Saturday, May 15, 2010
Friday, May 14, 2010
By Senator Joe Leibham
~ Some Ideas Won’t Become Law ~
Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed providing you with a series of updates on some of the bills that were passed by both the State Senate and Assembly over the last month and are awaiting consideration by Governor Jim Doyle. The Governor can either sign the bills into law or veto them.
In addition to these bills, hundreds of other proposals never made their way through the complete legislative process. In fact, a vast majority of 978 Assembly bills and 708 Senate bills that were introduced over the past two-year session will not make it to the Governor’s desk. Following is a list of some of the more controversial bills that will not become law this year:
· “Green Cleaning” of Government Buildings – Create a state Council on Healthy and Environmentally Sensitive Cleaning that would determine state-imposed “healthy and environmentally sensitive cleaning” standards for all state and local government buildings in Wisconsin. The Council would determine what cleaning processes, restroom cleaners, general purpose cleaners, hand soap, toilet paper, paper towels, laundry care products and vacuum cleaners could be used in cleaning government buildings.
· National Popular Vote – Sign Wisconsin onto a “National Popular Vote” agreement between several states. This agreement, if ratified by enough states, would require that Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes in presidential general elections be awarded to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote nationally – even if that candidate does not win the popular vote here in Wisconsin.
· Beer Tax Increase – Increase Wisconsin’s beer tax from $2/barrel to $10/barrel.
· Joint and Several Liability – Allow a plaintiff to recover ALL damages in a lawsuit from a defendant even if the defendant is only 1% liable. Currently, a defendant must be at least 51% liable for an injury before having to pay all damages.
· Driver Cards for Illegal Immigrants – Provide state-issued picture ID driver cards to illegal immigrants living in Wisconsin.
· Allowing Felons to Vote – Allow felons to vote if they have been released from prison but are still on extended supervision, parole or probation.
· Medical Marijuana – Legalize the medical use of marijuana in Wisconsin.
· Legislative Review of Ward Boundaries – Require the submission of municipal ward boundaries to the State Legislature for review prior to the implementation of new lines.
· Banning Lead Wheel Weights – Prohibit the installation of a wheel weight or other wheel-balancing product that contains lead when replacing or balancing a tire on a motor vehicle.
· Consideration of Criminal Background – Ban a landlord or employer from considering an individual’s criminal record in making apartment rental or employee hiring decisions.
· Menu Labeling – Mandate certain restaurants to disclose on a menu the number of calories in a single order of a menu item. The restaurant must also disclose the suggested daily caloric intake. If a restaurant offers food in a salad bar or buffet line, it must disclose the number of calories next to the food.
Again, this is just a small list of the bills that did not receive enough support to receive final consideration for enactment by the Governor. If there is continued interest in the idea, new bills will have to be re-introduced next January for consideration by the new legislature and the new Governor.
If there is a specific legislative bill that you have been following and are unsure of its outcome, please contact me and I will provide you with an update on whether or not it was passed. You may also check on a bill’s status by visiting the legislature’s homepage on the Internet at www.legis.wi.gov.
As always, it has been a pleasure communicating with you. Please remember to communicate with me and share your input by calling 888-295-8750, writing to me at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882, or by e-mailing me at Sen.Leibham@legis.wi.gov. You can also log on to the 9th Senate District on-line office at www.leibhamsenate.com.
It is an honor representing the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate.
WORLDWIDE CAMPAIGN BEGINS
Catholic League president Bill Donohue announces the start of a worldwide campaign protesting the decision by officials from the Empire State Building to deny Mother Teresa the honor of having her blue and white colors shine from the tower on August 26, the 100th anniversary of her birth; the U.S. Postal Service is honoring her that day with a stamp:
Today I am writing to the leaders of the Missionaries of Charity, the congregation of nuns founded by Mother Teresa, asking them to join with us in this campaign. It is the first of many such campaigns that will run through the summer, if necessary. Religious leaders, including those well beyond the Catholic community, will be asked to join with us; we will do the same with secular leaders. And we will remind everyone that the Empire State Building, owned by Anthony Malkin, had no problem honoring the Communist Chinese revolution on its 60th anniversary last year, even though 77 million innocent persons were murdered under Mao Zedong.
Accordingly, I am writing to the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, Rome, Paris, London, Toronto, San Francisco, Dallas and the Bronx. On Monday, I will announce who is next on our list. We have the time, the resources and the determination to get the job done. And our game plan will not be reserved to a worldwide letter-writing campaign. So stay tuned.
To sign our petition, click here
To register a protest, e-mail Melanie Maasch at the Empire State Building, firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Anthony Malkin, write to him at Malkin Properties, One Grand Central Place 60, E. 42nd St., NY, NY 10165
Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, NY 10123
The U.S. could be committing as much as $254 billion to the European bailout via the Federal Reserve ($200 billion) and the International Monetary Fund ($54 billion), reports CNBC. That money will in part be used to provide liquidity to the European Central Bank (ECB) to purchase sovereign debt bonds from troubled states like Greece, Portugal, and others. ECB could wind up purchasing as much as €1.7 trillion of junk government bonds to keep European nations from defaulting on their debt obligations, with the Federal Reserve as an apparent underwriter.
In this new world order of perpetual bailouts — first, mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and now, sovereign debt bonds — central banks are racing against time to shore up what would otherwise be critical, wide-ranging defaults by financial institutions, central banks, and even governments. Unfortunately, government's basic "solution" to the debt crisis is not to cut spending, per se, it is to print and lend more money to cover the losses.
Importantly, the new money put into the system has not been withdrawn — in fact, the supply is as high as ever. As a result, money is rapidly losing its real value. But investors seem okay with that, because they have been green-lighted to continue to purchase junk securities and bonds, knowing that central banks and governments have guaranteed that they will pay out. As a bonus, the "riskier" government-guaranteed bonds are offering higher yields than the "safer" investments of solvent states.
The defaulting governments and financial institutions holding their debts are okay with the bailout, too, for the obvious reason that they are saved from bankruptcy and temporarily absolved from having to make tough choices to slash public spending to sustainable levels.
Basically, the Fed and other central banks' plan is to subsidize risk at exponentially increasing levels. This is essentially a transfer of default, from the at-fault institution or government, to the new creditor. Increasingly, that creditor is the Federal Reserve (i.e. the American people), which since the collapse began in 2007 has volunteered to debase the dollar in order to stand in the way of deleveraging.
How did we get here? Poor risk management. Prior to the bailouts, too-low capital requirements for financial institutions, banks and other entities resulted in a complete overleveraging on investments across the board. That means institutions only held a limited amount of capital to cover losses on purchases of everything from MBS to corporate bonds to government bonds. For example, as noted by Senator Jim DeMint, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were overleveraged by about 70-to-1 if not more. Bear Stearns was overleveraged by as much as 38-to-1, according to Huffington Post. AIG by 8-to-1 prior to its bailout, as noted by John Appel.
When the losses came to these and other institutions, instead of utilizing bankruptcy proceedings, the Federal Reserve intervened by pumping new money into the system, and Congress acted through the establishment of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. None, not Fannie, Freddie, AIG, GM, nor Chrysler have actually been "saved." They all remain under government control.
After the Troubled Asset Relief Program was transformed into a bank recapitalization fund, the Fed undertook the responsibility of purchasing the junk MBS and corporate debt (mostly from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) — of which it currently holds about $1.265 trillion worth. This saved the holders of those securities from losing their money.
Making matters worse, the Federal Reserve holds more than $776.7 billion in outstanding U.S. Treasury securities, which puts it right in between China and Japan in terms of being the top holder of U.S. debt. In the past year alone, the Fed has bought over $216.1 billion in treasuries, making it the nation's fastest-growing creditor. This has accommodated the government in financing a deficit that is projected to exceed $1.556 trillion this year.
Add to that the approximate $200 billion projected by Michael Pento, chief economist at Delta Global Advisors, from the Fed to bail out Europe, and the grand total for the Fed's ongoing intervention to essentially nationalize both private and public debts rises to over $2.241 trillion.
Proponents of the bailouts argue that we have no choice, that losses on this scale cannot be solved through the basic concepts of thrift, savings, and debt reduction.
The truth is, when the numbers are dissected in this manner, it becomes very obvious why the establishment press and innumerable politicians are saying that the Fed and other government interventions "saved" the global economy.
Minus the Fed interventions into the mortgage and derivatives markets, and now into sovereign debt, AIG, Fannie and Freddie would simply be gone, the U.S. might not be able to sell enough treasuries to keep up with paying off the principal owed on the national debt, and the entire continent of Europe would now be well underway to a complete default. And, without the Troubled Asset Relief Program, GM, Chrysler, Citigroup and perhaps other financial institutions would likely have been wiped out, too.
In the least, the establishment that sits atop this house of cards was "saved," but only through a "pretended payment," to quote Adam Smith, by way of printing new money. This has shifted the default burden from the bailed-out establishment to the American people instead, which in turn allows a few politically-favored institutions to survive and profit handsomely from the perpetuation of the Ponzi scheme.
However, the "rescue" or perpetuation of this system will only be temporary, because the system was already unsustainable — else it would not have begun to collapse. Unless there is another intervening force, it will keep right on collapsing.
So, this is the Fed's world-historical gamble: That there will be a robust economic recovery propelled by enough growth that the central banks and intervening governments can draw down their bailouts. Debt could then be converted into wealth.
There's a hitch. To work, the recovery will have to outpace the growth of debt. In other words, the central banks will require the cooperation of the intervening fiscal authorities (i.e. Congress and other sovereign legislatures throughout the world) to balance their budgets. The Fed knows this, which is why Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has repeatedly testified that the nation's fiscal trajectory is unsustainable.
Only, Congress is not playing along. As noted above, this year the budget deficit will be about $1.556 trillion, but believe it or not, balancing the budget through spending reductions alone would be the easiest, least risky, most cost-effective path to restoring sustainable economic growth. Although, spending cuts are also perhaps the most politically painful.
But at least cutting spending is within the realm of possibility. The far greater challenge would be in attempting to stoke enough economic growth to increase revenue to somehow stay ahead of the current growth of debt. This path by far bears the most risk, because the essential cost of failure is sovereign default. It is also the least cost-effective, because it anticipates no reduction in spending — ever.
Unfortunately, this is the path that Barack Obama has chosen on the fiscal side of the equation. His ten-year budget will increase the national debt by $10.663 trillion (70.41 percent) from 2011 through 2020, resulting in a national debt of $25.777 trillion by 2020. The White House Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) own economic assumptions only project the annual Gross Domestic Product to increase $8.809 trillion (56.78 percent) during that same period, growing to $24.323 trillion in 2020.
This is the nightmare scenario, where the national debt will grow faster than the economy's ability to pay for it.
This makes OMB's revenue projections highly dubious. The White House optimistically projects that annual revenue will grow from $2.567 trillion in 2011 to $4.710 trillion in 2020, a whopping increase of $2.143 trillion (83.48 percent or 8.34 percent each year).
So, Barack Obama is saying that taxation will somehow grow faster than economic growth, which it says will be a rosy 5.67 percent on average every year. To the extent that OMB's revenue projections are off, there will be that much more debt accumulated.
As if things could not get any worse, because of the claim that taxation will grow faster than the economy, the Administration can only mean to do so through some combination of higher rates of taxation on personal and corporate income, death taxes, and/or through new national sales and bank taxes.
According to William Beach, Director of Data Analysis for the Heritage Foundation, OMB's economic assumptions are wrong, and thus its revenue projections are most likely way off. He notes that as the national debt rises over the next ten years, the interest owed on the debt will rise (up to $840 billion by 2020 according to OMB), and so too will interest rates rise. Beach notes that this will negatively affect the economy, causing the cost of capital to rise and resulting in less investment, less new business creation, less economic growth, and thus less new jobs.
That is because the increased trade of bonds, securities, mortgages, credit, and other forms of debt at higher interest rates actually represents a tremendous misallocation of resources away from productive sectors of the economy.
Therefore, there would most likely be less taxable income than is projected by OMB. When the White House's modeling fails to produce the increased revenues necessary to stay ahead of debt accumulation, the whole house of cards could come crumbling down.
The outlook is not promising. On Wednesday, the Treasury Department announced that the budget deficit for April was $82.69 billion, some $40 billion more than was projected by Wall Street economists. Making matters worse, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that OMB's revenue projections are off by as much as $1.839 trillion for 2011 to 2020, which would mean that OMB's ten-year debt projection of $10.663 trillion would be off by at least that much.
That could be the difference between the U.S. credit rating being downgraded or not. A Moody's debt downgrade could occur if interest-owed-to-revenue exceeds 18 to 20 percent, as reported by Investor's Business Daily (IBD). IBD reports that according to Congressional Budget Office projections, that threshold would be reached in 2018, and Moody's says that under an adverse scenario, that threshold could be reached as soon as 2013.
If that happens, the demand for U.S. treasuries would drop like a stone, the dollar would sink, and the Fed would presumably have to fire up the printing presses once again for another bailout, this time to prevent a U.S. sovereign debt default, and to keep up with the escalating costs of financing Washington's insatiable appetite for deficit-spending. But again, we'll only be pretending to pay our bills.
At that point, the U.S. may not immediately recognize that it is no longer the world's top superpower. But, in truth, the house of cards will have finally fallen.
Bill Wilson is the President of Americans for Limited Government.
Washington, DC - U.S. Congressman Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference and the American Energy Solutions Group, released the following statement today after Senate Democrats introduced their latest version of climate legislation:
"In Indiana and across this nation, Americans want Congress to focus on policies
that will create jobs. Instead, Democrats are continuing to push a job-killing
national energy tax that will cap growth and trade jobs. This measure will force
Americans to pay more for essentials like gas and electricity and force
businesses to lay off workers; a point recently confirmed by the nonpartisan
Congressional Budget Office, which said a cap-and-tax system will lead to higher
unemployment and lower wages. This bill is essentially an economic declaration
of war on middle America.
"What the American people need is an
environmentally-responsible all-of-the-above energy plan that develops American
resources, creates jobs, and promotes energy independence. House Republicans
continue to offer that plan."
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the latest developments regarding the decision by officials from the Empire State Building to deny Mother Teresa the honor of having her colors of blue and white shine from the building's tower on August 26, the day the U.S. Postal Service is commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth:
Daniel Hernandez, a PR specialist hired by the Empire State Building, has a nice job: he was hired to say he doesn't know anything [click here]. When asked by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, an investigative journalist reporting for Fox News, about the decision to stiff Mother Teresa, he repeatedly said "there is no issue here." Oblivious to the obvious—why would a reporter call about a non-issue—he continued by saying he has been directed not to comment. The reporter then noted, as we did earlier, that it is ironic that the Empire State Building paid tribute to the 60th anniversary of the genocidal Chinese Communist regime last fall, but won't honor the saintly nun. Hernandez parroted, "I'm only telling you what I've been directed to say."
Imagine a spokesman for the Vatican responding to a reporter about an indefensible decision made by a cardinal, and all he offers is, "there is no issue here." Better yet, imagine him saying, "I'm only telling you what I've been directed to say," and expecting the reporters to simply walk away disappointed.
One wonders what world the elites who run the Empire State Building live in. Besides siding with the Communists and dissing Catholics, they are just plain stupid. If they think they can ride this out, they have no idea what they are dealing with.
To sign our petition, click here
Also, contact Melanie Maasch, the PR rep at the Empire State Building who hired Hernandez to say nothing: email@example.com
Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, NY 10123
Thursday, May 13, 2010
America's Founding Fathers envisioned a limited government in which laws were fairly and evenly enforced and justice was blind. Yet as government's lust for additional power and its appetite for new spending have both exploded in recent years, so too has Washington's apparent willingness to play politics with prosecutions and government leaks.
We saw this trend at work in the recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit against Goldman Sachs, which even a kindergartner could tell was timed to coincide with President Barack Obama's "War on Wall Street" and the perpetuation of his failed bailout method of financial reform. We also saw it at work in the Florida U.S. Senate race, where an organized effort is underway to smear conservative candidate Marco Rubio.
In both cases these underhanded tactics worked – at least from public relations standpoint.
"Goldman case boosts financial reform efforts" one headline screamed. "Goldman charges bolster case for bank reform," trumpeted another. "Goldman Sachs case could help Obama shift voter anger," still another opined.
Of course Obama "categorically" denied that his administration had any involvement in the charges against Goldman – or any advance knowledge that the charges were being filed. In fact, he told reporters that his administration first heard of the lawsuit on television.
"We found out about it from CNBC," Obama said.
That explanation strains credulity – particularly when you consider that Obama's political machine, Organizing for America, purchased Google advertisements linked to the keywords "SEC" and "Goldman Sachs" just prior to the SEC announcing its lawsuit against the company. This was clearly a calculated move, which begs the question: What did Obama's campaign team know that the White House (ostensibly) didn't?
The Rubio case is every bit as suspicious. On the eve of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's decision to bolt the Republican Party and run for the U.S. Senate as an "independent" – headlines in the Sunshine State screamed of another curiously-timed scandal. Citing "sources familiar (with) the probe," the anonymous allegation was made that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was investigating Rubio.
Rubio has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing and maintains that no one from the IRS has contacted him. In fact, he has said that he "welcomes" any investigation into his finances. But the smears have damaged his campaign, as polls taken just prior to the leak showed Rubio leading Crist in a three-way race by seven points while two weeks later Rubio trails Crist by four percent.
It's no secret why Rubio is being targeted. Months ago Crist was a shoe-in for the GOP nomination, but his Senate campaign collapsed when he began to embrace Obama and his failed economic policies. Could it be that Obama is now using the IRS as an "IOU" to bail out Crist's flagging candidacy?
Internal Revenue Code prohibits the disclosure of confidential tax information or releasing details of an ongoing investigation – not only by the IRS but by any government employee at any agency, including the President. In fact, it's a felony punishable by a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison. In the interests of uncovering the source of this illegal leak, Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has filed requests with the Inspectors General at the IRS and the Justice Department asking both agencies to investigate. Additionally, we are asking members of Congress and the Obama administration to support this investigation as well as the prosecution of the perpetrator.
Only then can we be sure that this wasn't a taxpayer-funded hit job.
In a broader sense, though, Obama's allies need to be mindful that the executive branch of government exists for the purpose of administering our laws, not violating them. Their job is to conduct the people's business, not engage in political espionage. America has already survived one administration full of taxpayer-funded "plumbers." We cannot afford another.
The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I was surprised to find out that Walker is in regular contact with Newt Gingrich. This perhaps explains his campaign's over reliance on a top-down establishment approach. My one criticism of the campaign is that they have not taken advantage of grassroots support. Walker would be a huge improvement for this state and does have a track record of cutting government and leading on important issues. Wisconsin is in desperate need of his kind of conservative leadership.
The other good news out of Wisconsin is that Ron Johnson is continuing to fulfill the requirements to run against Feingold. It is still too early to make an official endorsement. I am waiting to see what platform he runs on, but having heard his speeches in front of the Tea Party gatherings and hearing what people who know him are saying I am extremely excited about his campaign. It appears that we will actually have a conservative choice in the upcoming election and can finally give Feingold his pink slip.
Since I have lived in Wisconsin we have not had a Republican governor or senator. These are exciting times. We must not take anything for granted though, we all have to do our part to make sure we put Wisconsin on a conservative path this November. Then Wisconsin will actually start gaining jobs instead of just exporting them to other states.
May 12, 2010
CONTACT: Americans for Legal Immigration PAC
(866) 703-0864 WilliamG@alipac.us
Phil Russo of Tea Party Patriots Live
(615) 419-6016 firstname.lastname@example.org
Several national and local groups are dropping plans for a June 5 rally in Phoenix Arizona to unite with more groups on June 12 to form a larger rally in support of the state of Arizona, SB 1070, and the enforcement of our existing border and immigration laws.
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) and Tea Party Patriots Live decided to combine strength on June 12 to lower confusion about multiple events and to increase turnout and political impact.
This historic combined event will be on Saturday, June 12, 2010 from 4-7pm in Bolin Memorial Park, which is located at 1649 W. Adams St. in Phoenix, AZ across from the Arizona legislature.
"We want Americans from all states to converge on Arizona with us on the weekend of June 12 to shop in the state and show our support for local police enforcing our immigration laws, SB 1070, and the brave people in Arizona that have spoken out for the American public on immigration," said William Gheen President of ALIPAC. "We are happy to see so many different groups working together and combining strength to support Arizona."
Organizations that are sponsoring the combined event on June 12 now include Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, Tea Party Patriots Live, NumbersUSA, Resistnet.com, America's Black Shield, 9-11 Families for a Secure America, NC Listen, Scottsdale Tea Party, Houston Tea Party Society, and Citizens in Action.
More national and local groups are joining the June 12 effort and an updated list will be released next Monday.
Congressman Steve King is one of the many guest speakers and other members of Congress are being invited to speak along with Governor Jan Brewer, Arizona Representative Russell Pearce, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Other events in support of Arizona and SB 1070 legislation, which is now filed or being filed in 13 other states, will be listed with this June 12 event at www.AgainstAmnesty.com
For more details, to see events forming near you, or to show your support please visit www.AgainstAmnesty.com
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments as follows:
On August 26, the U.S. Postal Service is honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa. On February 2, I submitted an application to the Empire State Building Lighting Partners requesting that the tower lights feature blue and white, the colors of Mother Teresa's congregation, the Missionaries of Charity, on August 26. On May 5, the request was denied without explanation.
Mother Teresa received 124 awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Medal of Freedom. She built hundreds of orphanages, hospitals, hospices, health clinics, homeless shelters, youth shelters and soup kitchens all over the world, and is revered in India for her work. She created the first hospice in Greenwich Village for AIDS patients. Not surprisingly, she was voted the most admired woman in the world three years in a row in the mid-1990s. But she is not good enough to be honored by the Empire State Building.
Last year the Empire State Building shone in red and yellow lights to honor the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Revolution. Yet under its founder, Mao Zedong, the Communists killed 77 million people. In other words, the greatest mass murderer in history merited the same tribute being denied to Mother Teresa.
We are launching a nationwide petition drive protesting this indefensible decision (TO SIGN THE PETITION, Click here). We are petitioning Anthony Malkin, the owner of the Empire State Building, to reverse this decision.
To protest this decision, contact: email@example.com
Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, NY 10123
Pence Goes "On the Record" to Discuss Value Added Tax, European Bailouts and Supreme Court on FOXNEWS
Greta: I understand the GOP leadership here on the House side is writing a letter to the president's Debt Commission. Why are you doing this? What do you want?
Rep. Pence: We really want to put down a marker that the answer during the worst economy in 25 years is not to raise taxes on working families, small businesses, and family farms, and it's especially not the right answer to pass a European-style value added tax as has been rumored by people in and around the administration. And House Republican leaders are, along with the majority of our colleagues, are going to urge the Debt Commission to take VAT off the table.
Greta: Has the president ever specifically said it is on the table or off the table?
Rep. Pence: He hasn't specifically said either one. We've heard very influential economic voices in and around the administration talking about the fact that everything is on the table.
Greta: I think Paul Volcker said something...
Rep. Pence: Well, Paul Volcker specifically referred to a value added tax, and we really believe that with the disappointing numbers last Friday, that despite some additional job growth in the economy, we saw unemployment rise from 9.7% to 9.9%, that this is the time when the administration and specifically this Debt Commission ought to make it clear to the American people and clear to the wider world that the VAT has no place in America's budgetary future.
Greta : It's abundantly clear, I mean, it's no secret that we have huge economic problems and we need cash, the government needs cash. Now the value added tax, I understand, was at least part of what's going on in Greece. Greece attempted a value added tax, has had a value added tax in an effort to solve their economic problems, and it's been at least, catastrophic. Are they pulling back on it in Europe?
Rep. Pence: Well, we'll see. The approach that this administration and the European Union is taking is the same flawed approach we took to our Wall Street crisis a year and a half ago. It's more borrowing, more spending, more bailouts. But when you look at the role of the VAT, during the years that Greece saw an extraordinary explosion in their domestic spending and their debt to the size of their economy, they had a 19% value added tax in place. Most of the countries in Europe that are facing a fiscal budgetary crisis today have a value added tax at the center, and it's easy to understand why it becomes a problem. The value added tax is in a very real sense a hidden tax. It taxes along the way the transaction of goods even in the midst of the manufacturing process. So, many countries can start with a fairly low value added tax and then raise it without much public scrutiny, and then it tends to just feed the beast of more government and more spending.&nbs! p; We really believe a value added tax in Europe was a major contributing factor to the fiscal crisis in Greece and Spain and other countries, and we simply need to take it off the table here in the United States.
Greta: I suppose that some would be more inclined to look at it with favor if any of the economies that have value added tax were thriving, although of course we don't have the value added tax and we're having problems, but let me go to Greece specifically. The European Union is bailing out Greece, and the IMF. Do we have to pick up any of that freight, American taxpayers?
Rep. Pence: We really do. The American people deserve to know that the deal that was cut to bail out Greece includes between 6 and 8 billion dollars in American taxpayer-loaned guarantees, and the massive new bailout, the $1 trillion bailout that's being discussed across the Euro zone would include more than $50 billion in U.S. taxpayer money and loan guarantees. Look, we're not looking to the European Union to bail out New Jersey or California. The European Union should not be looking to the taxpayers of the United States of America to provide the loan guarantees that bail out Greece or Portugal or Spain or any other country.
Greta: Alright, another flip topic. You have been critical of the president's nominees for the United States Supreme Court, comparing her to Harriet Miers. Why?
Rep. Pence: As I look at the president's nominee to the Supreme Court, I don't see very much difference between this nominee and Harriet Miers.
Greta: No one ever gave Harriet Miers a chance. She never got a hearing. I mean, that was part of the problem.
Rep. Pence: Greta, the criticism on Harriet Miers, for good or for ill, a criticism that was sustained by the American public, was that she was a political lawyer for the administration. She had no judicial background whatsoever.
Greta: But in fairness to her, I always thought it was unfair she never got a shot even to be heard. I don't know if that's a fair criticism or not, but no one even bothered to give her a hearing so she could be heard.
Rep. Pence: Look, we're talking - like I'm telling Greta Van Susteren anything about the Supreme Court - we're talking about lifetime appointments. The American people, we believe, and I think the Harriet Miers nomination proved, the American people expect that there will be nominees presented by administrations and by presidents who have a record or at least who have a career of experience where we can determine their judicial philosophy, determine their judicial temperament, and quite frankly, the president's nominee has all of the qualifications of Harriet Miers, and I think and hope and trust that it will have the same reception that she got.
Note: To view this interview, click here.
On May 6th, the House of Representatives approved a $6 billion measure that will provide homeowners with rebates for investing in "energy-efficient" home improvements.
How this bill works is it would fund rebates of as much as 50%, up to $3,000, for home weatherization efforts such as insulation improvements and the replacement of windows, doors, heating and cooling systems.
It is speculated this new legislation, also called "Cash for Caulkers," will create about 168,000 jobs in manufacturing, construction and retail, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). On the surface, this bill may sound like a good idea to many Americans. Homeowners will be able to update their homes for less cost, saving them in the long run, while putting more Americans to work.
What Pelosi failed to mention is a provision in the bill which limits job creation in the construction industry. In the bill, H.R. 5019, only certified workforce can make the improvements to the eligible homes. All construction workforces performing installation work must be approved and trained in the job skills under the Home Builders Institute or a third party, which would be established by Building Performance Institute (BPI), North American Technical Excellence or the Laborers' International Union of North America.
These limitations exclude most non-union training providers from participating in this program. So who is this "job creation" really helping?
In a letter written to the U.S. House of Representatives, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Vice President of Federal Affairs, Geoff Burr, expressed his concern about this issue. "As it is currently written, the bill exclusively names union-only training providers and the Home Builders Institute (HBI) as the only approved training providers, excluding most non-union training providers. ABC believes that language permitting any national accredited training provider to train workers participating in this program would be in the best interests of the entire construction and would create significantly more jobs via this program."
With an Administration that is fixed on the idea of creating new jobs, it does not make sense to cut out the 85 percent of eligible construction workers on the basis that they are not unionized.
"It is hard to imagine why those who drafted this bill would limit the scope of people who could potentially work on the weatherization of homes," says Burr in an exclusive interview with this reporter. "It is not complicated work to weatherize a home, so why limit the workers?"
Another downfall to limiting the workforce is projects will take longer to complete. With only 15 percent of construction workers being union members, as efficient as this program might be, a backlog could easily be created once this program is started. Playing off the name "Cash for Clunkers," which was big hit in 2009, supporters of this legislation are expecting this program to be as equally well-received.
"This program is going to be popular," Burr says. "People are going to find themselves in a place where availability becomes limited."
Union workers will be booming with business while homeowners wait for their rebates and other construction workers just as qualified to do the job are not able to work.
To further discriminate towards non-unions, Obama signed an executive order in April encouraging federal agencies to adopt "project labor agreements" (PLAs) on large-scale federal construction projects. Some typical situations demanded by unions in PLAs include monopoly bargaining, forced dues and fees for all their workers and exclusive union hiring.
"The effect you get from implementing a PLA is reduced competition," says Burr. "You end up getting four hospital buildings for the price of five."
By favoring labor organizations that are the major source of campaign cash for Reid and Pelosi's congressional majority, competition is taken out of the marketplace and people are left unemployed.
"In an industry experiencing 25 percent unemployment, now is not the time to discriminate," says Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). "Every American worker deserves the right to work."
Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to ALG News Bureau.
The kids' school reading tests for the last quarter was this week. I don't have the results for my son yet, but my daughter aced her reading exams; one of only two students to accomplish that. So they are moving her to the next grade level in reading. I am excited. Her brother is already in the Excel program. If she keeps working hard she will be there soon.
Today was cold, wet, and dreary. I spent the morning in the hospital. For the last month I have been suffering slight memory loss, painful headaches, blurred vision, severe pain behind my right eye, and nausea. I don't have too many answers yet. They said my optic nerve was inflamed and that they believe I could be suffering from migraines made worse by the inflammation I already have from the rheumatoid arthritis. They injected me and gave me a prescription, if that doesn't take care of the problem or if it worsens then I have to come back in for a scan of my head to eliminate the possibility of a brain tumor.
This is the last thing my wife needed right now considering everything going on with the pregnancy and the baby so I ask that you keep her in your prayers; that God will comfort her and heal the baby.
BTW, we have decided on a name for baby; we are going to go with Jackson, a strong Southern name.
I want to end on a serious note. I say all the time that the Republic is at a crossroads. Following the news over the past few months, I think it is very obvious that the politics-as-usual has to end. For years politicians have gotten away with stoking the flames of racial and social resentment. They have played off stereo-types to gain more power for themselves. Now they are about to set off a powder keg. Middle class whites are no longer willing to be the whipping boy for politicians; and several minorities, after years of propaganda aren't helping matters with their racist sentiments. No one has called them out on it and now people are sick and tired of the race card being played only against one segment of society. If there is any hope of saving the Republic all sides have to be treated as equals.
We can no longer tolerate special status for one group over the others. The unconstitutional hate crimes laws need to be repealed. If someone commits a crime they should face equal punishment no matter their race or sexual orientation. We all need to be smart enough not to allow the politicians to play us for the fools they think we are. Enough is enough, this November let's make sure we take out the trash. Any politician who stokes the cords of racial discontent should be voted out of office. Let's stand as one America, united in the beliefs that we can govern ourselves better than some morally corrupt politician in DC.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The following is a press release from ParentalRights.org, going out tomorrow morning:
Resolution Challenges Child Rights Convention
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE // May 12, 2010 // Washington, D.C. – Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) today introduced S.R. 519, a resolution opposing ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (Convention, or CRC) in an effort to discourage the State Department and the Obama administration from submitting it to the Senate. Citing dangers posed to American families and to State and federal sovereignty if the treaty were ratified, the measure resolves that “the president should not submit it to the Senate for its advice and consent.”
In Washington’s current political climate, the resolution has little chance of gaining 51 votes for adoption, but its proponents say that is not the point. Since ratification of the Convention requires a 2/3 majority of the Senate, or 67 favorable votes, S.R. 519 needs only 34 cosponsors to prevent that vote and effectively end any chance of ratifying the treaty in the immediate future.
Opponents of the CRC warn that under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution the treaty’s ratification would render it “the Supreme law of the land,” superseding all state constitutions or laws as well as pre-existing federal law. The only legal authority higher than a ratified treaty is the actual text of the U.S. Constitution. According to Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), ratification of the Convention would “undermine the U.S. system of federalism, a system on which this nation was founded.” All family law, the vast majority of which is currently set at the state level, would be federalized as a treaty obligation of the national government.“We want to see the CRC taken off the table for this Congress, and this resolution will do that. But I am also aware that the only permanent solution to this threat to our families is a parental rights amendment to the Constitution,” DeMint said, referring to another resolution he champions, S.J. Res. 16, which proposes just such an amendment.
Constitutional lawyer Michael Farris, president of ParentalRights.org, agrees. “The Amendment is what we really need, but this resolution is a good temporary fix in the meantime.”
Within the next week, we will contact you to start a call blitz to your senators. Don't call yet - we want to give parent-friendly senators a chance to sign on before we bombard their offices. We will let you know when to start that campaign, so be watching your email for that notice. In the meantime, why not visit our new Resolution Status Board to find the text and see who has signed on.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue had the following to say about the Mojave Desert Cross found stolen today:
A 7-foot tall cross cemented with metal bolts to a rock has been stolen from an area surrounded by rattlesnakes hiding in rock crevices, and the National Park Service says it does not know whether the act was the work of scrap metal scavengers or those "with an interest in the case." This is reminiscent of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who said last week that the Times Square bomber could have been acting alone in protest of the health care bill.
Someone needs to give the National Park Service a hint—this isn't the work of bored teenagers or those who frequent hock shops. The cluelessness of our leaders is astonishing.
Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, NY 10123
Monday, May 10, 2010
Government just needs a little more power, it says.
Proponents of unlimited bailouts are once again blaming the management of bailouts for their inherent failures to mitigate the crises they profess to avert. Last week, the EU Monetary Affairs Chief Olli Rehn blamed the financial crisis on the "failure" of the federal government to save Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy, and used the example to justify an EU-IMF bailout for Greece.
Said Rehn, "Little did authorities of the United States know in September 2008 what the bankruptcy of investment bank Lehman Brothers would lead to. The consequence was that the world's financial system was paralyzed in a way that led to the biggest global recession since the 1930s. Consequences from Greece's insolvency would be similar if not worse."
So, argues Rehn, Greece must be bailed out. And so she has been, with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (filled with U.S. taxpayer dollars) offering €110 billion in handouts from Germany and France.
This inherent premise, that if only Lehman had been saved in a timely manner, market participants would have somehow been saved the wrath of having overleveraged themselves, is reinforced by a recent Financial Times piece by former Chairman of the Federal Housing Finance Board Allan Mendelowitz and Penn State Associate Professor John C. Liechty. They believe regulators need more information on the interconnectedness of banks, firms, and other entities so that government reacts quicker when "systemic risk" is detected, and have thus proposed the creation of an Office of Financial Research.
The authors write, "the reality was no one knew the extent to which important market participants were exposed to Lehman and no one could see how the vast counterparty network connected market participants together… The data was just not there and [then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson] had no way of knowing that the failure of Lehman would cascade through the markets resulting in a panic that would ultimately freeze the $2,000bn commercial paper market."
Senator Chris Dodd has therefore included the Office of Financial Research in his legislation in the U.S. Senate, which Barack Obama supports. As detailed in a recent summary by Americans for Limited Government, if the bill is not amended, the Office would be tasked with the power to "collect, validate, and maintain all data necessary" to maintain financial stability "obtained from member agencies, commercial data providers, publicly available data sources, and financial entities."
Essentially, this is the power to monitor, and in extension, control all economic and financial activity in the country without regards to an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy. So, to stave off any future crises, government wants limitless powers to monitor the financial system including, should they deem it necessary, all personal and proprietary finances. That way, if anything goes wrong, they'll be able to act quickly.
Unfortunately, this misguided view is based upon the myth that government is the primary driver of economic activity, that economic downturns can somehow be avoided through enlightened government action, and that poor financial decisions can be prevented through government micromanagement of individual judgment.
For similar reasons, some argue that politicians should only make "positive" statements on the economy, so as to not "spook" the markets. That, somehow, the government is in the command-and-control driver's seat of the economy.
Therefore, the decisions made by government — and the information it presents to the public — at the helm can somehow steer markets away from the corals, but the decisions must be made quickly, like a general in war. There can be no debate. The idea here is that with Lehman, or Greece, if only bailouts were speedier and uncontroversial (and the people who have to pay for them didn't stand in the way), they would work.
This is a very dangerous proposition, because it also implies the inverse: that markets and the public should actually have less information about government interventions. Indeed, those bailouts should be made in secret and by executive edict so that no credible opposition to them may be mounted, which would slow down their implementation.
In fact, this is precisely the direction the debate over the Dodd financial takeover bill took last week. For example, last week Senator Bernie Sanders agreed to weaken an amendment to the bill that would have provided for a full audit of the Federal Reserve after the Fed and Obama Administration cried foul, and said the central bank's independence was threatened.
The amendment would have lifted restrictions on the Government Accountability Office to audit the Fed's discount window lending, deliberations, open market operations, and transactions with foreign central banks or governments.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke thinks we're better off not knowing about these activities. If everyone knew what was behind the curtain, he warns that "Such amendments, if enacted, would seriously threaten monetary policy independence, increase inflation fears and market interest rates, and damage economic stability and job creation." In other words, the Fed bailouts may be worse than anyone knows.
If the people knew more about them, they wouldn't be happy. Markets would also behave accordingly. Seeing the full scope of monetary expansion, they would price inflation in accordingly. As prices rose across several types of consumer goods, including energy, housing, and medicine, the people would demand Congress that the easy money be reined in.
So, to solve the problems posed by public oversight, bailout proponents actually want less transparency of government interventions into the economy.
They also want an unlimited, speedy bailout authority in the Dodd bill. And, despite Senate Republican attempts to remove it, the limitless "orderly liquidation fund" is still included in the bill. It has not been removed, despite claims to the contrary.
To summarize, those who want unlimited bailout authority believe that the more "compliant" the public and markets are with the corporatist regime, and the less they know about how it works, the less "disruptive" government interventions into the economy will be. Meanwhile, they argue that they must know everything about every financial transaction in the country to detect "systemic risk."
Not only is this authoritarian, it's provably false. Markets crashed as a direct result of the command-and-control policy decisions by government to loosen credit, expand the money supply, and promoting the social policy of low-income home ownership, thus creating the mother of all asset bubbles. Markets played along, like sheep, throughout the 1990's and 2000's. It made billionaires out of those who gamed the system.
And when the bubble popped, the American people were the ones left holding the bag. Now, having wrecked the global financial system, government seeks more power to manage the unintended consequences of its own policies.
Market interventionism is ascending to a level that historically has been reserved for military planning and intelligence. And Politburos. This is tyranny in disguise, and it must be stopped.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of ALG News Bureau.
May 10, 2010
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- President Barack Obama named pro-abortion Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court today to replace retiring pro-abortion Justice John Paul Stevens. Kagan, if confirmed by the Senate, would join the current 5-4 majority that has kept Roe v. Wade and 52 million abortions in place. [read more]