The Locker Room

February 17, 2011

New CJTV exclusive: The governor sends her budget to the GOP-led General Assembly

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 6:24 PM

Anthony Greco's latest CarolinaJournal.tv exclusive focuses on the governor's unveiling of her budget plan, along with legislative reaction.

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New CJO exclusive: Perdue's budget plan released

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:43 PM

David Bass' latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive documents Gov. Beverly Perdue's release of her proposed state budget plan, which would extend the state's temporary sales tax.

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Alarmists attempt ambush of Inhofe: confront him with phony poll numbers, not arguments

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:26 PM

What happens when Sen. James Inhofe, the most prominent critic of global warming alarmism in the US Senate is confronted in the halls of Congress by wild eyed alarmists? Does he run away, as Al Gore might do if the table were turned, or would grab the inquisitor by and yell “who are you?” Actually he stops and tries to have a civil conversation. This is what happened when Inhofe had a microphone and camera shoved in his face by alarmist author Mark Hertsgaard who is trying to promote his new book called Hot.  The entire confrontation and Inhofe’s very civil response can be viewed here. What was interesting is that what Hertsgaard apparently thought was the most compelling evidence that he could confront Inhofe with was a poll claiming that 98 percent of  climate scientists essentially held the same alarmist views that people like Hertsgaard and Al Gore hold. Of course polls are not an argument, but this poll is especially shady. Here’s the background—(Look under graph for the story about the poll. Make sure you also look at the graph which  also tells an interesting story of recent temperature trends). 

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Does the federal government needed in housing finance?

Posted by George Leef at 12:33 AM

The interventionists are trying to defend against the argument (well, more than argument; fact is the word) that federal meddling in the housing market with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created the disastrous bubble and therefore we ought to have the federal government completely get out of this field. They're claiming that government intervention was necessary back in the New Deal era because mortgage finance was too expensive, thus limiting home ownership to the rich.

Cato's Mark Calabria annihilates that assertion in this Cato@Liberty post. He shows that prior to the New Deal, home ownership was hardly something just for "the rich" since more than 45 percent of Americans owned their homes. Moreover, that was at a time when the population was on average much younger than it is today. Younger people are more likely to rent than own.

I'd add this point. Capital is scarce. There's only so much money available for people and businesses to borrow. If the cost is high for mortgages, that's because it's in high demand for other possible uses. Federal meddling can't make more capital available, but only alter the market's allocation. That appears to help some people (home buyers) but only by hurting others, such as people who might have gotten better jobs if businesses had been able to expand, but didn't.

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Voter ID Myth: Number of People Without IDs and Harm Imposed

Posted by Daren Bakst at 12:21 AM

North Carolina Republicans are supposed to be introducing a bill soon that would require voters to show photo IDs at the polls.

I have addressed this issue before and explained the serious problems with the arguments made by opponents of such a requirement.

In this new WRAL article, there is a key issue worth addressing because it is constantly getting brought up:

WRAL keeps pointing to the State Board of Elections analysis that shows "as many as 700,000 to 1 million registered voters might not have a state-issued photo ID."  This number is being used to suggest the number of voters that would be harmed by a photo ID requirement.

This "harm" is a moot point because photo ID laws, such as Indiana's and Georgia's, provide protections such as free IDs to anyone that could be harmed by a photo ID requirement.

Even if the SBOE analysis is accurate (which is very questionable), what's the point?

1) Most photo ID laws require that any government-issued photo ID be provided by voters, not that a voter have a state-issued photo ID.  These other IDs could include passports, military IDs, out-of-state driver's licenses, federal employee IDs, tribal IDs, etc.

This isn't a minor point.  It helps to explain, in part, why Civitas Institute polling (according to the WRAL article) shows that only one percent of current voters don't have one form of government issued photo ID (not just state-issued ID).

2) The suggestion somehow is that because these people don't have a state ID, they make up a population that will have to face a massive obstacle to secure an ID.  This is a faulty premise.

The question that must be asked is out of those who don't have any photo ID (not just state ID), how many can't afford an ID (or have some other obstacle)?  Narrowing the numbers down this way will bring the SBOE numbers way down as to who could be harmed.  Again, this is all moot because of the protections that voter ID laws have in place.   

3) And just to make sure there really aren't any financial obstacles, as mentioned, photo ID laws require free IDs so people can vote.  There goes the poll tax argument.

4) If modeled after Indiana,  indigent voters wouldn't even need a photo ID because they can cast provisional ballots and later sign affidavits.

5) In the Supreme Court case holding that the Indiana photo ID law was constitutional (Crawford v Marion County Election Board) , the plaintiffs couldn't even establish the harm caused by a photo ID requirement:

Further, the deposition evidence presented in the District Court does not provide any concrete evidence of the burden imposed on voters who currently lack photo identification...The record says virtually nothing about the difficulties faced by either indigent voters or voters with religious objections to being photographed.

6) Experience in other states regarding the issuance of free IDs also is very instructive.  Every state law is different regarding ID requirements at polls (see complete list), so it is possible that a state that accepts more non-state issued ID's will provide fewer free IDs.  There are other factors as well that could go into how many free IDs are issued.

It is also important to remember that free IDs are issued to anyone, regardless of income.  Therefore, the number of free IDs issued doesn't ncessarily indicate how many people need IDs due to financial reasons.  The reason why everyone doesn't get a free ID is because these IDs have limited purposes.

Indiana

Free IDs issued in 2010: 168,264
Total Registered Voters: 4,332,865 (as of January 5, 2011)
Free IDs Issued as % of Total Registered Voters: 3.9%

Note: North Carolina has 6,099,066 registered voters.

I am still going through other state data, but it appears that the numbers could be much lower than Indiana when it comes to total free IDs issued.  For example, in the far more comparable state of Georgia:

Georgia

Free IDs issued between June 2006 – Dec 31 2010: 23,899
Total Registered Voters: 5,839,998 (as of February 1, 2011)
Free IDs Issued as % of Total Registered Voters (Per Year): .09%

As you can see, even these numbers are not remotely consistent with a concern than nearly a million people would be affected by a photo ID requirement.

Bottom Line:  The photo ID laws protect people from any potential harm, and even without these protections, very few people would be affected.

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JLF budget expert's initial reaction: Gov. Perdue does not go far enough, fast enough

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:02 AM

The following comments represent Joseph Coletti's initial response to the governor's budget proposal:

RALEIGH — Gov. Beverly Perdue's state budget plan offers a good start for lawmakers looking to trim North Carolina's overgrown government obligations. But the John Locke Foundation's chief budget expert says Perdue's plan also relies on tricks to kick critical decisions down the road.

The governor does not seem to recognize government's proper role in bringing jobs to North Carolina, said Joseph Coletti, JLF Director of Health and Fiscal Policy Studies.

"The governor makes a number of small decisions right," Coletti said. "Consolidating programs and agencies, closing state forests that nobody visits, and charging more for admission to aquariums are all good small ideas. But the governor kept every single teacher and teacher assistant, even though she admitted in her State of the State address that some of them are not educating students. If she is serious about focusing on the core services, we should also make sure those core services actually achieve their objectives."

"The private sector lost 300,000 jobs in the last three years, even with billions of dollars of targeted tax cuts and transfers of tax dollars promised to favored companies," he explained. "More corporate giveaways like the ones proposed in this budget are not economic development. Let's get rid of the carve-outs and lower both the corporate and individual income tax rates so that workers, entrepreneurs, and their families can keep and invest more of their own money. Gov. Perdue has taken a first step by lowering the corporate income tax rate, but keeping most of the sales tax increase that was supposed to expire hurts businesses and working families."

"If people really think government is the best solution to the state's problems, let's create a 'tax me more' fund and let those who want to pay more do so," he added. "Anyone could choose to pay at that old level. They also can pay more if they choose. Let the advocates for higher taxes put their money into state government directly instead of taking money from the rest of us."

The John Locke Foundation will release Coletti's detailed state budget proposals soon.

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Ethanol subsidies: good for a special interest group, bad for the rest

Posted by George Leef at 11:24 AM

Consider this Washington Times article by Robert Bryce (whose book Gusher of Lies is excellent). Producing ethanol as a motor fuel is economic lunacy, consuming resources that are more valuable than the product. But Obama wants the continued support of the small number of people who benefit from the subsidies, so he perpetuates the waste.

I recall seeing Obama campaign literature in 2008 saying that once in the White House he wouldn't listen to lobbyists, but only to "the people." What a joke. Will people fall for it again next year?

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Governor Perdue's budget: initial details

Posted by Rick Henderson at 11:21 AM

The governor is set to release her budget at 10:00. Keep checking here. We'll be posting details as they become available.

10:02 David Bass reports these first details:

* Lowers corporate tax from 6.9 percent to 4.9 percent
* Keeps the state sales tax at 5.5 percent; lowers it gradually by 0.25 percent as the economy improves (no mention of expiring income tax surcharge)
* Creates an unemployment insurance tax credit for small business
* Don't see anything about video poker
* Most state programs face a 7 percent to 15 percent cut
* She recommends a $7 million nonrecurring reduction in the JDIG program
* Nonrecurring appropriation of $10 million to the One North Carolina Fund
* Reduces annual appropriations to the N.C. Biotech Center by 10 percent, or around $2 million
* Reduces funding to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund by 50 percent, or $50 million, for the 2011-13 biennium on a non-recurring basis.
* Overall, budget is $2.2 billion less than the continuation budget for the 2008-2009FY
* Allocates another $150 million to the Rainy Day Fund for a total balance of $300 million

10:09 As many as 5,000 state positions may be cut.

10:14 Perdue mentioned offers of early retirement for state workers in the State of the State. She expects 1,000 to take her up on the offer, at a savings of $208 million in first two years.

10:18 David notes that Perdue's 0.25 cent sales tax cut would continue to leave in place three-quarters of the "temporary" increase passed in 2009. So it's still a tax increase from 2009 levels.

10:20 On the economic incentives/"job creation" front, David also points out that the $7 million reduction in JDIG is more than offset by a $10 million increase in the One North Carolina Fund.

10:25 Perdue called "philosophical and moral debate" over video gambling a distraction. So she's not addressing it now.

10:27 Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says "Gov. Perdue is balancing the budget on the backs of North Carolina taxpayers and local governments" and is "breaking her promise to end the taxes she raised."

10:30 Perdue won't touch Golden LEAF, says SB 13 (Balanced Budget Act) harms N.C.'s business incentives program. (Hasn't said -- yet -- if she'll veto it.)

10:32 Perdue says she'll "work on" SB 13 today. Veto forthcoming?

10:45 Perdue's budget "saves" $2.4 billion in first year of biennium, $2.0 billion in second

11:01 Budget director Charles Perusse says the governor estimates a 5.2% reduction in state govt work force compared to 2008. He also says the budget holds teacher and teacher assistant jobs harmless.

11:04 Roughly 4,500 jobs cut in K-12, all in auxiliary jobs: custodians, lunchroom workers, etc.

11:05 Perusse says new Career and College Promise program would cost $50 million; would let high school students now taking some community college courses get a full year's credit at time of diploma. Then go to community college for one extra year and get associate degree. Starts July 1.

11:11 Perusse says no cuts in Medicaid first year of biennium, saving $300 million. $50 million in lower-than-expected savings in health plan, $100 million in lower payment to pension program that's "healthy."

See a Carolina Journal report on pension funding here.

11:20 Press conference ended. Budget will be presented to first General Assembly committee this afternoon. Another press conference featuring GOP legislative leaders this p.m. as well.

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QE2

Posted by Dr. Karen Y. Palasek at 10:54 AM

Don't miss Mark Thornton's Mises Daily article today, with a couple of great links, including the one to the Billion Prices Project. The Project monitors prices of ~5 million articles, sold by ~300 online retailers in ~70 countries, and allows the viewer to see the daily levels of its metrics along the entire data timeline.

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'Every child, OUR child'

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:33 AM

The Yahoo! news feed picks up a Redbook article by a mother irritated by busybodies telling her how to raise her child: "the people who pipe up, unbidden, because they see you with a child and assume you have no idea what you're doing."

As she lists her examples, her frustration mounts, causing her to exclaim such things as "Oh, distant relative/person whose aisle I shared at the supermarket, I'm so glad you know exactly my child needs" and "you don't know diddly about my kid, and our relationship, and what works for us."

She hits on some good points, but she misses the absolute worst offenders in this respect: busybodies in government and activists pushing for more power to those busybodies.

Busybodies who have no couth inserting themselves into your family situation as if you're waiting for them to rescue you from your own unenlightened parenting can at least be ignored or told off; busybodies with the coercive power of government cannot.

Depending on where you live, they will be there forcibly preventing you from sending your child to the nearest or best local school, actively preventing you from having a menu of educational options, forcing you to strap your child in a car seat even when he's reached school age and can therefore ride the schoolbus which contains neither seat belts nor car seats, depriving you of places to shop to feed and clothe your child (e.g., "Wal-Mart oppresses the poor!"), dictating dietary restrictions and trying to shut down select restaurants, taking other economic choices from your family because of environmentalist nonsense (which they invariably say is out of concern for the children), et cetera ad nauseam.

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Pope lecturer discusses the need to scale back the federal government’s size

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM

If you haven’t had a chance to watch Michael Boskin’s John W. Pope Lecture for N.C. State University, you might enjoy the following excerpt of a CarolinaJournal.tv interview with Boskin.

In this clip, an outtake from an interview conducted for Carolina Journal Radio, Boskin discusses the need to scale back the federal government’s role in our lives.

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Will examines the collision of two bad laws

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM

George Will — who speaks Feb. 26 at the John Locke Foundation’s sold-out 21st anniversary dinner — focuses his latest Newsweek column on the way in which the confusing federal health care reform law has muddled a legal battle over an Ohio law that forbids false statements during election campaigns about a candidate’s voting record.

Recently unseated Democratic Rep. Steve Driehaus is suing a pro-life group that contends his vote for ObamaCare amounts to support for taxpayer-funded abortions. Driehaus disputes this characterization, emphasizing his work to help guarantee the federal health care reform legislation would not lead to federal funding for abortions.

The arguments of the pro-life groups are convincing, but the law’s pertinent provisions are so complex that Driehaus’s good faith should not be questioned. The law was cobbled together in haste. Many provisions are unclear because they were written to mollify one faction without angering another. Opacity was indubitably necessary for the dubious project of producing a congressional majority for legislation opposed by a large majority of Americans.

And then there is Ohio’s misbegotten “false statement” law, which is an invitation to mischief as a campaign tactic. Shortly before the election, when Driehaus learned that SBA List was planning to make its accusations against him on billboards, he got the law’s enforcement agency, the Ohio Elections Commission, to find probable cause for questioning SBA List’s assertion. The billboard company decided not to proceed when Driehaus threatened to sue it. Now Driehaus is suing SBA List for defamation.

This episode teaches two lessons. First, legislation that must be ambiguous and misleading, even to supporters, in order to be passed should not be passed. Second, no good can come of a law that makes government the arbiter of the truth of political speech.

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Where’s the outrage?

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:00 AM

I’m reminded of Roy Cordato’s musings about the North Carolina State Fair “peace booth” when I read the following in Newsweek:

The broad outlines of the CIA’s operations to kill suspected terrorists have been known to the public for some time—including how the United States kills Qaeda and Taliban militants by drone aircraft in Pakistan. But the formal process of determining who should be hunted down and “blown to bits,” as Rizzo puts it, has not been previously reported. A look at the bureaucracy behind the operations reveals that it is multilayered and methodical, run by a corps of civil servants who carry out their duties in a professional manner. Still, the fact that Rizzo was involved in “murder,” as he sometimes puts it, and that operations are planned in advance in a legalistic fashion, raises questions. …

The number of such killings, carried out mostly by Predators in Pakistan, has increased dramatically during the Obama administration, and these covert actions have become an integral part of U.S. counterterrorism strategy.

Where’s the protest march?

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Maybe she should stick to international aid analysis

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:59 AM

Economist Dambisa Moyo atttracted much well-deserved publicity for her conclusions about the ineffectiveness of most government-based international aid — conclusions that mirrored those of White Man’s Burden author William Easterly.

It’s unfortunate, then, that Newsweek documents some of Moyo’s views on other topics. Some are good:

Moyo’s argument is that Western governments unwisely encouraged their citizens to borrow too much and sink the money into the unproductive investment of a home, with all the subprime consequences that we have seen since. They set up unaffordable Ponzi state-pension schemes.

Other ideas? Well, perhaps she should leave the China adulation to such stellar thinkers as Thomas Friedman.

Moyo condemns the short-term outlook of Western politics and half admires China’s ability to make quick, tough decisions unencumbered by democratic constraints. She cites the moment when China killed 2 million birds in a matter of days to avert avian flu, while America failed to kill any.

I won’t even delve into the line about President Obama and his bipartisanship.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:49 AM

Sara Burrows' latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive focuses on three bills in the General Assembly that aim to help North Carolina retake some authority from the federal government. 

John Hood's Daily Journal explains why the state should compensate victims of its forced sterilization program.

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