Archive for December, 2012

Yes, anti-poverty programs do keep some people poorer than they should be

Kudos to the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof for not only daring to question whether anti-poverty programs might actually harm some people more than they help them, but for doing some on-the-ground reporting about how that happens in specific individuals’ lives. His entire piece from Sunday is well worth reading, but here’s the crux of it:

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the …

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Some Georgia Republicans’ newfound fondness for state jobs

A bunch of small-government Republicans sure are learning to love life in the public sector.

Chip Rogers, the recently deposed Senate majority leader, last week became the latest GOP lawmaker to leave the Gold Dome for a job at a state agency. Rogers resigned his seat to accept Gov. Nathan Deal’s offer to work for Georgia Public Broadcasting.

One guesses he won’t use his new perch to take up Mitt Romney’s crusade against government subsidies for Big Bird.

If Deal ever holds an all-agencies employee picnic, Rogers won’t lack for familiar faces. He’s the seventh Republican legislator in the past two years to take a job with the state.

There are former representatives Timothy Bearden, now head of the Georgia Law Enforcement Training Center; James Mills, now a member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles; Hank Huckaby, now chancellor of the University System of Georgia; and Mark Williams, now head of the Department of Natural Resources.

Then there are ex-senators Mitch Seabaugh, now …

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Poll Position: Should politicians who resign early help cover the cost of special elections?

Chip Rogers made news this week by announcing he was resigning his recently re-won Senate seat to take a job at Georgia Public Broadcasting. A special election for the seat will be held Jan. 8, just two months after Rogers’ replacement could have been elected in the general election had he stepped down earlier. Channel 2 Action News reports the special election will cost Cherokee and Fulton counties $500,000.

Should politicians who resign early help cover the cost of special elections?

  • Yes (203 Votes)
  • It depends on the circumstances of the resignation (166 Votes)
  • No, they should give their campaign funds back to their donors (39 Votes)
  • No, that’s part of government and they should be able to use their campaign funds as they wish (27 Votes)

Total Voters: 435

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But that’s not all. Rep. Sean Jerguson, who like Rogers hails from Cherokee County, is resigning his House seat to run for the Senate post. So there will be a special election the same day to …

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DeMint to leave Senate; 2014 now even more interesting

Just when it looked like Georgia’s 2014 GOP primary might attract the most national attention, with Sen. Saxby Chambliss facing a likely challenge from his right, South Carolina upped the ante significantly. Jim DeMint, the Palmetto State’s arch-conservative senator, said today he is resigning his seat to take over as leader of the Heritage Foundation.

Initial reports are that South Carolina law calls for the governor to appoint DeMint’s replacement, who would then stand for election in 2014. The state’s other senator, Lindsey Graham, is also up for re-election that year and there’s speculation that he’ll also be challenged by another Republican. That could make for quite a twin-bill in South Carolina’s 2014 GOP primary — not to mention that Gov. Nikki Haley faces some dissension from within her own ranks and might not cruise to re-election herself. Graham and even Chambliss might be breathing a little easier this morning, knowing the activists’ attention and money will now be …

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#My2K bug: How Obama proved conservatives right on taxes

I’d like to thank President Obama for taking the time last week to explain why conservatives have been right about taxes all along.

Last Wednesday, Obama took his perpetual campaign to Twitter, encouraging supporters to send messages about how a middle-class tax increase would affect them. Never mind that no one is proposing a middle-class tax increase; the difference between Democrats and Republicans concerns raising taxes on couples earning more than $250,000 per year.

Even that difference concerns not whether they should go up, but by how much and which means: GOP leaders have offered to raise taxes on high earners by $800 billion over 10 years by limiting how many deductions tax filers can take. Obama wants to raise $1.6 trillion over 10 years by limiting deductions and raising tax rates.

Along the way, however, Obama conceded three of the main points the right long has made about raising taxes. And it only took him five of the 140 characters allowed for a tweet to do …

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Paul Ryan tackles one of GOP’s biggest post-election problems

For the second time in two elections, an older Republican presidential nominee selected a younger running mate with the intent of injecting some energy into his campaign. Then, shortly afterward, his campaign staff began working to muzzle that younger running mate.

That’s about as close as you’ll get to putting Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin in the same sentence — although, like Palin, Ryan seems intent on using his boost in national profile to grab a big role in the national debate moving forward, likely to position himself for a future run at the top of the ticket.

I give Ryan better odds at staying in that conversation all the way until the next election than Palin did after 2008 (although she certainly remained relevant through the 2010 midterms and was a central figure in the tea party’s rise to prominence). If he does, it will be because he seems to have a keen understanding of one of the GOP’s key problems moving forward from the election he helped fight. I’m talking about …

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On Chip Rogers’ departure from the Gold Dome

Just a few years ago, Chip Rogers was a rising star in Georgia politics. He was a possible contestant for the lieutenant governor’s office if Casey Cagle sought higher office, and a sure-fire future gubernatorial candidate himself. Today, he said he’s leaving the Legislature altogether for a position at Georgia Public Broadcasting — a sharp, sudden end (for now, anyway) to a once-promising political career.

On the positive side, Rogers was strongly associated with the causes of school choice and property-tax reform. He pushed the first measure involving vouchers (for students with special needs) and tried unsuccessfully the last couple of years to expand that program to children of military and foster families. He helped reinstate the state’s Charter Schools Commission, after the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, by maneuvering this year’s constitutional amendment through the Senate. He was a likeable guy, and he went after big ideas.

He also attracted his share of …

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Why filibuster reform could backfire big-time on Democrats

Running in the background during the fiscal cliff negotiations — if that’s what you can call the series of unrealistic proposals each side is making in the press — is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s push to curtail the filibuster.

Democrats won’t control the U.S. House for at least two more years, so the filibuster isn’t getting in the way of Reid and President Obama pursuing their legislative goals. Eliminating or limiting the scope of the filibuster would, however, allow Obama to push through his appointees more easily, and it could set a precedent for other expedited changes to Senate rules.

While both Republicans and Democrats lament the filibuster when in the majority but guard it jealously when in the minority, conservatives have traditionally been more sympathetic to the rule than liberals. That’s because the filibuster is seen as another brake on legislation, and conservatives tend to be more skeptical of a proliferation of new laws.

But Ramesh Ponnuru makes the …

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WSJ: Bed tax in states such as Georgia is ‘fraud’

Note to Georgia Republicans: Not everyone on the right is convinced that saying “But, the hospitals asked us to tax, er, fee them!” justifies the Medicaid bed tax, er, assessment fee passed two years ago and possibly up for renewal in next year’s legislative session.

In fact, the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal suggests this bed tax, er, assessment fee is ripe for elimination if President Obama and Congress are serious about even modest reforms to entitlement programs. From an editorial today:

A deal also ought to end the long-running “bed tax” scam in which states charge hospitals a fee to increase health-care spending and thus their federal matching rate. Then they launder some of the money back to the hospitals to offset the fee. This is real waste, fraud and abuse, not the talking-point version.

Who in the General Assembly will carry the bill to renew the tax, er, fee and explain why it’s not a “scam” that’s “real waste, fraud and abuse, not the talking-point …

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The enduring fragility of freedom

Freedom doesn’t grow naturally in the course of human events. On the contrary.

If to err is human, so is to over-correct. And such over-correction almost always turns its back on liberty.

I’m given to such ruminations after the news this past week of a British judge’s recommendations following the 2011 phone-hacking scandal by a tabloid newspaper in that country. Reporters for the News of the World were found to have illegally accessed the voice-mail boxes of cellphones belonging to celebrities, victims of terrorism and, finally, a 13-year-old girl who had gone missing and turned out to have been murdered.

The scandal became a global sensation because the London-based News of the World was owned by Rupert Murdoch, the Australian-born media magnate whose U.S. properties include the Wall Street Journal, the Fox News Channel and 20th Century Fox movie studios. Murdoch and his son James wound up testifying before the British Parliament. Adding to the intrigue, a comedian in the …

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