Archive for February, 2013

Why it’s not Agenda 21 that should worry you

Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute was in town today offering a novel explanation for the housing bubble that resulted in the 2008 financial panic and subsequent Great Recession. O’Toole argued the culprit was not loose monetary policy, complex derivatives, greed, poor lending standards, lax government regulation, shoddy ratings for mortgage-backed securities or any of the other usual suspects.

Instead, he said strict land-use policies in certain states made housing prices begin skyrocketing in toward the end of the 20th century, to levels that were ultimately unsustainable. He said it was the burst bubble in those states, circa 2006-07, that led to the financial crash of 2008 — and, following that, depressed housing prices in states without so strict land-use policies, such as Georgia, beginning in 2008-09.

I’ll offer a more thorough explanation of O’Toole’s argument after I’ve read his new book and, in the interest of fairness, I urge you to refrain from trying to shoot …

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DeMint: States can lead conservative comeback

Since the 2012 election, some conservatives have blamed their losses on their message while others pointed fingers at the messengers. Truth is, both camps have a point.

That’s why Jim DeMint aims to tackle both problems from his new perch at the Heritage Foundation, which he is joining as president after eight years as a U.S. senator from South Carolina.

“I’m convinced if we have the right ideas, the right messengers, the right message, we can win,” DeMint told me Tuesday before greeting Heritage members at the Westin Buckhead.

Part of the challenge is stylistic: “We can’t just talk like a bunch of engineers” about things like budget deficits, he argued.

“We’ve got to help people see how our policies actually can make their lives better. … And the way we can do it is actually put the camera on people whose lives have been changed.”

DeMint pointed specifically to the different approaches GOP-led Pennsylvania and Democrat-controlled New York have taken to their natural-gas …

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Question on new stadium remains: Why so soon?

If you haven’t yet read Jeff Schultz’s column today about whether it would be “the worst thing in the world if the Falcons moved to the suburbs,” I recommend it. Spoiler alert: Schultz thinks it would not be the worst thing in the world if that were to happen.

Although I think downtown is ultimately far preferable to the suburbs for the Falcons’ home games, Schultz makes a number of good arguments. But this is the part to which I want to draw your attention (with emphasis added):

The [San Francisco] 49ers couldn’t get a downtown stadium deal done, so they’re moving to Santa Clara, 30 to 45 minutes away. … By the way, Candlestick Park is 53 years old.

The [New York] Giants left the old Meadowlands stadium, which was 34 years old. The [Miami] Dolphins left the Orange Bowl, which was built in 1939. The [Dallas] Cowboys and [New England] Patriots left stadiums that were opened in 1971. The [Washington] Redskins left RFK Stadium, built in 1961.

The Georgia Dome opened in 1992.

For …

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Welcome to Atlanta, Mr. President. Now about pre-k . . .

President Barack Obama is expected in Atlanta today, to pitch a problem to a solution.

No, I don’t have that backward.

The president’s planned visit today to a Decatur pre-k school comes on the heels of his lauding Georgia’s preschool program during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. He wants to use it as a model for a federal effort “to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.”

While I join Obama in applauding educational innovation in the states, I can think only of reasons a federal preschool program is a bad idea. Not least is the fact that the existing federal preschool program, Head Start, has been declared a failure by the very agency that administers it.

Head Start, a program for low-income children, has been around since 1965. But three years ago, after four and a half decades and $166 billion spent on the program, the Department of Health and Human Services concluded first-graders who had been in Head Start held virtually no …

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More of the same in Obama’s SOTU; Rubio hits the right notes in GOP response

Toward the beginning of his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama said we need a “smarter government,” not a “bigger government.” He then proceeded to request a long wish list of new government programs that make clear that, in his mind, the only smarter government is a bigger one.

So, we would have the federal government providing everything from universal pre-K to a network of manufacturing hubs to rebuilt bridges to refinanced homes — none of which is a bad thing, but also none of which require the involvement of a federal government already well beyond its ability to pay for the things it already tries to do. His assertion that this wish list would not add “a single dime” to the deficit didn’t pass the laugh test, particularly when administration officials after the speech declined to provide cost estimates for the new programs.

One can only guess his proposals won’t add “a single dime” to the deficit because they would, instead, add many billions if …

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Who says there’s no common ground in Washington anymore?

Tonight, President Obama will try to kick-start his legislative priorities for his second term in his State of the Union address to Congress. Much is being made, as is the case every year, of what the president is likely to say. Most of the guesses so far have him focused on the economy, while also mentioning gun control, immigration reform and climate change. There are bound to be a surprise or two, and I’ll have it covered for you here tomorrow morning.

Much less effort is given to predicting what the Republican response from Sen. Marco Rubio will be — or, for that matter, the “tea party response” from Sen. Rand Paul. But Ira Stoll has taken a crack at writing what he thinks Rubio ought to say, and I think it’s rather clever on his part.

Because “our nation’s challenges are too great” for partisanship, Stoll advises Rubio to say, “first thing tomorrow, I will introduce legislation in the Senate called the Barack Obama Campaign Promise Implementation Act of 2013.”

That …

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The next Republican in the Senate race? Probably not Tom Price

Now, that’s not to say Tom Price, who represents Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, won’t run in next year’s election to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. But unless no one else gets in the race during the next three months, Price won’t be the next candidate to jump in. (Paul Broun was the first.)

In a statement emailed today, Price said he’d raised $300,000 in the two weeks since Chambliss announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. That’s on top of the nearly $1.6 million in cash on hand his campaign committee reported as of Dec. 31. But, Price dded:

In November of 2012, the citizens of Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District re-elected me to represent them in the U. S. House of Representatives. This is a great honor and serious responsibility. As Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, I’ve been entrusted with a leadership position by my colleagues. My current focus is on the formulation of a sound Budget Resolution, a plan to balance the budget within ten years and …

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Debate about gay members unlikely to end well for Scouts

Yesterday was Scout Sunday in the United Methodist churches that sponsor more than 11,000 Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. That figure ranks the Methodists second among all sponsors of Scout units, right behind the Mormons and ahead of the Catholics.

Together, those three churches essentially own the franchise for nearly half of all Scout units, serving two in five boys in the program nationwide. Including all other faith-based organizations, both figures rise to roughly two-thirds.

That’s about half of what you need to know to understand the difficulty the Boy Scouts of America faces as it deals with calls to admit gay youth and adults after 103 years of disallowing them.

The other half is that pressure put on the BSA by secular groups, such as businesses and large non-profits, comes largely in the form of financial contributions they withhold from the organization until it meets their core conviction that excluding gays is wrong.

Which runs counter to a core conviction …

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Who says I never let y’all have fun on the weekend?

For your weekend entertainment pleasure — at least if you’re a nerd like me — I present:

Tax Reform: The Game.

Feels like it needs a bit more, huh? How about:

Tax Reform: The Game!

That’s better.

All joking aside, this is a pretty neat interactive site created by Christine Ries, an economist at Georgia Tech and member of the special council on tax reform which the Legislature created three years ago to produce reform recommendations. Reform recommendations it largely went on to ignore, that is.

But, had those recommendations not largely been ignored, there would be no reason for Tax Reform: The Game. In it, Ries has included several of the recommendations the council made. Players can mix and match them — and see how their choices would affect state revenues.

Here’s a preview of what it looks like, though you’ll have to click through one of the links above to actually play the game:

Tax Reform The Game

And if fiscal fun isn’t your idea of a good time this weekend, feel free to use the thread …

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Broun wastes no time in Georgia Senate race

Here’s what appeared on my screen when I checked the AJC Political Insider blog a few minutes ago:

Broun for Senate ads screen shot

That’s not one but two Broun for Senate ads, just two days after the congressman from Athens officially entered the race to replace the retiring Saxby Chambliss. Both ads take you to the typical landing page at which you can sign up for email updates or give money to the campaign. Beyond that, there’s a one-page website set up with what Broun calls his “Four Way Test for all legislation”: Is it constitutional/right/necessary/affordable?

Lest you have to guess which one of these four appears to be most important to Broun, here’s the script from his landing site:

Broun for Senate landing page screen shot

<– “Constitution”

.

.

.

<– “Constitutionalist”

<– “Constitution”

.

.

.

<– “Constitutional”

.

I guess you could say his campaign has a theme.

It’s a theme that will resonate with a lot of Georgia voters, mind you. But will it be enough of one to move many members of even the state GOP’s very conservative base beyond his

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