In advance of tonight's State of the Union address, the editors at National Review Online examine the track record of President Obama's "investments":
If we must endure the rhetoric of investment, it is fair to ask: How is Obama’s portfolio doing?
Compared to its slick prospectus, the Obama Fund is a dog, and its metrics — unemployment and growth — are stagnant and anemic, respectively. The Democrats promised that the $787 billion stimulus package would keep unemployment levels low — the best guaranteed return we’ve heard of since Bernie Madoff — but instead joblessness climbed from less than 8 percent to nearly 10 percent: a return of about negative 25 percent. And those shovel-ready stimulus projects turned out to be a lot like Madoff’s assets: fictional. After nearly a trillion bucks in “investment,” the most visible infrastructure improvement we have to show for it is a bunch of signs advertising the wonderfulness of the stimulus. If Obama were a rookie investment banker, would you give him a bonus for that performance? Probably not. Meanwhile, two years of unified Democratic management under Obama-Pelosi-Reid have left our national leverage ratio severely out of whack.
In a recent entry for his Ideas Matter blog, Max Borders uses a video clip of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to prompt a thought-provoking discussion of the libertarian view of taxation:
Jan Helfeld asks Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) probing questions about the coercive nature of taxation. And in the timeless tapdance of the politician, Reid insists that taxation is "voluntary" (in some postmodern sense, I guess).
But the clip prompted deeper questions for me -- questions that challenge classical liberals of all stripes to think through their commitments:
* Is any taxation justified ever? If yes, then what forms and for what purposes?
* If no taxation is ever justified, is any government at all justified?
* If some minimal government is justified, how is that government to be funded?
* If that minimal government is to be funded, how - besides via taxation - can it avoid free rider problems?
Most libertarians and classical liberals are not anarchists. But certain answers to the questions above will zip one rather quickly to an anarchist position. I admit, there is a lot that is seductive about anarcho-capitalism. But it faces a lot of problems. ...
Republican leaders within the new General Assembly say they want to lift North Carolina's charter school cap early in the new legislative session — an idea John Locke Foundation researchers have endorsed as part of their First 100 Days agenda.
Nationally known school choice advocate Howard Fuller also supports the idea. A participant in last night's Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina forum, "No Longer Waiting for 'Superman,'" Fuller is distinguished professor of education at Marquette University and former superintendent of the Milwaukee Public Schools. (As you can tell in the video below, he's also a Green Bay Packers fan.)
You'll have a chance in the coming weeks to hear Fuller offer Carolina Journal Radio his assessment of the current state of the school choice movement. In the meantime, in an interview excerpt omitted from the final version of the radio program, Fuller describes below the ideas he hopes North Carolina legislators will pursue in the new session that starts Wednesday.
Someone named Renee Ellmers gets health insurance through her employer and is paying a quarter of the total premium. Rob Christensen calls her a hypocrite for this because she wants to repeal ObamaCare. I'm not sure why opposing a law that consigns 16 million people to the health care hell of Medicaid should mean a person go without their own employer-sponsored insurance. If anything, her employer seems a little stingy given that the North Carolina government still pays the entire premium for its employees.
I cannot figure out where the hypocrisy is in this action even though Renee Ellmers turns out to be a member of Congress. If the argument is about pre-existing conditions, all group plans are guaranteed issue and community rated. Ellmers never said that people should purchase insurance only in the individual market, so it is not hypocritical that she doesn't. ObamaCare busts state budgets with Medicaid rules and busts the federal budget with make-believe cuts to Medicare - cuts that, if they were actually enacted, would force more doctors out of the program.
A man who was arrested in the Albuquerque airport for the heinous crimes of a) taking video of the TSA screening process and b) not having identification on him has been released. This Cato@Liberty post has video and commentary.
A New York Times editorial today states, "When Republican leaders talk of reducing medical costs they really mean reducing insurance premiums for some people, primarily by letting the young and healthy buy insurance in states that allow the sale of skimpy policies. That won't help older and less healthy people and would probably drive up their premiums as they flock to states whose regulations guarantee them coverage."
One could rewrite the paragraph to show the problems with ObamaCare itself: "When President Obama talks of reducing medical costs he really means reducing insurance premiums for some people, primarily by letting the old and sick buy insurance with heavy subsidies regardless of their medical need. That won't help younger and healthier people and would probably drive up their premiums as they abandon insurance and pay the penalty rather than premiums for overly expensive coverage. That in turn would probably drive up premiums for older and less healthy people as they remain the only ones for whom insurance makes sense."
Another way to rewrite the paragraph: "When Democrat leaders say the law reduces medical costs they really mean reducing medical care for some people, primarily by letting an unaccountable board in Washington decide what Medicare will pay for. That also won't help older or less wealthy people and would drive out doctors from the federal program as they flock to the people who will still be able to afford their services.
The law's purported cost savings come from Medicare cuts that have never been enacted in the past and that the Congressional Budget Office doubts will be enacted in the future. What we offer instead, though it's not clear Republicans will take up our ideas, are proven savings from patients making their own decisions on care and having more choices among care providers. Research at Dartmouth and elsewhere all verify the effectiveness of this approach to saving without effecting the health of individuals.
In today's New York Times Room for Debate feature, the topic is how much college students learn. It was prompted by a recent book concluding that many college students learn little or nothing. I'm one of six contributors, but there is remarkably little debate. Apparently the editors at the Times could not find anyone willing to argue that the authors are mistaken and college students really are learning a great deal.
It's often said that the U.S. is such a wealthy nation because we "invest" so much in the education of our citizens, but the truth is actually the other way around. Only a very wealthy nation could afford to have an educational system that costs so much and delivers so little as ours does.
Byron York's latest Washington Examinerarticle explores U.S. House Republicans' efforts to cut federal spending. As York discovers, there's still some disagreement about how to meet that goal.
Republicans aren't speaking with one voice these days when it comes to the most important item on their agenda. Everyone in the GOP wants to cut the deficit, but there is increasing tension over how much and how fast.
Monday afternoon, on the eve of the president's speech, 89 members of the House Republican Study Committee sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner urging him to cut $100 billion from the federal budget in this fiscal year. Back in September, when Republicans released their "Pledge to America," they promised to save "at least $100 billion in the first year alone." But nobody agrees on what that means.
Does it mean in this fiscal year, which started last Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30? Or this calendar year, ending Dec. 31? Since nearly four months of the fiscal year passed before Republicans took charge of the House, the GOP leadership wants the longer, calendar year to make the cuts. Appearing on "Meet the Press" Sunday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised spending would be cut "on an annualized basis."
The Study Committee want to go faster. "Despite the added challenge of being four months into the current fiscal year, we still must keep our $100 billion pledge to the American people," the letter says. "These $100 billion in cuts to non-defense discretionary spending not only ensure that we keep our word to the American people; they represent a credible down payment on the fiscally responsible measures that will be needed to get the nation's finances back on track."
Francis De Luca, president of the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, questions AdvancEd's committment to academic achievement...for good reason.
In March 2009, Superior Court Judge Howard Manning wrote the chairman of the State Board of Education and stated there was "... irrefutable evidence of a complete breakdown of academics in Halifax County Public Schools." Manning went on to say "This is academic genocide and must be stopped." AdvancED has been accrediting public schools in Halifax County since the late 1980s. All the public schools in Halifax County have AdvancED accreditation.
In 2005, Manning threatened to close four low-performing high schools in Charlotte because of low scores for at-risk and low income students. AdvancED accredited three schools closed.
In 2009-2010, 13 schools in North Carolina named low-performing (where fewer than 50 percent of students make expected growth) were accredited through AdvancED.
AdvanceED is threatening to pull the accreditation for Burke County schools for "board actions." Burke schools are above average in just about every academic category measured.
The original role of accreditation was to provide accountability. This function, perhaps needed in the early 20th century, is obsolete. Indeed, the Department of Public Instruction serves as an accreditation body in NC. Testing and school choice provide accountability in ways that are superior to any AdvancEd review.