Archive for November, 2012

Poll Position: Which big win would make you happiest?

Now for something completely different …

As my longtime readers know, I’m a sports fan. And if there’s been a bigger four-day stretch of big and potentially big sports news in Atlanta than we’ve seen beginning Wednesday, I don’t recall it.

Which of these big wins makes (or would make) you happiest?

  • UGA’s (potential) SEC title/BCS title game berth (120 Votes)
  • The Falcons’ big win (64 Votes)
  • Sports? I’d rather be shopping … or raking leaves! (21 Votes)
  • Tech’s (potential) ACC title (18 Votes)
  • The Braves’ big moves (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 236

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Wednesday: The Braves reached a deal with free-agent CF B.J. Upton.

Thursday: The Falcons beat their arch-nemesis, the Saints, to move within a whisker of the NFC South title and a step closer to home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. (As a bonus, a loss Sunday by Tampa Bay would give the division title to the Falcons.)

Friday: The Braves traded pitcher Tommy Hanson, freeing up payroll funds for another …

Continue reading Poll Position: Which big win would make you happiest? »

Obama’s idea of compromise: All take, no give

I admit that I haven’t been paying too much attention to the certified vote totals from each state in the presidential election, but how did I miss the news that President Obama won 100 percent of the votes in every single state (not just select Philadelphia precincts)?

That’s the only explanation I can conjure for his reported “offer” on the fiscal cliff, via the New York Times:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from …

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Sorting out the ‘we’ in Medicaid expansionists’ claims

When someone tells me I can get something of value for “free,” I raise an eyebrow. When that “free” thing is coming from the government — and worth billions — I reach for my wallet.

So it goes with the question of whether Georgia should opt into Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

In upholding most of the health reform law this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court did allow one concession to the states that sued to overturn it. The court ruled Washington could not threaten to take away states’ existing Medicaid funding if they declined to expand Medicaid. Each state must now decide whether to take part in the expansion and make anyone earning 138 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal in August said he would decline the offer on two grounds. First, the state can’t afford its share of the expansion’s cost. Second, Deal doesn’t believe a heavily indebted Washington will uphold its end of the bargain, possibly putting the state on the hook …

Continue reading Sorting out the ‘we’ in Medicaid expansionists’ claims »

Obama gets it right on EU airline tax

For those of you who say I never write anything complimentary about President Obama: He done good this time. From The Hill:

President Obama has signed into law a bill that requires U.S. airlines be excluded from European carbon emissions fees.

Environmentalists had framed the bill as the first test of the president’s commitment to fighting climate change in his second term and urged him to veto it. Obama quietly signed it Tuesday over their objections.

The European Union has been trying since I was living in Brussels to tax any airline, regardless of where it’s based, for the entirety of any flight that enters EU airspace, regardless of how little time the flight actually spends in EU airspace. So, a flight from Los Angeles to London would be taxed for the entire length of the trip, even though only a fraction of it was spent in EU skies.

I don’t think it diminishes what Obama did here to add: He really had no choice. Allowing another government to tax our businesses in this …

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A question for those who say expanding Medicaid is a no-brainer

Liberal think tanks and columnists have been cranking out the arguments about why a state like Georgia would be foolish to reject Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid. The expansion, which was made optional for states in the Supreme Court’s June ruling upholding the bulk of the law, would cost Georgia an estimated $2.5 billion over 10 years, according to state officials. Gov. Nathan Deal has said our state will not participate, but Obamacare supporters are trying to pressure him to change his mind.

Proponents of the expansion say hospitals and doctors in the state would receive an additional $33 billion in federal funds during that time frame. To hear them tell it, this is tantamount to finding $33 billion in between the couch cushions; they never mention whose pockets it’s falling from.

“The economics of this are very strongly in favor of adopting the expansion,” said John Holahan, study co-author and director of health policy research at the Urban Institute, in a recent AJC …

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What’s Obama thinking with tax hikes on the rich?

Thanksgiving is over, and the fiscal cliff is back on the table. Here in Georgia, Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s public feud with tax-pledge champion Grover Norquist made headlines and ramped up speculation about which Georgia Republican(s) might challenge our senior senator when he’s up for re-election in 2014.

But if there’s going to be a deal on taxes and spending before we start going over the cliff in January, our newly re-elected president will play the most prominent role. I’ve previously written about how the GOP-led House might try to maneuver with Obama. Now Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economist and former adviser to both George W. Bush and Mitt Romney, uses an op-ed in the New York Times to imagine how the president’s internal debate might be going from two perspectives: the committed liberal his critics contend he is, and the pragmatic moderate his supporters believe him to be.

The entire article is interesting and worth a read, but I’m going to highlight one section that isn’t …

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The importance of being present

Most of us, if all goes according to plan, spend less time with our parents as adults than we did as children. It’s been so ordained since the Garden of Eden.

They bring you home from the hospital, and almost immediately the weaning process begins. As a child, it doesn’t seem to go very quickly. But as a parent of two myself now, I’ve been amazed at how soon kids start spending short and then longer chunks of time away from home.

My older son spends some of those chunks of time with my parents, often going to my hometown of Dalton for a night or three at a time. Although we all get together fairly often, it’s fair to say he’s seen more of them than I have since we moved back to Georgia three and a half years ago.

This fall, I got to play a little catch-up.

My brother was getting married in China, to a young lady we’ve gotten to know over the past few years. But while they made final preparations in her hometown, my parents and I were to spend most of the 11-day trip on our own …

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Poll Position: Who is GOP’s best choice for U.S. Senate?

There’s been a lot of speculation for some time now about who in the Georgia GOP might challenge U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss in a primary when he’s up for re-election in 2014. That speculation owes to a couple of issues on which he’s strayed from the main Republican Party line, most recently and notably with his openness to revenue increases via his work with the Gang of Six in the Senate.

Who is the GOP’s best choice for U.S. Senate?

  • The incumbent, Saxby Chambliss (217 Votes)
  • Someone else (92 Votes)
  • Tom Price (42 Votes)
  • Paul Broun (25 Votes)
  • Tom Graves (13 Votes)

Total Voters: 389

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The buzz grew last week after Congressman Tom Price lost his bid for a higher position in the House GOP leadership ranks (to Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington). Adding to the intrigue surrounding Price is the fact Speaker John Boehner, a friend of Chambliss’s, backed McMorris Rodgers.

In an article posted last night, Roll Call suggests another possible challenger to …

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Some questions for those pursuing a new Falcons stadium

Gov. Nathan Deal recently said “there’s got to be a little further explanation to the public, and probably to the members of the General Assembly,” as to why tax dollars should be used to replace the Georgia Dome before its 25th birthday. He’s right.

That explanation must come from the Georgia World Congress Authority, the state agency that runs the Dome, and/or the Atlanta Falcons, the loudest voice calling for the Dome’s replacement with a $1 billion, retractable-roof stadium. About $300 million of that cost would be paid by Atlanta hotel/motel tax revenues, but only if legislators and Deal agree to raise the authority’s bonding limit. The Falcons and the NFL would cover the rest.

I’m hardly naive about the ability of powerful people to get what they want, and Falcons owner Arthur Blank no doubt qualifies as just such a person. So does Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who backs the project. And I’m hardly a supporter of ditching the Dome, as I’ve written before.

But if the GWCA and …

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And you wonder why voters rejected the T-SPLOST

If you want to see a microcosm of the reason metro Atlanta voters didn’t trust our transportation planners enough to approve the $7.2 billion T-SPLOST tax, I recommend this news from the AJC:

The state Transportation Board is poised to declare the Downtown Connector a gateway to the state, and to help fund a makeover to pretty up some of the high-profile bridges that pass over it.

The first two are the Peachtree Street bridges that pass over the Connector and back, in Downtown and Midtown.

“This lets the traveling public know the city of Atlanta is the capital city,” said DOT board president Johnny Floyd. “We want to showcase it and make sure it looks good.”

The makeover, according to the Midtown Alliance, will include colored under-lighting for night time and the words “Peachtree Street” in lights, as well as sculptured fences and sidewalks on the surface level over the I-85/I-75 interchange.

The Department of Transportation’s board approved the expense on Thursday. DOT will …

Continue reading And you wonder why voters rejected the T-SPLOST »