Archives for September 2012

Paul Ryan: Eric Holder must go over Fast and Furious

From The DC Caller:

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan agrees with presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s call for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, or for President Barack Obama to fire him, over Operation Fast and Furious, a Ryan spokesman told The Daily Caller.

“The congressman agrees with the governor,” Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck told TheDC on Sunday, referring to Mitt Romney’s call for Holder’s resignation or termination over the gunwalking scandal last December.

“Either Mr. Holder himself should resign, or the president should ask for his resignation or remove him,” Romney said in December 2011. “It’s unacceptable for him to continue in that position now given the fact that he has misled Congress and entirely botched the investigation of the Fast and Furious program.”

Ryan’s call for Holder’s ouster over Fast and Furious comes a day after he told a sportsmen’s group that gun owners should be worried about Obama trying to infringe on their Second Amendment rights if he is re-elected. Speaking about Fast and Furious specifically, Ryan said at the Saturday event that such an operation “would never occur under a Romney-Ryan administration,” according to CBS News,

Ryan now becomes the 131st House GOP member to demand Holder’s resignation over the scandal.

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Californians back change on three strikes, but not on death penalty

From The Los Angeles Times:

California voters support easing the state’s tough three-strikes sentencing law by a margin of more than 3 to 1 but are reluctant to abolish the death penalty, according to a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.

The poll results come as voters ponder a pair of ballot measures that, if approved, would make dramatic changes to the state’s criminal justice system.

Support for an initiative that aims to replace capital punishment with life in prison without parole is trailing 38% to 51%, the poll found. But that gap narrows to a statistical dead heat when voters learn that Proposition 34 also requires convicted killers to work while in prison, directs their earnings to their victims and earmarks $100 million for police to solve murders and rapes.

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High stakes in rough-and-tumble Nevada

From The Hill:

In Nevada, a state that could decide control of the Senate and White House, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and his challenger, Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), are upping the attacks against each other amidst signs of a tightening race.

Heller will likely run a few points ahead of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on the ballot, but how far Heller can pull ahead — and how close the presidential race remains in the swing state — will likely decide the Senate race.

Heller has led nearly every poll in the past year, but never by more than a few points. Nevada Republicans believe Heller has a slight edge, while the state’s Democrats consider the race a tossup.

Most Nevada-based strategists on both sides agree that President Obama leads Mitt Romney and is likely to win there, barring a major shake-up of the race. Obama has led Romney in most recent polls, with leads ranging from within the margin of error to nine points, depending on the pollster.

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Paul Ryan: ‘We expected media bias going into this’

From DC Caller:

On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan told host Chris Wallace that he and running mate Mitt Romney expected liberal media bias to affect their campaign from day one.

“I think it kind of goes without saying that there is definitely a media bias,” Ryan said. “Look, I’m a conservative, Chris. I’m used to media bias. We expected media bias going into this. That’s why we’re trying to cut through and go straight to people. That’s why when in Washington you hear people complain about media bias, come out into these states with us and attend our town hall meetings.”

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MASSIVE DECLINE in Democrat Voter Registration in 8 Swing States

From Human Events:

Democratic drop in Ohio voter registrations mirrors a nationwide trend.
In fact, Democratic voter registration in 8 swing states outnumbers Republican decline by a 10-to-1 ratio.

FOX News reported:

“Don’t boo, vote,” President Obama often says in his stump speech whenever crowds boo a Romney plan.

The off-hand call to vote may be by design. It comes amid a precipitous decline in Democratic voter registration in key swing states — nowhere more apparent than in Ohio.

Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from four years ago. Of that reduction, 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

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Top 10 Obama 
Mideast mistakes

From Human Events:

Despite Barack Obama’s view that his presidency would repair relations with the Muslim world, America’s standing on the Arab street has never been lower.

1. Egypt policy

The administration has been consistently one-step behind events in crafting an Egypt policy. The White House’s initial backing of President Hosni Mubarak lost any support it might have gained from the crowds in Tahrir Square. Then the United States shocked its Mideast allies by pulling support from the Egyptian leader. The United States is now faced with a hostile regime in Cairo, where a Muslim Brotherhood-headed government could hardly be bothered to act when a mob tried to overrun the U.S. embassy.

2. Iran nuclear program

During his 2008 campaign, Obama posited that the Iranian leadership was bellicose mostly in reaction to misguided policies of the Bush administration. Unlike his predecessor, he would be willing to sit down and talk with the mullahs, confident that his powers of persuasion would convince them to lay down their nuclear ambitions. Four years later, Obama seems has been more concerned about cutting back our nuclear arsenal than trying to stop Tehran.

3. Diplomatic security

How could a U.S. ambassador be at an unsecured consulate in a hostile location in the Arab world on the anniversary of September 11? Christopher Stevens’ murder by a terror mob need could have been avoided if the U.S. heeded the warnings that violence was afoot. The State Department had even issued a travel alert to Americans about going to Libya, yet the consulate had minimal security.

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Obama’s Biblical Rewrite

From American Thinker:

In an act of “the evil most pure,” as Inspector Poirot might put it, Obama slipped poisonous “change” into the wording of the Biblical passage he abuses to add Godly gravitas to the black racial rant he published as Dreams from My Father.  By his textual sleight-of-hand, he converted an expression of Biblical love and equality into race-baiting hate speech. Yes, the ambitious Obama changed an Old Testament verse from one recognizing the unity of all humanity before God into a Biblical endorsement of perpetual black racist separatism in the “alien” land of America.  None of the talking heads who dominate the media noticed, of course, and now he is president.

In Obama’s deceptive hand, the pitch-perfect new quotation sets the tone for his bitter, grudge-holding account of eternal racial alienation and of his visceral, burning rage at a white America he views as enemy number one in the world.  Confidently, recklessly abusing the trust of his readers, Obama “informs” that 1 Chronicles 29:15 says, “For we are strangers before them [emphasis added — the original is “thee” or “you,” referring to God], and sojourners, as were all our fathers.”  “Sojourners,” of course, means aliens in a foreign land, visitors who don’t really belong.

Obamacare’s Barrage of Tax Hikes

From The Foundry:

The first presidential debate takes place in Denver on Wednesday with a focus on domestic issues, including President Obama’s unpopular health-care law. Obamacare imposes numerous tax increases on Americans, totaling more than $500 billion over a 10-year period.

According to Heritage’s analysis, these higher tax rates on income and investment threaten to slow economic growth. With so much uncertainty already stemming from Taxmageddon, this only adds to the concerns of American families and businesses.

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Sacramento Hearing Offers Peek into the Democratic Mind

With either an infusion of new tax revenue or major cuts facing California, a theme is emerging as the November election nears. Said Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland, at a hearing Monday, ”We are not running the state incompetently. We don’t have enough revenue.”

In a rare televised hearing from the state Capitol, the Legislature held a mandatory oversight hearing Monday on three of the ballot initiatives California voters will be deciding November 6.

A fourth initiative hearing was held Tuesday.

Voter access to hearings

Actually, most legislative hearings are televised on the California Channel, the Capitol cable television program. But in August, the recording a Senate hearing four November ballot initiatives was deliberately and abruptly interrupted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

“I pride myself on transparency,”  Steinberg said following the faux pas, referring to his weekly press briefings with local media. But it appeared to be nothing more than a disingenuous justification of his decision to cut off the legislative hearing access.

Immediately after the hearing access was cutoff, Steinberg’s media spokesman unconvincingly said they were attempting to prevent the hearing footage from being used in campaign commercials.

The California Legislature’s overused word-of-the-year is “transparency.” They love it. They use it every chance they get. It’s just too bad that they don’t actually practice it. In fact, those who use “tranaparency” the most, understand it the least, and seem to practice it the least.

Dems rule, Reps duel

The information provided at the hearings should easily help voters decide which way to vote on the ballot initiatives. ”The goal is to dig deeper, talk about the real substance behind the propositions,” Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angleles, said at the hearing covering Proposition 30, 31 and 38.

In the left corner of the Proposition 30 prizefight was proponent Trudy Schafer with the League of Women Voters of California. In the right corner for the opposition was David Wolfe with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Proposition 30 is Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase measure, which would raise the state sales tax by one-quarter cent, and raise income taxes on incomes of $250,000 and higher. Estimates vary on how much Prop. 30 is expected to raise, but $6 billion to $8.5 billion is the range.

While the proposition is being advertised as a school-funding measure, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said it would mostly repay money already owed to schools through years of legislative deferrals to education funding.

“It’s time to take a stand,” Schafer said. “The California dream was built on public school access for every Californian. We need to get back to investing in schools and colleges.”

By definition, public schools are accessible to every school-age California resident.

Sounding more like a shill for the teachers unions, Schafer lamented that California has “one-third less adults working in schools than other states.” She said that if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass, schools face $6 billion in trigger cuts, which will force schools to shorten the school year, stop buying text books, and fire teachers.

“Proposition 30 is a temporary tax, and a modest increase,” Schafer said. “It’s all new money in dedicated accounts so the Legislature can’t touch it.” (Now that’s a rousing endorsement of the integrity of the California Legislature.)

Wolfe had an entirely different stance on the tax increase proposition: “Proposition 30 is not a temporary tax … seven years is not temporary.” Wolfe explained that there is no plan to replace the revenue when the tax expires.

“Prop. 30 will not fix the progressive tax system, where 37 percent of all tax revenues are paid by the top 1 percent income earners. Volatility is a problem,” Wolfe said.

“Prop. 30 will not provide new money for educational programs, and it is not a millionaire tax,” taxing income of $250,000 and up, according to Wolfe. “Small business income is filed as personal tax; this hurts small business.”

“Anybody who makes $250,000 becomes a millionaire very quickly if you save it. You just need four years,” Brown said recently, while trying to justify calling Prop. 30, the Millionaire Tax measure. “It is a millionaires tax. It taxes millionaires, right?”

Despite what facts legislative analyst provided, Blumenfield played down the impact of the tax measure: “It’s a huge impact on schools, and would mean that schools borrow less.”

“You’ve got to give the governor credit for stepping up and pushing a transparent process,” said Swanson.

Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, asked the legislative analyst exactly how much of the tax-in crease revenue would goes to schools.  The Legislative Analyst explained that $2.9 billion will go to education and $5 billion to the General Fund.

The LAO reported that revenues could change significantly from year to year. “The revenues raised by this measure could be subject to multibillion-dollar swings — either above or below the revenues projected here,” the LAO analysis states in the California General Election voter guide.

“If this doesn’t pass, hopefully we get our act together and budget with what we have,” said Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert.”Cumulatively, the cuts are an illusion. We make them, then we backfill them.”

Nestande said that state spending goes up every year, a fact he noted is backed up by the LAO. And he pointed out that the $6 to $8 billion in revenue Prop. 30 may bring in is a drop in the bucket given California’s massive indebtedness. “This small tax increase is nothing,” Nestande said. “We have to look at a total re-do. We keep going back to constituents, many who live paycheck to paycheck, and asking them to pay more when it doesn’t do much. We say we are a full time Legislature, dealing with the budget problem. We are not.”

(Katy Grimes is a longtime political analyst, writer and journalist, and CalWatchdog’s news reporter. Originally posted on CalWatchdog.)

Study Shows that Red State Residents Are Better Off

According to an analysis published on Thursday by USA Today, the answer to the election-year question “Are you better off?” depends on where you live. Reviewing Bureau of Economic Analysis personal-income data between the onset of the Great Recession in December 2007 and the second quarter of 2012, USA Today found that red states could respond with a definitive “yes,” swing states with “sort of,” and blue states with “hardly at all.” Those living in the 23 Republican-leaning states have seen a 4.6 percent gain in real personal income. By contrast, income growth was virtually flat (up just .5 percent) in the 15 Democratic-leaning states, while the 12 swing states’ increase fell in between (1.4 percent), tracking closely the national rate (1.6 percent).

To be fair, blue states remain wealthier, contributing 42 percent of the nation’s total income. But they’ve stagnated during the years of recession and modest, stalled recovery, and their tax burdens are higher than those of red states. In the Tax Foundation’s most recent survey of state and local tax burdens, where first place equals the highest tax burden (New Jersey), the average blue-state rank is 12. The average red-state rank is 34.

USA Today’s analysis of the data was rather scant, though. The paper declined to examine the connection between tax policy and growth, focusing instead on the energy booms now underway in several red states, to which much of the largest income jumps may be attributed. North Dakota’s fracking-driven oil and gas economy has boosted income by almost a third since 2007, for example. The only other factor the paper identifies as responsible for red states’ over-performance is high rates of federal welfare spending among “poor southern states.” According to the July State Budget Crisis Task Force Report, 47 percent of Mississippi’s 2009 revenues came from federal grants. But USA Today might have also considered if federal spending had something to do with Virginia’s 5.9 percent growth rate, Maryland’s 7.1 percent, and the District of Columbia’s whopping 13.8 percent.

Analysts often attribute economic vitality to high education levels, but that correlation doesn’t quite bear out here. On average, more than 30 percent of blue states’ populations have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 24 percent among red states. Wealth and education appear to be more closely linked than economic growth and education. After a certain point, promoting ever-greater shares of college graduates among a given population seems not to yield proportionate economic gains.

A 2011 study by the Boston-based think tank MassINC came to this conclusion about Massachusetts, the best-educated state in America. Among states, Massachusetts led the nation in proportion of college-educated adults both at the beginning and the end of the last decade; the state’s share currently stands at 38 percent. But economic data plainly demonstrate that 2000-10 was, in MassINC’s phrase, a “lost decade” for the state. Income growth was flat, the state economy grew more slowly than the national economy, and Massachusetts ended the decade with 143,000 fewer jobs than it had at the outset.

The blue versus red income-growth gap deserves to be understood better, not only for its causes but for its effects. Big blue states haven’t been posting impressive population gains of late. Might stagnant income growth be one reason why? From 2000 to 2010, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois all grew by less than 5 percent, well below the 9.7 percent national rate. California grew by 10 percent, mostly because the state’s high rate of domestic outmigration was offset by foreign immigration and natural increase, both of which have since slowed. Red and swing states in the West were the major beneficiaries of the “great California exodus.” Between 2000 and 2010, Texas alone netted 225,000 new residents from California.

Stronger population and income growth in red states—good news for Republicans, right? Maybe not. A recent Politico analysis showed that 2012 appears to be trending Democratic in no small part because of the changing populations of the red states. Not that Republicans can’t win (see 2010), but “Democrats have more margin for error than Republicans. . . As more voters, both transients from other states and immigrants, have poured into states like Nevada, Colorado, Virginia and North Carolina, political demographics in these places have been transformed.”

But the full implications of these shifts remain to be seen. What is certain is that Americans have always been a mobile and opportunistic people. If these disparities persist between states’ rates of income and population growth, the gaps cannot fail to have political effects.

(Stephen D. Eide is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute’s Center for State & Local Leadership. Originally posted on City Journal.)