Saturday, February 28, 2009

A new campaign, an old dirty trick

The most popular post on Kentucky Progress in the last week was the breaking news about Rand Paul weighing a run for the U.S. Senate.

The most popular post on Bluegrass Policy Blog was about the David Williams/Greg Stumbo legislative secrecy effort.

Jessamine Co. Lincoln Day 2009

The evening started with a little nervous laughter when a letter was read from Sen. Mitch McConnell expressing his appreciation of the Kentucky state Senate for not raising taxes.

Senate President David Williams is the speaker. No one fainted when he stated, when talking about the U.S. Senate, there are three Senators that "can't be counted on." Presumably he is talking about Specter, Snowe, and Collins rather than anyone in Frankfort.

Williams just hinted that he may be running for U.S. Senate next year by saying that he will be campaigning next year just like he did last year for Sen. McConnell, but that he didn't know in what capacity he would be "riding the bus."

AP: What overspending problem?

The Associated Press read Warren Buffett's famous annual letter to his shareholders today and managed to miss the part in which he predicted things will get much worse for state and city governments.

The Bluegrass Policy Blog, however, didn't miss it.

Saturday reading assignment

Christina Romer, Chairwoman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, makes the case for Spendulus 2009 and beyond. You can read it here.

She makes three main points. First, she says it's okay that we can't measure the plan's results:

"The first issue is what it would mean for the policy to work. The President gave a very concrete metric: he wanted a program that would raise employment relative to what it would be in the absence of stimulus by 3 to 4 million by the end of 2010."

So the plan is essentially to start with an unknown (national employment without government stimulus), add 3 or 4 million to it, and declare victory. Nice jobs plan.

Second, she says that if we assume stimulus will create "or save" jobs then it's okay to go ahead and assume the government will inflate the economy into another comfortable bubble.
"When people are employed and buying things, loan defaults fall and asset prices are likely to rise. Both of these developments would surely be helpful to stressed financial institutions. This is, I believe, a key lesson of the Great Depression. In the Depression, the end of deflation, renewed optimism, and increased employment and output were as crucial to the recovery of the financial system as the more direct actions taken to stabilize banks. Thus, real and financial recovery reinforced each other. So, fiscal policy to raise employment may help to restart lending and in that way generate a more durable recovery."

Finally, Romer offers as proof that the city and state bailout is working the fact that the money is already being spent.
"And when, a week after the bill is signed, we see my home state of California raising taxes and cutting spending by more than the amount of the relief the package provides, it certainly doesn’t feel like we’ve accomplishing anything. But we have. States have balanced budget requirements. In the absence of the relief provided in the package, the best case is that their spending cuts and tax increases would be even larger, and the worst case is that they would be unable to pay their bills at all. The fact that states are already changing their budgets, and are factoring in the funds from the package in doing so, is a sign that this portion of the package is timely and effective."

As scary as it is that this pitiful rationale was sufficient to ram massive pork spending through Congress, what's next will be even worse. That comes when taxpayers start buying government health insurance for 48 million people while being promised that doing so will generate "slowing health care costs."

Friday, February 27, 2009

What you already knew about Jim Bunning

National Journal's Congressional Conservative/Liberal ratings are out for the 2008 session. Sen. Jim Bunning leads the way for the Kentucky delegation, coming in 9th most conservative in the Senate. Sen. Mitch McConnell was 15th.

In the House were Rep. Geoff Davis #48, Rep. Ron Lews #75, Rep. Hal Rogers #102, Rep. Ed Whitfield #121, Rep. Ben Chandler #230, and Rep. John Yarmuth #323.

Beshear's "Weekend at Bernie's" policy

Looks like Gov. Beshear sat around all week trying to think of something to make a YouTube video about and could only manage to re-float a flat, two week old trial balloon.

Now you see them, now you don't

Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said this:
"But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime."

Friday morning, reports this:
"On climate change, the administration figures the federal government will collect $646 billion between 2012 and 2019 for carbon credits. That plan assumes Congress would be able to pass a nationwide “cap-and-trade” system quickly, likely by the end of this year. Obama cabinet officials told governors last weekend they hope Congress passes a law by this summer."

"The nationwide limits on carbon dioxide pollution would apply to all sources of the problem, including cars and trucks."

I didn't see Obama deliver the "one single dime" line on television. Was he wagging his finger?

But maybe he is going to lean on the "see your taxes increased" as justification for hidden costs of the cap-and-trade (or cap-and-tax) scheme.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ron Paul's son may run for Senate from KY

Congressman Ron Paul's son Rand is going to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jim Bunning if Bunning ultimately decides not to run, he said Thursday night.

"We will need a conservative to run against that liberal David Williams," Dr. Paul, 46, a Bowling Green opthamologist, said.

"Bunning has been treated unfairly," he said. "It's been his finest hour within the last year or so with his votes on the bailouts."

"David Williams has given up the ghost on the budget. He didn't even put up a fight on raising taxes."

Welcome KY Politics readers!
Welcome Daily Paul readers!
Welcome Ron Paul Forums readers!

Stop feeding them...

... and the Left turns to eating each other.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman isn't happy with the bank bailouts that the rest of us aren't happy with either:
"Obama and Geithner say things like,"
"If you underestimate the problem; if you do too little, too late; if you don’t move aggressively enough; if you are not open and honest in trying to assess the true cost of this; then you will face a deeper, long lasting crisis."
"But what they’re actually doing is underestimating the problem, doing too little too late, and not being open and honest in trying to assess the true cost. The actual plan seems to be to keep the banks semi-alive by implicitly guaranteeing their liabilities and dribbling in money as necessary, all the while proclaiming that they’re adequately capitalized — and hope that things turn up. It’s Japan all over again."
"And the result will probably be a deeper, long-lasting crisis."

As funny as it is to see President "Nationalize It All" catch hell for not nationalizing fast enough, the rest of us need to keep making the case for less government intervention so the private sector can pull us out of this downturn. Just like it always does.

Eliminate these middle men

Why in the world are we trusting a bunch of bureaucrats who can't balance their own books with picking our winners and losers in the corporate welfare game?

If we are going to credit "incentives" with bringing the factory and "creating" jobs via bureaucratic decree, doesn't it make more sense to lower taxes for everyone and see how much better the market can do at creating growth?

How's your new hope and change going?

It's funny how every time a bunch of politicians get together and claim a grand victory for bipartisanship, what really happens is that the taxpayers get hammered and the ranks of principled lawmakers just gets smaller.

Nevertheless, it's disheartening that, with all their wheeling and double-dealing in Frankfort, they couldn't manage to even give a hearing to a bill that would merely require a 24 hour waiting period on tax and spending bills.

I know several Kentucky groups are working up tax and wasteful spending protest rallies. If you know of one, please mention it in the comments section.

Otherwise, stay tuned for at least one big announcement tomorrow on this site.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drinking our way to prosperity

The Hartford Courant reports Republicans in Connecticut want to solve their state's overspending problems by expanding drinking hours in casinos. With a $1.35 billion projected deficit, what's next, a 2500 drink minimum?

Fortunately for Connecticut, cooler -- Democratic -- heads seem to be prevailing.

Can't wait till Kentucky's good-time crowd in Frankfort gets wind of this one. In our new era of bipartisan cooperation, there is no telling what we might get when the good old boys start mixing booze, late nights, and gambling.

Obama, the flesh-eating zombie?

When President Barack Obama talked about curing cancer last night, I couldn't help thinking of the movie "I am Legend" in which a cancer cure kills almost everyone and turns most of the survivors into cannibal zombies.

Does eating people pay prevailing wage, Mr. President?

Beshear spins for Big Ed and Big Health

Gov. Steve Beshear went on the Leland Conway radio show in Lexington to explain why he raised taxes and raided the state employee health fund. Here is what he said:
"We had some priorities that if at all possible we needed to maintain. And one was in education and the basic funding formula for our schools. I think everybody felt that it was just a requirement that we continue the effort that we're making to improve the education system. We had public safety issues that people felt were a priority as well as the healthcare safety net for our most vulnerable people."

In other words, he wanted the money to expand programs with a poor efficiency track record. Great.

I wonder if Senate President David Williams' answer will be any better.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bad news, Bishop

Fayette County Detention Center Director Ron Bishop has been trying for two and a half years to get rid of federal whistleblower Cpl. John Vest.

For some strange reason, Bishop thought he had his big chance recently when a career small time criminal busted in Vest's home, only to be thrown to the sidewalk and chased off by Vest.

The criminal went downtown and filed assault charges on Vest. Bishop seemed to think this would allow him to fire Vest legitimately after trying repeatedly to do so illegitimately.

But the charges against Vest were dismissed with prejudice Tuesday.

Bishop has failed repeatedly in his efforts to escape from a big civil lawsuit that also has Mayor Jim Newberry and candidate Teresa Isaac sweating.

Mr. Obama, tear down your campaign web site!

As President Barack Obama addresses the nation tonight, it might be worthwhile to look at some of the promises he made before the election that didn't make it passed his first bill.

Bunning: Williams owes me $30,000

Senator Jim Bunning said KY Senate President David Williams came to him last year and asked for financial help for the campaigns of Sen. Jack Westwood and Sen. Ken Winters. Bunning said he got a promise the money would be repaid.

"David Williams owes me $30,000," Bunning said.

Who are you and what did you do with KY Senate President David Williams?

A month ago, we had a Kentucky state Senate determined to hold the line on taxes and a House minority that usually showed evidence of a spine.

Or so we thought.

Now, we have an army of tax raisers. And don't you dare call the tax raisers tax raisers or one of the tax raisers will let you hear about it.

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover is someone I have always liked and respected. This is probably about as confrontational as he is going to get in defense of his bad votes.

But now Senate President David Williams is going to come to my county this weekend to a Lincoln Day dinner. This comes after raiding the employee health fund of $50 million and raising taxes that, a month ago, I would have sworn that he understood wouldn't solve anything. It's easier to make the case, in fact, that the tax increases and the health fund raid may make things worse because, as in the case of the federal bailout that is on the way, the money has already been spent. Having failed to discipline ourselves this time, how much worse do you think it will be next time around?

Williams has also filed a bill to take executive branch power away from the executive branch and entrust it to the legislative branch. Can't imagine why anyone other than Greg Stumbo would think that is a good idea now.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Where's the rest of the cavalry?

Secretary of State Trey Grayson has just issued the following statement in support of Senator Jim Bunning:

"Recent news reports change nothing about the US Senate race as I am concerned," Grayson said. "Senator Bunning is a friend and mentor. As I have mentoned before, if he were to decide not to run, I would be keenly interested in the race. Senator Bunning has said that he is running, and I take him at his word. I am not planning a primary."

Mr. Tax Raiser, where are you?

Casey County Republicans report Taxpayer Protection Pledge breaker Sen. Vernie McGaha failed to show up for last Friday's Lincoln Day Dinner.

Wonder if any other Senate Republicans are getting nervous about keeping their speaking engagements?

Thank you, Uncle Albert

This looks like a great idea. The Organizer-In-Chief wants us to "thank" our representatives for voting for the latest bailout scheme for those running our state and local governments into the ground.

I think I will do just that.

Just wondering

When Rep. Ben Chandler ran for governor in 2003, he refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, calling it a stunt. When he ran for Congress the following year, he quickly promised never to vote for a tax increase. He has broken that promise many times.

It will be interesting to see if Sen. David Williams signs the Taxpayer Protection Pledge prior to running for the U.S. Senate.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

David Williams running for U.S. Senate

(2/23 10:30 am update: Williams denies making calls to members of the House and says he will make a statement about his plans soon.)

State Senate President David Williams is making calls to members of the state House drumming up support for what had been only a possible run for the United States Senate seat currently held by Sen. Jim Bunning.


Same as the last corruption

Please help spread the word about this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Apology to Rep. Joe Fischer

In one of my other day jobs, I write for the Bluegrass Policy Blog. It was just brought to my attention that I left Rep. Joe Fischer off a list of legislators worthy of appreciation for voting in the best interests of taxpayers.

Sorry, Rep. Fischer. I fixed it here.

Having it both ways in Frankfort

Don't let President Barack Obama see this.

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear offers some sensible advice to Kentuckians about managing their personal finances (below), but if we all follow it and stop financing our lifestyles with debt, jobs will be lost. Like in the car industry and the government sector.

And we know Pres. Obama is all about saving, and "creating," jobs.

Can't get criminals away from Lex. jail

Disgraced, audited, and mail order educated former Lexington jail administrator Don Leach has been calling the Fayette County Detention Center to tell his buddies how to get Lexington taxpayers to pay them to go to upcoming American Jailers Association conferences.

Hey Don: what do you think about Teresa Isaac running for mayor again?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why do we let this stupidity persist?

Kentucky's practice of providing health insurance benefits for retired state and local government workers under 65 has to go.

Kentucky's $8.9 billion in unfunded health insurance liabilities for public retirees can't be made to go away quickly, but the practice of offering these benefits should be phased out as soon as possible.

The Commonwealth ranks 8th in the nation in per capita unfunded health insurance liabilities for public retirees. That is especially bad when it is considered that we are 42nd in per capita income and that all of the states with higher unfunded liabilities have more money than we do.

In other words, we are the single most unprepared state in the nation in terms of ability to dole out overly rich benefits to public employees. But we are doing it anyway.

Funny neither of the major newspapers in the state picked up on this story this week right after we raided the same fund of $50 million. But I guess we should be used to it by now.

SC Governor calls a spade a spade

Here's yet another reason to wish Kentucky had another state's governor.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is the reason Pres. Barack Obama's bailout of the cities and states included a provision essentially prohibiting governors from refusing to accept the "stimulus" money. South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn slipped that into the bill when Sanford was trying to explain that it was a bad deal for everyone.

Now, Clyburn says Sanford is against wasteful spending because he hates black people:
""The governor of Louisiana expressed opposition. Has the highest African-American population in the country. Governor of Mississippi expressed opposition. The governor of Texas, and the governor of South Carolina. These four governor's represent states that are in the black belt. I was insulted by that," Clyburn said. "All of this was a slap in the face of African-Americans. It had nothing to do with Governor Sanford.""

Sanford's response, through a spokesman, was fantastic:
""Representative Clyburn is no stranger to playing the race card, because he has no defense for the runaway spending and the deficits contained in this so-called stimulus bil that will hurt our economy. Spending money at the federal level that we do not have represents a future tax increase on all South Carolinians, regardless of their color - and in the process of doing so, he's ripping off everyone he claims to represent.""

Our own Gov. Beshear is eagerly awaiting the money with no apparent concern for the future.

Uh, no

It's not hard to blame Republicans in power since 2000 for giving us Democrats who make insane stuff like this our new reality.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What a dying political career looks like

Someone in Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry's office wanted to see if his recent Fox News appearance garnered any good press.

Google says no.
Newberry still hasn't announced his plans for re-election. Hope this helps. Then he can concentrate on fending off a certain lawsuit.

Where is Ben Chandler today?

Rep. Ben Chandler doesn't want you to know he is quietly urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi not to call up a bill that would force unionization on private businesses.

President Barack Obama campaigned hard for so-called card check legislation, his ACORN buddies are on board, and the union officials who fund Chandler's campaigns are counting on his support.

Everyone else? Not so much.

Here is video from a card check debate between Kentucky AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan and Kentucky Club for Growth Chairman Warren Rogers.

In other news, Chandler was against the bailouts before he was for them.

Someone has to say it

"Kentucky isn't like California."

How many times has a Bluegrass state native heard that? It used to be a putdown of Kentucky since, years ago, everything cool happened in California first and then we got it about ten years later.

But then California started going for every new left-wing crackpot idea under the sun. They have greened themselves, and taxed themselves, and spent themselves to the edge of fiscal disaster. Being unlike California has become a badge of honor.

Maybe, just maybe, circumstances are about to put us in a position where we go back to looking up to California again.

Now the only thing standing between Californians and the largest state tax increase in history ($14 billion and counting, tax increases are never "enough") is the state's small group of Senate Republicans.

We had a similar opportunity come up in Kentucky last week, but we aren't like California.

And now, California Senate Republicans have ousted their caucus leader for going along with the tax increasers. California big spenders are going to have to get with the cost-cutting program, it appears. And the sooner they do, the better. But we aren't like California.

Indeed, we aren't. More of our Senate Republicans went for the tax increases and the pension raid last week than went against them. Whisperings of efforts to run primary opponents against Republican taxers and raiders are starting to be heard.

Stay tuned...

Kiss that money goodbye!

The Louisville Courier Journal reports the Kentucky Department of Education will receive a $305 million federal bailout.

The schools' MUNIS accounting system is such a mess no one is going to be able to account for this money. That should stimulate someone to action in Frankfort or Washington D.C., but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"More bail, please"

Automotive News reports that Chrysler wants another $2 billion of your money. I sense a recurring theme here.

And, of course, our politicians are watching.

UNBELIEVABLE update: make that $2 billion for March. And another $2.6 billion in April. Up to a total of $30 billion. Nancy Pelosi says she is hopeful.

Words fail me...

Here is a link to a video in which the GM CEO talks about returning the company to profitability.

Watching California, thinking Kentucky

The budget fireworks in California took a positive turn Tuesday as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has started the major downsizing of government he should have done months ago.

One single Republican vote in the state Senate is all that stands between the nation's biggest state and the nation's biggest tax increase. Should that resistance hold, spending cuts and Obama bailout funds will have to make up huge deficits.

Federal bailout funds prevent much of the forced spending discipline that would do California a world of good. To a much lesser extent, that ship has already sailed for us in Kentucky.

Of course, we will be back having this same argument again very soon in Frankfort. Will it be deja vu all over again, perhaps? Hope not.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let them eat stock certificates

General Motors is expected to announce Tuesday that their survival plan includes taking more taxpayer money, making fewer cars, and paying off their bonds with soon-to-be worthless stock.
From Automotive News:
Real progress won't begin until after the deal involves paying off union officials with blank pieces of paper.

I have a question, Mr. President!

Just got my invitation in the mail for the Jessamine County Republican Party Lincoln Day dinner at 6 pm February 28 at Equestrian Woods in Nicholasville.

Senate President David Williams is the featured speaker.

After last week's votes to raise taxes and raid the state employee health fund of $50 million, this could be a very interesting event indeed.

Admission is $30 per person.

Up with hemp, down with Mountain Dew?

The most popular post on Bluegrass Policy Blog is about a bill to make hemp production legal in Kentucky.

Check out the action in the post's comments section.

At the same time, the most popular post on Kentucky Progress is about making Mountain Dew illegal in Kentucky.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lexington's own "Trial of the Century"

This summer, Lexington will endure an unusually long federal criminal trial city officials don't want you to know anything about.

The Lexington jail inmate abuse trial starts June 8 and is scheduled to last three weeks.

This suggests former Mayor Teresa Isaac and current jail Director Ron Bishop may have been mistaken when they said on television that there was nothing to this story.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Presidential irony

I wish it were funnier that America has a president whose name and image inspires spam email scam artists.

This isn't even the first time. Won't be the last, either.

Beshear gives Kentucky an Obama

Gov. Steve Beshear borrowed the rhetoric of Pres. Barack Obama yesterday in congratulating himself for his smoke-and-mirrors fix of Kentucky's government spending problem:

Just last Saturday, Obama was saying the same thing about his bailout of the cities and states:

This is what Republican leaders in the Kentucky House and Senate have signed up with? Unbelievable.

Friday, February 13, 2009

If you liked Tax Jam 2009, just wait

The Kentucky Senate voted this morning to raise taxes and to raid the public employees' health fund of $50 million.

Can't imagine where the raid idea came from, since a mere seven months ago the Senate majority seemed to have a pretty good handle on the dire situation in public employee benefits. But the tax increase train never had to leave the station.

If the people behind the tobacco and alcohol industries had only realized that this wasn't about being unfair to the people who make, distribute, and consume their products, their opposition may have been more effective.

These tax increases and the health fund raid won't provide "enough" money to hold back future tax increases and smoke-and-mirrors transfers. Too bad the tobacco and alcohol folks never seemed to realize that the issue wasn't about just them, but was about the size of government all along.

Text messaging is best

Tax raisers in the state Senate are currently one vote short on HB 144. Will your Senator fall into the big government trap?

9:37 AM Update: They just came back in. Wonder who folded?

Senate, don't be as cynical as the House

The theme for this week in Frankfort has been politicians saying one thing and meaning another. A bipartisan Gang of 11 House members betrayed a pledge to their constituents to never support a tax increase. That same Gang also joined 54 fellow House members in tossing aside their seven month old promise to stop making the public employee benefits debacle worse.

Then it was House Budget Chairman Rick Rand's turn.
"We felt it was important that we let the citizens of Kentucky know," he told his Budget Committee, "that everything would be on the table: all cuts, any potential revenue measures, and anything we could do to bring this budget into balance."

Then, presented a commonsense amendment by Rep. Joe Fischer to stop forcing Kentucky taxpayers to pay excessive union wages for public construction projects, Rand spit the bit. Fischer's measure didn't even get a vote. Others tried the same thing on the tax increase bill with the same result.

Unless the Senate's intention is to simply join their friends in the House in raising taxes, they should restore Fischer's amendment and remove the Health Fund raid in HB 143. It also hardly makes sense to allow Beshear to restore funds to prior spending cuts as the bill does with borrowed money. You remember how overextending got us into this mess, right?

Come on, guys. This is ridiculous.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Barack Obama wants us to trust him

Kentuckian in exile Caleb Brown of the Cato Institute wonders why Pres. Barack Obama is playing "hide the details" with his big bailout bill:
"If this legislation is such a good idea, why don’t we get to look at it?"

Seems Obama is disappointing some who thought he was serious when he promised to, you know, not be so secretive about important stuff.

Will Kentucky rob Peter and Paul both?

Federal governments all over the world are printing "stimulus" money faster than grass runs through a Kentucky Derby champion. In Frankfort, politicians are breaking promises just as fast.

It's about to get worse.

Part of the deal to "raise revenues" for the state is, apparently, agreement to allow Gov. Steve Beshear to raid the public employee fringe benefits accounts of $50 million.

Just to get us through this temporary problem. Until the next one, of course.

Whatever happened to this guy?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

House fails to hold the line on taxes

House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover delighted Frankfort's big spenders this afternoon by not only voting for higher taxes, but also making a floor speech in favor of higher taxes.

The bill passed 66-34. It now goes on to the Senate. President Pro Tem Katie Stine has pledged to oppose the tax scheme.

Bellying up to the wrong table

House Budget Chairman Rick Rand, speaking in favor of a tax increase bill, just repeated the fiction about everything being "on the table" in the effort to balance the state budget.

If that were true, we would have repealed prevailing wage, ended corporate welfare and sales tax exclusions, dropped out of the Master Settlement Agreement, fired some political appointees, and called it a day.

Smart if true

Gov. Steve Beshear's reputation for meaning what he says isn't the best. Nevertheless, this sounds good:
"I am looking forward to starting work with my colleagues in the legislature on a longer term solution to the challenges confronting us. We will need to discuss how we create a tax system that is not only equitable, fair, and responsive to the changing nature of the global economy, but also keeps Kentucky competitive with surrounding states."

Ending taxes on corporate income and exclusions from the sales and use tax would be a nice start. Getting out of the corporate welfare game completely and repealing prevailing wages show a seriousness for the kind of reform Kentucky really needs.

Time for a Kentucky stimulus task force?

Now that Virginia is a blue state, they must feel obligated to set up web sites asking for citizen input on spending their Barack Obama bailout money.

So they did just that.

Can Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear be very far behind?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Get ready to wave bye-bye to Senate majority

Tonight's blow out loss in the state Senate special election combined with the compromise (read: cave in) on tax increases tells me Kentucky Republicans have gotten tired of having a seat at the table.

What else should anyone expect from a sell-out of principles?

Some good friends won't like this, but get ready to lose a lot more elections if the Senate decides not to hold the line on taxes.

Jim Bunning speaks

Sen. Jim Bunning said today the eligibility for full Social Security benefits should quickly be pushed from age 67 to 70. He said just doing this would put Social Security on "a sound financial basis until 2075."

He also advocated lowering cost-of-living raises for Social Security recipients.

Asked about the bailout bill currently before Congress, Bunning repeated that it was a step toward socialism and that most people understand that and oppose the bill.

"About 95% of my calls are against the bill and the other 5% are from mayors and government employees in Kentucky," Bunning said.

Bunning also mentioned a recent poll showing him ahead of all potential Democratic rivals. He said the results were closer than they should have been because the polling was completed during the ice storm, when much of western Kentucky was without power.

He said that he plans to run his own poll the first week of March.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Assume a woodshed...

... and watch the Cato Institute take President Barack Obama there!

Another $1.5 million down the drain

A Lexington Herald Leader news reporter went to a political press conference and came back a believer in very questionable, big government spin.

Continuing the recent trend of turning the Lexington paper into a one-sided blog, no opposing viewpoints to this cheerleading were provided.

Click here to read one.

Latest bailout recipient: Dan Mongiardo

Media types can't help noticing Lt. Governor Dan Mongiardo has been twittering out status updates via government press release very rapidly since he announced his campaign for United States Senate.

Your latest contribution to his campaign is copied below. Seems that if we were serious about cutting state spending, Mongiardo's political aspirations would be going under the knife.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

KY Club for Growth opposes tax hike

Brian Richmond, president of Kentucky Club for Growth, says he is adamantly against raising cigarette and alcohol taxes to fund bloated government in Kentucky, but that if taxes have to go up conservatives should get something in return.

"They should give us, at the very least, a two-year moratorium on prevailing wage," Richmond said.

Kentucky would save $130 million or more a year by repealing prevailing wage policies on public construction projects. Of course, working out a deal like this would involve trusting Gov. Steve Beshear.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

If this is pragmatism, we're in big trouble

President Barack Obama made a silly statement Saturday while complaining that nearly two-thirds of the electorate wants off his bailout train.

The Associated Press came to the rescue with their informed take on his comment:
""We can't afford to make perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address, sounding a note of pragmatism that liberal followers rarely heard on the campaign trail."


If a trillion dollar bailout that no one really thinks will help the economy is an indication of what we can expect from the Obama Administration, then it sure would be nice if the media watchdogs would at least make him make sense about it.

Obama here rips to shreds a famous Voltaire quote that is most often translated as "the perfect is the enemy of the good." That means, of course, that holding out for perfect solutions sometimes prevents putting to work solutions that may be good enough.

But Obama's questionable "stimulus package" is not absolutely necessary. That's why we are so opposed to it. And the Associated Press weighing in with their opinion that his plan is somehow pragmatic doesn't do much for their credibility either.

Gouging saves lives in Kentucky

National media folks watching Kentucky dig out of the latest ice storm noticed the heroic -- and well-compensated -- efforts of a man Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway would burn at the stake for anti-Nanny State heresy.

Beshear and Conway haven't gotten the attention they so richly deserve for barking at the moon about prices when hard-working Kentuckians are trying to survive natural disasters.

If more people took the time to understand freedom rather than running for the quick soundbite, we would have better public policy discussions in Kentucky.

Thanks to Kentuckian in exile Caleb Brown for passing along the latest from Washington D.C.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bunning economics plan makes more sense

Bailout opponent Sen. Jim Bunning today suggested via a floor amendment improvements to the increasingly unpopular spending bill Pres. Obama wants.

Bunning's plan would allow individuals greater ability to deduct investment losses.

Bunning said:
"Since the peak of the market in the fall of 2007, investors have lost $7.5 trillion in wealth. More than half of this amount is held in taxable accounts."

"If we do not adjust the limit, taxpayers will be unable to deduct real economic losses from their income tax, and this will result in higher effective tax rates."

"Two respected economists have recommended my amendment as a way to stimulate the economy. In an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Let’s Stimulate Private Risk Taking,” economists from Harvard University and the University of Chicago wrote that my amendment would stimulate risk taking by reducing the downside of new investments and increasing the upside."

Further, Sen. Bunning advised removing significant corporate welfare provisions from the bill:
"My amendment also reduces the cost of this bill by about $2 billion, because I am also striking a remarkable provision that for the first time would allow corporations to use tax credits, even if they have no income. This is nothing more than corporate welfare and Soviet-style industrial policy."

"Never before has this body endorsed a refundable tax credit for corporations. This one costs a staggering $10.9 billion. It’s bad policy, and the money should be spent on broad-based tax individual tax relief that will stimulate our economy."

A hundred million here, a hundred million there

Two witnesses to the Senate Education Committee meeting Thursday came away with different numbers but the same story about the state's massively wasteful CATS school testing program.

Lexington Herald Leader education reporter Ryan Alessi reported:
"Sen. Dan Kelly, R-Spingfield, also said the CATS test has been sucking up too much valuable classroom time as the state spends $17 million per day on public school instruction. With 10 days of preparation, 10 days of testing and 10 days for mentally-spent students and teachers to recover, that's nearly a half-billion dollars lost, he said."

And Bluegrass Institute education analyst Richard Innes got this:
"At one point, Senator Dan Kelly outlined the full costs of CATS public school assessments, including the opportunity costs of instructional days lost to both administer the tests and conduct all the overly focused test preparation that we hear about so often. Kelly’s bottom line cost for CATS -- $700 Million."

Either way, Senate Bill 1 would get rid of the CATS program.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Will 69 million voters fall for this, too?

Just got a junk email from a bank invoking the Obama bailout scam and offering, fittingly, a scam VISA card with the false hope that "if Congress is willing to bail out Corporate America to the tune of a trillion dollars, why not have our sponsor try to help you!"

Interestingly, the reality of this "help" is somewhat less compelling than the hype. If you didn't catch it, a "secured" credit card is no credit card at all. It's a debit card just like the one any bank will give you for no cost when you open an account.

It gets better. The fine print reveals a $99.95 "one time" processing fee. Dig a little more, though, and you find this:

Amazing. So, the punch line on this helpful card is that you send in your money and the bank pretty much just keeps it. For example, say you send in $300 to open an account. The value of the account is immediately $200.05. The next two fees drop you down to $106.05. Then if you are stupid enough to use the card, as soon as you swipe it you start paying 19.5% interest on your own money.

Jim Newberry needs your call

The missing videotape that's part of the latest episode in the Lexington jail scandals has been located, according to a source inside city government, but continues to be hidden by city officials.

Please take a minute to call Mayor Jim Newberry and tell him to have the entire January 27 Budget and Finance Committee meeting posted to the city's web site.

His phone number is 859-425-2255.

10:30 UPDATE: The Mayor's office just called and promised to fix the problem. Thanks very much if you called. Either way, though, hang on to that phone number.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Take it like a man

Congress expands SCHIP, Kentucky loses

Gov. Steve Beshear has made a big deal out of signing up children for government health insurance and the U.S. House of Representatives just helped him waste our money even faster.

From the Cato Institute:
"SCHIP’s great expense stems from the fact that in many cases, it simply enrolls children who were already insured privately. Economists Jonathan Gruber and Kosali Simon estimate that out of every ten children added to the SCHIP rolls, six already had private coverage. Only in government is a program deemed to “work” when it covers four uninsured children for the price of ten."

If Gov. Beshear were really serious about putting Kentucky in position to grow when the economy recovers, he would consider encouraging Kentuckians to get off SCHIP rather than trying to get them on:
"One thing SCHIP does accomplish is to discourage work. SCHIP and similar programs create enormous disincentives to climb the economic ladder. A single mother of two earning minimum wage in New Mexico who increased her earnings by $30,000 would find no change in her net income: She would pay an additional $4,000 in taxes and lose $26,000 in SCHIP and other government benefits, according to data compiled by the Urban Institute for the federal government."

Read more here.

Obama bailout needs a bailout

As American support for President Barack Obama's $900 billion bailout plan drops precipitously, a group of Republicans are fighting back against Obamanomics:

Thanks for standing up against this, Sen. Bunning.

It will be no surprise to see the mainstream media full of news stories about how critical this bailout is. But one thing I didn't expect was to get two emails from the White House press office today inviting me to two different press conference calls about the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan." Tomorrow Melody Barnes, Director of the Domestic Policy Council will speak to "Southern reporters" at 1:30 and then at 2:30, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will be on at 2:30 talking to "Midwest Reporters."

What they lack in substance, they probably more than make up for in outreach.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Will KY legislators approve voter initiatives?

Kentucky House Minority Whip David Floyd has filed a bill sure to catch the imagination of active citizens across the state.

House Bill 217 would allow individuals to collect petition signatures to change either state law or the state Constitution via voter approval and without any action by the General Assembly.

Before you start buying clipboards, though, HB 217 first has to pass both the House and the Senate by three-fifths votes this year, go on the 2010 ballot, and recieve a majority vote of the electorate.

I'm not aware of a similar bill in Kentucky in recent years. It will be interesting to see what kind of treatment this gets from our legislators.

Bunning was against bailouts; still is

While many in Congress are figuring out their fiscal principles on government bailouts by sticking their fingers in the air, stalwart Sen. Jim Bunning has been a notable exception. In a press conference today, he described the battle he fights today:
"There is no will to bite the bullet and reduce the spending. They are already talking about another trillion dollars for the banks. If I were a banker in Kentucky, I'd be very concerned that the federal government is going to nationalize the banks and take control of all the banking industry across the country."

Bunning also said he thought the Dow Jones Industrial Average, currently near 8000, would hit 6000 before it hits 9000.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Did Don Leach lose another consulting gig?

The graphic below shows a California-based visitor to this blog who seems to know something about the ongoing federal investigation into criminal activity at the Fayette County Detention Center.

Donald Leach is a former administrator at the Lexington jail who was a subject of a recent city Budget & Finance Committee meeting, documentation of which seems to have disappeared.

(Click image to read it)

This story just keeps getting better.

Bipartisan opposition to corporate welfare

Very interesting article in The Wall Street Journal today about how some states are expanding taxpayer-funded incentive deals for companies despite lacking evidence that the approach is worth the investment.

The article includes this salient passage:

Kentucky shows every indication it will continue to play the sucker's bet that state officials can really pick our economic winners and losers.

If Kentucky called a unilateral cease fire on the corporate incentives battlefield, we would very likely have less of a fiscal problem on our hands. At the very least, state "economic development" officials should have to demonstrate the return on investment for their handiwork. The fact that they don't shout their results from the rooftops speaks volumes, doesn't it?

How about a colorblind natural disaster?

A North Carolina think tank stuck its tongue in its cheek over the weekend and asked why President Barack Obama hates the white people in Kentucky. The question isn't any more ridiculous than the persistent nonsense about former President George W. Bush hating all the black people in Katrina-struck New Orleans, but the following point from John Locke Foundation is worth considering:
"It is the iron law of Katrina: The federal government, marginally competent in the best of times, assumes super-human powers in times of natural disasters. Ergo, any lack of relief is the direct result of a lack of compassion, probably racially motivated, on the part of the occupant of the White House."

Of course, there is no danger of the mainstream media picking up on an "Obama lied while Kentuckians died" screed. They understand he is busy fixing the world's economy.

And speaking of racism, Obama now wants to keep the Yellow Man down. Or something (click to expand):

Sunday, February 01, 2009

More Left Coast activism headed our way?

An effort in California to make health insurance premiums more "fair" for women looks like just the kind of bad idea that would attract Gov. Steve Beshear.

Current law allows individual health insurers in both California and Kentucky to charge higher health premiums for women than for men. It's nothing personal; it's just that women tend to cost more to insure than do men.

California wants to level the playing field, which just means men will be charged more for the same coverage.

In much the same way that the effort to force Kentucky car insurance companies to stop charging higher premiums for people who exhibit certain irresponsible behaviors merely penalizes everyone else, activism here is a bad idea.

When insurance companies don't pay claims their policies require them to pay, government intervention is wholly appropriate. But legislating fair premiums isn't going to magically start working now, just because some politicians have good intentions.

Thanks to InsureBlog for the tip on this one.