quit acting like him.

Now we know that you had to wack Osama. In addition to bringing the 9-11 murderer to justice, it is rumored that your operatives confiscated reams of valuable intelligence, and several years’ supply of Grecian formula. But some of your other not-so-peaceful . . . indiscretions . . . aren’t as easily overlooked.

For example, shortly after becoming President, you declared that you were closing the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center. But almost two and a half years later, it’s still operating. On the same day as the Gitmo announcement, you signed an executive order banning harsh interrogation techniques. We applauded that U.S. intelligence agents would now be limited to sending uncooperative terrorists to bed without their milk and cookies.

Then, to our horror, less than two weeks later, you decided to preserve the practice of rendition, which is basically akin to outsourcing torture! But you were just getting started. Before two more weeks had gone by, you decided to send an additional 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. Oh, and that little trip you took to China last year was rather embarrassing: Our 2009 Peace Prize winner visiting the country that’s holding our 2010 winner, Liu Xiaobo, prisoner.

As if troops in Iraq and Afghanistan weren’t enough, you started another war in Libya without congressional authorization. You call it a “kinetic military action,” but that’s a little like calling Governor Schwarzenegger’s affair with his maid a “kinetic employee relationship.” You also recently announced that some Guantanamo Bay detainees would be given military trials. And just last night, after railing against it in your presidential campaign, you reauthorized the Patriot Act.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the nice job you’re doing fostering Middle East peace. You managed to insult the Israeli Prime Minister while at the same time inciting those nice fellas from Hamas even more than when you killed Bin Laden. Maybe you should patch things up by holding another beer summit before an “Obamafada” begins.

Now we know your left-wing base, other than Peter Fonda, will look the other way. John Kerry won’t compare you to Genghis Khan and Robert Redford won’t threaten to move to Ireland if you don’t start comporting yourself like a namby-pamby liberal. But here in Oslo, we don’t know what to do about this. Although Pippa Middleton is currently in the lead (Isn’t she cool?), we’re half-tempted to give this year’s prize to Syria’s Bashar Assad just to make you look good. Or, and take this as a warning, Mr. Obama, it’s not unheard of for high profile awards to be revoked. Just ask another Bush, Reggie, about that.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fun With Union Shills

Union drama llamaI bet it’s difficult to be a radical leftist in Ohio these days. In the Strickland Times, you could believe devoutly in a government big enough to hold every hand, and that was enough. Unions had their rightful place at the head of the table, women could conveniently murder their babies like civilized people, and endless monies streamed down from the federal government. But now Mean King Kasich is in charge, and he’s dashing every hope of free lunch from the lake down to the river!

Taking up the Progressive flag at an early May union meeting, here’s America’s most liberal senator with some epic revisionism (video):

“The reason we have a prosperous middle class in this country,” said Senator Brown, “is because in the 1930s Congress passed and President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law collective bargaining rights.”

Does Sherrod mean this Franklin Roosevelt?

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress.

FDR recognized the central difference between private and public unions – a distinction Sherrod Brown is either ignorant of, or patently dishonest about. Even if we gave credit for America’s past success to private industry unions, that would say nothing against FDR’s stance on government unions.

If only Sherrod’s tale were the lone example of a pro-union argument with holes visible from orbit:

Think I’m being obnoxious to prove a point? Visit the Plunderbund Pals, who are treated as witty oracles by Ohio’s leftists, and check off how many of these hackneyed arguments you see. For a challenge, try to spot any meaningful difference between Plunderbund’s shilling and the deep thoughts from the AFSCME, the OEA, or the AFL-CIO!

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from that hero.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Narrative in NY-26

The Post-Standard in Syracuse reports on a special election result that will warm liberal hearts:

The Democrat rode a wave of voter discontent over the national GOP’s plan to change Medicare and overcame decades of GOP dominance here to capture Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District.

Well, that settles it – the American people want limitless entitlement spending and are willing to accept the necessary punishing tax increases. At least, that’s the narrative donkey Democrats will ride to next November.

Don’t read past the second paragraph, and the NY-26 special election paints a dire picture for the GOP. As sometimes happens, though, all the good news for the left is loaded into the first few sentences…

Hochul defeated Republican state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin on Tuesday night, capturing 47 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Corwin, to win the seat vacated by disgraced Republican Chris Lee. A wealthy tea party candidate, Jack Davis, took 9 percent.

Democrat Kathy Hochul “rode a wave of voter discontent” over GOP budget proposals… to a 4 percent victory with a conservative* third-party candidate taking 9 percent. In a special election necessitated by an outrageous sex scandal involving the previous GOP congressman. But we know Medicare is the reason, because the Democrat’s supporters say so!

The special election that became a referendum on the health care plan for the nation’s seniors may serve as a warning shot to further GOP efforts to cut popular entitlement programs.

“The three reasons a Democrat was elected to Congress in the district were Medicare, Medicare and Medicare,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said in an interview.

This stuff goes both ways. When Scott Brown won in Kennedyland, conservatives made a fuss about what it meant for the future. In that case, the GOP victory was surprising. In this case, the Democrat’s victory is surprising. In neither case does a single issue tell the whole story – though it’s worth noting that Scott Brown took the seat of America’s most beloved leftist dynasty, didn’t have a tabloid scandal on his side, and didn’t have a third-party candidate pulling 9 percent of his opponent’s likely voters.

At least Hochul has some bold ideas for New York’s future!

“How about ending big handouts for Big Oil?” she said. “How about making millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share? We can do all that and not decimate Medicare.”

The victory of another Democrat who’s wrong about nearly everything isn’t good news, but the only tragedy here for conservatives would be accepting the left’s hollow rhetoric.

* Apparently the “tea party” candidate was a Democrat? Stay classy, New York.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted from that hero.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Soak the Rich, Week 3

We’re now three weeks into our thought experiment testing Sherrod Brown’s bold new fiscal policy: why cut spending when you can soak the rich?

Starting at the top of the S&P 500 and working our way through the index by market capitalization, we’ve now soaked half a dozen of the wealthiest corporations in the world. Though far-leftists like Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama are rarely specific about their methodology (they’re ideas guys, man, and you can’t, like, lock them in your box of policy specifics), we’ve taken a leap to doubled corporate income taxes and fully "reclaimed" CEO pay.

If these extreme measures 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 six of America's most successful corporations, we could reduce the 2011 U.S. budget deficit from $1,620,000,000,000 to $1,570,816,376,200. That’s a 3.036% slice of a single year’s deficit pie. Even if soaking a few hundred more companies could cover the other 96.964% of the 2011 deficit, would it be worth it?

Of course it would! As any Progressive will angrily insist, raising taxes on The Rich has no negative impacts. Here’s a list of the things that won’t happen if Sherrod Brown taxes his way to the chart above:

  • None of the six corporations’ 1,035,751 employees will lose their jobs.
  • None of the funds or individuals holding the six corporations’ 22,514,800,000 shares of stock will be ruined… unless they deserve to be!
  • None of the products or services – energy, transportation, iPods, laptops, servers, networking equipment, toothpaste, diapers, detergent, etc. – sold by the six corporations will get more expensive.
  • None of the entrepreneurs or executives throughout the country will stop investing in American businesses.

It’s a good thing raising taxes is an all-around win, because Sherrod Brown is the only man who can save us and taxing The Rich is his best 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.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Send in the Clowns

A couple of months back, Senator Sherrod Brown and a group of other Democratic senators introduced a bill to give law enforcement more tools to combat prescription drug thefts. On Wednesday of this week, to coincide with National Police Week, Brown proposed a Blue Alert system, modeled after the Amber alert system, to help apprehend criminals who injure or kill law enforcement officials. Certainly these ideas seem like practical, level-headed policy proposals, and, over the next 17 months, we will certainly see more attempts by Senator Brown to appear eminently reasonable and mainstream. Hell, he might even start combing his hair.

But don’t be fooled, Ohio voters. Sherrod Brown is a fire-breathing leftist, with views far out of step with most Ohioans. Case in point: the National Journal ranks Brown as tied for first place as the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate. He’s tied with the likes of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is a self-avowed socialist. Brown is ranked as more liberal than Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who believes that North Korea permits too much free enterprise.

Brown supports Obamacare, opposes free trade, and thinks partial birth abortions are just ducky. He has a 100% approval record from the AFL-CIO, one of the unions most responsible for the growth of China as an economic power. But Brown’s devotion to the unions is more about the power of union bosses than the welfare of workers. For example, he supported the disingenuously named Employee Freedom of Choice Act, which would have taken away the secret ballot from union members. Even liberal stalwarts like George McGovern opposed that legislation! And Brown recently had to apologize for comparing efforts to curtail the power of public employee unions with the actions of Hitler and Stalin.

Nevertheless, Sherrod’s charade seems to be working. Despite the observation by many that Brown is among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats for the 2012 election, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows Brown ahead of potential Republican challengers. Of course, it’s still relatively early in the game, but if the GOP is having difficulty deciding who will be the most robust candidate to run against Brown, let me suggest that we shouldn’t need a good candidate to beat this clown.

In fact we could run our own clown against Brown, and still beat him. Might I suggest:

That’s right, Homey D. Clown, from the 1990s comedy show, In Living Color. I could just see the debates now . . .

Moderator: Senator Brown, do you support the Ryan plan for reforming Medicare?

Brown: No. We need to protect seniors rather than just tossing them into landfills.

Homey: You take us for a bunch of fools? (walks over and hits Brown over the head with a sock) Everybody knows the program is unsustainable. Doing nothing only ensures that seniors will pay more for lower quality medical care while the country goes bankrupt. The status quo is just another tool of this man, trying to keep America down.

Moderator: Mr. Clown, do you support raising taxes on energy companies and small businesses to reduce the deficit?

Homey: So raise taxes on companies, which will mean higher prices for consumers, more lay-offs, and less competitive businesses? All so Congress can come up with more dumb ways to spend our money while claiming to fight the deficit? I don’t think so. That’s bad for the economy and for taxpayers. Homey don’t play that.

Of course, this is a joke, but so is the idea that Sherrod Brown should be representing Ohioans for another six years.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Soak the Rich: Procter and Gamble

To date, following Sherrod Brown’s enlightened tax policy of shaking down fat-cat businesses has been mostly painless: we’ve soaked oil companies Exxon Mobil and Chevron; high-flying tech corporations Apple and IBM; and General Electric – the conglomerate’s conglomerate. These are the sort of menacing goliaths you can picture being run by Scrooge McDuck or the guy on the Monopoly box, and any casual observer would agree they don’t pay their fair share.

Now that we’re down to Procter & Gamble, the 6th-largest corporation in the S&P 500 index, Sherrod’s traveling class-warfare act starts to get difficult. P&G is a Cincinnati company responsible for a huge assortment of home, health, and personal care products. Sure, P&G owns 23 different brands that generate sales exceeding $1 billion annually, but still – Cincinnati?! It’s not Wall Street, it’s not Big Oil, and it isn’t Silicon Valley… yet the previous corporations covered tiny portions of the $1.62 trillion 2011 budget deficit, so the soaking must go on!

Now Soaking: Procter & Gamble

The good news continues: none of the hundreds of items Procter & Gamble produces – some used daily by millions of Americans – will get more expensive if Sherrod Brown has his way. None of the corporation’s127,000 employees will lose their jobs as a result of this dramatic tax hike. The only funds and individuals holding any of P&G’s 2.79 billion outstanding shares of stock who suffer will be the ones who deserve to.

We, The People who support Sherrod Brown’s fiscal policies, hold these leftist conceits to be self-evident.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anchors Away, Katie

Tonight, Katie Couric will host her last episode of The CBS Evening News. Katie, it was only five short years ago when you broke through the glass ceiling at CBS as the first female nightly news anchor. Things began with such promise: that first week of sky-high ratings. Sure there were bumps, like figuring out whether to sit in the anchor chair, or on the desk, or on the floor with a topless Bob Schieffer feeding you grapes. But you squinted into the camera, as if to tell America, “Take me seriously. I’m not the same goofball flying around on the Today show dressed like Peter Pan. I’m a newswoman, dammit.” And everyone was so impressed.

I honestly don’t know what happened after that first week because, like most of America, I tuned out. But I’m sure it was great. Not great enough apparently, as your ratings crashed right through the porcelain floor and into the tank.

But you persevered as a Democratic Party shill, and for that, I give you props Katie. Despite the bias in your reports and interviews, you did a pretty good job maintaining your cover. You’re not like CNN's Fareed Zakaria, who recently admitted that he’s been advising the Obama Administration. Not that we had to guess. Anyone who’s listened to Zakaria’s pedantic nonsense for longer than . . .

Oh, I’m sorry, Katie. My attention drifted there for a moment. Just like your audience’s while they watched your newscasts. But back to you, Katie. All that feigned objectivity paid off during those carefully edited interviews with Sarah Palin. Oh, I’m sure that it irritates you that, like some political Obi-Wan Kenobi, she has become more powerful than you imagined. She’s more popular than you, she makes more money, and she can influence major policy debates with her tweets.

But you’re a class act, Katie. The way you’ve blamed the network for the cratering of your ratings has been extremely dignified. I’ve noticed that CBS is not promoting your farewell show, but then I guess the network thinks it’s a bad idea to celebrate failure.

I’ve heard that you’re considering embarking on your own syndicated talk show. Now that Oprah’s show is coming to an end, there will certainly be a void to fill when it comes to vapid, inane, talk shows. Follow your muse Katie. That anchor job wasn’t giving you enough opportunities to show your self-important personality. And I’m sure 60 Minutes will have some time for you to fill now that Andy Rooney has completely lost his mind.


Oh to see you dressed up as Peter Pan one more time.


Okay. I’m better now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Columbus Schools See Solidarity, Union Style

Public unions like the Ohio Education Association care about only three things: jobs, children, and the middle class!

“Nothing is more essential than creating jobs and providing high quality educational opportunities for children. But our legislators are ignoring and short-changing these essential functions of state and local government and schools,” Frost-Brooks said.

Follow the above link to the OEA site, and you’ll find a wealth of stories about how awful Senate Bill 5 is – and how awful Ohio’s taxes aren’t. Did you know taxes in Ohio are fair and competitive, with corporations clamoring to live in the house Taft and Strickland built? It’s true; trust the OEA and union-funded leftist groups!

All the union talk of jobs and taxes is meant to obscure a simple fact: public unions get rich by increasing the cost of government. For every Solidarity Fist™ demanding higher taxes to "create jobs," there’s an opposite hand in the cash drawer. Taxpayers foot the bill, but they aren’t the only ones! Imagine if you were a young dues-paying member of the Columbus Education Association or the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE) and you saw this budget chart:

Last week I offered some suggestions for how Columbus City Schools could save money without firing anyone. As of 2010, 1,459 employees – over 17% of the district’s total – were paid $75,000 or more. How many of those folks are union members? What kind of sacrifices have CEA bosses asked the best-paid teachers and staff to make? Have union "leaders" led by example? Since the CEA marches to the OEA’s drum, we can make an educated guess:

What about the OAPSE, also known as American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 4? As an AFSCME local, those guys are all about solidarity:

Exit question: how many of the 30 union members on the chopping block at Columbus City Schools will get refunds from the OEA and AFSCME for all the dues they’ve paid?

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Raising the Drawbridge on American Prosperity

Dear President Obama,

I am a loyal liberal Democrat and am writing to thank you for raising gas prices to four dollars a gallon. I actually favor, as I’m sure you do, gas prices at nine dollars a gallon, like they are in some European countries. But I also know that you’re not done. I remember when you said that, under your cap and trade plan, U.S. electricity prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” I know that you’re working hard to do the same for gasoline.

Now I admit that when gas was approaching four bucks a gallon in 2008, when George W. Bush was President, I had a different reaction. Back then I knew that, after fattening their reserves during the Iraq War, Bush’s oil buddies were jamming it to us and reaping record profits. I mean, the Bush administration was just killing us with GDP growth at almost 3 percent and unemployment under 6 percent.

But I know that this time, you and your friends are guiding this, so I’m okay with it. Nice job by the way not having an energy policy for three years, as this keeps instability in the markets and drives up prices. In fact, I recently Googled “Obama” and “energy policy,” and a map of Brazil popped up. And the next time you see them, give a shout out to the Dynamic Duo of Bernanke and Geitner. All that “quantitative easing” has really helped to spiral prices to their current heights.

I was momentarily surprised and disappointed over the weekend when you announced that you were going to accelerate domestic oil and gas drilling. I mean, we liberals have been working for years to prevent drilling, as well as the opening of refineries and nuclear power plants. And it’s been working, both practically and politically. Every time some conservative even mentions the idea of domestic drilling, all we have to say is, “Well, that won’t help us now. It’ll take years to develop.” LOL! This is so great because we’re the ones who are actually keeping the country from having affordable energy, but we can just keep stalling. Even better, all of this makes us more dependent on foreign oil, which will give us traction to implement our green energy policies.

So after I thought about your change in drilling policy, I realized that, well, you’re just lying! Duh! I mean this was all for the consumption of those clueless, undecided independent voters. There’s no way that you’re actually going to allow Americans to develop their own energy! ROFL! You’re just trying to, once again, look like you’re doing something about a problem while ignoring it.

That’s what the hearings were about last week, when our Senate buddies hauled those greedy energy company executives up to Capitol Hill. They were pretending to stick up for hard-working taxpaying Americans by threatening to take away subsidies for energy companies. Of course this will only make the price of gasoline go higher, but that will only serve to hide our deeper, shared agenda: ending prosperity in the United States.

And once again, it’s working. First quarter GDP crawled along at 1.8 percent, and 1 out of every 6 Americans is on foodstamps. That’s the kind of recovery we can believe in! And I love your proposal for ending the Bush tax cuts for small businesses and job creators as a way to solve the debt crisis. Let conservatives try to jump-start this economy if that gets adopted!

So I just want you to know, I’m still with you. Let’s keep working together, Mr. President, to build a wall to keep out American prosperity. Better yet, we’ll build a moat. And then we can fill the moat with alligators . . . and maybe a few windmills.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Soak the Rich: IBM

Proving that corporations are wily, cheating devils, International Business Machines tried to avoid its turn as the next S&P 500 corporation to be soaked. IBM did so by hopping over Chevron in the index’s top 10; bad move, IBM! If there’s one thing Sherrod Brown is good at (note: Sherrod Brown is awesome at all sorts of things), it’s taxing the wealthy... so higher market capitalization means increased taxes plus a good tongue-lashing to boot!

Now Soaking: IBM

Remember, as we’ve learned from the last Soak the Rich progress review and every domestic policy speech Sherrod Brown has ever given: taking more from big corporations has no negative effects! If we double IBM’s corporate taxes and take all the CEO’s pay, it won’t have any unintended consequences at IBM or elsewhere. Things won’t get more expensive, no one holding any of the company’s 1.2 billion shares of stock will suffer unduly, and certainly none of IBM’s 426,751 employees will lose their jobs.

We, The People who support Sherrod Brown’s fiscal policies, hold these leftist conceits to be self-evident.

Cross-posted at that hero.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Columbus Begs for Bargaining Reform

The Dispatch reports that, with Governor Kasich cutting local spending to balance Ohio’s budget and with reduced bailouts from Uncle Sam, Columbus City Schools (CCS) is planning layoffs.

Columbus Schools Superintendent Gene Harris will propose a $739 million general-fund budget for next school year that would eliminate about 259 staff positions.

Of those, the full-time equivalent of about 38 people would actually lose their jobs. The remaining positions would be eliminated through attrition or by wiping out jobs already vacant.

Earlier this month I discussed how easily the Hilliard City School District could cover a $3.9 million shortfall if teachers and staff paid more than $75,000 were willing to accept serious 10% pay reductions. Of course they can’t, because the local branch of the Ohio Education Association ensures pay cuts stay off the table. Even with firings and program cuts on the horizon, the union (whose only concern is the children, until the children come between the union and its dues) protects the step-increased salaries of senior teachers and staff.

Columbus City Schools would save $13.1 million with the sacrifices Superintendent Harris is suggesting. What if desperate times could be answered by the desperate measure of reducing tenured teachers’ pay?

Balancing the Budget With Sacrifices from the Top

A quick search of Ohio records for CCS lists 8,234 employees as of 2010. Of those, 1,381 were paid between $75,000 and $100,000. What if we assumed none of these employees was paid more than $75,000, and asked each of them to give up 10% of their pay? Let’s even exclude the superintendent’s secretary mentioned in the Dispatch story as “a savings of almost $98,000 a year.”

75,000 x 0.1 = 7,500
1,380 x 7,500* = $10,350,000

* Number corrected 05/16/2011. Thanks to a commenter for pointing out my inability to move a number from one line to the next!

With the firing axe replaced by a salary hatchet, we’ve saved CCS $10,350,000 a year. What if we included Superintendent Harris (paid $185,911.96 in 2010) and the other 77 CCS employees who were paid more than $100,000? This time, assuming no one was paid more than $100,000:

100,000 x 0.1 = 10,000
10,000 x 78 = $780,000

A total of $11,130,000 saved annually, without reducing anyone’s pay below $67,500. For reference, median household income in Franklin County as of 2008 was $51,246.

Maybe I’m being unfair to the Columbus Education Association – after all, the union has made concessions:

She said the district will save about $9.5 million because of recently negotiated union contracts that include freezes to base salaries and limits on raises received through years-of-service bumps.

Though 10% is a lot to ask, consider the context. Consider the Columbus City Schools employees who will be fired because the union’s grand gesture is smaller raises while the district, the state, and the nation struggle financially. Consider the students who miss out on academic or extracurricular programs while 1,458 district employees earn more than $75,000 a year – and pay dues to a union whose key concerns are income and power.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero and The Liberty Wall.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Soak the Rich: Week 2 Progress

As an avid fan of Senator Sherrod Brown’s practiced class warfare routine, I was disappointed to learn that one week of soaking the biggest corporations in the S&P 500 index wasn’t enough to fill the U.S. government’s $1.62 trillion budget deficit. Mercifully, there are no shortage of bad, successful corporations left to penalize!

This week we put the Brown / Obama policy of higher taxes on The Rich to good use, doubling the corporate income taxes General Electric and Chevron Corporation reported for 2010. We also took all compensation from the CEOs at both corporations, for a cumulative budget-balancing act that looks like this:

So close, yet... not even close at all! Oh well – there’s always next week, and there’s always someone else to tax for America’s rapidly expanding entitlement costs.

Grand Progressive Accomplishments

  • Fiscal year 2011 US budget deficit reduced from $1,620,000,000,000 to $1,579,852,210,000
  • Deficit reduction as a percent of the FY2011 total: 2.478%

Ways the Market Will Not Respond

  • None of the corporations’ combined 482,000 employees will lose their jobs
  • None of the funds or individuals holding the corporations’ combined 18,524,800,000 shares of stock will be ruined
  • Domestic and foreign lenders will not stop investing in American companies or entrepreneurs
  • Talented workers and business leaders won’t flee the country
  • Corporations (those already soaked or those further down the list) won’t move more jobs overseas

Things that Won’t Get More Expensive

  • Shiny MP3 players, laptops, tablet PCs, consumer software, or the hipster lifestyle in general
  • Gasoline, plastics, or any of the other products dependent on Big Oil
  • Natural gas or any of its competitors in the energy market
  • Anything that needs to be shipped from one place to some other place
  • Jet engines, lending, or any of the million other things GE sells

Maybe covering less than 2.5% of a single year’s budget deficit seems like small potatoes, considering the severe scope of these tax increases. Remember, fellow leftists: there are many fat-cat corporations that don’t contribute enough to America’s nationwide, knee-deep safety net, and any number of ways heroes like Sherrod Brown and Barack Obama can bridge the gap between free markets and fair markets!

Cross-posted at that hero.

The Tell-Tale Heartbeat

Allow me to pose a moral dilemma. You own a building that you’ve decided to demolish. You’ve gotten all of the legal permits and a demolition team has rigged the building with explosives. In addition, the team has set up sensors to make sure that no one is in the area at the time of the explosion. Then, just before the team pushes the detonation button, one of the sensors picks up a heartbeat coming from inside the building. A technician explains to you that the heartbeat could be human, and that the explosion would certainly kill anyone in the building. Do you go through with the demolition, or do you postpone it?

My guess is that most people would postpone it. But what if you searched the building and couldn’t find anyone, despite the fact that the sensor was one hundred percent accurate? Would you continue to postpone the demolition, or go ahead and blow the building up? My guess is, despite the inconvenience and cost, most people would postpone the demolition until there was no longer a threat to anyone’s life.

Now what if you heard of a bunch of other property owners wanted to demolish buildings that they owned? But the sensors near their buildings had picked up heartbeats too. Would you think, “Well, the buildings belong to them. They can blow them up if they want”? Or would you think, “Someone should stop those other owners because someone could be killed”?

This scenario illustrates the argument behind House Bill 125, Ohio’s so-called “heartbeat bill,” which would prohibit abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The legal argument underlying the bill is based on both a moral argument about the right to life and empirical, or scientific, evidence that a life exists.

Pro-choice opponents argue that the bill undermines a woman’s not-so-self-evident right to an abortion found by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. That decision relied on legal reasoning so flimsy that even uber-liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has major problems with it. It assumed an implied Constitutional right to privacy, and then, in an even more tenuous leap, found that this right to privacy includes the right to an abortion. Roe requires that abortions be permitted until the time of viability, at about 22-24 weeks into the pregnancy.

Some pro-life groups, including Ohio Right to Life, do not currently support H.B. 125. They instead favor an informed consent bill, which would require a woman seeking an abortion to be told that a fetal heartbeat had been detected and sign a consent form to terminate the pregnancy. They apparently believe such a bill would be more likely to survive court challenges which could erode gains from other pro-life legislation.

While not directly challenging the Supreme Court’s right to privacy, H.B. 125 does butt heads with the viability provision of the Roe ruling, by calling into question the applicability of medical technology from four decade ago. Fetal heartbeat monitors were just being developed in the early 1970s, when Roe v. Wade was decided. Today, a doppler can detect the sound of a fetal heartbeat around 10 weeks after conception, while an ultrasound can show a flickering heartbeat 2-4 weeks sooner. These advances in technology call into question viability as the medical milepost for abortion rights, especially since a heartbeat can now be detected about 3-4 months earlier.

Ultrasound evidence certainly provides more weight to the competing right of the unborn to live. It weakens the contention that a fetus isn’t a person, and demonstrates that it should be given significantly more legal consideration than a polyp, or a tumor, or some other type of growth, because none of those have a heartbeat.

About 29,000 abortions are performed in Ohio each year, 85% of those in the first trimester. Given the empirical evidence that modern medical technology provides, an honest debate about how to categorize a first-trimester fetus would arrive at the agreement that it’s at least potential human life. The question is, how much legal protection does potential life at this stage deserve? Right now, it has none at all.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Soak the Rich: Chevron

Great news, Sherrod Brown enthusiasts! The next corporation in the S&P 500 by market cap is Chevron, another eeeevil oil company. Let’s get right to business filling Washington’s $1.62 trillion budget deficit by making Chevron pay its fair share!

Now Soaking: Chevron Corporation

A capitalist would ask whether raising Chevron’s taxes will, in turn, increase the price of oil & natural gas – and by extension, everything connected to energy & transportation. Stupid capitalist! Why don’t those guys realize big-government leftists like Sherrod Brown have things well in hand so long as free markets – blech! – don’t get in the way? Dramatically raising taxes on Chevron also won’t hurt the people holding Chevron’s 2 billion outstanding shares of stock, nor the corporation’s 62,000 employees.

We, The People who support Sherrod Brown’s fiscal policies, hold these unhinged assumptions to be self-evident.

Follow me on Twitter: @jasonahart

Cross-posted at that hero.