Everyone needs to read this very important article by Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal: see "Democratic Stealth Care", WSJ, 1/30/09 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123327719403931465.html?
How typical. Just as do-gooder liberals show their true colors by blue states being routinely less charitable (as a percentage of income) than red states, now we have the second liberal Obama cabinet nominee tax dodger. First it was Tim Geithner, now Treasury Secretary, who didn't pay over $30,000 in self-employment tax. At any other time, Geithner never would even have made it to a vote of the full Senate. But since he's the guy already burying the country with this cluster-f**k of a bailout, Senate Democrats decided he was absolutely necessary. Maybe so they will have a fall guy when all this Keynsian "stimulus" fails to stimulate anything other than the growth of government and our national debt. Now, it's Tom Daschle, the proposed Secretary of Health and Human Services, a guy who's had lots of income from the health/medical industry as an unregistered lobbyist and clearly shouldn't be considered for the job, who has tax problems. On January 2nd, Daschle paid $140,000 to the IRS. No, that's not a typo. He told Obama and the relevant Senate Committee about the payment and the problem two days later...meaning he lied to Obama during the vetting process. According to the Washington Post, the leftist organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is soft-pedaling Daschle's "oversight" and his obvious conflicts of interest by saying: ""Daschle is the quintessential Washington story. You leave a powerful position, and you leverage it to make a fortune. He is not alone . . . [and] it would be hard for Obama to fill his administration without ever turning to someone like that. That said, these are the kind of Washington insiders that Obama campaigned against." Can you imagine such a soft tone if this were a Republican appointee? Obama's nominees are proving yet again that Democrats favor high taxes as long as they're primarily on others. Geithner and Daschle are tax cheats who should be scorned, not confirmed.
On Thursday, Barack Obama signed his first law, The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, his first step toward repaying his campaign debt to trial lawyers. To the extent that there is any pay gap, it is much smaller than feminist organizations want you to believe, assuming you approach the question in a rational way. Hudson Institute scholar Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes the following:
On January 8, Senator Hillary Clinton, the sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, declared: ” It is disgraceful that four decades after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women in this country still earn only 78 cents on the dollar. The Paycheck Fairness Act is an attempt to right this historic wrong and I am proud to reintroduce it today.” That 78 percent figure is bogus because women’s and men’s occupations and hours of work differ. Comparing women and men who work 40 hours weekly yields a wage ratio of 87 percent — before accounting for different education, jobs, or experience, which brings the ratio closer to 95 percent.Other explanations of why the "wage gap" is not a function of discrimination can be found in another article by the same expert: http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.17864,filter.all/pub_detail.asp And while there may be some feminists with little sense of economics or statistics who believe the law is really about "equal pay for equal work", I think the motivation is far less benevolent. The Lilly Ledbetter Act's main function is to massively extend the statute of limitations on a discrimination claim, from 180 days from the alleged discrimination to anytime after the "discrimination" as long as the "victim" has received compensation from the company with 180 days of filing the claim. In other words, if a woman works for a company for a long time, she can claim that she was discriminated against years or even decades prior. It's a recipe for fishing expeditions by plaintiff's attorneys. And that's exactly what it's designed to do. However, there will be unintended consequences which will hurt women. Just as higher minimum wages hurt employment prospects for young and low-skilled workers, and just as the Americans With Disabilities Act is thought by some to have hurt job opportunities for the disabled, the Ledbetter Act will make companies less interested, even if only slightly so, in hiring women, and particularly women who are likely to want to leave the work force to have children...namely women whom a company should rationally want to pay less money. One other possibility is that companies will truly start paying people the same money for the same job, even if the employees' current or expected future productivity is different. As Eric Posner points out, "This would raise labor costs and hence prices for consumers." And that's without how much companies will need to spend on lawyers to defend themselves against frivolous lawsuits under the Act...so I suppose the Act is a gift for defense attorneys as well. The idea that there is systematic compensation discrimination against women in the United States in the 21st century is ridiculous. Companies pay for productivity, both current and expected. Women are more likely to leave the work force early than man (primarily to raise children), more likely to choose lower-paying careers, and less likely to work more than 40 hours a week than are men. It is most likely that societal wage levels simply reflect these facts and not any pervasive misogyny in our workforce. Trial lawyers are one of the Democratic Party's largest donor groups. The Lilly Ledbetter Act is the first in what I expect to be many actions by the Democrats to keep that parasitic campaign cash flowing in.
It's still early to read too much into it, but the fact that not one Republican member of the House voted for the massive, bloated spend-a-thon which is posing as a "stimulus" bill might mean the Democrats have, in their first 10 days of full control, already over-reached. It will be interesting to see whether there is newly-found spine among GOP Senators like Mitch McConnell...and especially interesting if the GOP were to be able to hold together a filibuster should a bill similar to the current proposal be brought forward. My guess, however, is that liberal Republicans like John McCain and both Senators from Maine would side with the Democrats in that case, and they will work in the deadly spirit of "bipartisanship" to pass a bill which jams one knife into the heart of America rather than two. You get my point regarding the relative difference of effect on the nation. It's probably too far from the next election for the current debate to be important in terms of an election issue...unless the GOP shows a clear opposition to the bailout in the Senate to match or nearly match the house and then the economy doesn't recover within 2 years. I believe the economy won't recover in any important way within 2 years...and I believe it certainly won't if this "stimulus" passes, because the only thing it stimulates is the national debt. I don't want to get too optimistic that the Democrats and Barack Obama will waste a tremendous amount of political capital within their first few weeks in power. But it's certainly not out of the question at this point, and it's nice to dream. One thing we need is for everyone who is represented by a Republican in the House to contact him or her and thank that person for his "no" vote. Even better, everyone who is represented by a Republican should send his campaign fund $10 with a note saying it's specifically in appreciation of defending the taxpayer. Maybe that's easy for me to say because I'm represented by a Democratic congressman and, can it be true?, two Democratic Senators. Yeech.
I received an e-mail from a Denver-based anti-coal activist named Nancy who somehow thought I'd be on her side with a particular problem she's having. As Bugs Bunny used to say, "She don't know me very well, do she?" Here's the note Nancy sent me:
Hello Ross: Attached please find a copy of a letter I recently sent to Xcel CEO Dick Kelly re: the bullying behavior of Xcel's Colorado lobbyist Mike Beasley. I've been working on energy issues such as de-bunking "clean" coal (fact sheet I compiled: www.energyjustice.net/coal/igcc), intervening at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission on issues such as quantifying "externalities" -- those pesky things like coal combustion waste, mercury contamination, water use, effects from global warming etc. (If you Google my name, you'll find lots of filings etc.) I've written a bill that would require utilities to disclose product information, similar to the kind of disclosure on your box of breakfast cereal or crackers -- basically telling you are you going to eat! Shouldn't ratepayers get the same information about power plants, especially since coal-fired power produces 65 to 80% of Colorado's electricity, and with the new Comanche 3 coal plant coming online, Xcel's emissions will increase by 10%? I gave the bill to Rep. Jeanne Labuda, who has changed the bill so that utilities would ONLY have to report fuel mix. Well, Xcel is already reporting fuel mix twice a year! So while there's value in adding the co-ops, there is basically ZERO information from Xcel that's not already reported. Rep. Labuda's DRAFT is attached. When Xcel lobbyist Mike Beasley called me on Monday, Jan. 19th, he told me that because he is so well-connected, and I am not, no one will listen to me. He laughed at my research showing that a 1997 focus group of Xcel's customers showed that customers WANT this information, and essentially told me that my efforts would be futile. The next day, after listening to President Obama's speech, I said Yes, I Can and wrote a letter to Xcel's CEO, Dick Kelly. I sent it to all the Xcel people I could think of -- and they know me well, since I am a frequent intervener talking about pesky things like coal combustion waste, toxic pollution, drilling chemicals from natural gas, mercury contamination, fetal deformities of children who are borne in close proximity to coal plants etc. Xcel's latest submission against my filings is a Motion to Limit Scope -- basically saying that I can't talk about any of these "externalities" -- the kind of thing we've been sweeping under the rug, such as the 1 billion gallons of toxic coal ash that just spilled in Tennessee. I've never heard back from the Xcel people. And I've never heard back re: my request to find out how much would it cost Xcel to put FOUR inserts per year rather than the current TWO inserts? Don't people deserve to know where the vast majority of our global warming pollution is coming from? If I can read my cereal box to see what's in it, why not my power bill to see how much coal, natural gas, and the emissions that come from these sources? I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you for 20 minutes about this, and am happy to travel to your office. Steve _____ and Andy _____ both know me, so you can ask them about me if you'd like. Nancy ________ Energy ConsultantAnd here's my response to Nancy: Hello Nancy, While I certainly appreciate your “Yes, I can” attitude, I doubt I’m the guy to help with your project. Here are a couple of reasons why I come to that conclusion: • I think the lobbyist was right to laugh at someone presenting the results of a 12-year old focus group as an important piece of data to inform a policy decision. • I think anyone whose aim is blindly to reduce carbon-based power sources, particularly based on an argument about global warming, should automatically be ignored. Man-made global warming is a hoax. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations increase AFTER temperatures rise; they don’t cause the temperature rise. • No, people don’t “deserve to know where the vast majority of our global warming pollution comes from” any more than they deserve to know where the tooth fairy comes from. • As for how much it would cost Xcel to put four inserts instead of two into their mailings, why don’t you answer that question, including the likely higher postage costs? Do you really anyone other than you and a few insane environmental radicals in Boulder would do anything with those inserts other than start a fire or line a cat box with them? • Your affiliation with “Energy Justice Network” betrays your real motives, primarily to attack the coal industry and secondarily to attack most other sources of power generation which are actually feasible on a large scale, such as natural gas and nuclear. • Your suggestion that wind and solar power, combined with “conservation and efficiency”, as your web site describes, could actually power our nation is ridiculous. The Department of Energy makes it clear that such suggestion are simply green fantasies: http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/pdf/earlyrelease.pdf So, as I see it Nancy, you’re essentially a member of the Algore cult. You have drunk his Kool-aid, but I’m going to do my best…as I consistently do…to make sure that people with your policy agenda are exposed as the irrational, anti-capitalist, and full-of-complaints but free-of-solutions people that you are. The good news is that the current economic downturn will make rational people even less open to your message of “you all pay higher prices for everything so I can feel better about myself” than they otherwise would be. I would wish you luck in your endeavors, but since I hope that you fail I will not offer such false pleasantries. I suggest you go find something productive and rational to do…something that will truly benefit society and not just your green ego. I trust you will agree with me that you wouldn’t actually like “the opportunity to speak with me for 20 minutes about this.” Most sincerely, Ross
Good morning, class. For today's lesson, let's compare these two quotes from two news stories: "Ritter said it's too early to begin slashing the budget and he wants to see what happens if Congress approves a bailout of the financial industry. He said estimates from his budget office indicate there will be no shortfall." and "Faced with a $1 billion state budget deficit over the next 18 months, Gov. Bill Ritter today proposed closing two prisons, slashing spending on education and furloughing state workers, who also wouldn't get a pay increase next year." And what do you think was the period of time between these two remarkably different announcements? The answer: Less than four months. The first quote is from late September, 2008, when even Democrats in the legislature were discussing cuts that might have to be made. The second quote is from yesterday, late January, 2009, when the stark realities -- which apparently everyone but Ritter was aware of -- couldn't be hidden any more. There had been some signs of life inside the muddled brains of Ritter's team: A few weeks ago, the governor's office admitted there would be a large shortfall (but still underestimated it) and gave this remarkable explanation of why the legislature's estimate was probably more accurate: "They (legislative staff) were utilizing a more current data source for their capital-gains projections." Ummmm...and just why are you offering any estimate if you know your data is flawed? Any half-decent geek can explain the computer science term "GIGO" to the governor. It means "Garbage in, Garbage out." I also wonder how many long-time state employees wonder if their pay would have been frozen, rather than maybe getting a very tiny raise, if the governor hadn't lied through his teeth about implementing a hiring freeze. There's a reason that the first thing Ritter is proposing to do is cut education and prison funding, and "temporarily" suspend the homestead exemption which lowers property tax for many senior citizens, and it's the oldest liberal trick in the book: He's setting the stage for a tax increase proposal "for the children" and with the specter of violent felons roaming the streets unless we go along. Well, it's time to just say no to more liberal government expansion. [They passed Ref C when times were good, but then didn't spend the money as they promised and didn't save any for a rainy day. Indeed, they did exactly what we opponents of Ref C said they'd do. Furthermore, as I warned at the time, the worst thing that could happen to Colorado after the passage of Ref C would be a recession after C had been in place for a few years. This is because Ref C raises the "baseline" for government spending not to the prior year's spending level but to the highest spending level for any year's spending during the so-called "five year time-out". It's that fact which makes Ref C an absolutely permanent tax hike and not a limited-effect measure.] The Denver Post story says Ritter is proposing to close a "children's therapeutic hospital at Fort Logan." Are you kidding me? Could that be any more pathetic or transparent? Saying that the budget problems will cause sick kids to be tossed out of hospitals? It's time to call Ritter and his spendthrift economorons on their ploy. Let them threaten the kids all they want. Let them threaten education all they want. Force them to make cuts to government programs across the board. We all have to cut back, and public schools can do just as well with less if we force them not to let teachers' unions divert money into their own coffers. Let a few prisoners out...I dare you. You heard it here first: Ritter's announcement is a prelude to a huge proposed tax hike. It's time for Coloradans to stand up and say "Enough!" Enough of your lies, enough of your spending, enough of your lack of fiscal discipline, enough of wasting our money to buy votes, and most of all, enough of telling us that the world will come to an end unless we agree to higher taxes.
There’s been a large number of science-fiction movies and shows, like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or the evil “Borg” from Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which an alien force takes over individuals, usually leaving them appearing to be nearly normal...but the viewer knows better. In every case, there’s at least one character in the movie who seems able to avoid being taken over or “assimilated” by the Pod People, the evil blob, or whatever but eventually succumbs, becoming part of the enemy he had once valiantly fought. This week we see the "assimilation" of a once-leading conservative voice: I’ve generally been a fan of Bruce Bartlett’s aggressive “classical liberal” writings, including his book “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy.” But his Monday article at Politico.com, entitled “GOP must adapt to welfare state” sounds more like Bartlett turning into Bush and waving a white flag of surrender than maintaining his long-held principles. Bartlett argues that “there is simply no appetite for big spending cuts” or tax cuts or serious welfare reform among the American electorate, especially during an economic downturn. For some reason Bartlett thinks it’s relevant to note that President Eisenhower “rejected any attempt to repeal the New Deal” and President Nixon “made no effort to roll back the Great Society after he was elected in 1968.” And someone he thinks that point deserves the same weight as pointing out that his former boss, Ronald Reagan, “understood that the burden of government is more easily borne if economic growth is high.” Somehow, strangely for someone who worked in the Treasury Department and is theoretically a conservative Republican, Bartlett doesn’t put two and two (big taxes and big spending) together to admit that growth in the size, intrusiveness, and cost of government saps the strength of the overall economy. Bartlett basically concludes that Republicans should just accept that the welfare state not only will never go away, but it will never stop growing. He says “The sooner conservatives accept that fact, the sooner they will regain political power.” Not only do I disagree with the conclusion, but it is also a remarkable departure for a guy who in the past has at least pretended to care about principle more than political party. Bartlett is not only wrong on principle, he’s also wrong to believe that behaving the way he suggests will benefit the GOP politically. If the Republicans have learned anything in recent years, it’s that if the two available political parties are the Democrats and the might-as-well-be-Democrats-except-for-abortion, the former will always win. Instead of Bruce Bartlett, Republicans need to listen to the words of Robert Novak who said “God put the Republican Party on Earth to cut taxes. If they don't do that, they have no useful function.” The problem for Republicans is not that the public is predisposed to liberal policies, especially liberal economic policies. It’s that Republicans don’t walk the talk, and they do a terrible job explaining why “classical liberal” (now called “conservative” or “supply-side”) economic principles are superior…for people’s wallets and for our liberty. Bartlett’s statement that it is unrealistic “to think that taxes can be kept at 19 percent of GDP when spending is projected to grow by about 50 percent of GDP over the next generation” shows that he’s already given up, given in, and become the newest RINO. We don’t have to sit around and accept massive spending growth without a fight. Indeed, we must not. It’s not just a few percentage points of our income which is at stake. It is the heart of our liberty, our economic vitality, and the true American soul as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson properly understood it. Bruce Bartlett has been assimilated. And although he may still look like the man we once knew, those of us who vow to fight for what is right will never again believe he is not an unwitting agent of the enemy.
[letter published online by the Denver Post: http://blogs.denverpost.com/eletters/2009/01/27/economic-stimulus-4-letters/] re "Obama touts economic plan", AP via Denver Post, 1/24/09 http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_11545294 The Obama “economic plan” is neither. It’s a political spend-a-thon that lets government, particularly Democrats, buy more votes with taxpayer money and say they’re “doing something.” Republicans haven’t been right about much in recent years, but John Boehner hit the nail on the head: The ONLY thing the government should be doing right now is cutting marginal tax rates – permanently. It is clear, not only with the US “TARP” but also with the UK’s similar bank bailout that the money has been little better than burned. Bank stocks continue to make new lows while every American citizen is saddled with an extra $1,000 of debt…and that’s just for the first half of the TARP and excluding Obama’s massive spending spree which will make TARP 1 look like chump change. If there’s one thing Obama’s “economic plan” will do, it is increase the chance that for the first time in the history of the nation, our children will have a lower standard of living than we will as they struggle to pay off the inconceivably high debt we’re piling on their young shoulders. Not only is Obama’s plan economically ridiculous; it’s also immoral.
H/T to Greg Staff for the Politico link and to Christopher Sanders for the Spectator UK link... I'm traveling today and don't have time to write my own deep thoughts, so please allow me to suggest you read this article by Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris over at Politico.com in which they "point out why expectations (of Barack Obama's presidency) must be kept in check. Seven reasons for healthy skepticism And in the UK Spectator, James Delingpole thinks back on Tony Blair and argues "I have seen your future, America, and it doesn’t work." http://www.spectator.co.uk/print/the-magazine/features/3233531/i-have-seen-your-future-america-and-it-doesnt-work.thtml I think they're both on target, and I hope that some of the Obama halo is already being tarnished to a more realistic glow by the confirmation hearings of Tim Geithner, the man most responsible for the current bailout, who happens to be a tax cheat trying to get the job of overseeing the IRS. Just like with Eric Holder, there will at most be a small showing of resistance from some Republican and then the nominee will be confirmed. The GOP will not learn until it's too late that sucking up to Democrats will only cause more Democrats to get elected.