Archive for March, 2012
March 23rd, 2012 at 12:18 pm
Jindal, School Choice, Halfway Home

Bobby Jindal and school reform both won big today in the LA House of Reps.

This bears celebrating, as it is expected to pass the state Senate as well. Already, the vast bulk of New Orleans public schools are charters; this bill would spread various forms of choice statewide. Charters in New Orleans post-Katrina have been remarkably successful.

March 23rd, 2012 at 12:16 pm
House Republicans Vote to Repeal IPAB

With the Supreme Court getting ready to hear arguments about the (un)constitutionality of ObamaCare, House Republicans yesterday voted to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), one of ObamaCare’s provisions that may be left unaffected by the Court’s decision.

As the Washington Times reports, this is “the 26th time the House has voted to partially or completely repeal the sweeping overhaul” of the health care industry.

Like the other 25 times, this House vote won’t be seconded by the Democratic controlled Senate.  But in an election year that’s hardly the point.  What matters right now is that House Republicans continue to highlight how elements like IPAB destroy freedom and choice in health care by letting 15 unelected bureaucrats instead of the free market decide the price of services.

On to number 27!

March 23rd, 2012 at 9:49 am
Podcast: Political Editor Opines on ObamaCare
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Just days away from the U.S. Supreme Court oral arguments in the seminal ObamaCare case, Political Editor Guy Benson discusses recent polls showing the depth of American opposition to the legislation and alternatives that should be considered.

Listen to the interview here.

March 22nd, 2012 at 8:50 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Bill Maher’s Sexist Comments Are A “Million” Times Different Than Rush Limbaugh
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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.

March 21st, 2012 at 11:31 am
Property Rights Win… UNANIMOUSLY

Back in January, attorney Robert Smith wrote a great piece at The American Spectator explaining the importance of Sackett v. EPA, in which the federal agency told landowners they didn’t even have the right to gain access to federal courts to challenge EPA’s administrative ruling that the Sacketts’ property was a “wetland” (which it manifestly is not). Today, the Supreme Court came down like a ton of bricks on the EPA and its Obama overlords. It didn’t just rule in favor of the landowners (thus sending the case back to lower courts to be heard on the merits); it did so without dissent. As in the Hosanna-Tabor case implicating religious liberty, even the four liberal justices ruled against the administration.

This is important. It means that property rights still matter, despite the manifold attempted deprivations thereof by the Obama administration.

Thank goodness.

March 20th, 2012 at 5:52 pm
Tea Party’s Next Stop: Indiana?
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A little over a year ago, I wrote a column here at CFIF looking at the potential primary challenges facing two veteran Republican members of the U.S. Senate up for reelection in 2012: Utah’s Orrin Hatch and Indiana’s Richard Lugar. Both have grown long in the tooth over decades in the upper chamber; and both are regarded with suspicion by conservative activists who find their sense of principle lukewarm. The difference between the two, as I emphasized then, is how they have approached the challenge. Hatch has been doing his ready best to convince Tea Party activists that he’s an effective defender of conservative values. Lugar, on the other hand, has regarded the resistance with an attitude bordering on contempt.

While neither’s fate is yet certain, both are becoming clearer. As I mentioned on the blog last week, Utah held caucuses on Thursday that determined delegates to the party’s state convention — delegates who would select the eventual nominee for the Senate seat. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

Sen. Orrin Hatch, targeted by primary challengers and a tea party-aligned group, apparently has won a healthy share of delegates to the Utah Republican convention. That gives him a good shot at avoiding being defeated at the convention, as a Senate colleague was two years ago.

The news isn’t looking as sunny for Lugar, however. From National Journal:

A new poll … shows Republican Sen. Richard Lugar leading GOP state Treasurer Richard Mourdock by single digits, 45-39 percent.

The poll of likely Republican primary voters shows Lugar’s lead shrinking over his underdog opponent ahead of the May 8 primary. In October, Lugar led Mourdock 48 percent to 36 percent. Fifty-seven percent of likely Republican voters said they would consider another candidate or vote to replace Lugar.

In the last six weeks, Lugar’s faced an onslaught of questions from opponents and the media about his residency. He lives in northern Virginia but is registered to vote in the Hoosier state at the address of a home he sold in 1977. The state has ruled that he is eligible to run for reelection but a county elections board ruled last week that he is not eligible to vote.

This kind of trajectory — with this kind of timeframe (approximately a month and a half until primary day) — looks very bad for Lugar. So do the dynamics moving forward. There’s a natural ceiling on the number of voters who will shift their allegiance because of ideology, favoring a more conservative candidate than Lugar. But many less issue-driven voters will likely be turned off by the residency question (a similar controversy contributed to Elizabeth Dole’s loss in the general election in North Carolina in 2008).

By election day, Lugar will likely be scrounging for every vote he can get. At that point, he may come to regret devoting so much of his energy to dismissing the concerns of conservative voters.

March 20th, 2012 at 1:46 pm
Real Job Creation is When Entrepreneurs Become Employers

The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship’s newest report on business creation rates across the United States offers some intriguing insights for policymakers.

According to Robert Litan, the foundation’s vice president of research and policy, “The Great Recession has pushed many individuals into business ownership due to high unemployment rates.”  “However, economic uncertainty likely has made them more cautious, and they prefer to start sole proprietorships rather than more costly employer firms.  This ‘jobless entrepreneurship’ trend negatively effects job creation and the larger economic recovery.”

No doubt, regulatory barriers and confiscatory rates of taxation are causing start-ups to make the same kind of cost-saving hiring decisions as larger, more established firms.  Across nearly every industry these days companies are hiring people to independent contracts rather than salaries, converting many ‘company men’ into standalone consultants.

While becoming an accidental entrepreneur may not be the first career choice of many people – and according to the Kauffman study the college educated cohort saw the steepest decline in their willingness to start their own business – the movement of millions of people into the ranks of the self-employed could have huge consequences for policymakers.

For starters, this army of new business owners is much more likely to demand rollbacks of costly regulations and profit-killing tax rates on corporations.  Your perspective changes when you go from receiving a paycheck to making a payroll.

Remember, the people that lose a job and start a business are the people whom the government should want to help the most.  They aren’t looking for a hand-out or even a hand-up, just space to make a contribution that others in the free market will reward.

This constituency is a natural growth area for the conservative movement.

The best part about the Kauffman report is that entrepreneurial activity can be found in important electoral pockets.  Consider:

  • Entrepreneurial growth was highest among 45- to 54-year-olds, rising from 0.35 percent in 2010 to 0.37 in 2011
  • The top five highest entrepreneurial rates among the fifty states were:

(1) Arizona with 520 per 100,000 adults creating businesses each month during 2011;

(2) Texas with 440 per 100,000 adults;

(3) California with 440 per 100,000 adults;

(4) Colorado with 420 per 100,000 adults; and

(5) Alaska with 410 businesses started per 100,000 adults

The key to our economic recovery rests on policymakers understanding that Americans want to work.  I submit that any politician willing to make the necessary changes to tax and regulatory rules so that start-up owners can become employers as well as entrepreneurs will find a loyal constituency, and one well worth fighting for.

March 20th, 2012 at 10:38 am
Paul Ryan vs. Barack Obama: The Choice of Two Futures

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) this morning is releasing the House GOP budget proposal.  Ryan previews his budget in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal here, and outlines the “choice of two futures” — the status quo of more debt and greater decline vs. a path to prosperity that includes less debt, lower taxes and inidividual opportunity — in the web video posted below.

March 20th, 2012 at 9:03 am
Ramirez Cartoon: We’re Not Drilling…
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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.

March 19th, 2012 at 5:34 pm
Louisiana’s Big Contest… in April

On Saturday, Rick Santorum is favored to win, albeit narrowly, in the Louisiana primary. But the actual delegate allocation from Louisiana could range from a wide Santorum win to, oddly enough, a significant victory for Ron Paul who barely is even bothering to campaign in the primary.

How could this be?

Well, here’s how it works: The primary will be determinative for only 20 of Louisiana’s 46 delegates. Those 20 will be allocated in accord with the proportion of the vote won by each presidential candidate — assuming that a candidate gets at least 25 percent of the vote. ANY votes for all candidates who do not cross that 25 percent threshold will be added together and their proportion of the whole will be allocated as UNCOMMITTED delegates. Three other officially uncommitted delegates will be the state’s members of the Republican National Committee.’

All other delegates, all 23 of them, will be chosen at a state convention not held until June 2. Moreover, the delegates to that state convention will not be chosen in any way, shape or form as a result of the primary this Saturday. Instead, they will be chosen at caucuses to be held throughout the state on April 28. So it is perfectly feasible, for instance, for Ron Paul to get less then 10% of the vote on Saturday, and thus to win not a single one of the 20 delegates chosen this week, but still to win the vast majority of the other 23 delegates on June 2.

Word on the ground is that Paul is extremely well organized for the caucuses. It might be that the only way to defeat him is for the Santorum and Gingrich organizations to join forces, at least in tactical alliances if not formally, at each of the caucuses.

But here’s the deal: If Santorum wins a narrow victory on Saturday and gains, say, 6 delegates to 5 each for Gingrich and Romney… but Gingrich later drops out and his Louisiana campaign organization folds into Santorum’s, then the caucus rules (which are too complicated to explain here) are such that Santorum could come close to sweeping the other 23 delegates on June 2. (Obviously, the same would be true if Gingrich and Romney joined forces, but that isn’t going to happen.)

This is another example of how Gingrich’s presence in the race directly hurts Santorum. Everybody has been calling Louisiana a “proportional allocation state,” giving the impression that even a Santorum popular vote win would not do much to bolster his overall national delegate position. But because slim majorities or even pluralities can have outsized influence in caucuses, the truth is that half of all the Louisiana delegates are very much up for grabs and could swing very strongly in one direction or another. Gingrich’s continued presence in the race could swing almost all of those 23 to Paul; his withdrawal from the race would swing them mostly to Santorum. And since Paul is thought, in the long run, to be in far more friendly to Romney, those delegates in the end would probably be likely to move Romney’s way in a contested convention.

It’s all highly convoluted. But the arithmetic is undeniable: Gingrich’s presence hurts Santorum. This is not to say whether this is a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a straight analysis of how the rules combined with the arithmetic combined with the situation on the ground are likely to play out.

March 19th, 2012 at 4:37 pm
Spectrum Stall: FCC and Big Labor Impeding Innovation and Economic Opportunity
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With the unemployment rate holding steady above 8% for over three long years now, it’s obvious that the United States must pursue policies that spur rather than retard job creation and economic growth.  One continuing economic bright spot already exists in the telecommunications sector, where several prospects for generating new jobs exist.  Unfortunately, federal bureaucrats continue to obstruct those prospects.  The leading current example is spectrum and, specifically, Big Labor special interests pressuring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to block telecom companies from buying unused wireless broadband.  That pressure only serves to obstruct economic recovery, because more access to spectrum for service providers would mean greater incentive to invest, and in turn more business opportunities that would raise revenue and create jobs.

For example, a recent study by NDN found that from April 2007 to June 2011, broadband companies created some 1,585,000 new jobs in their transition from 2G to 3G wireless technologies and Internet infrastructure.  NDN also noted that “the investments being undertaken today to upgrade wireless network and Internet technologies from 3G to 4G hold comparable promise for job creation.”  Similarly, a Deloitte study from last year agreed with NDN’s assertion, estimating that U.S. investment in 4G networks could generate anywhere from $25 to $53 billion in economic revenue between 2012 and 2016.  Furthermore, according to their study, these investments could produce between 371,000 and 771,000 new jobs and account for $73 billion to $151 billion in GDP growth.

Unfortunately, union bosses oppose spectrum transactions in favor of their own self-interest.  For instance, in comments filed with the FCC, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) falsely claimed that the transaction “agreements would appear to limit the availability of competitive services, dividing up geographic service areas for particular companies, leading to reduced investment in infrastructure, job losses, and ultimately, higher prices for consumers.”  As noted above, however, independent studies refute their allegation and attest to the economic and job benefits of allowing spectrum to be sold to companies that will apply it toward better customer service.  The spectrum sale will not only boost the economy and create jobs, but also benefit consumers by alleviating the oncoming spectrum crunch.   Greater access to spectrum will also create additional incentive to invest more toward innovation, which in turn means new devices, applications and services.  Providers will be able to upgrade their networks to a 4G LTE that has further geographic reach, faster downloads and greater capacity.

If the FCC continues to obstruct the sale , however, the quality of Internet service and our economy more generally will suffer due to the gradual exhaustion of existing spectrum.  In order to ensure that the domestic telecom sector continues to flourish, spectrum must therefore be made available to those who need it and who have the ability to use it in the most constructive way.   Union leaders should stop playing games that harm actual workers, and the FCC must put an end this obstruction.

March 19th, 2012 at 3:36 pm
THIS WEEK’s RADIO SHOW 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 radio show, “Your Turn: Meeting Nonsense with Commonsense.”  Today’s guest lineup includes:

4:00 (CST)/5:00 pm (EST):  Lance T. Izumi, Pacific Research Institute:  “Obama’s Education Takeover”;

4:30 (CST)/5:30 pm (EST):  Quin Hillyer, CFIF Fellow:  Bogus Oil Cases;

5:00 (CST)/6:00 pm (EST):  Guy Benson,  Presidential Race;  and

5:30 (CST)/6:30 pm (EST):  Eloise Caggiano, Desiree Heroux, Martha Szymoniak: Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.

Listen live on the Internet here.   Call in to share your comments or ask questions of today’s guests at (850) 623-1330.

March 16th, 2012 at 12:43 pm
Former CA U.S. Senate Candidate Moves to Texas

Former California Assemblyman and 2010 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore explains why he gave up on the Golden State and moved to Texas in an article for National Review.

Here’s just one example of the differences between the states:

In his State-of-the-State address this January, California governor Jerry Brown said, “Contrary to those declinists who sing of Texas and bemoan our woes, California is still the land of dreams. . . . It’s the place where Apple . . . and countless other creative companies all began.”

Fast forward to March: Apple announced it was building a $304 million campus in Austin with plans to hire 3,600 people to staff it, more than doubling its Texas workforce.

California may be dreaming, but Texas is working.

March 15th, 2012 at 8:07 pm
Obama Campaigns on Taxpayer’s Dime

Check out this video clip of President Barack Obama speaking to what looks and sounds like a campaign crowd in a community college outside Washington, D.C.

The problem is that federal officeholders – like the U.S. President – aren’t supposed to campaign on the taxpayers’ dime.  That’s why presidential campaigns like Obama for America exist.  The press picked up on this and asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to comment.  His response: “It’s a policy statement” to call Republicans who won’t subsidize alternative energy boondoggles like Solyndra “members of the flat-earth society.”

And the O-Man wonders why Republicans don’t like him?

March 15th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Important Things You Need A Picture I.D. For
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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.

March 15th, 2012 at 12:47 pm
Putting a Face to the Ruin of the Death Tax
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Conservatives could probably learn a thing or two from Saul Alinsky. Bear with me here. While Alinsky may have promoted thuggish means in the service of repugnant ends, it doesn’t mean the man didn’t have some genuine insights into political strategy that — applied with a dose of morality — could help the right.

One of Alinsky’s tactics (to be specific, it’s actually part of the 11th rule for radicals) is to personalize attacks on your opposition (i.e., go after a specific individual rather than an abstract entity). This also works, however, in reverse. When you’re trying to portray the suffering caused by big government, use a human interest example rather than generically inveighing against state excesses.

My friends over at the Beacon Center of Tennessee (I worked there back when it was the Tennessee Center for Policy Research) have put this principle to great use in a new video that makes both the moral and economic case for abolishing the Volunteer State’s death tax. In the story of Roger Blackwood, a 77 year old Tennessee farmer whose family stands to lose the products of his life’s work because of the estate tax, they’ve found a compelling narrative that underscores an important point: the estate tax amounts to the outright theft of a family’s legacy. This is, by my lights, utterly brilliant:

March 15th, 2012 at 12:27 pm
Follow Me on Twitter

I’m not much good for keeping up with social media and modern technology, but I’m now up on Twitter for anyone who wants to follow. I’m at @QuinHillyer. And if you follow, please re-tweet me often!



March 14th, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Obama’s Regulations Are 5x Costlier than Bush’s

President Barack Obama may never tire of blaming his predecessor for every current economic problem, but a new study by the Heritage Foundation shows that when it comes to the cost of federal regulation, Obama is king.

The numbers don’t lie, Mr. President.  Job growth is anemic, the employment rate is stagnant, but your regulatory agenda continues to add billions of dollars in costs to the only real job creators – employers.  After three years of your policies imposing five times the costs of compliance than under the Bush regime it’s time for something radically different.

March 14th, 2012 at 7:18 pm
Romney’s Weak Arithmetic

Elsewhere tomorrow I’ll have an extensive analysis explaining why Newt Gingrich’s argument on delegate arithmetic doesn’t hold water. Here, though, just as pure math, not as advocacy, let me note that Mitt Romney’s message today that he won “more delegates” than anybody else last night (once he counts Samoa and Hawaii) is not really relevant.

For Romney to win the nomination, he needs to win 50% of all delegates. Right now he’s at about 53% of those awarded so far. But the key thing is, last night he didn’t win anywhere near 50%. Instead, he won just over a third of them. He needs to win something like 48% of all the remaining delegates to take the nomination. If he keeps winning less than that 48%, then it doesn’t matter if he earns a small plurality in a multi-man race; all that matters is that he is falling behind the pace he needs for a first-ballot convention victory.

By general agreement, if Romney doesn’t win on the first ballot, he’s almost assuredly toast, because he will be seen as such damaged goods (having blown every advantage) that the party would coalesce behind somebody else. Again, that’s just an assumption, not advocacy. But if the goal is a first ballot victory, then yesterday was a big setback, even after factoring in Samoa and Hawaii.

(By the way, the numbers above are approximate, for illustrative purposes. I know they aren’t precisely the numbers, but as the real numbers are a moving target anyway, I just went from memory of the summaries I’ve read earlier today.)

March 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm
CBO: ObamaCare to Cost Nearly Twice As Much As Promised reports:

The gross costs of the national healthcare law rammed through Congress by President Barack Obama will reach an estimated $1.76 trillion over 10 years – nearly twice the amount originally projected.

The figure, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed on Wednesday, is bound to cause embarrassment to the administration as it comes just as debate on ‘Obamacare’ is starting to heat up again, two weeks before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Truth be told, nearly everyone already knew that the cost estimates used to sell ObamaCare to the American people were part of the White House shell game to get it passed.  That much is understood by both supporters and opponents of ObamaCare.  What is embarrassing is the administration’s response to the latest CBO estimate.

‘The bottom line is clear: the Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit, control health costs and make health care more affordable,’ Jeanne Lambrew, deputy director of the White House office of Health Reform, wrote on the White House blog.

Remember, this is the same White House trying to convince you that algae is the answer to rising gas prices.