Archive for December, 2010

Tea partiers should be boiling at $1.1 trillion bill

We’re in need of some fresh, hot tea, and not just because it’s been so cold outside.

Senate Democrats — and some Republican accomplices — want to defy the will of the voters and have one last big-government hurrah. If there was ever a moment for tea partiers to prove to everyone that they’re not going away, this is it.

The immediate threat is a $1.1 trillion spending bill, with some 6,500 earmarks in its nearly 2,000 pages, which Senate Democrats suddenly unveiled Tuesday and want to pass ASAP. The bill would essentially freeze the bloated federal budget through the end of this fiscal year.

In every respect, this is the kind of action voters rejected at the ballot box last month. It is a budget-busting, debt-inducing, written-in-the-dark and rammed-through-before-daylight bill.

Democrats didn’t have the courage to pass such a spending bonanza before the election. They knew the public would punish them for it, and they took the unusual step of refusing to pass an …

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How Japan is leaving America high and all wet

Ordinarily, I probably wouldn’t blog about another country cutting its corporate income tax rate. But when that country was the last one standing between the U.S. and the industrialized world’s highest such rate, well …

From the New York Times:

TOKYO — Japan will cut its corporate income tax rate by 5 percentage points in a bid to shore up its sluggish economy, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said here Monday evening.

Companies have urged the government to lower the country’s effective corporate tax rate — which now stands at 40 percent, around the same rate as that in the United States — to stimulate investment in Japan and to encourage businesses to create more jobs.

Lowering the corporate tax burden by 5 percentage points could increase Japan’s gross domestic product by 2.6 percentage points, or 14.4 trillion yen ($172 billion), over the next three years, according to estimates by Japan’s Trade Ministry.

Did you notice that line, “which now stands at 40 percent, around the …

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Obama’s stimulus produces temp-jobs ‘recovery’

So says economist John Lott, writing at

Our current “recovery” might be in its seventeenth month, but the few new private sector jobs have come from companies temporarily hiring staff on a contract basis. What were once jobs reserved for people hired to cover seasonal demand or permanent employees on sick leave have become the standard employment for many workers. Companies simply don’t want the risk of hiring workers that they might soon have to get rid of.

Since the recovery started in June 2009, the total number of private sector jobs has increased by 203,000 [link fixed at 1:11 p.m.]. But these weren’t “regular,” permanent jobs. Indeed, permanent private sector jobs fell by 257,000.

“Temporary help service” jobs is what made up the difference, as they increased by 460,000. For all sectors of the economy, including government jobs, the drop in the number of permanent jobs during the recovery was even worse — a drop of 561,000.

The trend has recently been …

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Strike one against ObamaCare

Today’s ruling by a federal judge in Virginia, declaring the health-insurance mandate in ObamaCare unconstitutional, is not the last word by any means. But to paraphrase Vice President Biden’s line about the law, it’s a big bleepin’ deal.

This isn’t the big states’ lawsuit against the federal government over the law; Georgia and 20 other states are pursuing a lawsuit working its way through federal courts in Florida. It is, however, the lawsuit that addresses the constitutional question that so many conservatives raised during the health-reform debate: Can the federal government compel citizens to buy a particular product (in this case, health insurance)?

I haven’t read the whole decision yet, but this line of reasoning from District Judge Henry E. Hudson seems to get at the crux of the matter, in which the Obama administration argued that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution does grant the federal government this power to mandate purchasing health insurance (quote is …

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The real reason Obama hated the Citizens United ruling

It may be the only way the president’s 2012 opponent, whoever that might be, can come close to him in the fund-raising department. From the Washington Post:

Will President Obama be the first billion-dollar man?

He raised and spent $750 million in the 2008 campaign, and there is already speculation that the cash-collection operation for his 2012 reelection bid will crest the once-unimaginable sum of $1 billion raised. (That’s a one and nine zeros. Nine!)

“It’s not unrealistic at all, given the amount raised and spent in 2008 and the amount Republican interest groups and 527s will spend against him,” said a former Obama administration official.

A look at the trend line of fundraising for presidential candidates over the past several elections suggests a doubling effect every four years.

In 2008, Obama raised an eye-popping $745 million, while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) collected $368 million. Total spending, including third-party candidates, amounted to $1.3 billion, according …

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Dear Santa: Bring these gifts from the Gold Dome

In time for Santa to make sure it all gets delivered, here’s my Christmas wish list for next year’s legislative session:

Meaningful tax reform: Soon, perhaps as soon as this week, a special panel will report its recommendations on making Georgia’s tax code more fair and efficient.

Don’t expect anything as radical as ending the income tax. But the preferred direction for reform in Georgia is similar to what’s being debated in Washington. Make taxes simpler with fewer exemptions and credits, flatter with fewer brackets, smarter with no taxes on business inputs such as energy.

And once you’ve done all that, set them as low as possible to fund the government we need, and nothing more. Which brings me to …

Straight talk on the size of government and how we pay for it: We’ve just had an election in which Republicans won a statewide sweep and large legislative majorities by promising to cut government until it lives within its means.

But in the 2010 session, GOP …

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Elections have consequences, EPA edition

From the New York Times:

The Obama administration is retreating on long-delayed environmental regulations — new rules governing smog and toxic emissions from industrial boilers — as it adjusts to a changed political dynamic in Washington with a more muscular Republican opposition.

The move to delay the rules, announced this week by the Environmental Protection Agency, will leave in place policies set by President George W. Bush. President Obama ran for office promising tougher standards, and the new rules were set to take effect over the next several weeks.

Now, the agency says, it needs until July 2011 to further analyze scientific and health studies of the smog rules and until April 2012 on the boiler regulation. Mr. Obama, having just cut a painful deal with Republicans intended to stimulate the economy, can ill afford to be seen as simultaneously throttling the fragile recovery by imposing a sheaf of expensive new environmental regulations that critics say will cost …

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How much of a president do Dems think they’ll have left?

So, the House Democratic caucus — you know, the group that’s about to become the House minority party — approves a (non-binding) resolution not to even hold a vote on the tax deal President Obama struck with Republicans. Which leads me to ask Democrats, and their sympathizers on this blog, a few questions.

1. If this is mere posturing — and Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank suggests that, while he won’t support it, the deal still has the votes to pass if it’s brought up — does your base think more or less of you for standing up to the (Democratic) president, only to cave in the end?

2. If this isn’t mere posturing, and the paychecks of those lower- and middle-income workers — the ones whose interests you claim to be guarding — are suddenly a great deal lighter come January because no tax deal is struck, do you think those workers will appreciate the gesture? (Hint: That gesture is going to look an awful lot like a middle finger.)

3. If Republicans in the House are tasked with …

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Payroll-tax break might alter thinking on Social Security

This week’s typical Washington compromise on taxes has been accompanied by typical Washington drama: about who won and lost, about whether President Barack Obama had a meltdown when he called Republicans “hostage takers” and his Democratic critics “sanctimonious” and “purist.”

Whatever. I prefer that tax rates stay low, but the fact that the extension of current income tax rates was for only two years just goes to show how fleeting these decisions are. If there’s one piece of the package that could lead to bigger, more far-reaching changes down the road, it’s the one-year payroll-tax reduction.

I don’t mean big changes in job creation. The 2-percentage-point cut comes out to about $1,000 on a $50,000 salary next year, totaling some $120 billion nationwide. But it is probably too temporary to spark a real employment surge.

No, the more significant impact is changing the way we think about Social Security.

There is an outdated yet widespread belief that …

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On Ted’s Montana-size carbon footprint . . . and mouth

Ed Driscoll has a nice, succinct take-down of Ted Turner’s recent rants about everyone adopting a one-child policy in light of our “life and death” fight against climate change:

If it’s life and death, then act that way, Ted. Time to retire the private jet. Since self-described climate experts have claimed that “meat [is] making global warming worse,” time to close the giant bison ranch and restaurants. There’s a stadium in Atlanta with your name on it. Demand that they disable their lights. Although you no longer own the TV networks you built, your word still likely carries some sway there as their founder. Demand that they go off the air and close down their Websites to eliminate their carbon footprint.

And it’s some footprint.

Here are seven more things I’d like to see, to prove that you’re serious about this “life and death” issue.

Because, to paraphrase the Professor, I’ll believe that global warming is a matter of life and death when the people who tell me that it’s a …

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