"He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
Matthew 25:33

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good news on Campaign Finance laws

The US Supreme court breathed new life back into the first amendment today by ordering a new round of oral arguments in Citizens United v. FEC, the “Hillary: The Movie” case.  You can read a press release about this here.

Campaign promise aside, Obama open to proposal to tax health benefits for middle-class workers

Last update: June 28, 2009 - 5:32 PM

WASHINGTON - The Obama White House left open the possibility Sunday that the president would break a campaign promise and raise taxes on people earning less than $250,000 to support his health care overhaul agenda.

White House adviser David Axelrod said the administration wouldn't rule out taxing some employees' benefits to fund a health care agenda that has yet to take final form. The move would be a compromise with fellow Democrats, who are pushing the proposal as a way to pay for the massive undertaking without ballooning the federal deficit.

"There are a number of formulations and we'll wait and see. The important thing at this point is to keep the process moving, to keep people at the table, to the keep the discussions going," Axelrod said. "We've gotten a long way down the road and we want to finish that journey."

But if President Barack Obama compromises on that point, it would reverse a campaign tax promise.

"I pledge that under my plan, no one making less than $250,000 a year will see any type of tax increase," Obama told a crowd in Dover, N.H., last year. "Not income tax, not capital gains taxes, not any kind of tax."

At the time, his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was proposing a tax on health benefits similar to the plan Obama is now considering. Just a year ago, Obama spent millions on campaign commercials attacking the idea.

One ad accused McCain of favoring "taxing health benefits for the first time ever ... taxing health care instead of fixing it. We can't afford John McCain."

A second Obama ad called McCain's approach "the largest middle-class tax increase in history." Driving the point home, it contended the "McCain tax could cost your family thousands. Can you afford it?"

The rest of the story...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Uncertainty in the White House

This article, by R. Emmett Tyrell, is chilling, but on target. I recommend it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Police are People Too!

Rarely do I post items of this nature, but this one I find extremely amusing. Therefore I must share it with you.

Sheriff’s deputy, mom are arrested

A sheriff’s deputy and his mother face charges of disor­derly conduct after the deputy vomited on people at a Kenny Chesney concert in Fargo and refused to leave, authorities say. Authorities said Stark Coun­ty Deputy Justin Krohmer, 26, of Dickinson, and his mother, Susan, 47, whose husband is the Ada, Minn., police chief, were arrested after the Satur­day night incident.

Police Sgt. Mark Lykken said Justin Krohmer was asked to leave the Fargodome about 11 p.m. Saturday but refused to do so.

Susan Krohmer is accused of pulling and pushing officers, screaming profanities and try­ing to prevent an officer from expelling her son from the con­cert.

Justin Krohmer appeared in Fargo municipal court Mon­day; his mother appeared Tuesday. Both face another hearing July 2.

Justin Krohmer joined the Stark County sheriff’s office Dec. 15, said Kay Haag, the county’s deputy auditor. Previ­ously, he was a McLean Coun­ty deputy.

No phone listing was avail­able for Krohmer, and he could not be reached for comment. The number for Susan Krohmer was unlisted, and a message at her husband’s office was not returned.

Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said that as of Tuesday, Justin Krohmer was still a deputy and he had no reports on the Fargo incident.

“I’m waiting for reports so I can review them,” the sheriff said.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Lesson in Government Control

There is a recent article about a young, ambitious polititician who talks about health care and wealth redistribution - Hugo Chavez.  Here.

During the second half of the 20th century, the world saw in stark relief the problems of planned economies.  Those who were paying attention saw object lessons of how markets work, and how planners, no matter how well intentioned or technically skilled, simply cannot compete with the collective wisdom of markets.  Hayek said it best in The Road to Serfdom.

The recent leftward lurch in the US toward the same planning that failed so miserably all over the world is certain to be destructive.  What seems to escape both US policymakers, and the general public is that the quality of the planning, and the details of the socialist programs make little difference.  Markets are a lot like gravity.  They will prevail.  You can fight them, but you will lose.

The article about Venezuela highlights and explains how and why this is so.  Mr. Chavez pulls on all the classic levers of the central government, currency controls, nationalizing assets, using the "bully pulpit".  Nothing seems to yield the results he wants.

In this sort of story, there is often reference to the "black market", which sounds sinister and dirty.  In fact, the "black market" is often allowed to exist and operate in controlled economies because authorities tacitly admit that without them, economic conditions would be even worse.  In any case, as we have found with the US "drug war", truly shutting down a "black market" is almost impossible.

The USA has the best medical care available anywhere in the world.  Let's not repeat yet another disastrous experiment in central planning by giving total control of our health care to the same people who brought us TARP, Trillion dollar deficits, $600 toilet seats, the IRS, and Medicare.

On Deck, June 23, 2009

· Dems Ignore Obama Cuts (The Hill) Note: Congressional Democrats are largely ignoring President Obama’s $19.8 billion in budget cuts. The president proposed axing dozens of programs that he said were inefficient or ineffective, but members of the House Appropriations Committee are including the money for them. They are looking to cut elsewhere — and are targeting even some of Obama’s priorities. Democrats on the panel are, for example, leaving out $60 million required to close the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — one of Obama’s campaign promises.

· Confidence in Stimulus Plan Ebbs, Poll Finds Obama's Approval Rating Remains High, but Shift in Public Outlook Has Political Implications (Washington Post) Note: Barely half of Americans are now confident that President Obama's $787 billion stimulus measure will boost the economy, and the rapid rise in optimism about the state of the nation that followed the 2008 election has abated, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Overall, 52 percent now say the stimulus package has succeeded or will succeed in restoring the economy, compared with 59 percent two months ago. The falloff in confidence has been sharpest in the hard-hit Midwest, where fewer than half now see the government spending as succeeding. In April, six in 10 Midwesterners said the federal program had worked or would do so.

Mpls Taxpayer Money to Promote Tap Water

The latest waste of taxpayer money brought to you from Fox 9 News.

Tap Minneapolis costs $180,000

Published : Monday, 22 Jun 2009, 8:16 PM CDT

MINNEAPOLIS - The city of Minneapolis is spending nearly $200,000 to sell something that would seem to sell itself: tap water.

With her bottle of water in hand, Susan Davis was feeling hot and a little guilty.

“It would be great if everyone did drink the tap water,” said Davis. “I think the tap water in Minneapolis is just fine.”

Tap Minneapolis is the city's new web site, and PR campaign to promote the city's tap water. But unlike tap water, it's not cheap.

The web site costs $75,000. The total cost paid to the PR firm was $180,000.

It's the kind of thing Governor Tim Pawlenty attacked last week. It also is enough to drive County Commissioner Jeff Johnson to drink.

It takes a $180,000 in taxpayer money to convince those same taxpayers to drink tap water. A reasonable person could ask whether that's wise or not.

But the real problem for some may be the product. The city's water comes from the Mississippi River and a spring run off gives it a taste and smell, that's just a little off.

The water campaign was Mayor R.T. Rybak’s idea. He also brought us those decorative water fountains a year ago.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Service - American as Apple Pie

I got a nice letter from President Obama today urging me to "serve" this summer.

I think this is wonderful.  Candidate Obama often spoke of the virtues of volunteering and community service, and I could not agree more.  You can see Michelle Obama talking about the initiative here.

I want to add some suggestions to help out with the recruiting.  Given that it is Republicans who dominate the world of volunteers, I want to suggest some causes that more volunteers will enthusiastically support.

Volunteer for your local GOP.  The GOP is the party of the future, and will actually support the values that will build our economy and our families. The GOP supports freedom, and that is the only way to really support volunteerism.

Volunteer for your local church.  No society can persist without values and standards, and our churches give us a lasting foundation based on God rather than man.

Volunteer for civic organizations - Scouts, Lion's, Rotary.  There are hundreds of organizations that match unmet needs with willing volunteers.

If Mr. Obama really wants to encourage volunteerism, he will ensure that the average citizen has a minimal tax burden, so there is some time and money left over in the family budget to volunteer.

Lights Out

On Deck: June 22, 2009

As House Democratic Leaders push their “cap-and-trade national energy tax plan” this week, the RNC has released a new web video this morning on this plan called “Lights Out.” House and Senate offices will receive a candle this morning from the RNC with a note reading, “If Democrats pass ‘Cap and Tax,’ this is all the energy American families and businesses will be able to afford. Don’t tax our lights out!” See report from The Hill’s Michael O’Brien here. Also, Senate Republicans will hold a hearing today on the cap-and-trade national energy tax plan today at 2pm. See full details in today’s On Deck.

Please Reads:

In The House, It’s Peterson Vs. Climate Bill (The Wall Street Journal) Note: The fate of the leading proposal to curb U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions is in the hands of Rep. Collin Peterson, a Marlboro-smoking free spirit who scoffs at warnings about climate change and says the Environmental Protection Agency is “in bed with” corporations opposed to the ethanol industry…. The resistance to the climate bill from Mr. Peterson and other farm-state Democrats has exposed divisions within the majority party over whether Congress should attempt such far-reaching and potentially costly environmental legislation at the same time it is trying to overhaul the U.S. health-care system.

Mayors complain about stimulus spending (LA Times) Note: Vice President Joe Biden has been holding private conference calls on the stimulus with elected officials from around the country, some of whom have been telling him that metropolitan regions are losing out to rural areas in the competition for stimulus money… That argument tracks a report released by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that concluded that cities have gotten a disproportionately small share of stimulus money set aside for road and other transportation improvements. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, newly installed president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, gave a speech to the association on June 15 saying he would ask his fellow mayors to “critically review every aspect” of the $787-billion stimulus package.

White House Changes The Terms Of A Campaign Pledge About Posting Bills Online (The New York Times) Note: Various watchdog groups have slapped Mr. Obama’s wrist for repeatedly failing to live up to the pledge. Politifact.com, the fact-checking arm of The St. Petersburg Times, has branded it a “promise broken.”At the same time, many have questioned the value of the promise, saying it was too late in the process for anything to change in a bill.

Here is what’s On Deck for Republicans:

• The Republican National Committee released a new web video today on the Democrats’ cap-and-trade national energy tax plan. The web video, entitled “Lights Out,” can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnvPt0E2Ed0.

“The so-called ‘cap and trade’ plan proposed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats is nothing but a multi-billion dollar national energy tax on every American family, small business and family farm. Those hardest hit by this massive tax will be the poor and middle-class who are already struggling to make ends meet in today’s recession. Americans want an energy plan that will lead to lower energy costs, more jobs, a cleaner environment and greater energy independence without a national energy tax that will tax our lights out,” Chairman Steele said.

• From the SRC: The Senate Republican Conference will hold a hearing today, June 22 at 2pm, to investigate the effect the Democrats’ proposed cap-and-trade national energy tax will have on job growth and the ways in which building 100 new nuclear plants over the next 20 years could help our economy, keep America competitive, and protect our environment. Senator Bob Bennett, R-Utah, will chair the hearing in Dirksen 562.

• From Bob McDonnell’s campaign: Bob McDonnell, Republican gubernatorial nominee and former Attorney General of Virginia, will be joined by Mississippi Governor, and Republican Governors Association Vice-Chairman, Haley Barbour will hold two joint press availabilities today, June 22nd. The events will take place at 9:00 a.m. in Virginia Beach and 11:30 a.m. in Richmond.

On The Democrat Side – What To Watch For:

• See RNC research brief below on the Democrats’ cap-and-trade national energy tax plan… Note: “Nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax. And it’s a great big one.”


Democrats’ So-Called “Cap-And-Trade” Plan = National Tax That Makes Energy Less Affordable


Congressman John Dingell (D-MI): “Cap-And-Trade Is A Tax.” “Nobody in this country realizes that cap and trade is a tax. And it’s a great big one.” (Rep. John Dingell, House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Science Committee, Joint Hearing, 4/24/09)

New York Times’ Thomas Friedman: “Advocates of cap-and-trade argue that it is preferable to a simple carbon tax because it fixes a national cap on carbon emissions and it ‘hides the ball’—it doesn’t use the word ‘tax’—even though it amounts to one.” (Thomas L. Friedman, Op Ed, “Show Us the Ball,” The New York Times, 4/8/09)


$1200+: Annual Tax Increase For Average American Household From Cap-And-Trade. “The study shows that a cap-and-trade system designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent would place an annual burden of $144.8 billion on American households. The average annual household burden would be $1,218, which would be approximately 2% of the average household income.” (Andrew Chamberlain, “Who Pays for Climate Policy? New Estimates of the Household Burden and Economic Impact Of A U.S. Cap-And-Trade System,” Tax Foundation Working Paper #6, 3/16/09)

$2 Trillion: Total Tax Burden Under Obama Cap-And-Trade Proposal Over Next Eight Years. “It now looks like the White House low-balled revenue estimates (actually costs to business and consumers) from his cap-and-trade carbon plan. Instead of $646 billion over eight years, it may cost $2 trillion.” (James Pethokoukis, “Will Cap-and-Trade Cost You $2 Trillion?” US News And World Report’s “Capital Commerce” Blog, www.usnews.com, 3/18/09)


LOW-INCOME HOUSEHOLDS: “Price increases would be essential to the success of a cap-and-trade program because they would be the most important mechanism through which businesses and households would be encouraged to make investments and behavioral changes that reduced CO2 emissions. Those increases, however, would impose a larger burden, relative to their income, on low-income households than on high-income households.” (Terry Dinan, CBO Senior Advisor, “The Distributional Consequences of a Cap-and-Trade Program for CO2 Emissions,” Testimony before the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support House Committee on Ways and Means, 3/12/09)

SENIORS AND YOUNG ADULTS: “In total, households would face an annual burden of roughly $144.8 billion per year with costs disproportionately borne by ... those under age 25 and over 75 years ...” (Andrew Chamberlain, “Who Pays For Climate Policy? New Estimates of the Household Burden and Economic Impact of a U.S. Cap-and-Trade System,” Tax Foundation Working Paper #6, 3/16/09)

AMERICAN FARMERS: “Worst of all is what happens to farmers’ net income. Farmers live off their gross income; what they earn in addition to that is their net income or marginal income. Waxman-Markey significantly shrinks farmers’ net income pie. Farm income is expected to drop $8 billion in 2012, $25 billion in 2024, and over $50 billion in 2035. These are decreases of 28%, 60% and 94% from the baseline, respectively.” (Nick Loris, “For Farmers, Cap and Trade is a Permanent Drought Season,” The Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry,” 6/9/09)


CBO Says National Energy Tax Will Hit Consumers, Not Corporate Profits. “Under a cap-and-trade program, firms would not ultimately bear most of the costs of the allowances but instead would pass them along to their customers in the form of higher prices. Such price increases would stem from the restriction on emissions and would occur regardless of whether the government sold emission allowances or gave them away.” (Terry Dinan, CBO Senior Advisor, “The Distributional Consequences of a Cap-and-Trade Program for CO2 Emissions,” Testimony before the Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support House Committee on Ways and Means, 3/12/09)

Democrats Admit National Energy Tax Will Raise Electricity Bills. “[S]everal Democratic aides noted that with the economy in a deep recession, many vulnerable Democrats might be loath to vote for anything that could be blamed for higher utility bills. ‘With the economy the way that it is, I don’t know that there’s going to be the stomach to pass a bill that might raise people’s utility and gas rates,’ one Senate Democratic staffer said.” (Emily Pierce & Steven T. Dennis, “House Climate Bill Facing Senate Headwinds,” Roll Call, 5/18//09)

Energy Costs Would Skyrocket In Rural Areas. “Rural electric cooperatives, vestiges of a New Deal-era campaign to provide power to rural America, have started to lobby against the House climate change bill by stressing that it would raise electricity costs in certain states more than in others.” (Jim Snyder, “Rural Co-Ops Target Climate Bill,” The Hill, 6/10/09)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ron Paul's Statement on the Iran Resolution, 6/19/09

I rise in reluctant opposition to H Res 560, which condemns the Iranian government for its recent actions during the unrest in that country. While I never condone violence, much less the violence that governments are only too willing to mete out to their own citizens, I am always very cautious about "condemning" the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran.

Of course I do not support attempts by foreign governments to suppress the democratic aspirations of their people, but when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made. I have admired President Obama's cautious approach to the situation in Iran and I would have preferred that we in the House had acted similarly.

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this and all similar meddling resolutions.

The resolution passed 405-1.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Barney Frank - A Great Idea

It is rare that I agree with Barney Frank, but this is one of those rare cases.

Rep. Frank says that "Criminalizing choices that adults make because we think they are unwise ones, when the choices involved have no negative effect on the rights of others, is not appropriate in a free society".

I agree.

How about the right to buy and use incandescent light bulbs?  How about the right to pay my employees bonuses when I think they have earned them?  How about the right to buy insurance from the provider of my choice, on terms that I and that provider agree upon?

Rep. Frank has co-sponsored this legislation with Ron Paul.  I hope Rep. Paul will be able to convince Rep. Frank that the logic he purports to support applies to a much broader array of issues.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Today's Obama Report

In Poll, Obama Is Seen As Ineffective On The Economy (The New York Times) Note: A substantial majority of Americans say President Obama has not developed a strategy to deal with the budget deficit, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which also found that support for his plans to overhaul health care, rescue the auto industry and close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, falls well below his job approval ratings.

Rising Doubts Threaten To Overshadow Obama’s Agenda, Public’s Worries Grow on Budget Deficit, Moves in Economy (The Wall Street Journal) Note: After a fairly smooth opening, President Barack Obama faces new concerns among the American public about the budget deficit and government intervention in the economy as he works to enact ambitious health and energy legislation, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. These rising doubts threaten to overshadow the president’s personal popularity and his agenda, in what may be a new phase of the Obama presidency. “The public is really moving from evaluating him as a charismatic and charming leader to his specific handling of the challenges facing the country,” says Peter D. Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the survey with Republican Bill McInturff. Going forward, he says, Mr. Obama and his allies “are going to have to navigate in pretty choppy waters.”

Health-Care Cuts Could Shift Costs (The Washington Post) Note: President Obama’s plan to rein in federal spending on health care could end up shifting costs to the private sector, economists say. Unless doctors and hospitals are able to respond to the government cuts by becoming more efficient, the result could be higher costs for insurers, employers, and people with private medical coverage, they say. Historically, health-care spending has been a bit like a balloon: If it is squeezed in one place, it tends to bulge in another.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

AFSCME Executive Director Eliote Seide Whines about Pawlenty

Union chief Eliot Siede is unhappy with our esteemed Governor's unallotment proceedings claiming that Pawlenty did not negotiate with the leadership of AFSCME like other governors have. Too bad, so sad. My heart bleeds for thee.

In a story today on Politics in Minnesota, Seide claims that AFSCME was "not consulted" about these cuts. Seide says prior governors, including independent Jesse Ventura's people, the GOP's Arne Carlson, and the DFL's Rudy Perpich sat down with AFSCME to find savings and maintain services; Pawlenty simply didn't. He compares the situation to Wisconsin's, saying Democratic Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle actually "meets with people" who deliver public services, and the state has raised revenues in lieu of cuts to services; thus, it's no surprise that only a few states have proposed tax cuts; instead dozens of governors have proposed collecting more revenue.

Seide claims, "the union is all about protecting public services now on the chopping block." I say that he is all about protecting union members and the dues they pay. Maybe Eliot will have to take a pay cut or lay off a few people at the union hall. Heaven forbid that they would have to share in the economic down turn that we are all experiencing. Nope. Eliot and AFSCME want to be insulated from it on the backs of the taxpayers. Not this time around Eliot!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pawlenty's Proposed Unallotments & Administrative Actions

Governor Pawlenty released his cuts in government spending to balance the state budget today. It totals $2,675,522 in cuts over the next biennium. You can read the full report here,


Thank you Governor!

Congressional Budget Office scoring spells trouble for Democrats' government-run health care plan.

CBO: Senate bill $1 trillion over 10 years (Associated Press) Note: A leading health care bill under consideration in Congress would cost the government an estimated $1 trillion over the next decade and reduce the ranks of the uninsured by about one-third, or 16 million individuals, congressional budget officials said Monday in a preliminary estimate.

Discord grows over public health care plan (USA Today) Note: Three months later, disagreement has turned to discord over a key element of Obama's health care prescription: his insistence on a "public plan" to compete with private insurers. America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade group, is joined by the American Medical Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others that have expressed misgivings about greater government involvement. "We're not sure that the government is very good at running a health plan," said Nancy Nielsen, president of the AMA, which heard Obama defend his plan Monday.

NBC’s Today Show reports on Senator Coburn’s “100 Questions on Stimulus Projects.” View here.

Stimulus Program Fraught With Waste, Report Says: (Los Angeles Times) Note: A report due to be released today by a Republican senator contends the Obama administration's stimulus program is fraught with waste and incompetence -- evidenced by a turtle crossing in northern Florida that will cost more than $3 million and a snafu in which thousands of Social Security checks went out to people who had died. Modeled after a release from the White House describing 100 stimulus projects that were in the works, the report put out by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma looks at the same number of projects but reaches starkly different conclusions. The title is "A Second Opinion on the Stimulus." "Will these projects make real improvements in the lives of taxpayers and communities or are they simply pet projects of politicians and lobbyists that never got off the ground because they are a low priority?" the report says.

Here is what’s On Deck for Republicans:

House Republican Leadership will hold a stakeout this morning at 10am at HVC 210 Alcove, The Capitol.

The Republican National Committee released a new web video today on President Obama’s health care plan. The web video, entitled “Government Run Health Care,” can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEvb4xVMP4g

“Republicans believe health care reform must preserve the doctor-patient relationship. But President Obama and Congressional Democrats want a government-run health care system that puts a Washington bureaucrat between American families and their doctors. President Obama and Congressional Democrats think government is the solution to every problem. They’re wrong. The government already runs car companies, banks and mortgage companies. The last thing the American people want is government telling them when and where they can get medical treatment for their families.” – RNC Chairman Michael Steele

On The Democrat Side – What To Watch For:

The Congressional Budget Office released its score last night on the Democrat’s government-run health care plans. See RNC Research Briefing below:


Congressional Budget Office Scoring Spells Trouble For Democrats' Government-Run Health Care Plan


CBO Concludes Kennedy Plan Increases Federal Deficit By $1 Trillion And Counting Over Next Decade. "[E]nacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010-2019 period. ... It is important to note, however, that those figures do not represent a formal or complete cost estimate for the draft legislation ... Moreover, because expanded eligibility for the Medicaid program may be added at a later date, those figures are not likely to represent the impact that more comprehensive proposals--which might include a significant expansion of Medicaid or other options for subsidizing coverage for those with income below 150 percent of the federal poverty level--would have both on the federal budget and on the extent of insurance coverage." (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Congressional Budget Office Director, Letter to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 6/15/09)

  • CBO Left Out "Key Provisions" They Could Not Take Into Account. "There are several features of the proposal that CBO and the JCT staff have not yet reflected in their budget estimates. The most significant features of the proposal that have not yet been estimated would do the following ... Require insurers to offer dependent coverage for children of policyholders who are less than 27 years of age ... Delegate authority to a Medical Advisory Council to establish minimum requirements for covered health benefits and to determine the level of coverage that individuals would need to obtain in order to qualify as having insurance . .. Require insurers to maintain a minimum level of medical claims paid relative to premium revenues (otherwise known as a "medical loss ratio"), or to repay certain amounts to policyholders; the HHS Secretary would have the authority to set the minimum medical loss ratio." (Douglas W. Elmendorf, Congressional Budget Office Director, Letter to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, 6/15/09)

Democrats' Plan Fails To Insure 36 Million Americans. "The analysis says that the number of uninsured Americans, now estimated at around 50 million, would decrease to about 36 million once the bill was fully implemented." ("CBO: Senate Bill $1 Trillion Over 10 Years," The Associated Press, 6/15/09)


OMB Director Peter Orszag Said Health Care Reform Must Be Deficit Neutral. Orszag: "Let's be very clear. We've always said health care reform has to be deficit neutral over a five- or 10-year window and much better than that over the long term ... So we are committed to making sure health care reform is self-financing and also brings down costs over time, both for families and for the federal government." ("Obama Budget Chief, Economy Almost Bottomed Out," The Associated Press, 5/17/09)

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Said Tax Increases Are On The Table. MSNBC's ED SCHULTZ: "You've mentioned being able to pay for it. Are you willing to raise taxes to pay for it?" SPEAKER PELOSI: "Everything is on the table. Everything." (MSNBC's "The Ed Show," 6/10/09)


LIMITING TAX DEDUCTIONS: Obama Wants To Limit Tax Deductions For Health Care. "Congress still hasn't figured out how to pay for a health overhaul that could cost $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion or even more over a decade. Mr. Obama has put forward some ideas ... includin g limiting some tax deductions ..." ("Obama Pleads for Action on Health Care," The Associated Press, 6/6/09)

TARGETING HEALTH CARE BENEFITS: Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) Wants To Limit Tax Exclusion For Health Care. Conrad: "[S]o we're going to have to consider some limitation perhaps on the tax exclusion for health care insurance, perhaps cutting it off at $17,000 of tax exclusion a year per family." (MSNBC's "The Ed Show," 6/11/09)

ADDITIONAL SURCHARGE ON INCOME TAXES: Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) Suggests Tax Surcharge To Pay For Government-Run Health Care. "Rep. Pete Stark ... called Thursday for a two percent income tax surcharge to pay for the health insurance program he predicted Congress and President Obama would enact later this year ... Rep. Stark opposes paying for health care by taxing employees for employer-paid health coverage, or by ending the income tax ded uctions that employers now take for the cost of providing health insurance to their employees. He said, 'If you wanted me to bet how would I pay for this, I would tell you not to bet against a surtax' ... According to Stark, when it comes down to paying for health care reform, it'll be, 'Swallow hard, take the tough vote.'" ("House Health Panel Chair: Tax Surcharge Likely," San Francisco Chronicle, 6/12/09)

NEW TAXES ON SUGAR-SWEETENED DRINKS: Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) Proposing Excise Tax On Sugary Drinks. "The proposal would impose a Federal excise tax per 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage. Sugar-sweetened beverages under the proposal would include a variety of carbonated and un-carbonated beverages, such as non-diet sof t drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks, functional drinks such as energy and sports drinks, iced teas and iced coffees, and flavored milk and dairy drinks." ("Financing Comprehensive Health Care Reform: Proposed Health System Savings and Revenue Options," Senate Finance Committee, 5/20/09)

HIGHER TAXES ON ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Baucus Proposing Higher Excise Taxes On Alcohol. "The [Senate Finance] Committee is proposing to increase the tax on alcohol, and eliminate the current tax variances between beer, wine and alcohol. The committee also proposed levying the first federal tax on sugary beverages. That would apply to soft drinks, fruit and vegetable drinks, energy and sports drinks, iced teas, iced coffees and flavored milk and dairy drinks. It wouldn't apply to drinks sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners." (Janet Adamy, "New Taxes Loom To Pay For Health-Care Overhaul," The Wall Street Journal, 5/19/09)

NEW TAXES ON SALTY FOODS: Democrats Float Idea Of Starting Tax On Salty Foods. "In recent months, the administration and Congress have floated ideas to ... tax salty foods ..." (Kimberly A. Strassel, "Democrats And The Health Tax Taboo", The Wall Street Journal, 6/12/09)

HIGHER TAXES ON CIGARETTES: Baucus Considering Higher Excise Taxes On Cigarettes. "There appeared to be a bubble of support ... for taxing bad behavior, including a $2 tax on a pack of cigarettes ..." (Carrie Budoff Brown, "Smokers, Drinkers To Carry Tax Burden ," Politico, 5/13/09)

NEW TAXES ON ENERGY: Conrad Open To Paying For Health Care Through Energy Taxes. "The Senate's lead Democrat on the budget signaled Sunday he's open to imposing new energy taxes to pay for healthcare reform, a priority for President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee said energy taxes is an 'option' for funding healthcare reform." (Walter Alarkon, "Conrad Open To Energy Taxes For Health Care," The Hill, 3/29/09)

NEW EUROPEAN-STYLE NATIONAL SALES TAX: Democrats Considering Plan To Bring A European-Style National Sales Tax To The US To Fund A Health Industry Take-Over. "With budget deficits soaring and President Obama pushing a trillion-dollar-plus expansion of health coverage, some Washington policymakers are taking a fresh look at a money-making idea long considered politically taboo: a national sales tax. Common around the world, including in Europe, such a tax -- called a value-added tax, or VAT -- has not been seriously considered in the United States. But advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity." (Lori Montgomery, "Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look," The Washington Post, 5/27/09)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Congratulations, Tony, Michael, and Dave

Congratulations to the three new leaders of the Minnesota GOP. Tony Sutton is our new Chairman, Michael Brodkorb is Deputy Chair and Dave Sturrock is Secretary/Treasurer.

As I listened to the speeches today, and talked to people at the convention, it occurred to me that the Big Choice given to the Minnesota GOP was between Experience and Ideology.

The differences were subtle, but clear.  All of the candidates were excellent.  It is wonderful to be at an event that is alive with enthusiasm, ideas, and showing no major signs of division.  It is obvious that the GOP in Minnesota is united on broad principles, and is eager to get to work and undo the damage being done by the statists and leftists who are running up massive debts and ignoring our constitution.

The Experience ticket promised continuity and tradition, but less ideological fervor.   The Ideology ticket was persuasive based on the need for an effective message supporting the GOPs efforts, but was more about changing the party.

I believe we need both.  Continuity and experience are essential, but so is an effective public face and message.  Change must also be part of the mix.  Only perfect things need no change, and we are far from perfect.  There is always discomfort in change, but it is the price of progress.

The Minnesota GOP now knows more about the strengths of all the candidates who ran for state party office.  Now is the time for those candidates who did not win to offer those  strengths to complement the strengths of those who did.  Together, we will make an unbeatable team.

Congratulations Tony, Michael and Dave.  Now, the work begins.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Honor of The United States

I watched the video at I.O.U.S.A yesterday.

This video highlights the enormous debt that we are racking up as a nation.

Debt is a promise, and honor demands that we keep our promises.  As we rack up more debt without any plan to repay it, we are, as a nation, surrendering our honor.

The US superpower status depends more on our honor than on our weapons or our wealth.  If we become a deadbeat nation, we will deserve the severe consequences, just as we would as individuals.

It makes no difference if we dishonor our debts by refusing to pay them, or by allowing the Fed to inflate them away by printing vast quantities of fiat money.  Honor is about trust.  We must be trustworthy to be trusted, and to be respected.

View the video, then get serious about repaying our debt.  We should have a new slogan: "We can't afford it".

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TARP, the Permanent Slush Fund

US Treasury Secretary Geithner has said recently that he believes that TARP is effectively a revolving fund.

This is, at best, a real stretch.  Congressman John Kline (R-MN CD 2) is co-sponsor of HR 2063 to clarify the intent of TARP as a temporary program with an end.  This legislation needs and deserves our enthusiastic support.

TARP was misleadingly sold to Congress, poorly vetted, poorly managed,  has suffered from poor oversight, and attendant corruption and shows no evidence of being worth the enormous cost.  Naturally, it is now regarded by the administration as a permanent institution, worthy of continuing support.

This must end.  Even if you believe TARP was necessary, no one at the time of its passage saw it as a permanent slush fund.  I am outraged that the administration would consider ignoring the intent of Congress in this way.

I expect this legislation to get a lot of resistance from those who want to maintain the federal government's "flexibility".  We must work together to ensure the passage of HR 2063 and end the permanent slush fund of TARP.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Health Care Free Lunch

President Obama has portrayed his health care overhaul as a major transformation of our health care system, a massive, total reform that has been delayed for years, and is badly needed.

Today, he got down to specifics, outlining his health care plans in a letter to the two Senators leading the charge for the legislation.

He said in his letter: "The plans you are discussing embody my core belief that Americans should have better choices for health insurance, building on the principle that if they like the coverage they have now, they can keep it, while seeing their costs lowered as our reforms take hold".

Allow me to translate: "This plan will change everything, improving all aspects of health care.  However, you will not see any changes you don't like".

'Nuff said.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Teacher's Retirement Sacrificed for GM

This article describes the plight of a retired teacher, who is one of the "fat cat" bondholders in the GM bankruptcy.

Today's bankruptcy filing of GM should be met with powerful objection by the American people.  It is not a normal bankruptcy.  Like Chrysler, it is more like a US Government seizure of a private business, followed by a politically directed redistribution of the assets to political friends.

There is only the most tenuous congressional authorization for the money being used to execute this seizure, and no constitutional basis.  Congress considered funding a bailout of the auto industry last fall, but explicitly rejected it.  The Bush administration went ahead anyway, and used the TARP money in a way that arguably spits in the face of the intent of Congress.

Bankruptcy for the automakers was unthinkable last fall, which is why the government was "forced" to provide a bailout.  There was no massive fraud, or criminal activity.  This is a garden variety failure of a major business that made bad choices and failed to turn a profit.  All the stakeholders - management, unions, lenders - share in responsibility for the failure.

There was a time when americans understood government seizure as an illegal act; simple theft of american property.  No longer.  Recently, Venezuela expropriated american assets, without a ripple of protest in the US.  Apparently government seizures are now popular, even necessary, so they are OK.

No economic growth, or even activity, is possible without investment.  No intelligent investor will invest under threat of seizure.  The GM and Chrysler seizures will have a chilling effect on every investment that might be seized.  Because there is no apparent limit on the power to intervene (aka seize) private enterprises, the damage will be widespread.

Politically, it is easy for Mr. Obama to stand at the podium and tout the jobs he has "created", and the businesses he has "saved".  Unseen is the subtle devastation meted out to the taxpayers who pay the bills for his largesse.  Because this is all borrowed money, many of those taxpayers are children, or not yet born.  Their opportunities and their futures have been taken from them so Mr. Obama can stand at that podium, please his supporters and  and maintain power.