Archive for October, 2011

On a Georgia congressman’s intra-party boat-rocking

Politico has a piece worth reading this morning about Georgia’s Tom Graves as a reflection both of the new, tea party-infused, independent streak of many freshman GOP members of the House and of the problems Speaker John Boehner has had in keeping his caucus in line.

The story comes on the heels of the AJC Political Insider’s reports that Bob Barr is considering a primary race against Graves. But, given Barr’s switch to the Libertarian Party (he would run against Graves as a Republican) and his outspokenness against a number of GOP actions, I doubt he would make for a more compliant representative of Georgia’s soon-to-be 14th Congressional District.

The whole piece about Graves is worth reading, both for the local interest and the broader intrigue about whether Boehner can hold things together. But, agree or disagree with Graves, this statement of his toward the end of the Politico story sounds like what a lot of people say they want from their representatives in …

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Occupiers: If you want to impress us, leave the park

As I write this, there are about one and a half hours left before the deadline Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed set himself for actually enforcing the law against camping in city parks — er, I mean for Occupy Atlanta folks to comply with said law. I wrote several days ago that Reed should enforce the law, and I still believe he would be wrong to let the Occupiers continue to take advantage of his lenience.

But today’s post is directed toward the Occupiers themselves.

I understand that some of you don’t appreciate comparisons to the tea party — and that the feeling is reciprocated. But the fact is that the tea party became an influential political movement not because of its ability to stage large rallies on a recurring basis, but because of its ability to work within the political process.

The Occupy rallies are small by comparison, and I would be interested to see whether your numbers would grow or shrink if you were to pack up and returned, say, two weeks from now. So I’m skeptical …

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CLASS-less Obamacare becomes more of a budget drain

File this under “Now they tell us.” From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration cut a major planned benefit from the 2010 health-care law on Friday, announcing that a program to offer Americans insurance for long-term care was simply unworkable. …

Because the insurance program had been projected to reduce the federal deficit by $86 billion over the next 10 years, terminating it complicates the nation’s budget picture. It is now estimated that the health-care law will cut the deficit by $124 billion from 2012 to 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Actually, plenty of Obamacare opponents said from the beginning that the Community Living Assistance Services Act, better known as CLASS, was a two-fold sham. First, because it would be unworkable, as the Obama administration now concedes. And second, because it was included only as a numbers-rigging exercise to make Obamacare marketable as a net reduction in federal deficits.

In fact, doubts about the program’s …

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Don’t let D.C. dictate how to reform Georgia’s tax laws

The warning had an ominous ring to it.

It was a month too early for Halloween, but here was someone from the nation’s capital, telling an Atlanta audience about apparitions in the halls of Congress.

“Washington is being haunted by the specter,” said the Heritage Foundation’s William Beach, “of tax reform.”

If that doesn’t give you the willies, consider that any changes the feds make will have an echo effect in Georgia. For simplicity’s sake — mark this occasion, because you won’t often read “simplicity” and “tax laws” in the same sentence — our tax laws incorporate many federal rules.

So, whatever Washington does in the way of tax reform will hit you once on your federal taxes, and then again on what you pay the state. If you’re a Georgia lawmaker dithering about reforming the state’s tax code, Beach suggested, that prospect really ought to scare you straight.

“If you do nothing today, absolutely nothing, in 2013 you will get tax reform,” Beach said Sept. 30 at the Georgia …

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Poll Position: Was Iran murder plot an act of war against U.S.?

There have been few assassination plans more outrageous than the one recently prevented in Washington and revealed Tuesday. An Iranian-American man and an officer in the Iranian military’s elite Quds Force are charged with attempting to hire Mexican drug traffickers to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., and perhaps dozens of bystanders, at a Washington restaurant. The plot was foiled because the man the Iranians contacted, believing he was a member of the Zetas drug cartel, was an informant for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Would the assassination of a Saudi diplomat in Washington have constituted an act of war?

  • No (120 Votes)
  • Yes, and we should have retaliated (98 Votes)
  • Only if Terhan was fully behind it (50 Votes)
  • Yes, but deserving of a non-military response (30 Votes)
  • Only if Americans were killed (27 Votes)

Total Voters: 325

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One doesn’t have to be a “truther” about the alleged plot to wonder why the Iranian government — or elements …

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Finally: Some good news from Congress on trade, jobs

Bipartisan actions to boost the economy at minimal cost to taxpayers are possible, after all. From Politico:

Congress on Wednesday approved three long-stalled free-trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.

Both the Senate and House sent the free-trade agreements to the White House with large bipartisan majorities…. Advocates say the deals will result in the export of billions of dollars of U.S. goods and boost hundreds of thousands of American jobs.

And the House doubled the pleasure by shooting down the China currency bill that doesn’t address our real trade problems with Beijing and might instead spark a harmful trade war.

Good news, and good news. Let’s just leave it at that for once.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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Don’t let the protesters Occupy Middle Class Frustration

Newt Gingrich made headlines at Tuesday night’s GOP presidential debate for saying he’d fire the Federal Reserve chairman and jail a pair of lawmakers for their role in the financial crisis. But, just before that, he made an important point about the “Occupy Wall Street” protests.

“I think the people who are protesting on Wall Street break into two groups,” the former Georgia congressman said. “One is left-wing agitators who would be happy to show up next week on any other topic, and the other is sincere middle-class people, who frankly are very close to the tea party people in actually caring.”

We on the right need to recognize such a distinction if we’re to avoid the same mistake the left made about the early tea partyers: Branding the entire group as a bunch of cranks.

“Cranks,” of course, doesn’t begin to cover the inanity of those OWS folks who have suggested such remedies as granting a “living wage” of at least $20 an hour to everyone, employed or not. (During the course …

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After bipartisan rejection of Obama’s latest stimulus, what’s next?

Look on the bright side, Mr. President: At least this time the defeat wasn’t 97-0.

From the Hill:

President Obama received a slap from members of his own party Tuesday as the Senate voted 50-49 to block his $447 billion jobs package.

The jobs plan, which the president has spent much of the last month touting on a cross-country tour, fell well short of the 60 votes it needed to proceed.

The only Democrats to vote against the measure were Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), but a number of other centrists in the party indicated they would vote against the package even though they supported launching a debate on the measure.

So, President Obama’s latest stimulus couldn’t even win the support of all Senate Democrats. But don’t worry: The White House no doubt will pin the blame on “obstructionist Republicans.” How inconvenient for them that the GOP-led House didn’t vote it down first.

Now that we’ve dispensed with the political theater of Obama proposing a bill designed …

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What Warren Buffett didn’t mention about the ‘mega-rich’ who would pay higher taxes

Remember that op-ed Warren Buffett wrote about his “mega-rich friends” being willing to pay more taxes? Well, so did Salon’s Peter Finocchiaro. And he didn’t take the super-investor’s word for it:

To test [Buffett's] notion, Salon launched the Patriotic Billionaire Challenge. We put the question to every member of the “Forbes 400″ list, all of them with a net worth of at least $1 billion: “Are you, like Warren Buffett, willing to pay higher taxes?”

The results are in. Of 400 billionaires, only eight (including Buffett) say they are willing to pay more.

Ah, but there’s a catch: It would appear that only 12 of the 400 responded to Salon’s queries. A 3 percent response rate doesn’t mean squat.

But that’s not to say nothing interesting came of the exercise.

Finocchiaro shared some of the comments from the respondents, and they add a serious degree of nuance to Buffett’s “hey, rich people are ready to pay more” mantra.

Example One:

Todd Wagner, co-owner and CEO of 2929 …

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Showdown time for Kasim Reed and Occupy Atlanta

I will have misjudged Kasim Reed if he allows this to happen again tonight (from the AJC):

The activists encamped at Woodruff Park plan to leave Tuesday afternoon for a protest march to a downtown Atlanta bank headquarters, but vowed in an e-mail to return to the park and remain there “for as long as it takes.”

The group’s vow to stay at the park comes after being told Monday night that they were violating city rules prohibiting remaining in city parks after 11 p.m. …

Late Tuesday morning, the number of protesters at the park had dwindled to around 75, with several dozen tents still pitched on the park’s grass. Those remaining on Tuesday morning were low-key, not chanting or carrying the protest signs that were seen on Monday.

An anticipated showdown between the protesters and police never materialized, as authorities made no effort to forcibly remove the group.

“We’re allowing the protesters the opportunity to leave the park peacefully,” Candace Byrd, Atlanta Mayor Kasim …

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