The N&O reports Gov. Beverly Perdue deep-sixed the reported $1 billion tax hike deal between Democrat leaders in the House and Senate -- in part because she objects to the "tax on taxes," or income-tax surcharge legislators proposed.
That's the good news. The bad news is, Perdue wants the General Assembly to come up with an extra $200 million, or $1.2 billion in tax hikes overall.
Sen. Dan Clodfelter of Charlotte says to expect another continuing resolution, allowing negotiations to carry on into August.
Highlights from the post-meeting interviews with interested media:
Larry Leake, State Board of Elections chairman:
I would think it would be
accurate to say that there has been concern, that we have received information which
has caused us concern, that we have asked questions about it that has to do
with the reporting of in-kind contributions and the check which was mailed in
byt the Democratic Party in excess of $24,000 in essence is a payment by the
party for monies which the party actually did not get but reported that it had
received in-kind contributions. And now there is some doubt as to where those
contributions were in fact rendered.
Leake also said no one should expect any other announcement from the board
before Labor Day.
I have not at any point in
time said there would not be a hearing ... and I'm going to say to you that the
middle of September is not a long ways away.
Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, who has raised concerns with the
elections board about Easley campaign finances:
I'm pleased that the chairman
has indicated how seriously the board takes the investigation, and I do believe
that the board has a strong track record of getting to the bottom of campaign
There's a pattern here. It's
not just one case or two cases. There's multiple cases, over and over and over
again. Second, we're dealing with attorneys in the campaigns of the Easley
committee — as well as the Democratic Party — who understand the law and know
the law. So when you have over and over again large amounts of money spent for
products that benefit the campaign but are actually attributed to the party,
you know, that's not an accident. That's not just something we're doing for
bookkeeping purposes. It's a way to get around the law. And the chairman was
right, that it's a problem in North Carolina that the party can be used as a
conduit to filter what would be illegal contributions. And they are, in fact,
illegal contributions when they're filtered in that manner.
I think it is on purpose.
There will be an issue about criminal intent. The lawyers will argue about it.
But I think an ordinary person would recognize that this is a way to game the
system, to get around the law, to benefit my campaign. I'm cheating. I'm stealing.
I'm lying. All three of those things are happening here.
Mickey Kaus (who favors universal health care and doesn't care how much it costs) is in rare Kausfiles form in reacting to the president's press conference.
Nothing will change except the entire health care delivery system!
Which is going to be redesigned! By experts! Maybe get rid of fee for
service--Obama hinted at change along those lines. ...
I know I'd like universal health coverage. That's been debated ad
nauseam. What hasn't been debated--what have been blessed mainly by
pronouncements from on high couched in euphemisms and deception--are [Budget Director Peter] Orszag's "delivery system" changes. I'm worried that they will result
in denial of treatments that may be useful at saving and prolonging
lives. Obama's refusal at his press conference to declare that all
covered treatments would still be covered is an example of what people
worry about. And Obama knows--or even scarier, maybe he doesn't--that
the difficult decisions don't involve cheap blue pills that are as good
as red pills, but treatments that are the "best" but also the "most
I know, I know. If we go to a system of universal health insurance, rationing is inevitable. Still, it's fun to hear someone from the "health care for all" side who's a veteran of social policy debates and remains skeptical about some of the implications of central planning. Read the whole thing.
Earlier this afternoon, Larry Leake, chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Elections, acknowledged an ongoing criminal investigation into possible campaign finance violations by former Gov. Mike Easley.
Leake did not elaborate on the investigation during the board of elections meeting, but he did say that the N.C. Democratic Party had forwarded a check for around $24,000 to the SBE in reimbursement for funds that it was concerned were not properly reported.
Leake also said that Easley’s campaign provided a check slightly in excess of $2,000 to correct errors that might have been made in campaign finance disclosure.
There was speculation before the meeting that the board might schedule a public hearing to review possible violations of campaign finance law by Easley. Leake said that just because no such announcement was made “does not mean the investigation is over,” and that the investigation “will be as full and complete as can be.”
State Board of Elections members Charles Winfree (center) and Bill Peaslee (right) listen to Chairman Larry Leake explain that the board’s staff has not completed an investigation of the Mike Easley campaign finance issues.
Board Chairman Larry Leake answers reporters questions following the meeting.
They apply to consumable substances as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Bush's Surgeon General, Whatshisname (no, not the guy with the weird beard nor the crazy woman peddling onanism), have both taken the position, endorsed now by simpleton statists in North Carolina, that there is no safe level of exposure to cigarette smoke.
Now Obama's "Drug Czar," who is not the Surgeon General but a faceless bureaucrat with authority, has declared that "Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit." Not even that.
State senator Doug Berger, representatives Michael Wray, Lucy Allen, and Jim Crawford, and assorted leftists are hosting a town hall meeting on health care reform at the Old Vance County Courthouse in Henderson. Some questions for the participants.
If health reform works, shouldn't the proposal reduce the deficit? Why does the CBO show deficit growth ranging from $200 billion to $1.6 trillion over ten years?
If a panel of doctors and experts decide what is effective, how much research would it take to get them to recognize a mistake? How many years would that take?
If a panel of doctors and experts decide what is effective, what will I have to do if that care doesn't work for me or is counterproductive?
Doctors who see Medicare patients cannot accept payment from those patients for treatments Medicare denies. Why can't someone just guarantee me the right to see any doctor I want if I pay the bill?
President Obama said his plan "will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket." Does that mean I won't be allowed to choose a high deductible policy anymore?
President Obama said his plan will create "an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency." Some estimates say 30% of care is wasted. How will these doctors and experts decide which 30% that is? Will it include $4,000 a month chemotherapy like in Oregon where Barbara Wagner was offered physician assisted suicide instead?
President Obama promised that he would not raise any taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year. He already raised cigarette taxes and the health care proposals before Congress are even more expensive. How can the reform be deficit neutral with raising taxes on most Americans?
President Obama promised that the only thing those of us with private insurance would see is a $2,500 reduction in our annual premiums. How's that working out?
House Bill 524, the annexation reform bill, is on the House floor for third reading today.
Representative Blust, R-Guilford, immediately proposes an amendment that would alter the public vote portion of the bill, limiting the referendum to those people in the areas to be affected by the annexation -- instead of the entire municipality, as the bill currently specifies.
The Chair (Rep. Wainwright standing in for Speaker Hackney) tells Blust that because his amendment would require the title of the bill to change (which again, is prohibited), he must first make a motion to suspend the rules. Rep Blust asks for the rules to be suspended so the amendment can be considered.
Rules Chairman Rep Owens, D-Pasquotank, says there's no need to suspend the rules and asks members to defeat the motion to do so, saying that there was plenty of time to put forward amendments during the committee process.
Rep Luebke, D-Guilford, asks Rep Blust why he didn't submit this amendment while the bill was in the Finance Committee.
Rep Blust responds and says that he tried to submit the amendment when the bill was in Finance, but it was ruled out of order. He asks to let the amendment be heard, which would give the people a chance to vote. Urges the members to do the right thing.
Rep Blust, Rep Owens, and Rep Luebke go back and forth, arguing over whether there was enough time to submit amendments during the committee process.
Rep Lewis, R-Harnett, says that "hiding behind this rule is a waste of time" and says its about giving the people a vote.
The vote on the motion to suspend the rules is taken and the motion fails (54-61). The vote appears to largely be along party lines.
Rep Brown, R-Forsyth, proposes a second amendment. Again, the Chair rules that there must first be a motion to suspend the rules because the amendment would change the title of the bill. Rules Chair Owens once again speaks out against suspending the rules on the floor.
Rep Moore, R-Cleveland, directs a question to the Chair and asks if the amendment would indeed change the title. Wainwright says the ruling that the amendment would change the title stands. Rep Lewis asks if the amendment can be considered in sections so as to ensure that the title is not affected. Wainwright says the amendment is not divisible. Rep Stam, R-Wake, speaks in favor of suspending the rules.
The second motion to suspend the rules fails (54-61). The vote again appears to be along party lines.
No more amendments are proposed and now the debate is over the bill itself. Rep Guice, R-Transylvania, says that the people of North Carolina deserve better. Speaks about the "extreme importance" of property rights, saying that this issue needs debate, discussion, and involvement of all the members. He says that this bill is a start, but that we need to stop forced annexation and do more to protect personal property rights.
Rep Brown agrees and says that we should have done more, but that this bill is a slight step forward and that he would rather be moving forward than moving backward.
The bill passes third reading (83-31). The bill now goes over to the Senate for consideration.
I agree -- what's so revealing about this isn't the hypocrisy on property rights but rather the eagerness with which the leftist cheerleaders brand as "racist" anything that expresses disagreement with our lurch into the socialist nanny state.
Here is the FMW site on the controversy, showing the items that were so offensive that the kiosk was kicked out. What's offensive about calling, for example, for Obama's impeachment? I'm sure that bothers people who want to see our Beloved Leader carved into Mount Rushmore, but it's no more offensive than, say, the "Bush Lied People Died" stickers we used to see.
The American left has become extremely intolerant and authoritarian as this incident demonstrates.
The Can-Do Budget, building on the Back to Basics Budget released in March shows one way the House could have avoided new taxes and fees in a more responsible way than the original House budget plan.
This budget would redirect revenues from the Tobacco Master Settlement to the General Fund, eliminate $125 million in non-teaching centers in the UNC System, and remove corporate welfare programs such as the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Job Development Investment Grants, and tax carve-outs like the recently approved tax break for Apple Computer.
There is still time for the Conference Committee to bring openness, responsibility, accountability, and fairness to the state budget. They can start by looking at the recommendations in the attached report.
The House did approve an annexation bill yesterday (second reading), but as I have argued, it would do more harm than good. The "benefits" of the bill also are a charade, particularly the vote provision. The bill still has to pass its third reading today to get through the House.
Current articles make the bill sound better than it is.
1) The Vote: Annexation victims must get 15% of the total number of registered voters in the municipality and annexed area. There would be a bit over a year to obtain these signatures. For an area getting annexed by Raleigh, this would mean getting about 39,000 signatures (not including the extra signatures that would be needed because of "rejected" signatures.) This would be impossible.
For smaller cities like Goldsboro, an annexed area would need to get about 4,000 signatures--this would be very difficult but there's a slight chance it could happen.
If the signatures are obtained though, the reward is a vote by both the voters in the municipality and the annexed area. The voters in the municipality would dominate the number of voters in annexed areas, making the vote for all practical purposes a vote of the municipal residents. Note: The vote would take place in general elections which would help to ensure higher municipal turnout.
Instead of a city council forcing the annexation victims into the city, city residents will perform that function.
The only hope is that somehow the annexation victims can convince the city residents not to annex them. The annexation victims will be going up against the "education" campaigns of the municipalities and the likely advocacy efforts of other powerful local groups.
The following League action alert was sent to the UNC planners public listserv:
"Third, this divisive referendum requirement would force municipal officials to beg the chamber of commerce or other groups to contribute private funds and run educational campaigns urging voters to approve proposed annexations."
Just a side issue: If municipalities are currently begging or even approaching local groups to urge voters to approve/reject referenda, then this brings up significant ethical questions due to the influence municipalities can have on these groups.
2) Meaningful Reforms Were All Ignored
There were four key reforms that have been pushed by annexation reformers. Not one of them was passed--just one of them getting passed could fairly be described as real reform in my opinion.
A) A Real Vote: I already went through the vote charade above.
B) Meaningful Services: The purpose of forced annexation is to promote sound urban growth by having municipalities provide services that offer the annexation victims a meaningful or significant benefit. This comes from the North Carolina Supreme Court's decision in Nolan. v. Village of Marvin
HB 524 doesn't require that municipalities provide even one service that gives a significant benefit to annexed property owners. In fact, the bill expressly codifies in the law a major abuse by municipalities, and that is the duplication of existing services--the bill would expressly allow municipalities to meet any police protection service requirement by providing one extra police officer to an annexed area (this isn't a joke).
This horrible language in the bill about services is a key reason why the bill would do more harm than good. If the bill were never passed, it is highly likely that future legal challenges before the state Supreme Court would make it absolutely clear that duplication of services and other service-related abuses are illegal. HB 524 preempts any possible improvements that at least could have been made by the courts.
C) County Oversight: Citizens want a vote--the League doesn't want a vote. If the county commissioners, who represent both municipal leaders and annexation victims, had the final say on annexations, there would at least be a representative voice for the property owners. This would have been a true compromise.
D) Water and Sewer Infrastructure: Municipalities initiate the annexations--they should be the ones that pay for the costs of running water and sewer lines to the annexation victims. Under current law, the annexation victims that don't need or want the water and sewer are also required to pay for the lines to obtain these meaningless services. Even if they don't want to connect, they often are forced to pay availability fees and eventually they will need to pay for these lines These costs can run well over $10,000, and may be the biggest cost of annexation.
Other issues that have been brought up about the benefits of the bill:
- Municipalities have to provide water and sewer within three years. First, this is only true for those municipalities that provide water and sewer to their current residents. Many municipalities though would not have to provide water and sewer at all (because they don't provide their own residents water and sewer).
More importantly, this three year requirement is actually harmful to property owners because it forces them to pay for the full price of water and sewer lines right from the start of the annexation. Municipalities also will charge a lot more so that they can meet this water and sewer requirement.
- The bill makes shoestring annexations illegal. They already are illegal!
- The bill nor the law requires anything about density--this is a fallacy (among others) that gets repeated over and over. A municipality may annex areas based on several factors, including but not limited to factors based on density.
Despite its protests to the contrary, the League will have secured a major victory if HB 524 passes as is. The only hope is that changes are made to provide real reform.
Michael, apropos of your point (and his Punic Wars reference would buttress it), I am reminded of a favorite anecdote concerning the late William F. Buckley:
I remember years ago that a reader passed along a notification from a newspaper editor explaining his decision to drop Buckley's column. Alluding to Buckley's tendency to use foreign words or phrases when they're appropriate, the editor said he preferred his columnists to speak English.
Buckley's response: Qualis anus equi!
In short, when faced with dislike over a style comprising phrases, allusions and figures that appeal to a higher degree of education (or seen another way, that challenges the reader to learn such things for himself), one can dismiss it either with De gustibus non disputandum est or, in certain cases, Qualis anus equi!
Democratic lawmakers opposed to federal funding for abortions said Tuesday the House leadership's health care bill contains a "hidden mandate" that would allow taxpayer dollars to be used to end pregnancies.
It's the latest controversy to hit the health care overhaul in a week that has seen Republicans sharpen their attacks and some Democrats start to waver on President Barack Obama's top domestic priority.
Abortion is not mentioned in the 1,018-page bill that Democratic leaders hope will be approved by the last of three House committees this week. Supporters of the legislation say that means the bill is neutral.
But abortion opponents say the bill's silence is precisely the problem.
Without an explicit prohibition on federal funding for abortion, it could be included in taxpayer-subsidized coverage offered through the health overhaul plan, abortion opponents say.
Late last month, 19 Democrats, including North Carolina Reps. Heath Shuler and Mike McIntyre, signed a letter to Nancy Pelosi saying they wouldn't vote for a health care bill that includes abortion coverage.
Although Obama has been quick to assure us that spending unholy amounts of taxpayer dollars on health care will actually -- get this -- decrease the deficit, his staff has been unwilling to rule out including abortion coverage in the bill.
I agree that its well within the right of the mall owner to decide who can operate at the mall. I'm not really concerned with the property rights issues involved.
What bothers me about the story, and the reason I posted it, is the way in which people react to ideas with which they disagree. The pictures of the products from the linked report did not seem all that radical. Instead of considering and debating, or just ignoring, unfavorable ideas, the left labels them as racist, sexist, or some other evil. The letter to the Charlotte Observer called these "uncivilized and outdated ideas" and demanded we "put this type of bigotry to an end." We ought to debate -- or ignore -- instead of silence.
Had he [the president of China] stayed in Italy at the recent G-8 summit, he could have continued the Herculean task of disabusing Barack Obama of his amazingly durable belief, shared by the U.S. Congress, that China -- and India, Brazil, Mexico and other developing nations -- will sacrifice their modernization on the altar of climate change.
Not me, I love him. See the remainder of his column here.
N.C. Property Rights Coalition to fight State of North Carolina’s effort to seize Alcoa’s private property
RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. Property Rights Coalition is joining the battle to prevent the State of North Carolina from seizing Alcoa’s private property, Chairman Kieran Shanahan announced today. The state is attempting to seize the dams, powerhouses and land Alcoa owns on the Yadkin River. For more information on the project, visit www.LeaveThatDamAlone.com.
“The North Carolina Property Rights Coalition is greatly concerned about the attempt by state government to take over Alcoa’s property in North Carolina,” said Shanahan. “We are joining this fight because allowing the state to seize Alcoa’s private property would set a dangerous precedent for North Carolina’s property owners. “Alcoa is a private business that paid for and developed the land it owns,” Shanahan continued. “If the state is allowed to seize Alcoa's property, how vulnerable are private citizens and small business owners like you and me to the same type of government takeover?”
“Private property rights are one of the cornerstones of our free society, yet every day we hear more stories of federal, state and local governments infringing on private property rights,” Shanahan concluded. “Private property owners all over North Carolina should take notice of this issue and speak out in defense of their private property rights.”
Since George Bush jumped into the Keynesian fray with his stimulus 1, bank bailout fiasco, I have been writing and posting on why massive deficit spending cannot "grow the economy" (as if our economic lives were the equivalent of vegetable garden and deficit spending were manure). Today, over at Mises Daily, there is a very good article by Doug French explaining why the expansionary monetary policy, which has been aggressively pursued since 2007, hasn't and won't do the trick either. He points out that after pursuing a policy of keeping the Federal Funds Rate at around zero with no success at preventing huge numbers of bankruptcies and increasing unemployment rates, the Fed is now thinking the solution is probably a Fed funds rate of as low as a negative 4 percent. French goes on to point out that:
...the real reason we're in a depression is because businesses
and individuals borrowed too much and invested it poorly. Economist
Murray Rothbard explained that a depression is the recovery stage: "The
liquidation of unsound businesses, the 'idle capacity' of the
malinvested plant, and the 'frictional' unemployment of original
factors that must suddenly and en masse shift to lower stages of production — these are the chief hallmarks of the depression stage."
That's why monetary policy isn't working and won't work. People must
save and pay off their debts. The malinvestments of the boom must be
liquidated. New liquidity and zero-percent interest rates will only
create new malinvestments, not a sound economy.
Unfortunately the Fed will not accept this reality because then it would have to look in the mirror to discover the real culprit in causing this mess.
Tap a typical democratic member of the House of Representatives on
the knee with a rubber hammer and he or she will say: "Tax the rich!"
If such a person, lounging in a lawn chair, is startled from a summer
torpor by a cymbal crash, he or she will leap up exclaiming: "Tax the
rich!" Forgive such people; they cannot help themselves. It is a reflex.
people with only one idea really have no idea; they have only a mental
default position. So, last week the House decided to solve the problem
of finding $1 trillion for health care by increasing taxes on the
income of the 1.4 percent of taxpayers who already pay 45.2 percent of
the income taxes. ...
When Will says "people with only one idea really have no idea," he's not talking about the people trying to decide how to balance revenues and expenses in North Carolina's budget. But the notion fits this state's predicament pretty well.
During the 2001-02 recession, then-Gov. Mike Easley and the Democratic
legislature raised sales and income taxes, weakening North Carolina’s
economic recovery. Now, faced with another recession, Gov. Beverly
Perdue and the Democratic legislature are about to, well, raise sales
and income taxes, weakening North Carolina’s economic recovery.
The Politico is floating the idea that some Democratic Senate staffers aren't happy that fiery liberal Barbara Boxer is in charge of a committee that's responsible for a chunk of the cap and trade bill. The concern is that her aggressive style could doom the legislation.
So we have a leftist mall owner who asserts his property rights to keep out a kiosk he's decided he doesn't like. As a matter of property rights, he is free to do so. The trouble is that the left is so ready to attack the rights of property owners in many other respects. If a business owner were to say that union organizers may not trespass on his property, for example, lefties would demand that he face legal sanctions.
Here's an intriguing article in Forbes. It centers on Sweden's young finance minister, Anders Borg, who believes in a "night watchman" state (one that just provides defense and order-keeping services and otherwise leaves people alone) and is pushing tax cuts and privatization.
The magazine features a glowing profile this week of Joseph Stiglitz, a high-profile economist who appears never to have met a problem that didn't scream "market failure" and "increased government intervention."
At least the article includes this aside:
To his critics—and there are many—Stiglitz is a self-aggrandizing
rock-thrower. Even some of his intellectual allies note that while
Stiglitz is often right on the substance of issues, he tends to leap to
the conclusion that government can make things better.
In a list of economists arranged from "far left to extreme right," Newsweek places Stiglitz to the left of Paul Krugman and to the right of Keynes, two spots away from Karl Marx.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has pushed an ambitious green agenda and cast himself as a national environmental leader, routinely runs afoul of his own anti-pollution policy by letting his official SUVs idle, sometimes for more than an hour.
In spot checks over the past week, The Associated Press timed idling periods for the mayor's city-owned SUVs, which shuttle him around the city or trail him when he takes the subway. The parked vehicles idled at least eight times for periods of 10 minutes to over an hour.
The mayor earlier this year strengthened the city's anti-idling law — which allows three minutes of idling — into what advocates call the nation's toughest and promised a public-awareness campaign. The bill limited idling to one minute in school zones and mandated education for taxi driver applicants.
"Those of us that want to leave a good life for our children, and want to have clean air for us to breathe, and clean water to drink ... it's incumbent on us to really carry the fight," he said at the signing.
And thus we can add another chapter to the growing volume of green hypocrisy.