Archive for April, 2010

Tax jump would hit all of us

The “tea” in tea party is sometimes explained as “Taxed Enough Already.” Well, are we?

The left believes we — or at least “the rich” among us — are undertaxed, and wants to squeeze out more revenue. Just “spread the wealth around” to get wider health care coverage, better education, more mass transit, smaller budget deficits, less public debt, fully funded entitlements. Take your pick from this all-we-can-give-away buffet.

But what if I told you the average American already pays as much or more in taxes than the people in countries that do many of these things?

That’s the somewhat surprising revelation from Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. On his blog, he wrote that viewing taxes as a share of gross domestic product and concluding there’s more revenue to be had “may mislead us into thinking we can increase tax revenue more than we actually can.” That, he argued, is because “high tax rates tend to depress GDP.”

So, Mankiw did a simple calculation to compare taxes paid per person …

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Karzai’s America problem

Much has been made of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s loose talk about joining sides with the Taliban and/or sidling up to Tehran, and it’s indeed distressing to hear Karzai speak that way after all we’ve done to prop him up. But Fouad Ajami explains in The Wall Street Journal today that, while Karzai “may be unusually brazen and vainglorious in his self-regard….

Forgive Mr. Karzai as he tilts with the wind and courts the Iranian theocrats next door. We can’t chastise him for seeking an accommodation with Iranian power when Washington itself gives every indication that it would like nothing more than a grand bargain with Iran’s rulers.

In Afghanistan, and throughout the Middle East, populations long in the path, and in the shadow, of great foreign powers have a good feel for the will and staying power of those who venture into their world. If Iran’s bid for nuclear weapons and a larger role in the region goes unchecked, and if Iran is now a power of the Mediterranean (through …

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Tea parties brew notable ideas

If there is a Party of No, it’s not the tea party.

A week from today, Tax Day, tea partiers will again stage rallies nationwide to protest overgrown government. Last year’s huge April 15 crowds and the momentum they kept up established the loosely organized groups as a political fixture.

But tea partiers next week won’t simply tell Washington what not to do. They’ll present an affirmative plan: a 10-point Contract From America.

This platform has been months, scores of ideas and hundreds of thousands of online votes in the making. Candidates who want tea party support will commit to the ideas chosen from 21 finalists.

There are many good policies among those 21, but a shorter list is wise. In that spirit, here are five of the planks I support.

Note that I intentionally excluded constitutional amendments from my list. A two-thirds vote is required in both the U.S. House and Senate for a potential amendment to be sent to the states for approval. I think such a majority is …

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Obama era sees rise in black candidates — in the GOP

Critics of the tea parties have tried to paint their membership as monochrome and their opposition to President Obama’s policies as rooted in racism. That story line doesn’t really hold up for anyone who has actually attended a tea party, and Gallup reported this week that, in terms of “age, educational background, employment status, and race — Tea Partiers are quite representative of the public at large.”

But a better validation of the wider appeal of the tea parties, and the ideas of limited government they stand for, is represented in this Clarence Page column:

President Barack Obama’s election has inspired a record number of African-American candidates to run for Congress this year. What’s surprising is that they’re running as Republicans.

(snip)

At latest count, 33 African-Americans are running for Republican nominations to Congress, according to the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a 2-year old organization founded by chairman Timothy F. Johnson, vice chairman of the North …

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Still waiting for that ObamaCare bounce

Yet another opinion poll indicates the public wasn’t sighing in relief after ObamaCare passed. The latest is from CBS News, which calls the American public “increasingly skeptical” about the new health laws:

Fifty-three percent of Americans say they disapprove of the new reforms, including 39 percent who say they disapprove strongly. In the days before the bill passed the House, 37 percent said they approved and 48 percent disapproved.

Republicans and independents remain opposed to the reforms, and support has dropped some among Democrats. Now 52 percent of Democrats approve of the new reforms, a drop from 60 percent just before the bill was passed by Congress.

So, no softening among Republicans and independents, and a hardening of Democratic opinion against the bill.

There was a brief bounce: In the days immediately following the House’s passage of ObamaCare, the approval gap for the legislation improved from minus-11 to minus-4 (follow the CBS News results in the second …

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A welcome spotlight on the AG election

Georgia’s next attorney general may have Thurbert Baker — and Barack Obama — to thank. Baker’s decision not to sue to overturn the new federal health law is bringing attention to the Georgia attorney general and the race to replace him.

“Generally, when you used to talk to folks,” says Sam Olens, a GOP candidate for the office, “the first comment you’d get back was, ‘Who is the AG and what does the AG do?’ They still don’t know everything the AG does, but they know [one thing] they want the AG to do.”

The controversy erupted last month after Congress passed the health bill and more than a dozen state attorneys general filed lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue asked Baker, a Democrat who is also running for governor, to join the lawsuits but Baker refused.

Now Perdue plans to tap a special attorney general for the case, while Georgia legislators are pursuing both a resolution directing Baker to file suit and articles of impeachment based on his …

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A good read for Good Friday

Michael Fumento writes about the occurrence in his life of something he generally disbelieves: a miracle.

Cut into the cliffs and filled with sharp, winding turns, [the Pacific Coast Highway] can make for a white-knuckle ride in many parts. As the driver, you take quick glances at the scenery and then shoot your eyes back to the road. A front-page article in the Monterey County Herald would later be aptly titled “The Beauty and Danger of Highway 1.” An accompanying piece: “Rocks and Surf below Highway Become Tomb for Some.”

Those articles would be about us.

It’s well worth your time to read the whole thing here. Happy Easter, everyone.

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Climate, er, change: A paper’s sober look at the science

Coming from a German paper, and Der Spiegel, no less, “Climate Catastrophe: A Superstorm for Global Warming Research” is a surprising, impressive and important piece of journalism. At eight Web pages long, you won’t get through it quickly. But I heartily recommend it for anyone who wants to read a critical but fair examination of the state of climate science.

Spoiler alert: The days of “consensus” are over for all but the most basic elements of climate science.

Here’s a sampling from the report, offered with the intent of enticing you read the entire piece.

On the politicization of science:

Reinhard Hüttl, head of the German Research Center for Geosciences in Potsdam near Berlin and the president of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, believes that basic values are now under threat. “Scientists should never be as wedded to their theories that they are no longer capable of refuting them in the light of new findings,” he says. Scientific research, Hüttl adds, is all …

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