June 09, 2009
Obama is 'sort of God'
Posted by Jon Sanders at 11:18 PMSo many of them have been thinking it, or hinting around at it, but Newsweek editor Evan Thomas came right out and said it. The religious fervor of the Cult of Obama is reaching new levels of devotional ecstasy.
It's no longer things like "Jesus was a community organizer, too!" and Obama is the Anointed One and we need a new chapter in the Bible just for him and getting the Library of Congress to preserve church sermons about Obama and even rewriting beloved lyrics about the birth of Jesus Christ to be about Obama coming to the White House. Nor is it about silly press photos (see below) to portray Obama as if he was always ringed with a halo or emitting holy radiance or otherwise marked by divinity.
What, do the old media think the message is not getting through? Are too many people Obamagnostics? Therefore, are they abandoning the indirect approach about Obama's god quality for a more direct, blunt approach?
Thomas' comments (and how did he refrain from saying "Can I get a witness?"):
In a way, Obama is standing above the country. Above … above the world … He’s sort of God.
$784 million in new taxes but not on sin
Posted by Becki Gray at 10:49 PM
The House Finance Committee finished deliberations on the tax package this evening. Amendments taking out the beer and wine tax increases passed. So without the cigarette (which was taken out earlier in the day), wine and beer tax increases the package is $159 million less than when they started. The total package of tax increases is $784 million. The package will be rolled into the budget document tomorrow. How to spend all that money is still being debated in the Appropriations Committee where they are debating a slew of amendments, including one that bans golden parachutes for state employees that easily passed.
The budget, as amended is expected to be voted out of committee tonight and on the floor tomorrow, where more amendments will, no doubt be considered, along with plenty of debate.
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 8:05 PM
See the GM (Government Motors) car of tomorrow.
The NCAE civil war continues...
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 7:52 PM
From the North Carolina Association of Educators "Daily Political Briefing" webpage:
Rep. Van Braxon (D-Lenoir), an NCAE endorsed candidate in 2006 & 2008, has already knocked off $120 million by gutting the 25 cents tax on cigarrettes [sic]. This amendment could jeopardize restoring educator jobs this year.Un-endorse this traitor, fearless NCAE leaders, un-endorse him now! (I heard that he doesn't even wear red on Wednesdays!)
And Britney Spears seeks the virgin mantle
Posted by Jon Sanders at 7:50 PMThat's more likely to happen than this (Reuters):
Obama seeks fiscal responsibility mantle
WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama sought on Tuesday to show he was serious about improving the U.S. budget picture as he called on Congress to pass new limits on tax cuts and spending programs to avoid adding to deficits.
Obama urged passage of "pay-as-you-go" legislation that would require any new tax cut or automatic spending program to be paid for within the budget.
Obviously, what this is about is setting up how Obama is going to be "forced" to go back on his phony-from-the-get-go campaign pledge against raising taxes on 95 percent of us.
I know it's immoral to laugh at this particular president, but when I consider the man who made trillions the Word of the Year and who uses "new era of responsibility" as euphemism for out-of-control spending even by Bushian standards, I say like Mencken that "only the man who was born with a petrified diaphragm can fail to laugh himself to sleep every night."
The skank pictured above would be considered a virgin again
before Pres. Obama could ever be thought of as fiscally responsible
House Finance Committee amendments on the way?
Posted by Becki Gray at 3:30 PM
Several amendments are supposed to be considered when the House Finance Committee reconvenes sometime after session. Although some may not be, here are some I inderstand have been prepared:
Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, will propose an expansion of tax credits for middle-income earners, those making between $25,000 and $50,000.
Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange, reportedly has three amendments:
- Eliminate the sales tax increase.
- Eliminate the income tax increases.
- Eliminate the alcohol tax increase.
Minority Leader Skip Stam, R-Wake, will propose a $2,500 tax credit for families who choose to educate their children in a nonpublic school (including home schoolers), resulting in a net increase in revenue to the state of around $25 million a year to state coffers and about $15 million a year to local government.
Members of the House Finance Committee will be voting on these amendments, and possibly some others, later this afternoon.
Update: The case of the disappearing blog post. Solved!
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 2:30 PM
Thanks to Scooby and those meddling kids, the case of the disappearing blog post has been solved.
This afternoon, the author of the post, a former NC Democratic Party employee, acknowledged,
"The NC Justice Center was kind enough to drop me a note saying that there may be some inaccuracies in this post. If so I apologize, and defer to their expertise."No problem. People make mistakes.
Nevertheless, it is better to admit the mistake on the blog post in question, rather than pull it altogether.
More from the Finance committee
Posted by Becki Gray at 2:22 PM
Rep. Earl Jones (D-Guilford) says the economic foes in NC are due to George Bush's policies in Washington for the last eight years.
Rep. Bill McGee (R-Forsyth) says sunsets are needed on the tax increases. If we have an economic recovery, we shouldn't need it.
Majority Leader Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) aays he doesn't like it either but he thinks the package is well thought out. Let's have an open mind, work together and solve this budget problem. Stops just short of singing Kum Ba Ya..
Debate continues on the tax increases in House Finance:
Posted by Becki Gray at 2:19 PM
Rep. Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth). Speaks of the tax increase package is a capital killing, job killing bill. In response to a previous question of Rep. Pryor Gibson of what would Republicans propose, Folwell asks what they are supposed to do when they get a copy of the tax bill and are expected to review and vote on it in a matter of hours. Folwell says the proposed tax increases are simply a re-distribution of wealth. Says the state needs to prioritize the collection of revenue by enforcing the law. 85 percent of job creation is by small businesses. The tax increases are detrimental to small businesses.
Rep Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank) says this is only for this year - revenue has decreased. Can't be against the cuts and be against the tax increases.
Folwell and Owens argue back and forth about whether you should put money aside when times are good so there is some there when times are bad (Folwell) or when you have additional money you spend it (Owens).
Rep. Pryor Gibson (D-Anson) says we've had 26 debate points so far, he claims he has not mentioned partisan politics. He has reviewed all the revenue options - $17.6 B is what appropriations is working with. They can't manage the cuts - need more revenue.
Federal stimulus explanation offered by Ms. Hammonds-Blank, NCGA staffer, $17.5 is current year's expected revenue. Same for 2009-10.
The expansion of government and social programs funded by the one time federal stimulus money will create a shortfall of $1.2 Billion when the money runs out in 2012. Finance Chair, Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Guilford) explains one reason we need these tax increases is to prepare and be sure the revenue is there for multiple years to continue the expansion of these social programs and expansions created with the stimulus money.
Yes, that's what they said....today's tax increases are needed to ensure that programs created and expanded with stimulus money will be funded when the federal money runs out. And most of those expansions are directed by the strings the federal government has tied to those stimulus dollars.
GOP leaders discuss budget issues, state government 'golden parachutes'
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:45 PM
Republican legislative leaders used their regular Tuesday news conference to focus on an amendment that would put an end to "golden parachutes" in state government.
"Specifically, our provision will prohibit a separated state employee — voluntary or otherwise — from being paid for work he or she has stopped doing," according to a news release linked to the news conference. The Mary Easley controversy has attracted attention to severance packages that have allowed some high-level administrators at N.C. State and other UNC system schools to collect inflated salaries after they've finished the work that allowed them to collect those salaries in the first place.
Republicans also discussed the current state House budget debate. Click play below to watch the 25:13 news briefing.
Some notes on the budget:
Posted by Becki Gray at 12:17 AM
Calls for voluntary furloughs by state employees and teachersAllows for the Rainy Day fund to be used to balance the budget
Takes out the mandatory $50 M annual appropriation to the University Cancer Research Fund (a pet project of Marc Basnight's)
Programs subject to a Continuation Review in 2009:
Wright and Whitaker Schools
Young offenders forest Conservation
There is a lot in the 260 page budget document. The Appropriations Committee has taken a break from their morning review and will continue their discussion with amendments expected this afternoon at 1:30. You can listen to the audio feed to the Appropriations Committee room accessed on the General Assembly website.
House Finance Committee
Posted by Becki Gray at 11:47 AM
The House Finance Committee met this morning to begin deliberations on a tax package that increases taxes by $937.6 M the first year, $1,145.7 the second. The package includes taxes on courier services, sales tax on warranties, installations and repairs, other franchise taxes on LLC, changes to bank interest deduction, creates two new tax brackets for upper income, changes to corporate income tax, increase cigarette tax 25 cents, increase tax on beer, wine, and liquor and increase the sales tax by 1/4. Rep. Van Braxton (D-Nash) introduced an amendment that took out the additional cigarette tax. The tax would have increased from 35 cents to 60 cents a pack. The amendment passed overwhelmingly.
Chairman Jennifer Weiss adjourned the meeting until further notice.
Re: It would be a real achievement
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:42 AM
You'll probably be interested in Rep. Thom Tillis' take on this topic. The Mecklenburg County Republican had this to say in the committee meeting this morning:
I'm kind of reminded of the old joke that the floggings will continue until morale improves. We're talking about ... implementing some of these taxes so that we can restore [budget] cuts. But we have to recognize that when we do that, we're mandating cuts in the profits of small businesses and workers across this state.
We are implementing a cut that tells an executive who may make $250,000 a year that if you decide to relocate to this state, it's going to cost you, probably in the highest tax bracket.
After adding some comments about the anti-business nature of "combined reporting," another element of the House tax plan, Tillis spelled out potential harm for the state's efforts to boost business.
We're telling [Commerce] Secretary [Keith] Crisco you need to change your portfolio of people you're trying to attract to this state because you are absolutely — through these tax increases — going to cut out some of the very things that we need to happen to get this economy going on the right track.
It couldn't happen to a nicer guy
Posted by Jon Ham at 11:23 AM
Former Clinton operative Terry McAuliffe has fallen precipitously in the polls in recent days and it's looking as if he could lose to state Sen. Creigh Deeds today in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary:
It’s a startling turn of events for a governor’s race overshadowed by the outsize personality and deep pockets of McAuliffe, whose lead in the polls has dramatically dwindled in recent weeks at the hands of a veteran state legislator and country lawyer with a donkey named Harry S Truman.
Arne Duncan on charter school caps
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 11:07 AM
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has a message for states that maintain caps on charter schools:
"States that do not have public charter laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will jeopardize their applications under the [$4.35 billion] Race to the Top Fund." North Carolina has had a charter school cap (100) for the last 11 years.
It would be a real achievement
Posted by John Hood at 11:02 AM
The NC House is considering a billion-dollar tax increase that includes two new marginal tax rates on upper-income North Carolinians: 8.25 percent for taxpayers with incomes of $200,000 to $500,000; and 8.5 percent for taxpayers with incomes above $500,000.
Few Locker Room readers will pay these higher income taxes directly. But if you are employed in North Carolina, then it is likely that people who makes decisions about your economic future — executives, owners, or investors — would themselves be subject to the higher marginal rates. So you might well bear some of the cost of the tax hike indirectly, through lower wages or lost jobs.
As far as I can determine, these higher income taxes would put North Carolina in an elite class of states. Only California, Iowa, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia would have equivalent or higher tax rates on income.
It’s an elite class of states dedicated to the proposition that high-earning professionals, managers, entrepreneurs, and investors deserve to be punished.
Tobacco tax hike scrapped from House plan
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 10:43 AM
The N.C. House Finance Committee just voted 22-7 to remove a tobacco tax increase, estimated to generate $122 million, from its proposed $940 million tax package.
After that vote, committee leaders recessed their meeting on the tax package. They expect to return to work later today — perhaps around 1.
Our debt-ridden future
Posted by George Leef at 10:39 AM
This IBD piece explores the ramifications of the most salient feature of the Obama administration, namely its decision to finance vast new federal spending with skyrocketing debt. This ought to worry everyone, but especially younger people who will have a much bleaker future due to rising taxes and falling national productivity.
Green policies cost a lot of green
Posted by David N. Bass at 10:26 AM
From the AP:
The price of electricity and fuel could rise sharply and economic growth could be stifled in the Southeast and elsewhere in the U.S. under tax proposals now pending in Washington, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Monday.
At the opening of an energy conference sponsored by the Southern Growth Policies Board, the second-term Republican said cap-and-trade proposals on carbon emissions being pushed by President Barack Obama's administration would drive up the average Mississippi residential power bill by as much as 50 percent.
Barbour also said proposed federal taxes on energy production would drive up the cost of gasoline, diesel fuel and natural gas, not only on consumers, but on industry.
"These policies have in common that they would all inevitably and substantially increase the cost of energy to American families and American businesses, especially manufacturing," Barbour said.
This is the side of "green energy" too often ignored or dismissed by lawmakers and the media -- the real world cost for families.
Is the legislature already raising our taxes?
Posted by David N. Bass at 09:47 AM
Those who have followed state and federal government for any length of time will recognize the following scenario.
A state agency asks for a budget increase of 10 percent. The legislature gives it a 5 percent increase. Bureaucrats in the agency then claim that the legislature has cut their budget by 5 percent, even though in reality the legislature has increased their budget by 5 percent. So, somehow, an increase becomes a cut.
I was reminded of that fallacious logic by a vote in the N.C. House yesterday approving a measure that prevents the gas tax from falling to 27.9 cents next month (the current rate is 29.9 cents). The House voted to make that rate a minimum, suggesting that further hikes are down the pike.
But the real point is this -- if a budget increase of 5 percent for a state agency can be viewed as a budget cut, because the agency didn't get everything it wanted, then maybe not lowering the gas tax can be viewed as a tax increase, because I would much rather pay 2 cents less per gallon.
Something to ponder.
HT: Jon Ham
Mary Easley scandal far from over
Posted by Rick Henderson at 09:41 AM
JLF's Piedmont Publius blogger Sam Hieb highlights a nugget from today's Greensboro N&R:
UNCG’s chancellor, Linda Brady, served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at N.C. State when Mary Easley’s teaching role was expanded.
“I can tell you flat out that I felt under no pressure to do anything for Mary Easley that we wouldn’t have done for anyone else with her qualifications,” Brady said Monday.
Easley had been an adjunct professor at the school since 1994, Brady said, and had been given excellent reviews.
Brady said she met with Easley in 2005 and discussed her taking on further courses, something not unusual for successful adjunct faculty.
Easley went on to teach further classes on a per-class basis, Brady said. She was paid through the College of Humanities and Social Sciences until May 2005, when she began being paid by the office of the provost.
Mike and Mary's tentacles reached far and wide.
Re: Jordan: N&O just trying to sell newspapers
Posted by Paul Chesser at 09:14 AM
Whoa Jeff! Don't you understand how Golden LEAF works, and that its employees really don't have state jobs? Why former Gov. Easley as much as said so himself, because it "operates outside the grasp of political pressure." He even proved it!
Golden LEAF is so independent, in fact, that Gov. Perdue couldn't even get them to pay for Miley Cyrus to come make her next movie here.
Wicked good public high schools
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:46 AM
Among North Carolina high schools, Raleigh Charter High School (ranked 33rd) receives top honors from Newsweek. BASIS Charter School in Tuscon, AZ gets fifth place.
And, as we know, schools with a high percentage of free and reduced lunch students cannot succeed. Take Preuss UCSD (ranked 10th) for example - 100 percent of students in the LaJolla, CA school are eligible for a free or reduced lunch.
The Preuss School, located on the University of California San Diego (UCSD) campus in La Jolla, California, is a charter middle and high school dedicated to providing a rigorous college prep education for motivated low-income students who will become the first in their families to graduate from college. How about 87th ranked KIPP Houston, where 88 percent of students are eligible for a free or reduced lunch? Or MATCH Charter School (Boston, MA), Hawthorne Math & Science Academy (Hawthorne, CA), YES Prep Southeast (Houston, TX) - all ranked in the top 100 high schools in the nation and all have over 70 percent of students eligible for a free or reduced lunch.
A random observation: I noticed the phrase "charter school" appears often in the ranking of top high schools.
The case of the disappearing blog post
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:59 AM
For a short time yesterday, North Carolina's "Bolshiest" public policy organization featured a blog post titled "18,000 Teachers to be Fired." The post disappeared by early afternoon.
The author of the post, a former NC Democratic Party employee (not Skip Stam), wrote,
This morning Rep. Tricia Cotham (D - Mecklenburg) hosted a conference call on North Carolina's budget. The call included Charlotte area elected officials, teachers, advocates, clergy, and neighborhood leaders. This raises some important questions.
Three weeks ago our budget deficit was 3.3 billion dollars. It was 4.2 billion dollars as of last Monday, and it is 4.6 billion dollars today. This number will likely be revised again.
Conservatives, led by budget and policy experts like Joe the Plumber, have a solution for this problem. Its the solution they have for most problems: cut public service and public servants. ... Reduction in the number of teachers by at least 12,000, this number likely to be increased by 18,000
1) Did the 18,000 teacher estimate come from Rep. Tricia Cotham? If not, whose estimate is it? NCAE?
2) Why is the estimate likely to increase to 18,000?
3) Why are these mystery estimators ignoring DPI estimates of teacher layoffs and the effect of natural turnover on the layoffs?
4) Even Joe the Plumber knows that the various cuts referenced in the post were proposed by Democrats. The fact that conservatives (and even Republicans) agree with some of the cuts does not mean, then, that conservatives are somehow in control of the budget. Really?
5) Why delete the blog post, anyway?
Learning about the ‘Great Books’
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:04 AMAnthony O’Hear’s recent volume, The Great Books: A Journey Through 2,500 Years of the West’s Classic Literature, surprised me to some extent.
Expecting a book with slight plot descriptions and thorough analysis, I instead encountered the opposite. O’Hear chooses some major works of art — from Homer to Goethe — and then spends most of his effort conveying the key plot points in those works.
Though unexpected, there’s nothing wrong with that approach, especially if the reader is unfamiliar with the books involved. In his epilogue, O’Hear explains why he chose his particular approach:
The difficulty we face in reading many of the great books we have discussed is comparatively straightforward. It is not that their authors are putting deliberate difficulties or obscurities in our path, as a sort of metaphor for our own fragmented mind and culture, as were twentieth-century writers such as Pound, Eliot, and Joyce. The difficulty we face, to put it crudely, is simple ignorance in our age of the myths of Greece and Rome, and, for the later works we have considered, of the Bible as well. There is no need to apologize for having spent so much time in this book on the classics of ancient Greece, for their study is not just an education in itself; they simply are the soil from which Western art and literature have sprung. Yet, for reasons we cannot consider here, and to our collective shame, for the vast majority today they remain a closed book — which part of the point of this book is to open a little.
For other interesting discussions of “The Great Books,” click here, here, and here.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Joe Coletti's reaction to a new report suggesting North Carolina could gain 42,000 jobs through repeal of the federal "death" tax.
John Hood's Daily Journal examines two deficits: the state's budget deficit and former Gov. Mike Easley's "ethical deficit."
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