Kentucky Club for Growth
fighting and winning for economic freedom

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November 26, 2008

$373 Million in Cuts

Governor Beshear has told agencies to plan for 4% budget cuts, suggesting that he's either expecting to raise taxes, or not expecting the $456 million shortfall to materialize.  4% of FY 2009 appropriated spending is only $373 million.

November 25, 2008

On the $456 Shortfall

After saying earlier that they would come up with a projection that contained a "worst case scenario," the Consensus Forecasting Group predicted Friday that state resources would fall $456 million short of the prediction they made last January.

What does this mean?

First, it means that they predict that the current revenue increases we have seen in the first four months of the fiscal year (over 2% increase in sales tax receipts, over 6% increase in personal income tax receipts including a 2.8% increase in withholding) will reverse.  Where they had predicted state revenues would increase $191 million in FY 2009, they are now predicting a decrease of $265 million. 

Second, the current $34 million increase in revenues versus FY 2008 will become a $265 decrease, meaning that revenues will be $299 short over the next eight months.  This will require a 5.2% decrease versus FY 2008 in order to meet the "worst case scenario."  In the last 30 years, there is only one time state revenues actually decreased year-to-year.  In 2001-2002, the state experienced a 1.4% decrease.

We entered FY 2009 with $357 million in appropriated reserves and the beginning balance, but the "Rainy Day Fund" isn't considered available to deal with a potential shortfall, because $70 million of these reserves are already budgeted to be spent in FY 2009, and $193 million are budgeted to be spent in FY 2010.

November 21, 2008

Five for Friday

Alliteration substitutes for content!

  1. KyCFG Executive Director Andy Hightower will appear on KET's Kentucky Tonight, Monday, November 24th at 8PM.  We'll be talking about the budget.

  2. Representative Bill Farmer has introduced a bill to repeal all income taxes in the state and replace them by expanding the sales tax to services.  Oh and he drops the sales tax one percent, making Kentucky one of the lowest sales-taxes in the country.

  3. Over in Hardin County, the County Clerk has filed a complaint in circuit court to recount the disputed precinct in the election.  This is a much better resolution than candidate Weaver's effort to throw out everyone's vote.  Props to Kenny Tabb.

  4. In a mixed-bag energy plan, Governor Beshear puts forward the strategy of possibly opening Kentucky to the construction of new nuclear power facilities, showing a seriousness about energy diversity.

  5. The Lexington Fayette Urban County government council disputes whether it should approve the Mayor's negotiation of union contracts.  Council member Ed Lane fights the good fight on behalf of the council having the authority to approve contracts, contending that the contracts are a significant part of the budget, and reviewing the budget is the council's job.  Lane points out: "The fact that we are not reviewing and approving these matters are not in the best interest of the taxpayers or of our government."  How true.  Click to see how they voted and ask the seven opposed what, exactly, they were elected to do if not oversee the budget?
We'll try to add more detail over the weekend.  Off to meetings...

Tax-Happy Senators

Recently, the Courier-Journal surveyed Kentucky's senators asking about whether they would support an increase in the cigarette tax.  A majority indicated strong reluctance to increase taxes.  However, these thirteen are eager to raise taxes, regardless of necessity.

Tim Shaughnessy, D-Louisville - Yes - "You can't make it high enough for me."
Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville, - Yes - "said he could go as high as $2 or $3."
Perry Clark, D-Louisville - Yes - "It's not out of my realm to vote for this thing." Regarding possibly reducing spending: "I think we honestly could kill people."
Walter Blevins, D-West Liberty - Yes - "I think it's an easy way to raise revenue."
Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort - Yes - "I am for it."
Julie Denton, R-Louisville - Yes - "I support a cigarette-tax increase."
Denise Harper Angel, D-Louisville - Yes - "I think its time we gather up the courage and increase the tax on cigarettes."
Gerald Neal, D-Louisville - Yes - "We clearly have a need for new revenue, and this is the most logical and efficient way for the state to raise it."
R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester - Yes - "I think it makes sense."
Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville - Wouldn't rule it out - "Lets take a look at everything."
Kathy Stein, D-Lexington - Yes - "Of course"
Johnny Turner, D-Drift - Would consider it - "I could probably do that."

and

Ed Worley, D-Richmond - Yes - "I'm for increasing the cigarette tax."

November 19, 2008

Socializing Your Retirement Savings

Generally, a ruckus can be guaranteed whenever a brave politician discusses allowing Americans to have greater personal authority over their Social Security retirement savings and the wealth it would generate.

Now Congressional Democratic leaders aren't just interested in avoiding reform of Social Security, they are considering seizing your private retirement savings and adding them to the Social Security Administration, a socialization of private savings worse than The Bailout and worthy of Castro and Chavez.

I know it sounds appallingly ridiculous, but here's a report on the hearing held by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller:

Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.

The testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings Oct. 7 drew the most attention and criticism. Testifying for the House Committee on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar retirement accounts, such as IRAs, and confiscate workers’ retirement plan accounts and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) managed by the Social Security Administration.

Here's the rest of the coverage.

Senate Tax Champions

Good responses to the C-J's survey of state senators' positions on Beshear's efforts to raise the cigarette tax:

Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown - No - "I just ran a campaign where I got 61.7 percent of the vote, and I told my constituents that I'm not for raising taxes." 
Carroll Gibson, R-Leitchfield - No - "I wouldn't support a tax on anything right now."
John Schickel, R-Lakeside Park - No
Dan Seum, R-Louisville - No - "You don't tax your way out of a recession."
Vernie McGaha, R-Russell Springs - Probably not - "You never say never, but I'm against it."
Katie Stine, R-Southgate - No - "I'm generally opposed to adding taxes to the shoulders of the taxpayers of Kentucky."
Gary Tapp, R-Shelbyville - No - "I'm not in favor of any tax increase."
Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Springs - Probably not - "I'm not inclined to ever support increases in taxes."
Ken Winters, R-Murray - Probably not - "I have been against any new taxation."

and

David Williams, R-Burkesville - Probably not - "We're not inclined to raise any taxes."

November 18, 2008

School Choice for the Obamas, Why Not Kentuckians?

Saturday's Washington Post asks a good question:

Will Barack Obama deprive D.C. children of the opportunity his children have?

Michelle Obama's visits to two private schools and her inquiries about Washington's public schools have sparked the inevitable public vs. private debate. We won't be weighing in because we would never presume to tell any parents where to send their children to school. Yet, as President-elect Barack Obama and his wife decide what's right for Malia and Sasha, Mr. Obama might want to think about the families that he would deny this precious freedom of choice.

During the just-concluded campaign, Mr. Obama spoke dismissively of the federally funded voucher program that gives poor D.C. families access to the kind of educational opportunities his family is fortunate to have. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program gives low-income families up to $7,500 per child for their children to escape failed public schools and attend private schools. Some 1,900 children receive vouchers, and many more are clamoring to join the program. Democrats, and their allies in public school teachers unions, oppose the vouchers and, with the party soon to control Congress and the White House, supporters of the program are right to worry.

Let's hope the experience of moving his girls and finding the place where they will flourish resonates with Mr. Obama so that he reexamines his stance on the District's voucher program. How is it right to take away what little choice there is for needy D.C. children? The scholarship program wasn't intended to replace Washington's public schools, and it doesn't lessen the urgency of improving them. But it does give some poor parents an opportunity taken for granted by better-off families, who can pick their residency based on school district even if they can't afford the most elite private schools.

To their credit, the schools Michelle Obama visited this week -- Georgetown Day and Sidwell Friends -- participate in the voucher program, as do many other area private schools. That means classmates of Malia and Sasha might lose the ability to attend their chosen school if the vouchers were eliminated. That wouldn't seem fair.

At Least He Says the Right Thing

In an apparent conversation with George Will, Senator McConnell at least says there's an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts:

Legislatively, Republicans can begin clarifying their convictions by pressing to limit the scope and duration of what a Republican administration has unleashed -- the increasingly indiscriminate intrusion of government into financing the private sector. McConnell believes the bailout legislation was "necessary but not necessarily precedential." It should be considered a one-time response to a once-in-a-century crisis, and should be terminated "as soon as possible" by government selling the assets it has acquired in order to recoup the money it has spent.

We'll see...

November 17, 2008

Beshear's Internet Folly UPDATE

Over the past months, we have followed the developments in Governor Beshear's fanciful attempt to regulate the Internet at the state level.  We explained how his plan to seize domain names would be a horrible precedent, suggesting that each state in the country has the authority to censor what it does and does not like on the Web, leading to myriad, complicated, burdensome regulation of a technology so important to modern commerce.  We have reported on the liberal media's blind love for regulation, our bewilderment with the backwards ruling of the usually dismal Franklin County Circuit, and our expectation of a wave of litigation against the state due to this folly.

Well the wave has come and where the case was formerly a sideshow, now it is serious.  The Court of Appeals has stepped in to take the case away from the embarrassing Franklin Circuit and Attorney General Jack Conway can't extricate himself from this foolishness fast enough, as Mark Hebert reports:

One of the internet gambling companies being sued by the state, Interactive Media Entertainment, has filed a motion to include the AG as a party to the lawsuit. Jack Conway said thanks, but no thanks, in a response to that motion filed in the Court of Appeals. The appellate judges are scheduled to hear the case next month. A Franklin Circuit Judge has ruled that Kentucky has the authority to keep internet gambling outfits from doing business in the state but the companies have appealed.

In his office's response, Assistant Attorney General Lisa Lang wrote that the Attorney General clearly had the authority to file such a lawsuit against the internet companies. But Lang wrote that he didn't, and couldn't be dragged into one through a motion filed by one of the defendants.

Jack Conway knows better, and his disinterest exposes what a waste of time Beshear's litigiousness has been.

The private law firm has apparently spent close to one million dollars betting on-line, to use as proof in the lawsuit. But the only way Hurt, Crosbie and May gets paid is if damages are assessed. And they'd get 20% of the haul. But the chances of getting any monetary damages out of the internet companies would appear to be pretty slim unless they're threatened with some kind of criminal charges. And it would seem that Kentucky's Attorney General would be the one to do that.
 

Weaver Attempts to Steal His Old Seat

Friday, I missed this report on sore loser and fake moderate Mike Weaver attempting to steal his old seat back from State Representative Tim Moore:

Weaver To Challenge All Votes In One Precinct, Hope It Turns Election
5:55 PM Fri, Nov 14, 2008 | Mark Hebert

Former state representative Mike Weaver is preparing to ask the state House of Representatives to throw out all of the votes in one Hardin County precinct, claiming they may have been mishandled.

Weaver lost his 26th district House race to incumbent republican Rep. Tim Moore by 108 votes. But Weaver's campaign spokesman, Jonathan Hurst says there may have been irregularities in the Pine Valley precinct of Hardin County. Hurst says an election worker has admitted that one voting machine malfunctioned. When that happened, Hurst claims, workers took the votes out of the back of the machine, handed them to a precinct election officer and told him to insert the ballots into another machine when he got a chance. Hurst claims that's illegal. Moore won the precinct by a couple hundred votes, so if the House invalidates all the votes in that one precinct, it would turn the election in Weaver's favor. Hurst says Democrats have asked Louisville attorney Sheryl Snyder to help with their case.

(Hat Tip: kypolitics.org)

Liberal Hope on the C-J's Front Page

I don't think it qualifies as reporting so much as "wishing."

Courier-Journal reporters apparently attempted to ask every Kentucky Senator whether they would support a cigarette tax increase in 2009.  We'll talk about the champions who said "no" and the liberals who said "You can't take it high enough for me" later.  Right now, see if you can follow the slimy twists of the truth to turn 20 of 37 responses that avoided supporting a tax increase into the headline "Survey: Cigarette-tax backed"

Senator Tom Jensen responded "I haven't said absolutely no."

That response is simplified for accounting to Senator Tom Jensen "won't rule it out."

Adding up these responses, the C-J reports that "twenty of 37 members of the 2009 Senate said they would either vote for an increase, would consider it or would not rule it out."

From that, they "report": "a Courier-Journal survey found substantial support for an increase."

There is a serious, unsubstantiated leap from "I haven't absolutely said no" to "a Courier-Journal survey found substantial support for an increase."  In fact, if you count up the responses like Senator Jensen's that are fairly obviously not inclined to raise the tax but were afraid to make an absolute statement, a majority of 20 seem disinclined towards the tax.  Mark Hebert points out how little support was actually expressed in the survey, describing it as:

C-J Finds About 1/3rd Of State Senators Would Vote "Yes" On Cig Tax Hike, Most Others Non-committal

We are used to baseless liberal hope from the C-J's editorialists and political columnists.  But this is front-page "reporting."  Tom Loftus, Deborah Yetter and Stephenie Steitzer need to complain loudly to their editors for this serious hackery.

Creating the Shortfall

This week, Governor Beshear plans to increase his projected budget shortfall so that he can go try to raise taxes.  The Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG), "a panel of independent Kentucky economists who determine revenue projections for the state," is now in on the deal.

The CFG has a tough job in trying to predict the future of state revenues.  Usually they are very accurate despite the number of different taxes and fees that make up state revenues.  On Friday, "A group of leading economists" (the CFG) "told state budget officials Friday to change state revenue projections based on the “worst case scenario” for the economy." This deliberate decrease in the amount of projected revenue for the state will fulfill the Governor's prophesy/need for a projected shortfall.

We have described how, despite current economic troubles, state revenues are up $20 million versus last year and how the budget cuts spending $120 million versus last year.  Looking at the last CFG report and the revenue report for October, we find that income tax receipts were up 6.6% in the first quarter and 8% in October, this despite rising unemployment in the state.  Yet the forecast for income taxes for the year says:

The interim forecast for the individual income tax calls for a decline of 4.7 percent for the remainder of FY09, amounting to collections of $2,535 million in the final nine months. The individual income tax grew by 6.6 percent in the first quarter of FY09, and is expected to decline by 4.7 percent during the remainder of the fiscal year. Further weakness in employment, wages and salaries, and weak aggregate demand all contribute to the lower forecasts. For the entire fiscal year, individual income tax revenues are projected to decline by 2.1 percent.

I can't dispute the expected "weakness in employment, wages and salaries," etc., but the fact remains that they are already weak and revenues are up anyway.  I'd like the discrepancy of the first four months personal income tax receipts explained more thoroughly before I entertain any "worst case scenarios."

November 14, 2008

So, When are State Revenues Going to Tumble?

Governor Beshear is preparing to tour the state to discuss a potential $300 million revenue shortfall and push for a cigarette tax increase and possibly other tax hikes.  I’m not going to claim that no shortfall will materialize, but the expectation of a shortfall seems contrary to current facts.

Here’s what we know.

The state fiscal year runs from July-June, so we are four months into FY 2009.

Despite the economic slowdown, General Fund revenues were up $17 million in the first quarter of this fiscal year versus 2008 and up another $17 million in October 2008 versus October 2007.  The Budget Office says that $14 million of October’s $17 million increase is accelerated collections, but that still leaves us with a $20 million increase in state revenues in this first four months of FY 2009 versus FY 2008.

Now, $20 million may not be a large increase, but these four months have been tough economic times.  Additionally, the budget for FY 2009 actually CUTS spending.  There is a 1.3% reduction in appropriations in FY 2009 as compared to FY 2008.  So, so far in this economically difficult year we have a $20 million revenue increase to cover a $120 million reduction in appropriations.

Which roughly means that, over the next eight months, revenues can fall $140 million short of 2008 revenues and still meet budgeted appropriations levels. 

Since 1987, there is one year in which state revenues actually declined.  Between FY 2001 and FY 2002, revenues dropped 1.4%, from $6.65 billion to $6.56 billion.  Today, a 1.4% drop would be $121 million.

Because the FY 2009 budget includes a $120 million reduction in spending and we currently are running $20 million ahead of FY 2008, in order to have a $300 million hole in the budget, revenues over the next eight months will have to fall $440 million short of 2008 levels.  FY 2008 actual General Fund receipts were $8.664 billion, so a $440 million drop in eight months is a 7.6% reduction.  I know times are tough, but…

November 12, 2008

Unfunded Rainy Day

After campaigning that tax increases were a last resort, Governor Beshear has once again started to talk about how he wants to raise taxes in Kentucky.  His current talking point is a projection by the Consensus Forecasting Group that revenues will fall $294 million short of projected spending in the current fiscal year.

Certainly, there is a downturn in the economy.  It is for just this sort of economic moment that the state has a Budget Reserve Trust Fund, commonly known as the "Rainy Day" fund.  The idea is that in good financial times, the state reserves revenue in this fund so that those funds can be available in more difficult times.

When the state had surpluses, Governor Fletcher built the Rainy Day fund from $0 in 2002 to $231 million when he left office in 2007. 

So why doesn't Governor Beshear apply this reserve to his current rainy day?

Because he and the legislature already plan to spend it.  In the enacted 2008-2010 budget, they spend $208 million out of the fund, with $191 million of that spending planned for FY 2010.  

The Rainy Day Fund should be a resource for unexpected reductions in revenues.  Instead, the Governor and General Assembly planned to bankrupt the fund, which is one of the reasons credit agencies cited when they reduced Kentucky's credit outlook.

Kentucky Elections Wrap-Up

We're a week removed from the election and we still haven't followed up on the results. Here's a quick rundown and we'll continue with more detailed profiles over the coming weeks.

Boone County Parks Tax

This blog had covered the efforts of Boone County citizens to fight a large property tax increase proposed by the administrators of Boone County. Thanks to the efforts of groups like Say No to the Parks Tax, it was not only defeated, it went down with an overwhelming 67%-33% defeat.

State Senate

The Kentucky State Senate keeps the same partisan distribution of 22 Republicans, 15 Democrats and one Independent, who generally sides with the Republicans (of course, the same could be said of many of the Democrats in the Senate). This will maintain Senate President David Williams' ability to put a stop to bad legislation. New faces next session include:

David Givens (District 9 - Simpson, Allen, Barren, Edmonson, Metcalfe, Green), handily won a hard-fought battle for an open seat versus Steve Newberry, the brother of Lexington's mayor. Givens will replace Sen. Richie Sanders (Senate Rankings: #22 in '08, #35 in '07).

John Schickel (District 11 - Boone, Gallatin) was unopposed in the general election to replace Sen. Dick Roeding (Senate Ranking: #8, #1). Roeding was a Senator who usually agreed with the Club, and he is replaced with a supporter of Kentucky Club for Growth in John Schickel.

Kathy Stein (District 13 - Fayette) (House Rankings: #70, #56) defeated Lexington Councilman Chuck Ellinger to replace Sen. Ernesto Scorsone (Senate Rankings: #38, #34).

Our House roundup will follow.

November 10, 2008

Senate President David Williams: The Taxpayer's Firewall

A recent editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal began:

It's difficult to overstate how outrageously Senate President David Williams is behaving, in the face of another shortfall -- nearly $300 million this time -- in state revenues.

This statement is half-true.  It is difficult to overstate just what Senate President David Williams’ leadership means to the Kentucky taxpayer.  I think State Senator-elect David Givens came close recently when he said of his election that "The firewall that the Senate has been remains strong."

Givens was speaking about expanded gambling, but the Senate under the leadership of President David Williams is a strong defense against tax increases and other bad ideas from the liberal editorial boards, our tax-increase-loving Governor and the spending-happy Kentucky House.

In the 2008 session, Williams rightly assessed that Kentuckians would prefer a limited budget to a $148 million tax increase, blocked the tax increases passed by the House and created and passed a budget that actually cut spending.

Now, as Governor Beshear once again starts to rattle on about his perceived need for more taxpayer dollars, Williams is once again standing strong:

Still, Williams said, he's not convinced that the state's financial problems are dire enough to require tax increases.

Instead of working with Williams, who leads one of Kentucky’s two legislative Houses and therefore is a necessary advisor on any issue, Beshear has tried to bide his time, waiting and wishing for political influence he doesn't have.  Beshear should now clearly recognize that his activity is not getting anyone anywhere.  In the four Senate races Governor Beshear has been personally involved in promoting fellow Democratic candidates, Williams has won all four.

"He goes out in extra trips and appears with the candidates," Williams said of Beshear's role in the election. "I don't see how he can be involved in that kind of thing and keep the specter of not being political."

Beshear raised money for and appeared at official events with the losing Democratic candidate in the open Republican seat in the 9th District in southern Kentucky and the challenger in Northern Kentucky's 23rd District. He also headlined a fund-raiser for Carroll Hubbard, the former congressman who served prison time in the 1990s for federal campaign finance violations and who ran unsuccessfully in the 1st District.

Earlier this year, Williams and Beshear wrestled over capturing the Eastern Kentucky state Senate seat left vacant when Daniel Mongiardo became lieutenant governor. Williams won that fight, too.

Apparently, Beshear still fails to recognize his counter-productive activity.  Williams’ strength is such that Beshear doesn't have a clue how to deal with it, a problem that has faced many Kentucky politicians.  Instead of diplomatically earning the respect necessary to create a working relationship with the Senate President, Beshear’s choices are combative, earning him only Williams’ mistrust.

Despite long odds, Beshear remains hopeful Democrats can take control of the Senate before his term ends in 2011.

"Oh, certainly it's possible," Beshear said.

Williams said he was baffled by that response.

"It doesn't sound like it's too smart a thing to say before you go into a legislative session," he said.

Reporter Ronnie Ellis noticed the implications, even if Beshear didn't:

David Williams showed again he’s much more formidable than Beshear seems to realize.

Republicans held onto all the Republican state Senate seats on the ballot, including the open 9th District which Democrats expected to win. David Givens won every county in the district except Barren, home of favored Democratic candidate Steve Newberry. Newberry had more money and the backing of Beshear and the local party and business establishments in the district’s most populous county. Givens won anyway. It was the second consecutive high profile Senate race (after the special election last spring in the 30th District) where Beshear got involved and the Republican ran against expanded gambling and defeated Beshear’s chosen candidate.

It doesn’t bode well for Beshear or his agenda.

Maybe one day Beshear  will actually heed his own rhetoric about it not mattering if it's a Democrat's idea or a Republican's idea, stop flying the state's plane around to campaign, and actually step up and lead on some issue like state pension reform, putting forward an honestly responsible budget, or maybe repealing the office of the State Treasurer. 

Until then, taxpayers can be all the more grateful for their ally in the Senate.


 

Obama Doesn't Even Wait for Inauguration to be Divisive

Apparently, the Uniter can't even wait until the inauguration to throw out his happy rhetoric.  While Rahm Emanuel is a smart choice, bringing someone with executive and legislative experience in to his administration to run things, he is certainly a partisan.  Now we learn that Obama is planning to use executive orders to push divisive and extreme positions immediately upon entering office.

WASHINGTON (AP) - President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas.

In the first instance, stem-cell research, regardless of your position on the issue, it is easy to recognize that passions are high on both sides.  It is not an issue that unites.

In the second, 81% of Americans want to increase domestic production of coal and oil to combat rising energy prices and improve US energy security.  Limiting domestic production is an extreme position.

Even if he could be persuasive on these issues, he is choosing not to, planning to implement these changes by a unilateral executive order.  That does not sound like the first step to reaching out to the center of this country. 

November 7, 2008

Pick Up Your Children and the Drugs in One Stop

Kentucky has a Criminal Justice Council which has apparently been meeting for half a year discussing ways to reduce the number of criminals in Kentucky by lessening punishments.  While some proposals seem reasonable, others will cost some people their elected office if actually advocated:

  • Rewrite the law on drug trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school so that it only applies to people providing drugs to minors, not drug dealers with adult customers who happen to be in the general vicinity of a school campus;

How convenient will it be for users to pick up their drugs and their children on the same trip?

Conservatives v. Recent Republicanism

More from the Wall Street Journal, this from former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, describing recent conservative confusion due to the short-sighted abandonment of conservative principles by Republican leaders:

This was certainly true of the Bush presidency. Too often the policy agenda was determined by short-sighted political considerations and an abiding fear that the public simply would not understand limited government and expanded individual freedoms. How else do we explain "compassionate conservatism," No Child Left Behind, the Medicare drug benefit and the most dramatic growth in federal spending since LBJ's Great Society?

John McCain has long suffered from philosophical confusions about free markets, and his presidential campaign reflected as much. Most striking was his inability to explain his own health-care proposal, or to defend his tax cuts and tax reform. Ultimately, it took a plumber from Ohio to identify the real nature of Barack Obama's plan to "spread the wealth."

Mr. McCain did find his message on taxes in the last few weeks, but it was too late. A Rasmussen poll of Oct. 30 reported that 31% of likely voters believed that "taxes will go down" under an Obama administration versus just 11% under a McCain administration. Shockingly, 19% of self-described conservatives believed Mr. Obama would cut taxes; only 12% thought Mr. McCain would.

Pat Toomey: Swing Voters Don't Want Card Check, Big Government

The Club for Growth, as part of its 2008 election activity, polled a number of congressional districts.  What they found in 12 swing congressional districts (11 of which flipped from Republican to Democrat) is that voters in these competitive discticts solidly reject proposals of expanding government. 

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey descrides the results in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal.

The most unpopular issue in these districts is Card-Check:

Of all Mr. Obama's plans, the most unpopular may be one of his first acts as president -- the signing of "card check" legislation. Perhaps he should know that a whopping 85% of voters in the districts that made him president oppose taking away the right of workers to have secret union ballots.

There's alot of great stuff in here:

eight out of 10 voters agreed that "in recent years, too many Republicans in Washington have become just like the big spenders that they used to oppose."

Make it required reading.

November 6, 2008

EFCA: Interest Arbitration

This morning at the Lexington Forum, David Adams brought his camera.  Here Kentucky Club for Growth Chairman Warren Rogers explains the interest arbitration provision.

 

PRESS RELEASE: Club Chairman Rogers Defends Employee Rights In Card Check Legislation Debate

LEXINGTON, Ky. –  In a debate today sponsored by the Lexington Forum, Kentucky Club for Growth Chairman Warren Rogers examined the “Employee Free Choice Act” and the various ways the act will deny choice to workers.  Arguing for Card Check was Bill Londrigran, the President of the Kentucky AFL-CIO.

“The Employee Free Choice Act really takes choice away from the worker when they are faced with the question of joining with their coworkers in a union” said Mr. Rogers.  “It takes away the ability of workers to cast a vote in a secret ballot process, denies workers the choice not to participate in a union, and forces workers into their original union contract with no option to reject it.  After this remarkable, historic election, it is incredible that Mr. Londrigran would argue that there is a better method of protecting people’s choice.”

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) passed the House of Representatives in March 2007 and then failed a vote in the Senate that June.  Many speculate that it will be a top priority of an Obama administration looking to find a legislative win that does not require spending.

The EFCA contains three main provisions:

  • It requires the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union if it receives signed cards of interest by a majority of workers, no longer allowing a secret ballot election after these cards have been signed.
  • It requires binding interest arbitration to create the first contract between the union and the employer, no longer allowing either side to accept or reject the contract.
  • It increases penalties to employers.

“Signing a card is not the same as a vote.  It is more like signing a petition.  The secret ballot not only protects voters from intimidation on all sides, it creates a specific decision point where voters will take it upon themselves to make an informed and weighed choice.  This is not the case when someone is asked to sign a petition with no clear result defined,” explained Mr. Rogers.

“Under the required arbitration provision, the original contract will now be created by a federal employee instead of an agreement between the company and the union,” Mr. Rogers continued.  “In the discussion, Mr. Londrigran suggested that ‘sometimes you have to have imposed agreements.’  I don’t know how something can be an agreement if it is imposed.”

“A worker might not even know his coworkers are signing cards.  Under EFCA, that worker didn’t participate in the discussion, doesn’t get to vote on it, has his contract handed to him by a federal employee, and no longer can individually negotiate for his salary or promotion.  That is not free choice,” said Mr. Rogers.  “I would encourage all citizens to learn more about this legislation and contact their legislators about it.”

The Kentucky Club for Growth is a bi-partisan advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the system of free enterprise that allows individuals the opportunity to bring growth and jobs to the commonwealth.  It is an affiliate of the national Club for Growth.

 

November 5, 2008

New Chicago Senator

With the historic election of Obama as the next president, some Illinois Democrat will have to be appointed to fulfill his Senate term. 

Perhaps Chicago homeowner Bruce Lunsford can be a senator after all.

November 4, 2008

Will McConnell Keep His Leadership Post?

Senator McConnell has kept his Senate seat, but will he keep his leadership post?

In a press release on the election, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina seems to raise the question:

DeMint Statement on Election Results  
 
November 4, 2008 - Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement:

“Republicans suffered very serious setbacks in the last two years in both the Senate and the House. We have got to clean up, reform and rebuild the Republican Party before we can ask Americans to trust us again. This must begin with either a change of command at the highest levels or our current leaders must embrace a bold new direction."

The rest of the release...

"Americans have again rejected the Democrat-lite strategy of higher spending and bigger government, and it's time for Republicans to chart a new, more principled course. Federal spending must be reduced and that starts with ending wasteful earmarks. Republicans must admit the Wall Street bailouts were a trillion-dollar bust, and immediately fight for free-market solutions that create jobs and increase freedom. We must get serious about reforming our complicated tax code that is destroying jobs, and finally reform Social Security and Medicare before they take us over a fiscal cliff. We must fight to secure our borders and keep our military strong, and we must boldly defend our values for life and the family.'

"This election reflects a failure of Republicans to keep their conservative promises. Democrats didn’t run on their true liberal agenda to raise taxes, cut national defense, and undermine traditional values. They ran against President Bush and congressional Republicans whose image was tarnished by scandals and broken promises. Our party must start today to admit our mistakes, fight for our convictions, and encourage new conservatives to run for office.”

 

15 minutes to close

And still no lines at my polling place.

Enjoy election night, as much you can.  Tomorrow we start the next cycle.

And at 2:30, there are no lines at all

It's Lunchtime and the Lines Are...Considerably Shorter

I think every election there is incredible hype built around voter turnout, and it makes people go to the polls earlier.

The Races: Clark v. Hawkins, Senate 37 UPDATE

Mark Hebert of WHAS speculates that Hawkins could poll well against Clark:

If I were trying to guess where the biggest upset of election night might occur, I'd guess the race between Sen. Perry Clark and republican challenger Doug Hawkins in the 37th district State Senate race. Hawkins is the Metro Councilman who can be a blowhard. He's never met a camera he didn't like. But he's also framed himself as a fighter for the South End's conservative voters. And his name is everywhere. In legislative races, at least 50% of the voters have no idea who their representative is. Name recognition is everything. And Hawkins has more than Clark, who refuses to run any attack ads. We'll see what happens.

Since our earlier write-up, Hawkins came out strongly against Beshear's planned tax increases:

Doug Hawkins pledges he will not vote to raise taxes.  "I will not raise taxes," said Hawkins.  "South Louisville has a high number of foreclosures, and job security is a major concern during hard economic times.  There is no way I will ever support a tax increase when families are struggling to keep their homes and jobs," said Hawkins.

So this is one race to watch today.

Great News for One Polling Place in Lexington

From the Herald-Leader's "Help for voters: What you need to know:"

Bedbug update: People voting at the Ballard-Griffith Towers Apartments in Lexington should not be concerned about the bedbugs that have infested more than 300 units at the complex, according to city officials. The voting room has been chemically treated, all furniture removed and the carpet steam cleaned to remove any possibility of infestation. Voters who do not live in the complex are asked to enter the precinct from the outside door that leads directly to the voting room instead of entering through the building lobby.

Go Vote

Some city council write-in candidate has placed fliers on every car's windshield in my neighborhood. My polling place is as busy as I have ever seen it, which I'm sure is due in part to the fact that it's an incredibly nice day.

It's election day. Follow the national results at the national club's site: www.clubforgrowth.org.

November 3, 2008

Herald-Leader Ridicules Lunsford

This is funny.

Buried in a story sizing up the Kentucky Senate race, the Herald-Leader really slams Lunsford hard.  First, it was actually the work of Ashley Judd.  Intending to hit McCain, Lunsford was caught in the cross-fire.  Judd said:

"John McCain has seven houses. ... I assert that a person with seven houses is not really in touch with what he needs to be," Judd said.

Like McCain, Lunsford also has at least seven houses.  Trying to explain his way out if it, Lunsford dug himself in deeper.

"I'm not in the same financial world Cindy McCain is in. She's in a different league," said Lunsford.

That is, a different league of people not as rich as Bruce Lunsford, the Herald-Leader explains: 

Lunsford's "financial disclosure forms show he is worth at least $40 million and potentially more than $100 million. John McCain's net worth was estimated at $28.5 million, mostly thanks to his wife's family fortune from a beer distributorship empire."

Lunsford didn't stop the silliness here, though.  Attempting to explain why he invests in real estate, he seems to completely forget or ignore that plummeting real estate values began the financial crisis:

"My dad always told me to put your money in real estate. And it's a good thing I didn't put all my money in the stock market or it would be a pretty rough year," he told reporters.

I do not believe Lunsford is a serious person.

On Selfishness

Recently, Presidential candidate Barak Obama, in an attempt to justify his calls for higher taxes, told his supporters:

"You know I – it’s been awhile now – we’ve made a virtue out of selfishness, there’s no virtue in that."

In his mind, Americans who do not wish to give the President and Congress more of their paycheck are selfish.

Mr. Obama needs to look in the mirror.

It is his own selfishness that determines this worldview: that only the government can be a vehicle of giving, and that individuals who create income and jobs and growth owe especially more to their government than individuals who aren’t there but are on their way up.  Obama and his running mate are able to draw a line and say that once you reach a certain point the government needs more say in how your income is used. 

Obama’s saying that when he’s in charge of government, that government will need more influence over a select group of citizens.  What do you call it again when you want more of something for yourself at the expense of others?

$373 Million in Cuts
Governor Beshear has told agencies to plan for 4% budget cuts, suggesting that he's either expecting to raise taxes, or not expecting the $456 million shortfall to materialize.  4% of FY 2009 appropriated spending is only $373 million....

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The KY Club for Growth seeks principled candidates who are committed to the following:

* Free market principles
* Lowering taxes
* Reducing spending
* Decreasing the size of government
* Judicial reform
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* Reducing needless regulation

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