Friday, April 29, 2011

Time to End Fed's Dual Mandate of Destruction

Let's pin the inflation tail on the big government/big Wall Street donkey.

Recent economic reports of Obamanomics have shown dismal GDP growth, rising jobless claims, an anemic dollar, and soaring inflation; all indications of stagflation.  There are two components to stagflation; high unemployment and high inflation.  The unemployment, along with the weak economic growth, is due in large part to Obama's Keynesian fiscal policy of overtaxing, overspending, over-subsidizing, and over-regulating.  While the profligate spending and corporate welfare are also responsible in part for inflation and the devaluation of the dollar, the major culprit is Obama's Keynesian monetary policy of near-zero interest rates and printing money (QE I and II). 

Both reckless spheres of Keynesian economics are supported by corporate cronies on Wall Street who benefit from true "handouts to the rich" to the determent of the rest of us through price-hiking market distortions.  Unfortunately, there is no single silver bullet to ending the cumbersome socialist fiscal policy (although, a spending amendment would go a long way).  The pernicious monetary policy, however, can be eliminated through one act of Congress; ending the Federal Reserve's mandate to control the economy (H.R. 245-Mike Pence).

In 1977, Congress vested the Federal Reserve with a dual mandate of stimulating the economy and job growth in addition to keeping a stable currency.  This has allowed the Fed to become a fourth branch of government by initiating its own stimulus policies of printing money.  These stimulus policies exacerbate the fiscal stimuli of the other branches of government by devaluing the remaining dollars that we own (non-borrowed money).

Hence, as much as Obama's trillions in stimulus and bailouts have bankrupted the country, Ben Bernanke's $600 billion monetary stimulus has attenuated the value of our remaining savings and spiked the cost of vital commodities across the world.  Additionally, their rash intervention in the credit market was one of the big culprits of the housing crisis.  Thus, while the Fed seeks to achieve a dual mandate of low unemployment and low inflation, they are ultimately inimical to both goals.  It's time for House leadership to bring Mike Pence's H.R. 245 to a floor vote and end the Fed's overreach into our economy.

Obama Tanks in PA, Reelection Looking Bleak

Ask any consumer of political conventional wisdom about 2012 and they will spew puerile platitudes about Republicans lacking a candidate to defeat Obama.  While the Republicans field, as currently constituted, is indeed sub-par, Obama simply cannot win reelection with his current approval numbers.

Yesterday, Quinnipiac University published a poll showing Obama with his lowest approval rating ever in Pennsylvania.  This, from their report:

President Barack Obama's job approval rating in Pennsylvania is a negative 42 - 53 percent, an all-time low and a major drop from his 51 - 44 percent approval February 17, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Pennsylvania voters say 52 - 42 percent he does not deserve a second term, his worst showing on that measure also. In a mythical matchup, he gets 40 percent to an unnamed Republican challenger's 41 percent in the 2012 presidential race. 

Also, among Independents, his approval rating is a lopsided 37-57.

Keep in mind that Republicans don't need PA to win the election.  The more critical states are Ohio and Florida, where Obama's approval is even more dismal.  Granted that we are in the incipient stages of the campaign, however, based upon the trajectory of the economy, job market, and inflation, it appears that Obama is the one who is the underdog.  Don't be discouraged by the propagators of superficial inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

McConnell Should Appoint DeMint to Finance Committee

Last week, Nevada Senator John Ensign resigned his seat, creating a vacancy on several Senate committees.  While Congressman Dean Heller will fill Ensign's Senate seat, a member with more seniority will be appointed to his coveted slot on the Senate Finance Committee.  The Finance Committee is considered a prized "Super-A committee" due to the extent and relevance of its jurisdiction, which includes trade, taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Unlike its House counterpart, the Senate Finance Committee also encompasses the jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee.  This panel is clearly the most important Senate committee in the realm of domestic policy.  Who better to sit on that committee than Jim DeMint?

Senator DeMint has been implored to run for all sorts of leadership roles, ranging from President to Senate Leader, but has firmly declined.  Fortunately, this is a position that he is openly embracing.  A DeMint spokesman told Roll Call that he is throwing his hat into the ring for the seat on the Finance Committee:

"Senator DeMint is very interested in serving on the Finance Committee and has requested it every time since he was elected," said his spokesman, Wesley Denton. "This is where entitlement reform will be written to balance the budget, it's where Obamacare will be repealed, and it's where our tax laws will be reformed to ensure that America remains the best place in the world to do business. ... He understands the seat will be filled by the Republican Leader and Senator DeMint will respect his decision."

DeMint has attempted to obtain a seat on the committee in the past, only to be passed over for those with more seniority.  Now, DeMint is the one with the seniority.  The other announced candidate for the position is Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, a more junior member.  In addition, Mike Johanns has not been at the forefront of the battle for liberty and constitutional government in the same way as DeMint.  Just last year, Johanns voted for START and the FDA food takeover, while opposing efforts to reign in the Federal Reserve, Freddie and Fannie, and the Justice Department's lawsuit against Arizona. 

McConnell has already denied DeMint a seat on the Finance Committee due to a lack of seniority in 2008.  Now is the time for McConnell to show that he is consistent and serious about cutting spending by appointing Jim DeMint to the Senate Finance Committee.  Surely, seniority applies to conservatives too, doesn't it?

Please call Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and request that he put Senator DeMint on the Finance Committee.  (202) 224-2541

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beware the Liberal War on Bags

Liberals truly think of everything as they assail the American consumer and producer alike.  They ensure that gas prices are high, thereby inflating the cost of driving to the supermarket or mall.  They devalue the dollar and subsidize the agriculture sector, ensuring that food prices remain high at the supermarket.  Now they are plotting to tax the bags that hold the food on the way back from the store.

Across the country, liberals are working unremittingly to eliminate or tax plastic and paper bags at all stores.  The latest battle is in Oregon where the state Senate might vote on a bag tax (SB 536) today or later this week.  This bill would levy a 5-cent tax on paper bags and completely ban "single-use" plastic bags from most stores.  It would also force retailers to "provide information to ensure compliance."

SB 536, as well as dozens of similar bills in other state legislatures, encapsulates everything that is capricious about modern liberal economic policy.  During a time of high unemployment and inflation, bag taxes and bag bans will destroy private sector jobs and regressively punish the consumers of vital needs.

In addition, this bill contains another indelible tenet of socialism; social engineering and means-testing.  Anyone on food assistance programs would be exempt from the paper bag tax.  Unfortunately, the small business is not accorded the same exemption as the poor consumer.  Worse, they will be disproportionately punished with the higher cost of purchasing the more expensive paper bags in lieu of the banned plastic bags.

While the green hippies in Oregon are cheering the proposed elimination of plastic bags, they would be wise to cogitate about the consequences of their actions.  The eco-fascists have already infringed upon our choice of light bulbs, toilets, and showers.  Eventually, they will eliminate one of their coveted choices as well.  After all, a widespread war on plastic bags will invariably decimate their sacrosanct green recycling jobs.  If no plastic is sold and disseminated, there will be no plastic to recycle.

Like all inane policy ideas, the bag tax/ban originated in D.C.  If we don't stop it from spreading to states like Oregon, it may be coming to a jurisdiction near you.  Democrats control the Oregon Senate 18-12 and need 16 votes to pass the bill.   Call the state senators in Salem at 1-800-332-2313 and tell them to keep their commitment to consumer choice.  Let's see who is really pro-choice.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vile Hate Crime in Baltimore McDonalds, Silence from Local Media

Drudge has posted a disturbing video of two black women violently beating and torturing a white woman in a Baltimore McDonalds.  Unfortunately, Drudge is the only site that has widely disseminated this shocking crime.  In the video, you can see several male employees (also black) sitting idly and enabling the beating to continue.  Eventually, the woman suffered a seizure as a result of the beating until the assailants finally fled the scene.

Obviously, there are subhuman people in this world who commit unspeakable atrocities on a daily basis.  However, there is certain behavior that is endemic of areas such as Baltimore's inner city that require attention.  Due to the one-party oligarchy of the city and state, criminals are able to commit atrocities with no fear of reprisal.  Worse yet, there is such a racist bias in the city of Baltimore that the criminal justice system turns a blind eye to crimes committed by certain races.  In turn, it has created a climate in which people in those neighborhoods will cheer on violent beatings and even facilitate them.

The astounding thing is that as this story becomes a national headline, the local media has yet to report on the dastardly act.  That is correct.  Even the local paper of record, the Baltimore Sun, refused to report on a national story that has occurred locally until Drudge and other national conservatives forced them.  Anyone care to guess why?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Petition Drive: A Maryland Call to Action

You can help stop the illegal handouts to illegal aliens.

During the closing hours of the Maryland legislative session, the lawmakers became lawless and decided to grant in-state tuition benefits to illegal aliens (SB 167). Throughout the session, we were forced to sit back helplessly while the one-party oligarchy waged an inexorable war on Maryland taxpayers and consumers. Now is our chance to strike back and let the people be heard.

Thanks to the assiduous work of Washington County Delegate Neil Parrott and others, there is a well organized effort to place the in-state tuition bill on the ballot as a referendum in 2012. They are organizing a petition drive to round up the requisite number of signatures in order to force the referendum. At this point, we are required to garner 19,000 signatures by May 31 and 54,000 by June 30.   However, we will need many more to overcome the invariable legal challenges that will disqualify some of the signatures.

Every Maryland voter can participate. This is your chance to strike back at the lawless leftists in Annapolis and retake our state from the illegal alien mafia.

Delegate Parrott has set up a website which provides all of the pertinent information for circulating the petition. You can go here to download and print a copy of the petition.

Please make sure to follow all of the critical directions. We will need to get a lot more than 19,000 votes because a large percentage of the signatures will be disqualified. The illegal alien lobby is surprisingly well connected and well funded. They will pour over every signature and attempt to have it disqualified.

Therefore, we must act now to gather as many signatures from our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Make sure that they are registered to vote and that they sign their name and address that matches precisely to what is written on their voter registration card.   Also, make sure that every co-signer is from the same county.  All of the signatures on a given petition must be from the same jurisdiction.  You may circulate a petition for multiple jurisdictions, but you would need to start a new and separate document for each one.

This is our first opportunity to truly affect change in Maryland. While you only have one vote in November, you have the power to garner hundreds, if not thousands, of signatures for the petition. Don't shy away from asking acquaintances who are Democrats. This issue is a slam dunk and resonates even with liberals.  Illegal aliens are already costing the state $1.7 billion annually-more than the total sum of the projected budget deficit.

Please help take back our state and become a true community leader.

Download the petition now and show the criminal politicians who is truly in charge!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Support the RSC Budget Along with Ryan's Budget Today

Yesterday, Congress voted for the final continuing budget resolution of FY 2011.  The House vote was 260-167 and the Senate vote was 81-19.  Due to the meager cuts provided in this convoluted budget deal and the fact that it failed to defund Obamacare and Planned Parenthood, 59 Republican congressmen and 15 senators indomitably opposed their leadership and voted against the bill.  Republican leadership offered wild gyrations and employed arm twisting to ensure that there wasn't too much dissent.  They even solicited the help of Steny Hoyer to whip up enough Democrats in support of the budget.  Nonetheless, enough conservative House members opposed the bill that its final passage was secured only with Democrat support.

Clearly, there are more than 59 unvarnished conservatives in the House who intuitively know that this was a bad deal.  Unfortunately, yet understandably, many of them were tepid about undermining their leaders in the last hours of debate.  They were all eager to move onto the "real fight", the 2012 budget.  Well, today is their chance to show that they are serious about repudiating the past 80 years of socialism and profligate spending, by voting for the Republican Study Committee budget.

Later today, the House will vote to adopt Paul Ryan's FY 2012 budget; the first step of the budgetary process-a concurrent budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 34).  Unlike the Democrats who failed to pass a budget resolution in 2011, Ryan will pass his budget on the exact date, April 15, which is prescribed in the 1974 Budget Act.

The Concurrent Budget Resolution provides a blueprint for the entire congressional budget for the next fiscal year, as well as a plan for the 10-year budget frame.  Additionally, the resolution, if adopted, provides a top-line cap-known as a 302(a) allocation-on all discretionary spending, and an individual spending limit on all appropriations subcommittees-know as 302(b) allocations.  Ryan's top-line figure for FY 2012 is $1.019 trillion.

While Ryan's budget is a great start, it doesn't cut enough discretionary spending and fails to balance the budget for another 26 years.  The RSC, under the leadership of Congressman Jim Jordan, will submit its budget, Honest Solutions, as an amendment to the budget resolution.  Their plan will cut $9.1 trillion and balance the budget in 9 years (see our full report here).  Every conservative should support this amendment.  Call your congressman today and request that they draw a line in the sand and prove that they are worthy of holding public office.  Tell them to vote for the RSC budget amendment!  After all, this is the real fight, isn't it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Poor Aren't Buying Obama's Class Warfare

The regressiveness of the progressives is coming home to roost.

Obama is forcing our troops to fight a politically correct war in Afghanistan; however, he is prosecuting his class warfare with no holds barred.  Obama and the Democrats are the Navy SEALS of class warfare.  Fortunately, his target audience, the poor, are not impressed with his ferocity.  Obama's support among the poorest Americans has dropped to an all time low, according to the latest Gallup poll.  This, from CNS News:

Each week, Gallup publishes the president’s average approval rating for the previous week among four income brackets: those who earn $2,000 per month or less, those who earn between $2,000 and $4,999 per month, those who earn between $5,000 and $7,499 per month, and those who earn $7,500 per month or more.
For the week of April 4-10, Obama’s approval rating was 48 percent among those making $2,000 or less per month, and 46 percent among those in each of the three higher income brackets.
Mr. Tax-the-Rich is now under 50% support among all income brackets, garnering roughly the same level of support among low-income Americans as from the rich guys whom he detests.

While Republicans were never skilled at articulating how free markets offer the best jobs and cheapest products to the poor, Obama is the master.  Even the most naive voter intuitively knows that Obama has impounded our natural resources and printed fake money.  No matter how many welfare programs he tries to create, poor people will not take kindly to the pain they experience at the gas pump and in the supermarket.  If Republicans would do a better job articulating the regressive effects of ethanol and farm subsidies and food commodities, Obama's lowest approval rating would be among the poor.

Here is the latest report from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau regarding inflation on some of the most basic needs in Wisconsin:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Injustice that is Maryland Politics

As the dust begins to settle from the midnight adjournment of the Maryland General Assembly for the 2011 session, I really don't have much to say.  The 9% alcohol tax passed both Houses of the General Assembly late Monday night and is headed for the governor's desk.  Ditto for the in-state tuition for illegals bill.

Simply put, we live in an oligarchy where nothing we say matters.  There is no deterrent to the criminal behavior exhibited by the legislators because they rightfully know that the asinine voters of Maryland will reelect them.  As such, they can even raise taxes and expend that money towards criminal aliens who don't even belong in this country.  Sadly, there is nothing we can do to deter them from enacting such egregious laws.

We can only take solace in the fact that there is a higher being-one who is watching the insidious behavior of the lawmakers who are lawbreakers.  Other than that, our only recourse is to vote with our feet and move to another state.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Boundless Immigration: The Silent Killer of the Welfare State

There is no better time to reform our reckless immigration system.

As we finally embark on the imperative discussion of entitlement reform, we cannot overlook immigration and its disproportionate effect on the welfare state.
Our immigration system is stuck in the Kennedy days of the 1960's when our population was half of what it is today. Over the past few decades, in addition to the migration of 12 million+ illegals, we have allowed legal immigration to spiral out of control. We no longer promote an immigration system which benefits Americans, rather an unsustainable system of chain migration. This system encourages immigration which is too random, too low skilled, and quite simply too much. While our historical average for annual immigration ranged from 200,000-400,000, the current inane system has allowed for over 1 million new immigrants almost every year for the past decade. Again, a disproportionate number of those immigrants are low skilled.

There are obviously numerous challenges that are endemic in such a reckless immigration system, but the detrimental factor that is most relevant to the budget fight is the strain on our welfare system. Yesterday, Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies published a timely study on the impact of immigration on the welfare state. Here are some key findings:

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Obamacare, Stupid

Obamacare is not an extraneous issue to the budget fight.  It is the fight.

Many establishment conservatives are agog with joy over the grand sellout of a budget deal.  They feel that John Boehner was the real winner in the debate.  The problem is that they are all focusing on the dollar amount of the discretionary spending cuts.  They are forgetting the 800-pound gorilla in the room; Obamacare.  The cost of O-care to our economy, liberty, consumer choice, and health care system is incalculable; certainly ions more than the diminutive $38 billion (really $26 billion in new cuts) in discretionary cuts that were secured by Boehner. 

The Wall Street Journal penned a disingenuous op-ed lauding the spending deal as the " first victory for the Tea Party".  They further admonished conservatives for criticizing the deal.   Here is what they had to say:

"Republicans also showed they are able to make the compromises required to govern. We realize that "governing" can often be an excuse for incumbent self-interest. But this early show of political maturity will demonstrate to independents that the freshmen and tea party Republicans they elected in November aren't the yahoos of media lore. A government shutdown over a spending difference of $7 billion and some policy riders would have made the GOP look reckless for little return....

Now the battle moves to the debt ceiling increase and Paul Ryan's new 2012 budget later this year, and there are lessons from this fight to keep in mind. One is to focus on spending and budget issues, not extraneous policy fights." (emphasis added)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

When Will the Real Fight Finally Commence?

There is no time like the present.

Over the weekend, Speaker John Boehner showed that he is even more conservative than the Tea Party.  While the petulant rubes in the Tea Party were credulously focusing on the 'small potatoes' of the 2011 budget, Boehner wisely decided to proceed to the real fight; the debt ceiling and the FY 2012 budget.  In the process, he even secured $38 billion, or 1%, in cuts from this year's budget, along with the funding for a D.C. voucher program.

In addition to being an intrepid conservative and a tenacious negotiator, Boehner is also a skilled mathematician.  He knew from the very beginning that 38 billion is more than half way between 0 and 61 billion.  Game over, Democrats lose!  Even though half of the alleged cuts might comprise of Democrat cuts in mandatory spending, and another $10 billion might include the previous CR cuts, those are just minor points.

At this point, you may ask, what happened to those pesky little riders, like defunding Obamacare and EPA regulations; those little things that will cost the taxpayer, consumer, businesses, and healthcare providers trillions - if not billions - in expenditures over the next decade?  You might wonder, what happened to the defunding of Planned Parenthood, preventing our tax money from killing babies?  You might be perplexed concerning the absence of the NPR rider, preventing our tax money from servicing Democrats' public relations effort.

Fear not, simpletons.  This is where Boehner really beguiled Reid and the Democrats.  He forced Reid to bring two of four riders - Obamacare and Planned Parenthood - to an actual vote on the Democrat-controlled Senate floor!  Besides, Boehner is presciently saving his firepower for the real battle, the debt ceiling fight.

Now let's travel in a time machine and attempt to ascertain the outcome of the real big fight in the future:

GOP Leadership is Pathetic

Republicans are so scare of their own shadow that they agreed to fund 99% of Pelosi's budget, along with Obamacare for another six months!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Obama Blocking Canada Oil Pipeline

In addition to locking up our domestic production of oil and gas, Obama, buttressed by environmental extremists, is blocking the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline project.  The proposed pipeline would efficiently and economically transport 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Texas.  If brought to fruition, it would help transport roughly 10% of our daily oil imports.  The proposed pipeline would also create 20,000 jobs and bring in billions of dollars in royalties and tax revenue to cash strapped states.  Additionally, it would decrease our dependency on terrorist oil by replacing a substantial share of our imports with oil produced by our friendly ally.

Thomas Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal along with his Canadian counterpart, Perrin Beatty, detailing Obama's obdurate obstructionism against the pipeline: 

Unfortunately, this project has been lingering under review by the U.S. State Department since 2008. Despite a thorough environmental review by the State Department last year and an Energy Department study in February of this year—which found that the project should move forward—the Obama administration this month announced another round of environmental studies. They gave no specific reason and set no clear time frame. But more delay only threatens U.S. energy security and postpones the creation of badly needed jobs.....

We should not ignore the economic implications of the Keystone XL pipeline. Building the pipeline will create over 20,000 new American jobs in construction and manufacturing in the short term, and more than 250,000 jobs in the long run, according to estimates by TransCanada. The pipeline would also generate needed revenue for states and local communities, including $585 million in taxes and more than $5 billion in property taxes over the projected 100-year operating life of the pipeline. These jobs and revenue are critically needed as America continues its economic recovery. 

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Exclusive Report: RSC Budget, Honest Solutions, Builds Upon Ryan's Blueprint

While Obama was rubbing shoulders with noted bigot Al Sharpton, House conservatives have been working arduously to formulate a coherent budget and stave off the impending debt crisis.  Earlier this week, Paul Ryan bravely offered the first steps toward achieving fiscal solvency and vitiating dependency on government.  Ryan’s diligence has provided the groundwork for a debate among conservatives as to how best reinstate the ideals of limited government and free market capitalism.   

Today, the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), under the strong leadership of Congressmen Jim Jordan, Scott Garrett, Mick Mulvaney, and Tom McClintock, expanded upon Ryan’s work by offering their budget blueprint, Honest Solutions.  This proposal will be introduced as a floor amendment to Ryan's budget resolution next week.
On Tuesday, we posted an analysis of Ryan's budget from a conservative perspective, noting that it was an excellent first step; however, there were some modifications that were needed.  The RSC budget includes many of those imperative changes.  It also touches the holy grail of Social Security and offers serious reforms for the ever growing litany of "other mandatory spending".  In addition, this plan calls for larger savings in Medicaid and steeper cuts in non-defense discretionary spending.

Overall, the RSC budget cuts $9.078 trillion over the next decade compared to the CBO baseline, or $3.3 trillion more than Ryan's plan.  Due in large part to its heavier cuts in discretionary spending, the RSC budget cuts an additional $207 billion from the FY 2012 budget compared to Ryan's budget.  The RSC budget uses the same baseline assumptions from the CBO in ascertaining revenue levels and future economic conditions.

Here is a summary of differences between Ryan's Pathway to Prosperity and the RSC's Honest Solutions.
  • Discretionary Spending: The RSC proposal would trim FY 2012 total discretionary spending down to 2006 levels-a $141 billion cut from the last budget passed in 2010.  The subsequent 9 years of total discretionary spending would be frozen at 2008 levels-$933 billion annually.
Defense Spending (which is the largest share of discretionary spending) would be $696 billion in 2012 and gradually increase to $747 billion in 2021.  This is comparable to the spending levels in Ryan's budget.  Put another way, non-defense discretionary spending would be reduced from $409 billion in 2012 to $218 billion in 2021.  Much of these sharper cuts in non-defense discretionary spending would be based off of the specific cuts that were proposed in the RSC Spending Reduction Act introduced in January.  That bill contained $2.5 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade.  Other cuts would be achieved by reducing the federal workforce by 15%.

MD-House: Call to Action in Annapolis

Thankfully, this is the last week of the Maryland legislative session and things are moving quickly.  That means that we must be ever vigilant for tax increases and pro-criminal legislation.  After all, MD Democrats have a penchant to pass those things during the final days of the session.  Most of the action will be taking place in the House, as they plan to vote today on several odious pieces of legislation that already passed the Senate.  Here are the bills that might come up for a vote today or tomorrow.  Please contact your three state reps and politely, but firmly, request that they oppose these tax increases, handouts to illegals, and benefits for criminals.  You can email them here, or call the General Assembly switchboard at 1-800-492-7122.

  • SB167/HB470- This is the Maryland Dream Act which allows illegal aliens to receive in-state tuition.  This is a priority piece of legislation for the Democrat leadership, even though it violates the core rules of law that they swore to uphold.  In addition, it will cost the state millions and crowd out legal Marylanders from their opportunity to receive a college education.
  • SB172/HB 302- Last week, the Senate passed a bill to grant the parole board the authority to issue parole which would automatically take effect unless the governor actively vetoes it.  Currently, parole can only be granted with the approval of the governor.  The new law is intended to alleviate the parole process and make it easier for violent criminals to get back on the streets; just the way liberals prefer.  [See this article for more information]
  • SB 994-Alcohol Tax- The Senate has already passed an alcohol tax hike which would levy a 9% tax (an extra 3% to the regular sales tax) on liquor, wine, and beer.  The House Ways and Means Committee is planning to take up the bill today and decide whether they want to incrementally raise the tax 1% every year for the next three years, or impose the full 3% increase immediately.  Call the members of the Ways and Means Committee and tell them that Marylanders pay enough in taxes.
Here is a list of those members: 

Sheila E. Hixson, Chair (410) 841-3469, (301) 858-3469
Samuel I. Rosenberg, Vice-Chair (410) 841-3297, (301) 858-3297
Kathryn L. Afzali
Kumar P. Barve
Joseph C. Boteler III
Talmadge Branch
Jon S. Cardin
Mark N. Fisher
C. William Frick
Ronald A. George
Glen Glass
Carolyn J. B. Howard
Jolene Ivey
Anne R. Kaiser
Eric G. Luedtke
Aruna Miller
LeRoy E. Myers, Jr.
Justin D. Ross
Andrew A. Serafini
Melvin L. Stukes
Michael G. Summers
Frank S. Turner
Jay Walker

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Only the Dead Wood Ceases to Function in Gov't Shutdown

There is a popular misconception promulgated by the media that a government shutdown would lead to an apocalyptic cessation of the vital functions of our country.  This is a fallacious and insidious attempt to intimidate Republicans into capitulating to Democrats' big government budget demands.  The reality is that all vital functions of government will still function.  It is actually only the impotent and unconstitutional agencies that will shut down, and frankly, many of them should do so permanently.  Here is a great list compiled by the Wall Street Journal of vital functions that will stay open during the impending shutdown:

SOCIAL SECURITY: As an entitlement program funded through payroll taxes rather than annual spending bills, Social Security is likely to keep sending out checks, most analysts and government officials believe. But the White House has warned that a shutdown could affect new applicants.
MILITARY OPERATIONS: All uniformed military personnel would likely be exempted from a shutdown. Operations in Afghanistan would continue. Current law gives the Pentagon authority to incur expenses for wartime operations and to sign new contracts for certain needs.

POSTAL SERVICE: The U.S. Postal Service would see no interruption in service or shutdown of post offices, since it’s funded by customer payments.

AIR TRAFFIC: Air-traffic control continued without interruption in the prior shutdown. Transportation officials would not disclose contingency plans for a future shutdown. Passenger and baggage screening by the Transportation Security Administration would continue in a shutdown, an official said.

BORDER SECURITY: Border security is also listed in government documents as an exempted activity.

VISAS and PASSPORTS: Applications for U.S. passports and for visas to enter the U.S. went unprocessed in the 1995 shutdown, to the frustration of travelers, airlines and travel agents.

NATIONAL PARKS: These were closed during the 1995 shutdown, along with national monuments and museums.

FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve, which does not rely on appropriations, would remain open with normal staffing.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Ryan's Budget: A Conservative View-The Excellent, the Good, and the Need for Improvement

Republicans should build upon Ryan's diligence to end Democrats' profligate socialism and expose them for the true extremists that they are.

The moment we have been anticipating has finally arrived.  House Budget Committee Chairman has released his budget for FY 2012, along with his blueprint for tax and entitlement reform over the next decade.  This budget proposal, which would cut $5.8 trillion from the CBO baseline over the next decade, is a mature and well balanced plan emanating from a city full of fatuous demagoguery.

It is important to note that this is just the preliminary proposal of the very first step of the congressional budget process; the Concurrent Budget Resolution.  There will be ample time to sort through all of the components of this plan and provide the appropriate changes as needed.  Nonetheless, it is a laudable first step that has come to fruition through the assiduous work of Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues on the Budget Committee.  It is a fresh breath of moderation and seriousness amidst the extremism that is so endemic in Washington among the Democrats.  Here is a cursory breakdown of some of the major provisions of the Ryan plan, categorized by the excellent, the good, and the need for improvement.

The Excellent

  • Medicaid: The budget proposes a transformational change to Medicaid by converting it to a block grant program which would give states more flexibility in how to spend their Medicaid dollars.  There would also be an overall cap placed on the block grants.  This would encourage states to innovate and formulate the best ideas for reducing dependency, instead of exacerbating it through an open ended entitlement program.  The plan would trim the cost of Medicaid by $771 billion from the CBO baseline over the next decade.
  • Corporate Welfare/Ethanol/Farm Subsidies: Ryan's proposal repeals the odious ethanol subsidies lock, stock and barrel.  It also reforms farm subsidies by trimming farm/corporate welfare from its current level of $25 billion.  This is especially prescient given the record high food prices that have been spurred in part by these market-distorting subsidies.  To address the record high energy prices, the proposal calls for an end to tax cuts for the rich- no more green subsidies!
  • Obamacare: It defunds Obamacare lock, stock and barrel.  While much of the budget is driven by choices between several evils in order to reform existing Democrat entitlement programs, this proposal prevents ObamaCare from becoming another Medicare/Medicaid disaster.
  • Taxes: The proposal reduces the highest corporate and personal income tax rates to 25%.
  • Earmarks:  The ban on earmarks is made permanent.
  • Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae:  The budget plan cancels these economic destructive government entities and calls for their privatization.  The resolution also calls for an end to corporate bailouts that were enshrined in the Dodd-Frank financial takeover bill.
  • Pell Grants:  All of the exorbitant increases in Pell Grants that were a part of the stimulus bill would be defunded.  This will help slow rising tuition inflation that has been generated as a result of these interventionist programs.

Paul Ryan's Budget

Last night, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan announced his momentous budget plan for 2012 and beyond in a WSJ op-ed.  There is a lot to like about the budget plan, including some excellent ideas for Medicaid and Welfare.  There are some other things that need a bit of tweaking. 

In addition, the battle over the current fiscal year's budget is continuing as a government shutdown looks for Friday.  To that end, House Republicans have introduced another short-term CR to fund the government until April 15.  This budget resolution has two major differences from its predecessors.  It exclusively funds the Defense Department until September, thereby precluding any adverse effects of a government shutdown upon our troops.  Also, it cuts an additional $12 billion in discretionary spending for the next week; a more significant cut than the previous two short-term CR's.

Things are moving rapidly on both fronts so we will provide a more detailed analysis as the information become available.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The North Dakota Way is not the Chicago Way

Ever since Chuck Schumer commenced his campaign to taint the Tea Party as extremist, I have been attempting to conjure up an image of a government run by like minded 'extremists'.  North Dakota might be a good place to start.  Every major statewide elected office is run by a Republican.  Also, Republicans control the state Senate 35-12 and the state House 69-25.  In other words, there aren't too many politicians like Chuck Schumer running the show.  What are the results of such an extreme Republican government?  Here is a great summary from Carla Fried, posted at Yahoo Finance:

Lowest unemployment rate among the 50 states. North Dakota's 3.8 percent unemployment rate is less than half the national rate.• Statewide GDP growth of 3.9 percent ranked third in the nation in 2009 behind Oklahoma and Wyoming (2010's figures are not yet available.)
Best job growth last year. A Gallup survey reported that North Dakota businesses had the best ratio of hiring to firing among the 50 states.
Stable housing market. Across the nation, nearly 1 in 4 homeowners with a mortgage are underwater. In North Dakota, just 1 in 14 have negative equity, the fourth lowest negative-equity ratio among all the states. The state also has the third-lowest home foreclosure rate. Affordable homes are a big part of the story here; let's just say you don't need to overstretch to own. According to Zillow, the median home price in North Dakota is below $150,000. That's less than three times the state's median household income. By comparison, even after sharp post-bubble price declines, the median priced home in California is still about five times median household income.
Low violent crime rate. The incidence of violent crime per 100,000 residents in North Dakota in 2008 (latest available data) was the fourth lowest in the country and nearly 60 percent lower than the national average.
Lowest credit card default rate. According to TransUnion, North Dakotans seem to have a handle on spending within their means.
Add that all up and you have the makings for a pretty contended bunch. In fact, Gallup recently concluded that North Dakota is the third happiest state in the U.S., trailing only Hawaii and Wyoming.

It Works Every Time

Friday, April 01, 2011

GAO Report: Limited Control Over our Own Border

A nation with no borders is not a nation at all.  Sadly, that is exactly what Obama wants.

Obama has no problem ignoring Congress to use our military on behalf of Al-Qaeda backed rebels in a country that has no interest to our security.  Yet, he eagerly abdicates his core constitutional responsibility to protect our own border and sovereignty.

On Wednesday, Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security issues at the Government Accountability Office, testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security regarding the status of our border security.  His 28 page report paints a grim picture and exposes the vulnerability of our border.  Here are some of the key findings:

  • Of the 1,825-mile U.S.-Mexico border, only 129 miles, or 7%, are fully secure.  There are another 744 miles in which the border patrol has established "an acceptable level of control."
  •  Of the 3,918-mile northern border, only 2 miles are fully secure, while another 69 miles have "an acceptable level of control."
  • In 2010, $11.9 billion was appropriated for our overall border security.  Just $3.9 billion was appropriated for border security efforts between points of entry.
In case you are confused about the distinction between the fully secure areas and the "acceptable" ones, the Border Patrol offers the following classification.  The 129 most secure miles of the Mexican border are the ones in which CBP has "the ability to deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border".  An "acceptable level of control" (744 miles, in this case) is established when CPB is able to apprehend illegals after they have entered U.S. soil to “distances of up to 100 miles or more away from the immediate border.”