Saturday, April 30, 2005

Straw Man: Jonathan Miller Makes Up Quote, Attacks

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller said "There is no justification for the General Assembly to say '... we're going to break all these contracts with all these 8900 families.'"

The only problem with this is that no one in the General Assembly has said anything like this or done anything to jeopardize the KAPT contract holders, despite Miller's rhetoric.

That is why even the Louisville Courier Journal has called Miller's actions "grandstanding."

Meanwhile, you are still paying for his self-serving, money-wasting lawsuit.

Misquoted Two Days Ahead of Time?: Miller Blames Herald Leader For KAPT Misstatement

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller blamed the Lexington Herald Leader for a charge that he made against the state Senate in a March 1 press release that has been removed from his website and a March 2 guest blog on BluegrassRoots. Miller had stated that the Senate "raided" KAPT to build a practice gym for UK.

"I love UK basketball, but raiding a fund that holds the personal college savings of thousands of Kentucky families is inexcusable, unconstitutional, and immoral," Miller said.

Speaking on the Kentucky Focus program, he admitted he was wrong, but said it wasn't his fault.

"That was an incorrect statement ... we were basing that on a Herald Leader story that indicated that that was the case," Miller said.

That would be news to the good folks at Midland and Main, since they never mentioned the controversy until March 3.

CLARIFICATION: The last sentence of this post is incorrect. As an alert reader has pointed out, The Lexington Herald Leader did indeed mention the bonding project for the UK practice gym but didn't include the linkage to the KAPT program Miller asserted afterward (that is why my search didn't catch it). The mistake was my fault, though.

Interestingly, the article in question did clearly state that the $15 million was to be bonded and did not, as Miller stated repeatedly, involve General Fund cash from his program or any other.

Friday, April 29, 2005

KAPT Scandal on the Radio

Click here for a half hour long radio program about the KAPT scandal.

Congressional Budget '05 Foreshadowing of KY '08?

Both houses of Congress passed a budget late last night that includes spending restraint not seen from Capitol Hill in many years. Interestingly, the budget passed without a single Democrat vote.

Could this be a sneak peak at how Kentucky's budget process will go in 2008 with Republicans in the majority of the House and the Senate?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Liberals Can't Do Basic Math

State Treasurer Jonathan Miller and ABC News's George Stephanopolous have one very notable characteristic in common. Neither seems capable of telling the difference between a dollar that is an asset and one that is not.

Miller persists in his stupid claim that the money-losing KAPT scheme is backed up by more than $100 million in cash from liquidated unclaimed property. The reality of course is that there is no such money, no such fund, and the only surprise is that the mainstream media in Kentucky is so willfully blind to this simple truth. Perhaps they don't mind raising your taxes to fill the growing hole KAPT will require us to fill in future years. I do.

Stephanopolous looked like he was going to wet himself when he exclaimed, absurdly, that the President of the United States was "caught in a contradiction" by describing Social Security Trust Fund "dollars" as a filing cabinet full of IOU's and contending that personal accounts would include an option for nervous investors that would include all Treasury Bonds backed by the "full faith and credit of the USA." The difference is that the Social Security Trust Fund money has been spent (that makes it just like the KY unclaimed property "fund" if you are keeping score at home.) When money is gone, it can't honestly be counted as an asset. Surely they taught that to you at Harvard, Treasurer Miller. And it is a shame that Stephanopolous is too thick to see that President Bush just pulled the "gambling in the stock market" rug out from under the Democrats' feet. No doubt the New York Times and Washington Post slept through that one as well.

Democrats are mighty smug on this one right now. They had better hope that their electoral math is better than their financial math.

I'm so glad that President Bush mentioned that the GOP is clearly the party of ideas. Democrats are counting on ignorance in the voting public to stop their slide into oblivion. The numbers (as in the simple math) are on our side. We can only hope that the votes will be.

Mongiardo Under Fire; Needs Miller To Count Money

Nice lightweight Sen. Daniel Mongiardo is now officially "the embattled Senator from Hazard" as his wind-aided campaign for the U.S. Senate has been shown to be bankrupt (or as Jonathan Miller would say "actuarially sound.")

Particularly funny in Ryan Alessi's story was Democrat state Chairman Jerry Lundergan's offer to do "anything we can," maybe even a fundraiser. After the failed John Edwards fundraiser from earlier this month, that may be tough.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Social Security Expert on Kentucky Progress Radio

Be sure to tune in this afternoon 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm to WEKY 1340 AM for my interview with Peter Ferrara, Director of the Social Security Project and author of the foremost conservative plan for Social Security reform.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Social Security: Cards on The Table

The Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on five different Social Security reform plans today. And ladies and gentlemen, we have one clear winner.

Two of the plans are tax increase non-starters that don't even include personal accounts. In fact both plans, by Peter Oszag of The Brookings Institution and Joan Entmacher of the National Women's Law Center spent all their time beating the same drum about how awful it would be to allow people to own their own Social Security only to finish up with a quick line about soaking the rich. You can read their plans here and here, if you must.

Two plans urge establishing personal accounts but fall short by advocating benefit cuts. Doing this just doesn't make any sense politically. Again, if you are as masochistic as you are ambitious, these two are here and here.

Only one plan shows an understanding of how personal accounts provide a better deal for workers and sustains the system permanently (and includes a neat wrinkle that calls for reduced government spending, which everyone claims to want). Peter Ferrara, Senior Fellow at the Institute for Policy Innovation. This one is worth reading and the link is here.

The Social Security Trust Fund has as much money in it as Jonathan Miller's Unclaimed Property Fund. Zero. In 2018, (less than thirteen years away if you are keeping score) we will have to dig into other programs or raise taxes to meet current obligations of Social Security. If we do nothing, present law dictates that benefits be cut 28% when Social Security can't pay all its own obligations. The "there is no crisis" crowd can't be allowed to win this one.

It is time to engage.

Social Security War Begins

The Senate Finance Committee begins work today on Social Security reform. Despite the questionable polling data, ranting editorials (forget the link, you know what I am talking about), and obstructing politicians (see Ben Chandler), the time to do the right thing has come.

Saving Social Security must include personal investment accounts. Otherwise we are just raising taxes or cutting benefits. We have already poured trillions into this rat hole. Let's at least look at ways to get better value. I haven't heard anything from the Democrats to lead me to believe that compromising on the accounts will do anything but make a flawed program worse.

Mongiardo and Barely Legal

Not with my daughter!

Monday, April 25, 2005

2020 Democrats: Bush To Draft You Now, Starve You Later

A group of young liberals from Boston called 2020 Democrats connects their misunderstanding of Social Security to their continued confusion over the war on terror. The funny part is they lay it out in a talking points memo.

The group says President Bush "played those games with our generation once and wound up with a war and a potential draft" and "his (Social Security) plan would cost nearly $5 trillion over the first twenty years."

The "potential draft" quote relates to a long-since discredited late attempt by candidate John Kerry to scare young voters against supporting the President in the 2004 election. The $5 trillion "cost" represents the Social Security Trust Fund dollars that have been spent as off-budget money and will have to be replaced eventually whether Social Security investment accounts are set up or not. The cost is real, but the reason for the cost has nothing to do with personal accounts. These young "future leaders" in the liberal movement might need to have someone check their homework.

Rudolph: KY Needs To Stop Lagging With KAPT

Finance Cabinet Secretary Robbie Rudolph lays out the case for cutting our losses in the money-losing KAPT mess still championed by Treasurer Jonathan Miller, who seems to be happy to let Kentucky continue to lag behind West Virginia.

LA Times: All the Non-News That Fits

Here is a last ditch effort from the Left Coast to head off the GOP Senate effort to end filibusters of judicial nominees. The story is real (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is afraid Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) will keep his promise to shut down the Senate), but rehashed only to stop the Senate Republicans from acting in support of President Bush's nominees.
I say since Joe Biden(D-DE) is calling for "compromise," the Republicans should go ahead with their plans and call Reid's bluff. Oh, and forget the compromise on this one.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Pedophilia Scandal In Kentucky

Would you believe that Planned Parenthood is shielding Kentucky pedophiles from prosecution in the name of "privacy?"

Check back with Kentucky Progress this week for information about this disgusting criminal behavior.

Concede One Fact, Make Up Another?

"Now sure, a few workers may win big under the President's plan but all it takes is one poor investment and workers could lose everything," Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) in a statement not reported by the media.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Number is Zero, Rep. Chandler

"Over the past few years we have seen a number of stock market disasters where individuals lost every penny of their retirement income on the stock market," said Ben Chandler (D-KY), in trying to scare constituents out of a common sense approach to investing (diversified index funds) and back into the pitiful returns of Social Security.

ChandlerWatch: Congressman Plays Head In Sand

"We can rely on the savings in the Social Security Trust Fund to continue payments (to beneficiaries). The program is not in crisis but in fact has enough saved to cover several generations without reform."

--Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) making his case against fixing Social Security.

What Congressman Chandler doesn't want you to know is that the Social Security Trust Fund has no money in it. In fact, he has been vocal in his support for tax increases to address the Social Security shortfall despite his campaign promise in January 2004 not to ever support higher taxes if the voters of central Kentucky would send him to Iceland to serve as one of Nancy Pelosi's appointees to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Advocating tax increases makes sense for Chandler only in the sense that it would provide the revenue to paper over his "misstatement" quoted here.

Friday, April 22, 2005

ABC Does It Again

On the heels of ABC's "GOP Leadership Talking Points" scandal, ABC's Chicago affiliate stepped in it when trying to make hay out of an innocuous, polite comment by retiring Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL).

During a wide-ranging interview in which Hyde and reporter Andy Shaw discussed Hyde's long career in Congress that will end next year, Shaw asked if the Clinton impeachment was "pay back" for Nixon.

What Rep. Hyde did not say was "You idiot, why would you ask such a stupid question? Some people may have thought that, but in Congress we just went on the facts of the case."

Instead he politely replied "I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility."

In this way, Hyde made his best effort to diffuse that part of the conversation, ignoring the stupid question and allowing the interviewer to get back on track.

The funny thing is that the ABC7 Chicago website had a headline this morning that blared "Clinton Impeachment Was Retaliation For Nixon, Says Retiring Congressman." This was, of course, completely untrue.

At some point today, they pulled down the story, according to the Drudge Report. Now it is back up with the story re-written and the headline changed to "Rep. Hyde Reflects on 30 Years of Office."

I guess they were hoping no one would notice their effort to turn bad journalism into an embarrassment for a Republican.

Clear Channel Radio Takes The KAPT Challenge

Kudos to Caleb Brown, reporter at WHAS and the Kentucky News Network and host of the Sunday morning Kentucky Focus program. Mr. Brown will have Jonathan Miller and Kentucky Progress' David Adams on his show this weekend to investigate the KAPT scandal.

All we ask is that he look into Mr. Miller's bogus claim that there is $150 million in unclaimed funds backing up the money-losing KAPT program.

UPDATE: Caleb Brown seems to be asking the tough questions of both sides, those urging fiscal responsibility AND the State Treasurer. This story is set to take off next week.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rep. Hyde Comments Taken Out of Context

The MSM will be pretty worked up Friday about Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) saying that Clinton's impeachment was payback for Nixon. He didn't say it.

In a wide-ranging interview about his career in the House and after questions about the personal attacks that he took as House manager of the Impeachment proceedings, Hyde was asked if he thought Clinton was payback for Nixon.

He said "I can't say it wasn't, but I also thought that the Republican party should stand for something, and if we walked away from this, no matter how difficult, we could be accused of shirking our duty, our responsibility."

Hardly the announcement that it will probably be made out to be.

Double Dog Dare to Mainstream Media

The judge doesn't get it, so kiss your money goodbye. The only question is will the media investigate?

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Roger Crittenden has issued his Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in the KAPT scandal. In the document, he repeatedly refers to the "Unclaimed Property Fund" as the source of the $13.7 million at the heart of the controversy.

The problem is that Judge Crittenden does not appear to grasp the fact that there is no such fund. The indisputable fact -- disputed loudly by Jonathan Miller -- is that there is no money in the account representing the liquidated abandoned property held by the state.

The bottom line is that taxpayer money was used to fill the unfunded liability hole in the money-losing KAPT program and much more will be lost if Miller is allowed to keep the program open and generating future losses.

I double dog dare anyone in the mainstream media to investigate and PROVE ME WRONG on this.

Bowling for Caribou

Congressman Ben Chandler (D-Iceland) voted yesterday to help European environmentalists prevent oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and continue America's high level of dependence on imported petroleum.

But America won on a largely party line vote 231-200.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

ChandlerWatch Continues

There was a flurry of amendment activity from House Democrats Wednesday night. Waiting for all the details to come available and will report quickly Thursday.

Come To the Table or Karl Rove Will Eat Your Lunch, Again

Congressman Mike Pence (R-IN) is calling on President Bush to put up a specific plan for Social Security reform. While I look forward to getting the show on the road (and share Pence's support for the Ryan/Sununu plan) I support the method the President is using to build support for reform. As a result of his efforts to date, very few people can still insist there is no crisis and they are getting increasingly shrill.

Of course, now they have little choice but to continue fighting reform as so many of them have gone on the record with stupid statements that can haunt them if reform passes.

I just wish there were some liberals willing to have a serious discussion about the issue. It shouldn't be a partisan argument. Numbers are neither liberal nor conservative and this particular episode of obstructionism reeks of political calculation.

GOP Must Fight or Die

USA Today takes on the favorite topics of how Democrats can stop losing elections with two op/ed pieces. It is worthwhile reading for conservative people. One says to not change anything and the other says to lie more. Ross Baker writes, interestingly and correctly, that Democrats did well with the hand they were dealt in 2004 and should merely press on with the support they are energizing.

This is the one that Republicans should fear and respond to.

Republicans who choose to rest on their laurels given recent electoral success deserve to get smashed. We face significant issues that merit hair-on-fire activism by conservatives. Examples include tax reform, entitlement reform, and battling terrorism. The fantastic opportunity conservatives have to separate themselves from the loyal opposition exists, but must be actively embraced on a large scale for it to have any value.

Embrace this soon, or regret it soon enough.

Can't Blog Now, Gotta Talk on WVLK 590

I'll be on Jack Pattie's show at 9 am talking about federal tax reform. Call in number is 253-5959.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Movement on KAPT Scandal Today

The Franklin Circuit Court today issued a summary of findings on the KAPT scandal. Embattled state Treasurer Jonathan Miller's reputation has been damaged by uncovered details of financial problems for the KAPT program, including the fact that the abandoned property fund backing up KAPT has been completely squandered.

The mainstream media, curiously, is going to great lengths to ignore the details of this story. We will keep you posted as more information is uncovered.

Lexington Herald Leader Wrong on Estate Tax

The Lexington Herald Leader passes on a bit of bad information this morning (dead tree version only) on it's opinion page. Their reprint of a San Jose Mercury News unsigned editorial gives us a commonly repeated lie about the death tax.

The editorial states that the current estate tax exemption ($1.5 million) and that of a "compromise" Democrat bill that would have raised it to $3.5 million, is worth $3 million and $7 million respectively, for couples. This simply isn't true, and they have to know it. When one spouse dies, his or her estate passes on to the surviving spouse with no estate tax liability. When the surviving spouse dies, he or she gets one exemption. So doubling the exemption for a "couple" does not happen.

A simple example would be a couple with $2.5 million dollars, less than the $3 million "couple" exemption. The death of the first spouse would cause the entire estate to pass on to the surviving spouse. The death of the surviving spouse would result in the application of the $1.5 million exemption and leave $1 million subject to the death tax. This obviously wouldn't be the case if there were a $3 million "couple" exemption. But there isn't.

Again, this is such an elementary detail of estate tax law that the Democrats in Congress and their friends at the New York Times and Washington Post would have to know the truth. What seems most likely is that they are counting on you not taking the time to check out their spin.

We'll hold our breath waiting for a correction from the Herald Leader.

Liberal Study: Cut Spending and Spending Goes Down

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the far left think tank under fire for its support for tax increases and the status quo on America's deteriorating entitlements, has issued a stunning report on government spending.

The CBPP's report on Ohio's consideration of a taxpayer bill of rights warns that legislative efforts to mandate spending cuts might result in lower spending. And that, the study concludes, would be bad.

Yes, they really did.

Conservative Dems of The World, Unite!

The Democratic Leadership Council, Washington D.C.'s self-proclaimed "conservative Democrats" have made it official: they are going to stop obstructing on entitlement reform and taxes.

Disappointing, though, is that they propose to change their tune and cure society's ills by moving to the left.

Their grand solution includes more tax credits and expanded tax deductions to be "paid for" by tax increases.

I am serious.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Fruits and Nuts in Frankfort

What is Sen. Ed Worley(D-Richmond) doing chatting up communist wacko and perennial Democrat candidate for President Lyndon "Let's Nationalize the Auto Industry" LaRouche?

Talking Taxes on Lexington Radio

Be sure to tune in Wednesday at 9 AM to the Jack Pattie Show on WVLK 590 AM to hear yours truly talking about the upcoming tax reform debate. Call in to 253-5959 with comments, criticisms, and complaints!

Thunder Flap: Louisville Pacifists Hate Planes

Leftist wacko groups are protesting today the use of military planes in the Thunder over Louisville program.

Interesting how the story claims a coalition of "peace and religious groups" are upset. Looks like the left is holding on to their misread of last year's exit polling data by calling their nutty little confabs "religious groups."

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Homosexual "Bishop" Talks Abortion

Less than three weeks after coming under fire for suggesting Jesus Christ was a homosexual, Episcopal "Bishop" Gene Robinson, a Lexington Ky native, was caught giving political advice to Planned Parenthood in a speech Friday.

Robinson said "We need to teach people about nuance ... that this can be true and that can be true, and somewhere between is the right answer. It's a very adult way of living, you know." He added "We must use people of faith to counter the faith-based arguments against us."

Yes, he really said that.

Robinson left his wife and two young daughters in 1986 for another man.

Sounds Like KY Budget "Negotiations"

We've made reference on this site to similarities between structural problems in Social Security and the KAPT scandal. The politics of Social Security reform, meanwhile, seems to mirror that of Kentucky's budget negotiations of the last two sessions in the General Assembly.
Just as Washington D.C. Democrats continue to insist either that there is no problem with Social Security or that it is so frail that it will not survive reform efforts, Frankfort House Democrats last year repeatedly refused to meet Republicans to discuss Kentucky's budget.

Just as the media last year failed to report on House Speaker Jody Richards' refusal to meet with Republicans to negotiate on the budget, journalists have blatantly manipulated the debate on Social Security reform. The latest example of this is noteworthy.

The Los Angeles Times yesterday reported on a Social Security opt out program in Ohio that has "attracted few takers" stating that the "popularity of the private accounts" has been "relatively low." (Note that the words in quotes above were words of LA Times reporters and were not attributed to anyone else.)

This dim view of a program that allowed individuals to opt out of Social Security for a private plan was striking. I had never heard of Ohio's plan, but every other plan I had heard of was both popular and successful. So I did a little research.

Bottom line: What was the participation level among eligible employees for Ohio's version of private Social Security accounts?

Ninety seven percent.

While Kentucky voters are asking themselves why they had to wait a year for Democrats to come to the table on the budget, national voters may soon be wondering why Congressional Democrats fiddled so long while Social Security crumbled.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Central Kentucky Deaniacs Go To Washington

The 72% crowd went to the nation's Capitol for a sit down with Rep. Ben Chandler's staffers.

I love the part about "privatization" being a "more accurate" term than "personal account." Which is it, do they really not know what privatization means, or are they lying to each other?

Debunked on SSI, Chandler Attacks Veterans

The question people should be asking in central Kentucky is "Would Happy Chandler approve of grandson Ben Chandler's undistinguished tenure in Washington D.C.?"

Chandler's latest propaganda campaign picks up the party line that Republicans are trying to shortchange veterans. Here at Kentucky Progress we are doing a complete analysis of Chandler's claims (basically the Democratic party line, it seems) and will report next week.

Given Rep. Chandler's fast-and-loose treatment of the facts on Social Security reform and his horrendous record on fiscal issues, constituents have cause for skepticism. A hint -- one thing we are looking at is Bush's record on veterans' benefits and that of Congress since 1994 versus that of the pre-1994 glory days for Democrats.

From the words-have-meaning department: Bush "cuts" don't seem to square with the $20 billion increase in spending on veterans proposed in this year's budget and the 41% increase in spending on veterans medical benefits during the President's first term.

Silly liberal, that's why veterans vote Republican.

Stay tuned for updates.

Tax Day Great Time To Consider Reform

On D-Day for federal taxes, now would be a great time to suggest that you go to the Americans For Fair Taxation website for a great program to reform the way we finance our government.

Any comments, complaints, or criticisms?

The Columnist Who Ate Central Kentucky

As guest host of The Sue Wylie Show on WVLK AM 590, Herald Leader columnist Cheryl Truman this morning suggested county consolidation in Kentucky that would involve expanding Fayette county to include all of Jessamine, Madison, Bourbon, and Woodford counties.

How's that for a takeover?

While an argument can certainly be made for consolidating some local governments, few residents of counties surrounding Lexington want to get sucked into that deal.

What All The Excitement Is About..

The Conservative Edge will hold its first annual Conservative Bloggers Conference! If you want to learn why blogs are getting so much attention and what their future impact will be, this is the place for you. We'll have presenters , discussing the role of blogs, show blogging technique and design as well as folks who can help you get sources for information and basic grammar. The event will be held on Saturday April 23rd, from 1 - 3 pm in downtown Lexington. Registration is limited and the cost is $5. For more information contact Brian Goettl at

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Driving Them Crazy

Lexington Herald Leader columnist Cheryl Truman has caught the "Who's the Next Mayor?" fever and it is making her get a little goofy. She cites an LBAR survey that names a few possible candidates. She speculates on one of them:

"Who is John Hampton?" she asks. "He's the young Republican who ran a well-financed campaign against longtime state Rep. Ruth Ann Palumbo last year -- and came within a hair of unseating her. He could become the Scott Crosbie of the next mayor's race: the young conservative with the big war chest."

Go fish, Cheryl. Supporters of the status quo in Lexington can only hope for a repeat of the 2002 race that was close but gave power to the current mayor.

Guessing who will be the conservative candidate for Lexington mayor next year will become a major distraction for all of Leftington, but they won't figure it out until it is time for them to know.

But watching them get worked up about it will be fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Flip-Flop: Chandler Changes Tax Vote

As he did twice last year, Rep. Ben Chandler voted to kill a good tax bill and then voted for it. Given his bad voting record, it is noteworthy that he is totally ineffective in Congress and has to go on expensive taxpayer-paid junkets to Iceland to get attention.

Tax and Spend Liberal

Rep. Ben Chandler voted today against making the repeal of the Death Tax permanent. You don't need Grover Norquist to tell you that would be a tax increase.

Kentucky Progress Radio

For the latest on all this and more, tune in to 1340 WEKY in Richmond, 1550 WIRV in Irvine, and 1500 WKXO in Berea this afternoon at 5:15 pm to join me in an hour-long discussion of the news.

Julian Carroll: The Party's Over?

Sen. Julian Carroll (D-Frankfort) this morning said that liberals should leave the Democratic Party and form their own party. He said this as a guest on the Sue Wylie show on 590 WVLK in Lexington.

He then added that "Hillary Clinton would be a disaster" as the Democrat nominee for President. Given that she is favorite for the party's nomination at this point, we are left with a problem understanding his comments. Who does he not want in the Democratic Party, liberals or "conservative Democrats?"

Dem Approach to KAPT Mirrors Social Security

Both KAPT and Social Security will require increasing amounts of taxpayer dollars if the status quo holds in Frankfort and Washington D.C., as key Democrats insist they prefer.

The key similarity between the two programs centers around the programs' "Trust Funds."

This is where the political obfuscation from reform opponents depends most heavily on ignorance and apathy among the general public.

KAPT's operating losses are backed by a "Fund" of abandoned property previously sold by the state of Kentucky. The problem, as we established here yesterday, is that the money in this "Fund" has already been spent. To replenish that account, the state needs additional taxpayer dollars. That is where the $13.7 million came from when Jonathan Miller, as state Treasurer authorized his raid on the General Fund on December 1, 2004. Despite the overwhelming and irrefutable evidence, he continues to try to confuse people with statements like this one still on his website. That debunked press release claimed that Senate Republicans were taking Miller's millions to build a basketball gym for UK.

By the same token, Social Security's Trust Fund has been spent and will have to be replaced with the dreaded "transition costs" of reform opponents whether or not reform is implemented. The choice is simple: we can bury our heads in the sand and hope for the best or shut down KAPT to limit future losses and change Social Security to head off fiscal disaster. Republicans need rational Democrats to step forward and help with these problems. Who will step forward?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Ineffective at Home? Move to Europe!

Interviewed by an Associated Press reporter recently at a swank Reyjkavik hotel, Congressman Ben Chandler said that U.S. national security is improved by taxpayers sending him to Iceland.
"I think Americans have, for quite some time, underestimated the importance of our relations with other countries and how that translates into the security of the United States of America," Chandler said.
Chandler(D-Iceland) was picked to serve as a delegate to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi(D-San Francisco). Both Democrats have been very outspoken in their opposition to America's national defense efforts.

Monday, April 11, 2005

KAPT Scandal Worsens: No money in "Trust Fund"

The much beleaguered KAPT program has been losing money and drawing down the value of the little understood "Unclaimed Property Fund" for several years, but that is not news. What is alarming is how bad the situation has become.

One phone call to the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet yielded some very interesting numbers. Here's how the phone call went with spokeswoman Jill Midkiff:

KP: What is the value of the Unclaimed Property held by the state of Kentucky?

JM: As of last Friday the account for abandoned property held $118,695,719.00.

KP: That is significantly less than the $150 million Jonathan Miller insists is in there. How could there be such a discrepancy?

JM: I couldn't speculate.

KP: Does this $118 million represent actual dollars in a bank account or has the money already been spent and this is just a number on a balance sheet?

JM: It's a bookkeeping mechanism. The controller's office calls them "book dollars."

So for accuracy's sake, the fund that Jonathan Miller says backs up the controversial KAPT program has NO VALUE. To place value in it, General Fund dollars must be used. That is what happened on December 1, 2004 when KAPT raided the General Fund of $13.7 million dollars. That is what will have to happen to the tune of $50 million by 2020 according to the actuarial report. This settles it. The controversy is over. The 9000 contract holders must be made whole, but to continue the program and open the state to further losses makes absolutely no sense. The pending lawsuit is the work of Treasurer Jonathan Miller and Attorney General Greg Stumbo. Every citizen of the state should urge the Attorney General to end this lawsuit and let this money loser die.

State Media Doesn't Get KAPT Story Right

After a temporary injunction ruling Friday, Kentucky mainstream media outlets continue their poor coverage of the KAPT scandal. Broadcast reports spread the bogus concept that the General Assembly "raided" money from KAPT and the program's contract holders and missed the fact that the ruling was a temporary one. Most importantly -- and this is the concept that no one in mainstream media land has bothered to look at -- the true value of the unclaimed property fund continues to be grossly exaggerated by Jonathan Miller with no scrutiny.

The focal point of the argument is how much money backs up the money-losing KAPT program. Miller insists that it is around $150 million. This is an extremely liberal valuation that someone should challenge the Treasurer to prove. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn't fare very well under such a challenge. And when "Unclaimed Property" comes up short in paying off program losses, KAPT comes after taxpayers. That is a hit the General Assembly is trying to cushion and one that, apparently, Miller and the mainstream media want you to face.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Lexington Mayor 2006 Update

Speculation continues to run rampant about what conservative candidate will come forward for the quickly approaching 2006 elections.
There are indications that an alternative candidate is close to making a decision, but I still say that Warren Rogers is the man for the job.
The word from the Sixth district GOP Lincoln Day Dinner is that he has not ruled it out. Stay tuned...

Friday, April 08, 2005

If You Hate Republicans...

You are really going to hate this: Kentucky Republican Voice, the biggest website for Republicans in the state, is now a BLOG.

Schiavo Redux: At Ease, Soldier

Reports are going around on the internet about an elderly Lagrange, Georgia woman who is being starved to death by her family despite the fact that she is not terminally ill, or in any kind of vegetative state. I spoke to Pam Shivers of Georgia Right to Life and she informed me that a court order has restored the woman's food and water. Right to Life is monitoring the case and, for now, the call to arms isn't necessary.

Given the quick reaction, though, heaven help the next person who decides to get rid of a relative a la Terri Schiavo.

Worse: Media Distortions on Social Security

Media bias is the most insidious when it is subtle. If I say George W. Bush, our idiot president, that is much less harmful than if I George W. Bush, whose policies the bipartisan AARP has deemed harmful to poor seniors. The first is a personal slur that anyone would notice. The second would be noticed only by those who realize there is little "bipartisan" sentiment in the liberal AARP organization.
More insidious is the bias shown in an AP article printed in the Courier Journal this morning that states, without attribution, that President Bush offered a plan to Congress that would lower the Social Security payments for everyone under 55.

From the Article:------------------------------
Bush urged Congress in January to approve legislation that would create permanent financial solvency for Social Security, and include an option for younger workers to set aside a portion of their payroll taxes for personal investment. In exchange, all workers under 55 would receive lower benefits than they are now guaranteed under the law.
What the reporter is referring to is a technical change to benefits that would cause them to not rise as fast over time as they do now. President Bush has not made this, or any other, proposal and to suggest that he did would be, sad to say, a lie.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Chandler Changes Mind on Financial Literacy?

After several weeks of campaigning against investment in U.S. financial markets and insisting that the looming insolvency of Social Security should be solved by enormous tax increases, Rep. Ben Chandler (D-KY) voted yesterday to create a national Financial Literacy Month.
The problem with this vote is that Chandler's campaign against Social Security reform depends heavily on a lack of understanding of the financial concepts involved.

KAPT Scandal Update

The preliminary court ruling today didn't grant AG Greg Stumbo's request to allow future raids on the taxpayer funds by KAPT but it did allow his effort to prevent the General Assembly from recovering the money that was confiscated last summer. So the KAPT scandal heads to court.

KEPT Men In Court

Attorney General Greg Stumbo has received a temporary injuction this afternoon preventing taxpayers of Kentucky from receiving back the $13.7 million confiscated by state Treasurer Jonathan Miller last summer to prop up the money-losing KAPT program.
A statement from the Franklin county Circuit Court said that the TRO was granted "in part" and no further details were immediately available.
AG Stumbo and Miller are doubtless gleeful that they get to keep your money for now.

KEPT Men: They Play, You Pay

Kentucky's Extravagant Politicians Tax (KEPT) continues to pile up on the backs of Kentuckians as Attorney General Greg Stumbo and Treasurer Jonathan Miller go to court today at 2:00 pm to raid Kentucky's General Fund of $13.7 million. They say they want the money to prop up the money-losing KAPT program.
The KEPT men claim in a court document that Kentucky's citizens will suffer "immediate and irreparable injury" unless they are allowed to confiscate these millions of dollars. Meanwhile, we continue to pay the legal expenses for the KEPT Men to run their flim-flam operation to support their political aspirations. Stay tuned for details.


Well, it turns out that ABC News was partially right. The Terri Schiavo "GOP Talking Points Memo" turns out to have been written by the legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL). Brian Darling was the author of the very stupid memo and deserves to be thrown under the bus for his role in this fiasco.
In the aftermath of this story that became a story because a stupid Republican staffer lied, we can only hope that a lesson is learned. As one who jumped on this story and ripped Harry Reid, who I preferred to have as the villian in all this, I apologize. Similarly, all the Democrats who lined up to rally behind Bill Clinton when the media was "lying" about his relationship with an intern named Monica should be understanding, but won't be. That's just politics.
After years of watching top liberals stretch truth to oppose the President on taxes, the environment, labor issues, national defense, and entitlement reform, etc. we trusted the GOP Senators when they said they didn't write the poorly crafted memo. Those Republican Senators trusted their staffers. One staffer lied. That's the story. Again, apologies to liberal media outlet ABC News and apologies to obstructionist Sen. Harry Reid.
But don't get the big head, boys. We have a lot of serious work to do.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Campaign 2006: Target Jody Richards

The bitter obstructionism plaguing Frankfort ripped a large hole in the Democratic Party's House majority in 2004 when voters handed Kentucky's Republican minority a net of seven new seats in the lower chamber. Rudderless Democrats nearly toppled their Speaker, then passed their long-overdue budget in this year's session.
GOP strategists have long considered the House a two cycle opportunity for creating a majority. Democrats cooperated nicely by childishly refusing budget meetings and shutting down even the simplest of Governor Fletcher's re-organization bills. Several times during the 2004 election season, observers wondered how House Speaker Jody Richards (who didn't face opposition in 2004) would fare in an electoral challenge given his role in the imploding Democrats' declining support with voters.
They will soon have an answer.
Bowling Green Attorney JB Hines has filed his intention to run against Jody Richards in the Novermber 2006 election. Hines brings a wealth of knowledge to his bid for the House. As a young man, he worked in Japan teaching English. He has a masters degree in Public Administration from Western Kentucky University in addition to his law degree from University of Louisville. Hines serves on the Government Relations Committee of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and practices law with the firm Travelsted and Crocker in Bowling Green.
Mr. Hines will be my guest this afternoon on WEKY 1340 AM to discuss his candidacy and it's statewide implications. The program airs from 5:15 pm to 6:15 pm.

Fake Memo Story: Dead Tree Media Catching Up

ABC News continues to post its fake "GOP Talking Points Memo" contrived to embarrass Republicans over their efforts to save Terri Schiavo, but the search for truth isn't going away. The Washington Times is the latest to pick up the trail and it seems to lead to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. We will keep you posted, but suspect that this story will soon take on a life of its own.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

WFA: Saving $100 Million From the Herald Leader

We mentioned the Lexington Herald Leader editorial from Saturday in which they accused the General Assembly of "raiding" Big Education of $13.7 million (KAPT) and $82 million (The Student Loan People). The facts are rolling in, and it doesn't look good for The Herald Leader. The KAPT situation is well documented; even the Courier Journal spanked Jonathan Miller and Greg Stumbo for their grandstanding and hypocrisy. The story behind the $82 million is more of the same, but with a twist.
On its face, this bogus "raid" is somewhat less controversial than the KAPT scandal. The $82 million represents redeemed bonds that the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC) requested for the purpose of college loans to low income people with no plans to go to college (yes, you read that right). The request was denied. End of controversy. The Governor denied the request by allocating the $82 million elsewhere in his budget proposal and the House and Senate rightly agreed.
But here is the twist: how absurd is it that the Herald Leader and the (KHESLC) want to squander $82 million dollars on student loans to people who don't plan to go to college? The desire to help more low income people attend college is laudable, but let's be serious. We don't make a difference by doling out more student loans. There are ample financing opportunities (the least preferable are loans, for heaven's sake!) for higher education. The difference should be made on the front end with young children by implementing higher standards. And that doesn't cost any money. In a time when huge numbers of Kentucky high school graduates must take remedial courses to get up to speed in college, our problem is certainly not that we don't have enough student loan money. The Education Industrial Complex only understands how to pander and beg for more money without ever demonstrating value for that money. Governor Fletcher deserves praise for saving this money.

Monday, April 04, 2005

GOP To Start Playing Hardball?

Here is an interesting article that suggests midterm Congressional elections could be a knockout for Republicans next year. The premise is that Bush won 41 House districts that are held by Democrats; the conclusion that Republicans would do well to focus on those. Given that obstructionism in the Senate is shaping up to be a key issue for or against Democrats (heaven help them if they use Harry Reid's nuclear option on the Senate), the guess here is that Dems have a lot to lose if Social Security reform breaks the logjam and passes despite their best efforts. While Bush has played rope-a-dope, House Democrats have made outlandish claims in support of the unsustainable status quo. If the President comes off the ropes and sticks it to reform opponents, they could well be seeing stars for years to come.

More Controversy With State Education Dollars

The Lexington Herald Leader on Saturday April 2 accused the General Assembly of "raiding" the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation of $82 million in addition to the $13.7 million it claims was "raided" from KAPT. Given that we have already established that the KAPT scandal was, if anything, a raid on the General Fund by KAPT, we were suspicious of this new, much larger, figure. Executive Director Joe McCormick of the Kentucky Higher Education Authority stated that federal money directed toward the KHESLC in the amount of $16 million in the current biennium and $66 million in the next was shifted away from the KHESLC. Further questioning, however, got him started in on how KAPT has never used general fund dollars (which it certainly has) so the interview was ended. The surprising amount of difficulty in locating supporting evidence for this claim of "raiding" is most curious. We will keep you posted as this mystery unfolds.

Kentucky Focus on Kentucky Progress

Did the interview, got the t-shirt: now you can listen to me being interviewed about the state budget and Social Security reform. Here is the link.

Lexington Native, Episcopal Bishop Calls Jesus Gay

Lexington (Ky) native and the first openly homosexual Episcopal Bishop strongly suggested to a Massachusetts congregation that Jesus Christ may have been a homosexual.

And they say conservatives are overreacting to the "homosexual agenda."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Dick Morris and George Bush are Both Wrong

Political Commentator Dick Morris, famous first for letting his girlfriend-for-hire talk to President Clinton on the telephone and more recently for predicting early on that President Bush would win re-election, has turned in the worst column we have seen him write. Unfortunately, his advice to Bush on Social Security reform is only necessary because the President botched the explanation of Personal Savings Accounts (PSA). America understands there is a looming crisis with outflows set to exceed inflows in less than a decade. Outside partisan roadblocking, Americans understand that something must be done but there has been no leadership on what, how, or why from the White House or, obviously, from the opposition Democrats who were for Social Security reform before they were against it.

And that is George Bush's fault. He missed the key point of the PSA (that they will solve the funding problems of Social Security) and the opposition is more than happy to hang this around his neck. If he is going to be hassled for promoting free enterprise, he might as well promote it correctly.

PSA's save Social Security from insolvency in three steps: stopping the annual raid on surpluses while we still have them, letting individual choice create better returns to bring the system into balance, and reducing the need for taxes to fund future Social Security liabilities.

Stopping the annual raids: Payroll tax dollars meant for the Social Security Trust Fund are currently dumped into the General Fund and spent immediately. Creating optional PSA's would necessitate those dollars not needed for paying current liabilities to be placed in the PSA's. So honest accounting is advanced immediately by drying up the slush fund. When the program runs out of annual surpluses and starts borrowing to replace and then dole out the previously- raided Trust Fund, the government will already be weaned off that "funding source" and the transition will be somewhat easier than if we wait and go cold turkey when the inflows of payroll tax dollars become insufficient to meet current needs. This "transition" will happen under virtually any scenario and difficult choices will have to be made anyway. A little restraint now will make that an easier price to pay than it would be with further delay.

Individual Choice = Better Returns: PSA's will give every American the right to become a stakeholder in the future of Social Security. If you choose to fund a PSA with your payroll tax dollars, then the formula for your future benefits can be reduced by what you aren't contributing to the general pool. Compounded gains in your PSA over time will have little difficulty exceeding the paltry returns in the current system several times over. As a result, PSA holders will have less dependence on general payroll tax funds when they start drawing benefits. This leaves more money for those who need it (disabled, survivors, etc.). This key point is missed in virtually all discussion of reform and the President's opponents are making the most of the oversight. Meanwhile, if the misunderstanding is not corrected we all stand to lose.

Reduction of Future Payroll Taxes: As greater success is witnessed among those with PSA's, the need for payroll taxes to fund benefits will diminish. That is what the major opponents to reform are afraid of. What is President Bush's excuse?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Reform Wars: AARP v. USA Next

AARP has been one of the most successful marketing organizations in the history of the world. It has also been very active in promoting liberal causes like gun control, tax increases, universal government healthcare, homosexual marriage, and keeping the death tax, and, interestingly, perpetuating the double taxation of Social Security benefits for senior citizens.
Now it's leaders want to keep younger Americans from having the opportunity to have fully-funded Social Security in the future without massive tax increases now. As Democrat members of Congress spread out through the country scaring people about Social Security reform, they often have an AARP representative in tow. AARP receives tens of millions of taxpayer funded federal grants each year. So you don't have to wonder who is paying for their politic activism: you are!
USA Next is trying to spread the word about why AARP is so active against reform and they have the battle scars to prove it. Molly Ivins and Maureen Dowd hate USA Next. Get the picture?
This will be a titanic struggle and a very interesting sideline fight in the reform wars. Conservative versus Liberal organizations in a blood feud. Charlie Jarvis of USA Next says AARP bears primary responsibility for Social Security's problems. AARP spokesman Steve Hahn counters "our members still view AARP as the most credible source when it comes to Social Security."

Friday, April 01, 2005

Unions Stumping Against Social Security Reform

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) really doesn't want workers to have the ability to invest in Social Security Private Savings Accounts. The reason for their reticence is really quite simple: successful change in Social Security might lead reformers to eye the disastrous public pension system that is screaming for improvement.

Personal accounts fix several problems. Shifting those payroll dollars (and their corresponding future payout liability) out of the system creates a relatively pain-free (for the government) lock box that prevents raiding the dwindling Trust Fund surpluses and compounding the problems in the future. Decades down the road rather than facing huge tax increases and/or benefit cuts we would be discussing lowering payroll tax rates because the majority of Social Security money would be coming from well-funded personal accounts. This is what the reform opponents are scared of when they talk about "dismantling the system." If we can limit government in this pension program, we can similarly reform the public pension funds and the big unions would lose much of their power over their members and our tax dollars. The debate is no more complicated than that.

The Department of Labor has been asked to investigate allegedly illegal activities by the big unions in their campaigns to stifle reform. If they are compelled to stop their intimidation tactics, we will be able to have a real discussion about real reform. We remain optimistic.

Next Up: Tax Reform

George Will discusses the Fair Tax proposal in his syndicated column. The inevitable media freakout against this over the weekend will be a sight to behold.

Kentucky Progress on Weekend Radio

Tune in to Caleb Brown's Kentucky Focus program this Sunday for his interview with yours truly. We will be talking about the state budget and Social Security. By the way, Personal accounts will save Social Security. Raising taxes or cutting benefits won't fix the solvency problem long term.
Now that the President has gotten across the fact that there is a problem that must be addressed, look for him to turn the focus to the need to make Social Security a better deal for all Americans.

KEPT Men: Day Two

Kentucky's Extravagant Politicians Tax got a much-anticipated boost from the Lexington Herald Leader this morning. KEPT men Jonathan Miller and Greg Stumbo need the help. They are using taxpayer dollars to sue the General Assembly for trying to save, um, taxpayer dollars by shutting down the money-losing KAPT entitlement program.
The Herald Leader abuses logic to suggest that if Republicans want to have personal accounts associated with Social Security that they must support the "investment" of taxpayer dollars to prop up this particular state program whose returns have consistently under-performed college tuition inflation. Armed only with such weak arguments, Miller and Stumbo deserve to have their case thrown out of court quickly. And with Miller's one "accomplishment" in public office exposed for what it is, he deserves to be voted off the island in his next election.