Archive for March, 2010

Too many Georgia Republicans are voting like liberals

Republicans in the Georgia Legislature sure are voting like conservatives this year.

April Fools!

In reality, on the state’s most pressing issues they are making it hard to tell the difference between them and the liberals.

First, there are the education bills, such as extending school vouchers to foster kids and military families, that won’t even get a vote in the Senate. Too many Republicans were afraid in an election year to vote for a modest but important way to spread educational freedom to more Georgians. What, were Democrats going to attack them for helping foster kids?

Then there’s the watering down of an already meager slate of tax cuts focused on creating jobs for the unemployed. A capital gains tax cut in the package won’t kick in until the state has $1 billion in its reserves. But the point of such a policy is to spur growth, not follow it. Even liberals can vote for a good-times tax cut.

Granted, this year’s budget is a bear. Revenues still sag, and …

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Democrats to accounting rules: Drop dead

It didn’t accept fiscal reality or health-care reality, so why would anyone expect ObamaCare to accept accounting reality?

Democrats led by Rep. Henry Waxman are furious that several publicly traded companies have already begun issuing writedowns related to the new law. They are accounting for reduced future profits because the new law makes changes to Medicare Part D that will make it more expensive for companies that offer generous prescription medicine benefits to their retirees. Waxman is so angry that he wants to the companies’ executives to testify before Congress about why they’re complying with accounting standards speaking ill of ObamaCare.

As the Atlantic’s Megan McArdle explains in an excellent piece, the companies don’t really have a choice when it comes to writedowns:

[W]hen a company experiences what accountants call “a material adverse impact” on its expected future earnings, and those changes affect an item that is already on the balance sheet, the company is …

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Romney: ‘It is time for the truth to trump hope’

Mitt Romney spoke last night to a packed house at Emory University, promoting his new book and no doubt testing out some lines for the 2012 campaign, which may begin as soon as the mid-terms are over.

After sharing his thoughts about what makes nations great — namely, its values, such as hard work, good education and an emphasis on the family in America — he made the case that the U.S. is the only nation that can lead in the 21st century if liberty and prosperity are to grow. And he spoke of his concern that “these elements of our culture are weakening and are under attack today” from an increasing dependence on government.

“Washington,” he said, “is smothering [our] great spirit…of pioneering and innovation.”

He spoke at length about entitlements — which, combined with the interest on the public debt, he said, account for 60 percent of the federal budget. He said the brand-new middle-class health entitlement will only make things worse. From a businessman’s perspective, he …

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A campaign expense that Nathan Deal should budget for

Yesterday’s release of an unfavorable congressional ethics report on Nathan Deal may have been a crippling blow for his gubernatorial campaign. The just-resigned GOP Congressman stands accused of using his office and congressional staff to protect a state program from which his business profited, among other things. Read my colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin’s news article on the investigation and report here.

Deal resigned his seat immediately after voting against the Democrats’ health-care bill earlier this month. Fairly or not, his hasty departure from Congress, after an ethics investigation was known to be under way but before the results were released publicly, gives the impression that his timing was influenced by the possibility of a congressional reprimand based on the investigation.

Deal never made much of a push in the opinion polls after his surprising decision last year to enter the race. Ethics will be a major theme in this year’s elections, and it’s getting harder and …

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Fool me once, fool me twice…fool me 15 times?

One might assume that there’s a rigorous process in place to ensure that the 40,000-plus products certified with the federal government’s Energy Star rating are, well, energy-efficient. The labels influence consumer behavior, and the government subsidizes the purchase of these products.

Thankfully, the Government Accountability Office doesn’t make such assumptions. And neither should we, according to a new GAO report (via John Stossel’s blog on FoxBusiness.com):

GAO’s investigation shows that Energy Star is for the most part a self-certification program vulnerable to fraud and abuse. GAO obtained Energy Star certification for 15 bogus products, including a gas-powered alarm clock. Two bogus products were rejected by the program and 3 did not receive a response.

That’s a .750 batting average — not for Energy Star, but for the fake products.

The manner in which the fake products were certified is alarming. One of the products, a computer monitor, received Energy Star approval …

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On health care, both sides need a deep breath

We are in dire need of a national deep breath.

A week ago, the U.S. House of Representatives, in unrepresentative fashion, pushed through a health-care bill that most Americans said they didn’t want. Since then, there have been a handful of death threats and a report of a racial slur being used toward Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta at a rally against the bill in Washington.

The latter incidents have fueled efforts to brand ObamaCare opponents as either extremists or, in the words of Rep. James Clyburn (D, S.C.), people “aiding and abetting…terrorism.”

Breathe. Just breathe.

Six months ago, in this space, I warned against our rising incivility and observed that, in the health-care debate, we were only adding to our divisiveness.

How quaint those fears seem in hindsight. If only we’d stopped at “divisiveness.”

At this point, I’m sure, many readers are thinking one of the following things:

1. We are so divided because Democrats decided to shove an unconstitutional mess …

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About Sonny Perdue’s health-care lawsuit

Please keep talking about the intimidation post below. But for those who have had their say on that, here’s something I’ve been thinking about since Gov. Sonny Perdue first asked Attorney General Thurbert Baker to join the multi-state lawsuit against ObamaCare:

Does anyone else think this helps Baker, a candidate for governor, in this summer’s Democratic primary?

Baker of course has declined to join the suit, and Perdue has now moved on to pursuing a lawsuit via a “special attorney general” (in this case, a private attorney/firm doing the work at no charge). Some people have accused Perdue of playing politics. But if he was, he may be helping Baker more than hurting him.

It cannot hurt Baker’s standing with Democratic primary voters for him to refuse to participate in a lawsuit whose aim is to strike down the biggest Democratic legislative victory in a generation. Giving primary voters something to associate Baker with besides the Genarlow Wilson case will help Baker’s …

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An act of political intimidation — from the left

There’s an effort to brand conservatives, Republicans and tea partiers as culpable for the stupid death threats that a handful of idiots are making to some members of Congress. That effort has the same intent as the death threats: intimidation.

It should go without saying that death threats are unacceptable in this situation, just as they were when George Bush was president. But if it needs to be said, well, I just said it.

It is, however, also a calculated act of intimidation to smear an entire political movement as a bunch of dangerous lunatics on the basis of a handful of actions. I do not recall the same people who are now so worried about anti-ObamaCare threats also wringing their hands about the entire political left’s culpability when, for instance, some idiot shot up a Bush-Cheney re-election headquarters in Knoxville or ransacked one in Orlando, or attacked a GOP office in Raleigh, or vandalized Bush supporters’ homes in Madison, Wis. (H/t Instapundit)

In fact, click …

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New ideas for getting waste out of government

Why does it often seem like our government is only so-so? Simple, SOSO.

When we talk about government waste, the picture that often comes to mind is one of offices that are overstaffed with workers who spend lots of tax dollars accomplishing very little. Let’s not rule out that possibility. But there is a more pervasive type of waste.

I’m talking about SOSO waste: same old methods, same old organizational structures, same old expenses. Same old, same old: SOSO. That is how we end up with so-so government.

This is not to disparage the creative abilities of our civil servants, only their motivation — and sometimes their latitude — to seek out innovative new ways of doing things. Stasis is in the nature of the bureaucracy, with its budgets rolled over from year to year and its work force largely held over from regime to regime. This is true the world over.

And it’s not unique to the public sector. Corporate chieftains and middle managers know all about turf wars, about …

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Don’t worry. I’m sure health care will work out much better

From The Hill:

The Obama administration’s $75 billion program to help homeowners risks failure by, “merely spreading out the foreclosure crisis,” a top government watchdog said Tuesday.

Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general over the $700 billion financial rescue package, slammed the administration’s housing program for having ill-defined metrics and for helping far fewer homeowners than originally proposed.

“The program risks helping few, and for the rest, merely spreading out the foreclosure crisis,” Barofsky said in a report. The program encourages companies to modify the terms of home loans so that borrowers can attempt to avoid foreclosure. Mounting foreclosures continue to weigh heavily on a weak housing market, which began declining more than three years ago.

The administration’s program has produced 170,000 permanent home loan modifications, which represents roughly 13 percent of the total trial offers extended, according to the latest data.

Barofsky’s report …

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