Archive for November, 2010
November 30th, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Misguided Obama Quote of the Week
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“The American people did not vote for gridlock”

That was President Obama following his White House meeting with senior congressional leaders (including heretofore marginalized Republicans) earlier today. A few things are wrong with this:

1. Of the many tasks for which Barack Obama is demonstrably unqualified, interpreting election results is clearly towards the top of the list.

2. To the extent that the 2010 midterm elections can be boiled down to a single trend, it wasn’t the American people voting for anything — it was them voting against Obama’s agenda.

3. The American people don’t vote for process. They saw the country headed too far to the left and wanted to stop it. While the electorate may not think gridlock is ideal, they would probably prefer it over another two years like the ones we just had.

4. It’s amazing how many Democrats are spinning the 2010 elections as a mandate for the two parties to work together (not that this is a particularly innovative narrative for parties that crawl back into the minority). The 2010 election saw disgust for the two major parties at an all-time high and faith in our political institutions at an all-time low. This is just a hunch, but I don’t think the resulting message was “we’d like to see more effective cooperation between the party we hate and the party we really hate”.

November 30th, 2010 at 4:23 pm
Pampered Federal Employees “Rage” at Prospect of Mere Wage Freeze?
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Sign of the times from today’s New York Daily News“Federal Workers Rage Over President Obama’s Two-Year Wage Freeze.”

Let’s see…  Federal employment has grown 17% since 2007, and federal employees’ total compensation has risen 37% in the past decade (compared to 9% for private sector employees), according to The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.  Further, average federal employee compensation reached $123,000 in 2009, more than twice the $61,000 earned by the average private employee.

So in what moral universe are federal workers justified in reacting to a very modest two-year wage freeze proposal with “rage” and by labeling it a “slap” when they haven’t faced the brutal layoffs, salary reductions and cuts in health coverage their private counterparts must endure?  A majority of Americans surveyed favor federal workforce reductions and salary cuts, so perhaps they should behave less like spoiled Greek, French and English rioters and instead express gratitude to American taxpayers who continue to subsidize their relative good fortune.

November 30th, 2010 at 10:18 am
Ramirez Cartoon: START Treaty
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 29th, 2010 at 4:23 pm
TODAY’S LINEUP: CFIF’s Renee Giachino Hosts “Your Turn” on WEBY Radio 1330 AM
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Join CFIF Corporate Counsel and Senior Vice President Renee Giachino today from 4:00 p.m. CST to 6:00 p.m. CST (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EST) on Northwest Florida’s 1330 AM WEBY, as she hosts her show “Your Turn.”  Today’s star guest lineup includes:

4:00 p.m. CST/5:00 p.m. EST:    Bruce Herschensohn, Foreign Policy Expert  –  North Korea

4:30 p.m. CST/5:30 p.m. EST:    Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers’ Union (NTU)  –  Bush Tax Cuts, Obama’s Federal Salary Freeze

5:00 p.m. CST/6:00 p.m. EST:    Ashton Ellis, CFIF  –  Wikileaks, Janet Naplitano/Eric Holder/Charles Schumer

5:30 p.m. CST/6:30 p.m. EST:    Steve Milloy,  –  U.N. Global Warming Conference

Please share your comments, thoughts and questions at (850) 623-1330, or listen via the Internet by clicking here.  You won’t want to miss it today!

November 29th, 2010 at 11:31 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Obama Administration Gets Tough With North Korea
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 24th, 2010 at 4:55 pm
Giving Thanks for Clarity

So maybe the era of big government really wasn’t over when former President Bill Clinton declared it so.  Jim MacDougald of the Free Enterprise Nation explains that the balanced budget Clinton delivered was the product of a shell game with the Social Security Trust Fund, not a profile in political courage.  From a blog entry discussing the history of Social Security and Medicare:

The federal government recognized that beginning in about 2011 the transfer payment system wouldn’t work. There would be too many recipients of benefits and not enough workers to take money from to pay for it. To avoid the financial catastrophe that loomed ahead, in 1983 the government substantially increased employer and employee contribution requirements to (at least partially) pre-fund for 2011 and thereafter.

Planning ahead for an event that would occur 28 years in the future was a commendable and far-sighted act by our elected officials. “Baby-boomers,” who made up the majority of our workforce, were subsequently “taxed twice,” with matching contributions from employers. One portion of their tax was to pay for those on Social Security who had already retired, the second portion was to pre-fund a part of their own retirement benefits.

Congress took this excess tax revenue and put it in a “trust fund” to pay future benefits. But the trust fund they established was an enormous shell game because the money was treated as general revenues…a huge windfall to the federal government. It enabled President Clinton to announce at a State of the Union address, that the deficit was “exactly zero.” Even today, people are still congratulating Presidents Clinton and H.W. Bush for having balanced budgets and reducing national debt. But Congress had accomplished that feat by taking and spending all of the “excess revenue” that was coming in from payroll taxes for Social Security, and there was a lot of it to spend! From 1983 to 2008, the federal government took $2.5 trillion more than required to pay current Medicare and Social Security recipients, and they “bought Treasuries” with it. In other words, they spent it all.

Now, it makes a lot more sense how the federal government could “balance” the budget so quickly with nary a squeal heard from entrenched interests.  As MacDougald makes clear in the rest of his article, starting next year there are no more games to play.  The 2011 budget for Social Security and Medicare is $1.22 TRILLION – more than all of the federal income taxes paid by all of the workers in America last year.  In order to pay for the payments owed to Baby Boomers (who, as a cohort, begin reaching 65 in 2011), every American worker will have to pay at least $10,000 in new federal taxes every year.

Add this to the cost of ObamaCare and….pass the tryptophan and bring on the food coma.

November 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 pm
The Only Problem with Green Jobs is that they Don’t Exist
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Senik’s Law of Subsidies: Subsidizing any industry into existence requires destroying its more efficient competitors. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of green jobs.

Luckily, the Obama Administration hasn’t been able to get its hands on the noose with which it intends to strangle the energy industry (I’m sorry … the industry that produces energy that actually works): that would be cap and trade. Thus, it’s had to settle for the silver medal of plowing money into “green jobs” that can’t balance the books without a chunk of your paycheck to stem the tide of red ink. The problem, of course, is that since conventional fuel sources like coal and petroleum are still the most feasible energy sources, the government is underwriting jobs that serve no discernible demand in the consumer market. Consider this passage from a story in today’s Washington Post:

With nearly 15 million Americans out of work and the unemployment rate hovering above 9 percent for 18 consecutive months, policymakers desperate to stoke job creation have bet heavily on green energy. The Obama administration channeled more than $90 billion from the $814 billion economic stimulus bill into clean energy technology, confident that the investment would grow into the economy’s next big thing.

What could go wrong? After all, if the administration is “confident”, there’s no reason to doubt, right? The Obama White House is know for nothing if not its clairvoyance (we’ll leave aside the question of why the “next big thing” would require subsidies). Oh, Mr. President, we hate to interrupt your dance with delusion, but reality would like to cut in:

The industry’s growth has been undercut by the simple economic fact that fossil fuels remain cheaper than renewables. Both Obama administration officials and green energy executives say that the business needs not just government incentives, but also rules and regulations that force people and business to turn to renewable energy.

Without government mandates dictating how much renewable energy utilities must use to generate electricity, or placing a price on the polluting carbon emitted by fossil fuels, they say, green energy cannot begin to reach its job creation potential.

Forget Afghanistan. Energy policy is the administration’s real parallel to Vietnam. We must destroy our energy sources in order to save them.

November 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Lame Duck
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 22nd, 2010 at 4:14 pm
Originator of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz Dies

Yesterday David Nolan, co-founder of the Libertarian Party and creator of the “Nolan Chart,” died.  He was 66.  In honor of the man whose recent U.S. Senate campaign touted the slogan, “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom” here is a link to “The World’s Smallest Political Quiz” – a sleek version of Nolan’s famous chart identifying a person’s political orientation based on answers to government-related questions.  By taking it you’ll join more than 16 million fellow seekers.

H/T: Advocates for Self Government

November 22nd, 2010 at 3:35 pm
Arizona Schools to Promote Health by Shaming Fat Kids
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An item from the Daily Caller:

Chubby elementary school children in Flagstaff, Ariz., have more than just bullies to worry about. If they’re too fat, their school will notify their parents.

Starting in the fall, students in the Flagstaff district will be weighed and measured at school. Students who are found to be overweight, marginally overweight, or underweight will have a letter sent home to their parents, which will include graphs showing a range of appropriate weights for a given age and height.

The Flagstaff District might want to consider placing a call to the TSA before implementing this policy. Americans have limited patience for inconvient and unnecessary big government. But when it’s humiliating and unnecessary … well, the pitchforks are on their way.

November 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm
Senators Coburn, Burr Demand Investigation Into Obama Education Department Attack on For-Profit Colleges
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For-profit colleges provide an invaluable tool for everyday Americans to climb the ladder and improve their skills, particularly during a period of high unemployment when every little advantage matters.  That’s one reason why, according to estimates, enrollment at for-profit colleges has increased over 20% even since the recession began.  Despite this, such colleges find themselves in the crosshairs of the Obama Administration, whose Education Department seeks to impose suffocating restrictions on loans to students who wish to attend them.

Stop for a moment and imagine the outcry if the Bush Administration had pursued such targeted restrictions, which hit poorer and minority enrollees disproportionately hard.

Now, however, there’s even more disturbing news.  Senators Tom Coburn (R – Oklahoma) and Richard Burr (R – North Carolina) sent a letter to the Education Department last week citing public documents indicating that it “may have leaked the proposed regulations to parties supporting the Administration’s position and investors who stand to benefit from the failure of the proprietary school sector.”  The Senators’ letter comes on the heels of a lawsuit whose evidence includes emails between Education Department advisers and short-sellers.

The Obama Administration’s mindless attack against these important colleges for working Americans is bad enough, but allegations of corruption and insider trading obviously exacerbate that looming disaster.  We’ll be following these alarming developments in coming days, as should anyone who cares about the American workforce maintaining its edge amid fierce global competition.

November 22nd, 2010 at 2:24 pm
Senate Passes Pigford II Settlement Appropriation

The lame duck Congress passed a squealer of an appropriation last Friday: $1.15 billion funding the Pigford II class action lawsuit settlement.  Earlier this year CFIF profiled Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a staunch opponent of this taxpayer-funded giveaway.  As King and others have pointed out, Pigford I & II were initially brought to give black farmers a way to get compensation for past USDA discrimination in farm loans.  To date, however, more black farmers have received payments under the settlement than the Census Bureau has records for.  The result is quite possibly the biggest civil rights litigation scam in American history.

Thanks for picking up the check.

November 22nd, 2010 at 9:48 am
Obama’s FCC to Forcibly Impose “Net Neutrality” Internet Regulation?
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By a two-to-one margin, Americans reject “Net Neutrality” Internet regulation efforts.  A unanimous Court of Appeals has rejected the FCC’s claim to authority to impose it.  Bipartisan groups of Congressional Democrats and Republicans have written letters to the FCC explicitly opposing it.

So how does Obama’s FCC react in the face of these unequivocal signals?  Apparently, by steering full-speed ahead to impose it anyway.

For those still unfamiliar with “Net Neutrality,” it is very simply a far-left effort to regulate Internet service.  Yes, the same Internet that has prospered to date and revolutionized our lives precisely because of the absence of big-government regulatory interference allegedly needs to be “fixed” by “Net Neutrality” regulation.  One need only consider the forces that favor “Net Neutrality” to recognize its destructiveness.  Chief among those activist forces is Free Press, whose founder Robert McChesney unapologetically advocated a government takeover of the Internet to something called the “Socialist Project“:

What we want to have in the U.S. and in every society is an Internet that is not private property, but a public utility.  We want an Internet where you don’t have to have a password, and that you don’t have to pay a penny to use.  It is your right to use the Internet.”

Simply put, “Net Neutrality” is ObamaCare for the Internet.  Please take a moment to contact your Representative and Senators to demand that they stop the rogue FCC from suffocating private Internet investment and innovation with its toxic “Net Neutrality” agenda.

November 19th, 2010 at 4:38 pm
Joel Kotkin Rakes Green Liberalism, Unions Over the Coals

Demographer Joel Kotkin writes an insightful analysis of the state of modern liberalism for Politico today.  As you probably guessed, the diagnosis isn’t pretty.

Admittedly, Kotkin identifies as an old-school Democrat, the kind that sees the New Deal as a model for curbing unemployment while building the kind of infrastructure that advances civilization and secures votes for a generation.  He is not, however, a fan of the environmental left or public employee unions because they inhibit these kinds of programs for the benefit of insulated elites.

When FDR commissioned projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, he literally brought light to darkened regions. The loyalty created by FDR and Truman built a base of support for liberalism that lasted for nearly a half-century.

Today’s liberals don’t show enthusiasm for airports or dams — or anything that may kick up some dirt. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Deanna Archuleta, for example, promised a Las Vegas audience: “You will never see another federal dam.”

Harold Ickes, FDR’s enterprising interior secretary, must be turning over in his grave.

It’s also well to remember, as Kotkin does, that “In retrospect, it’s easy to see why many great liberals – like FDR and New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia – detested the idea of public-sector unions.”  Indeed.  If Kotkin can kick-start a bipartisan movement to end public employee unions, maybe we can at least get public policy’s focus back on private citizens instead of enriching government workers.

November 19th, 2010 at 3:52 pm
Michele Bachmann’s Fate Shows Pitfalls of Being an Outsider Inside Congress

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) recent failure to win the chairmanship of the House Republican Conference Committee is an important reminder for the wave of new GOP congress members coming into office in January.  If you spend more time courting a movement outside Congress, don’t be surprised when those inside it promote from within.

Such is the case of Michele Bachmann.  Widely considered the highest profile Tea Party leader inside the federal government, Bachmann’s loss to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) for the chairmanship is linked to her cultivated outsider status.  She may be brilliant with red meat speeches and raising money, but she is presumed to be light on policy details.  Moreover, the time she spent promoting the Tea Party were moments taken away from building the kinds of relationships with fellow members that lead to endorsements and favorable chairmanship votes.  That, more than anything else, explains the reason Bachmann lost to Hensarling.

But it isn’t just Bachmann that needs to consider how to parlay her grassroots support into actual results as a member of Congress.  The GOP leadership too needs to weigh carefully how to grow her brand while enhancing its own appeal to Tea Party voters.  Perhaps the latter consideration is what led House Republicans to create a new leadership position for the incoming class.  Ironically, the Republican congress member most deserving of representing the views of this Tea Party-flavored class is Bachmann herself.  Too bad the position is only open to freshmen.

November 19th, 2010 at 12:42 pm
Video: A Midterm State of Denial
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In this week’s Freedom Minute, CFIF’s Renee Giachino discusses Democrats’ response to the midterm elections and the current state of denial of Party leaders about the message sent by voters on November 2.


November 19th, 2010 at 12:24 pm
This Week’s Liberty Update
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Center For Individual Freedom - Liberty Update

This week’s edition of the Liberty Update, CFIF’s weekly e-newsletter, is out. Below is a summary of its contents:

Sen. Jeff Sessions:  Ten Things You Need To Know About The DREAM Act
Lee:  It Wasn’t the Economy, Stupid
Ellis:  Nancy Pelosi’s Plan to Kill Her Own Caucus 
Senik:  Miss Me Yet? George W. Bush’s Clarity Exposes Obama’s Deficiencies
Ellis:  Chuck Schumer’s Ascendency Means More Politics, Less Progress

Freedom Minute Video:  A Midterm State of Denial
Podcast:  Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-Elect Discusses Need for Federal Balanced Budget Amendment
Jester’s Courtroom:  Driver Sues Victim’s Family

Editorial Cartoons:  Latest Cartoons of Michael Ramirez
Quiz:  Question of the Week
Notable Quotes:  Quotes of the Week

If you are not already signed up to receive CFIF’s Liberty Update by e-mail, sign up here.

November 19th, 2010 at 10:31 am
Ramirez Cartoon – TSA: “Please Remove These Items From Your Person.”
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Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.

View more of Michael Ramirez’s cartoons on CFIF’s website here.

November 19th, 2010 at 9:45 am
Podcast: Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-Elect Discusses Need for Federal Balanced Budget Amendment
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Interview with Jeff Atwater, former Florida Senate President and Florida’s Chief Financial Officer-Elect, on why he led the charge for a nonbinding referendum on Florida’s support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes.

Listen to the interview here.

November 18th, 2010 at 11:20 pm
Setting the Record Straight on Tax Cuts, Unemployment, and the Economy
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As the lame duck Congress prepares to take up the issue of what to do about the expiring Bush tax cuts, liberal pundits are busy proving to the American people that no journalism school in America provides economics education. A few points to make with your liberal friends as you argue economics the next time you join them for a non-fat soy latte made from fair trade ingredients:

  • Extending the Bush Tax Cuts Won’t “Cost” Anything — Liberals can’t stop carping about the $700 billion “cost” of extending tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 a year. This is preposterous. The absence of tax increases isn’t a cost to the federal government. If it was, then every dollar kept in private hands instead of transferred to Washington would be a cost. Private businesses don’t account for imaginary revenues as costs, and there’s no reason for government to either. This is just an excuse for not bringing expenditures into line with “revenues” (i.e. money confiscated from you).
  • A Shortage of Tax Revenue Isn’t the Root of America’s Fiscal Problems — The class warfare rhetoric at the heart of the tax fight is a red herring for the real issue at hand. Virtually all taxes kill economic activity. Of course, some tax revenue will always be necessary to finance the basic functions of government, but beyond that baseline taxes are actively destructive. Thus the real choice when it comes to upper-level earners’ tax rates isn’t whether they should be soaked or not. It’s whether you think the federal government is doing too little (in which case taxes need to increase and more private economic activity should be killed) or too much (in which case spending needs to decrease).
  • Income Inequality is a Meaningless Metric — Proponents of aggressively progressive taxation who are prone to ideological rather than practical justifications of their beliefs have increasingly been leaning on an argument that America suffers from growing income inequality. This is specious for two reasons. First, it presumes that there is an ideal distribution of wealth that exists free of merit. The more free an economy is, however, the more income is a function of how much value one creates in the marketplace. So do we want a nation of C students (socialized mediocrity) or a nation where the highest achievers get A’s and the lowest ones are held back a year (with generous welfare benefits, we should add)? Also, these numbers are absolutely useless from a statistical perspective. Samples of income tiers measure groups, not individuals. So when we say that the rich are richer and the poor are poorer than 20 years ago, we ignore the dynamism of the American economy — and the resulting fact that many individuals who were on the lower rungs of the economic ladder two decades ago have moved up, and many at the top have moved down. This interpretation also ignores the fact that the gap is less important than the actual numbers. If you have $200 and I have $100, are incomes are closer to parity than if you have $1 billion and I have $1 million. But in the latter scenario, we’re both better off individually and society (if it consists of just you and I) is better off as a whole. Now imagine extrapolating that analysis to an entire nation
  • Virtually Every Number You See About Poverty in America is a Lie — For one simple reason: government calculations of poverty do NOT factor in benefits conveyed by government. To prove the point using an unrealistic example, a family of four making $40,000 a year but receiving $60,000 in government assistance, would still be captured in government statistics as making $40,000 a year, even though their actual income would be $100,000.
  • Unemployment Benefits are NOT a Form of Economic Stimulus — From Nancy Pelosi to Nicolas Kristof, every empty head on the left seems to have the idea that unemployment benefits are a form of economic stimulus rattling around inside it. The idea is that because the poor have the greatest need for liquidity (and will thus spend the cash the quickest) unemployment greases the wheels of commerce. This is a basic Keynesian fallacy: thinking of the economy only in terms of consumption. But if this is true, why wouldn’t the road to recovery be paved with every American emptying out their bank account for a trip to Nordstrom’s? Maximum economic efficiency is achieved by putting money to the use that provides the greatest benefit relative to the cost to the individual. In some cases, this will be consumption. But in others it will be investment or savings. Unemployment benefits can be justified on humanitarian grounds, but not on mechanical economic ones (indeed, excess unemployment benefits drive up unemployment — not a surprise if you remember that you always get more of what you subsidize). Paychecks generally provide the basis for a sounder economy than food stamps.