March 19, 2009
Vote on Bonus Tax
Posted by Daren Bakst at 9:18 PM
Here is the vote today on H.R. 1586--this is the bill that would impose an additional tax on "certain" TARP recipients. Here is a press release from the Ways and Means Commttee. From the press release:
"The House of Representatives today gave overwhelming bipartisan support to H.R. 1586, legislation written by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY), to tax the bonuses of highly paid individuals at a rate of 90 percent if their employer received more than $5 billion in Federal capital injections under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The legislation passed the House by a vote of 328-93, drawing support from 85 Republican Members."
Don't worry, only the "rich" people at these entities (i.e. AIG, also known as a subsidiary of the federal government--it is 80% government-owned) are retroactively punished: "The 90 percent income tax on bonuses contained in H.R. 1586 only applies to taxpayers with adjusted gross income over $250,000 per year." Actually, the tax applies to families with incomes over $250,000.
How did our fellow comrades in the NC House vote?
Democrats (7 of 8 in favor)
Butterfield, G.K., North Carolina, 1st: Yes
Etheridge, Bob, North Carolina, 2nd: Yes
Kissell, Larry, North Carolina, 8th: No
McIntyre, Mike, North Carolina, 7th: Yes
Miller, Brad, North Carolina, 13th: Yes
Price, David, North Carolina, 4th: Yes
Shuler, Heath, North Carolina, 11th: Yes
Watt, Mel, North Carolina, 12th: Yes
Republicans (4 of 5 opposed)
Coble, Howard, North Carolina, 6th: No
Foxx, Virginia, North Carolina, 5th: No
Jones, Walter B., North Carolina, 3rd: Yes
McHenry, Patrick T., North Carolina, 10th: No
Myrick, Sue, North Carolina, 9th: No
The problem of taxpayer-financed elections
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 9:00 PM
Taxpayer funding of political campaigns seems to generate none of the benefits touted by "clean" election advocates.
That was a key point in today's Federalist Society presentation from Bradley Smith, chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.
Smith also discussed the potential impact of a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision on North Carolina's system of taxpayer-financed elections.
Click play below to see the entire 51:06 presentation.
Re: volunteering for the motherland
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 8:30 PM
To blow my own horn a bit I'd like to harkin back to a Locker Room post that I had several weeks ago where I predicted that the Dems would be bringing back some form of the draft. It is actually happening much sooner than I thought.
Study: old age begins at 27
Posted by David N. Bass at 8:21 PM
Now they have old age beginning before hair loss, back pain, or dentures. What will they think of next?
Televising legislative sessions
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:22 PM
More North Carolinians could understand the way the General Assembly conducts its business if lawmakers televised daily sessions and key committee meetings.
That's the theory behind a bill filed in the Senate. Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, led a morning news conference in which a series of speakers touted the potential benefits of televised sessions for open, transparent government.
Click play below to watch the 23:31 presentation.
The John Locke Foundation also has advocated increased government transparency. Learn more here and here.
AIG bonus tax: unconstitutional?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:21 PM
Sen. Gregg (R-NH) is among a handful saying the 90% tax on TARP company bonuses are unconstitutional because it's a bill of attainder, an "an
act of the legislature that singles out and punishes a group or individual without trial."
From Jonanthan Turley, GWU law professor:
"It [the bill]
could well trigger years of litigation. Just because a
company or individual is unpopular does not mean the government can
retroactively impose punitive measures against them. ... There's a host
of difficult contractual and constitutional and statutory barriers that
would have to be overcome by Congress."
From Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former CBO director:And, finally, from James Madison (Federalist 44):
"Congress originally banned these very bonuses, then stripped the ban out of the stimulus bill and is now threatening confiscatory taxes on the lawful recipients. The Treasury knew about the bonuses and vouched for their legality but now wants double the money back somehow."
"Bills of attainder, ex post facto laws, and laws impairing the obligations of contracts, are contrary to the first principles of the social compact, and to every principle of sound legislation. ... The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. They have seen with regret and indignation that sudden changes and legislative interferences, in cases affecting personal rights, become jobs in the hands of enterprising and influential speculators, and snares to the more-industrious and less-informed part of the community."
Remember, of course, this bill was to patch up a clause inserted into the stimulus bill. The stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress with handwritten notes in the margins. The 1000+ page stimulus bill passed by both houses less than 24 hours after it was finalized in conference committee. The stimulus bill that had to be passed right away before...President Obama could take a long weekend and sign it four days later.
Maybe if someone had read the bill before voting, he/she would have noticed this curious clause? Call me crazy, but it just seems so logical.
Finally -- as an interesting aside, the AIG bonuses amount to $165 million. The Democrat-passed (behemoth) omnibus spending bill had 8,500 pork projects worth approximately $7.7 billion. Both are bad, but I only saw the Hill up in arms over one of 'em.
Volunteering for the motherland
Posted by David N. Bass at 4:07 PM
Volunteering for charitable work is great, so long as it is voluntary and not government-coerced. Churches and nonprofits do it much better than the government -- Katrina is the best example in recent memory.
But now, in the age of wildly bloating government (antacid tabs, anyone?), the U.S. House has approved a bill that aims to foster volunteerism in the new age of Obama.
Fox News reports:
The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act -- sponsored by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y, and George Miller, D-Calif. -- was approved by a 321-105 vote and now goes to the Senate.
The legislation, slated to cost $6 billion over five years, would create 175,000 "new service opportunities" under AmeriCorps, bringing the number of participants in the national volunteer program to 250,000. It would also create additional "corps" to expand the reach of volunteerism into new sectors, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps and Veterans Service Corps, and it expands the National Civilian Community Corps to focus on additional areas like disaster relief and energy conservation.
Later in the article:
But the bill's opponents -- and there are only a few in Congress -- say it could cram ideology down the throats of young "volunteers," many of whom could be forced into service since the bill creates a "Congressional Commission on Civic Service."
The bipartisan commission will be tasked with exploring a number of topics, including "whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation." (Emphasis mine).
Update: If you care to read the bloated bill, click here.
GOP legislative leaders respond to Perdue's budget
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:24 PM
Republican legislative leaders have had a couple of days to dig through Gov. Beverly Perdue's budget proposal.
They used a news conference this morning to offer their critique. Click play below to watch the 20:51 presentation.
Click here for Joe Coletti's "Back to Basics" alternative budget proposal.
I don't get the "dook" thing
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 3:00 PM
I don't mean to turn this into some sort of Duke vs Carolina thing, because, it's not really something I care very much about. As a parent whose child chose the former, my main interest was SAT scores not basketball scores. But could someone give an explanation of why referring to Duke as "dook" does not reflect badly on the person using the "insult.” Not being from around these parts, to me it simply suggests that the person using it never learned to spell properly--possibly he is a product of government schools. I don't quite get why it would reflect badly on the object of the alleged insult. Since Jeff used it maybe he can give us out-of-towners some context for understanding this differently.
The money supply keeps rising (but they're worried about deflation)
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 2:15 PM
In a post yesterday I noted that an AP story on the latest inflation numbers, while pointing out that the CPI took a big jump in February, focussed on the "problem" of deflation. This little video from the Glenn Beck show looking at the money supply since 1929 should explain just how silly that concern is right now. In addition, according to today's WSJ, the Fed is in the process of buying up massive amounts of government debt to provide more "liquidity" to the system--i.e., increase the money supply even further. What we are looking at is the perfect recipe for a 1970s style stagflation (high unemployment and high inflation at the same time). To make it simple, inflation is "too much money chasing too few goods and services." Because of the recession the quantity of goods and services is in a slump. Because of the Fed, the money supply is at an all time high and rising. You do the math.
Britain quickly becoming "the sick man of Europe" again
Posted by George Leef at 2:12 PM
Here is an excellent piece in the Washington Times by Richard Rahn on the trouble with Britain. Freedom and prosperity are being slowly strangled by the state.
We are following the same path -- a society where government dominates through regulations and heavy taxes and the people have to content themselves with what liberty and property they're still allowed to have.
As Not a dook Fan, I Know K Got it Wrong
Posted by Jeff A. Taylor at 1:22 PM
And probably should be shipped off to Gitmo for his comments. (Except his non-stop whining and f-bombs would cause the guards to go AWOL.)
Seriously, the first thing I thought of when I read K's comments were the complaints that Ronald Reagan did not work hard enough at the job of being president. Remember all that?
Anyway, I think it is probably net good that the POTUS has a keen interest -- and manifest understanding, he made sharp comments about OU and Pitt for example -- in something so many Americans enjoy. It fits broadly into a buck up, cheer up message.
Now if the Picker-in-Chief would just sit back and watch hoops for the next few weeks and stop signing spending bills, maybe that message will not be in vain.
The return of the prosperity killers
Posted by George Leef at 10:39 AM
In this NRO article, Larry Kudlow (who has been mentioned as a possible challenger to Dodd in Connecticut next year) discusses the awful brew of economic policies we're seeing from the Obama administration, especially the return of the four prosperity killers.
Kudlow sees stagflation in the future as the feds create vast numbers of dollars to pay their bills and simultaneously pursue policies that obstruct business from using resources efficiently.
The teleprompter blogs
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:36 AM
Read thoughts from the transparent source of power in DC.
As a Duke fan I think coach Krzyzewski got it wrong
Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:35 AM
In commenting on the fact that President Obama in filling out his brackets for the NCAA tournament, picked UNC to win it all, Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski suggested that the President should be spending more time thinking about the economy than the tournament. The coach is quoted as saying, "we're not in President Obama's Final Four, and as much as I respect what he's doing, really, the economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."
I beg to differ with Krzyzewski, my hope is that both the President and most of Congress start devoting more and more of their time to sports picks and less of their time to devising economic policies. The damage to our economy and our freedom will be much less if this began to happen.
Re: As a Duke fan.......
Posted by George Leef at 10:32 AM
You're right, Roy. Apparently Coach K labors under the same misapprehension as most Americans that the president can fix a bad economy if he just devotes enough time to the problem.
It's not a matter of time on task. It's a matter of having the insight and guts to say to the people, "The government's policies have created a very bad situation and it will take time for adjustments to take place, adjustments that will put resources back to work where they are most needed. Politics can't do that. The best the federal government can do is to smooth the recession -- the adjustment process -- by cutting taxes, cutting spending, and repealing laws that get in the way."
So far, I have seen neither insight nor guts from Obama.
How bloated is NC government?
Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:23 AM
Gov. Bev Perdue cuts 1,400 positions in her budget proposal but she doesn’t expect anyone to lose a job. Fewer than 250 employees are even at risk. No wonder Sen. Basnight thinks deeper cuts are possible at DPI.
Miller: "I don't think we have change I can notice"
Posted by David N. Bass at 09:24 AM
N.C. Congressman Brad Miller, D-13th, took on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in an interview with a left-wing blog this week:
As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) has had a front-row seat for the fireworks over the financial bailout -- and he's not convinced that the new administration has changed the Treasury Department.
"I want change I can believe in," he told me in an interview late yesterday. "I don't think I have change I can notice."
I'm glad Miller sees the new change isn't any different from the old change ... except perhaps taking more of our change.
Obama gets credit for this appointment
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 08:51 AM
President Barack Obama will nominate Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney to be ambassador to Ireland.
Bluer than blue
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 08:31 AM
The latest print edition of National Review includes an enlightening article about the campaign strategy Democrats used to turn Colorado from red to blue in a few short years.
To summarize, a small group of wealthy donors largely bypassed the Democratic Party apparatus (largely because of campaign finance restrictions) and sank a ton of money into 527s, while also helping to coordinate concerted election-focused campaigns from "traditional pro-Democratic groups" (trial lawyers, unions, abortion-rights advocates, environmentalists).
Lest you think this issue is not important to the future of the Tar Heel State, the article also discusses a 2008 presentation about a "quiet little project called the Committee on States":
In the past 30 months, the Democracy Alliance's donors have put over $110 million into 30 state-level groups. "There are a bunch of states," [founder Rob] Stein continued, "where over the next couple of years a lot of development is going to happen." Later in the presentation, [lawyer Frank] Smith named a few: Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Does the Constitution still matter?
Posted by George Leef at 07:58 AM
Judge Andrew Napolitano says that it has become little more than a relic of history. Read his thoughts here.
If the limits placed on federal power in the Constitution were respected, the current economic turmoil could never have arisen. Unconstitutional federal actions set the stage for the crises that then become the excuses for still more unconstitutional action.
Smoking bans do not reduce hospitalization rates
Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:54 AM
According to a new NBER Working Paper, "Changes in U.S. Hospitalization and Mortality Rates Following Smoking Bans,"
We find no evidence that legislated U.S. smoking bans were associated with short‐term reductions in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction or other diseases in the elderly, children or working‐age adults. State Reps. Holliman, Weiss, Glazier, and Barnhart are the main sponsors of a bill (HB 2) that would prohibit smoking in public and in workplaces. The latest version of the bill makes a pretty bold claim, "The General Assembly finds that secondhand smoke has been proven to cause cancer, heart disease, and asthma attacks in both smokers and nonsmokers." I suppose they would argue that the "science is settled."
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:43 AM
Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Jay Schalin's report on the struggles UNC system leaders face cutting their budgets after starting a number of new programs during good economic times.
John Hood's Daily Journal discusses the impact of the economic downturn on arts funding.
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