Archive for May 23rd, 2009

Gregory Mankiw looks at Obama’s changing positions; comparing during the campaign and now

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Greg Mankiw:

From a Obama-Biden campaign position paper:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s cap-and-trade system will require all pollution credits to be auctioned. A 100 percent auction ensures that all large corporate polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away for free to coal and oil companies.

From today’s newspaper:

Under the House bill, only 15% of the emission permits will be auctioned initially. The rest of the permits will be given away — 2% to oil refiners, 5% to free-standing “merchant” coal plants, 9% to regulated natural-gas distributors, and so on.

So, Mr President, the bill now being considered in Congress is in direct contradiction to your campaign pledge. Will you now please stand up for principle and issue a veto threat?

JCCC leaders Terry Calaway, Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, Lynn Mitchelson increase the property tax rate, then mislead the public about it

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

JCCC leaders appear unable to tell the truth about anything these days.  The property tax rate is being increased, and that’s a fact.  But JCCC leaders are trying to pretend that this is an opinion that is up for debate.

At Thursday night’s monthly JCCC Board of Trustees meeting, chair Shirley Brown-VanArsdale said that she didn’t “agree” with Trustee Benjamin Hodge that JCCC is increasing taxes.  But The Kansas City Star reported that, Johnson County homeowners will, in fact, pay a higher percent of their property taxes this year to JCCC, when compared to what trustees approved in last year’s budget.  Jim Sullinger reports:

In other action, trustees approved a $134.3 million budget for the next school year. It includes a $4 increase in credit-hour tuition for students living in Kansas and a property tax levy equal to the amount levied last year – $8.77 on each $1,000 of assessed value.

However, Benjamin Hodge, a trustee, pointed out that the proposed levy was not the same as trustees approved a year ago. That amount was $8.75 cents on each $1,000 of assessed value.

He noted that by October the county had increased that levy amount by .019 mills or about 2 cents on each $1,000. Don Perkins, the college’s budget director, said the 2-cent increase was caused by a rare reduction in the county’s overall assessed value amid a worsening economy and slumping real estate values. To collect enough tax money to fund the college budget, the county made the 2-cent adjustment.

Hodge asked the board to roll back the $8.77 levy by 2 cents. His motion failed for lack of a second. He then voted against the budget.

After the trustee meeting, Perkins said the county could increase levies this coming October if the economy and home values do not improve.

In Kansas, local governments rarely actually vote on a property tax mill levy.  Rather, based off of the county appraiser’s office, local governments make assumptions of the total value of private property, and then elected officials vote on a dollar amount for the budget.  In the rare occurance of the assumptions being lower than expected — if property values decrease more than expected — because the total budget stays the same, what necessarily occurs is an automatic tax increase on property.

That’s what happened last year at JCCC.  The county appraiser’s office was incorrect and assumed a too-high total property value across the county.  And because JCCC wanted the same total dollar amount, an automatic (without any votes) increase occurred in the property tax rate.

As Sullinger reported, JCCC’s financial director Don Perkins said that an automatic tax increase may may AGAIN happen this year.

At last week’s board meeting, Trustee Hodge pointed out that the property tax rate had increased above what trustees had voted on in 2008.  Therefore, Hodge was not trying to decrease taxes, but he was merely attempting to restore the mill levy (which is a percent of a homeowner’s property value) to the original 2008 tax rate.

Correction — Republican Todd Tiahrt (not Lynn Jenkins) joins Democrat Dennis Moore in supporting Jack Murtha’s earmark

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

We had incorrectly written that Republican Lynn Jenkins, along with Democrat Dennis Moore, supported the earmark; rather, it was Republican Todd Tiahrt who joined Dennis Moore in supporting Jack Murtha’s earmark.

Lynn Jenkins and Jerry Moran voted against the earmark, by voting for an amendment that would have removed the earmark.

See the final vote tally here.

Club for Growth asks: ‘Will Crist Pull a Specter?’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Press Release:

Club for Growth Asks, “Will Crist Pull a Specter?”

Washington – Politicians often run for office saying they won’t raise taxes, but then quickly turn their backs on the taxpayer. This week, Florida’s one-term governor, Charlie Crist, proved he’s just another politician after pledging to oppose tax increases and then signaling his support for a massive tax hike. (“Crist says he’ll sign cigarette tax into law,” Fox 13 Tampa Bay, 5/20/09).

At the same time, Crist also said he would have voted in favor of President Obama’s unprecedented spending spree, joining then-Republican Senator Arlen Specter as one of only three Republicans in the entire Congress to support the so-called stimulus bill.

In light of his support this week for tax increases and massive federal spending, the Club for Growth would like to ask Governor Crist whether he would pledge that if elected to the Senate he would remain a Republican, and not follow fellow liberal Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democratic Party if he felt his political survival depended on it. (“Crist defends stimulus-bill support,” Orlando Sentinel, 5/19/09).

“Charlie Crist has shown he’s willing to say one thing and do another,” said the Club’s President, Chris Chocola. “Voters deserve to know just how far he’ll go for the sake of political expediency.”


Dennis Moore and Lynn Jenkins vote for Jack Murtha’s ‘Airport to Nowhere’ earmark; Moran, Tiahrt vote against

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

See the final vote tally here.

WSJ: Ending Bush Era Policies Proves Difficult for Democrats

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


Closing the book on the Bush administration’s national security policies is proving trickier by the day for President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a central figure in an increasingly public dispute over what she knew and when she knew it about the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of harsh interrogation tactics. The speaker raised the stakes Thursday, accusing the CIA of deliberately misleading her and the U.S. Congress on their techniques. (For more, read this story in today’s WSJ.)

“By doing what she did yesterday, [Pelosi] has assured that she will remain a central character in the political fight that is raging. But whether by design or accident, she also succeeded in enlarging a controversy that is no longer a sideshow,” according to a Washington Post analysis piece.

MSNBC video interview: Rand Paul on running for Senate

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

NRCC working to have strong 2010 campaigns in at least 80 Democratic-held districts

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


the level of organization and the quality of the candidates is very impressive. For example, one Republican currently preparing to run against Rep. Debbie Halvorson is Illinois ANG member Adam Kinzinger who was recently profiled by our own Warner Todd Huston here. Kinzinger is an American hero, and seems well-prepared for the race.

One last point that cannot be overlooked: the degree to which Speaker Pelosi is becoming well-known nationwide, and is becoming a drag on Democrat candidates is significant. In one seat held by a targeted Democrat incumbent, Pelosi’s name is recognized by 80 percent of voters – and nearly 60 percent have a negative impression of her. And this poll was taken before she went to war with the CIA. Pelosi seems likely to become a significant drag on Democrat candidates next year. At best, she’ll be forced to stay out of districts where she might otherwise help; at worst, she may be the anchor that brings Democrat candidates down.

California sports columnist: Credit the Royals for hanging in there with Greinke, and Greinke for not covering up anxiety disorder

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

But Willis seems to be part of a watershed period in pro sports, which should eventually make it easier for athletes to seek proper medical help for emotional or mental disorders. The stigma has already been eroded by Zack Greinke’s comeback and phenomenal success this spring, a development that seemed extremely unlikely when he walked out of the Royals’ spring training three years ago.

Diagnosed with depression and social anxiety disorder, he could easily have become a pariah in a world that trains athletes not to flinch when they’re hit by 90-mph fastballs. Credit the Royals for hanging in there with him, and Greinke for not covering up his illness. Even 10 years ago, that might have been impossible.

Sports Illustrated’s Adam Duerson not big on Kobey documentary by Spike Lee

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

At SI:

Whether he intended it or not, Lee has delivered a lame but loving homage pic. Even then, we miss out on the most interesting aspects of the character. Love Bryant or hate him, there’s a fascinating movie to be made in spending a whole evening with one of the most cocksure, prickly and talented players in the NBA. Lee just missed out on the chance.

Newt Gingrich adding a weekly column in Washington Examiner

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

RCP blog has the details.

RCP blog: ‘The Limits of Bush Bashing’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


The Obama administration and its defenders have dined for quite a while on blaming the Bush administration for the sundry problems plaguing the U.S. and the world. This is not the place to parse each criticism, but I do think things like this report from the National Security Network need better context. They write:

During the eight years of the Bush administration, unnecessary saber-rattling, coupled with a refusal to talk to Iran, did nothing to make America more secure. Indeed, Iran made enormous advances both in nuclear technology and regional prestige.

It’s important to recognize that there is very little chance the Obama administration is going to have any more success at convincing the Iranians to give up their nuclear program than the Bush administration did. That’s not because they’re not approaching the problem more constructively, but because the nature of the problem is such that it may not be amenable to “solving” at a cost that would be acceptable to most Americans.

Berkeley law professor Gordon Silverstein: ‘Why Obama should appoint a politician to the Supreme Court’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

New Republic:

When President Obama announced Supreme Court Justice Souter’s decision to retire, he said he would prefer a candidate who understands that justice “is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives.” This is not the description of most law professors that I know (and I know quite a few). Nor is this the description of anyone who has spent their entire career as a lawyer or judge. In fact, the type of person who is most likely to have this kind of first-hand experience is an elected official–an effective and dedicated politician.

Mort Kondracke: ‘GOP Is Working Up Alternative Ideas’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


With as few as 20 percent of voters identifying themselves as Republicans in major polls, the GOP is in a bad way, for sure. But is it dead? No way.

While former Vice President Dick Cheney and radio rabble-rouser Rush Limbaugh try to isolate the party to an even smaller core, saner GOP leaders, “big tent” types, are trying to broaden the party’s appeal with ideas.

Two of them, conservative Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and moderate Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.), will be out next week with health reform alternatives to the government-heavy proposal being developed by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats.

Kirk, from the left of the party, told me that Ryan, on the right, has the potential to be the big-ideas intellectual heir to Ryan’s one-time boss, former Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), who died this month leaving a legacy of affection and respect across party lines.

WSJ Opinion on Obama and Ready-Fire-Aim strategy on Guantanamo BAy: ‘Democrats Discover Gitmo’s Virtues’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


All Democrats in favor of standing with your president to shout out the evils of Guantanamo, shout aye! “Aye!” All Democrats in favor of doing what would be necessary to close Guantanamo, shout aye! . . . What, nobody?

On day two of his presidency, Barack Obama issued an executive order to shut down, within one year, the Gitmo prison that still houses 241 detainees. Four months later, he may be about to be handed his first defeat of a major campaign promise, and by his own party. Faced with the actual politics of bringing terrorists to U.S. soil, congressional Democrats are running for the exits.

US News column: ‘It’s ridiculous that today a parent can find more information about choosing a new washing machine or automobile than about choosing a school’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

US News:

Transparency is powerful and President Obama has rightly made it a pillar of his administration’s approach to policymaking. But transparency also offers the seductive promise of an easy way out for policymakers. It can trap proponents of various policy proposals in an intellectual cul de sac because it becomes easy to see information as sufficient to drive reform rather than just as a predicate for change.  The risk is especially potent when proponents are convinced of the obviousness of the changes they seek.

We’ve seen this repeatedly with federal education policy. The Bush administration assumed the federal No Child Left Behind law would produce a tidal wave of student and school performance data that would swamp opposition to school improvement efforts. Seven years later the political resistance to education reform is as potent as ever and former Bush aides now acknowledge placing too much faith in the power of information.

Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein: ‘Dear Mr. Buffett: About Those Newspapers . . .’

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


I have to say I was surprised by your remark, and not simply because of your lifelong love of the newspaper business. As a “value” investor, you surely must acknowledge that this is the opportunity of a lifetime as far as newspaper investing is concerned. For close to nothing, investors can pick up some of the most respected regional brands in the news business, along with their (shrinking) lists of advertisers and subscribers. They can obtain modern printing presses for a fraction of their original cost. And they are able to hire from a deep pool of talented journalists, pressmen, salesmen and circulation experts desperate for jobs.

Your mentor, Benjamin Graham, was always on the lookout for what he called “cigar butts” — cheap and unloved companies that had been tossed aside but still had a couple of good puffs left in them. If the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Rocky Mountain News, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe don’t qualify as “cigar butts,” I can’t imagine what would.

Climatologist John Christy: global warming crusade is “all cost and no benefit”

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


NEW YORK (Fortune) — With Congress about to take up sweeping climate-change legislation, expect to hear more in coming weeks from John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at University of Alabama-Huntsville.

A veteran climatologist who refuses to accept any research funding from the oil or auto industries, Christy was a lead author of the 2001 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report as well as one of the three authors of the American Geophysical Union’s landmark 2003 statement on climate change.

Thomas Sowell in IBD: Don’t Blame Deregulation For Housing Mess

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Investor’s Business Daily:

After virtually every disaster created by Beltway politicians you can hear the sound of feet scurrying for cover, see fingers pointing in every direction away from Washington, and watch all sorts of scapegoats hauled up before congressional committees to be denounced on television for the disasters created by members of the committee who are lecturing them.

The word repeated endlessly in these political charades is “deregulation.” The idea is that it was a lack of government supervision which allowed “greed” in the private sector to lead the nation into crises that only our Beltway saviors can solve.

What utter rubbish this all is can be found by checking the record of how government regulators were precisely the ones who imposed lower mortgage lending standards.

It was members of Congress (of both parties) who pushed the regulators, the banks and the mortgage-buying giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into accepting risky mortgages, in the name of “affordable housing” and more homeownership. Presidents of both parties also jumped on the bandwagon.

Video: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an upfront socialist on universal health care

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Open socialist Bernie Sanders:

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