The Locker Room

March 09, 2011

New at CJO: Lawmakers consider a Sunshine Amendment

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 5:57 PM

Anthony Greco's latest report focuses on state lawmakers' consideration of a Sunshine Amendment linked to public records.

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George Will nails it on Libya no-fly zone

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 5:04 PM

George Will has a great column in the Washington Post on the possibility of the US enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. His skepticism is refreshing and serves as a warning to many interventionist Republicans "whose skepticism about government's abilities to achieve intended effects ends at the water's edge." Will poses a whole series of very important questions to those who can't wait to send our pilots over to fly the unfriendly skies .

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Berger, Tillis label Perdue's plan for tax refunds illegal

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:52 PM

From N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis:

Berger, Tillis: Governor’s illegal plan endangers taxpayers’ refunds

Senate, House will attempt to override SB 13 to protect taxpayers

Raleigh, N.C. – Gov. Beverly Perdue’s plan to raid nearly $500 million from various state accounts to pay state tax refunds exceeds the power granted to her by the North Carolina Constitution and breaks state law, according to non-partisan professional legislative staff. It also will jeopardize the state’s ability to pay tax refunds in a timely manner.

Part of the governor’s proposal would borrow about $100 million from an Employment Security Commission reserve fund, which non-partisan professional legislative staff says violates Article V Section 5 of the Constitution. Staff also stated that Goldston v. State confirmed that the governor lacks the legal authority to redistribute these funds without authorization from the legislature. The governor vetoed SB 13, which would have solved the problem.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) today announced the Senate and House will attempt to override the governor’s veto of SB 13, the Balanced Budget Act of 2011, which would give her the authority she requested to cut $400 million in the current fiscal year and target another $400 million in immediate savings. The Senate plans to vote on an override later this afternoon.

“We must get North Carolinians their refund checks promptly, but the governor’s plan to pay them is irresponsible and illegal,” said Berger. “She has an alternative -- Senate Bill 13 gives her the authority to legally meet her obligation to our taxpayers.”

“If the governor is truly serious about seeing that taxpayers get their refunds, she will allow at least four of her Democratic colleagues in the House to support an override of SB 13,” said Tillis. “After last year’s debacle -- her decision to allow taxpayer refunds to be delayed -- you would think the governor would have gotten ahead of this. Instead, she devises a financially unsound and an arguably illegal scheme at the eleventh hour that risks legal action against the state.”

John Hood has offered other reasons for supporting Senate Bill 13.

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Delay, don't deal, on the ObamaCare exchange

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:45 AM

Insurance capo Commissioner Wayne Goodwin offered to run a proposed health benefits exchange theoretically required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

That's not how he explained it, but he would appoint four of seven members of the board and serve as a nonvoting member. Sounds like running it to me.

Goodwin last year "encouraged" Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to send checks to subscribers in the individual market.

The momentum for creating an exchange (which is not a market and could desiccate an actual market) is entirely driven by the threat of federal intervention.

But the legislature does not need to act this session. We don't know what other exchanges will look like. We don't know what rules the federal government will impose. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners have a different model than the North Carolina Institute of Medicine. Goodwin said his proposal is based on the NCIOM work, but that model did not include anything on governance, so this is him going off on his own without consultation.

Goodwin spoke often about the need for "technical" experts to deal with the "hyper-technical" issues of an exchange. He couldn't even answer questions about the exchange and handed them over to his "technical" expert.

ObamaCare has multiple problems because it passed with inadequate scrutiny. The General Assembly should take its time, appoint a study committee and create an exchange only after members and administrators actually understand what would be involved.

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New at CJO: House votes to repeal land-transfer tax option

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:24 AM

David Bass' latest Carolina Journal Online report examines the N.C. House's vote to do away with counties' option to place a land-transfer tax increase on the ballot.

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ObamaCare's impact

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 11:05 AM

The federal government has given more than 1,000 waivers to companies and now a waiver to keep Maine's health insurance market from collapsing before 2014, but health care providers and consumers are stuck with more rules and complications to get simple cough medicine, writes Janet Adamy in the Wall Street Journal.

When Dianna Greer of San Diego and her son came down with a cold, she wanted a $13 bottle of NyQuil and daytime cold medicine—and she wanted to pay for it by tapping the $5,000 in her flexible-spending account.

Ms. Greer says her doctor wouldn't write prescriptions without an office visit, so she went without the drugs. Later, she got the prescriptions from a doctor at the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia.

Instead of cutting down emergency room visits, reducing bureaucracy, and simplifying life for everyone

Consumer-driven health spending accounts (HSAs and HRAs), grew from "1.2 million accounts with $835.4 million in assets" in 2006 to 5.7 million accounts with $7.7 billion in assets in 2010 according to a study by the Employment Benefits Research Institute (EBRI). That is a lot of people who have been greatly inconvenienced because of a throwaway line in the PPACA.

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Dems seek to save some tax credits, not others

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:05 AM

According to WRAL, Democrats in the NC General Assembly want to save the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which benefits low-income households.

I encourage Democrats to support another tax credit that would benefit low- and middle-income households, House Bill 41: Tax Fairness in Education.

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Yes, water carriers, we really are BROKE

Posted by Jon Sanders at 10:16 AM

To follow up yesterday's post and George Leef's post below, and notwithstanding the risk of collateral damage to non-self-supporting cowboy poetry festivals, here are some charts from U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan on our current financial situation:

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Faculty unionization: pro and con

Posted by George Leef at 09:25 AM

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call we feature two sharply differing views on this hotly debated topic. Cary Nelson of the American Association of University Professors argues in favor and Professor Charles Baird, who fought against mandatory unionzation when he was in the Cal State system, argues against.

Comments encouraged.

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We're not broke! Tax the rich and keep on spending!

Posted by George Leef at 08:58 AM

So say the editorial writers of the New York Times and that brilliant economic analyst Michael Moore.

Economics professor William Anderson, however, disagrees in this Freeman article today.

The Times and Michael Moore obviously do not understand that the bigger the government gets, the more wealth it absorbs and squanders. You've got to wonder if there is any point at which they'd say that increasing government would be counter-productive. After all, there will always be pleaders for more government spending who tug at the heartstrings and proclaim that they could do very good things if only the government would stop being so cheap. Big government advocates seem to be unable to tell such people, "Go out and ask for money."

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Readers not persuaded by Trumka's diatribe

Posted by George Leef at 08:32 AM

Last week, the Wall Street Journal gave AFL-CIO head Rich Trumka a column in which he attempted to explain why unions, particularly public unions, are good, completely justified and beyond criticism from taxpayers and politicians.

Today's paper contains a number of responses. One clueless dolt said he agreed and that unions are more important than ever. The rest handed Trumka his head. It's good to know that many Americans aren't fooled by the jaded union disinformation campaign.

Here are my two favorites.

It is clear that Wisconsin teachers, while proclaiming the sanctity of collective bargaining, have no qualms in violating the terms of the very contracts they bargained for and ratified. Teacher contracts in both Madison and Milwaukee clearly prohibit the sick-outs and work stoppages we have seen.

Mr. Trumka cites the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to bolster his case. He doesn't mention that Article 23 also states: "Everyone has a right to work." And how about Article 20: "No one may be compelled to belong to an association."

Thomas J. Moriarty Jr.

Burtonsville, Md.

After leaving a trail of destruction in the private sector (autos, steel, airlines, etc.), Richard Trumka and the AFL-CIO are now making a last stand in the public sector.

There is an inverse relationship between the size of a nation's public sector and its prosperity and wealth. In fact, there is a credible argument to be made that actual and expected growth of government spending was a significant contributor to the U.S. recession and, so far, to the weak recovery. Societies that fixate on spreading wealth rather than building it generally end up spreading poverty.

Dave Glenn


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Gingrich examines the impact of Obama's stimulus measures

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:21 AM

Newt Gingrich's latest column posted at Human Events looks at the numbers associated with the Obama administration's stimulus plan:

It has been 25 months since the Obama stimulus was signed into law.

During this time we have lost a net of 2.1 million jobs.

1.96 million of those jobs were in the private sector.

That’s why the uptick in the number of private sector jobs created in February is good news. It shows that businesses are hiring again and willing to invest in their companies.

This begs the question, though, what changed? After so many months of stagnation and job loss, what was it that sparked the private sector job creation?

Liberal Democrats aren’t going to like the answer.

The last significant economic policy enacted by President Obama was the extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts through 2013. Finally, businesses and investors were given some tax certainty and knew they would have extra money for the next two years with which to create jobs.

President Obama is certainly entitled to share in the credit for passing this extension. But he should be asked a few follow-up questions.

If he’s willing to take credit for the job creation spurred by keeping taxes low, why does he want to raise taxes again in 2013? Why does he want to put small business owners and investors in the same position they were in throughout 2010 – facing a looming tax increase – in 2012? How will that help the recovery? And what does the success of keeping taxes low mean for the rest of his agenda?

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House Elections Committee to consider Electoral Freedom Act

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:15 AM

Those who would like to loosen North Carolina's electoral ballot-access restrictions will watch with interest this afternoon as the House Elections Comittee considers House Bill 32, the Electoral Freedom Act.

Carolina Journal Radio listeners learned more about this legislation in the most recent episode. Among those they heard touting the bill was Jordon Greene of the Free the Vote Coalition. He explains key points within the legislation in the video clip below.

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Barone urges NPR to embrace the end of taxpayer funding

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:16 AM

Michael Barone's latest Washington Examiner column explains why NPR should urge Congress to end taxpayer subsidies for public broadcasting:

NPR's response to defunding threats has been incoherent. Its spokesmen point out that NPR itself receives relatively little public money. But then they saying defunding would be disastrous because more money goes to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which funds public radio stations that buy NPR programming.

Let me offer what is intended as a helpful suggestion to NPR: Don't fight defunding. Instead work with Congress to get NPR and CPB off the public payroll.

It may be painful in the short run. But in the long run you'll be a better organization, and you won't have to worry about pleasing politicians.

There's a precedent pretty closely on point: the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Back in 1994, when Republicans unexpectedly won majorities in both houses of Congress, the National Trust was suddenly threatened with a fund cutoff.

The organization had been campaigning against a proposed theme park near the Manassas battlefield in Northern Virginia, which made some congressional Republicans angry. Congress seemed likely to cut off the one-third of National Trust funding that came from the federal government.

Rather than fight that effort, Dick Moe, then head of the National Trust and before that a longtime top aide to Walter Mondale, decided to join it. He approached Ralph Regula, the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction, and proposed a three-year drawdown of federal funding.

That would give his organization enough time to develop alternative sources of funding, he thought. And, as he correctly judged, it took the wind from the sails of those Republicans who wanted funds cut off immediately.

In retrospect, Moe has said, it was the best thing that could have happened to his organization. It prompted the National Trust to reach out to citizens and donors who shared its vision. And it allowed the organization to take politically controversial stands without fear of political retribution.

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Beware of people trying to halt debate

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:10 AM

The cover story in Phi Beta Kappa’s latest issue of The Key Reporter examines the issue of “rude democracy” and methods for dealing with it.

Author Susan Herbst, who will soon become the new president of the University of Connecticut, doesn’t buy into the false argument that fierce political debate led to the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. But she does say “we have created an environment so toxic that the notion of political violence is no longer shocking.”

Herbst’s recommendations for improving the political climate deserve discussion. Of particular interest? Item No. 4: “We need courage.”

It feels old-fashioned to write, and you likely find it ridiculously 19th century to read, but being a citizen in a democracy has always demanded a sort of courage that few of us ever come to know. Soldiers know it, and they prove it daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the rest of us don’t call on any sort of internal cognitive or emotional strength when it comes to politics. We want it to be easy, which is why social scientists find that most people hang out with those who share their beliefs. Few people argue or seek others who might disagree. Somehow, we think that democracy itself — rule by the people — would just involve occasional voting, when it always called for much more. Democratic theorists have written about this in so many ways, over hundreds of years now: Self-rule is impossible without the bravery it takes to express opinions and do so civilly. The abilities to argue, to listen and create the nation together, are both foundational and non-negotiable.

The line “we want it to be easy” brings to mind a key point Jonah Goldberg made during an interview with Carolina Journal Radio/ about efforts to silence political debate. Click play below to hear Goldberg’s remarks.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:02 AM

Rick Henderson's latest Carolina Journal Online report details the N.C. Court of Appeals' decision to halt state plans to take 300 acres of coastal property that would otherwise pass to a family of African-American heirs.

John Hood's Daily Journal explains why bringing North Carolina education policies into the modern era would represent a sharp break with the state's recent past.

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