Archive for July, 2010

Energy policy on the ObamaCare model

President Obama has decided that the Gulf oil spill means we need to change the way we power our entire country, not just the way we regualte offshore drilling. Politico reports today that the next three weeks will be crucial to that effort, with the ball in the court of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

The options will break down into three core elements, and the question will be how the leaders choose to combine them.

The first and easiest piece is a Gulf-spill response measure to reform offshore drilling and raise disaster liabilities on oil companies. “That one’s must-pass,” said Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani, echoing the sentiments of congressional staff members on both sides of the aisle.

The second element is a clean-energy bill that would require a boost in renewable electricity produced by sources such as wind and solar. A version of this bill, sponsored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), …

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How many millions will Atlanta favoritism cost us?

If you’ve ever been curious about Atlanta’s spoils system, Monday is your lucky day. A federal jury is slated to begin hearing a lawsuit that claims city officials conspired to steer a lucrative airport contract to an old crony of former mayor Maynard Jackson.

In fact, the big question may not be “if” but “how” — as in how many millions of dollars this funny business will end up costing taxpayers.

Billy Corey and his smokestackThe lawsuit, filed by Atlanta businessman Billy Corey (you’ve seen his last name on that old white smokestack across the interstate from Grady hospital), dates to a 2002 bidding process for advertising rights at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. But the broader story, which I’ve drawn from case documents, started two decades earlier.

In 1980, the city gave Barbara Fouch, a former model and a friend of Jackson, a no-bid contract to manage advertising displays at the airport. Federal funding recipients, such as our airport, must ensure minority participation in …

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The Obama nominee Dems don’t want you to meet

Last week, we got a Senate confirmation hearing that didn’t tell us much of anything about the nominee, would-be Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. This week, we get a report that Democratic senators refused to even hold a hearing for another nominee,  because they were afraid of what would be said by him and about him.

From Jake Tapper of ABC News:

In announcing the recess appointment of Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — and two other nominees — [Wednesday] President Obama said in a statement that “It’s unfortunate that at a time when our nation is facing enormous challenges, many in Congress have decided to delay critical nominations for political purposes.”

(snip)

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., echoed the president’s suggestion, saying that “Republican lockstep stalling of Don’s nomination was a case study in cynicism and one awful example of how not to govern.”

But Republicans were not delaying or stalling Berwick’s nomination.

Indeed, …

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Governor candidates are overselling tax-breaks savings

Promises to spend more money without asking you to pay for it: It should go without saying that such election-year pledges are served best with a whole shaker of salt.

Should.

But in these days of railing against fat cats and lobbyists, rants against “special interest tax breaks” aren’t getting the second look they deserve.

Listening to Georgia Democrats running for governor, you’d think that tax-based welfare for companies and rich folks is the only thing standing between Georgia and an end to teacher furloughs, traffic gridlock and, possibly, cancer. One suspects that the phrase “special interests” has been tested on a focus group or two.

Yet, even if you buy the argument that more money alone will fix our problems, don’t expect our next governor to come up with the amount of cash these Democrats want just by plugging loopholes.

Lacking info

For one, the state government doesn’t even know the effect on the budget of various income tax breaks for individuals …

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Someone (Handel) finally catches Ox in a poll

We’re two weeks out from Georgia’s Democratic and Republican primaries, and the GOP contest for governor remains unpredictable. A new opinion poll suggests it’s even more of a toss-up than previously advertised.

That’s because, for the first time that I can recall in this election, we have a poll showing John Oxendine in a tie for first place. Previous surveys have shown the four-term insurance commissioner in first place alone, and often with a comfortable enough margin to presume he would make a primary runoff fairly easily.

But the latest numbers from Insider Advantage, in a poll conducted for WSB-TV, show former Secretary of State Karen Handel in a tie with Oxendine at 18 percent apiece. Nathan Deal is in third at 12 percent and Eric Johnson is fourth at 8 percent.

If the campaigns believe those numbers are accurate — and, as I said, it’s a first to see anyone even sharing the top line with Oxendine — we may see some fireworks in what has been a dull campaign to date.

The …

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Elena Kagan and the evolution of political correctness

As you chew on some ’cue this weekend, consider this:

In the last weeks of America’s 234th year of independence, our political elites fired a general who spoke his mind and prepared to put on the Supreme Court a law professor who did her darndest not to speak hers.

Neither of these cases involved a legal barring of free speech. As commander of the war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal served at the pleasure of the president, whom the general displeased with his remarks about his civilian bosses. McChrystal lost his command; he didn’t go to jail.

Similarly, Elena Kagan didn’t plead the Fifth in her confirmation hearings when asked whether Congress has the constitutional authority to require Americans to eat three vegetables a day. She just bobbed and weaved, as judicial nominees do in the post-Bork era.

We celebrate “free speech” but don’t reward candor from public figures (the cast of “Jersey Shore” excepted). Why? Political correctness.

It may sound …

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ObamaCare might turn you down, too

From a report by The Hill:

The Obama administration has not ruled out turning sick people away from an insurance program created by the new healthcare law to provide coverage for the uninsured.

Critics of the $5 billion high-risk pool program insist it will run out of money before Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the program sunsets and health plans can no longer discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.

Administration officials insist they can make changes to the program to ensure it lasts until 2014, and that it may not have to turn away sick people. Officials said the administration could also consider reducing benefits under the program, or redistributing funds between state pools. But they acknowledged turning some people away was also a possibility.

“There’s a certain amount of money authorized in the statute, and we will do our best to make sure that that amount of money insures as many people as possible and does as much good as possible,” said Jay Angoff, …

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‘It’s the checking account versus the credit card’

That’s a good line about federal spending, and it comes courtesy of Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.) in the debate over extending unemployment insurance. From a Politico report:

Just two Republicans, Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, joined in support of an estimated $34 billion bill to extend benefits through November. Early hopes of getting help from Sen. Scott Brown were dashed Wednesday when the Massachusetts Republican went to the Senate floor with his own alternative — heavily reliant on cutting unspent funds from last year’s giant recovery act.

(snip)

“It is beyond disappointing that Republicans continue to stand almost lockstep against assistance for out-of-work Americans,” [Majority Leader Harry] Reid said, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) countered that he was prepared to fully fund two months of assistance — paid for from spending cuts. “The only reason the unemployment extension hasn’t passed is because our friends on the other side simply refuse …

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