Your Tax Dollars At Work

Below are some of the provisions in the current farm bill being debated on by the House and the Senate. Are these really things we need to do when we are currently more than $17 trillion in debt?

Some highlights:

…provide for “Economic Adjustment Assistance” that would pay domestic manufacturers of cotton products $66 for each ton they use of “upland cotton”—the most common type of the fiber grown in the United States

…grants have included $1,055,996 to the Unison Resource Company, San Francisco Carbon collaborative, and EcoAnalytics to prevent global warming by reducing intestinal methane emissions from cattle

…transforming goat manure into “biochar” (a.k.a. charcoal) to mitigate global warming. Said biochar is buried to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise occur from the natural degradation of goat manure

…a tax of 15 cents per (Christmas) tree on sellers to support a marketing program for enhancing the image of the industry

…$100 million and the House $225 million for the “Rural Energy for America” program. Recipients have included the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona, which was awarded $45,263 to install a solar energy system. The center is dedicated to “whole-person enlightenment” under the direction of an ordained rabbi, “acknowledged” yogi, and four-year Native American Sundancer. (Just FYI: The body-cleansing regimen starts at $3,159.)

…subsidies for “Access to Broadband Telecommunications Services in Rural Areas.” The Senate would double the current spending—to $250 million—and include subsidies for “ultra-high speed broadband.” The House proposes to maintain spending at $125 million

Just as some of the smart phone commercials used to say, “There’s an app for that,” Americans can say in almost any case, “There’s a government program for that.” I don’t think that is a good thing.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Overregulation Anyone??

This is a picture of a Chevy Camaro. According to the Heritage Foundation, Chevy Camaros from 2013 and 2014 are being recalled for violating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208—Occupant Crash Protection. The recall affects 18,941 cars.

Gene Blevins/Polaris/Newscom

So what is the problem with the car that constitutes a safety violation? The air bag warning label on the sun visor may peel.

The article reports:

The recall decision was made by the Executive Field Action Decision Committee, following a review by the Field Performance Evaluation Review Committee. So, pursuant to 49 CFR §573.6, the automaker submitted to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) its determination of noncompliance for the requirement that the visor label be “permanently affixed.”

GM also issued a stop delivery order to dealers, and instructed them to inspect the label on each sun visor (“using a finger nail, plastic card, or similar” to determine proper adhesion). In the event a label is prone to peel, the entire sun visor must be scrapped and replaced.

There are a few questions here. How is this recall going to impact GM financially? Would you bring you car in to the dealer if your recall notice told you the recall was about a label on the sun visor? Is this another example of the government overstepping its bounds and having a negative impact on the American economy?

We have done a lot in recent years to improve the safety of the American automobile. This is not an example of that.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Political Healthcare

Healthcare isn’t supposed to be political, but paying taxes or having the right to free speech isn’t supposed to be political either. As more and more information comes out about the use of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to muzzle conservative voices before and during the 2010 and 2012 elections, we need to think about whether or not we want the IRS in charge of America‘s healthcare.

On Thursday, I posted a story (rightwinggranny.com) detailing some of the abuses of the IRS in recent years. These abuses include sharing confidential information with political operatives, unequal treatment of organizations applying for 401C status based on political philosophy, and audits triggered by contributions to conservative candidates or conservative causes. As someone who was audited for the first time ever in 2010 after supporting the Tea Party and some conservative candidates, I take the idea of government intimidation seriously. The audit went on for almost a year, and at the end of the year, not a penny was changed. (It pays to keep good records!)

At any rate, a government that controls healthcare for all Americans is a potential danger to all Americans and to the freedom that we enjoy as Americans. Some observers are beginning to make note of this.

Robert Moffit, a senior fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, posted an article at Triblive yesterday detailing what ObamaCare is really about.

The article states:

Beginning Jan. 1, government officials will require you to buy a federally approved health plan or pay federal fines or tax penalties. They will define and redefine, at their pleasure, the content of your health benefits package, meaning the medical treatments and procedures you must have; the kind and level of preventive health care services you must have; the level of coverage you must have; the level of cost sharing, deductibles and co-payments that are acceptable — to them, not you.

Writing in the October 2010 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, Sara Rosenbaum, professor of law at George Washington University and a supporter of the law, perhaps best described ObamaCare’s transformative effect on private insurance: “It will take on certain characteristics of a public utility.” In other words, private insurance will be “private” in name only.

Is this really what we want? The current administration (especially the IRS) has not shown itself to be an impartial enforcer of laws. There are no guarantees that future administrations will be any better–they might be worse. Does it bother you that your doctor now will ask you if you have guns in your house or ask for intimate details about your sex life? Do you want this information in a government data base where confidentiality is not assured? Do you remember the newspaper in New York that published a list of gun owners in an area?

The potential for abuse in ObamaCare is greater than the potential for good. As voters, we probably cannot get rid of ObamaCare right now. However, we can educate people and focus on the 2014 mid-term election. Unless ObamaCare is gone after the 2016 election, it will be here to stay, and that is up to the American people.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Some Perspective Posted On Facebook

Photo

See the National Center For Public Policy Research for further information.

The article reports:

You’re also probably not hearing that the taxpayers are spending about $80 billion annually for food stamps.

Or that food stamp spending increased under Obama from $39 billion in 2008 to $85 billion in 2012, and it doubled during the George W. Bush Administration, as reported by Katherine Rosario of the Heritage Foundation.

Or that the massive food stamp spending increases since 2008 occurred during a period of massive unemployment and underemployment. As the economy recovers — surely it will over the next ten years, President Obama? — the need for food stamp spending should go down.

Or that, as Robert Rector and Amy Payne of Heritage have written, “If converted to cash, means-tested welfare spending is more than five times the amount needed to eliminate all poverty in the United States,” so the amount of money we’re spending isn’t really the issue, it’s how we’re spending it.

Do your homework–check the stories the media is reporting.

Enhanced by Zemanta

ObamaCare Is Coming

The Heritage Foundation produced a video by doctors on the impact of ObamaCare. The video is found at the Heritage Foundation website and on YouTube.

The article at Heritage lists the reasons the foundation believes ObamaCare should be defunded:

1. ObamaCare will cause people to lose their current health insurance and their current doctors.

2. Government boards will determine who will receive treatment–not doctors and patients.

3. Senior citizens will suffer because of the cuts to Medicare.

4. Millions of Americans will be placed on Medicaid–a system that is already broken. Heritage President Jim DeMint said in an op-ed this morning, “Expanding a broken Medicaid program is just giving millions of Americans a cruel and empty promise—an insurance card with limited access to real health care.”

We need to defund ObamaCare and put healthcare back in the hands of patients and doctors. Our current healthcare system is not perfect, but ObamaCare will be a nightmare for all Americans.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Do We Do In Syria?

Everyone who has seen the pictures of the innocent people killed by poison gas in Syria is wondering what America should do. There are questions as to who actually released the poison gas, and there are questions as to the motive of whoever used the gas. It is very disconcerting that anyone would use that kind of weapon.

The Heritage Foundation has recently posted two articles that clarify what is happening in Syria and the role America needs to play. One article, entitled “Top 5 Reasons Not To Use Missile Strikes in Syria” was posted on August 25. The other article, entitled “What to Do in Syria” was posted today.

The August 25th article lists five reasons not to attack Syria:

1. The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine is not adequate justification for direct military intervention. This dangerous doctrine, promoted at the United Nations, undermines U.S. sovereignty by arguing for an obligation of nations to intervene.

2. A vital U.S. interest is not at stake. The U.S. does have an interest in the resolution of the conflict, but military force should be reserved for areas where the U.S. has a compelling need to act in defense of its own interests.

3. It would not be a wise use of military force. Military force should be used only if there is a clear, achievable, realistic purpose. Missile strikes are unlikely to deter the Assad regime and prevent further abuses. Rather, the U.S. risks escalating its involvement in the crisis.

4. Missile attacks would only make President Obama look weaker. Much like President Clinton’s ineffective cruise missile strikes on Osama bin Laden’s terrorist camps, strikes would only be seen as a sign that the U.S. is lacking a clear, decisive course of action.

5. It would distract from what the U.S. should be doing. Rather than attempting to intervene directly in the conflict, the U.S. should be working in a concerted manner with other countries in the region to hasten the end of the Assad regime and deal with the refugee crisis, the resurgence of al-Qaeda, and the destabilizing efforts of Iran and Hezbollah.

Today’s article at the Heritage Foundation suggests what we should do.

The article suggests:

Rather than attempting to intervene directly in the conflict, the U.S. should be working with other countries in the region to hasten the end of the Assad regime and deal with the refugee crisis and terrorist strongholds.

Like any solution to a difficult problem, even that is not a perfect solution. Some of the other countries in the region are working with America to bring down the Assad regime, but other countries in the region are propping up that regime.

However, bringing America into Syria’s civil war at this time will not accomplish anything.

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Something To Consider

I really haven’t made up my mind as to whether or not it is better to defund ObamaCare or simply delay it. The danger of defunding it is that if that causes a government shutdown, the Democrats have a perfect opportunity to change the subject. If Democrats successfully change the subject, they win, ObamaCare goes into effect, and all Americans lose a great deal of both their freedom and their money.

The Heritage Foundation posted an article today explaining why they believe it is better to defund ObamaCare than to delay it. The article points out that ObamaCare is “a massive, government-centered restructuring of American health care.”

The article lists some of the problems with simply delaying ObamaCare:

Simply delaying Obamacare:

  • …doesn’t stop Obamacare from harming people. Regulators could continue to enforce the Health and Human Services (HHS) anti-conscience mandate and issue new Obamacare rules that raise costs and premiums for struggling businesses and families alike.
  • …is a gift to the Obama Administration. Federal bureaucrats have missed nearly half of their self-imposed deadlines to get the law up and running. Why provide them more time to make sure thousands of regulations are entrenched in the private health care sector?
  • …doesn’t stop Obamacare programs from launching. A 53-page Obamacare timeline shows that in 2014 alone, 27 separate Obamacare programs and requirements are scheduled to take effect.

In the article, Heritage’s senior policy analyst Chris Jacobs explains that defunding ObamaCare should not cause a government shutdown. He points out that conservatives do not want to shut down the government, they simply want to defund ObamaCare. My problem with that is my belief that the Democrat party will not allow the Republican party to defund ObamaCare without shutting down the government. Considering the bias in the American media, there is no way the Democrats would have to take responsibility for shutting down the government–the Republicans would be blamed.

I agree that ObamaCare needs to be stopped immediately. I am just not sure it can be done by Republicans who control one part of one branch of our government. I support their cause, I am just not sure if defunding will be successful, and I wonder what it will cost Republicans in the long run.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Spending Game

One of the tricks the government uses to avoid having its budget trimmed is to make sure that when cuts are called for they are very visible and very painful. Local school departments will threaten sports programs or art and music programs. It’s a game that has been played forever.

The thing to remember about the sequester is that even with the sequester, federal spending this year will be more than it was last year. The culprit is something called baseline budgeting. The basic concept of baseline budgeting is that the federal budget for the year automatically increases a certain percentage from the federal budget from last year. If the budget does not increase by that percent, the smaller increase is seen as a spending cut–even though the spending has increased. Anytime you hear Congress cry ‘wolf’ about spending cuts, you need to remember that they are not spending cuts–they are small decreases in the rate of growth. Please keep that in mind as you read the following.

On Tuesday, the Military Times reported that the military has closed or cut hours at some outdoor swimming pools and water slides on our military bases.

The article reports:

The pools and water parks are typically open to active-duty personnel, family members, military retirees, Defense Department civilians and their guests. The costs can range from free to just a few dollars. The cutbacks are one tangible way the automatic spending cuts are affecting the broader military community.

“Everybody’s a little bit emotional,” said Michael Martin, a spokesman for Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. “People are a little upset … These decisions are tough. They really are. But in the budgetary climate we’re working in, these are the types of decisions we have to make. It’s unfortunate.”

Martin said the commander for the joint Army and Air Force base had already planned to close the outdoor pool at Fort Eustis in Newport News prior to sequestration, but made the decision to close the outdoor pool at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton following the automatic spending cuts ordered by Congress.

This kind of thing sends me through the roof. Our military works hard, makes unbelievable sacrifices, and is paid little. They don’t deserve to have what little family recreation they have taken away.

In October 2012, the Heritage Foundation listed some of the recent examples of how the government spends money:

  1. “RoboSquirrel.” $325,000 was spent on a robotic squirrel named “RoboSquirrel.” This National Science Foundation grant was used to create a realistic-looking robotic squirrel for the purpose of studying how a rattlesnake would react to it.
  2. Cupcakes. In Washington, D.C., and elsewhere across the country, cupcake shops are trending. The 10 cupcake shop owners who received $2 million in Small Business Administration loan guarantees, however, can only boast so much of their entrepreneurial ingenuity, since taxpayers are backing them up.
  3. Food stamps for alcohol and junk food. Though they were intended to ensure hungry children received healthy meals, taxpayer-funded food stamps were instead spent on fast food at Taco Bell and Burger King; on non-nutritious foods such as candy, ice cream, and soft drinks; and on some 2,000 deceased persons in New York and Massachusetts. Food stamp recipients spent $2 billion on sugary drinks alone. Improper SNAP payments accounted for $2.5 billion in waste, including to one exotic dancer who was making $85,000 per year.
  4. Beer brewing in New Hampshire. Despite Smuttynose brewery’s financial success and popularity, it is still getting a $750,970 Community Development Block Grant to build a new brewery and restaurant facilities.
  5. A covered bridge to nowhere. What list of government waste would be complete without a notorious “bridge to nowhere”? In this case, it’s $520,000 to fix the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge in Green County, Ohio, which was last used in 2003.

Follow the link above to read more. To Congress this is a game. To the American military and the American taxpayer it is not a game.

In March, I posted an article about the Congressional Democrats in Massachusetts. They spent nearly $200,000 in bonuses, pay hikes and new hires in a timeworn tradition of end-of-the-year handouts. Despite their concern about closing the federal deficit, the Massachusetts congressmen increased their payroll by $196,000 in the last three months of 2012.

Let’s cut Congress’ budget and leave the swimming pools for our military and their families. While we are at it, let’s ground Air Force One and open up the White House for tours.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Senior Citizens and ObamaCare

Admittedly, as a senior citizen, I have a vested interest in what is going to happen to my medical care under ObamaCare. Yesterday the Heritage Foundation posted an article explaining some of the consequences of ObamaCare.

The article reports:

Medicare’s Part A trust fund is projected to be insolvent by 2026 and the total program has a long-term unfunded obligation of more than $35 trillion.

…ObamaCare has already made significant changes to Medicare, namely through provider reimbursement reductions and the creation of an unelected board of bureaucrats, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

The reductions in reimbursement will result in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that provide Medicare services not being able to supply those services. As these facilities decrease, the availability of care for Medicare patients will decrease.

The article further reports:

As CBO plainly states, “CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected [hospital insurance] revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.”

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will also have a negative impact on the care that senior citizens receive.

The article reports:

The board will consist of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, charged with meeting a newly created budget target in Medicare. When Medicare spending surpasses the target, IPAB will have to make recommendations to lower Medicare spending. The trustees project the much-hated IPAB will need to step up and make recommendations for the first time in 2016.

Heathcare decisions will no longer be between patient and doctor–they will be between patient and government. Decisions will be made according to cost rather than what is needed. Eventually this will result in an older generation that has medical care inferior to the care their parents had–in spite of advances in medicine. Because senior citizens often have higher medical expenses, those expenses would be targeted for cuts.

One of the formulators of ObamaCare was Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Rham Emanuel. In an article posted in July 2009 and modified in March 2012, the Washington Examiner reported:

Emanuel has written in medical journals of how health care should be rationed, with priority given to younger people over seniors and over those suffering from dementia, according to John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA). Ezekiel also believes that very young children should be lower on the priority list than younger people who have received public educations.

America currently has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. ObamaCare will change that. ObamaCare needs to be drastically changed or repealed as soon as possible. The lives of Americans depend on it.

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Common Core — Coming To A School Near You

Last night I attended a forum on Common Core at the Worcester Public Library. The forum was sponsored by the Back to Basics Caucus, a coalition of school committee members from across Massachusetts. The speakers were Sandra Stotsky, an ELA Curriculum Author, and Ted Rebarber, a Costs and Accountability Expert.

Common Core is a controversial initiative to align curriculum standards among all 50 states. It is being attacked from both the left and the right for many reasons, but mainly because it is seen as a top down Federal takeover of state and local education programs. It is a “one size fits all” curriculum.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal posted an article by James Gass and Charles Chieppo (I have not linked to the article because it is subscribers only) entitled, “Common Core Education Is Uncommonly Inadequate.” The story they tell hits very close to home–it’s about Massachusetts, where I live and sent my children to school.

The article in the Wall Street Journal cites the changes in Massachusetts education during the 1990’s. Education in the state was reformed in 1993, and SAT scores rose for thirteen consecutive years. In 2005 Massachusetts scored best in the nation in all grades and categories on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. They have repeated that performance every time they have taken the test.  Massachusetts is doing very well educationally right now.

In 2010 Massachusetts joined Common Core, which is supposed to be fully implemented by Spring of 2014. Common Core has some serious problems–scholastically and legally.

The Wall Street Journal states:

…Three federal laws explicitly prohibit the U.S. government from directing, supervising or controlling any nationalized standards, testing or curriculum. Yet Race to the Top, a federal education grant competition that dangled $4.35 billion in front of states, favored applications that adopted Common Core. The Education Department subsequently awarded $362 million to fund two national assessments and a “model curriculum” that is “aligned with” Common Core.

Academically the standards for Common Core are lower than those currently in effect in Massachusetts–so why in the world would we want to change? Therein lies the question.

The Heritage Foundation posts a picture that is worth a thousand words:

commoncore_1_450

The article at the Heritage Foundation concludes:

American education is at a crossroads: One path leads toward further centralization and greater federal intervention. The other path leads toward robust education choice, including school choice and choice in curricula.

Common Core takes the path toward centralization, and state leaders should seize the moment to resist this latest federal overreach. National standards and tests are a challenge to educational freedom in America, and state and local leaders who believe in limited government should resist them.

Common Core was put together without the input of the teachers who educate our children. Some of its backers are the Gates Foundation and the Pearson company.

At the present time there are no reliable cost estimates for the change to Common Core. There is no cost-benefit analysis.

The thought of putting all local education under the control of Washington is scary. We have local school committees that are elected–they are accountable to the voters. We need to make sure that the local school committees control local education. Anything else is destined for failure.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Did He Say?

Friday’s Washington Times posted an article about President Obama’s recent speech on terrorism. The President explained that the threat of terrorist attacks in the United States has returned to pre-9/11 levels. That’s a great idea, but there are a few problems with it. First of all, even though it was not obvious until 9/11, the threat was there–we were fortunate to stop the millennium bomber who was planning to blow up LAX, we were not so fortunate in Oklahoma City, and I am sure there were many thwarted attacks we were unaware of. We really weren’t all that safe before 9/11, and we are even less safe now.

The article reports:

The Heritage Foundation has been cataloguing foiled terror attacks post-9/11 by Islamic groups. The number: 54.

James Carafano, a military analyst at Heritage, said the 1990s’ numbers “were a fraction of that.”

The article lists five attacks since 2009–two of which were successful:

Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad opened fire at a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Ark., in June 2009, killing one soldier.

Najibullah Zazi, who said he was a member of al Qaeda, tried to detonate bombs in New York City’s subway in September 2009.

• Army Maj. Nadal Malik Hassan opened fire at a soldier processing center at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to explode a bomb hidden in his underwear onboard a flight to Detroit in December 2009.

Faisal Shahzad attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square in May 2010.

It would be nice if we could declare that the war on terror was over and have it be so, but we are not there yet, and it is dangerous to presume that we are.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Counting The Real Cost Of The Immigration Bill

I suppose it is necessary to begin this article by saying that I support legal immigration. I think we should make it easy for educated, hard-working people to enter this country without jumping through hoops and spending excessive time and money. However, we have nothing to gain by welcoming people who will be a burden because they do not have the skills to hold down a job and support themselves. At that point immigration becomes another load on an economy that is struggling to move ahead.

Paul Mirengoff at Power Line posted an article today detailing the cost of the immigration bill currently under consideration.

The article at Power Line reports:

The Heritage Foundation has released its long awaited study of the cost to American taxpayers of legalizing the current population of illegal immigrants. The study, available here, estimates the cost at $6.3 trillion, at a minimum.

…The bottom line is that current illegal immigrants would receive around $9.4 trillion in government benefits and services over the course of their lifetimes, and would pay about $3.1 trillion in taxes. Hence, a net fiscal deficit of $6.3 trillion.

The numbers used in the calculation include such things as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, public housing, public education, and community services such as police and firemen.

Again, I strongly encourage changing the legal immigration system to make it easier for hard-working people who want to work to come to America. I just don’t want to open the gates wide for people who will only add to the financial burden of the country.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Class Warfare Backfired

One of the tenets of the Obama presidential campaign was the idea that we needed to tax millionaires and billionaires to fix our budget problems. A lot of voters who were not really paying attention decided that ‘the rich’ should be punished for their success and should contribute more. No one bothered to explain to them that even if you took all the money from the wealthy, it really wouldn’t help with the deficit because the problem is spending–not taxing.

The truth of who pays what is a little different. The Heritage Foundation reports:

The top 10 percent of income earners paid 71 percent of all federal income taxes in 2009 though they earned 43 percent of all income. The bottom 50 percent paid 2 percent of income taxes but earned 13 percent of total income. About half of tax filers paid no federal income tax at all.

Just for the record, in case anyone assumes I have a vested interest in this battle, I am not in danger of entering the top 10 percent of income earners. However, what I have learned over the years is that when the taxes go up on the rich, the rest of us suffer.

Meanwhile, Examiner.com reported today on some interesting tweets from Obama voters. These voters have received their first paycheck of the new year.

Some sample tweets posted in the article (please excuse the language, but some of these people are upset):

Twitter user Dave Cardenas15 tweeted, “Obama is the biggest f**king liar in the world why the f*ck did I vote for him.”

Another Twitter user said, “Idk why but I feel like I’ma regret voting for Obama.”

Some of the users wish they had voted for Mitt Romney as expressed by Warren G who tweeted, “I should have voted for Romney, I want a do over.”

Hilda Brown, a user on Warren G’s Twitter account replied back and said, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but do you really think Romney would have done a better job than Obama?”

Warren G responded, “My paycheck says yes.”

The Examiner article further reports:

Peterson (Hayley Peterson of the UK’s Mail Online news site) also said, “Earners in the latter group will pay an average 1.3 percent more – or an additional $2,711 – in taxes this year, while workers making between $30,000 and $200,000 will see their paychecks shrink by as much as 1.7 percent – or up to $1,784 – the D.C.-based think tank reported. Overall, nearly 80 percent of households will pay more money to the federal government as a result of the fiscal cliff deal.”

Part of the increase in middle class taxes is due to the fact that the Social Security tax is now back to what it had been previously, but other tax increases currently aimed at those making over $200,000 a year may filter down to the middle class fairly quickly as the cost of Obamacare rises.

Punishing the rich is not really a good economic policy. It winds up hurting everyone.Enhanced by Zemanta

JUST A NOTE: The Washington Times also posted a story about the reaction from Obama voters on their decreased paychecks. It is enjoyable reading.

Jim DeMint Will Resign From The Senate In January

The following is a press release from the Office of Senator Jim DeMint. It was released today:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) announced that he will leave the Senate at the beginning of January to become the next president of The Heritage Foundation, the largest and most respected conservative think tank in America.

“It’s been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in United States Senate for the past eight years, but now it’s time for me to pass the torch to someone else and take on a new role in the fight for America’s future.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight. I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas. No organization is better equipped to lead this fight and I believe my experience in public office as well as in the private sector as a business owner will help Heritage become even more effective in the years to come.

“I’m humbled to follow in the footsteps of Ed Feulner, who built the most important conservative institution in the nation. He has been a friend and mentor for years and I am honored to carry on his legacy of fighting for freedom.

“My constituents know that being a Senator was never going to be my career. I came to Congress as a citizen legislator and I’ve always been determined to leave it as citizen legislator. South Carolina has a deep bench of conservative leaders and I know Governor Haley will select a great replacement.

“One of the most rewarding things I’ve done in the Senate is work with the grassroots to help elect a new generation of leaders who have the courage to fight for the principles of freedom that make this country so great. I’m confident these senators will continue the legacy of conservative leaders before them.”

Jim DeMint was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 after owning a successful advertising and market research company for twenty years. DeMint left the House after limiting himself to three terms and then was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2010.

During his time in office, DeMint has been tireless advocate for Americans taxpayers. His goal has been to support and defend the Constitution, which was written to preserve liberty by restraining the federal government. Toward that end, he authored legislation to balance the budget, ban earmarks, replace the tax code, and reform our entitlement programs. He also led the fight against unconstitutional power grabs like the Wall Street bailout and Obamacare.

This is wonderful news for the Heritage Foundation and sad news for the Senate. Jim DeMint has been an honest representative of conservative values during the time he has served in Congress. Jim DeMint was first elected to the the House of Representatives in 1998 and was elected to the Senate in 2004.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Welfare Spending In America

The Heritage Foundation posted the following chart in October in an article about Paul Ryan‘s plan to reform welfare:

The article reports:

Tragically, this massive welfare state has been a driver of dependency. Today, 100 million Americans—roughly one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from a government welfare program (not including Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance).

As Ryan noted, in the 1990s Congress passed the historic welfare reform law, inserting work requirements into the largest federal cash assistance program. This was a huge success.

“[W]e saw welfare enrollment drop dramatically, as millions of our fellow citizens gained new lives of independence,” Ryan said. “We saw child poverty rates fall over 20 percent in four years—and we saw employment for single mothers rise.”

But these reforms are at risk. In July of this year, the Obama Administration announced it would remove work requirements from welfare reform—the very element that made the law such a success.

At what point will this kind of institutionalized dependency result in the loss of America as we know it?

Enhanced by Zemanta

It Is Possible To Balance The Budget Without Raising Taxes

On Saturday the Washington Examiner posted an editorial about balancing the American budget. The editorial reminds us that everyone–rich or poor–will pay more in taxes after January 1.

The editorial states:

Liberal columnists love to point out that the top marginal rate on personal income was 91 percent in the 1950s and in the early 1960s. But the tax code back then was also chock-full of loopholes and benefits that let top earners escape such stifling tax burdens. As high as top marginal rates were, taxes as a percentage of GDP never rose above 19 percent, and in fact fell as low as 14.5 percent.

In fact, since World War II, federal taxes as a percentage of GDP have never risen above 20.6 percent and have averaged just under 18 percent. This has been consistent, regardless of changes to tax rates.

This fact is also confirmed in the Laffer Curve. There is a point at which tax increases actually result in less revenue. We need to keep this fact in mind as we discuss what to do about the ‘fiscal cliff.’

There are two think tanks that represent the two ways of thinking about solutions to the ‘fiscal cliff’:

Obama’s favorite think tank, the Center for American Progress, submitted a plan that calls for the federal government to eat up more than 20 percent of the American economy through taxation every year, in perpetuity. Being the liberals that they are, CAP calls for even higher levels of spending — above 22 percent of GDP by 2022 alone.

Contrast CAP’s plan with that of the Heritage Foundation. It returns taxation to just above the historical U.S. average at 18.5 percent of GDP. By cutting spending to pre-Great Society levels, the Heritage plan not only balances the budget but actually begins to lower our cumulative national debt.

Taking money from people who earn it and giving it to people who don’t earn it is not a solution to anything. Until Washington stops using American taxpayers as vehicles to get re-elected, nothing will be accomplished.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Would You Trust These People With Your Investment Portfolio ?

Yesterday the Daily Caller posted an article about the investments the Obama Administration has made in alternative energy companies.

The article reports:

The Romney campaign later clarified that he was talking about the DOE’s 1705 loan program which doled out $16.1 billion to green energy companies, accordingto the Washington Post. Of the 33 companies that received 1705 loan guarantees, only three have declared bankruptcy.

The article further reports:

The blog Green Corruption’s “Obama green-energy failure” list contains 23 bankrupt and 27 troubled green energy companies which were backed by the federal government. This list uses data compiled by the Heritage Foundation, but also includes some things the conservative think tank doesn’t.

According to the Heritage Foundation, $80 billion was set aside in the 2009 stimulus package for clean energy loans, grants, and tax credits, and 10 percent of these funds have gone to companies that have filed for bankruptcy or are in dire straits.

As I have said before, I believe there will come a day when green energy makes sense. I also believe that day will come after the free market has culled out the technologies that do not work and the technologies that do work have naturally risen to the top of the pile. Government subsidies interfere with that process and actually slow down the successful development of green energy–not to mention the amount of money the government has lost in picking winners and losers (mostly losers).

As taxpayers, we have the right to invest our money where we chose to invest it. There is nothing in the Constitution that gives the government the right to make investments in green energy for us.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

About President Obama’s Energy Policy

This is a graph from Investors.com of energy of energy production on federal land since 2003:

The article reports:

When President Obama, in responding Tuesday to Mitt Romney‘s chiding about failing to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, claimed that his administration has added enough new oil and gas pipelines to “encircle the Earth and then some,” we felt a perfect response from Romney would have been, “You didn’t build that.”

The article further reports:

According to the Interior Department‘s Bureau of Land Management, in 2008 under President Bush a total of 55,085 oil and gas leases were in effect on federal land. In 2011 under Obama, there were just 49,174, a decrease of 11%.

Federal acreage under lease shrank from 47.2 million in 2008 to just 38.5 million, a drop of 19%. And 6,617 oil and gas permits were approved in 2008 vs. 4,244 permits in 2011, a decrease of 36%.

The Heritage Foundation‘s Nicolas Loras points out that a recent report from the EIA documents the fact that energy production fell 13% on federal lands in fiscal 2011 compared with fiscal 2010.

Although tapping domestic energy would not bring down gasoline prices tomorrow, it would impact those prices in the near future. It is time to elect a President who will allow us to become energy independent.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

One Of The First Casualties Of The Democratic Convention Is Truth

The Foundry at Heritage.org posted an article today about President Clinton’s remarks in his speech last night that President Obama has not gutted the work requirements passed in the Welfare Reform Act during the Clinton Administration.

The article reminds us:

Last night, in his nationally televised speech, former President Bill Clinton said the charge that President Obama has gutted welfare reform was “a real doozy.”

The Heritage Foundation pointed out some basic facts that contradict this statement.

The article quotes Robert Rector, who helped write the 1996 law:

The Obama Administration will put in mothballs the formal purpose of welfare reform—to reduce the number of people dependent on government benefits. The Administration will abandon the legislative performance goal that encourages states to reduce welfare caseloads. It will weaken the “work participation” standards that require some 30 percent of able-bodied Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to engage in work activities for 20 to 30 hours per week.

The changes that the Obama Administration has made to welfare reform will create more dependency–not encourage people to find work and contribute to society rather than take from it.

Mr. Rector further explains:

In the typical state, 1.5 percent of the TANF caseload leaves welfare and obtains work each month. Thus, any state can be fully exempted from the TANF work requirements if it raises the number of exits to 1.8 percent. This is a miniscule change. What will the other 98.2 percent of the caseload be doing? No one knows for sure. But one thing we do know for certain: They will be exempt from the federal “work participation” requirements established in the welfare reform law.

I realize this may seem a little trivial, but it is not–for two reasons. First of all, the change in the law encourages dependency on the government–never a good thing, and second of all, it is obvious that President Clinton was lying. It is also obvious that the mainstream media is not going to report that President Clinton was lying.

It is truly time for a housecleaning in Washington. At the same time we initiate housecleaning, we need to impose term limits, end retirement pay for Congressmen (put them under Social Security or other programs they have to contribute to), and refuse to pay Congress if they do not pass a budget. These ideas may seem a little drastic, but these are drastic times.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Heritage Foundation’s Comments On The Supreme Court’s Decision On Obamacare

Dr. Edwin Feulner, President of the Heritage Foundation, released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare today:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pay Attention–You Are About To Be Spun

Today the Heritage Foundation posted an article about the coming effort to convince the American public that ObamaCare is a good thing. The Heritage Foundation managed to get their hands on a four-page memo which revealed how the Obama Administration plans to see the program.

The article reports the plans listed in the memo:

“Remind people that the law is already benefiting millions of Americans by providing health care coverage, reducing costs and providing access to healthcare coverage. This message will include the ideas that these are benefits that politicans/the Court art (sic) are trying to take away from average Americans.”

“Frame the Supreme Court oral arguments in terms of real people and real benefits that would be lost if the law were overturned. While lawyers will be talking about the individual responsibility piece of the law and the legal precedence, organizations on the ground should continue to focus on these more tangible results of the law.”

Unfortunately (as usual), feelings and sympathy are being played up instead of actual facts.

The article at the Heritage Foundation lists some inconvenient information:

…The latest news of Obamacare’s impact came from a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released this week. In one of the CBO’s reported scenarios, 20 million Americans could lose their employer-sponsored health benefits, and 49 million more Americans could become dependent on government-sponsored health care. And it won’t come cheaply for American taxpayers. Projecting through 2022, Obamacare could cost as much as $2.134 trillion, and individual and employer mandate penalties could hit $221 billion.

Then there’s the issue of the unconstitutional individual mandate that forces Americans to buy government dictated health insurance or pay a penalty, as well as the anti-conscience mandate that religious employers, including schools, hospitals, and charities, must provide abortion-inducing drugs and contraception despite the fact that such services totally contradict many of these groups’ core religious beliefs.

Under Obamacare, costs will go up, people will lose the coverage they have, and quality of care will decline. Individuals and businesses will face penalties, seniors will feel the effects of Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare, doctors will suffer from increased regulation and lower government reimbursement for services, taxpayers will face new taxes, jobs will be lost, millions of Americans will remain uninsured and stuck in overcrowded emergency rooms, religious institutions and the faithful will suffer the loss of their religious liberties, and future generations will pay the costs.

It will be interesting to see how this media campaign to promote the benefits of Obamacare will do. Americans are getting smarter–they are beginning to suspect that what they are being told in the major media may not be totally accurate.

Just in case you are interested–this is the organizational chart for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare):

 

I can’t figure out how to make it bigger, but here is the link (Senate.gov). In case you missed it, the patient is the star in the lower right corner–there is only one line that links to him. All the other lines are bureaucracy connections.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sometimes You Just Wonder What Reality Some People Live In

Gas Pump 3 - Charles River Museum of Industry,...

Image via Wikipedia

How do you feel about what you are paying these days to fill up your gas tank? Do you think anyone in Washington cares about how much you are spending? Well, there has been some interesting testimony in Congress recently.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an interesting article on recent testimony by Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.

The article reports:

When asked by Rep. Alan Nunnelee whether the Obama administration wants to work to get gas prices to come back down, Chu replied that they’re not focusing on that — and that higher gas prices mean more of a push for the alternative energy sources the administration wants to push. 

As I have stated before–I don’t have a problem with alternative energy sources–however, those sources will develop naturally as they become cost-effective. The market needs to left alone so that the most efficient sources are developed. Government subsidies and interference simply muddy the waters and prolong the process.

The Heritage Foundation stated:

As shocking as his remarks are, they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Chu has a long record of advocating for higher gas prices. In 2008, he stated, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Last March, he reiterated his point in an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, noting that his focus is to ease the pain felt by his energy policies by forcing automakers to make more fuel-efficient automobiles. “What I’m doing since I became Secretary of Energy has been quite clear. What I have been doing is developing methods to take the pain out of high gas prices.”

One of those methods is dumping taxpayer dollars into alternative energy projects like the Solyndra solar plant. Another is subsidizing the purchase of high-cost electric cars like the Chevy Volt to the tune of $7,500 per car (which the White House wants to increase to $10,000). In both cases, those methods aren’t working. Solyndra went bankrupt because its product couldn’t bear the weight of market pressures, and Chevy Volts aren’t selling, even with taxpayer-funded rebates. What’s the president’s next plan? Harvesting “a bunch of algae” as a replacement for oil.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is seemingly doing everything it can to make paying for energy even more painful by refusing to open access to the country’s oil and gas reserves and blocking new projects that would lead to the development of more energy in America. Case in point: the president’s decision to say “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that would have delivered hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from Canada to Texas refineries, while bringing thousands of jobs along with it.

High gasoline prices take a toll on all areas of the economy. They cause inflation in food prices and all other goods.

The article at Hot Air points out:

Congressional Democrats are ramping up pressure on President Obama to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to prevent rising gas prices from threatening the economy and their election-year prospects.

They are growing anxious that the price of fuel could reverse their political fortunes, which had been improving due to signs of growth in the economy.

Republicans have hammered Democrats on the price spike, repeatedly noting that gas prices — now at $3.72 per gallon for regular — have doubled since Obama won the White House.

Even if their motives are less than pure, it is nice to know that Democrats are at least aware that high gasoline prices are a problem for most Americans.

Enhanced by Zemanta

We Have Lost The War On Poverty–What Do We Do Now ?

Big Government posted an article yesterday about the growing dependence of Americans on government and its impact–current and future–on our society.

The article cites a Heritage Foundation study:

“Today…67.3 million Americans, from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries—depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions…Unsustainable increases in dependent populations predate the recent recession—and continuing economic morass—and have continued to rise since the economy collapsed in 2008 and 2009.”

As the government has taken over the responsibilities of families, churches, and other charitable institutions, these institutions have become weaker.

The article points out:

The Administration is allowing people to become fully dependent on them for their basic needs like food and access to health services, even encouraging it. The more they rely on the Government, the more Government has control of their lives and the less people feel they are capable of escaping their situation.  Without responsibility and choices, they give up.

An excellent example of this was presented in a study in 1976 by Langer and Rodin.  It showed the effects of nursing home patients who were given responsibility and choices as opposed to those “where conformity and passivity is encouraged and every whim is attended to.”  The latter dramatically declined in overall “health and well-being”.  The study was extended to homeless shelters.  When people were given both responsibility and choices they were much more likely to find work and a place to live.

People do better when they have responsibilities and purpose. We need to bring back the concept that there is value in all work. Somehow we have lost that and have focused instead on over-educating our young people at high expense and leaving them with massive debt and unrealistic expectations. It’s time to reinvent America’s values and bring back people helping people (instead of government helping people) and the value of work and responsibility.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago ?

That was the question Ronald Reagan asked in the 1980 presidential campaign. I think that somehow we have wandered back to that time. The only thing missing is the gas lines, and if war comes to the Middle East (which it will within the next year), we will have those gas lines again.

Yesterday Investors.com posted the following graph:

 The article states:

The American public’s dependence on the federal government shot up 23% in just two years under President Obama, with 67 million now relying on some federal program, according to a newly released study by the Heritage Foundation.

The conservative think tank’s annual Index of Dependence on Government tracks money spent on housing, health, welfare, education subsidies and other federal programs that were “traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families.”

Note the statement “other federal programs that were “traditionally provided to needy people by local organizations and families.”” The advantage of having charity locally controlled is that the local people know the people they are dealing with. The other problem with government charity is that the government has no incentive to downsize the number of people receiving charity–in fact, the opposite is the case. If I am a welfare administrator in charge of distributing money to fifty people and half of those people become self-sufficient, will I lose my job?

It is very easy to blame the rapid increase in dependency on the depth and length of the current recession, but the article points out that economic effects account for only one-fifth of the change in the index.

The article concludes:

Research seems to validate this connection. Various studies have shown that extending unemployment benefits can keep unemployment rates higher than they would otherwise have been.

Obama’s own former economic adviser, Larry Summers, noted in the 1999 Concise Encyclopedia of Economics that “government assistance programs contribute to long-term unemployment … by providing an incentive, and the means, not to work.”

That conclusion is called common sense!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Index Of Economic Freedom

John Hinderaker at Power Line reported on Saturday that the Heritage Foundation has released its annual Index of Economic Freedom. This is the chart of Economic Freedom in the United States in recent years:

This is not a good thing. The United States has slipped to tenth place in the world ranking of economic freedom. We can probably stop the decline by electing different people to Congress and the White House. Please keep this chart in mind when you decide how you are going to vote.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta