Apr 30, 2011

Stunning Fact 7: 73.9 Million More Chinese & $4 gasoline

China's population grew 73.9 million people since 2000, reaching 1.34 billion, and increasing demand for oil still further.  The 5.8% growth rate was the slowest for 50 years.

But 5.8% growth applied to a population base of 1.26 billion plus people yields a huge jump in people.

73.9 million more people is the equivalent of close to 25% of the USA population.  It is more than all the people living in the United Kingdom.  It is a lot.

You want to know why the price of gasoline is at $4.  Fundamentally the cause of $4 oil is rising population in China, India, Brazil plus rising standards of living there that are being created by burning coal and oil most of all.  

China's huge thirst for oil is now bigger by 73.9 million more people than just 10 years ago.  $4 gasoline is just the beginning of sharply higher oil prices over the next 10 years.

Apr 29, 2011

One-Term Tom? Maybe Not!

Guest Column by G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young

The news hasn’t been good.

Indeed it’s been downright ominous. Tom Corbett’s political stock has taken a nosedive. Elected in a near landslide just five months ago, the voters now have gone sour on Pennsylvania’s new governor. Corbett gets an anemic 34 percent approval rating in the latest Public Policy Polling report. Worse yet, voters are having a serious case of buyer’s remorse, with most saying they wouldn’t vote for Corbett again if given the chance.

Clearly Tom Corbett has not made a good first impression on the voters. Wildly popular, he is not.

So is it time to start writing Corbett off as a fallen star, a failed politician, and a spent force?

Probably not! That’s because first impressions of new governors are usually not lasting impressions for most Pennsylvania voters. In fact, Corbett seems to be playing out a familiar script in his first year in office. With few exceptions, Pennsylvania governors in recent history have had a rocky first year in office, always fail to impress the voters that first year, and are always reelected three years later.

That’s right! Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to matter how poorly a new governor does in his first year of office. That first year simply doesn’t forecast how successful he will be throughout the remainder of his term(s). Not only does the initial year in office not matter, but the evidence suggests a new governor may do better long term if he has a bumpy first year.

Since 1970, all but one modern governor has had a turbulent initial year in office—a year so tempestuous each of them was labeled a one termer early on. Yet each of them was also reelected comfortably. The only governor to have a tight reelection campaign, Dick Thornburgh, was also the only governor to have a solid first year.

Corbett’s most recent predecessor, Ed Rendell, illustrates the pattern. An activist governor, the first from Philadelphia in a century, Rendell constantly ran into conflict from a Republican legislature opposing his initiatives and a go-slow political culture resisting much of his agenda. By the end of his first year, allusions to “one-term Ed” were regularly heard across capitol corridors. Yet Rendell easily won a second term and went on to transform state economic development and education policy.

Rendell’s predecessor, Tom Ridge, had a similar ride. Ridge pursued an unpopular school choice agenda and supported a legislative pay hike while subsequently denying health care coverage for 250,000 working poor. His poll numbers sank, and “one-term Tom” seemed sunk with them. Ridge too, however, was easily reelected to a second term and left office with a 60 percent approval rating.

Ridge’s predecessor Bob Casey fared much the same. State Republicans blocked confirmation of some of Casey’s key appointments, stymied his legislative agenda, and in general made his first year a genuine baptism by fire. It wasn’t hard at all to find political types willing to bet that Casey was a one termer. Yet Casey too was handily reelected to a second term.

But no one had a rougher first year than Milton Shapp in 1971. He took office with the state facing the biggest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. For a time in August 1971, the state had no power to spend any money, and state employees were not paid. Shapp had to guide two state income tax bills through the legislature within a six-month period because the state supreme court ruled the first one unconstitutional. But he too was easily reelected.

Only Dick Thornburgh, elected in 1978, had a solid first year—due less to his agenda and more to his ability to manage a crisis. Only ten weeks into Thornburgh’s first term he faced the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis. Widely applauded for his handling of the crisis, Thornburgh ended his first year apopular state figure, with a well-earned national reputation. Yet Thornburgh, caught in the 1982 recession, nearly lost his reelection effort to a political unknown three years later.

The pattern is clear: governors with the roughest starts—Shapp, Casey, Rendell, and to a lesser extent Ridge—won reelection relatively easy, while the governor with the best first year, Thornburgh, had the hardest time winning reelection. Counter intuitive as this seems, it actually does make sense. These governors all got the “bad news” out early, then concentrated on rebuilding their support in the final years of their first term. Voters have notoriously short memories. What happens at the end of a term usually matters much more than what happens at the beginning.

Still, it must be acknowledged that Tom Corbett in 2011 is pushing the envelope, advocating unprecedented cuts in spending while supporting a wide range of reform proposals in a state that historically is uncomfortable with change. His approval rating is probably lower than any modern governor at this stage in office and there is still much bloodletting to come. Corbett could yet become the exception to the rule. He may dig himself a hole too deep to escape. That clearly is an argument some will make. Anyone making it, however, gets little support from modern state history.

Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at http://politics.fandm.edu.

Activist plans on erecting gas rigs on Capitol grounds

Everyone's favorite Pennsylvania good government activist is back to once again send a message to our state lawmakers. Gene Stilp, one of the activist who led the charge to repeal the illegal pay raise with his infamous Pink Pig, is now planning on erecting gas rigs around the Capitol grounds in Harrisburg.
APRIL 29, 2011



Gas drilling activist Gene Stilp will begin erecting gas rigs on the State Capitol grounds in May in order to help the Legislative Reserve Fund which is getting drastically low.

Drilling will also be scheduled for the grounds of the Governor's Mansion on Second Street and the former State Hospital grounds in Harrisburg.

Stilp said, “The Legislature has to drill on Capitol grounds in order to replace any loss in revenue to the Legislative Reserve Fund immediately. Drilling would restore needed balance to the fund that reformers are trying to destroy. Imaging leaving the Legislature high and dry.”

Drilling at the Governor's Mansion would set a good example for all Pennsylvanians. That example would show that it is every Pennsylvanians' duty to help the large gas corporations devastate Pennsylvania for corporate profit.

Drilling will begin in May.
No matter what side of the marcellus shale drilling divide you are on, you got to love Gene Stilp's antics. Stilp always finds away to make our state lawmakers look silly!

Corbett education plan takes proper approach

Guest Column Nathan A. Benefield

Christopher Thomforde's April 25 Your View makes a strong case that education is important to civil society. Point conceded.

But there is no debate in the state capitol as to whether education is important. There is only a discussion of whether taxpayers should be forced to give $26 billion for public schools, or if $25 billion is sufficient. Evidence indicates that simply throwing more dollars at public schools won't improve the quality of education, but changing incentives — giving parents more choices and rewarding good teachers — will.

Likewise, one can recognize the value of a college education to a student, which is why students and parents will continue to invest in higher learning. Curiously, Christopher Thomforde's column implies higher education would disappear without state funding, yet he lists programs at Lehigh University, Muhlenberg College, DeSales University and Moravian College that succeed without state funding.

The policy question is whether universities like Penn State need $300 million in earmarked funds from state taxpayers, while schools like Moravian College receive none. Again, evidence would indicate that subsidies to politically chosen universities do little to lower tuition, increase college graduation rates or promote economic growth.

Gov. Corbett's budget raises very legitimate questions as to how much taxpayers should be forced to spend on education, and how that money is best spent.

Nathan A. Benefield is director of policy research at the Commonwealth Foundation

Apr 28, 2011

Playing the Ostrich on Price Inflation

Guest Column by Shawn Ritenour

By the time you read this, there’s a good chance that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will have held the Fed’s first press conference following a meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee—the Fed committee that controls monetary policy. Leading up to this historic moment, the popular press has repeated a well-rehearsed rhetorical dance as it reports on the monthly release of the Consumer Price Index. Those who should know better repeat the mantra that, while food and energy prices may have increased, so-called core inflation—the prices of everything else in the market basket—remains flat as a pancake. Word on the street is that in March inflation cooled to such an extent that some analysts suggest Ben Bernanke is exactly right to have ignored price inflation as a potential economic problem.

Unfortunately, things are not as rosy as we are being told.

Last month, the CPI rose half a percent. If it continues at this rate, overall consumer prices would increase 6 percent over the next year. That is nothing at which to yawn. Moreover, normal people who live their lives outside the Beltway know that the prices of the goods they buy are generally rising. They do not have to wait to be told by the experts. Indeed as the great Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, pointed out, “A judicious housewife knows much more about price changes as far as they affect her own household than the statistical averages can tell … If she ‘measures’ the changes for her personal appreciation by taking the prices of only two or three commodities as a yardstick, she is no less ‘scientific’ and no more arbitrary than the sophisticated mathematicians in choosing their methods for the manipulation of the data of the market.”

The fact of the matter is that core CPI has been increasing at a relatively low rate, 0.1 percent in March, because of the housing market. Prices related to shelter make up 31 percent of CPI. Between 2002 and 2006, a staggering excess supply of houses was produced. Twelve million new homes were built while the number of households increased by only seven million. So many houses and apartments were made during the housing bubble that housing prices remain flat or falling almost everywhere you look.

Falling housing prices, however, do not decrease the cost of living for those people who are staying put. Those who do not need to buy a house are not helped by lower housing prices, especially if prices rise on everything else.

And indeed they are. Food and beverage prices increased at an annual rate of 8.4 percent. Prices of household fuel and utilities, the housing expenses that everyone does have, rose at an annual rate of 7.2 percent. Transportation prices, which include prices of automobiles, gasoline, and public transportation, rose at an annual rate of 26.4 percent. The rise in healthcare prices was relatively low at an annual rate of 2.4 percent. The only truly bright spot for households is that prices for clothing fell at an annual rate of 6 percent. Prices of wholesale goods are also on the rise. The producer price index increased 0.7 percent last month, which implies an annual inflation rate of 8.4 percent.

Randall Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University, is right to remind us that we should be careful about making long-term predictions based on a single month’s data. But as he notes, the trend is up: “In the seven months from March 2010 through October 2010 the CPI rose 0.5 percent. The five months from October 2010 to March 2011 saw the CPI rise by 2.2 percent. That’s a 5.3 percent annual rate of inflation over the past five months.”

Finally, some of those responsible are beginning to notice their inflationary ways are having an impact on prices. Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Plosser is now talking about taking the foot off the monetary accelerator. Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker recently warned that the Fed should not be too slow in tightening monetary policy. Unfortunately, he is not a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee this year. Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig said recently that interest-rate hikes should come soon. Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, however, is still content with the conventional wisdom that underlying inflation remains low.

Of course, all of this talk about constraining inflation is a little late in coming and somewhat disingenuous, even if Mr. Bernanke announces a change of course in Fed policy. None of this price inflation had to happen. It is the necessary consequence of the Fed itself increasing the money supply. The Fed did not have to act to engage in any money printing at all. And yet, all of the above-mentioned Fed presidents cheered on Bernanke’s massive increase in the monetary base as a good and proper response to the Great Recession. If the Fed had instead allowed capital malinvestment to be liquidated, the economy would be in better shape now than it is. Sadly, it is not.

Dr. Shawn Ritenour is a professor of economics at Grove City College, contributor to The Center for Vision & Values, and author of "Foundations of Economics: A Christian View."

Corbett facing truth

Guest Column by David Remick

There has been much second-guessing about Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget and its likely outcomes, but much of the opposition seems to be a case of blaming the messenger for the truth he is telling.

The truth is this: Pennsylvania is more than $4 billion in the red. It is a combination of recession and spending. Lost tax revenues have not come back as quickly as hoped, yet Harrisburg continued to spend as if the money were still there. It's called deficit spending, and only so many accounting techniques and tweaks of the data can put off reality.

That reality has arrived, and we can face it or turn a bad situation into a disaster. Corbett has chosen to face reality. It has not made him popular, but it has established him as a leader.

The Associated Builders and Contractors of Pennsylvania comprise people of all types, backgrounds and political persuasions. But we are unified on one thing: If Pennsylvania is to move forward from its budget crisis, we prefer hard decisions now when we still have some options.

Corbett has recognized the fact that when there are no ideal options, there are only hard decisions. He could have deferred to others and could have satisfied the angriest or most vocal constituencies and sought easy answers and quick fixes. But he recognizes, as do most Pennsylvanians, that by trimming spending now and encouraging business growth, we will have jobs and the revenue they bring, in coming years.

When an avalanche is headed toward you, standing still is not an option. Corbett's budget moves us out of the way of this debt avalanche. It's a tough budget, but it's a tough problem.

David Remick is President of the local Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc

GOP Fantasy Team 2012

Guest Column by Lowman S. Henry

Competency + Charisma = Victory

Sports fanatics like to fantasize. There are fantasy teams for baseball and football, and brackets for March Madness at the end of basketball season. As the presidential election gears up political junkies are handicapping the race and developing fantasy teams of their own.

A straw poll at the recent Pennsylvania Leadership Conference conducted by the web site parevolution.com yielded a surprise win for former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. Herman Cain, the charismatic former chairman of Godfather's pizza came in a close second. Cain is a darling of the conservative movement, so his showing was somewhat expected.

Groundwork for the Pawlenty victory in the straw poll was laid by the event's featured speaker, Dr. Charles Krauthammer, who told the assembled conservative activists that to beat President Obama the GOP doesn't need a flashy candidate, but rather a somewhat boring candidate whom the voters will view as competent and capable of leading the nation during increasingly challenging times.

Dr. Krauthammer didn't mention Pawlenty by name, but the politically astute crowd got the message. The Fox News analyst may or may not have swayed the vote, but he likely reinforced perceptions of Pawlenty as quietly competent while allaying concerns over his ability to stack up against the flamboyant oratory of Barack Obama in the General Election campaign.

Although Republicans and conservative activists generally view President Obama as beatable in 2012, the fantasy candidate game tends to focus on reasons why each of the potential candidates cannot win. Mitt Romney has the millstone of Romneycare hung around his neck. Newt Gingrich is the smartest man in the country, but will social conservatives overlook his personal transgressions? Sarah Palin is polarizing. Rick Santorum is too socially conservative; ditto Mike Huckabee.

That brings us to Governor Pawlenty. The main rap against him is that he initially supported a state version of cap and trade, a position from which he quickly retreated. Aside from that the Minnesotan appears to have few negatives and incites no visceral negative reactions from activists and voters. He is, in many ways, the least objectionable candidate.

But, Pawlenty also brings a host of positives to the table. A former two-term governor of a major state, he has proven ability to govern. Obama's inexperience at governing has undermined his presidency, leading to his party's massive repudiation at the polls last November. There appear to be no major skeletons in his closet making Pawlenty acceptable to both social and economic conservatives. He is not viewed as a hard Right candidate, which will allow him to appeal to the independent voters who have soured on Obama. And, he comes from the upper mid-west, a region that with a bit of nudging could end up in the Republican electoral column in 2012.

By most accounts Pawlenty was on John McCain's short list in 2008. But losing that to Sara Palin may be for him the equivalent of Senator John Kennedy's failure to snag the 1956 vice presidential nomination to run with Adali Stevenson. Stevenson chose Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, who was never heard of again. Kennedy rebounded to become the nominee - and president - in 1960.

As for that "a bit boring" problem, that can be cured with the running mate pick. Pawlenty could spice up the race by naming U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to the second slot. Rubio is young, telegenic, exciting, and another fresh face. Being of Cuban descent, he would appeal to the growing and electorally pivotal Hispanic vote. It would also ensure Florida's electoral votes end up in the GOP column. Although he would have just two years of service as a U.S. Senator, that is clearly not an issue the Democrats - and Barack Obama in particular - can exploit.

The selection of Rubio would also say a lot about Pawlenty as a leader. It would show he is confident enough in his own abilities to pick a running mate with more charisma. It would show he was politically astute enough to select someone who could bring electoral votes to the ticket. And he would demonstrate he would do whatever was necessary to win.

A Pawlenty-Rubio ticket would have it all: gravitas, proven experience, youth, excitement, appeal to Hispanics and independents, competitiveness in key electoral regions, and acceptance by the party's conservative base. And so, my entry into the 2012 Presidential fantasy sweepstakes is Pawlenty-Rubio. I am also predicting the Phillies will win the World Series and the Steelers will avenge their Super Bowl loss.

Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His email address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org

Santorum's Record Impacting Conservative Support

Guest Column by Christopher Bedford ConservativeHQ.com

Fifty percent of Tea Partiers and conservative activists polled by Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ.com believe that former Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-PA) vote for the 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan hurts a run for the presidency. A further 17 percent remained undecided.

The poll comes on the heels of Santorum's regret for his vote on the bill, which he expressed on "Fox News Sunday."

"It was a 51-49 vote," Santorum said. "In retrospect, it should have been a 51-49 vote the other way."

An initiative of President George W. Bush, the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and ModernizationAct was the largest overhaul in the 38-year old entitlement program's history.

While the Bush Administration hailed its passage as responsibly dealing with a problem the country was unwilling to tackle head-on, critics have called it an expansion of the welfare state and pointed out that it isn't paid for.

Since it was passed, at an estimated cost of $400 billion over ten years, the price tag has risen to $549.2 billion.

Thirty-three percent of those polled do not believe the 2003 vote will impact Santorum's possible presidential run.

Apr 27, 2011

Student Loan Debt Hits Record

Student loan debt now exceeds $1 trillion.  How big is that?  It is more than the total credit card debt.

Students owe more in school loans that consumers owe to credit card companies.  Amazing.

The average student loan debt is now $24,000.  But in Pennsylvania the General Assembly is debating a proposal to slash by 52% funding for public universities.  Resulting tuition hikes will then send tuition to even higher levels.  In turn that will price some students out of an education and put still more into greater debt still.

That cycle devours individual hopes and undermines the future of Pennsylvania.

Apr 25, 2011

Dear Socialist

Dear Socialist,

I don't think so. If our creator had intended Socialism, he'd have taken one of us aside, and to that person he would have given the entire supply of freedom and equality--with instruction to divvy with judgement.

For reasons that seem obvious, however, he chose instead to endow every single one of us--without exception or favor. Is there one among you who is bold enough to decree that our Creator has made a mistake--one who is worthy enough that we should abandon him and follow you?

Endowed by my Creator with freedom and equality, I have a responsibility to revere and protect what was entrusted to me. Whether submitted freely, or another wrestles this responsibility away from me, I am no longer free but shackled. I am no longer equal but subordinate. My reaction to shackles and subordination is so adverse, that I have no doubt I was meant to be free and equal. We were all meant to be so, and you will fall hard trying to pry these from our hands.

And my brother? I have always taken care of him. I have done so by feeding him when he was hungry, keeping him warm when he was cold, directing him when he was lost, and most importantly by respecting his god-given right to pursue happiness.

Stop pretending to be his keeper. Stop pretending that your agenda has anything at all to do with my brother. You are the enemy of my brother and our liberty--and I am watching you. The truth is you seek power because you are afraid of my freedom. It is because you are threatened by equality--that you are bent on control. You want more than the freedom and equality that God gave you. You want mine too. Well you can't have it!

I won't be taken in by militant wolves in altruistic clothing. If for my brother you fight, prove it. Take not one dollar more for yourself than that which you need to feed and clothe yourself. Tax yourself on the excess at 100%---and give it to my brother. Otherwise, it is not my brother for whom you have such high regard, but for yourself. Take your hands off my freedom and my equality--and put your money where your mouth is.


A Freedom Lover

California Has Big Wind and Solar Production on Earth Day

California's grid operator reported that wind and solar production met 9% of California's peak electricity demand on Earth Day.  Pennsylvania has received as much as 4% of its total electricity from just wind. 

California also gets about 55% of its electricity from gas; 15% from nuclear; 12% from large hydro; and just 2% from coal.

Iowa now gets close to 20% of its annual electricity demand supplied by wind power and wind provides 7% of Texas' annual power needs.

Wind and solar will grow again in 2011 and new national production records for both will be set this year.

Everyone Should Know These Key Job Numbers

The last 11 years have been brutal if you are looking for any job or a better job. Take a look at these numbers.

America had 130.781 million jobs in January 2000.  By January 2010, America had 1.6 million less or a total of 129.181 million.

From December 2007 to December 2009, the country lost 8.8 million jobs, as the nation nearly plunged into a depression.

Since January 2010, 1.6 million jobs have been created.  America now has a total of 130.738 million jobs or 43,000 less than in January 2010.

Jobs have been created now for 16 months, but the hole is deep, the economy is fragile, and oil prices alone pose a substantial threat.

Apr 24, 2011

"Don't Tread On Me"

Some political pundits and individuals in the "drive by media" are already predicting that the Tea Party's impact on the country's political discourse is beginning to fade. They point to the lack of support for the this year's tax day rallies sponsored by the Tea Party last week. These same individuals say that the Tea Party's impact won't be as influential in the 2012 presidential election as in last November's midterm elections.

It is funny to watch the political establishment in both political parties as they gleefully make these predictions almost as if they are counting the days until the "regular folks" like us just go back to where we belong, out of the mainstream and out of the policy debate.

You see the political establishment in our country truly believes they are smarter, more well rounded in their philosophy, and more worldly than the rest of us. Only they know what is best for not only the direction of this country, but even for us in our lives. Like somehow a piece of paper from Harvard or Yale gives them the right to have dominion over us like shepherds herding sheep. A funny thought when you think of the path this country has taken since Franklin Roosevelt's brain trust.

This pompous/arrogance which continues to drive much of the policy coming out of Washington D.C. specifically on the left should fire up any Tea Party sympathizer. This Washington D.C. arrogance reminds me of Ben Franklin's speech during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. In his speech Frankly vehemently opposed compensation for elected leaders and perhaps gave us one of the greatest warnings of any founding father that resonates in today's modern Tea Party movement. In opposition to the compensation of elected leaders Franklin stated,
"And what kind are the men that will strive for this profitable pre-eminence, through all the bustle of cabal, the heat of contention, the infinite mutual abuse of parties, tearing to pieces the best of characters? It will not be the wise and moderate; the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for the trust. It will be the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits. These will thrust themselves into your Government and be your rulers.—And these too will be mistaken in the expected happiness of their situation: For their vanquished competitors of the same spirit, and from the same motives will perpetually be endeavoring to distress their administration, thwart their measures, and render them odious to the people."
Sound familiar when you examine the deep emotions and factors that have spawned the current Tea Party movement in this country. Have our elected leaders become our "rulers"?

When one considers what is at stake in the upcoming 2012 presidential election, there is no time to sit back and become complacent in our victories. The 2011 midterm elections was just the first step in a long, difficult road in taking back our country and restoring the true republican principles that our nation was founded upon.

Remember my Tea Party friends, great moments in history require the participation of great people. And despite how we are depicted by the mainstream and the elites in this country that is what we truly are. If the founding father's had enough faith in us to protect the ideals upon which this idea of America was built than it is our duty to fight and protect them for future generations.

Apr 23, 2011

Trump is Right – the Bush Republicans Betrayed Us

Guest Column By Richard A. Viguerie

I certainly don’t agree with much of what Donald Trump says, but when it comes to his recent criticism of the policies of Karl Rove and George W. Bush, I couldn’t agree more.

As I’ve said for some years, big-government Republicans are every bit as much of a problem as liberal Democrats. The Republicans lost the House and the Senate in 2006. They lost the White House in 2008. And it had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama. It had everything to do with Republican policies.

“[Karl Rove] really should be ashamed of himself…because what he did is he gave us, indirectly through President Bush, he gave us Barack Obama,” Trump said on Tuesday. The Bush/Rove policies were so bad, Trump says, no Republican could have beaten Barack Obama in 2008. And he’s right!

As I wrote in my book, Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause, when conservatives are unhappy, bad things happen to the Republican Party. The Bush Republicans turned their backs on the conservative base, and they paid the price.

Donald Trump is not an ideal GOP candidate for president in 2012, but he’s one of the few who realize and are willing to speak openly about the real problems with the Republican Party.

Like I told a group of Tea Partiers last weekend in Chattanooga, TN, it’s easy for these Republicans who are thinking about running for president to attack Obama and other Democrats, but where were they in the 1990s and 2000s when the Republicans were significantly growing the government? They were silent, and many were involved in that growth of government, which is why we have the problems that we have now. Democrats would not have ousted the Republicans from power in Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008 if not for flawed Republican policies and politicians.

The Tea Party is the answer conservatives have been waiting for to challenge the big-government RINO Republican control of our political system. The Tea Party helped conservative candidates across the country defeat big-government Republicans in the 2010 primaries, and must continue to lead the charge going into the 2012 primaries.

Of all the mistakes most conservatives made in the last 15-20 years, number one is they became an appendage of the Republican Party. Now the number one need we have is for new leadership – leadership unfettered by old ties and old relationships, as Ronald Reagan said. It’s not enough anymore to just put Republicans in office and hope for the best, we need true constitutional-conservatives to bring real change in America.

We’re not going to get to the political promise land until we get new Republican leadership in Washington and the state capitals, and that’s only going to come from the Tea Party.

Rick Santorum: America needs tax relief, not higher taxes and more government

Guest Column By Rick Santorum

When it comes to the economy and our growing deficits, President Obama is losing not only his bully pulpit but the American people. His recent budget speech was more confirmation that he simply does not get what the voters told him last November. More importantly, his speech revealed, yet again, that he does not understand what our economy needs and what the American people deserve: a dynamic economic plan to reinvigorate the economy and empower more Americans.

Having entered office promising to control our growing debt (he mentioned the debt and deficit 15 times in his first Joint Session speech to Congress in February of 2009), he has now increased it by $4 trillion. But even after submitting his 2012 budget to great fanfare earlier this year, the President has tried to regain his fiscal credibility by announcing a renewed commitment to deficit reduction with a new budget plan. His solution? Claiming to cut spending and promising to raise taxes. This renewed effort will not work and it will not sell.

Most analysts have focused on the lack of specifics in the President’s speech. But there were plenty of things he did say that should cause great concern. Once again President Obama revealed his true view of America when he said “we would not be a great country without those commitments," i.e., Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid. While very few Americans want to eradicate these programs, most of us recognize they do need reform. But to say that we were not a great country before, say, FDR's or LBJ's domestic policies, is to argue America is only great when it commits to unstoppably left-wing programs with no spending restraint.

As to the rest of what he said, his commitment to “keep annual domestic spending low” is simply not credible when it was his administration that produced almost $900 billion in new debt with just its stimulus package; his administration that proposed increasing the Department of Education budget by more than $4 billion this year; and his administration that fought cuts of $20 billion in the most recent budget battle that concluded earlier this month.

Furthermore, we have now received “Failed Democratic Fiscal Playbook 4.0” with the calls for increased taxes. Americans rejected such nostrums in 1984; Bill Clinton was forced to apologize in 1995 for raising taxes; and President Obama conceded last year he would extend the Bush tax cuts, even if temporarily. But here we go again, with the call from the President to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year.

The President’s plan is nothing short of class warfare meant to shore up his liberal base.Raising taxes, even on those who earn more than $250,000 a year, will not come anywhere close to solving our increasing debt and it will reduce incentives exactly the wrong sector of the economy. This is political malfeasance considering unemployment hovering close to 9 percent. Even the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility argued for cutting—not raising—current marginal tax rates. And, as others have shown, even if we absurdly taxed the wealthy at 100 percent of their earnings, we would still have massive budget deficits.

A little commonsense is in order: First, Americans are not paying too little in taxes; the government is spending too much. Second, assuming we did try to actually “soak” the wealthy in America, we would be raising taxes on a lot of people who had no idea they were rich and never behaved that way. Third, even if the administration structured its tax increases to those earning more than one million dollars a year, a vast majority of those affected would be small business owners—those responsible for most of the new jobs created each year in America.

Raising taxes on any sector of Americans is the wrong answer to our economic problems, especially now. We should push for more tax cuts to spur investment and savings. What tax cuts accomplish is economic growth: more jobs, more investment, more savings, and, ultimately, a larger tax base. That is the way to reinvigorate our economy and empower more Americans.

Let’s meet the President’s tired proposal of tax increases with a renewed call on behalf of free enterprise, a renewed call on behalf of the American workforce, a renewed call on behalf of the American spirit: “Lower taxes, less spending!” That is the solution I have long endorsed and now, more than ever, it is the growth solution America needs.

Rick Santorm, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, is considering a run for the Republican nomination for President.

Apr 22, 2011

The Truth About the Debt Ceiling and Default

Guest Column By Senator Pat Toomey

As we have been approaching the $14.3 trillion statutory limit to federal borrowing, I and many of my colleagues have insisted on real spending reforms now as part of any agreement to allow still more government borrowing. Unfortunately, the administration has insisted instead that we should simply raise the debt limit unconditionally.

Most disturbingly, this administration has resorted to repeatedly mischaracterizing and exaggerating the consequences of a delay in raising the debt limit. Apparently, they hope to intimidate Republicans into capitulating to their wishes to continue unconstrained deficit spending. This is a dangerously irresponsible tactic. It needs to end.

On last Sunday morning's talk shows, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner once again implied that, if the debt limit is not promptly raised, the United States will default on its debt and the resulting catastrophe will be the fault of congressional Republicans.

But Secretary Geithner knows that congressional delay in raising the debt limit will in no way cause a default on our national debt. If Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will still have more than enough money to fully service our debt. Next year, about 7 percent of all projected federal government expenditures will go to interest on our debt. Tax revenue is projected to cover at least 70 percent of all government expenditures. So, under any circumstances, there will be plenty of money to pay our creditors.

Moreover, as the Congressional Research Service has noted, the Treasury secretary himself has the discretion to decide which bills to pay first in the event that a cash flow shortage occurs. Thus, it is he who would have to consciously, and needlessly, choose to default on our debt if the debt ceiling is not promptly raised upon reaching it. It takes a lot of chutzpah to preemptively blame congressional Republicans for a default only he could cause.

To be sure, absent an increase in the debt limit, the resulting sudden, drastic spending cuts would be very disruptive and undesirable. That is why I have always argued that we should raise the debt limit once we have adopted the needed spending cuts and budgeting reforms. But disruptive and undesirable spending cuts are not the same thing as a catastrophic default on our debt.

In fact, Secretary Geithner implicitly acknowledges that failure to increase the debt limit need not lead to a default on our debt. But he dismisses this fact by arguing that failure to make any obligated federal payments would be seen by the markets as though it were a debt default. Thus, he equates furloughing federal workers; postponing welfare payments; and delaying implementations of federal contracts, for instance, with failing to make interest payments on our national debt. This assertion is absurd, and the market demonstrated as much last week when it ignored the federal government's near shutdown, which would have resulted in a host of delayed payments.

The markets do not equate failure to make any and all federal payments with default, nor do they believe - at least for now - that the Treasury secretary will willingly choose default. I don't believe he will either. But Secretary Geithner is implicitly threatening to do just that with his doomsday predictions that could only materialize at his own hand. These threats are dangerous, and they should stop.

This rhetoric is particularly unwise in the current fiscal and monetary environment. The bond market has plenty of reasons to be nervous and skittish due to the irresponsible policies of this administration: runaway spending; record deficits; mounting debt; a budget proposal that refuses to take on our challenges in a serious way; the Federal Reserve monetizing nearly half of this year's deficit; record commodity prices; and a recent warning by Standard & Poor's that the outlook for America's maintaining a AAA credit rating has turned negative. These are plenty of reasons for investors to be nervous; it is unwise for Secretary Geithner to give them another.

If the secretary truly wanted to eliminate any specter of default, then he would have supported my legislation, the Full Faith and Credit Act. This bill would require the Treasury to prioritize payments on our debt in the event the debt ceiling is not raised, thus ensuring the U.S. government does not default.

Instead, the administration has ratcheted up its demands for an unconditional increase in the debt limit, while offering to consider spending cuts and reforms detached from the debt limit vote. In a nod to public pressure, they have called for "parallel tracks" in which we would raise the debt limit now, and continue negotiating spending and deficit reductions in the future.

But, it is clear from the administration's record over the past two years that it has no interest in cutting spending and instituting structural spending reforms. In fact, the president has expanded the size and cost of government at every turn. This administration is largely populated with people who believe that massive deficit spending cures economic ills. Why would they want to curb spending now?

This is the same administration that gave us an $800 billion stimulus and said that wasn't enough; the same administration that rammed a massive $1.445 trillion health care bill through Congress; the same administration that recently unveiled a 2012 budget that continues to add $9.47 trillion to our national debt; and the same administration that fought bitterly against very modest spending cuts in the continuing resolution spending bill for this year.

There is simply no reason to believe this administration will agree to any meaningful spending cuts or budget reforms except under pressure. But America desperately needs these reforms, as S&P recently reminded us. Congress must ignore the administration's scare tactics and refuse to raise the debt limit until the administration agrees to put the federal government on a sustainable fiscal path.

Pat Toomey is a US Senator from Pennsylvania.

Proposed Pa. voucher program fails the accountability test

Guest Column By Stephen Herzenberg

“Are we getting our money’s worth?” In these tough economic times, that’s a question that families across Pennsylvania are asking themselves with every purchase at the grocery store or when they buy clothes for their kids. And with billions of dollars of cuts to schools and other critical services on the table at the state Capitol, it’s a question that taxpayers and lawmakers need to ask as well.

After all, balancing the state budget is a tricky business: to sustain the state’s economic recovery, we need to invest in programs that work. And to be fiscally responsible stewards of tax dollars, we should target cuts to programs that are least effective. But we aren’t targeting dollars to programs with strong and transparent track records in this year’s education budget.

Our public schools face some of the deepest cuts in Gov. Corbett’s budget. This despite the hard numbers showing that our investment in public schools works: hundreds of thousands more students are on grade level in reading and math compared with a decade ago. Pennsylvania has become a national leader based on student achievement data. Locally, parents can compare reading scores, college admissions or even attendance rates in one school against another. Because we know what we’re paying for, taxpayers can see whether their hard-earned dollars are being invested wisely.

Meanwhile, the Senate is considering a plan to provide taxpayer-funded vouchers to students who attend private and religious schools. Because this new voucher program would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, you would expect it to be backed by strong evidence — from Pennsylvania’s existing voucher program, for example.

Yet this existing program, funded through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit or EITC, stands out starkly for its lack of even basic accountability measures. Since 2001, taxpayers have spent a third of a billion dollars sending children to private schools through the EITC. If you added up all the students who are getting our tax dollars to attend private school this year, they’d constitute the second-largest school district in the state.

So what do we know about how well these students are learning? Nothing. How about whether the children with the greatest need are even benefiting? Not that either. At least we must track whether money’s being used for scholarships, not diverted (as in Arizona) for executive perks at organizations that collect tax credits? We don’t even know that.

Unlike with other taxpayer-funded programs, the state isn’t even allowed to ask groups that receive tax credits for vouchers to provide information that would let us judge if they are a good investment. That’s right — a 2005 law forbids it. This law might stem from religious schools’ opposition to public reporting or a desire to limit scrutiny of vouchers’ educational outcomes. Whatever the rationale, it is unacceptable.

Lack of accountability undermines the basic way vouchers are supposed to work — through parental choice. It makes it impossible for parents to make an informed decision about where to send their child. The lack of accountability in our current EITC voucher program should give us pause before we go down the road of a much larger voucher program.

There is no meaningful accountability in the Senate voucher plan. While schools would be required to test students’ progress, private schools could choose the assessment tool. This would make apples-to-apples comparisons of student progress at different schools impossible.

A new voucher program should be a non-starter without a solid financial and educational accountability plan. There also are other reasons to question the wisdom of a new voucher program. For example, in other states where rigorous evaluations have been done, vouchers haven’t improved educational achievement. In addition, the top-ranked countries in international achievement comparisons aren’t distinguished by having taxpayer-funded vouchers.

A new voucher program also would have little impact in much of rural Pennsylvania, where there are few private schools. Under the EITC program, 22 counties have no EITC scholarship organizations and 16 have only one.

An expensive new voucher program also will deepen the cuts faced by Pennsylvania’s public schools. We know that these cuts are a bad idea because we have solid information on the progress Pennsylvania has made as a result of educational investments during the last decade. With our existing EITC voucher program, on the other hand, taxpayers have no idea if they’re getting their money’s worth.

Stephen Herzenberg is an economist and executive director of the Keystone Research Center (www.keystoneresearch.org), which recently released “No Accountability,” a review of Pennsylvania’s existing school voucher program.

PETA: ‘No-kill’ is no way to treat animals

Guest Column By Teresa Lynn Chargrin

Every kind person longs for the day when no more cats and dogs must be euthanized for lack of good homes, but as Springfield Police Chief Joseph Daly points out, the Delco SPCA’s arbitrary decision to become a “no-kill” shelter is as ludicrous as if he had said, “I’m not going to arrest anybody and Springfield is going to become a no-crime township.” Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy to stop crime and end animal overpopulation and homelessness?

Wishful thinking won’t solve Delaware County’s homeless animal crisis. By closing its doors to the animals it should be helping, the Delco SPCA is essentially guaranteeing that many cats and dogs will suffer far worse fates than a peaceful death. To prevent horrible suffering and cruelty to animals, it is critical that shelters never turn away animals in need, even when doing so means making difficult decisions.

On July 1, when the Delco SPCA ends its community animal control services, nearly 50 municipalities will reportedly be left with nowhere to house approximately 7,000 lost and homeless cats and dogs every year.

On the street, homeless and lost animals starve. They suffer and die from painful injuries. They contract and spread painful illnesses such as rabies. They cause automobile accidents. They form packs, fight for territory and often become aggressive and attack humans. They are hit by cars and abused by cruel people. And all the while, they continue to reproduce, creating even more homeless animals.

When cages fill up at the Delco SPCA or citizens bring in animals who are not considered “adoptable,” needy animals will be turned away and left in the hands of people who don’t want them or can’t care for them. Thousands of cats and dogs will be abandoned in foreclosed homes, dumped on the street to fend for themselves or condemned to a miserable life at the end of a chain in someone’s backyard.

PETA’s files are bursting with reports of animals who were neglected and abused by people who didn’t want or like them — sometimes after no-kill shelters turned them away. For example, one Pennsylvania man tried to surrender his dog at a no-kill shelter but was told the shelter was full and he would have to make an appointment and come back in two weeks — so he intentionally ran over the dog with his truck instead. Shelter workers, who wouldn’t help the dog before he died, collected his broken remains.

After a West Virginia no-kill shelter turned away some kittens, they were run over in the shelter’s parking lot. One was crushed to death and another was so badly injured that shelter staff had to euthanize her.

No one can wave a magic wand to solve this problem. We must face the facts: Animal shelters can try to make themselves feel better — or look better — by refusing to euthanize animals, but in doing so, they force numerous cats and dogs to languish endlessly in cages, and they leave countless other sick, starving and abused animals on the street to face a slow and painful death.

The only humane way for a community to become “no-kill” is for it first to become “no-birth.” That means passing mandatory spay-and-neuter laws, ending the sale of animals by pet shops and breeders, educating citizens about the need to spay and neuter their animal companions and implementing rigorous owner-responsibility requirements. In the meantime, euthanizing animals who have no hope of finding a good home is a kindness. Turning our backs on them is cruelty.

Teresa Lynn Chagrin is an Animal Care and Control Specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; www.PETA.org.

Apr 19, 2011

More on Donald Trump's viability as a GOP Presidential Candidate

The Club For Growth, One of the big guns in the conservative/GOP party establishment and formerly headed up by now Senator Pat Toomey, came out today and blasted Donald Trump's candidacy and accuses Trump of being a "Tax Hiking Liberal" today in the Washington Times.
Washington Times - The fiscally conservative group Club for Growth is sounding the alarm on billionaire real estate mogul/TV celebrity Donald Trump, calling him a wolf in sheep's clothing and suggesting that he's just a "tax-hiking liberal" and a "king of protectionism" who doesn't merit support from true conservatives for 2012. Trump's bombastic style has allowed him to burst on the national scene and gain instant credibility as someone who's willing to lead - but his record suggests there are serious issues to be dealt with first.
So what do you think? Does Trump appeal to GOP primary voters? Is he a viable candidate? Can he capture the Tea Party support? I guess time will tell but knowing Trump if he is already leading in the polls and has a chance to win. He will be in it to the end!

Donald Trump now leading amongst likely GOP primary voters

OneNewsNow.com a division of the American Family News Network posted an interesting article on their website today suggesting that Donald Trump is now a serious contender for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination. The article sites a Public Policy poll that shows Donald Trump already leading the slate of other traditional GOP candidates amongst likely republican primary voters. In fact, Trump is now being considered the GOP frontrunner according to some academic elites according to the article.
Dr. Charles W. Dunn, a distinguished professor of government at Regent University's School of Government, says Trump brings a fresh perspective to the field. "Americans, at a time of economic, political and social uncertainty and turmoil, are looking for a compelling voice of action, which Trump offers," Dunn contends. "He has begun to build bridges to unexpected constituencies, such as evangelicals, conservative Catholics and others in the pro-life movement." Click Here To Read More
Do you really think Trump is leading because of a "fresh perspective"? What this poll really reveals is a GOP party base desperately seeking to support a candidate that has the right leadership skills to tackle the deficit and turn the economy around. If that is what this next a election is going to be about, then Trump really does have a shot at the GOP Presidential Nomination.

Apr 16, 2011

Drill Baby Drill

Guest Column By Lowman S. Henry

Obama's energy policies have caused gas prices to spike

I like my sport utility vehicle. It works well for me because it seems I am always toting something around: printed materials for work or campaigns, plants for the yard, luggage for family vacations. My SUV gets a lot of use. What I don't like is paying $70 to fill up the gas tank. And, with gasoline prices projected to approach $5.00 per gallon by Memorial Day I can expect that cost to go even higher.

Fortunately for me my office is a five minute drive from my house, so I keep mileage low. But, for those with long commutes to work, and especially for businesses that depend on shipping and deliveries, the skyrocketing cost of gasoline spells economic disaster. And, with the economy experiencing a sputtering recovery from the recession, the increasing cost of gasoline threatens to delay further the nation's return to economic prosperity.

Blame for the current run-up in gasoline prices is being placed on instability in the mid-east and on speculators who bid up oil futures. It is easy to blame faceless speculators. And although the flow of Libyan oil has been slowed, there is more than enough oil being produced elsewhere to keep the supply lines full.

The real culprit here is neither speculators nor mid-east tensions; the real culprit is the policies of the Obama Administration. Since taking office the administration has done everything possible to slow domestic drilling and to prevent America from taking advantage of Canadian oil reserves which rival those in the mid-east.

Driving up the price of gasoline is part of the Obama master plan. Carbon-based fuels are anathema to the administration which has placed an emphasis on so-called "green" power. The problem is no current technology exists to economically deploy such power sources on a mass scale. Obama's goal is to create a crisis that triggers the flow of billions of federal dollars into his preferred sources of energy.

But those sources are unproven and millions of Americans are suffering economic hardship as a result of this policy. It should be the goal of Republicans in congress, and a major issue for GOP Presidential candidates, to make developing domestic oil resources a top national priority.

David Kreutzer, a research fellow in energy economics at the Heritage Foundation, points out that the Obama Energy Department has made it virtually impossible to drill for oil off the Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. In the wake of the BP oil disaster in the gulf last summer rigs were shut down and permits suspended. Contrary to administration rhetoric, production in the gulf has not returned to normal, in fact companies have pulled some rigs from the region literally setting sail for better opportunities.

Of course drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) has been off limits under multiple presidential administrations. But, with 10 billion barrels of known oil deposits in that region the time has come to develop that resource. There is no way America can lessen its dependence on mid-eastern and South American oil sold by unstable, often hostile, regimes without producing oil from ANWR.

Another factor preventing increased domestic oil production is the lack of refinery capacity. The last new oil refinery built in the United States was in 1976 in Louisiana. Clearly it would do no good to increase drilling without also building the refineries necessary to transform that oil into gasoline.

And then there is Canada. Our neighbors to the north are capable of producing more than one million barrels per day. There are two problems. First, the Obama Administration opposes the tapping of Canadian oil because it is of a type that requires the expenditure of energy in the extraction process. The procedure is more costly, but at current prices more than profitable. Second, the administration opposes building the Keystone XL pipeline which is necessary to transport Canadian oil to the United States.

The bottom line is our country could lessen our dependence on undependable foreign oil, dramatically reduce the cost of gasoline at the pump, and generate economic growth all by changing federal policy. Our current problems have not been caused by a lack of resources, or by a lack of companies willing to invest in oil production. Rather they have been caused by radical left-wing energy policies that, while surrounded by nice sounding rhetoric, simply don't work in the real world.

Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His email address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.

Conservatives Were Sold Out in Just Four Months

Guest Column By Richard Viguerie

The news media has been reporting that a "deal" made between Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Reid and President Obama last Friday to fund the government was an historic compromise. Have I missed something? I do not see the “deal” Speaker Boehner made as a cause for celebration or a victory for conservatives. And I certainly do not see the compromise from the White House.

Republicans pledged to make $100 billion in cuts to spending. And even while grassroots conservatives and Tea Partiers demanded more, GOP leadership settled for far less. The $38.5 billion is not “real money,” as Speaker Boehner claimed, considering the $3.5 trillion in 2010 spending, and especially considering that the federal debt increased $54.1 billion in the week preceding the deal.

Even worse, while the Democrats and their supporters in the media claimed that conservatives were saddling the deal with "riders," the end product of the budget is loaded down with progressive policy.

The deal continues to fund the left-leaning broadcasts of National Public Radio (NPR) with taxpayer money even after the release of explosive videos exposing NPR’s bias.

The deal continues to fund Obama's high speed rail dream despite serious concerns it will not be efficient.

The deal continues to fund the United Nations--a world-government organization hopelessly compromised by corruption, bureaucracy and the representatives of anti-American dictators.

The deal continues to fund the AARP despite the high amount of money they make privately, and their political contributions to Obamacare.

The deal continues to fund loan guarantees for renewable and alternative energy projects that would otherwise not be profitable.

The deal continues to fund America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, with taxpayer money despite Planned Parenthood’s known support of liberal politicians and exposed abuse towards women seen in undercover videos.

The deal continues to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to perpetuate it’s radical left-wing agenda that harms our economy and takes away our liberties.

And the deal continues to fund Obamacare – the most destructive piece of legislation in American history.

This is no true compromise, nor is it a deal conservatives can support or be proud of. It is certainly not the type of deal conservatives expected when grassroots activists came together to put Republicans into power.

That is why I’m asking all conservatives and Tea Partiers to sign onto a statement to Republican Congressmen opposing this deal at ConservativeHQ.com. We cannot allow Republicans to forget that We the People voted for small-government constitutional conservatism last November, not establishment Republican compromises.

Conservatives and Tea Partiers expect much more from our political leaders and the GOP. And mark my words – we will make sure Republicans receive that message in the primaries.

Richard Viguerie is the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com.

Apr 14, 2011

A Teachable Moment in Wisconsin

When K-12 education vouchers are universal across this country, when the unconstitutional government education monopoly is broken and the Department of Education is thrown into the trash bin of history where it belongs, when all unfunded federal mandates are abolished, when all 50 states are "right to work" states, when there is true free market competition that forces schools to compete for students, when teachers are paid based on merit instead of seniority, children will then be taught HOW to think instead of WHAT to think and America's education system will be the envy of the world once again.

Instead of rewarding mediocrity we should reward excellence. Students taught under the current system are not prepared for life in the real world (private sector) where there is competition for not only entry-level jobs but also for advancement through promotion based on accomplishment. Our current graduates are only now prepared to take their places in the ever growing unionized public sector where achievement is discouraged, and to distinguish yourself from the person in the next cubicle is selfish and capitalistic (heaven forbid).

It is no wonder that the private sector isn't hiring, our public schools aren't graduating anyone worth even the "minimum" wage. A free market education system will teach individual responsibility and accountability instead of entitlements and victimization. A free market education system will encourage the development of "self-esteem" through achievement. It will teach that respect in the workplace is earned through effort, not awarded as a trophy for just showing up.

Since the 60's when God was replaced in the classroom by "Secular Humanism" and "Cultural Relativism," the progressives have insisted on the equality of outcomes instead of the equality of opportunity. This has resulted in the continual de-emphasis of "Natural Rights" (rights that come from our Creator), versus those bestowed on us by a benevolent big government (that can just as whimsically take them away).

Science, Math, Reading, Writing, and History, have been replaced by sex education, diversity, multiculturalism, feminism, and a host of other "fill in the blank - studies" which have no social or economic relevance in the workplace and serve to divide people, rather than to unite them. "E Pluribus Unum" is considered no longer appropriate to the so-called enlightened elitists who run our failing government bureaucracies.

The evidence of the failure of big government is all around us: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Amtrack, the Postal Service, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and yes, the Public Education System. All of these programs are either bankrupt or failing miserably despite the appropriation and redistribution of Trillions of hard earned tax dollars over the last 50 years.

Well, the “big government party” (both Republicans and Democrats) has finally run out of other people's money. The states (like Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey) have realized that unlike the Federal government, they can't print money or borrow it from the Chinese Communists leaving the bill to unborn generations to pay. The states must and will cut spending and thus promote economic prosperity generating more taxpayers and higher tax revenue. A rising tide will lift all boats. Perhaps Washington will then get the message and do the same. As John Adams once said "facts are stubborn things."

Apr 13, 2011

Corbett nominates Eileen Behr for Montgomery County Sheriff

The first female police chief in Montgomery County history could soon make more history as the county's first female Sheriff.

Gov. Tom Corbett has nominated Eileen Whalon Behr, retired Whitemarsh Police Chief, to serve as Montgomery County Sheriff for the remainder of 2011.

If confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate, Behr will fill the office of the late Sheriff John P. Durante, who passed away in February of 2010.

Behr will also receive a tremendous boost toward a full four-year term as Sheriff. She is one of two Republicans seeking the party's nomination to run for Sheriff in November.

The other GOP candidate is Robert J. Durante, who is no relation to the late Sheriff Durante, but should receive a lot of support because of confusion of the name. The Democratic candidate, William A. Holt Jr., is running unopposed in the primary.

Behr is the endorsed candidate of the Montgomery County Republican Committee.

"Chief Behr has dedicated her life to public service. During her tenure as Chief of Police in the Whitemarsh Police Department, she has made it one of the premiere departments in the County," Montgomery County Republican Committee Chairman Bob Kerns said. "She has distinguished herself in the field of law enforcement, as well as in the community."

Behr has spent her entire career in law enforcement, starting as a police dispatcher with the Whitemarsh Police Department at age 19, and has held several positions within the department over the past 35 years – patrol, traffic safety and accident investigation, juvenile detective, detective sergeant, and chief of police, the first female chief in Montgomery County.

Budget Tightening in Pennsylvania—and Around the Nation

Guest Column By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson

Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Corbett, has submitted his first annual budget to the state legislature. It includes proposals for spending cuts and no new taxes. In some ways, the budget is a model of what must be done nationwide.

Gov. Corbett also claims that it cuts spending, but that depends on how the numbers are crunched. During the current 2010-2011 fiscal year, $28 billion is being disbursed from the general fund. That’s less than half of total Pennsylvania government spending—the balance consisting of special funds and federal funds. Next year, approximately $3 billion of one-time federal stimulus funds will be gone; thus, the 2011-2012 general fund would decrease to $25 billion without any spending cuts or increases. Since Corbett has proposed to spend $27.3 billion in fiscal year 2011-2012, then the alleged 3.1 percent cut from $28 to $27.3 billion, while technically true, appears to be an actual 9.5 percent, $2 billion hike in Pennsylvania-funded spending ($25 to $27.3 billion).

Nevertheless, Corbett has proposed specific spending cuts, eliciting criticism from those who have grown accustomed to receiving erstwhile Gov. Ed Rendell’s perennial largess. Indeed, the contrast between the Democrat, Rendell, and his Republican successor is unmistakable. It brings to mind the late Austrian scholar Erik R. von Kuehnelt-Leddihn’s description of the competing parties in modern democracies: The liberal party is the Santa Claus party; the conservative party is the “tighten the belt” party.

In Pennsylvania, ex-Gov. Rendell was Santa Claus on steroids. He increased subsidies to his favorite constituencies, such as school districts and state colleges, all eight years he was in office, even while the private sector was shrinking from the recession. Under Rendell, Pennsylvania’s general obligation debt rose 39 percent. Wait, it gets worse. Most of the commonwealth’s debt is in off-budget agencies. That indebtedness soared 93 percent under Rendell.

In total, Pennsylvania’s state debt swelled 82 percent in eight years to $43 billion. (By way of comparison, local debt in Pennsylvania increased 35 percent during the same time period.) So profligate was Rendell’s spending that he borrowed more than $3 billion of federal monies to fund unemployment checks, and he left Corbett without sufficient funds to pay all current bills; consequently, Pennsylvanians are paying interest on emergency loans to cover current expenditures. Want more? The teachers’ retirement fund is $31 billion underfunded and the state employees’ pension $11 billion underfunded. Thank you, Ed Rendell.

In ancient Athens, there was a time when citizens voted on an office-holder’s performance at the end of his term. If he had governed poorly, the citizens voted to exile him. We don’t have such a safeguard today. Instead, Rendell goes on his way while Corbett inherits a mess and takes all the heat for trying to make ends meet.

Gov. Corbett has one option if he is not to allow the state’s finances to continue deteriorating to the point of bankruptcy: To play the role of belt-tightener-in-chief. Thus, he has begun to do what fiscally responsible governors across the union are doing and must continue to do to help salvage states’ financial viability. He is asking long-time beneficiaries of state spending, like the education sector, to accept some cuts. Also, citing figures that the median state government salary in Pennsylvania increased from $39,000 in 2004 to $45,000 today (in comparison to today’s private sector median income of $32,000), Corbett proposed freezes and cutbacks for state employees.

Corbett is to be commended for defying the know-nothing leftists who complain, “The big winners [in Corbett’s budget] are corporations with out-of-state addresses,” particularly oil and gas companies. This is economically illiterate. One of the best hopes for increasing state tax receipts is for those out-of-state companies to continue to create good jobs by developing the state’s rich natural-gas deposits. As for them being domiciled out of state, blame our anti-business (and therefore anti-job) tax laws. You don’t attract businesses to your state by taxing the heck out of them.

It remains to be seen which of Corbett’s proposals will be enacted by the GOP-controlled legislature. However, since the total indebtedness (including unfunded obligations) of all units of government in Pennsylvania now exceeds $194 billion, it would be fiscally insane for Corbett and the legislature not to trim spending. Actually, a three-percent trim is not enough. The debt figures are plain: It’s time for some major belt-tightening, in Pennsylvania and around the nation.

Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is an adjunct faculty member, economist, and fellow for economic and social policy with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.

Pennsylvania Tea Party Groups Oppose Senate Bill 1

The Grassroots Coalition for Real School Choice, representing tens of thousands of Pennsylvania Tea Party activists and Conservatives, has formed in opposition to Senate Bill 1 in its present form.

We cannot, in good conscience, support a bill which is more "entitlement" than "school choice" and are writing this open letter to outline our position.

The Coalition, itself, is comprised of over 20 Pennsylvania groups who are withholding support from this bill unless it is amended -- and, given the stakes, will make the outcome of this legislation a litmus test issue in the 2012 elections.

The fact remains that while the proponents of SB 1 have been selling it as a broad, inclusive bill, it does not provide any meaningful financial assistance to the 27,000 middle income children currently attending failing schools or other middle income children, who, if the bill is not amended, will be left out of the "school choice" promise.

(Since half of all Pennsylvania's 11th graders are not proficient in Reading and Math, according to PSSA test scores, the problem of "failing schools" is an even broader matter.)

Despite claims that SB 1 already benefits middle income families through the EITC Scholarship Program, we respectfully disagree. The average EITC Scholarship is only $1,100. Not enough to make a substantial difference for many children.

At the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference held this past weekend, Senator Jeffrey Piccola, a prime sponsor of SB 1, admitted that the bill was drafted in July, 2010 and was not redrafted to reflect the results of the November, 2010 elections.

In July, 2010, the Democrats controlled the PA House and the Governorship. The bill was specifically written to appease Democratic Legislators and a Democratic Governor. The bill has not been altered to reflect the reality of the new Republican majority in the PA Assembly and a new Republican Governor.

Also, this past weekend, Senator Piccola promised to amend SB 1 to include middle income children whose family income is 300% above the poverty level. He suggested that the addition would be made in the fourth year of the program--depending on fiscal savings in the first three years. While this is movement in the right direction, it is simply not enough.

In order to garner our coalition's support for SB 1, we urge the PA Senate amend the bill to include the following:
  • In the first two years of the program, any child in the Commonwealth attending a failing school, whose family adjusted gross income (AGI) does not exceed $85,000 based on a family of four, will be entitled to receive a combination of EITC Scholarship and voucher funding totaling no more than $5000. (EITC Scholarships, if available, must be applied for before a voucher could be granted.) If an EITC Scholarship were to exceed $5000, the student would not be eligible to receive a voucher.
  • In the third year of the program, any child attending a Commonwealth school, whose family AGI does not exceed $85,000 based on a family of four, will be entitled to receive a combination of EITC Scholarship and voucher funding totaling no more than $5000. (EITC Scholarships, if available, must be applied for before a voucher could be granted.) If an EITC Scholarship were to exceed $5000, the student would not be eligible to receive a voucher.
  • Parents of all Home Schooled and private Cyber Schooled children, whose AGI does not exceed $85,000, based on a family of four, shall be entitled to receive personal tax credits of up to $2,000 per child, ranging in ages of 4-19, to cover the expenses of legitimate books, supplies,and specialized classes.
  • Include specific language to protect non-public schools from intrusive federal and state regulation.
The inclusion of these provisions, which take into account the Commonwealth's current budget situation, would make SB 1 a real "school choice" bill, that, if enacted, would put Pennsylvania at the forefront of national educational reform. It would be a bill that all Pennsylvanians could be proud to support.

On behalf of the Grassroots Coalition for Real School Choice,

Teri Adams, President, Independence Hall Tea Party Association, 215.690.4043
Sharon Cherubin, Executive Director, UNITEPA of Lancaster County, 717.413.3973

Apr 12, 2011

Millions Funneled to Lobbyists by Public Schools

CF uncovers more than $59 million being used against taxpayers' and children's interest

HARRISBURG, PA (4.12.11)—The Commonwealth Foundation announced today preliminary results from extensive Open Records Requests that found more than $59 million dollars of taxpayer money is being funneled through taxpayer-funded public school districts directly to organizations frequently involved in lobbying against the interests of taxpayers and underserved children.

"As thousands of children gather in the capitol today in support of expanding school choice, it is outrageous that their parents' tax money is being funneled to lobbyists trying keep them from escaping violent and failing schools," said former teacher and school board member Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation. "While it is no surprise that those who financially benefit from the current public school system want to prevent kids from choosing a safer or better performing school, it is shameful that they get to use taxpayer money to do it."

The Commonwealth Foundation issued Open Records Requests to all 500 Pennsylvania school districts for information on all payments including dues, insurance, and add-on services to the following organizations over the course of the 2009-2010 school year:

* American Federation of Teachers (AFT) or any AFT local union
* Council of Great City Schools
* Pennsylvania Association for Gifted Children (PAGE)
* Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (PASCD)
* Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals (PAESSP)
* Pennsylvania Association of Pupil Services Administrators (PAPSA)
* Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS)
* Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA)
* Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO)
* Pennsylvania Middle School Association (PMSA)
* Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA)
* Pennsylvania School Counselors Association
* Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) or any PSEA local union

With 120 school districts yet to complete the request, including the School District of Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, the two largest districts in the state, Brouillette said the costs to taxpayers were sure to increase.

"Taxpayers cannot afford to continue to fund and heed the calls for more money and more time while our students are held hostage by system that cannot fix persistently failing schools," said Brouillette. "To continue this practice is a disservice to our children, parents and taxpayers."

The full list of payments to lobbyists by school districts can be found at www.CommonwealthFoundation.org/Lobbying.

The Commonwealth Foundation (CommonwealthFoundation.org) is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.

Apr 9, 2011

Boehner to the Tea Party: Drop Dead!

The budget deal struck this weekend in D.C. is a complete and total betrayal of the Tea Party movement by John Boehner and the Republicans who voted with him, including Bill Shuster.

Forget the caves on reigning in the EPA, healthcare funding, NEA funding, earmark abolition, abortion funding, etc. Forget all of that. The fact is that Boehner and the Republicans promised to cut $100 billion from this year's bloated budget if they were elected to the House Majority. The Tea Party did the hard part and kept its end of the bargain, getting Republicans their majority. Immediately, Boehner and Company reduced their proposed paltry cuts to $61 billion. Then agreed to just $38.5 in cuts to this year's record setting spending—in other words, these aren't cuts at all, just a reduction in how much more of the taxpayers' money they were going to spend.

Laughably, Pat Toomey in the Senate said he voted for the measure because it will allow us to cut $6 trillion in the next 10 years. Really, Mr. Toomey, how does it do that, since it's just an agreement in place until September 30th of this year? And Toomey in his PR released said this will stop the "kicking the can down the road" approach of the past. In fact, this is simply just another kick the can down the road plan.

But back to the House. Weren't Boehner and Shuster et al the folks who said all bills will be publicly viewable for 72 hours before any vote would be taken? Another betrayal. What were they afraid of? And worst of all was their betraying the Tea Party directly. Harry Reid and Chuckie Schumer put the Tea Party in their crosshairs this week, blaming the Tea Party for Congress's inability to pass a budget, and John Boehner and Bill Shuster pulled the trigger. How grotesque was the scene of the standing ovation by the rank-and-file Republicans for Boehner upon his announcement of the deal!

Thomas Paine declaimed the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot. I don't think he'd much care for summer soldier, Pat Toomey, or sunshine patriot, Bill Shuster.

Apr 7, 2011

What does a billion dollar deficit really mean?

Guest Column By State Senator Mike Folmer (R-48th)

With the state and national budget debate in the news each day, words like “billion” and “trillion” are almost commonplace. A billion and trillion might not seem like much, but it is — it’s nine zeroes. A billion seconds ago was 1959; a billion minutes ago, Jesus walked the earth; a billion hours ago, was the Stone Age.

Our current state budget is $28 billion and is more than $4 billion in the red. Years of living above our means has caught up with us, and passing a balanced budget without new or higher taxes will be a challenge. Every day, there is a news story or protest in Harrisburg about the problems of proposed budget cuts — no one wants to be cut.

A popular plan is to cut spending within the General Assembly or eliminate the Legislature altogether. If Pennsylvanians are asked to share in budget cuts, the Legislature must “walk the talk” and tighten our belts as well.

Years ago, the Senate implemented a salary and hiring freeze as well as a moratorium on paid internships and employee tuition reimbursements. Personally, each month I return my automatic legislative cost of living adjustment to the state treasury. I have opted not to participate in the state pension system or legislative health care plan, and I do not file for reimbursement for travel expenses within the 48th Senatorial District. I also do not accept per diems for days spent in Harrisburg, nor do I use a state car. Additionally, in my first term in office, I closed two district offices.

If the entire General Assembly were eliminated, it would save about $300 million annually. If discretionary legislative spending were eliminated (i.e. “WAMs” or “walking around money”), it would save an additional $300 million annually. Even with those moves, the state would still be $3.4 billion short.

What comprises the billions of dollars in the state budget? Education funding encompasses $9.6 billion and an additional $26 billion in federal, state and local tax dollars. Public welfare gets a total of $8.6 billion in state funds along with another $1.8 billion in federal funds; corrections accounts for $1.6 billion in state funds, and $172 million in federal tax dollars. All told, these three departments account for nearly 81 percent of the total state budget.

Almost all other functions and departments of state government — including the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office — would have to be eliminated to balance the state budget without any cuts to education, welfare and prisons and/or without new or higher taxes. This is why the current budget debate is so rancorous and why the final decisions could be painful.

Apr 5, 2011

The GOP Herd Gathers

Guest Column By G. Terry Madonna & Michael L. Young

Some of the names are familiar—Romney, Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Paul, Trump. Others are less familiar—Bachman, Barbour, Pawlenty, Daniels, Santorum. While still others are largely unknown—Huntsman, Johnson, Cain, Thune, Roemer, Pence. What they all share in common, however, is their membership in the largest class of GOP presidential aspirants in more than 40 years. Not since 1968 has the Republican Party produced such a bumper crop of presidential contenders.

The question raised by the plenitude of GOP candidates is an obvious one: will it matter? Will the eventual nominee emerge after a spirited battle from an open competition across a field of some twenty hopefuls? Or will the Republicans do what they almost always do—nominate the guy (so far, only guys) “whose turn it is.”

The historical record is tediously consistent. In fair times and foul—in open or incumbent-held seats—national Republicans behave very much like local Rotarians. They pick the next in line. Indeed, it’s remarkable how consistent they have become, almost never going off the grid or out of the box, as Democrats often do. Even a cursory glance at modern history makes this clear.

In 2008, Republicans picked McCain, the runner up for the nomination to Bush in 2000. Then in 2000, they picked Bush, the son of a former president. In 1996, they picked Bob Dole, Ford’s vice presidential running mate in 1976 and Senate majority leader. In 1988, they selected George Herbert Walker Bush, who had been Reagan’s vice president. In 1980, they picked Reagan, who had been the runner-up for the nomination to Ford in 1976. Then in 1976, they chose Ford, the unelected incumbent president, for their nominee. In 1972, they picked their 1960 nominee, Nixon. And in 1952, they chose Eisenhower, a warhero.

One could go on with the examples, back to Dewey in 1944 and 1948, and even far back as Hoover in 1928 and Harding in 1920. Election after election, nomination after nomination, the GOP selects a conventional, predictable, and usually “safe” nominee, regardless of the size of the field, the context of the election, or even the likely Democratic opponent.

Except once!

In 1940, with the country still trying to overcome the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt running for an unprecedented third term, and war raging in Europe, the GOP flabbergasted everyone. They nominated the darkest of dark horses, Wendell Willkie, a candidate virtually unknown to most Americans and someone who had not even been a Republican a year earlier. In May 1940,three percent of Americans supported Willkie; by late June, he was the Republican nominee.

Not that the establishment figures were absent in 1940. New York District Attorney Thomas Dewey, who went on to collect two nominations in later years, fought for it, as did two U.S. Senators, Robert Vandenberg and Robert Taft. And in the mix was Pennsylvania’s favorite son, Governor Arthur James. But the Willkie grassroots movement that developed at the convention was so powerful conventional political forces could not stop it.

Could 2012 play out like 1940? Could a wild nomination fight emerge? Will the 2012 Republicans go rouge like their 1940 counterparts did and end up picking someone completely unexpected?

Certainly some striking parallels are present. In both years the nation confronted foreign peril and economic turbulence; in both years the incumbent president was a polarizing figure; and in both years the Republican nomination was wide open without an obvious front runner or consensus choice.

Moreover, 2012 adds to these factors a political wild card of immense importance. Two years before the election, the largest potential field of competing GOP candidates in party history is emerging—each with essentially the same message and none offering voters an obvious choice.

Is it possible than that a Donald Trump or even a Michelle Bachman could end up the GOP nominee? Maybe, but that might be going too far. The nomination process now is very different than in 1940. Primaries and caucuses are determinant, and conventions no longer matter. Clearly there is still time for a traditional GOP establishment figure to distance himself or herself from the herd.

Nevertheless, the forces that might produce a surprise or unknown nominee are imposing. Not since 1940 has the Republican Party positioned itself so strongly to nominate an unlikely presidential candidate. At the minimum, we can say at this early point that candidates like Trump or Bachman—candidates often described as the “fringes” in other years—now have a better shot at the brass ring than in almost a century.

Whether that is good news or bad news for the GOP is unclear. In 1940, it was decidedly bad news. Roosevelt, despite unrest in his own party, lingering economic distress, and widespread fear of a foreign war, creamed Willkie in the Electoral College, 449 to 82. Willkie himself never held public office, appointed or elected, making him the only major party presidential nominee in American history to not do so. And had Willkie defeated Roosevelt, he would not have completed his term. He died in 1944, as did his vice presidential running mate.

Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at http://politics.fandm.edu.