The Locker Room

August 12, 2010

Levin defends AFP

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:49 PM

Radio talk show host and Liberty & Tyranny author Mark Levin responds to President Obama's recent bashing of Americans For Prosperity.

You can hear Levin's comments here.

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State Health Plan tidbits

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:28 PM

The State Health Plan for Teachers and State Employees should finish the 2010-11 budget year with cash in the bank ó but there won't be much wiggle room.

The Health Plan's Mona Moon told state lawmakers this afternoon that current projections call for a cash balance of $115.7 million at the end of June, roughly $76.5 million less than budgeted.

That $115.7 million might sound like a decent cushion, but Moon says that's roughly two weeks worth of funds. Health Plan officials would prefer to have about a month's worth of money on hand.

Moon says higher-than-expected claims payments account for the discrepancy, despite some positive signs in administrative costs.

For those still smarting from the 8.9 percent premium increase that took effect in July, there's some bad news. Health plan officials will ask early next year for two straight years of premium increases projected now at 10.7 percent a year. That number could climb if legislators bump back the effective date of the premium increase.

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UNC allows abortion opt out

Posted by David N. Bass at 4:19 PM

The University of North Carolina system has backtracked on a mandatory health care plan that includes abortion coverage. Carolina Journal reported on the controversy here.

The AP now reports:

The University of North Carolina will let students remove coverage for elective abortions from their university-sponsored health insurance after a national group complained about the coverage.

UNC system President Erskine Bowles on Thursday directed a student insurance company to contact students who have bought a policy this fall and give them the chance to opt out of that coverage.

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NC Should Take on EPA

Posted by Daren Bakst at 1:18 PM

North Carolina should do what Texas has done and tell the EPA that we aren't going to comply with the illegal greenhouse gas emission mandates imposed by the EPA.

I wrote an analysis of the actions taken by both Texas and the EPA on MasterResource, a national energy blog.  This is a very important issue that pits an out of control federal agency against the states.

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New Carolina Journal Online exclusive

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 12:38 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features a report about the recent Citizen's Constitutional Workshop from the John Locke Foundation and N.C. History Project on the theme "What the Founders and State Ratification Conventions Can Teach Us Today."

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Krugman vs. Ryan: The Nobel Prize winner retreats from the field

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:56 AM

The Weekly Standard's John McCormack offers a step-by-step account of the war of words between Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

The latest development? The voluble Krugman's now deafening silence.

On Sunday, Krugman continued to level his accusation of bad faith against Ryan, writing that "Ryan could have gotten JCT to do a 10-year estimate; it just wouldnít go beyond that. And he chose not to get that 10-year estimate. So it was Ryanís choice not to have any independent estimate of the 10-year revenue effects." Krugman also criticized Ryan for not defending his proposed spending freeze.

On Monday, Ryan told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that Krugman's claim is just not true--he did ask the JCT to do a 10-year estimate, but it was too busy to perform the task. (So Ryan asked Treasury Department experts to look at the plan, and they said the numbers added up.) In his TWS interview, Ryan disputed Krugman's claims that his proposed spending freeze is impractical and that the Roadmap would raise taxes. Ryan said Krugman's attack was "intellectually lazy" and "ad hominem."

On Tuesday, Krugman wrote a blog post merely claiming that his criticism of Ryan was not ad hominem. Krugman had previously attacked Ryan personally as an "unscrupulous flimflammer" and "charlatan" who exudes the "audacity of dopes." Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines "ad hominem" as "marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made" ("ad hominem" also has a technical meaning in the realm of logic, as the Wall Street Journal's James Taranto points out).

Much more remarkable than Krugman's quibbling over the definition of "ad hominem" is his silence on whether he was wrong to have falsely claimed that Ryan chose not to have JCT score the Roadmap. As The Atlantic's Megan McArdle wrote later in the day on Tuesday: "Paul Krugman is Still Wrong on Paul Ryan and the CBO."

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Barone examines Obama's 'state capitalism'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 11:41 AM

Michael Barone's latest contribution to the Washington Examiner discusses the failures of the Obama administration's efforts to manipulate the economy:

[I]n this summer of unrecovery, it's still important to understand how so many smart people got so much so wrong.

One answer comes from economist Arnold Kling writing for Kling argues that the collapse of the housing market and the financial crisis disrupted what had been "a sustainable pattern of specialization and trade" and that we need to let the market economy develop a new one.

Instead, the policies of the Obama Democrats have been aimed at propping up the old order -- holding up housing prices and the mortgage market, keeping the Detroit auto companies in place, maintaining the lush standard of living of public employee union members (the purpose of the $26 billion the House was summoned back to Washington to approve Tuesday).

Maintaining unsustainable patterns of production, Kling writes, prevents the trial-and-error process of private investment that creates new jobs and patterns of production that will be sustainable.

Across the Atlantic, Marc De Vos, director of the Itinera Institute, a Brussels think tank, advances similar arguments in his book "After the Meltdown." The financial crisis, he argues, has brought a revival of "state capitalism," in which governments "have an increased and distorting role in economics."

"The state should be the partner of the market, not the owner or manipulator of the market," he writes. "Governments should not pick economic winners and losers. The state may be back, but the politicians should be modest."

Modesty, unfortunately, is not the dominant character trait of a president who predicted that his election would be seen as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal."

But facts are stubborn things. The fact that the private sector economy has not responded as administration economists expected and confidently predicted should be a wake-up call.

It shows the limits of expert knowledge and the ability of political actors to make optimal economic choices.

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Dan Mitchell and John Stossel blast Greenspan

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 11:22 AM

For blaming the free market and not his easy money for the recession here.

John Stossel appropriately scolds the former Federal Reserve Chairman for blaming the financial crisis on the free market. Iíll go one step farther and say that Greenspanís behavior is a reprehensible example of someone lacking the cojones to take responsibility for his mistakes. Greenspan is surely not responsible for the corrupt system of subsidies from the government-created nightmares known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but he definitely deserves the lionís share of the blame for the Fedís easy-money policy of artificially-low interest rates. Greenspan presumably knows he screwed up, which makes his attack on free markets especially despicable. The icing on the cake is that heís also sucking up to the political establishment by endorsing higher taxes. Hasnít he already done enough damage?

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Leftists begin to see the college "bubble"

Posted by George Leef at 10:26 AM

Writing for the Huffington Post Anya Kamenetz compares the huge level of student-loan debt to the housing bubble.

Iím glad to see understanding that we have oversold college spreading, but Kamenetz misses the role of the government in the college bubble, just as leftist writers turned a blind eye to the role of the government in the housing bubble. There would have been no housing bubble if it hadnít been for federal policy pushing homeownership as if it were a good thing for everyone and making unrealistically cheap loans available. Similarly, government officials, starting with Barack Obama, keep telling young Americans that they need to go to college (otherwise, theyíre letting not just themselves but the nation down, says the president) and enabling even the most academically weak, disengaged students to get into college with financial assistance from Uncle Sam.

Kamenetz makes it sound as though the bad actors are all in the for-profit sector: ďSomeone with experience in the for-profit college marketing business told me that the same online sales geniuses who used to work for mortgage brokers are now employed by for-profit colleges. Their business is the same: fill out the forms, get the money, consequences be damned. Will we stop them this time?Ē Ah, but youíll find lots of kids drowning in their student-loan debts who went to public colleges and universities as well. They are just as eager to lure in warm bodies to help fill the dorms and school coffers, just as eager to keep them enrolled even if they are learning little, and just as eager to slap educational credentials on them and send them into a job world that many will find as hospitable as Antarctica.

The trouble is not the profit motive; non-profit institutions are no less hungry for revenue than are proprietary ones. The trouble is that government policy makes it easy for people to misjudge the ratio between costs and benefits, leading to a profusion of decisions that borrowers later regret. Letting students escape from student-loan debts in bankruptcy, which Kamenetz favors, only deals with the symptoms. I say we should attack the underlying pathology.

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Latest dispatches from the campaign trail

Posted by David N. Bass at 09:20 AM

  • Chris Dillon of Raleigh announces that heís running to fill N.C. Appeals Court Judge James Wynnís seat. Wynn was confirmed to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently.

  • Itís not exactly election news, but Superior Court Judge Howard Manning does a jig for the benefit of WRAL-TV watchers here (skip to :23 to see it).

  • State Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, says his internal polling shows him up on his GOP challenger. A Civitas poll, though, shows his challenger leading.

  • The Asheville Citizen-Times interviews Jeff Miller, U.S. Rep. Heath Shulerís Republican opponent in the 11th Congressional District.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:55 AM

The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Michael Lowrey's report on a recent N.C. Court of Appeals ruling against state environmental regulators in a case of Person County land that won't "perk."

John Hood's Daily Journal explains why it's time for a "reading revolution."

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