Archive for March, 2013
March 30th, 2013 at 9:42 pm
Obama Should Call an Audible with Late Budget Proposal

With President Barack Obama’s legally required budget proposal arriving two months late (April 10 when it was due February 4), here’s a suggestion to ensure the document is something other than a White House-approved paper weight.

Because of the President’s unprecedented delay, both the Republican House and Democratic Senate have passed budgets, each with only party-line support.  Now that both sides have put their opening bids on the table, it would be wise to make the White House version a kind of third way compromise that includes some elements that both sides like.

One example would be to incorporate Paul Ryan’s idea for putting Medicare plans on a state-based, federally-regulated health insurance exchange.  Then, make the now obvious point that this plan, coupled with ObamaCare’s exchange for non-seniors indicates bipartisan agreement on a major aspect of health insurance reform.  Doing that would help change the focus of the debate on what Republican and Democrats have in common when it comes to moving forward on this issue.

March 30th, 2013 at 6:33 pm
Jindal Raises Sales Tax Estimate Amid Growing Opposition

A new, higher-than-originally-estimated sales tax will be needed to recoup revenue lost if Louisiana legislators adopt Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to swap the state’s income taxes on individuals and businesses for an expanded sales tax.

The revision, released by Jindal’s office last Thursday, raised the proposed sales tax rate from 5.88 percent to 6.25 percent, according to reporting by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

The timing of the announcement could hardly have been worse.  So far, no business group has mobilized in support of the proposal.  Instead, some of the state’s most influential business associations are opposing the measure because it shifts $500 million in taxable events onto business transactions that are currently exempt.

On the other side of the spectrum, a group of three hundred religious leaders signed a letter to Jindal arguing that the tax swap would amount to a tax increase on the poor.

Even fiscally conservative Republicans are wary because of the administration’s inability to peg a consistent revenue amount if the state moves from income to sales to fund the government.  That skepticism will now grow with Jindal’s higher tax rate, since it looks to some like a tacit admission that previous estimates were overly optimistic.

So far, Jindal appears to be making one of his few missteps in an otherwise very successful run as Louisiana’s governor.

March 30th, 2013 at 11:50 am
Reagan Survived

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Liz Cheney had an absolutely superb column noting that today (the 30th) is the 52nd anniversary of one of Ronald Reagan’s great speeches — three-plus years before “The Speech” on behalf of Barry Goldwater that launched Reagan’s political career. She didn’t write about the Reagan speech; she used a quote from the speech as a launch to remind conservatives what we need to fight for and, as importantly, of the fact that we do need to fight for what we believe — lest, as Reagan warned back then, we let freedom become extinct.

Please do read the column.

It struck me, when looking at the date of the speech, that it came 20 years to the day before Reagan himself almost became prematurely extinct, a the hands of would-be assassin John Hinckley. By luck, pluck, robust health, and amazingly good medical practices, Reagan somehow survived the bullet which lodged less than an inch of his heart. Had he not survived, this nation might not have survived in the way that it did. I’m not saying the United States would have disappeared, but the USA that defeated Communism might not have defeated Communism, and it might have become a shell of its former self and of what it could and should be.

We’ll never know. But we do know this: At least in large part because Reagan survived the bullet 32 years ago today, we thrived for several more decades, fulfilling the goal of his speech 52 years ago today rather than falling prey to the alternative fate about which he warned us. As Liz Cheney wrote yesterday, “We are the inheritors of these blessings of liberty, and it is our solemn duty to fight for, protect and defend our freedom. Now is the time to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and man the barricades for freedom.”

March 29th, 2013 at 12:40 pm
Don’t Cry for Him, Carolina

Mark Sanford may not be worth your sympathy. So, in effect, writes Robert Stacy McCain in a column describing the disgraced former South Carolina governor’s attempt to make a political comeback in an open U.S. House seat. I had noted earlier that Sanford’s problems weren’t just about sex. And in a prior column, McCain more fully described the background of Sanford’s primary opponent, Curtis Bostic.

Whomever one supports in this race, it is a campaign well worth watching. Few Republican politicians make comebacks from scandals like Sanford’s. The question is, have standards now changed?

March 29th, 2013 at 12:25 pm
More on Affirmative Action

Tim’s column on the Michigan affirmative action case is not just right on target, but superb.

I particularly like this section:

So [according to those who filed suit to force Michigan to continue racial-preference policies], non-discrimination is discriminatory?

And states across the nation must suddenly reinstate racial preferences?

Such a result is untenable judicially, logically or linguistically, and the Supreme Court has accepted the opportunity to restore reason to the matter.  Curt Levey, counsel of record in the 2003 cases challenging Michigan’s race-based admissions policies, captured the issue well:  “The Fourteenth Amendment, lest we lose sight of the forest for the trees, does not require what it barely permits.”

Or, as stated by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 2007 affirmative action case, “The way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

That is exactly what Michigan voters overwhelmingly attempted to do.  It is now the Supreme Court’s task to affirm that the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause actually means what it says.

Another excellent, concise summary of the issues at stake comes in the line from Hans von Spakovsky’s blog post for the Heritage Foundation: “The Sixth Circuit’s decision cannot be justified under the law because it turns the Equal Protection Doctrine on its head, holding that when a state bans unequal treatment under the law it somehow violates the concept of equal protection under the law.”

This isn’t just some abstruse legal argument — and it has practical applications beyond just those students who will be directly affected by the decision. As I’ve found in many years of battling against the vestiges of racism by whites against blacks, no single public policy is more likely to give white racists reason to self-justify their noxious attitudes than is a regime of racial preferences. If take away “affirmative action” — which, for both moral and legal reasons, we should indeed take away — we won’t, of course, cure racists of their racism, but we will further isolate them, further shame them, and further take away their willingness to openly state or act on their racism, because they will no longer be able to cite “affirmative action” as an excuse for them to feel unfairly treated just for being white. Moreover, I’ve found that it’s amazing how many people will actually change their ill behavior if they no longer think they can justify it in what they consider to be polite company.

Racial preferences sometimes stigmatize the recipients, often (as per U.S. Civil Rights Commission Gail Heriot) harm their own interests, and greatly exacerbate racial tensions. For all those reasons, as well as for the excellent reasons put forth by Tim, the time has come for such preferences to end.

March 28th, 2013 at 12:55 pm
The Liberal Origins of Paul Ryan’s Pro-Market Medicare Reforms

Peter Ferrara, a budget expert at The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, reminds us where many of Paul Ryan’s ideas on Medicare reform originally came from:

This Medicare reform plan was actually developed by President Clinton’s Medicare Commission, so it had bipartisan support at a time when the Democrat Party had grown ups in influential positions, rather than just adolescent, Marxist, revolutionaries posing in grown up drag.  The legislation providing for these reforms was actually introduced in the Senate by liberal Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.  It has been endorsed by long time liberal academic Alice Rivlin, the Godmother of the CBO, serving as its first director.

Indeed, the plan was developed from an initial proposal in 1995 by two lifelong liberal scholars, Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution, and former CBO Director Robert Reischauer.  They were the first to propose a premium support system for Medicare in a 1995 article in the journal Health Affairs.  The Reischauer/Aaron concept was later embodied in Medicare Parts C and D in the 2003 Medicare reforms, where they have already worked very effectively.

That’s right – Proposed by liberals, passed by conservatives.

With this in mind, who’s out of the mainstream now?

March 26th, 2013 at 6:33 pm
Update on Jindal’s Sales-for-Income Tax Swap

Two state-based think tanks, Louisiana’s Pelican Institute and Massachusetts’ Beacon Hill Institute, released a study (pdf) highlighting the likely benefits of Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal’s proposal to scrap the state’s income tax and raise its sales tax.

In a nutshell, the study estimates that Jindal’s plan would increase disposable income by $1.749 billion by 2017. That’s an extra $910 for each Louisiana family.

The question left unaddressed by the study is the one most likely to be asked by critics – What will be the impact on low income citizens whose cost of living (along with everyone else’s) will go up with a greatly expanded sales tax base?

Whereas progressive income taxes take a larger bite out of the paychecks of wealthy citizens, sales taxes take a larger bite from those of the poorer classes.

One way to avoid the charge that a sales-for-income tax swap would amount to a disproportionate tax increase on the poor is to exempt certain items like food and other necessaries from the tax. So far, Jindal’s plan does this.

That, of course, can lead to the same kind of pockmarked tax code that currently infects most states, as well as the IRS.

To my mind, it makes the most sense to argue for a flat tax on income with very few exemptions or deductions. It’s fair, easy to understand, and is the concept most resistant to special interest tampering.

Moreover, when it comes to the national debate over tax reform, it has one huge advantage over a beefed up sales tax: It can be easily replicated at the federal level.

Unless Jindal has become a fan of a national sales tax replacing the national income tax, then maybe his push to swap Louisiana’s income tax for a bigger sales tax is the clearest sign yet he’s not running for President of the United States in 2016.

H/T: The Pelican Post

March 25th, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Ramirez Cartoon: Election 2012 Autopsy
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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 25th, 2013 at 1:02 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. CDT to 6:00 p.m. CDT (that’s 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. EDT) 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 (CDT)/5:00 pm (EDT):  Joel Rosenberg, New York Times bestselling author:  President Obama’s trip to Israel and Jordan, and the future of Syria;

4:30 (CDT)/5:30 pm (EDT):  Luca Gattoni-Celli, editorial intern and reporter at The American Spectator: Gun Bill and Assault Weapons Ban;

5:00 (CDT)/6:00 pm (EDT):  Quin Hillyer, CFIF Senior Fellow and Senior Editor of The American Spectator:  Nomination of Thomas Perez to be Secretary of Labor ; and

5:30 (CDT)/6:30 pm (EDT):  Ron Beyea, Chairman Republican Executive Committee Santa Rosa County (“RECSRC”), and Scott Williams, Media Relations for RECSRC:  Special Election for late Rep. Clay Ford’s seat in Florida legislature .

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

March 22nd, 2013 at 12:18 pm
Tom Coburn Axes Taxpayer Money for Absurd Research

From Quin’s lips to U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s ears…

Yesterday, Quin highlighted one of the many wasteful uses of taxpayer money funded by the National Science Foundation, a federal government agency that subsidizes some pretty dubious projects. (Such as the sex lives of ducks.)

Also yesterday Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma and a committed budget cutter, persuaded a majority of his Senate colleagues to limit NSF political science grants to only those studies that are certified as “promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”

Citing just one example, Coburn said that “There is no reason to spend $251,000 studying Americans’ attitudes toward the U.S. Senate when citizens can figure that out for free.”

As I understand it, Coburn’s amendment only curtails political science-related research, meaning that the project Quin cited may still be allowed going forward. Even so, it’s a hopeful sign that Coburn established a precedent for at least one part of the federal budget that aligns national spending with the (true) national interest.

March 22nd, 2013 at 11:00 am
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:

Lee:  Dangerous “Marketplace Fairness Act” Would Increase Sales Taxes and Expand State Taxation Authority
Hillyer:  Labor Nominee Puts Landrieu in Quandary
Ellis:  Gun Control Could Kill Senate’s Democratic Majority

Podcast:  SCOTUS Roundup and Cybersecurity – Interview with Wiley Rein LLP’s Megan Brown
Jester’s Courtroom:  College Settles Animal House-like Suit

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.

March 22nd, 2013 at 9:32 am
Podcast: Combating Cyber-Terrorism and SCOTUS
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In an interview with CFIF, Megan L. Brown, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP in Washington, D.C., discusses President Obama’s Executive Order on cyber-security and provides a general overview of cases decided and yet to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

Listen to the interview here.

March 22nd, 2013 at 8:43 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Weapon of Mass Destruction
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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, 2013 at 8:54 pm
House Passes Ryan Budget 3.0

It’s a busy week on Capitol Hill for votes on the federal budget. Earlier today, House Republicans passed the third iteration of Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity plan, 221-207.

In past years, House passage of Ryan’s plan would be the first, and last, serious congressional action on the federal budget, since Senate Democrats refused to support President Barack Obama’s proposal or submit one of their own.

But not this year. Tomorrow, Senate Democrats will begin debate on their first budget outline in four years. As an added twist, the Democrats will offer amendments that resemble Ryan’s plan to see if Senate Republicans will go on the record to support it.

Voting will likely stretch into the wee hours of Saturday morning before Congress adjourns for a two week recess.

Politics aside, the Miami Herald shows just how far apart the sides are from a bipartisan resolution:

Total spending

Senate Democrats: $46.5 trillion

House Republicans: $41.7 trillion

Total revenue

Senate Democrats: $41.2 trillion

House Republicans: $40.2 trillion

10-year deficit

Senate Democrats: $5.4 trillion

House Republicans: $1.4 trillion

National debt at end of 2023

Senate Democrats: $24.4 trillion

House Republicans: $20.3 trillion

Social Security

Senate Democrats: $11.3 trillion

House Republicans: $11.3 trillion


Senate Democrats: $6.8 trillion

House Republicans: $6.7 trillion

Health, including Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

Senate Democrats: $6.6 trillion

House Republicans: $4.0 trillion

Check out the entire list here.

March 21st, 2013 at 2:19 pm
At The Hayride (Louisiana), More on Perez

MacAoidh, lead blogger at the Hayride in Louisiana, follows up my column today with a brilliant and detailed analysis of the state of play in the Bayou State with regard to shenanigans by Tom Perez and the Civil Rights Division concerning Louisiana’s voter rolls.

The Hayride explains that Perez has led  ”a frivolous and abusive lawsuit against the state of Louisiana under the Motor Voter law, in which a state where some 84 percent of eligible adults are registered to vote (4th in the nation) somehow doesn’t register welfare recipients to vote with sufficient vigor at the offices where public benefits are dispensed.”

The Hayride explains why making, uh, hay of this lawsuit and the Perez judicial nomination should be seen as “political manna from heaven” for Louisiana conservatives.

Well worth a read.

March 20th, 2013 at 11:05 am
Taxes Pay for Ducks to Get Goosed

Eric Scheiner of CNS News has a quacking good story out about one of the ponds into which our federal tax dollars are sunk. The opening sentence tells you most of what you want — or don’t want — to know: “The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $384,949 grant to Yale University for a study on ‘Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia.'”

How do they do this study? Do they go around goosing the ducks? Why hasn’t anyone called fowl on this waste of money? If there were any justice, this report should be the swan song for whomever approved this study.

I almost hate to print this next sentence from the CNS story, but it appears as if the researchers think that when it comes to ducks doing something that rhymes with duck, size really does matter: “According to the NSF grant abstract the study shows that age, environment and breeding changes can impact the penis length of certain ducks.”

Hey, Mr. President: Sequester this!

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March 20th, 2013 at 8:20 am
Ramirez Cartoon: Banks of Cyprus
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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, 2013 at 6:35 pm
Red State Dems Flee Feinstein’s Assault Weapons Ban

It looks like U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) isn’t the only member of the upper chamber who has serious questions about the assault weapons ban being pushed by colleague Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

At least fifteen Senate Democrats have told Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) they won’t vote for Feinstein’s ban if it comes up for a vote, according to Reuters. With 55 members in the Democratic caucus, that means that at least 11 Republicans would have to cross party lines to pass the bill with a simple majority of 51. In other words, Di-Fi’s dream is over.

Feinstein’s defeat exposes a very real fault line among Senate Democrats. In 2014, the party must defend 20 of the 33 seats up for election, with five seats held by Democrats from pro-gun states: Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor, Alaska’s Mark Begich, Montana’s Max Baucus, and South Dakota’s Tim Johnson.

And these are just the folks running for reelection this year. Using Reid’s number, there are at least ten more Senate Democrats unwilling to tie their electoral future to a gun ban that will most likely kill their political career down the road.

The ban is over (for now). Good riddance.

March 19th, 2013 at 12:51 pm
Civil Rights Commissioner Slams Labor Nominee Perez

Peter Kirsanow, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who did yeoman’s work in helping expose the racialist agenda of the Holder Justice Department and especially its Civil Rights Division under Thomas Perez, has now come out with a scathing letter expressing serious reservations about Barack Obama’s nomination of Perez to be Secretary of Labor.

Kirsanow writes that the nomination “merits extremely close scrutiny by senators from both parties, for several concerns about Perez’s record as head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice transcend partisanship and ideology.”


The Civil Rights Division refused to answer 18 separate interrogatories pertaining to the substance of the [New Black Panther voter intimidation] case. The Division also failed to provide witness statements for 12 key witnesses and refused to respond to 22 requests for production of documents. Further, DOJ barred two Civil Rights Division attorneys from testifying before the Commission (the two later defied the Department and testified at considerable risk to their professional careers). The Department refused to turn over a number of requested documents, asserting a variety of specious privileges. In response, the Commission requested a privilege log, i.e., a list of those documents DOJ maintained were protected by privilege and therefore not subject to production. DOJ failed to produce such a log.

After a lawsuit finally forced production of the log, the record was such that,

As Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia diplomatically stated in his opinion, DOJ’s internal documents “appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony [before the Commission] that political leadership was not involved” in the decision to dismiss the NBPP case.

After detailing even more concerns about Perez, Kirsanow concluded: “All of these things should be of tremendous concern to all senators, regardless of party, when considering the president’s choice of Thomas Perez for labor secretary. They should, at minimum, be the subjects of extensive questioning of the nominee.”

The battle over Perez’ nomination promises to be very contentious, indeed.

extremely close scrutiny by senators from both parties, for several concerns about Perez’s
record as head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice transcend
partisanship and ideology
March 18th, 2013 at 10:56 am
Ramirez Cartoon: The Presidential Charm Offensive
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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.