A new study by the Small Business
and Entrepreneurship Council ranks North Carolina’s tax burden as the 15th
worst in the country and the worst in the South. They assessed16 different tax
measures that were then combined into one score allowing a comparison of all
An earlier study by another group, COST seemed to indicate
that North Carolina has a favorable tax environment for business but that study
was flawed and misleading, as Coletti explains here.
[Obama said] "As this debate unfolds, I just want everybody to pay attention to what folks are saying. A lot of times politicians will tell you, 'I'm going to cut your taxes, I'm going to lower the deficit, I'm going to expand Medicare.' [Don't settle for that.] Ask every politician when they say they're going to balance the budget and deal with the deficit: 'What exactly are you going to cut? What spending are you willing to eliminate?'"
Goodness, people are doing those things already. It's called the Tea Party movement, Mr. President. You and your ridiculous message crafters and media toadies are busy calling them racists, mobs, fringe kooks, ad nauseam, even though in 2007-08 you seemed to share right many of their concerns. What happened?
According to the Energy Information Administration (based on total levelized costs for a new plant), offshore wind is about 143% more expensive than a conventional coal plant. Offshore wind is even about 62% more expensive than onshore wind.
Wilmington and NC coastal communities: Guess who's next?
This past Monday, Senators Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman were expected to release their cap and trade bill. However, immigration reform put a damper on that.
For some reason, the push for immigration reform made Senator Graham take back his support for the cap and trade bill. The Democrats look like they are calling Graham on his concerns and could push back immigration reform.
When (if) the cap and trade bill is introduced, there will be lots of fanfare about how oil companies and utility companies support the bill (or at least aren’t opposing it).
However, there’s a reason for this support. They are being bought-off as I address in this AOL News op-ed and on CEI's Globalwarming.org.
Don't be fooled by the fanfare. While the environmental extremists and utility and oil companies benefit, the public will get harmed by a massive energy tax that will cut jobs, reduce personal income, and have a disproportionate impact on the poor.
From a political perspective: Why would Republicans want to support this energy tax and thereby undermine any momentum they have as a result of opposing the health care bill?
President Obama’s approach to the press: love ‘em and leave ‘em. Except he never did much loving, and now that the newlywed phase has petered out, the press is questioning its own infatuation with the Oval Office dweller. That’s typified by Obama’s joke at a White House correspondence dinner last year that “most of you covered me” and “all of you voted for me.”
The press corps was not amused. And the antagonism has only grown over time, as explained in an expansive Politico story on the Obama administration’s ill treatment of the media.
It has all the trappings of a dysfunctional marriage. The press wants to communicate with Obama via direct questions, but he’s aloof. The press wants behind-the-scenes access, but Obama is too busy feeding exclusives and scoops to his mistress, The Gray Lady, and he doesn’t even try to hide the affair.
He gives the quiet treatment to The Wall Street Journal and scolds Fox News — and in so doing telegraphs a message to other journalists: criticize me, and we’ll freeze you out. Or worse.
If Obama is guilty of press beating, then White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is the enabler. He makes the president look like a paragon of humility in comparison. He excels at covering for the big guy’s indiscretions. And he’s aggressive about it, too.
The White House might not comply with reporters’ information requests, but it’s punctual in lambasting any negative press, as Politico reports:
Among White House reporters, tales abound of an offhand criticism or passing claim low in an unremarkable story setting off an avalanche of hostile e-mail and voice-mail messages.
‘It’s not unusual to have shouting matches or the e-mail equivalent of that. It’s very, very aggressive behavior, taking issue with a thing you’ve written, an individual word, all sorts of things,' said one White House reporter.
Obama’s handling of the media is in line with the arrogant bravado that characterizes the rest of his presidency. Even though most journalists are in his back pocket, as evidenced by their bootlicking coverage during the campaign, Obama can’t abide even a smidgen of criticism. His White House staff has absorbed the same mentality.
Read the entire Politico piece. It’s worth your time.
There's been a lot of focus on transparency in government. The one branch of government though that doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves for its lack of transparency is the judicial branch.
On the state level, North Carolina appellate courts do a pretty good job of making opinions available to the public on their web sites.
However, on the federal level, it is almost impossible for someone to get a district court opinion without paying for some type of legal research service (e.g. WestLaw, Pacer, etc). You can go to almost any state supreme court and access an opinion. Whereas, you can't find a single opinion on most district court sites.
I'm sure the federal court system will whine about costs. However, it is very difficult to understand how it takes much effort to PDF a case and put it on a web site.
This is a bipartisan type of issue that Congress should address immediately--get court opinions up on web sites so the public can see what our courts are doing.
There are many other transparency issues as well with courts, including whether appellate proceedings should be filmed. That's a difficult question.
However, at a minimum, why aren't all courts making transcripts of oral arguments online? This includes both state and federal courts. There also should be audio recordings as well.
The impact that the judiciary has on our lives is significant. We should know what they are doing without having to pay to find out.
The latest Carolina Journal Online exclusive features Sarah Okeson's report about the Republican primary in N.C. House District 81, a district now represented by House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson.
WRAL-TV in Raleigh has interviewed Kyle Blackburn, a 23-year-old man who was shot last summer by retiring state Sen. R.C. Soles, a Democrat from Tabor City. Don Carrington also interviewed Blackburn.
My favorite take-away from WRAL's report:
The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that Soles fondled a 27-year-old Columbus County man more than a decade ago. After making the claim in a television interview, the man recanted.
Blackburn said he was never molested, but he said Soles has assaulted him in the past.
"He kicked me right upside the head with some little, pointy elf shoes," he said.
In this American Thinker piece today, my Pope Center colleagues Jay Schalin and Jenna Robinson write about last night's talk at Chapel Hill by former Representative Tom Tancredo. Last time he was there, the local SDS chapter proved how wrong and contemptible Tancredo is by shouting him down and staging a riot. This time, they used a different tactic, acquiring a large percentage of the tickets for seats, then walking out early in the talk, once again proving that their opposition to Western Civilization (Tancredo's topic) is right and his support for it is wrong.
Remember -- higher education teaches students to become "critical thinkers."
During the Monday 12PM ET hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer described the "firestorm" over a newly passed immigration law in Arizona and fretted: "does this lead to a situation where neighbors are turning in neighbors or families turning against families?" Later in the segment, a headline on screen read: "Law Makes it a Crime to be Illegal Immigrant."
14 million people will lose their existing employer-based insurance (p.7) - so much for the President's promise: "For the record, the President has consistently said that if you like your insurance plan, your doctor, or both, you will be able to keep them."
Medicaid and SCHIP expansion will cost state and local governments an additional $3.6 billion (table 5)
Total health spending will increase $310.8 billion
In an election year with trends that bode well for the GOP, why are some Republican congressional incumbents facing serious challenges?
George Will uses his latest Newsweekcolumn to address this issue. It should surprise no one that his take differs from those offered by his left-of-center counterparts:
Some commentators not known for wishing conservatism well say this
turmoil bodes ill for the conservative party. And they mournfully worry
that "responsible" Republicans—i.e., those who play well with
Democrats—are an endangered species. But a more sanguine interpretation
of the insurrections is that they indicate conservative seriousness
commensurate with the liberals' agenda for enlarging government.
Speaking of Fareed Zakaria, he explains elsewhere in Newsweek that "the rush to crucify Goldman Sachs is clouding our judgment and distorting public policy."
If you skip the rest of the article, at least check out the first paragraph:
Imagine that you want to make a bet against a sports team, say the New
York Yankees. The Yankees have had a strong run, but, poring over the
data, you have come to the conclusion that they're going to start
losing. So you go to a bookmaker (in a district where bookmaking is
legal, of course) to place a bet. The bookmaker now looks for someone to
take the other side of this bet. Once the other party is found, the
deal is made. That, in essence, is the transaction that took place in
2007 regarding the future direction of the American residential-housing
market, in which Goldman Sachs acted as the bookie, and which the
Securities and Exchange Commission now charges was "fraud."
Did Goldman Sachs engage in shady or illegal activity? Maybe. But Zakaria nails a prime problem with the "Sachs bashing" when he discusses the charge that fund manager John Paulson, who wanted to bet against the housing market, was allowed to select securities he wanted to bet against.
This is disputed—but even if it's true, so what? Here's what a routine
hedge transaction looks like on Wall Street. Somebody decides to place a
bet against some set of stocks or securities. That person approaches a
Wall Street firm and says, in effect, "Can you find me someone who wants
to take the other side of this bet?" And the firm goes out and finds
someone who has the opposite view on those securities. This is how large
companies offset the risks to their balance sheet from fluctuating
currency, energy, or commodity costs. They often choose the instrument
they want to bet against.
Want to limit our use of carbon-based energy sources? You can pursue government mandates and taxes that artificially raise the cost of using those sources.
Or you can rely on innovators and entrepreneurs who are constantly looking for less expensive, more effective ways to meet our energy needs.
Newsweek has an article this week about a fuel cell "that can power anything from a single home to a whole city." I have no idea whether this cell will become a viable power source in the future, but I did find interesting this exchange between interviewer Fareed Zakaria and entrepreneur K.R. Sridhar:
Your capital cost is high, something like $7 or $8
per watt. Right now we are only economical with subsidies.
Why do you think this will be viable without
subsidies in the future? If I build a large automobile
plant, and I have just put out the 30th car, do you expect me to be
profitable? Ask anybody in manufacturing: for every doubling in volume,
you will see a 10 to 15 percent reduction in cost.
Left to his own devices, Mr. Sridhar will find a way to make his project economical, or he won't. If he does, that will mean good news for consumers of electricity. If he doesn't, consumers will face no harm from his efforts.
What if the government steps in and decides Mr. Sridhar's project deserves taxpayer support? Suddenly, the need to economize becomes less urgent. Even if the project works, consumers will not reap the benefits of lower costs tied to continuous innovation. Moreover, they'll lose out as taxpayers as well; tax revenue that could have paid for core government services will have been diverted instead subsidize a business that has not been able to find a way to survive on its own.
David Cutler admits that we are all guinea pigs in a grand experiment about health care. While Cutler claims the actuaries at Medicare and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) haven't caught the vision of our new health care law, he shows how parlous that vision is. Check out his response to me and others who have publicized the Medicare actuary's estimate of the effects of the new law -- an estimate Nancy Pelosi would not wait for.
There are no controlled trials of large-scale payment innovations of the type envisioned in the health reform law. Thus, the CMS and CBO actuaries did not know how to evaluate the likely savings from them. In both cases, this translated into an assumption of essentially no savings.
Those of us who disagree—and there are a lot of us—now have the chance to prove the skeptics wrong. We get to show that we can create a higher quality, less expensive health care system. If we are right, then costs will fall more rapidly than expected. Since the coverage expansions are already paid for through traditional payment reductions and revenue increases, all of the incremental savings can be used for deficit reduction, with perhaps some for expansions in subsidy amounts.
If we are wrong, we still have the traditional savings from Medicare reform to balance costs in the first decade. But in any case, arguing over the likely effects of reform is now irrelevant. The country made its decision on health care a month ago. People believed that cost savings were feasible, and that the strategy for realizing them was the right one. It’s time to turn belief into reality. [emphasis added]
"We get to show...we can create.... If we are right..." Really inspires confidence doesn't it?
David Malpass is a regular Forbes columnist. He is also running for the GOP nomination to take on Senator Gillibrand in New York. Good luck!
Anyway, his latest column clearly explains the enormous mess the feds (Dems and Republicans alike) have made with their uncontrolled appetite for spending money. I recommend the whole article, but just consider these sentences:
"The marketable national debt has ballooned to more than $8 trillion, but wait... the Obama Administration has budgeted an increase to $20 trillion over the next few years, bringing it to more than 90% of GDP. Even that huge sum -- $100,000 for every working age American -- doesn't include the rapidly escalating debts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the government's unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare. And to keep the debt estimate down the budgeteers are making wishful assumptions that millions of high-paying jobs will appear and health care reform will pay for itself."
Yesterday Obama said that immigrants "have to speak English" (and his audience of supporters cheered). We now know that when he said we all have to have health insurance he actually meant it should be illegal not to. I wonder what the words "have to" mean in this instance. Hopefully in this case he'll resist his coercive proclivities.