May 27, 2011

SCHOOL CHOICE: What's in a name?

Senate Bill One (SB1), known as the “school choice” bill, has spurred a fury of debate. While many would agree that parents are entitled to choose the best education for their children, many of the same do not support SB1. So what’s the divisiveness about? The fact is, the fire under much of the opposition to SB1 has nothing to do with whether or not such an entitlement is valid, but rather whether SB1 is in fact about school choice at all!

The problem is that SB1 boils down to school choice for some kids, not all, under certain qualifying circumstances, but not all–in fact, not most. Under the current plan, SB1 provides for school choice only where schools are determined to be “failing” and only to enrolled students with a qualifying income.

What about students enrolled in schools that fall just a hair above “failing?” Under SB1 these students do not qualify for school choice. If the school is in fact failing, but a student’s household income is just one dollar more than the qualifying income, is it fair that this student will be ineligible for school choice? Does that extra dollar render this child unworthy of a choice in education? Ah…the debate takes shape.

School choice is an age-old battle with its soldiers insisting it’s a “right,” not something to be granted by government. Along comes Senate Bill one offering up the concept of ”school choice” as something to be granted discriminatively. School choice, under SB1 is not regarded as a right, but rather as something for which one must “qualify.” By a more appropriate name, perhaps even “school choice for some” or “school choice with strings” SB1 would be far more accurately depicted.

In a recent statement, Pennsylvania State Director for Americans for Prosperity, Sam Rohrer, weighed in on the issue with typical principled accuracy, saying, ”The concept that children are a gift of God, not a grant by government, forms the underpinning of parental choice.” Amen to that.

May 24, 2011

NY 26 is Political Tsunami Warning

Speaker Boehner should hear the sirens wailing. All but 4 Republicans should too.

The Democrats win easily NY 26, a strong Republican seat, where the Republican candidate outspent 2 to 1 the Democratic candidate. Why?

Senior citizens don't buy the idea that a voucher for Medicare will enable them to buy adequate insurance. In other words, they are in rebellion over the Paul Ryan plan. Just 4 Republicans voted against it. Every Republican Congressman in Pennsylvania, where the senior vote is huge, voted against it

How quickly the politcal pendulum swings. Nancy Pelosi is smiling.

Romney Unacceptable

Mitt Ronmey is completely unacceptable to many conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters, like myself, who are advancing the ideals of true republican principles and limited government. Romney has been too moderate ever since he gave his home state Massachusetts "Romneycare," the very template for socialist "Obamacare". No governor who has so damaged his own state and pushed such a anti limited government/Socialist philosophy can ever get conservative support during the upcoming presidential election in 2012.

But Romney's history of support for socialistic ideals is not my only objection to Mitt. He is, like his late father George, a northeastern "moderate" (read unprincipled) RINO; Republican In Name Only. Back when he was governor in MA he seemingly felt the "wind" blowing left, so he went right along. In 2008, feeling a conservative backlash to McCain, he became the "conservative" candidate.

Romney is your classic political chameleon. Like Former Governor Christ of Florida, Romney's "core principles" are to be found in his latest polls or focus groups. Now he's trying to once again sell himself as a conservative. It isn't going to work. This is not the type of leadership we need in Washington D.C. to turn our economy around and push for political reforms. There is nothing in "Romneycare" that suggest any glimmer of support for constitutional principles or limited government.

Moreover Romney is a big government "inside the beltway" Republican who can never be trusted to actually reduce the size of government or stop illegal immigration, so much favored as a source of cheap labor by his corporate backers. Romney is part of the Problem not the Solution. The sooner Romney drops out the healthier the GOP 2012 field will become.

Many say real conservatives can't win in 2012? Tell that to those of us who supported Ronald W. Reagan, the greatest president of the 20th century. And who are we running against? Jimmy Cater only worse! Should the GOP nominate the likes of Romney next year, Obama will be re-elected because we of the Tea Party will form a new third party that will, after even more damage to our nation by Obama, be the New majority party in 2016. If the country survives Obama's tenure.

Romney needs to face the reality that his candidacy is over. Oh and take Newt Gingrich with you!

Rick Santorum Meets P. T. Barnum

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

As a politician, Rick Santorum presents an enigma. While most politicians seek power by ingratiating themselves to voters, Santorum often does the opposite. While most seek favor by being favorable,Santorum often does neither. While most try to produce the widest consensus, attract the broadest constituency, and incur the least wrath, Santorum often takes a different path.

He says what he wants, when he wants, towhomever he wants. He seems not to care about popularity, approval, or applause. Once one of the most powerful politicians in America, Santorum has become America’s anti-politician—doing and saying exactly what it is supposed “real” politicians don’t do. Paradoxically, in doing the not done, he has propelled himself into a viable candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Since his entry into the race, Santorum has attracted enormous national press attention. His fundraising efforts appear to be gaining momentum, and he has won important early straw votes, including a critical South Carolina test. Moreover, early withdrawals from the field, including Mike Huckabee, may now benefit Santorum among key Christian conservative supporters. Finally, Santorum’s performance in the critical South Carolina debate was highly praised. He seemed seasoned, comfortable as a candidate, and ready for prime time.

Is this early success despite Santorum’s prevailing image as the enfant terrible of American politics or because of it? Surely his political provocations have become legendary. Santorum regularly insults key constituency groups, alienates large swatches of voters (both Democrats and Republicans), and almost viscerally seeks controversy.

Here’s a small sample of “Rickisms”:

* Most famously, Santorum has equated homosexuality to adultery, bigamy, incest, child molestation, and zoophilia, notably coining the phrase, “man on dog” sex.

* In interviews, Santorum has stated “the right to privacy does not exist in the U.S. Constitution,” inferred by some to mean there are few if any limits on government to regulate private sexual behavior.

* Santorum has attributed the problems with Social Security to abortion: “The reason Social Security is in big trouble is we don't have enough workers to support the retirees. A third of all the young people in America are not in America today because of abortion, because one in three pregnancies end [sic] in abortion.”

* Santorum has blamed the Catholic Church’s sex scandal on “moral relativism,” a sick Boston lifestyle, and “cultural liberalism.”

* Santorum has compared abortion to slavery, adding that comparing the two was nothing new and he wouldn’t apologize

* Most recently, Santorum stated that Senator John McCain, who underwent horrendous torture in Vietnam, couldn’t understand why torture was necessary in the fight against al-Qaeda: “McCain doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works. I mean, you break somebody, and after they're broken, they become cooperative.”

So the former senator and wannabe president has broken just about all the rules. Yet although not quite thriving—his polls are still wobbly—he is doing just fine. In the inchoate mess that is the present GOP field, he is holding his own and then some.

So what gives? By every political convention, Santorum should be stone cold dead right now, yesterday’s news, a failed politician, and obnoxious to boot.

But he’s not. He’s not because he understands what others fail to grasp—that the GOP presidential nomination fight has become not just great political theater, but a genuine three-ring circus. And who better to look to for advice about running a circus than the great circus master himself, P. T. Barnum! Better known for his work with carnivals, sideshows, and assorted hoaxes, Barnum was also a politician. He served in the Connecticutlegislature for two terms, was mayor of Bridgeport, and ran for Congress.

Barnum, in short, is the perfect role model for anyone running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Santorum, of the odd dozen GOP aspirants, is the first to figure this out. That explains the otherwise inexplicable—why Santorum talks and acts as he does.

The conclusion is inescapable. Santorum has discovered Barnum’s secret—that the public loves a show and that one can say almost anything and someone will believe it. Santorum has also adopted and perhaps perfected Barnum’s abiding personal philosophy: “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.”

And that is what the ex-senator is doingsuperbly. He is putting on a good show—perhaps as Barnum might style it, “the greatest show on earth.” And he is saying just about anything, making sure his name gets spelled right in the reporting.

Santorum’s brilliant strategy is to grab the most attention he can, caring little for any negative fallout, hoping the other “acts in the show” get ignored while he basks in the limelight of outrageous notoriety.

Will it actually work? Can Santorum use P. T. Barnum’s tactics to steal away the Republican nomination, winning the chance to take on Barack Obama for the presidency? Given the utter pandemonium now prevailing among Republican aspirants, the palpable weakness of the field itself, and politics penchant for the unpredictable, who can say?

One thing seems certain, however. P. T. Barnum would be enjoying the show if he were here to see it and may be a tad envious he wasn’t running it himself.

Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at

May 19, 2011

The Tea Party needs to realize that entrenched legislators don't want reform

You ask if it's time to demand that we reform our election process and make it more equitable for regular folks, third-party candidates, or independent candidates to run as viable candidates. I believe the answer is obvious. Yes, without question. Reforming our election process is an issue that often gets overlooked by issues like the national debt. But I believe that reforming how our representatives get elected is fundamental in the fight to restore the values of limited government that our great nation was founded upon.

The Tea Party can preach universal democratic values and constitutional principles all they want, but unless Tea Party leaders decide to publicly back and support Tea Party candidates and influence the election process already rigged to protect the incumbents of both parties by providing Tea Party candidates with campaign support, then Tea Party efforts to restore limited government will ultimately fail.

It is obvious that the biggest battle the Tea Party needs to win is election reform. Without true election reform in this country the game will also favor candidates from the two major parties and will always result in candidates that will ultimately support bigger government to win elections. The process is cyclical. Why do you think incumbent lawmakers always want to run around and flaunt big checks?

It is obvious at the mere basic level the process upon which individuals decide to run for office in this country needs reformed and Tea Party leaders should demand it. However, whom are you going to make the argument to? Will you make this argument to the same folks who now redistrict all of their legislative seats so they can never be beaten without some sort of electoral miracle?

Are you going to ask the same folks who are now so incredibly beholden to their party that they vote the party line no matter what the issue? Are you going to ask the folks who can now get unlimited funds from corporations, much of it without disclosure, to please make elections more equitable regarding contributions?

If so, I wish you the best of luck. However, I think your "demands" have the same chance of being successful as does sprinkling fairy dust on their foreheads. What motivation do they have to take even the smallest chance of losing their jobs by considering this reform when, in most part, they have done everything imaginable to sustain their present positions? Appealing to legislators at the state or federal level to adopt this or any reform that threatens their positions is a fool's errand.

Thanks to unlimited, special-interest funding, gerrymandering of legislative districts, and tightfisted, two-party control, government at the state and federal level is essentially broken and beyond repair. The concept of a government by and for the people has so perished from this nation that Jefferson is not rolling but spinning over and over in his grave.

May 17, 2011

2011 Primary Election Predictions

Philadelphia Mayor:

Democratic Primary Race

75% Michael Nutter
25% Milton Street

Republican Primary Race

53% John Featherman
47% Karen Brown (Former Democrat)

Allegheny County Executive:

Democratic Primary Race

52% Rich Fitzgerald (Former Council President)
48% Mark Patrick Flaherty (Former Controller)

Republican Primary Race

43% D Raja (Mt. Lebanon Commissioner & Endorsed by Govern Corbett)
40% Chuck McCullough (Former Councilman)
17% Patricia Weaver (Tea Party Activist)

State Superior Court

Democratic Primary Race

David Wecht (Endorsed by State Committee)
(No Challenger)

Republican Primary Race

55% Victor Stable (Endorsed by State Committee)
45% Paula Patrick

State Commonwealth Court

Democratic Primary Race

70% Kathryn Boockvar (Endorsed by State Committee)
30% Barbara Behrend Ernsberger (Not recomended by the PA Bar Association)

Republican Primary

48% Anne Covey (Endorsed by GOP State Committee)
52% P. Panepinto (Highly Recommended by PA Bar Association)

Hazelton Mayor Race

Republican Primary

49% Joe Yannuzzi (Incumbent)
51% Jeff Cusat (Owner of Cusat Cafe)

Democratic Primary

45% Grace Cuozzi
55% Joe Corradini

Reading Mayor Race (This will be an interesting race to follow. Just admire Reading for the number of candidates running and will update as election returns come in)

Democratic Primary

Francis G. Acosta
Joseph D. Eppihimer
Robert Melendez
Louis R. Perugini
Vaughn D. Spencer
Juan F. Zabala

Republican Primary

Stephen P. Fuhs
Jim McHale
Keith R. Stamm

Blair County Races

I don't see too many upsets here in Blair County. Incumbent GOP Commissioners Diane Meling and Terry Tomassetti should overcome a challenge by Bobby Ellenberger-Yoder. The Democratic Primary Race for Commissioner is a little more interesting. Becky Mingle, Denny Hallinan, Jo Ann Nardelli, and Ted Beam are all vying for the Commisioner seat vacated by longtime incumbent Donna Gority. Former Altoona Council member Ted Beam and candidate Jo Ann Nardelli's second time running for the position seam to have the momentum and will most likely win the top two spots on the general election ballot in November. The more heated races are the local school board races where many incumbents are facing challenges as a result of the possibility of increased property taxes.

May 16, 2011

Corbett defended: Fiscal discipline is a responsible state budget strategy

Guest Column by Lesley Smith

As debate over the 2011-12 state budget begins in earnest, the charge to lawmakers from the Gov. Tom Corbett administration is crafting a fiscally responsible state budget that reins in government spending and bolsters private-sector job creation in order to put the commonwealth on more solid ground financially and economically.

The governor set the stage in March by offering a $27.3 billion proposal that would take Pennsylvania back to pre-recession, 2008 spending levels. While the budget as proposed by the governor would have a significant impact on higher education and hospital communities, it is only a starting point for negotiations. Over the coming weeks, the governor and lawmakers will debate these and other cuts as they reach agreement on how best to achieve the reduced spending sought by the administration.

Budget cuts are never easy, nor are they an easy sell. Living within ones means requires tough choices, as Pennsylvania individuals and families -- and job creators -- that struggled during the recent recession know all too well. But sometimes it becomes absolutely necessary to do so, and now is one of those times for state government.

The state faces a budget deficit of $4.2 billion, plus the loss of federal stimulus dollars that, it should be stressed, temporarily padded state budgets, but were never meant to be a permanent funding source.

These are only two of several factors that necessitate the state getting its fiscal house in order, however. From 2002 through 2010, total outstanding state general obligation debt increased 39 percent, from $6.8 billion to $10.4 billion. State spending has grown faster than personal income over the past 40 years. Under the previous administration, total operating spending grew almost $21 billion, a 45 percent increase, or more than double the rate of inflation, and general fund spending increased more than $8 billion over eight years.

Taxpayers simply cannot continue to sustain government growth that has eclipsed the inflation rate and their ability to pay, which is why even though current revenues are running about $500 million above expectations, fiscal restraint should still be priority No. 1 with the new state budget.

Given the obvious need for fiscal discipline, it's not helpful to the overall budget process that the only worn-out "solution" from government union groups and their supporters is to keep raising more revenue.

These groups never met a tax they didn't like, and over the years, their message at budget time is the same -- tax more, spend more. They have called for higher personal income taxes and higher sales taxes on consumer goods and services, to name a few, in order to support unbridled government spending.

As much as these groups like to think otherwise, government does not have a limitless pot of money at its expense.

Likewise, proposing to increase the tax burden on job creators at a time when economic recovery is occurring but remains fragile is shortsighted. Private-sector job losses during the recession were devastating to Pennsylvanians. Boosting job growth in the private sector will most benefit individuals and families because it will solidify economic recovery and sustain long-term growth.

The business community supports the governor's call for fiscal restraint, and trusts that elected officials will craft a tough, yes, but responsible budget for all Pennsylvanians. As this takes place, a broader view of what the governor is proposing should be taken -- a state budget that starts to focus real-world solutions on state government; puts the commonwealth on the road to private-sector job creation that will solidify economic recovery; and opens the long-overdue dialogue about the proper role of state government.

Lesley Smith is communications executive for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Commonwealth’s largest broad-based business association. PA Chamber membership comprises businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of Business™.

May 14, 2011

Updated: Ranking Republican Presidential Candidates: Would They Win Their Home State?

Below is a table ranking possible Republican Presidential candidates by the Home State Barometer. Governor Huckabee is removed, given his announcement that he will not run. The Barometer surprisingly shows that just 2 of the current 11 possible candidates would definitely win today their home state. The other 9 are clear losers or toss-ups back home.

Going from least likely to win their home state to most likely, here is the ranking:

1. Trump (New York)
2. Romney (Massachusetts)
3. Bachmann
4. Pawlenty (Minnesota)
5. Santorum (Pennsylvania)
6. Cain (Georgia)
7. Paul (Texas)--Toss-up
8. Gingrich (Georgia)--Toss-up
9. Palin (Alaska)--Toss-up
10. Daniels (Indiana)
11. Huntsman (Utah)

How predictive is the Home State Barometer of national political success? Pretty good.

Vice President Gore proves that you can win the national popular vote by more than 500,000 votes, lose your home state, and the Presidency. George McGovern and Walter Mondale demonstrate that losing your home state or struggling to hold it is a roadmap for losing 49 states. Senator McGovern lost South Dakota, his home state, lost 49 states, but won Massachusetts against President Nixon in 1972. Vice President Mondale barely won Minnesota, his home state, as he lost 49 states.

The Home State Barometer would have had Governor Huckabee winning Arkansas and so his decision not to run removes a formidable opponent to the President. Now the Barometer shows that President Obama wants any Republican other than Governor Huntsman or Governor Daniels.

May 13, 2011

Tax Hikes are Coming … If Obama Gets His Way

Guest Column by John A. Sparks

President Obama is now openly proposing tax increases on at least two important fronts as part of his “solution” to the growing debt crisis.

The president’s favorite approach is to talk about the “wealthiest Americans.” In his speech on April 13, he proclaimed that he will do away with the “Bush tax cuts” for the rich as soon as he has the opportunity. Just a week later, April 21, he said that wealthier taxpayers like him should be willing to pay “a little bit more” to prevent various social programs for the elderly and the young from being cut. Of course, this is his way of preparing high-earning Americans for a jump in their federal income tax rates. Apparently, he believes that they are not currently doing their part or paying their fair share.

Listening to President Obama talk, one would think that the present federal income tax system is a flat-rate system where everyone, no matter what their income, pays at the same rate. Of course, the current system is, and has been for a long time, a steeply graduated tax system where the highest earners pay at the rate of 35 percent on the topmost portion of their earnings while low earners pay at the rate of 10 percent. Now, Mr. Obama wants to push the highest rates even higher, to near 40 percent. President Obama believes, perhaps rightly, that soaking the rich will not hurt him politically.

But the president is targeting more than the wealthiest. In fact, in his desperation, he is apparently now prepared to impose heavier tax burdens on middle-income Americans as well. How? In a recent speech he stated that he wants to raise the “cap” on Social Security. The cap on Social Security taxes works this way: If an employee earns more than the cap (currently, $106,800) in a given tax year, Social Security taxes are not deducted from the amount of earnings over the cap. So, for example, if an employee earned $126,800 in 2010, he would pay 6.2 percent in Social Security taxes on the first $106,800, or $6,621.60. The employer would also pay 6.2 percent. On the overage—the $20,000 of income beyond the cap—neither the employee nor the employer would pay any Social Security tax.

However, if President Obama has his way and the cap is raised by, let us say, $20,000, to $126,800, the employee would shell out an extra $1,240 in Social Security taxes (6.2 percent of $20,000) and the employer would have to do the same. That is actually an increase, percentage-wise, of over 18 percent ($1,240 divided by $6,621.60) in Social Security taxes. Moreover, since earners in the $100,000 to $125,000 range are properly classified as middle income or high-middle income Americans, Obama would be breaking yet another of his “promises” not to tax the middle class.

Both these proposals ignore the fact that federal income taxes and Social Security taxes are only part of the total tax burden placed on productive Americans. Most have to pay state and local income taxes besides, and in addition to local real estate taxes.

Here is what we and our representatives should say to our president: no more tax increases in any shape, form or size! No more! No more!

Dr. John A. Sparks is dean of the Calderwood School of Arts & Letters at Grove City College, Grove City, PA, where he teaches constitutional law and business law. He is a member of the State Bar of Pennsylvania and a fellow for educational policy with The Center for Vision & Values.

May 12, 2011

Roof Falling in on Horwath/Cornell Study

Wood Mackenzie, an energy research firm, located in Scotland is the latest to issue a devastating analysis of Professor Horwath's study that claimed gas is as dirty as coal on carbon emissions.  See

Wood Mackenzie finds that Professor Horwath overestimated the amount of gas vented in well completion and flowback by 60% to 65% and the impact from emissions during well completions by 90%.

Wood Mackenzie said that Horwath did not include in his calculations major new industry trends and practices such as reduced emission completions which are now common in many shale plays that have been well developed.

May 11, 2011

How to Balance the Budget and Create Long-Term Growth

Guest Column U.S. Senator Pat Toomey

My Plan To Solve Our Debt Crisis

As I traveled across Pennsylvania last year, I promised Pennsylvanians that I would dedicate myself to two key priorities in the United States Senate: restoring economic growth and private-sector job creation, and putting our federal government on a sustainable fiscal path.

These two goals are inextricably connected. We cannot maximize economic growth without getting our government’s finances in order. And we can’t get our finances in order if we don’t have the courage to make serious and tough choices right now.

Today, we are barreling toward a fiscal crisis like a downhill freight train. A few weeks ago, Standard & Poor’s essentially threatened to downgrade the United States’ AAA credit rating unless policymakers reduce our budget deficits. This announcement stunned the political and financial world, but after years of reckless spending it should not have come as a surprise.

In only the past decade — since 2000 — total federal spending has doubled. Last year’s level reached 24 percent of our nation’s economy — a post-WWII record and far higher than recent years have averaged. This spending surge has resulted in massive, record-breaking deficits. As recently as 2007, our deficit was only 1.2 percent of our gross domestic product. This year it is over 9 percent, or $1.4 trillion. Our government is borrowing about 40 cents of every dollar it spends.

The recent, huge deficits have, inevitably, created a mountain of debt. Over the past 20 years, our debt had remained fairly constant as a percentage of our national output, averaging about 41 percent of GDP. Today it’s 64 percent. It’s going to be 69 percent of GDP by October. This trajectory is clearly unsustainable.

President Obama and congressional Democrats have refused to show the leadership our country needs. The president’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 includes massive tax increases that will strangle job creation when our country is still struggling with an unacceptably high unemployment rate. His budget only exacerbates our fiscal crisis, adding $9.5 trillion to our national debt over the next ten years. And the president’s budget is silent on the major entitlement programs that are driving our medium-term deficits.

But at least the president proposed a budget, however inadequate. That is more than can be said for the Democratic-controlled Senate, which appears poised to go a second consecutive year without passing any budget at all.

This is an abdication of leadership that has to end. We need real spending cuts now, along with programmatic entitlement reforms and pro-growth tax policies. Together, they will put our government on a sustainable fiscal path and our economy in a strong growth mode. Congress needs to demonstrate the ability and the will to balance the federal budget within a reasonable time frame.

That is why I am introducing, along with a number of my Senate Republican colleagues, a responsible and commonsense budget for fiscal year 2012 that balances the budget in nine years.

My budget reaches a $50 billion surplus in 2021. It does so by gradually reducing spending to 18.5 percent of GDP and recognizing the strong economic growth that would accompany restored fiscal discipline and pro-growth tax policy. It reduces our publicly held debt from this year’s 69 percent of GDP to 52 percent by 2021. In short, it demonstrates that it is possible to balance our budget without job-crushing tax increases.

While Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all require structural reforms soon, it is neither necessary nor politically feasible to take them all on at once. Focusing on just the current ten-year budget window, my budget makes no changes to Social Security. Changes to Medicare are limited to restoring the fictitious and unspecified cuts projected in the president’s budget. For Medicaid, we adopt an approach similar to that of the House budget — block-granting Medicaid funding to the states at reduced levels, while giving the states flexibility to devise their own systems for providing health care to the poor.

For defense spending, my budget adopts an approach similar to the one in the House-passed budget and the president’s budget. My budget, however, gradually phases out funding for the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan by 2018. Non-defense discretionary spending is reduced to 2006 levels and frozen for the subsequent six years. Mandatory spending apart from the big three entitlement programs is gradually reduced to slightly above 2007 levels by 2014, and then allowed to grow at the rate of consumer prices, with certain particularly misguided programs such as farm subsidies taking bigger cuts.

Reducing our deficit is just one part of the plan to get our economy moving again. Like the House-passed budget, my budget calls for job-creating, across-the-board tax reform that will enable us to dramatically accelerate economic growth.

I propose to dramatically simplify the tax code by eliminating special-interest tax credits and carve-outs for politically chosen winners. My budget would consolidate the current six individual-income-tax brackets into three, cut the top individual- and corporate-tax rates to 25 percent, and index the Alternative Minimum Tax for inflation. It would also move us to a territorial tax system so that we would no longer hinder economic growth by subjecting overseas profits of American corporate subsidiaries to double taxation.

I am not aware of any country that has ever dramatically grown its government, spent well beyond its means, run massive deficits, accumulated huge debts, monetized large portions of them, and then lived happily ever after. We won’t be the first. We will either stay on our current path and suffer the inevitable consequences of fiscal crisis and economic stagnation, at best; or we will change course and adopt the fiscal discipline and pro-growth reforms that will allow another American century.

The time to choose is now. And time is running out.

Appearing on Fox Business News Tonight

I will be on the John Stossel show tonight on the Fox Business News Channel discussing gas drilling. This assumes my plane from Chicago to New York is on time.

The show starts at 7:30 (need to check that/might be 7:00). The plane lands at 6:11 if on schedule.

May 9, 2011

Big Spenders

Guest Column by Lowman S. Henry

State senate GOP leaders want to bust the budget

It is budget time in Harrisburg. The deadline for approving the state's new spending plan is June 30th. With Republicans in control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature there is resolve to get the job done on time - something that never happened during the Ed Rendell years.

But Republican unity - at the moment - ends with the calendar. Deep divisions are emerging between the decidedly more moderate senate Republican leadership and the conservative-leaning house GOP. The house has sided with Governor Tom Corbett when it comes to holding the line on spending.

You may recall that Pennsylvania faces a $4.5 billion budget deficit and that Governor Corbett has proposed deep spending cuts, especially in education funding, to balance the budget. The governor has said he won't accept any budget that spends more than $27.3 billion, which is the amount the commonwealth expects to have available to spend during the coming fiscal year without raising taxes.

Governor Corbett and Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R-Delaware) have had a running feud over taxes. During the campaign last year candidate Corbett pledged "no new taxes." Pileggi said it couldn't be done. Now Governor, Corbett has stuck to his pledge and Pileggi is trying every maneuver he can think of to take more money from the pockets of the state's recession ravaged taxpayers.

Oddly enough, the most recent point of disagreement is a surplus. Revenues over the past couple of months have come in at $506 million more than projected. The free-spending Pileggi wants to increase next year's spend figure by that amount. Corbett and house Republicans are saying no; the improved revenue flow can't be counted on and it would be fiscally irresponsible to increase spending at this time.

This kerfuffle again exposes the degree to which the Senate Republican leadership has yet to get the repeated messages sent by voters that they want the days of profligate spending in Harrisburg to come to an end. Recall it was Senate Republicans who caved into Governor Ed Rendell and provided the votes that passed the bloated budgets that gave us the current massive deficit. House Republicans held firm against the Rendell spending spree only to be sold out by the colleagues in the upper chamber.

All this is happening because the GOP leadership in the senate remains a bastion of old-time pork barrel politics. Despite the fact its current leadership came to power in the wake of voter outrage over the middle-of-the-night pay raise - which dispatched their predecessors into retirement - nothing has really changed in the senate.

There is growing restlessness among the grassroots over the lack of progress in Harrisburg toward enacting a conservative agenda. Conservatives are looking wistfully at New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and other states where real progress toward reform is being made. Five months into the legislative year next to nothing has been done in Penn's Woods.

The bottleneck is the state senate. On issue after issue the senate is frustrating the conservative agenda. It has yet to pass even a watered down version of Senate Bill # 1, the school choice bill. Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati (R-Jefferson) is pushing for a tax on Marcellus Shale drillers - a clear violation of the Corbett no tax pledge. There is general apathy in the state senate toward privatizing the state's liquor stores, a top priority of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny). And House Bill # 1, a common sense lawsuit abuse reform that actually passed the legislature during Ed Rendell's term before being met with a gubernatorial veto, is still sitting in a senate committee.

And now, with the budget process entering a critical phase, the senate's GOP leadership once again is sounding more like the Democratic State Committee than a Republican-controlled legislative body. Rather than working with the governor and their colleagues in the house to spend within our means, they are pushing for new taxes and higher spending.

If Scarnati and Pileggi want new taxes and more spending then they should put the matter to a floor vote right now - today. No cutting deals in the back rooms. If you want higher spending, then let's see if your caucus members will put up a recorded vote. That way we the people can find out who is on the side of the taxpayers and who is on the side of the spending interests.

In the meantime, Governor Corbett and the House GOP are standing firm against raising taxes or increasing the spend number. Voters are watching this intramural dispute very closely. Republicans were given control of state government to put a lid on spending - we will soon see if that promise is actually kept.

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

May 8, 2011

Pennsylvanians pay their taxes, Pa. firms should, too

Guest Column by Sharon Ward

General Electric is the nation's largest corporation, with worldwide profits topping $14 billion in 2010, including more than $5 billion earned in the U.S. With profits that large, you would expect the company to have a pretty sizable tax bill, right? Think again.

GE owed Uncle Sam nothing in federal taxes. In fact, the company got $3.2 billion back in tax benefits. At a time when Washington is cutting a wide array of critical services; from food for nursing women and infants to heating assistance for seniors, policymakers continue to look the other way when it comes to tax loopholes.

These loopholes allow corporations to shift foreign profits into accounts in Ireland, the Netherlands and Bermuda to avoid U.S. corporate taxes. These gimmicks are so well known they have nicknames, the Double Irish and the Dutch Sandwich, and they have a huge cost, as much as $90 billion a year.

The giveaways are alive and well in Pennsylvania's antiquated tax system, too.
If your family earns more than $33,000 a year, congratulations. You pay more in income taxes than 85 percent of Pennsylvania corporations. Seventy-four percent of Pennsylvania corporations don't pay one dime in income taxes.

Large multistate and multinational corporations such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot are employing high-priced accountants to game Pennsylvania's tax system. Tax loopholes allow them to shift income earned here to tax-haven states like Delaware, leaving little or no income on the books in Pennsylvania.

There is one modest-looking building in downtown Wilmington, Del., that is home to 14,000 shell corporations. They consist of little more than a post office box, but it's enough to funnel profits through. You and I don't have the luxury of hiding away our income in other states.

The Delaware Loophole costs Pennsylvania taxpayers $500 million to $600 million a year. Secretary of Revenue Dan Meuser says the Corbett administration is committed to investigating companies that aren't paying taxes rightfully owed to Pennsylvania. This is a good start, but accountants can always find more loopholes.

Instead of playing catch-up, Pennsylvania should get ahead of the game. For starters, policymakers should do what 23 other states have done and enact a law known as combined reporting. This would require a corporation and all its subsidiaries to report combined earnings and pay taxes on income earned in Pennsylvania from all related businesses. Ninety-seven percent of Pennsylvania's largest corporations already operate in states with combined reporting.

Pennsylvania's tax problems go well beyond corporate tax loopholes. The state also gives generous tax breaks to the tobacco and natural gas industries. Pennsylvania is the only major gas-producing state without a drilling tax, and we're the only state without an excise tax on smokeless and other tobacco products.

Pennsylvanians support ending these multimillion-dollar tax breaks by large margins, and even the gas industry has agreed to the drilling tax.

Gas drillers already enjoy a favorable tax climate in Pennsylvania. Generous federal tax incentives for energy production significantly reduce their state and federal income tax bills. Range Resources, Pennsylvania's No. 2 Marcellus Shale well driller, had an average federal income tax rate of 0.4 percent from 2005 to 2008, due in large part to these giveaways.

Altogether, we have identified $1.8 billion in state tax loopholes, special tax breaks and other giveaways that should be eliminated before cutting as much from schools, colleges, homeless shelters and supports for people with disabilities.

Pennsylvania's sales tax, riddled with exemptions that make little sense, is another candidate for reform. Do we really need to exempt helicopters or horse-shoeing from the sales tax?

At a concession stand, popcorn and soda are taxed, but candy and gum are exempt. Deodorant and antiperspirants are taxed; toothpaste is not. Tax is collected on a book purchased at Barnes and Noble, but not one sold on

For too long, lawmakers have looked the other way while other states have closed these types of loopholes, making their tax systems fairer. We can no longer afford to ignore this problem.

Lawmakers have a choice. If they choose to keep costly loopholes for the well-connected, the rest of us will pay more in higher property taxes, higher college tuition and a weakened economy.

We pay our taxes, and so should the GEs and Range Resources of the world.

It's time to send a message to our lawmakers: Before cutting schools, ending full-day kindergarten or reducing rape crisis services, we need to make sure everyone is paying their fair share. We will all be better off for it.

Sharon Ward is director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center

May 4, 2011

Gas prices set to hit $4 dollars a gallon

I bought my first car, a white 1976 Camaro in 1999. At that time the price of gas per gallon was 99 cents. I bought the car off my brother and boy did I have fun cruising around in an American built muscle car. There truly is nothing like a Chevy 350 small block engine with a four barrel carburetor. With gas about to surpass the $4 a gallon mark once again for the second time in the past five years, I think I can say those cruising days are long gone.

There is no doubt that working families are suffering now that gas prices are on the rise again. High gas prices at this very moment is impacting the price of goods and services we use everyday.

So what exactly is contributing to high gas prices?

Many economist say that gas prices are usually tied to a higher demand and the increase consumption in a growing global economy. Well the world economy has been in a recession for the past two and half years so why are they on the rise again?

What we have is a classic asset bubble similar to the housing bubble where the price is determined by "group think" than the actual market. Our economy is not expanding appreciably – to the extent there’s more spending, it’s because the credit policies – and group psychology – that got us into this mess are being doubled down on now.

Worldwide demand is up to some extent, but two things: first, a lot of this is anticipated demand – if everybody wishes hard enough together, we can make the worldwide debt crisis go away and go back to unbridled growth. Second, remember that global oil transactions are conducted in dollars. The rise in oil prices – and the Dow, for that matter – is far more a reflection of both wishful thinking and a debased dollar than it is healthy economic growth in the U.S.

After all, China’s been growing at 10 percent for what, thirty years now? That demand is already baked into the speculators’ cake. Besides, China’s got some of its own fiscal fires to put out right now.

In addition, with the moratorium President Obama put into place, domestic supply is projected to take a hit to the tune of 220,000 barrels a day.

It is the policy of this administration – and Big Government in general (for Big Government now dwarfs any reigning administration – but, serendipitously for Democrats, it always leans far left) – to cause energy prices to skyrocket here in America, even in the face of overall increased global demand.

The rise in fuel prices is NOT a sign of a healthy economy back on track – not here in the U.S. It is a red flag signaling that, in terms of recession, we’re at the beginning, not the end, of a protracted fall. And remember, President Obama himself said coal prices would “necessarily” skyrocket under his proposed policies – do you think his arbitrary moratorium is unrelated?

It is all part of the plan among liberals to have a controlled society that not only limits your and my ability to use energy the way we see fit, but to ratchet the U.S.’s power as a hegemon back to make way for the Utopian Global Community. That’s why Cap and Trade will be put into law by hook or by crook; if they can’t legislate it, they’ll regulate it into existence – all to limit U.S. growth. To cut American prosperity off at the knees.

Well, your prosperity and mine, that is. If one of the consequences of a Marxist economy is that those elite Big Thinkers who are self-appointed to “nudge” us into a higher plane of existence happens to be that they accrue vast wealth in the process (a la Al Gore), well, that’s just way the society crumbles, right?

China must look at us and laugh; they don’t have to entice us into the spider’s web. Chumps that we are, we’re walking right in, blinded by Utopian goggles.

So hang on to your hats everyone. Gas prices will keep rising and there is no end in sight. And don't expect President Obama along with the other clowns in Washington to do what is needed to create sound free market energy policy in this country. Just get ready for the tripple dip recession that is about to descend upon us.

May 3, 2011

State Representative Nick Miccarelli On The Capture Of Osama Bin Laden

Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delco, staff sergeant with the Army National Guard and Iraq War vet) offered remarks in the House Chamber yesterday regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden. Great line: "Today, as in WWII, America showed that we're not only willing to fight, but we're pretty good at it too."

PA House Democratic Leaders Can't Wait To Spend Unexpected Revenue


Pennsylvania House Democrats must be salivating at the mouth after seeing reports that state revenues are expected to exceed expectations by almost a billion dollars this year. In a press release today that would put Pavlov's dogs to shame, House Democratic Leaders are already demanding that the education cuts originally proposed by Governor Corbett's be restored.
“Because this year’s revenue collection becomes a base for next year, we can securely predict that the state will have an extra one billion dollars available to fund critical needs in the coming year’s budget,” said Appropriations Committee Democratic Chairman Joe Markosek, D-Allegheny/Westmoreland.

“We have an opportunity to offset some of the draconian cuts in the governor’s budget by using the additional funds available to Pennsylvania without increasing taxes. As Democrats, we cannot stand by and watch the hardest-hit people in Pennsylvania suffer unnecessarily, namely our school-age children from kindergarten through college and the working poor who have been robbed of basic health insurance,” Markosek said. Click Here To Read More
All I got to say is wow. The ink isn't even dry yet off the original report from the State Department of Revenue that revealed that revenue collection for 10 months of the current fiscal year is $505.9 million ahead of estimate and House Democrats are lining up to spend the money as usual.

Haven't they learned anything from the mess that Democratic Governor Rendell left this state in? With the economy still growing ate less than two percent a year and unemployment still at 8%, all the Democrats want to do is talk about spending and raising taxes or fees.

These guys haven't got a clue about how to be good stewards of our tax dollars. How irresponsible is these statements considering the huge pension obligation facing our state in future years that many of these same lawmakers voted punt down the road to future generations.

Reading mayor candidate's house party busted by police

Yeah!! "Party Like A RockStar" Mayor!

This is probably the most boneheaded story I've seen in a long time. Robert Melendez, a candidate for Reading mayor, was charged with alcohol-related offenses following a February 13th raid on his house.

Can you say House Party! Apparently the Reading police are accusing Melendez of running a Speakeasy out of his home.
On the date of the party, police said they set up surveillance when they saw Melendez setting up a make-shift entrance to the side of his house.

Later that night and early into the next morning, police said a large number of people began entering Melendez's home.

Shortly before 2:30 a.m. undercover police officers approached the house and discovered a long line of people waiting to get inside and that they were being charged $10 to get into the party. Click Here To Read More
Personally, I don't know what to think of this story. Melendez might be the dumbest candidate ever or he might just be the coolest! Come to think of it Melendez, "U Da Man Bro"!

Imagine this guy as mayor of Reading and the questions on the minds of his constituents! Hey mayor you having a party tonight? Hey mayor what's on tap tonight mayor? Hey mayor what time do the strippers get here? Gut to luv it!

Melendez is campaigning that Reading needs "Change". Maybe the citizens of Reading should think about the change in store for them if they support for this guy for mayor.

May 1, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is dead!

Fox News has confirmed about 15 minutes ago that the world's most wanted terrorist is dead. Killed in Pakistan apparently from an attack carried out by US military officials!

If I had a shotgun I would be shooting it in the air right now. So many of my friends and our entire generation's lives was changed because of this man.

To all of my high school and college buddies who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to those who lost their life to protect our freedoms, I'm raising my glass tonight boys.

Ding Dong The SOB is Dead!


Update from The Associated Press:

The Associated Press has confirmed that Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan.

PennPatriot's View:

The death of Bin Laden should send a message to every extremists in the Islamic world. If you want to continue your holy war against the U.S. we will find you and kill you no matter what it takes. You won't find glory. You won't become a martyr. In the end it is just you staring down the barrel of justice!