Archive for July, 2012

T-SPLOST falls in metro Atlanta; several incumbents unseated

UPDATE at 12:16 p.m.: My colleagues on the news side have now called the referendum as well, declaring T-SPLOST defeated in metro Atlanta. It’s on to Plan B. The one thing I can say with certainty: There will be a Plan B.

That’s it for tonight. More to come Wednesday.

UPDATE at 11:55 p.m.: At least four incumbent House members were defeated Tuesday by challengers:

  • Charlice Byrd, R-Woodstock, lost 53-47 to Michael Caldwell;
  • Steve Davis, R-McDonough, lost 65-35 to Dale Rutledge;
  • Doug McKillip, an Athenian who went from being a member of the House Democratic leadership to a Republican who this year sponsored the so-called fetal pain anti-abortion bill, lost 50.4-49.6 to Regina Quick;
  • Keith Heard, D-Athens, lost 55-45 to Spencer Frye.

In addition, there are two districts where House Democratic incumbents were paired against each other. Pat Gardner had a 63-37 lead over Rashad Taylor, while Simone Bell led Ralph Long 57-43.

And another six House incumbents were in real trouble: …

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NYT’s Keller gets it half-right on need to reform entitlements

In a column addressed to his fellow baby boomers (sorry, this Gen-Xer peeked anyway!) New York Times columnist Bill Keller says one way for his generation to shed its reputation of entitlement and selfishness is, well, to be less selfish about entitlements.

He refers to a study by the Democratic think tank Third Way that examines the tremendous growth of, as Keller puts it, the federal government’s “safety-net programs that provide a measure of economic stability for the aging and poor: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.” The growth of this spending, he and Third Way argue, is crowding out federal spending for “‘investments,’ which includes maintaining our national infrastructure, keeping our military equipped, helping assure that our work force is educated to a high standard, and underwriting the kind of basic scientific research that is too risky or long-term to attract private money.”

The answer, he suggests, is for liberals to embrace reforms of the entitlement …

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Build public trust by using taxes for transportation, not stadium

The AJC’s polling ahead of tomorrow’s T-SPLOST referendum shows pretty much what I expected: A little over half of the voters in metro Atlanta reject the 10-year, $7.2 billion sales tax, with enough folks still undecided that the final margin will probably be in single digits. (I started to write it’s what “most people” would expect. But, given that we still are getting vastly divergent reports of the decisions of even those voters who have already cast their ballots, I’m not sure there is a prevailing view here.)

That said, there was a somewhat surprising result for one of the questions asked with the main queries about the transportation tax: Two-thirds of metro Atlanta residents also reject the idea of using hotel/motel tax revenues to build a new Falcons stadium downtown.

That’s a stout show of disapproval for spending $300 million of public money to replace the Georgia Dome. Unfortunately, there are no geographic splits for this question. Those would have been useful …

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Making parents ‘Free to Choose’ their children’s schools

“Unfortunately, in recent years our educational record has become tarnished. Parents complain about the declining quality of the schooling their children receive. Many are even more disturbed about the dangers to their children’s physical well-being. Teachers complain that the atmosphere in which they are required to teach is often not conducive to learning. Increasing numbers of teachers are fearful about their physical safety, even in the classroom. Taxpayers complain about growing costs.”

The passage goes on with even more ills Milton Friedman saw in public schools — in 1980.

The problems may sound familiar, but Friedman wasn’t seeing the future. He was, in his classic book “Free to Choose,” describing the public-schools system as it was then. Sadly, on the whole, that system has spent the last three decades consuming ever more money without significant improvement.

This Tuesday, which would have been the Nobel Prize-winning economist’s 100th birthday, will mark a possible …

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Poll Position: What’s your vote on the T-SPLOST?

OK, folks, it’s once again time to declare.

If you live in metro Atlanta, what is your vote on the T-SPLOST?

  • No (350 Votes)
  • Yes (215 Votes)
  • Still unsure (27 Votes)

Total Voters: 592

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Tuesday is T-SPLOST day across the state, and by late Tuesday/very early Wednesday we should know whether it passed in any of the state’s 12 regions, including the 10 counties of metro Atlanta.

If you’re not up to speed on what this is about, well, I can only assume you don’t live in Georgia and/or have just been released from several months of solitary confinement. I don’t have much more to say about it that I haven’t said in the past: see here and here for the many pieces I’ve written about T-SPLOST.

If you don’t want my opinion, check out the AJC’s compilation of reporting about what the 10-year, $7.2 billion sales tax would mean for transportation infrastructure and traffic relief in metro Atlanta.

If you live elsewhere in Georgia, what is your vote on the T-SPLOST?

Continue reading Poll Position: What’s your vote on the T-SPLOST? »

The disturbing attacks on Chick-fil-A

There’s one part of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy’s recent remarks that the left seems especially intent on disproving: the part where he said,

… we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.

The rest of Cathy’s comments, if you haven’t already heard, concerned his opinion of the propriety of gay marriage from a biblical perspective. As retribution for his voicing this opinion, some liberals in Chicago and Boston want to deny Cathy and his company the right to operate in their cities.

This is disturbing on a number of levels, two in particular.

The first is the idea that local governments might deny a business license to a company because of the beliefs of its owners. In Chicago, Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno threatened to do just that in his ward. (The city’s mayor, former Obama aide Rahm Emanuel, was more oblique, voicing sympathy with Moreno’s perspective but saying only that a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Chicago “would be a bad …

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Why Romney needs to talk about himself

I mentioned in a brief comment yesterday that Mitt Romney has to do more than attack President Obama’s record if he’s to win this election. He has to convince voters he’s a credible alternative they can trust with the job.

I planned to expound on that thought in a future blog post, but Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics beat me to the punch.

Trende begins his piece — worth reading in its entirety — by noting some key findings of a recent Pew poll:

  1. Just 8 percent of registered voters say they need to know more about Obama.
  2. More than three times as many, 28 percent, say they need to know more about Romney.

Specifically, Trende writes, among the voters most likely to still be making up their minds, independents,

… 42 percent say they want to know more about his record as governor, 37 percent want to know more about his record as CEO of Bain Capital, and 35 percent want to know more about his tax returns. Just 21 percent of independents want to know more about his wealth, 19 …

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2012 Tuesday: Millions of dollars might not buy a T-SPLOST

Each month, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney — and their respective parties and PACs — report their fund-raising totals. One result is a monthly debate about the propriety of big money in politics, and many participants in that debate begin with the apparent assumption that money is everything in an election.

On the local level, however, we are watching the final days of a campaign in which a gilt Goliath appears mortally wounded by a dollar-poor David. Yes, I’m talking about the T-SPLOST.

The pro-tax campaign yesterday finally released its financial statements (on the last day of its past-due grace period), and it shows pretty much what we all expected: a campaign that has had millions of dollars to persuade voters to tax themselves $7.2 billion during the next 10 years to fund transportation. Here’s how the AJC summarized the standing of the pro- and anti-tax groups:

Citizens for Transportation Mobility — the political action committee pushing the July 31 transportation …

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The work of a madman

The accused Colorado gunman appears in court Monday. AP Photo

The accused Colorado gunman appears in court Monday. AP Photo

The suspect in Friday’s horrific shooting at a Colorado movie theater appeared in court today and didn’t speak a word. Police have said he isn’t speaking while in their custody, either, so it could be some time before we learn whether there was any kind of motivation for the man charged with murdering (as of now) 12 people and wounding dozens more.

My rule of thumb in these cases, absent any evidence, is to begin by assuming they are the work of madmen with thoughts and beliefs unthinkable to the vast, vast majority of us. Until investigators and reporters closer to the situation uncover more about the accused, I would argue that’s a good working basis for all of us.

At Hot Air, Mary Katharine Ham has compiled an excellent series of brief sketches from various news outlets about the 12 who have died so far (there are others with life-threatening wounds), complete with photos. I’m struck that survivors said five of …

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Small firms say regulation is fastest-growing concern

It’s been exactly three and a half years since Barack Obama was inaugurated, and here are two things that folks on the left have been saying about the economy every day since then: It’s Bush’s fault, and the problem is a lack of aggregate demand.

Here’s what small businesses have to say about the situation:

Chart by Dan Clifton at Strategas Research, via the AEIdeas blog

Chart by Dan Clifton at Strategas Research, via the AEIdeas blog

Keeping in mind that these are what small firms are “most concerned” about, meaning many likely have concerns to varying degrees about all three, a few things jump out at me:

1. In 2005, these three concerns accounted for a little more than one-third of small firms’ biggest worries. Today, they combine for about 60 percent. That suggests to me that these firms have less time and energy to devote to specific concerns about growing their business.

2. After shooting to the top in the second half of 2008, concerns about sales plateaued for about two years. Those concerns have been falling pretty steadily for the …

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