Thursday, July 02, 2009

On a personal note...

I am suspending publishing of the Kentucky Progress blog immediately to take a position as a consultant with the Rand Paul for U.S. Senate Exploratory Committee.

More about that soon.

This site has been both very hard work and a lot of fun. I expect to return to it at the conclusion of this new project. Meanwhile, the site with its existing posts will remain up as will my contact information at the top of the page.

I've met and worked with a lot of fantastic people during the 4 1/2 years on Kentucky Progress who I probably would not have gotten to know otherwise. I'll always be grateful for that.

Hope to see you soon!


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Next episode of Ben Chandler vs. voters

Lost perhaps in the recent frenzy of Congressional pillaging is the fact that President Barack Obama's labor union payoff is not yet complete. That means card check is headed back to the front burner.

U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Georgia), speaking on a national media conference call Wednesday morning, expressed concern about the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act," which wipes out secret ballot protections for workers in union elections and forces binding government arbitration on American businesses. It's called "card check" and it means unions will be allowed to vote themselves into workplaces by forcing workers to sign cards out in the open instead of voting a secret ballot. Then, if unions and management can't reach agreement, the federal government will swoop in and dictate terms.

Rep. Ben Chandler is in favor of this.

Price said he is concerned the bill sets the stage for "making employers liable for union pensions." That would represent very large costs that will ultimately be passed along to consumers.

Price also said he expects the card check bill to go through the Senate first, where Sen. Tom Harkin is putting together a "compromise." Price is skeptical that this move will work out well for workers.

"I don't think one can compromise away the right to a secret ballot," he said.

The devastating impact this bill would have on American prosperity combined with the cap and trade fiasco, another Chandler "accomplishment," should greatly concern central Kentucky voters.

Mongiardo splits the baby on health reform

Left-leaning Kentucky web sites Barefoot and Progressive and Page One are jumping all over U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo for not cheerleading enough on government healthcare reform in the following video.

In fact, they are calling him a "Republican" because he knows the shortcomings of the Canadian system Democrats now seem to want so badly. Mongiardo worked as a doctor in Canada for four years.

In Canada, Mongiardo said, "There's a thing called rationing of healthcare meaning you just don't give it. I never saw a patient in the clinic that I scheduled for a tonsilectomy, in the operating room. There was a three year waiting list for a tonsilectomy. And there was, you know, months and months waiting list for a lot of different things."

Mongiardo describing this experience is considered heresy among the far left. Interesting to see how his candor affects his primary election bid.

Should Mongiardo survive the primary, his big problem becomes his inability to move past what seems to be his only political solution for any political question: electronic medical records.

Closing the barn door too late alert

State Auditor Crit Luallen sures knows how to work the news cycle on an old story that is sexier than it is substantial:

It's almost as if putting government checkbooks online and doing a full audit of the Kentucky Department of Education would be bad for business.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why not just break some windows?

Wednesday is minimum wage increase day in Kentucky. The economic illiterates at Kentucky Youth Advocates couldn't be more thrilled. So how, exactly, does the government forcibly taking money from some people and giving it to other people benefit the state's economy?

Obviously, it doesn't.

Falling for the broken window fallacy is great politics, but the math is not much different than that supporting Obamanomics.

Wild (and misplaced) rhetoric

The Lexington Herald Leader editorial board is mighty upset about the Kentucky Association of Counties misspending perhaps several thousand dollars.

The funny part, really, is that they are worried about insufficient spending documentation of an organization whose money only indirectly comes from taxpayers when they can't be bothered to look at the much larger pool of abused taxpayer funds going through our public school system.

The last time Auditor Crit Luallen perused any Kentucky Department of Education spending at all, though, she found millions being tossed around on the disgraceful CATS testing system. Fortunately for us, the CATS program was phased out by the 2009 General Assembly.

But no one knows how much the non-functioning accounting system used by our education bureaucracy is costing us unnecessarily. Those who have succeeded in pushing for Washington D.C. to audit the Federal Reserve should help us force a real top to bottom audit of the Kentucky Department of Education.

Lee Cruse looks at taking on Ben Chandler

Growing opposition to Congressman Ben Chandler has fueled quiet speculation in recent months that he might draw a high profile opponent in 2010. One candidate has started raising money and set up a web site and several others are considering the race.

WLEX TV's morning field anchor Lee Cruse says he has been approached about entering the race and is considering it. He had a brief comment about the possibility:

"I am still on the fence because of the personal sacrifice my family would have to make. That’s due to equal time regulations that would require me to leave the job that I love."

Cruse, 39, grew up in Winchester.

Grover brings Big Mo to Lexington

A top Washington D.C. Republican came to Lexington Monday with an optimistic message for local conservatives.

"One of the things that has changed is that we have learned to react to the spending rather than waiting for the tax increases," said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

Speaking to an energized crowd in a Fifth Third Bank conference room downtown, Norquist stressed the importance of focusing on the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 rather than getting sidetracked on animosity for President Barack Obama.

"The most important thing we can do is take the House back in 2010," Norquist said. "Nothing else comes close."

He added that he thinks this is a very realistic goal.

"There are 40 seats Republicans need to pick up and there are 49 Democrats in districts carried by McCain," he said.

That would include the Sixth Congressional district of central Kentucky.

"I think anyone who voted for stimulus, the budget, and cap and trade has a target on his back and you can beat him on those votes alone," Norquist said.

Congressman Ben Chandler voted for all three.

Norquist pointed out that the first Obama tax increase earlier this year ended the longest period in American history without a federal tax increase. The streak spanned fifteen years. He said resisting the suggestion that Republicans move to the left on their policy positions is indispensable to bouncing back in the next election.

"The fact that they want us to drop the tax issue when Obama spent so many millions promising that he wouldn't raise taxes demonstrates how important the tax issue is," Norquist said.

Healthcare reform looks to be the hottest issue for 2009. Norquist dismissed the Obama plan simply.

"I've never gotten one of them to sit still long enough to explain to me why they need $1 trillion to $3 trillion more for a healthcare system that is going to be cheaper," Norquist said.

He also made an interesting point about the global cooling/global warming/climate change controversy. He told a story about Al Gore coming to one of the Americans for Tax Reform meetings. He asked Gore which of his policy suggestions related to the climate would not apply if he suddenly learned that man-made climate change was not real. Gore responded that he wouldn't change any of them. Norquist said this makes it clear that arguing the status of the climate is a waste of time.

Norquist encouraged attendees who have grown frustrated by the Republican party to increase their involvement.

"If you want to change the Republican party, join the Republican party," Norquist said. "It's not important that people on our side of the aisle agree on everything. We just need to agree that the government should leave us alone."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finding out what's worse than a loan shark

Another day, another one-sided, single-sourced "news" story in the Lexington Herald Leader about shutting down private businesses and turning their functions over to the state.

When are we going to see a story about how much Kentucky taxpayers "lose" to the government each year?

And if payday lending customers go to those businesses because of no alternatives, what do they think those people will do when that option is eliminated legislatively?

Easy. They will hit up the taxpayers.

Horse industry needs a better argument

The Lexington Herald Leader's pro-casino columnist Larry Dale Keeling's latest effort strays from the mark on a key point that deserves unbiased scrutiny. He wrote:

"As a political issue, expanded gambling may not be ripe in the General Assembly. But it's a lot riper than it was just two weeks ago. Progress was made when it passed the House for the first time."

It would be far more accurate to say that a big-government scam is what passed the House. Packing on more than a billion dollars worth of borrowed pork is what passed that bill through the House by one vote. Pretending otherwise just further delays the horse industry from focusing on a workable solution to their problems.

I'm all for freedom in the marketplace and am sympathetic to the industry trying to compete with those in other states. But in our smoke-and-mirrors budgeting welfare state, though, I can't support opening the door to casinos when it mainly means creating another bill of goods to elect politicians while taxpayers get stuck with more debt. The horse industry shatters any validity in its argument by joining forces with those in Frankfort who won't let a little thing like running out of money stop them from spending.

I want the horse industry to succeed, but we have to realize that slots only at the tracks will not be enough for the billion-dollar vote buyers. They will cut your throats at the first opportunity by setting up casinos outside the tracks. Figure out a way to expand your revenue stream without further damaging taxpayers. The political saber rattling just isn't going to cut it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday evening vanity alert

Found in the Lexington Herald Leader:

How about Benito Mussolini instead?

After public disclosure of his taxpayer-funded trip to see his Argentinian mistress, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had the gall to compare himself to the Old Testament adulterer King David, who maintained his power after his crimes became publicly known.

Sanford, a former 2012 presidential hopeful, should reimburse South Carolina taxpayers the cost of his trip, resign, and go away quietly.

"A country of arbitrary rules"

Potential U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Rand Paul said current federal policies run the risk of doing significant damage to American society:

Speaking to the Scott County Young Republicans, Dr. Paul compared the crisis in our current government to that of ancient Rome past its prime and discussed the risks of the Federal Reserve inflating the currency.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

All hands on deck!

Every club, organization, and group of every kind in Kentucky's Sixth Congressional district should call Rep. Ben Chandler's offices Monday and invite him to come to your next meeting and explain his support for Cap and Tax.

This battle is far from over. The bill now goes to the Senate and it will be amended there. If it passes the Senate, it will have to go back through the House for agreement on the changes.

Invitations to Chandler should also be sent to local media via press release. If your Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Garden club, neighborhood association, bridge club, or whatever needs help calling out Rep. Chandler for this latest outrage, I'll be glad to assist you. My contact information is at the top of this page.

The key is that when Chandler refuses to show up or fails to respond, we do another press release and keep hounding him.

Rep. Chandler's Washington D.C. office number is (202) 225-4706 and his Lexington number is (859) 219-1366.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pelosi power pooper passes

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Energy Tax bill 219-212. U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler voted for it.

Georgia Congressman Tom Price attempted to stop debate to request a moment of silence for the millions of Americans who will lose their jobs as a result of the bill's implementation.

Someone's desperate for a PR victory

Gov. Steve Beshear is going to great lengths today to take credit for state taxpayers picking up the tab for storm cleanup.


And, of course, it worked. The Kentucky Post seems to think that the Governor's administration, rather than taxpayers, will be picking up the $14.6 million. That's quality journalism right there!

Ben Chandler turns off your air conditioner

In case you were wondering, U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler voted for the Cap and Tax procedural vote that barely passed the House.

Evening update: Rep. Chandler voted for Cap and Tax and the bill passed the House.

We shouldn't have to beg

We can't improve a government that we can't see. That is what the transparency movement is all about. In Kentucky, Rep. Jim DeCesare, Sen. Damon Thayer, and Secretary of State Trey Grayson have been leaders in the fight against a stonewalling Frankfort which is strangely reluctant to allow taxpayers to see what is going on with our money.

The federal effort remains small as well (click here for more):

Every city and county government in Kentucky should post their checkbook registers to the internet for everyone to see. Every school district, too. We have the technology and the resources and we shouldn't have to beg for government that has nothing to hide.

Trouble in casino paradise?

Kentuckians seeking to make our state budget problems go away -- or even get just a little better -- might want to look at a Friday New York Times article about a new billion dollar tax increase in casino-rich New Jersey.

My favorite part to start the weekend with a laugh was the new tax on lottery winners.

Maybe they should just stand at the door of their casinos and bum rush any patrons who try to leave with any cash or with room left on their credit cards.

Big government is the problem here. It's a shame that Kentucky's horse industry has cast its lot with people who buy votes with billions of dollars of borrowed public money. If they really want to "level the playing field" with tracks in casino states, they should seek to do so without digging Kentucky into a deeper government hole. They have energy, passion, and numbers on their side, but if it is mainly going to go for driving our state deeper into the fiscal ditch, I wish them slow and painful failure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

President says Kentucky needs ObamaCare

The Obama Administration will release reports for every state in the nation Friday describing how things will be better for everyone in each state if we let him implement socialized medicine.

Another "press release journalism" hit job

How would you respond if one of your enemies put out a press release about you and the newspaper called you for a response, but you couldn't see details of what was said?

When it happened to Kentucky Coal Association's Bill Caylor Wednesday, he said he hadn't seen the "study" put out by MACED, a left-wing advocacy group based in Berea.

But the Lexington Herald Leader went ahead and ran a front page story:

Fortunately, Kentucky now has independent blogs. To see CyberHillbilly's response to the silliness, click here.

Do you support Obama's Energy Tax?

Word is bond

Potential U.S. Senate primary opponents Dr. Rand Paul and Secretary of State Trey Grayson, while also racing to a June 30 fundraising deadline for midyear reporting purposes, have been quick to make a very timely promise.

It's called the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and it's a promise to voters to never vote for a tax increase. Dr. Paul, who as the chairman of Kentucky Taxpayers United has collected dozens of such written promises from candidates over the years, has already signed his. Weeks ago, Secretary Grayson scheduled a meeting with Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist for this coming Monday in Louisville to sign his no-new-taxes pledge.

The Taxpayer Protection Pledge has drawn attention recently because of the way U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler used it to sneak into office under false pretenses and is now poised to vote for the largest tax increase in history.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, will be in Lexington on Monday night, 6 pm to 8 pm at the Fifth Third Bank building for a private reception. If you'd like to attend, contact Dawn Cloyd at

Don't need a new car? Pay up anyway

Before running out of Frankfort slapping each other on the back for such a "successful" special session, legislators slipped into a corporate welfare bill $25 million to give to Kentuckians who buy new cars after September 1.

And we're doing this while we are hopelessly broke.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Watch your back, Steve!

House Speaker Greg Stumbo kicked off his run for Governor in 2011 with the following announcement Wednesday afternoon:

I guess that's more fun than Stumbo saying "We punted the serious issues again in 2009, called an extra session and wasted more taxpayer money, but we managed to make government bigger, more powerful, and more expensive. Thanks!"

Healthcare reform for the rest of us

In case you aren't excited about ABC television's Socialized Medicine Obamathon tonight, here's a better way:

Briefly, what we need is the ability to buy health insurance across state lines, separation of health insurance from employment, to get the federal bureaucracy out of healthcare, and to get real about the idea that more government is going to make healthcare cheaper unless what they really mean is rationing of services.

Blowing the whistle on the wrong scam

After decades of rampant abuse of our public employee pension system by politicians and bureaucrats resulting in a more than $30 billion underfunding, its funny to see KRS getting worked up about a few phone calls.

If you like this year's wasteful special session, you would have loved last year's, in which the politicians claimed to fix the state's pension problems. And then they came back earlier this year and raided the system again.

The only way to get out of the pension mess Frankfort has put us in is to pour money into the system at a much faster rate. And that means less spending on other pet big-government projects.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A flat tax never killed anyone

Did a tax avoidance strategy in Washington D.C. cause the deaths of nine people in a DC Metro accident Monday? (Click the image below to expand and read.)

Independence Day Tea Parties in Kentucky

Friday July 3 ---

Jenkins City Park in downtown Jenkins, Kentucky. 6pm to 8pm.

Madison County Courthouse in Richmond. 6pm to 7:30pm.

Saturday July 4 ---

Jefferson Square in Louisville. 11am to 2pm.

Laurel County Courthouse in London. Noon to 1pm.

Corbin City Hall in Corbin. Noon to 2 pm.

Grant County Courthourse in Williamstown. Noon.

State Capitol steps in Frankfort. Noon to 2pm.

Fayette County Courthouse in Lexington. Starts at 3:30pm right after the parade.

I will be speaking in Madison County and Laurel County. Hope to see you there!

$60,000 for your Tuesday hot air

The Kentucky legislature is expected to spend much of the day Tuesday in conference committees seeking agreement on everything but slots.

Just go home, guys.

There's my Herald Leader!

Agreeing with the Lexington Herald Leader editorial page's slots bill opposition recently was pretty strange. Tuesday morning brought a return to normal:

If "incentivizing" our economy with corporate welfare worked, then Kentucky, with one of the most active state economic development cabinets in the nation in this decade, would already be an economic nirvana.

Since the government's definition of "economic competitiveness" translates into English as Kentucky being one of the poorest states, shouldn't we be considering a new strategy instead of tweaking and expanding the old one?

One thing that should be perfectly clear by now is we don't need state government trying to serve as a mini-Obama, picking which companies get welfare and which ones pay it. What we need to do is repeal corporate taxes, which are all passed along to consumers anyway. Pay for the cuts by making government smaller. Until we start thinking like this, we will continue getting the same bad results from Frankfort.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Keep killing the zombie casino effort

Interesting to hear red-faced slots supporters in the Capitol Annex Monday evening snarling about raising $100,000 against every Republican Senator in next year's elections.

I thought they were all immediately moving to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Kentucky is never going to start moving toward general prosperity until we get past these money games. To think that we are using $742 million from Washington D.C. (improperly, of course) to fill in a hole caused by rampant overspending and then borrowing more than $1 billion more to buy votes to set up another money-losing scheme should have us all grabbing our torches and pitchforks.

My friends who threw in with the casino mob used the "levelling the playing field" argument to say "all the other kids are doing it." The point, though, is that all the other kids are broke because they have fallen for yet another fool's gold scheme. Kentucky is going to have to stop falling for them and stop following the failed examples of neighboring states if we are ever to right our ship.

Cooking up different ways to bankrupt our state is never going to improve our fiscal situation. Never.

We should stop trying pretty soon, don't you think?

Ben Chandler goes squishy, again

U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler has already decided to take a firm stand on both sides of the socialized medicine issue. Now, he appears determined to say nice things about monetary system transparency without actually doing anything about it.

This is Chandler's form letter that he sends to everyone who asks him to cosponsor the Audit the Fed bill.

Slots for Tots, or not?

The Kentucky House of Representatives is still sitting on the slots bill passed Friday. The Senate has already passed the budget and appears ready to go home if the House doesn't produce their bill by 4:30 this afternoon.

I suspect the House will send over Slots for Tots and it will die in the Senate.

4:30 pm Update: The House met the 4:30 deadline and the Senate is going into budget committee to consider the slots bill.

6:00 pm Update: The Senate budget committee is now hearing testimony in opposition to casinos, which the House refused to do.

7:10 pm Update: Senate budget committee has killed the slots bill.

Attaching a label to Mitch McConnell

Winchester Sun editor Randy Patrick recently interviewed Sen. Mitch McConnell biographer John David Dyche. Here's an interesting excerpt:

You can read the rest of the interview here.

Moving the electorate on a similar shift from its current big-government mindset to support of liberty and support for smaller government will be tough with no apparent Ronald Reagan type on the horizon. As dependency continues to grow, some catalyst is needed to move us back in the other direction. Sen. McConnell could play an important role in that.

Slow news day in Lexington?

If our intrepid mainstream reporters in Lexington are looking for something to do today, they should read this and then ask mayoral candidate Teresa Isaac her opinion about how her successor Mayor Jim Newberry has handled the ongoing federal investigation of the Fayette jail inmate abuse scandal.

Why I do what I do

At the state Lincoln dinner last month, Senate President David Williams said "For those bloggers who want to see a battle over taxation and spending, you're about to see Armageddon."

That is, indeed, what I want to see. And what Kentucky needs to see.

In his Louisville Courier Journal column this morning, Joe Gerth printed that Williams quote, but left out the word "blogger."

Countering mainstream media spin was my original intention in starting up this site over four years ago. Having them sometimes try to edit me out of the picture is just part of the payoff.

Living to see a real Frankfort battle over taxes and spending (or, in this case, borrowing and spending) would just be awesome. And this could be the week it happens.

You don't have bring on the end of the world, Senator Williams. Just say no and go home.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Do you approve this message?

Attorney General Jack Conway has started running a television commercial telling parents to "friend" their children on Facebook and to watch out for online predators.

If anyone in Frankfort is really looking for someplace to cut unnecessary state expenditures, this kind of "welfare for politicians" should go first.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Rand Paul defends Bunning from attacks

Sen. Jim Bunning's political opponents have continued efforts to smear Kentucky's junior senator over a $20k a year salary he earns for baseball autographs. Yesterday, potential Republican rival Dr. Rand Paul came to Bunning's defense:
"It is okay for Ted Kennedy to accept $2 million or Hillary Clinton $6 million up front for a book, likely ghostwritten, but Jim Bunning is taken to the shed for accepting $20,000 for signing autographs."

"The Congressional ethics rules are a farce, and I believe the attacks on Jim Bunning are partisan in nature. Many years ago, Millicent Fenwick, a liberal Republican from the Northeast, was a great champion of so-called ethical rules on earnings for Congressmen. Of course, she rarely mentioned that she had never worked a day in her life and lived off of a family trust fund."

"Current ethical rules allow multimillionaire businessmen to continue earning large checks from ownership of business but limit the earnings of anyone who must expend labor. Thus teachers, lawyers, barbers, and doctors are limited in outside income."

"The unintended consequence is to deter citizen legislators who live in their state and continue to work. Once elected officials are completely dependent on their Congressional salary, they are even more likely to vote to please special interests in order to continue to get elected."

"I agree that politicians should not be allowed to make $50,000 speeches to groups that receive or seek federal funds, but we should rethink rules that prevent elected officials from continuing their original careers."

Dr. Paul has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run at Bunning's Senate seat, as has Kentucky's Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cheering for a trainwreck

The Senate has amended and combined various bills in the already disastrous special session, effectively tying the whole process in knots.


Next week will be lots of fun watching the House and Senate slug it out if only because any agreement now very likely won't include a lot of the junk (here and here) proposed by Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo -- and perhaps none of it.

5:20 pm update: Senate President David Williams said the House Democrats have until 4:30 pm on Monday to deliver the slots bill to them or he will send the Senate home ending the special session.

Obama blows up Kentucky special session

Gov. Steve Beshear may want to talk to his buddy in the White House.

The Obama administration is threatening states with loss of federal funding if they use stimulus funds (from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund) for purposes other than to increase school funding:

This is, of course, exactly what we are in Frankfort doing right now. From the budget bill HB 1:

In other words, the federal government is telling us that Gov. Beshear needs to go back to the drawing board on his budget plan and that this special session is now officially a bigger disaster than anyone could have imagined.

Checkmate, again

US News and World Report has a story about schools that will delight public school bureaucrats who only read headlines and then spin superficial analysis into a justification for giving more money and power to public school bureaucrats while expecting less from them.

The story is actually fairly well balanced if you read it all. There are some real problems with the study referenced in the article, but refuting it is not really necessary.

Regular public schools that fail mainly just get more money. Public charters that fail get shut down. Which type of school do you think is going to be more motivated to innovate and improve?

Kentucky law currently prohibits establishment of the kind of school that is routinely shut down if it fails to educate students.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Panic thick enough to cut with a knife

Rep. Charlie Hoffman is the last person in the General Assembly who would betray labor union chiefs. So it was interesting to see him file an amendment to the slots bill that would repeal prevailing wage requirements on school construction projects.

It's like a tell in poker. And all the House Dems' chips are on the table.

Repeal the state income tax, require drug testing of welfare recipients, post all government (state, local, and school) spending on the internet, repeal certificate of need and give us school vouchers and maybe we'll talk.

(Midnight update -- thanks to Kristen Webb Hill, who pointed out the LRC entry of this amendment has Hoffman's name on it, but that the actual amendment language has Rep. Jeff Hoover's name on it. That would make more sense and would also be the second time this month the LRC has put the wrong name on a bill.)

(9 AM update -- House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover was indeed the sponsor of the prevailing wage amendment and the LRC has fixed their error. Bet Rep. Hoffman got some interesting phone calls last night and early this morning. Here is the new entry on the LRC web site:

Next up: energy

I'm headed to Lexington for a discussion about energy production in Kentucky. We're meeting at The Inn on Broadway at 6:30 pm.

The meeting is open to the public.

Stumbo clings to overspending habit

Rep. James Comer just demonstrated to House Speaker Greg Stumbo that Kentucky could build 28 more schools with the proposed school spending in the current vote buying scheme if we only suspended the prevailing wage.

Stumbo responded that he is willing to "study" the issue. Wonder how long it will take him to study the impact of lowering construction costs by twenty percent and decide to waste the money anyway because his labor union supporters want him to.

This is no revenue shortfall crisis. It is a crisis of propping up failed ideology.

Moberly denies vote buying

Rep. Harry Moberly is testifying to the House Budget Committee and complaining about the "vote buying" criticism of tying votes for slots to spending on school construction.

He said tying policy priorities via spending to revenue measures was "Budgeting 101" and something that is always done.

Right. If only we did a better job of linking our spending to our revenues, we wouldn't even be talking about a budget crisis in the current year, much less sucking up $742 million in federal money to even come close on the next two years.

Will Gitmo prisoners come to Kentucky?

Well, it looks like Tennessee is doing what it can to keep the terrorists we know about out of their state:

Rep. Stacey Campfield is a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives.

Kicking Frankfort's can down the road

While Kentucky plays around with lesser issues, California is at least looking at what we should be looking at: unfunded public pension liabilities.

Kentucky is in the hole $30 billion on our pension obligations, but continues to play funding games rather than seriously cutting state government to be able to afford massive retirement bills when they come due.

When Kentucky's retirement system actuarial reports come out later this fall, renewed interest in this mess should motivate proper action, but probably won't.

In California today, a vote is expected to allow their retirement system to continue to pretend that there is no problem. Kentucky has done the same thing -- a process called "smoothing," which involves spreading current financial losses over future years -- in each of our last two legislative sessions. This allows the problem to get bigger, costing taxpayers more. From a legislator's perspective it is okay, though, because they are future taxpayers.

To his credit, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger gets it:

All the legislators in Frankfort know that this pension time bomb is our biggest problem.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Upping the bogus casino headline ante

The Lexington Herald Leader's misleading $700 million casino headline hadn't even cycled off their web site's front page Wednesday evening and they went and added another, $1.3 billion, one.

Nice job, guys. How many billions will you be up to tomorrow? Make mine a red Ferrari.

Kentucky Tea Party today

I'm headed to Frankfort to speak on the Capitol steps at noon.

Frankfort's corporate manipulation plan advances

The most shocking, offensive thing about the language of the corporate welfare bill in the 2009 special session of the General Assembly is that it is not widely viewed as shocking and offensive.

In other words, if this bill passes and you have a business in Kentucky, decisions of "the authority" to grant welfare to you or your competitors will be of "paramount importance." Can't imagine Frankfort messing that up, can you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Herald Leader's accuracy streak ends fast

It's pretty odd that in the same week in which we have seen decent reporting and opinion from the Lexington Herald Leader on House Democrats' casino scheming, we would see what is easily one of the worst, most misleading headlines of the year:

At least the story explains the plan really only involves spending "up to $700 million," despite the headline's ridiculous claim that it would "provide" it. That's the worst of journalism and a perfect example of why the paper's circulation keeps declining.

But the best part comes deep in the story with the following passage:

Don't know who wrote the bad headline, but this one is on the reporter and editors. Couldn't they find anyone to explain the joke? I thought everyone knew that it took seventeen years for the legislature to finally keep that promise. Maybe Rep. Flood doesn't know that since she was in California back when the lottery was fraudulently sold to taxpayers as a funding source for education. But the newspaper folks should know.

By the way, the Courier Journal did it right:

... from our cold, dead hands

The Internal Revenue Service this afternoon backed off plans to tax employer-provided cell phones at 25%, under the assumption that one-fourth of the usage of such phones was personal and, therefore, taxable.

Now if we can only get people as stirred up about private property rights, civil liberties, private contracts, currency manipulation, wealth redistribution, and public debt as they are about their cell phones, we will really be getting someplace.

Walking into the eye of the storm

I'm on my way to Frankfort to speak in the Capitol Rotunda at noon about Gov. Beshear's casino gambling proposal.

Beshear has already mishandled the issue enough to kill it for this special session and to put it at long odds for the 2010 session beginning in January.

What a mess...

Bunning second wind?

Sen. Jim Bunning just said his second quarter fundraising is going better than his first quarter fundraising but that he wouldn't say more about it until July 15 when campaign finance filing is made publicly available.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Might Kentucky sell itself to Tennessee?

Michigan doesn't have to worry about overspending its treasury for a little while longer after Vice President Joe Biden's $2 billion handshake on Friday.

This is a very bad plan, of course, but that won't stop anyone. California will be next and Illinois can't be far behind them. Rather than inspire Frankfort to really cut back on its own insatiable appetite, this action will only generate worse ideas. In this insane time, who would really be surprised to see us join up with another state to reach a similar "too big to fail" status?

Dems in disarray on socialized medicine

In his latest fundraising appeal, Howard Dean can't decide if he should be attacking Democrats or Republicans for not playing along with the government takeover of medicine in America plan.

He should probably be attacking both, which really clarifies what his problem is. Notice that Dean points out the latest "Republican" tactic, which has been primarily championed by U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democrat.

And supporters of socialized medicine in Kentucky should be yelling at Rep. Ben Chandler, who has clearly staked out positions on both sides of the issue in Washington D.C.

And while you are yelling, check out Ben's new fiscal responsibility web site.

Wasting time and money in Frankfort

The Kentucky House budget committee will meet Tuesday in the Capitol Annex at 1 pm to discuss casinos.

That will be right after the anti-casino rally in the Capitol's Rotunda, which starts at noon. Casino supporters in the state simply haven't done enough to answer the concerns of open-minded opponents and they will hear about it tomorrow.

It probably doesn't matter, though. The same cast of characters will be back next year with a somewhat different pitch. Figuring out a way to do what they want without creating more wasteful, less accountable government should be the top priority.

But it won't be.

What about our cultural heritage of not spending our state government into oblivion?

Send a letter to Gov. Steve Beshear complaining about wasteful government spending and the casino gambling scheme and you will receive a form letter printed on very handsome stationary at your own expense.

Another thing Chandler, Yarmuth didn't read

When Spendocrats in Washington D.C. rushed to pass the stimulus bill without actually knowing what it said, they missed an opportunity to find out if it jived with other entitlement programs.

Newsflash: it didn't.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

"That's kind of a black hole..."

Rep. Bill Farmer discussed Kentucky's overspending problem and how the federal "stimulus" money not only doesn't help, but reinforces Frankfort's bad behavior:

Farmer spoke Saturday morning in Lexington at Hilton Suites for the Fayette County GOP June breakfast.

Freedom movement won't die

WLAP radio's Leland Conway spells it out.

Live Blog Trey Grayson

Beginning his speech to the monthly Fayette GOP breakfast, Sec. of State Trey Grayson spoke in favor of Rep. Bill Farmer's tax reform proposal.

Good stump speech for someone starting a high-profile statewide campaign -- biographical, engaging, funny.

Said his Secretary of State office budget is ten percent lower than than when he entered office, despite many innovations. Said he has used cross-training to allow employees to work a four-day week without losing productivity. Spoke about clashing with and defeating then-Attorney General Greg Stumbo in a voter fraud case. Spoke about Attorney General Jack Conway dragging his feet on his AG opinion on gambling expansion.

Spoke in opposition to socialized medicine, calling the "public option" ruse a first step in that direction.

"Universal coverage is not necessarily a bad thing, but universal government coverage is a bad thing."

Spoke against the "cap and trade tax."

He also said "I think in our state we would welcome a nuclear power plant."

"I'm looking very seriously at this (U.S. Senate) race and I think next month will be a pivotal month in that decision."

Said that the key to economic growth in Kentucky involved straightening out the tax code and improving education.

Rep. Bill Farmer jumped in here and spoke about the waste of money in the school systems, mentioning the Kentucky Department of Education "black hole" caused by the problems with the MUNIS accounting system.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Beshear wilts and it isn't even hot yet

Has Gov. Steve Beshear caved in and cancelled his Special Session Waste party at taxpayer expense originally set for Monday June 15? It looks that way, since the afternoon party isn't on his schedule released late Friday. It says he will be "in office" all afternoon.

Now get in there, redo the phony budget, and shut down the session. Or, as Sen. Damon Thayer suggested, repeal prevailing wage and then leave.

Dan and Jack sizzle, fizzle, and tax

Page One reports on a campaign appearance by U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Mongiardo. Apparently, Mongiardo forgot he was supposed to run to the left to win the Democratic party's nomination:

There's no way to know if Mongiardo seriously opposes cap and tax legislation, but he surely wouldn't be allowed to oppose it as a freshman Senator in Pres. Barack Obama's Washington D.C.

Wonder what Jack Conway has to say about these important issues? Jack?

If Massachusetts can get this right...

In a search for examples of good government, Massachusetts is not usually going to provide much guidance. But one provision in a public employee pension reform bill their legislature passed unanimously Thursday could help Kentucky.

What they did was repeal a big pension enhancement for former legislators. Kentucky currently allows former legislators who go to work in a higher paying government job to switch their pension credit for time in the General Assembly so they get benefits as if they were in the higher paying job all along.

We're already $30 billion in the hole on Kentucky's public pensions. This would be a good place to stop digging.

Feds tell Kentucky to pass charter school law

Heading into a special session originally called to balance the budget, but that has quickly turned into a big mess with a wide variety of issues lacking consensus, Gov. Steve Beshear may be missing a signal from federal officials about another key topic.

Earlier this week, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said:

"States that do not have public charter laws or put artificial caps on the growth of charter schools will jeopardize their applications under the [$4.35 billion] Race to the Top Fund."

Kentucky's Senate Education Committee Chairman Ken Winters, a long-time school-choice advocate, expressed hope that strong federal support may help break resistance to such improvements in Frankfort.

"I think we are getting more momentum on this," Winters said.

House Education Committee Chairman Carl Rollins wasn't enthusiastic, but nevertheless suggested the time for real discussion of the issue may be at hand.

"I'm not a fan of charter schools, but it's worth a look and the money might make it worth a second look," Rollins said.

The expanded opportunities available to charter school students are currently only available to only a precious few:

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Socialized medicine death spiral

The Radical Left is taking aim at moderates who aren't ready to destroy the Democratic Party over President Obama's health insurance reform. This is a good thing.

Obama and a minority of Congressional radicals really think wiping out the private sector with a taxpayer subsidized "public option" is the way to lower healthcare costs. Wow. That just doesn't make any sense at all. The ironic thing is that if they would just set aside their hatred for capitalism long enough to restore some free market principles to the healthcare marketplace, they would get the lower costs they say they want.

My parties will be better

In a tribute to his own tone-deafness, Gov. Steve Beshear is going to throw a big party at the Mansion for his friends next Monday, the first day of his wasteful special session. The party is set to start as soon as the legislature adjourns for the day.

You probably aren't invited. But if it's any consolation, you get to pick up the tab.

That's okay, Governor. I'd rather come up to the Rotunda the following day (Tuesday) at noon for a taxpayer rally with my friends. And then I'll be back Wednesday at noon on the Capitol steps with more friends interested in providing a contrast to the continued waste, fraud, and abuse. Anyone who thinks the same way is welcome to join in.

Enjoy your party while it lasts, Governor.

KY Road plan: more "spend, ready, aim!"

The Kentucky Club for Growth hits a trifecta in catching state government, Lexington, and the Herald Leader goofing on taxpayers again:

"Has either the state or the city actually analyzed the costs involved? No."

"So here's a $200,000 budget item that will balloon into more spending as these additional costs are encountered, all for a project the residents of the road frankly do not want."

"Not to mention $800,000 in state transportation funds that could also serve a better purpose."

You can read the rest here.

Our politicians are going to come back after us for a Road Fund "deficit" of $80 million in the current fiscal year. They should have to answer for this waste way before that happens.


The Louisville Courier Journal sums up nicely what is wrong with runaway government spending, if only unintentionally, in an editorial about local budget cuts.

Indeed, if we placed the same standard on all bureaucracies -- utilize fewer resources to get the same or even better results -- we would continue cutting, wouldn't we? Right-sizing government is something the big-government types will fight to the death for that very reason.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The only number that matters

As Frankfort politicians often do, they have been throwing budget deficit/shortfall/overspending figures around enough to make our heads spin. Of course, that's the idea. When they are finished and before the next election, we are just supposed to remember how nice and smart they look on television.

The truth is that you only need to know one number to understand Kentucky's overspending problem. It's $1,508,494,000. That's the one-point-five billion dollars in new bonded debt our representatives authorized for themselves in the current budget bill.

Too much government costs us too much money. It's going to be very difficult to "reform" much of anything until we come to grips with that simple fact.

Hoover warns of failed special session

Kentucky's House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover isn't crazy about the idea of going back to Frankfort for a June session of the legislature without properly planning their $60,000 a day activity.

Hoover said: "This is my thirteenth year (in the General Assembly.) We've had several special sessions. And the good special sessions are where we have at least a working agreement coming into the special session."

I like the part about spending cuts and no more tax increases, but it would be better if we could target the cuts toward waste instead of the across-the-board variety, leaving all the same players in place to come back next year for a bigger piece of the pie.

Hoover spoke Wednesday at the June meeting of the Women Republicans of Central Kentucky in Lexington.

We have lights and cameras, but no Skippy

Finance and Administration Cabinet Secretary Jonathan Miller should be eager to weigh in on Gov. Steve Beshear's scheduled butt-kicking on casino gambling coming up next week, shouldn't he?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Lexington official lies under oath

Corporal John Vest's federal whistleblower lawsuit in the Lexington jail inmate abuse scandal took an interesting turn last week when FCDC Director Ron Bishop declared in his sworn testimony that he was "paralyzed" by the FBI investigation into the jail and determined not to find out anything or ask any questions about any wrongdoing that may have occurred.

The following conversation between Vest's attorney Bill Jacobs and Bishop will certainly be contradicted by other witnesses in court:

Jacobs: Did you ever learn that some of your officers went to Mr. Vest's wife's
workplace and intimidated her?
Bishop: No.
Jacobs: You never learned that? Did FBI instruct anybody at your place
to not do that, if you know?
Bishop: I'm not aware of any instructions.
Jacobs: Did you ever learn that McQueen chased Mr. Vest around New Circle Road?
Bishop: No, I'm not aware of that.
Jacobs: Never heard about it?
Bishop: No.
Jacobs: Did you, or anybody at your direction, ask officers after they went to the FBI, Department of Justice, or the Grand Jury, what was asked of them or what they said?
Bishop: No.
Jacobs: You never did that?
Bishop: No.
Jacobs: No to all of those?
Bishop: No to all of those.
Jacobs: Do you know if anybody did ask them what they were asked by the FBI?
Bishop: I'm not aware of anyone who did that.
Jacobs: Did you instruct your staff that you were supervising not to ask those questions?
Bishop: Yes.
Jacobs: Who did you tell?
Bishop: Jim Kammer, Todd Eades, Mary Hester, and the Majors, Majors Hill, Korb, White.

This easy to disprove lie will prove particularly ill-timed given that defendants are now cooperating with prosecutors.

No time for more stupid Frankfort budget tricks reports Kentucky's corporate tax receipts are growing faster than those of any other state in the nation.

Where would they get such a silly idea? From the National Association of State Budget Officers. And where did they get their information? Gov. Steve Beshear.

There is nothing to this. Beshear is just using the fake revenue projections in order to show a higher "shortfall" next year.

Go here for the Stateline story and here for the NASBO report.

Jack Conway still mum on casinos

The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission today voted in a resolution to express support for Gov. Steve Beshear's baby step to full-blown casinos in Kentucky. Attorney General Jack Conway's father is on the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Does this mean we now know where Senate candidate Jack Conway stands on casinos?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Biden sees no economic critics

Speaking today on a media conference call, Vice President Joe Biden dodged several questions about the Administration's bogus claims of saving or creating millions of American jobs.

"No one is out there saying our administration has come up with a phony way of measuring jobs," Biden said.

Right. No one but Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. UC Berkeley economist Brad DeLong and Princeton economist Paul Krugman (both huge Obama fans, except when they criticize him for not being Left enough) have been strangely silent on the subject:

When is a blog not a blog?

Why would Gov. Steve Beshear say he is starting a blog and then not allow comments on it?

And I'm a big UK basketball fan, too. But Gov. Beshear would do well to mix in to his inner circle some people who might help free Frankfort from its losing ways.

Casino gambling not even a top five issue

Casino gambling is getting all the attention in Frankfort right now, but we have much bigger fish to fry.

Kentucky's unemployment benefits deficit of over $207 million is getting bigger every week. This isn't a smoke-and-mirrors "shortfall" game. This money will have to be paid back to the federal government in the next state budget.

Continuing to throw up across-the-board spending cuts as Gov. Steve Beshear does won't solve the persistent problems in jobless benefits, Medicaid, or public employee benefits.

Eliminating programs that don't work and improving spending accountability provide opportunities we can't continue to ignore. We should begin with stopping corporate welfare, repealing prevailing wage, ending certificate of need, and move quickly toward justifying every dollar of K-12 education spending. We are also still waiting for Gov. Steve Beshear's promised spending efficiency study, transparency web site, and a serious approach to the $30 billion public employee benefits underfunding.


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Karl Marx would love this

Ford Motor Company is about to pay the price for not bowing, scraping and begging to Obama.

ObamaCare weekend sales pitch

Put your boots on before venturing into Pres. Barack Obama's latest HopeyCam. Or just skip it; I picked out the highlights right here.

Obama said:
"We must attack the root causes of skyrocketing healthcare costs. Some of these costs are the result of unwarranted profiteering that has no place in our healthcare system."

Given government's huge role in healthcare pricing in America, I'd like to see him point out what "unwarranted profiteering" he is talking about. If he means health insurers, he might urge Congress to allow people to buy health insurance across state lines before he kills off all the health insurers and forces us onto Medicare. Otherwise much of the variation in costs is caused by state certificate of need laws.

And then he started in on how he is going to "pay for" his big plans:
"We must develop a plan that doesn't add to our budget deficit. My budget included a historic downpayment on reform and we'll work with Congress to fully cover the costs through rigorous spending reductions and appropriate additional revenues."

We've already seen how Obama does "rigorous spending reductions." And if you have seen any of his energy plans, you already have a good idea about how appropriate his "additional revenues" are going to be.

Here is the video if you want to see for yourself:

KY GOP needs Virginia's guts on schools

Kentucky could take a lesson from Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell, who is pushing hard for school choice freedoms in his state. From his campaign web site:
"Speaking about Virginia’s educational challenges, McDonnell said, "Our goal in Virginia must be to ensure equal opportunity for a quality education. But for thousands of students in the Commonwealth these opportunities are inadequate - limited by the zip code in which they live, or limited by decisions of local school systems. We will not tolerate failing or underperforming schools in a McDonnell administration."

"I agree with President Obama: we need more charter schools in America. That need is particularly pressing in Virginia, where we currently only have four charter schools, one of the lowest numbers in the country."

Kentucky Democrats have been hesitant to cross the KEA on public charters. Our Republicans have nothing to lose and much to gain.

Putting a real governor on Frankfort

The Wall Street Journal's Paris and Berlin writers quote themselves this weekend spreading the silly idea that their countries should be jettisoning "unchecked capitalism" during recession. Europeans are, instead, showing impatience for the problem that is actually occurring: unchecked socialism.

Meanwhile, Frankfort's fixers are coming together starting June 15 in special session purportedly to "nurture" business growth. Instead, the beneficiary is most likely to be big government.

Lunchtime citizen demonstrations Tuesday (6/16) in the Rotunda and Wednesday (6/17) on the Capitol front steps will seek to check our unchecked overspending and government growth.

Mitch McConnell involved in primary again

Just pulled this comment off a message board for purposes of discussion:

"I received the same email from the Trey Grayson campaign."

"I had also read that Trey Grayson was a Bill Clinton delegate, and that does give me pause, but maybe that was a "youthful indiscretion". Clinton smoked but didn't inhale. Maybe Grayson was a Clinton delegate but didn't vote for Clinton. :-)"

"I have a more current issue with Trey Grayson."

"I think what's happening is Senator Mitch McConnell was twisting arms back in the Fall to get Republicans to vote for the TARP-1 bailout and while he was successful in that effort (and we still elected him!), Senator Jim Bunning went on TV and called the TARP-1 bailout what it was... SOCIALISM. That made McConnell mad, so McConnell has withdrawn the Republican Party of Kentucky support and the funds that Bunning needs to run have dried up. McConnell is forcing Bunning out of the Senate because he wouldn't fall in line and vote for the Republican flavor of Big Government socialism, and now McConnell has anointed Trey Grayson as his hand picked replacement for Bunning. Reading between the lines, I think that means that Trey Grayson is almost certainly going to vote the way McConnell tells him to, even if that means voting for socialist bailouts like TARP-1. Most Kentuckians did not want the socialist bailout. 93% of calls to Chandler's office opposed the TARP-1 bailout, but Mitch McConnell and Diane Feinstein convinced their parties to vote contrary to the will of their constituents. Mitch McConnell received $163,300 from commercial banks, including $17,500 from Goldman Sachs."

"I'm working on a radical new concept and in the words of Trey Grayson, I'd like your advice. Instead of party politicians telling us who we'll vote for, would anyone else like to overthrow the oligarchy and vote for the candidates who represent US for a change?"

"I hope my opinion on Trey Grayson is based on principle and I'm not just being petty, but I'm going to be against anyone who is picked by Mitch McConnell. I don't think party bosses should pick our candidates. I think we should pick our candidates."

How will Sen. McConnell's actions impact your vote in the 2010 U.S. Senate GOP primary?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Where's our saving and creating?

Looks like big government economic voodoo is working out just about the same as it always does -- increasing dependency on politicians.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fight for economic sanity is upon us

U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy on Friday afternoon was passing around a copy of a socialized medicine bill he has worked up that will force all employers to provide health insurance for their employees, force insurance companies to accept all applicants, and wreck our economy like nothing else the Beltway types have ever cooked up.

Prove me wrong.

Distancing myself from Obama Motors

When I needed to buy a car recently, I went to my local Toyota dealership. Amid the auto bailout mania, the last thing I wanted was a Government Motors car.

I was surprised to find myself settling in on a used Saturn. I remember thinking, though, that when GM imploded another car company would come along and rescue the strong brand from its dying parent.

Enter, today, Penske, which is purchasing Saturn from GM.

It was funny just now watching Penske execs on ABC News talk about how they could run the company at a profit. That's something GM could never do, despite the face that Polk Research reports that 80% of the company's cars since its 1990 founding are still on the road.

The Penske guys said that among the main reasons they could make it work was the absence of GM's legacy labor costs. They didn't mention a word about alleged "atrocious marketing and production decisions."

Beshear's economic development lip service

In announcing today that he was expanding his special session call to include expansion of corporate welfare programs, Gov. Steve Beshear said he values existing Kentucky businesses:
"Our existing businesses are some of our most precious resources," Gov. Beshear said. "We must nurture them and help them, particularly when they’re looking to reinvest. We cannot continue to watch other states pirate them away."

We are never going to dramatically improve Kentucky's economic situation continuing to play this same game of taxing everyone too much and rebating money to a few companies. All Beshear wants to do is double down on the same losing hand.

Shutting down Kentucky's "Economic Development" Cabinet should be a top priority for anyone who calls Kentucky home.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Rand Paul gets a boost

Not that this is a surprise, but Dr. Rand Paul's exploratory committee got a noteworthy shot in the arm today: