Archive for the ‘National news’ Category

A good sign on one of the areas in which the GOP really must change

There’s a lot of talk about how Republicans need to re-brand themselves on social issues. I’m not convinced that’s more important for the GOP than shedding its image of being too closely aligned with Big Business.

There are three key ways in which Republicans lost credibility since 2000. One, as Peggy Noonan argued recently, was the 2003 Iraq invasion. Another was the increase in federal spending that took place during George W. Bush’s presidency; spending accelerated toward the end, when Democrats were in control of Congress, but it was rising too swiftly well before Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House.

The third was the 2008 bailout of Wall Street. The party that supposedly champions free enterprise went along with using hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to save financial institutions that acted recklessly. Some Republicans argued then, and still argue now, that the alternative would have been worse. But the larger point is that the nexus of Big Business, …

Continue reading A good sign on one of the areas in which the GOP really must change »

Senate plan to ban ‘assault weapons’ appears dead for now

If the bill forthcoming from Senate Democrats is any indication, it appears there’s little appetiate in Congress to decide what constitutes an “assault weapon” and ban it. From the Washington Post:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chief sponsor of the [assault weapons] ban, said Tuesday that her proposal won’t be included as part of a bill encompassing several proposals that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved last week and that the Senate is expected to begin debating when it returns from a two-week recess in early April.

In addition to the assault weapons ban, the Judiciary Committee approved a bipartisan proposal to make gun trafficking a federal crime; a bipartisan bill to expand a Justice Department grant program that provides funding for school security; and a Democratic proposal to expand the nation’s gun background check program.

Instead of including the assault weapons ban in the final bill, Feinstein said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has …

Continue reading Senate plan to ban ‘assault weapons’ appears dead for now »

GOP’s reform report arrives at a debate already well under way

The Republican National Committee has released its “autopsy” on the 2012 election and outline of how to win future federal elections, and it appears to pull no punches. But I have a bone to pick with the way it is being reported, for instance by the Associated Press story linked by my AJC colleague Jim Galloway:

In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.

A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.

I don’t know whether the AP reporter was at CPAC, the “just-concluded gathering” to which the story referred, and which I attended. But that second paragraph, in my view, completely misrepresents the take-away from the conference.

To say the attendees …

Continue reading GOP’s reform report arrives at a debate already well under way »

Numbers for Medicaid expansion don’t add up

Obamacare supporters want to talk numbers when it comes to expanding Medicaid in Georgia. OK, let’s talk numbers:

When they returned last month, Georgia’s legislators already faced a $774 million hole for Medicaid through June 2014. That was before any expansion, and even after assuming renewal of the “bed tax” that brings in some $700 million a year for the program.

Medicaid is already the fastest-growing part of Georgia’s budget. Including PeachCare for kids, it will consume $1 of every $7 in state funds in fiscal 2014, up from $1 per $9 a decade ago.

That increased ratio means almost $616 million will go to Medicaid next year instead of transportation, tax cuts, whatever. State lawmakers can do precious little to arrest the trend.

Still, Obamacare supporters want Medicaid to grow faster.

Pressure is mounting on Nathan Deal to follow the path taken by some other Republican governors — Florida’s Rick Scott and New Jersey’s Chris Christie joined the list in the past eight …

Continue reading Numbers for Medicaid expansion don’t add up »

Obama has the authority to ensure sequester cuts don’t bite

Facts 1, Democratic Scare Stories of All the Carnage to Result From Cutting $85 Billion Out of a $4 Trillion in Spending 0. From the Wall Street Journal:

[I]f any of these cataclysms [mentioned by President Obama and congressional Democrats] do come to pass, then they will be mostly Mr. Obama’s own creation. The truth is that the sequester already gives the White House the legal flexibility to avoid doom, if a 5% cut to programs that have increased more than 17% on average over the Obama Presidency counts as doom.

According to Mr. Obama and his budget office, the sequester cuts are indiscriminate and spell out specific percentages that will be subtracted from federal “projects, programs and activities,” or PPAs. Except for the exemptions in the 2011 budget deal, the White House says it must now cut across the board regardless of how important a given PPA is. Food inspectors, say, will be treated the same as subsidies for millionaire farmers.

Not so fast. Programs, projects and …

Continue reading Obama has the authority to ensure sequester cuts don’t bite »

Advice on self-protection in a gun-controlled America, courtesy of Crazy Uncle Joe

Only Joe Biden could promote gun control in a way that encourages people to break the law and is more likely to injure innocent people than potential threats.

First, here’s what Biden said, during a Facebook chat Tuesday, he had advised his wife to do:

“I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.’ … You don’t need an AR-15 — it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!”

Now, in a secluded, mostly wooded area, like the one where Biden said he and his wife live in Delaware, that might not be the worst advice. Not the best, either, but not the worst. But not all Americans live like that. In fact, in his state’s largest city, his advice could land someone in jail. From U.S. News and World Report:

A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city …

Continue reading Advice on self-protection in a gun-controlled America, courtesy of Crazy Uncle Joe »

Obamacare fallout: Part-time employees losing their health insurance

With Obamacare now about 10 months from taking effect, get used to more stories like this one from the Orlando Sentinel:

Universal Orlando plans to stop offering medical insurance to part-time employees beginning next year, a move the resort says has been forced by the federal government’s health-care overhaul.

The giant theme-park resort, which generates more than $1 billion in annual revenue, began informing employees this month that it will offer health-insurance to part-timers “only until December 31, 2013.”

The reason: Universal currently offers part-time workers a limited insurance plan that has low premiums but also caps the payout of benefits. For instance, Universal’s plan costs about $18 a week for employee-only coverage but covers only a maximum of $5,000 a year toward hospital stays. There are similar caps for other services.

Those types of insurance plans — sometimes referred to as “mini-med” plans — will no longer be permitted under the federal Affordable …

Continue reading Obamacare fallout: Part-time employees losing their health insurance »

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 …

Continue reading Why it’s not Agenda 21 that should worry you »

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 …

Continue reading DeMint: States can lead conservative comeback »

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 …

Continue reading Debate about gay members unlikely to end well for Scouts »