Archive for March, 2011

How do you make the TSA even more despised? Unions!

WSJ columnist Kim Strassel says the next front in the fight over public-sector unions is your nearest airport:

Even as state battles rage, the Obama administration has been facilitating the largest federal union organizing effort in history. Tens of thousands of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are now casting votes to choose a union to collectively bargain for cushier personnel practices on their behalf.

Liberals are calling it a “historic” vote. It is. Henceforth, airport security will play second fiddle to screener “rights.”

The TSA was created as a response — however ill-conceived — to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. At the time, Strassel explains, airport security was considered too important to allow “rigid unionization rules.” That had changed by the 2008 election campaign, when Barack Obama told union leaders that collective bargaining for TSA employees was a “priority” of his.

Strassel continues:

That’s been the administration’s “priority,” even …

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The things we’d forgo to build a new Falcons stadium

Much of the public debate about a potential new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons has focused on the wrong question.

The issue is not whether the Falcons, their fans and — above all — owner Arthur Blank would benefit from having a new stadium built with an expected $400 million in tax money. The issue is whether building a replacement for, or complement to, the Georgia Dome is the best use of those millions.

As an economist would say, is it worth the “opportunity cost”? That would be the next-best choice among all possible things the money could buy.

And we could buy a lot of things for $400 million — the state’s expected portion of the $700 million project. Put another way, we’re talking roughly $19 million a year. Based on recent years, that’s the portion of annual hotel/motel tax revenues in Atlanta that would be dedicated to the new stadium.

Hotel tax revenue is sometimes considered “free money” because it comes from visitors. That’s why it’s better to think in terms of what …

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Dear taxpayer, here’s what your money bought. Love, the IRS

I think this is a great idea. From

Scott Brown (R-MA aka the former Kennedy seat) and co-sponsor Bill Nelson (D-FL) propose a bill called the Taxpayer Receipt Act of 2011, to…take [President] Obama’s attempt at transparency one step further: It will give taxpayers concrete evidence of how their money is spent.

Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh have joked for years about having Tax Day be Election Day. Well, at least with a receipt, the Taxpayers can see what they’re spending money on. My guess, with each American owing $45,000 to the Federal government, they’d be keenly interested in knowing how well the government stewards their money.

This bill could be transformational. Imagine receiving an accounting of what each citizen owes — the interest on the national debt, costs for Medicaid, Medicare, national defense, education, foreign aid, etc.

Most people do not pay anywhere near the amount each individual owes, too. Not only would big taxpayers be outraged (they …

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If Harry Reid didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him

To the Sharron Angle supporters out there, look at the bright side: Your candidate may not be in the Senate, but the incumbent who beat her is still giving us comedy gold.

Reports Politico:

File this under: Did Harry Reid just say that?

In the middle of his tirade against House Republicans’ “mean-spirited” budget bill on the Senate floor Tuesday, the Senate Majority Leader lamented that the GOP’s proposed budget cuts would eliminate the annual “cowboy poetry festival” in his home state of Nevada. (See also: Reid’s prostitution lecture bombs.)

Reid clearly has a soft spot for the Baxter Blacks of the poetry world and thinks Republicans don’t.

“The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1…eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts,” said Reid. “These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of …

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Obama pulls a Bush on Gitmo terrorist trials

With the Obama administration, everything old is new again. Again.

The latest example is the White House’s white flag on the use of the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The headline, and rightly so, is that the president is flip-flopping on the use of military tribunals for some of the terrorists housed at Gitmo. After all, President Obama has a long and distinguished history of bashing those military tribunals and that prison, as the Wall Street Journal recounts today:

In an August 2007 speech that his advisers touted at the time, Mr. Obama promised to repeal this “legal framework that does not work.” He even claimed that Bush policies undermined “our Constitution and our freedom” and that the Bush Administration had pressed a “false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand,” a line he recycled in his Inaugural Address. He went out of his way to vote against the Military Commissions Act.

So much for all that. Yesterday the senior Administration officials …

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Is Tim Pawlenty the least objectionable Republican in 2012?

I was having lunch Friday with a few conservative activists when the conversation turned to 2012, and who has the best chance to beat President Obama.

The answer is: the person who can keep such conversations from going the way ours went.

That’s because our conversation Friday, like every other one I’ve had on the topic of Republican candidates for 2012, focused almost exclusively on candidates’ weakness — from Mitt’s RomneyCare to Sarah Palin’s tendency toward polarization to Mitch Daniels’ “truce” on social issues to Newt Gingrich’s baggage to Haley Barbour’s accent to Bobby Jindal’s inexperience. It’s the kind of conversation that would brighten the day of any Obamaphile.

The name to which we didn’t attach any negatives — nor, I should say, any particular positives — was Tim Pawlenty.

That strikes me as interesting, because evidently a lot of other people have similar thoughts about the former Minnesota governor.

On NPR Friday, David Brooks of the New York Times said it’s …

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Atlanta, Washington singing from same hymnal on tax reform

When politicians in Washington and Atlanta talk up the same idea, they’re usually onto something or up to something. In the case of the suddenly fashionable idea of making taxes broader, flatter, simpler and lower, taxpayers can be more relieved than suspicious.

The “Fiscal Solutions Tour” rolled into Atlanta last week. Its barnstorming economists and politicos want to solve the federal debt problem by cutting spending and reforming entitlements and taxes.

They described a tax code for individuals and business alike with fewer, if any, deductions and credits. The changes would be offset in part by lowering tax rates, though revenues on the whole would likely rise. (The group also favors a consumption tax to supplement existing levies; another bipartisan debt commission, as well as yours truly, believes the budget can be balanced without a new national sales tax.)

Listening to them, I was reminded of similar reforms for Georgia a special panel proposed earlier this year.

Unlike …

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Global warming science changes, to some scientists’ chagrin

A couple of months ago, when there was snowfall on 49 of our 50 states, global warmists rushed to explain. More snow, it turns out, is a sign of a hotter planet.

But that’s not what they’ve always said.

Writing at Forbes, the Heartland Institute’s James M. Taylor notes that as recently as 2001, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) informed us that “Milder winter temperatures will decrease heavy snowstorms.”

At a press conference held Tuesday by members of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Taylor reports, the director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Mark Serreze, offered this explanation for the turnabout:

Have we learned a great deal since the IPCC 2001 report? I would say yes, we have. Climate science, like any other field, is a constantly evolving field and we are always learning.

Now, surely no one can argue with Serreze about that. Well, except maybe global warming alarmists.

The importance of Serreze’s statement about a …

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Do unionized teachers really produce better results?

At the outset of the public-union protests in Wisconsin, a number of pundits and at least one commenter on this blog pointed to the SAT/ACT scores of Wisconsin students versus those in states that prohibit collective bargaining by teachers.

The reported statistics showed the five non-unionized states ranking 44th in the country (Virginia), 47th (Texas), 48th (Georgia), 49th (North Carolina) and 50th (South Carolina), compared to second in the country for Wisconsin. It was suggested that these stats and others demonstrated the superiority of unionized educators, or at least the inferiority of the nonunion (and low-tax) model.

The normally brutally satirical Iowahawk has broken out of character to provide a straight explanation of why these stats are the wrong ones to examine — and to pass along some that tell a more accurate story:

As a son of Iowa, I’m no stranger to bragging about my home state’s ranking on various standardized test. Like Wisconsin we Iowans usually rank near …

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Georgia can treat, but not cure, immigration issues

There are a number of natural tensions for Republican lawmakers in Georgia as they try to curb illegal immigration. Here are two of the stronger ones, and ways legislators might think about them while considering various immigration bills:

1. The tension between federal responsibility and state problems.

The states — particularly those, like Georgia, that are not on the border — can do only so much to stanch illegal immigration. But they bear the lion’s share of the costs, from education to health care to law enforcement.

Add those facts to the usual political dynamics of courting a growing group of voters while trying to please — or at least not alienate — a base of support, and Washington’s inaction on immigration is easily explained. (Incidentally, this is one topic Congress might handle differently if U.S. senators were still appointed by, and answered to, state legislatures as they did before the 17th Amendment.)

Last year’s election campaign featured a lot of pledges to …

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