The Locker Room

December 09, 2010

New CJO exclusive: State boards and commissions on the chopping block

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:18 PM

Don Carrington's latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive focuses on the future of state boards and commissions.

Gov. Beverly Perdue announced today that she wants to get rid of many of these groups. The new Republican-led General Assembly will have a large say over new appointments to the boards that remain.

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House Democrats: Uncut and Raw

Posted by Daren Bakst at 4:06 PM

WARNING: This is a blog post about House Democrats and their use of very bad language.  This post isn't suitable for anyone under 17 or anyone with a heart condition.

Some House Democrats reportedly are really angry at President Obama over tax "cuts."  From Roll Call:

The frustration with President Barack Obama over his tax cut compromise was palpable and even profane at Thursday’s House Democratic Caucus meeting.

One unidentified lawmaker went so far as to mutter “f--- the president” while Rep. Shelley Berkley was defending the package the president negotiated with Republicans. Berkley confirmed the incident, although she declined to name the specific lawmaker.

There apparently was a lot of anger.  Nothing gets the House Democrats more worked up than letting taxpayers keep their own money.

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Ludwig von Mises on the essence of [classical] liberalism

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:13 PM

"The program of liberalism...if condensed into a single word, would have to read: property, that is, private ownership of the means of production...All the other demands of liberalism result from this fundamental demand." Mises, Liberalism, 1929 [1962], p.19.

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I wonder...

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:00 PM many of those who want the government to decide what is produced, how it is produced, and how it is paid for in the health care industry, would also want the government to make these same decisions for the industry that they work in.

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Speaking of No Labels

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:54 PM

Stanley Kurtz critiques for National Review Online the arguments put forward by No Labels backer David Frum:

The root of the problem, I think, is that Frum’s analysis of conservatism’s dilemma in 2008 has served him poorly. Frum’s ostensible purpose is to “build a conservatism that can win again.” But we already won, and did so by taking a very different route than that recommended by Frum. A look at Frum’s 2008 book Comeback helps to measure the distance we’ve traveled in two years. In Comeback, Frum warns against reviving a “more principled” Reagan-style conservatism — as the Tea Party has just done, with great success. “Most Americans [want] the federal government to spend more rather than tax less,” said Frum in 2008. On issues like health care and the environment, Frum declared, “conservatives find themselves on the less popular side of the great issues of the day.”

Obama’s radicalism changed all this, reviving conservatism and uniting all wings of the party. Comeback was about changing with the times. Well, the times now demand a very different approach than Frum recommended in 2008. Two years ago, Frum founded a website dedicated to pulling Republicans toward the center. Since then, he’s been unwilling to acknowledge Obama’s radicalism, because that’s what has rendered his 2008 critique of conservatism moot and counterproductive. By rashly attacking his party’s base, Frum has unnecessarily isolated himself from his fellow conservatives. The result is No Labels, an ill-conceived attempt to suppress the very truth about Obama that has upended Frum’s plans.

No one can gainsay Frum’s intelligence, or his contributions to conservatism. To take but one example, Frum was a leader of the movement to sink the Harriet Miers nomination. Frum’s book on the Seventies will stand the test of time. But Obama changed everything. Obama is now the issue, and rightly so.

If you've forgotten Frum's arguments about the future of conservatism, he discussed them at N.C. State University in March and with Carolina Journal Radio:

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Paying doctors under ObamaCare

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 2:46 PM

You may remember that the only way Congress was able to make the budget score for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was to pretend that Medicare payments to doctors would fall 23 percent this year and continue falling according to the sustainable growth rate (SGR) schedule. Since the first cuts were supposed to take effect in 2002, Congress under Republicans and Democrats alike had always intervened, so the PPACA savings were fictional from the start. Making the "doc fix" permanent would have added $250 billion to the bill's cost.

But Congress has found a way to pay for its most recent temporary fix without racing the cost of PPACA. The new bill, which passed both houses by large majorities, reduces the size of tax subsidies for people purchasing insurance through an ObamaCare exchange and moves them to a sliding scale. Community Catalyst is not happy about this because they worry it sets a precedent for cutting the bill's spending to pay for other stuff. Sounds like a good start to me.

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Real Social Justice?

Posted by Amanda Vuke at 2:11 PM

Social Justice.

There's a word that leaves a bad taste in many conservative's mouths. Either that or you're considered sacrilegious if you don't adhere to the notion. What's interesting, though, is that like many other ideas, this one started out meaning something quite different than what those two words now mean.

In fact, it meant something so different I think many conservatives would agree with this original notion of Social Justice.

Luigi Taparelli D’Azeglio, the coiner of the phrase "Social Justice," believed that society was formed from different interactions and associations of people with each other -- these spheres needed freedom so personal relationships and local responsibility would be encouraged.

As is noted in this excellent column, "[Taparelli] held that true justice can’t be achieved without doing justice to our social nature and natural forms of association. Social justice entailed a social order in which government doesn’t overrun or crowd out institutions of civil society such as family, church and local organizations. Rather, they are respected, protected, and allowed to flourish."

"When we ignore, crowd out, or weaken nongovernmental institutions in the name of social justice, we hurt not only those institutions but the larger society as well. Those hit hardest, too often, are the very people Taparelli desired to help."

The column is definitely worth a considerate read.

h/t Tony Listi

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Goldberg says no to No Labels

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:56 PM

Jonah Goldberg rebuts for National Review Online the arguments supporting a new group called No Labels:

These no-labelers start from the premise that if you want what’s best for the country, you must declare independence from your political party, because Democrats and Republicans alike are either politically brainwashed dupes or are less than fully patriotic.

Such fuzzy thinking is a symptom of the growing fetishization of the “center” as an ideologically distinct and superior location and “independents” as a philosophically coherent group. In reality, there is no single center in American politics, and there are many different kinds of independents. ...

If I tell you I’m a conservative Republican, you’ll have no idea what my views are on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or beef jerky, but you’ll have a good idea of what I think about taxes and foreign policy. No, partisan labels aren’t perfect; both parties have ample disagreements within their ranks on pretty much every issue. But they’re better than nothing. They’re clarifying, not confusing. In other words, labels aren’t “meaningless” as so many self-described independents claim, but meaningful. If anything, what’s meaningless is the claim that you don’t believe in labels when obviously anybody who speaks intelligently about anything must use them.

What no-labelers really mean is that they don’t like inconvenient disagreements that hinder their agenda. And that’s what is so troubling, indeed so undemocratic, about this claptrap. When they claim we need to put aside labels to do what’s right, what they are really saying is you need to put aside what you believe in and do what they say.

Goldberg made a similar point during an interview with in connection with a September 2009 appearance at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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Sheila Jackson Lee—out of this world

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 1:52 PM

Let's hope Sheila Jackson Lee never gets to pilot a SpaceX Dragon, the private space exploration vehicle which recently completed a very successful inaugural flight and landing. For all we know, Ms. Lee might try to pilot the craft to Mars, to see in person the American flag planted there in 1969 by Neil Armstrong.

In her own words:

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A win for federalism?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:05 PM

Gary Andres notes in a new Weekly Standard article that newly empowered congressional Republicans are looking to back away from a top-down, Washington-centered approach toward state governments:

With Republicans capturing the majority in the House, growing their numbers in the Senate, and expanding control to 29 state houses, the time is right to reprise experiments in federalism.

“For the last four years the attitude in Congress was, ‘we’re going to tell you what to do,’” a senior GOP leadership aide told me. “Boehner’s view is just the opposite. He’s asking the governors, ‘what kind of flexibility do you need to succeed?’”

This also means the era of big mandates is over. “We understand you can’t ask the states to do more with less and then tie their hands,” he explained.

But there’s another reason why the time is ripe for new approaches to federalism – Washington needs a budgetary diet. But fiscal restraint produces its own set of political challenges.

As a result, Republicans in Washington need allies to navigate these shoals. Governors can help by validating the wisdom of breathing new life into creative federalism.

Revisit the debate about federalism in previous Locker Room posts here, here, and here.

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Americans for Tax Reform president asks whether taxes will 'doom' Obama in 2012

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:22 AM

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, assesses the new tax deal between President Obama and congressional Republicans in a column posted at Human Events:

The deal is interesting and important.  More interesting, and certainly more important, is what we learn about how aggressive each team will be in engaging over the next two years, how strong they think they are, how they read the mandate of the 2010 elections, whether Obama becomes Clinton and “triangulates” away from his somewhat reduced left wing base in Congress.

The first thing to note is that the “deal” is a truce, not a peace treaty. Every part of the “deal” lasts exactly two years. All the moving parts of the “deal” will be front and center in the 2012 election. Nothing has been solved.  Every conflict of vision, of policy, of ideology, has been deferred.  Two years.


So who won? Who lost? Who’s the toughest kid on the block? And what does this tell us about the future?

Republicans wanted all the lower tax rates made permanent. They only got two years. The death tax at 35 percent is a big step forward from the threatened 55 percent and is the ”new normal” from which all new negotiations begin. The social security rate cut is a cut in marginal tax rates that will reduce the tax wedge on new hires.  The additional spending on unemployment is a hike in spending, but one the Republicans might well have conceded later without “getting anything for it.”

Obama and the Democrats gave up more than most understand and unnecessarily and inexplicably put themselves in a substantially weaker strategic position in 2012.

Last year, Norquist offered an interesting assessment of the political scene in the wake of Obama's big 2008 presidential win.

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York details little-known Indian gambling measure in new federal spending bill

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:16 AM

Byron York's latest Washington Examiner article exposes a little-known provision in the latest federal spending bill that could boost the number of casinos tied to Indian tribes:

On Wednesday night the House voted, 212 to 206, to pass a giant spending bill that would keep parts of the government running for the next several months. But it turns out the measure, passed with no Republican votes, does more than that. A little-noticed provision inside the bill, pushed hard by Democrats, could also lead to a massive expansion in the number of casinos run by Indian tribes.

The measure would give the Secretary of the Interior the authority to quickly, and without approval from anyone else, take lands into trust for new tribes. What that means is this: A group of people with some native American background petitions the Secretary for recognition as an Indian tribe. That is approved. The new tribe owns a parcel of land and offers the land to the Interior Department for the purpose of the U.S. government taking title to the property -- taking it into trust -- and then allowing the tribe to use the land for its own purposes. That way, the new tribe doesn't have to pay taxes on the land and is also protected from legal actions against them.  Then the new tribe, enjoying those benefits of federal land ownership and not having to answer to any state or local authorities, opens a casino.

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"When your uncle’s name is Sam, you learn that life in a doghouse is preferable to life in a squirrel cage."

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 07:40 AM

Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek posted this here.

A reader responds to this post on the incentive effects of taxation:

In 2004, as a rural solo Iowa general surgeon, I made roughly $500K gross income. However, I then had to subtract:

$50K office expenses

$100K malpractice insurance

39.6% marginal Fed income tax

15.3% self-employed FICA & Medicare

9.98% Iowa income tax

and consider that I also had to pay

6% Iowa sales tax for items bought

$6K property tax

$1K medical license, organization fees, DEA license

Anyway, I figured that my marginal rate was >70% tax on what I was making, and my malpractice cost was headed for $144K.

As a non-economist, I very much felt as you said, “I do believe there are eventually incentive effects from raising marginal tax rates”, to the point that I quit medicine. I now teach, make ~$50K, but pay no Federal and little state income tax, given my family, and am quite clearly one of those who believes he had previously tried to live on the wrong side of the Laffer curve. The people who determine incentive effects are people like me. And now, given what the .gov is doing to health care, even in hindsight I feel I made the right decision. Although my gross income is 1/10 of what it used to be, my disposable income is at least 1/3 of what it used to be, and that’s sufficient.

I recall Greg Mankiw recently said much the same regarding taking on additional engagements – the extra income just wasn’t worth it. When your uncle’s name is Sam, you learn that life in a doghouse is preferable to life in a squirrel cage.

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The reason the Keynesian stimulus is failing

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 07:35 AM

Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek comments on the failure of the Keynesian stimulus to stimulate the economy here.

One reason Keynesian stimulus is so ineffective is the aggregation problem. Boosting “aggregate demand” hides the complexity of the economy and the fact that parts of the economy are fine and parts are sick. ...

....In this map, the metropolitan areas with high unemployment are in red. Average or low are in yellow. I am not surprised to see the red areas are in California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan, the places that had the biggest housing booms and the biggest housing busts. Could be a coincidence, of course. And it does play to my confirmation bias. I am open to other interpretations. Please share them.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:50 AM

Jim Stegall's new Carolina Journal Online exclusive focuses on the new Republican legislative majority's education priorities. 

John Hood's Daily Journal details the John Locke Foundation research staff's ideas for changes that GOP majority could pursue in its first 100 days.

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