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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Sunday, October 04, 2015
Hypocrites: California Labor Union That Fought for $15 Minimum Wage Now Wants an Exemption
Can anyone say "hypocrites"?
by Natalie Johnson: The labor union that led the charge for a $15 minimum wage hike in cities across California is now moving to secure an exemption for employers under union contracts.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor buried the exemption on the eighth page of its 12-page proposal for the Santa Monica City Council to review Tuesday while deciding whether to follow Los Angeles and increase the minimum wage.
The loophole would allow employers with collective bargaining agreements to sidestep the wage hike and pay their union members below the proposed $15-per-hour minimum wage.
James Sherk, a research fellow in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, said the exemption is a union attempt to encourage businesses to unionize by making themselves the only low-wage option as union membership continues to drop off.
“This proposal would force any worker in Santa Monica whose labor is worth less than $15 an hour to purchase union representation in order to hold a job,” Sherk said. “Unions should not be able to selectively exempt themselves from the harmful consequences of the minimum wage hikes they lobby for.”
The move in Santa Monica is not the federation of labor’s first attempt to compound a collective bargaining exemption into a minimum wage increase.
The federation received an outpouring of criticism when it attempted to push the same carve-out for unionized employers after Los Angeles decided to increase its minimum wage from $9 to $15.
“This is hypocrisy at its worst,” the Los Angeles Times wrote in a blistering editorial. “It plays into the cynical view that the federation is more interested in unionizing companies and boosting its rolls of dues-paying members than in helping poor workers.”
Rusty Hicks, the head of the federation, released a statement in May saying that businesses and employees under collective bargaining agreements should have the ability to negotiate a wage below the law’s mandated minimum in exchange for other benefits.
“This provision gives the parties the option, the freedom, to negotiate that agreement. And that is a good thing,” Hicks said.
Hicks told the Los Angeles City Council to thwart the measure’s passage unless the exemption was included, but he ultimately lost the battle after receiving significant backlash for the request.
In Santa Monica, where council members ordered a rewrite of the minimum wage proposal Tuesday night, the exemption stirred no controversy among members. Council members told a local paper the exemption would remain in the final minimum wage proposal.
------------------------ Natalie Johnson (@nataliejohnsonn) is a news reporter for The Daily Signal and graduate of The Heritage Foundation's Young Leaders Program. Tags:California, Labor Union, Minimum Wage, wants exemption, Natalie Johnson, The Daily SignalTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Re-examining Scott Walkers Exit From The GOP Presidential Race
by Ed Martin,: First, the requisite compliment: Gov. Scott Walker is a wonderful guy and a true leader. What he has done in standing up to the unions is remarkable and will be remembered in history. I had high hopes he could marry his fearless leadership with conservative positions that I assumed he held – on marriage, on life, on spending – but … well, his campaign for president became something else entirely.
Now, add to that something else that was the Walker campaign. The press, the political consultant class, and especially the establishment are pushing their line on Mr. Walker: He was unprepared, didn’t know foreign policy, debated poorly, etc. Their saying it was Mr. Walker’s wife’s fault, his campaign manager, his debate coach. All sorts of people will catch blame. These are all excuses hiding the truth.
Mr. Walker failed because in every Republican cycle, the establishment needs some guys to run and to fail. The Establishment needs the money and employment, and they need candidates to play along with the rigged Republican nomination process. Mr. Walker bought the Establishment plan and he ran the same playbook that the Republican establishment has been using for nearly two decades. That is, raise a boatload of money and spend it on consultants and staff (especially in early states) and then raise more money and run ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Media buyers get 10 percent for the ad buys, and the media in Iowa and New Hampshire love the cash too!) Pollsters must be paid big money to parse positions and “sharpen” the candidate.
Mr. Walker went along with it all. He imported a campaign manager (Rick Wiley) directly from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ staff. And the hiring began. Here in St. Louis, a prominent consultant was hired to do grassroots/conservative coalitions … paid thousands of dollars but that needle never moved (except down). Great quote from Mr. Reince’s guy who ran the Walker campaign: “We didn’t have a spending problem – we had a revenue problem.” Everyone wins except Scott Walker.
Next, Mr. Walker started dancing on his positions as pollsters demand and it made him look weak and confused – immigration is the best example. And the band (of consultants) paid on as the ship slipped sideways.
This a racket that has worked well for the consultants with campaigns. (By the way, don’t worry about the consultants and staffers – they are being snapped up by other campaigns running the Establishment plan like Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush! And Reince can put them back on the payroll, too.)
However, voters are sick of the D.C. racket. Voters care less if candidates have served in office (Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson) or if they understand the nuances of foreign policy (again, Mr. Carson, Mr. Trump). No, the voters – in fact, most Americans – want someone who is authentic and who will fight for them not for a political office but for their future. If Mr. Walker understood this, he could have kept his staff to a minimum and his spending light. He could have announced, “I plan to run until the end and make a big argument for Americans.” He easily could have become the consensus choice in late March or April when the others stumble.
Instead, his staff gathered Wednesday night at a microbrewery near their Wisconsin headquarters. I suspect toasted their good fortunes: “Here’s to us and to our next stop on another campaign.”
---------------- Ed Martin is President of Eagle Forum, the pro-family education and policy organization founded in 1972 by CEO Phyllis Schlafly. Martin is not new to the intrigue of politics and political campaigns. A former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, Ed Martin was a member of the Republican National Committee. Martin served as Chief of Staff for Governor Matt Blunt and was the Republican nominee for Missouri's 3rd congressional district in 2010 and also ran for Missouri Attorney General. Tags:Ed Martin, Eagle Forum, Scott Walker, Exit, from the GOP Presidential RaceTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Corrupt politicians give some of that money (or favors) to organizations
Organizations kick back some of the money to the corrupt politicians as campaign contributions.
The politicians use the dirty money to get re-elected.
Return to number 1.
The corruption game is nothing new. Call it payola, quid pro quo, scratch my back – it has gone on ever since the first government came into being, and still occurs all over the world. In Mexico and similar “banana republics” nothing gets done by government without illegal payoffs.
No, the corruption game isn’t new, but the playbook has changed. Until recently, corrupt deals were made between public officials and private businesses. That arrangement was problematic – when the public found out about massive corruption (back then we had real journalism) the citizens would raise hell until the corruption was at least somewhat beat down. They didn’t like their tax dollars going to fat cat big business operators. But corrupt politicians didn’t appreciate these temporary interruptions in the game. So instead of using corporate cronies to fatten their wallets, they learned to cycle the dirty money through government employee unions, quasi-government organizations and NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) instead of private businesses.
This week’s scandal du jour is the uproar over Planned Parenthood’s use of taxpayer money for purposes that most citizens find repugnant. The dollars aren’t huge – only a half a billion or so – but what they do with the money sure has a lot of taxpayers’ underwear in a knot. Moreover, Planned Parenthooduses a good chunk of the money for campaign contributions and lobbying. They claim the government funds they get are applied only to honorable pursuits. But we all know that money is “fungible”.
Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? These behemoth quasi-government organizations almost buried our economy in 2008 when the real-estate bubble of their creation popped and the government bailed out the big banks. Even President Obama, a master of quid pro quo, called the Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac business model “heads we win, tails you lose.” We really still haven’t recovered. But the Fannie and Freddy corruption machine keeps chugging along, making big contributions to campaigns, paying monster salaries to its officials, and playing fast and loose with taxpayer money with almost no oversight.
Another cool quasi-government corruption setup is the Export/Import Bank, which uses taxpayer money to make risk-free loans that benefit crony corporations like Boeing, General Electric, and Caterpillar, to foreign governments and companies, some of whom actually compete with other domestic companies. There are all kinds of opportunities for bank employees to profit personally from shady arrangements. Some honest legislators, prodded by conservative constituents, may have finally put an end to this game, although General Electric and their political partners in crime are trying hard to keep it going.
And it’s not just about dirty politicians seeking campaign funds any more; federal agencies are in on the act. They now extort funds from US companies by threatening huge fines for trumped-up regulatory violations. Agencies like the EPA, FCC, NLRB and others routinely set up schemes that trade a “consent decree” (an agreement to not destroy a business with a long, expensive legal action) for cash. The feds also use consent decrees to take control over local government operations, such as police departmentsand local utilities.
Some federal corruption is simple and creative. Conservatives in Congress were furious to learn that VA Administration bigshots received big bonuses by faking the real performance records of their agency while patients died waiting for care. When the congressmen found out these guys could not be fired (this belongs in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!) they passed a law that making it possible to fire VA officials. So how many were fired? You guessed it. Zero.
The exploding corruption culture in Washington, DC is not a partisan issue – both Democrats and Republicans say they oppose corruption, but only a few true Conservatives are making any effort to do something about it. Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump admitted paying off politicians. One can only assume the practice would continue under his watch.
One thing hasn’t changed. The only way to kill corruption, or at least slow it down, is for citizens to raise hell about it.
Ask your public officials and candidates what they plan to do about corruption. Give them specific examples. Most of them don’t mention the issue and haven’t even thought about it. Let’s raise a little hell.
--------------- Tom Balek is a fellow conservative activist, blogger, musician and contributes to the ARRA News Service. Tom resides in North Carolina and between playing in bands including his family band Caution! Blind Driver, he seeks to educate those too busy with their work and families to notice how close to the precipice our economy has come. He blogs at Rockin' On the Right Side Tags:Tom Balek, Rockin' On The Right Side, consent decrees, Export-Import Bank, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, government corruption, government unions, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, planned parenthoodTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
13.1% of American Young People are Out of Work This Month – Degrees and All
Arlington, VA – The Millennial Jobs Report for the month of September finds that 13.1 percent of 18-29 years olds are unemployed. The data below is non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) and is specific to 18-29 year olds.
Millennial Jobs Report findings.
The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds, which adjusts for labor force participation by including those who have given up looking for work, is 13.1 percent (NSA). The (U-3) unemployment rate for 18-29 year olds is 8.2 percent (NSA).
The declining labor force participation rate has created an additional 1.801 million young adults that are not counted as “unemployed” by the U.S. Department of Labor because they are not in the labor force, meaning that those young people have given up looking for work due to the lack of jobs.
The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old African-Americans is 17.1 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 15.1percent (NSA).
The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old Hispanics is 13.6 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 8.2 percent (NSA).
The effective (U-6) unemployment rate for 18-29 year old women is 10.9 percent (NSA); the (U-3) unemployment rate is 7.8 percent (NSA).
These unemployment numbers follow a recent Gallup survey of college graduates that found only 50 percent strongly feel their college education was worth the cost.
Generation Opportunity National Spokeswoman Patrice Lee issued the following statement:“Millennials continue to struggle with an unacceptable 13 percent unemployment rate. A third of people under 29 hold degrees, but unfortunately, our higher education system is graduating debt-laden young Americans without job-ready skills. We need student-centric solutions that lower the cost of education and expand access to high-quality alternatives that prepare our generation for a 21st century economy.”------------------------ Generation Opportunity is a national, nonpartisan organization advocating for economic opportunity for young people through less government and more freedom. Tags:unemployment, American, young people, Generation Opportunity, Millennial Jobs ReportTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Caution, Gun Free Zone, prime targets, wackos, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
The author, Nolan Peterson, in the Ukrainian trenches in Shyrokyne, eastern Ukraine. (Photo: Nolan Peterson)
by Nolan Peterson: For the last year, I’ve been reporting on the Ukraine war. I’ve been back and forth to the front lines, embedded with Ukrainian troops and civilian volunteers. I’ve been on the receiving end of Russian weapons, including tanks, heavy artillery, mortars, machine guns, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and good ol’-fashioned Kalashnikovs.
I don’t know for sure the nationalities of the soldiers on the other side of no man’s land who were trying to kill me. There’s nothing distinctive about the sound of an incoming shell or bullet that indicates whether the finger pulling the trigger was Russian, Chechen, Serb, or a bona fide Ukrainian separatist.
But I do know this: One cannot buy tanks, heavy artillery, drones, and surface-to-air missiles (like the one used to shoot down MH-17) from a department store in eastern Ukraine. I checked. And one cannot learn how to effectively use this equipment in combat from a YouTube video.
Additionally, the attacks I witnessed were coordinated with drones and other sophisticated technology like communications jamming. Ukrainian troops near the front were instructed not to use their cell phones because combined Russian-separatist forces were using the signals to target artillery. That’s sophisticated stuff, similar to some of the technology the U.S. uses in combat.
The old maxim in journalism is Show, don’t tell. Well, that’s what I saw on the eastern Ukrainian battlefields. You decide whether or not Russia is involved.
For the last year, Nolan Peterson has reported on the war in Ukraine.
After a year of reporting on the war in Ukraine, I decided to take a little time off to cover a war my own country is fighting—Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. I was looking forward to the opportunity to be around some fellow Americans, visit the base BX to pick up my favorite energy drink (Blue Monster) and my favorite protein bars (chocolate chip cookie dough Quest Bars), and to be re-immersed in deployed military life.
There was something else I was looking forward to.
At least while I’m in the Middle East, I thought, I won’t be dealing with the Russians for a while.
You probably know how this story goes. I arrived at an undisclosed location in the Persian Gulf region as the news broke that Russian warplanes, tanks, missiles, artillery, and troops were arriving in Syria. And on Wednesday, Russian warplanes and helicopter gunships dropped bombs north of Homs, 100 miles north of the capital of Damascus, marking the first combat use of Russian air power in the conflict.
According to news reports, Russia has also made diplomatic headway in the region, signing an intelligence-sharing pact with Syria, Iran, and Iraq. Presumably, many pundits assert, these moves are to defend Moscow’s key naval port in Tartus by keeping Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in power. Others have a more cynical take on the Kremlin’s moves, however, claiming that Russia is looking to undermine U.S. leadership in the war on ISIS and become the new dominant power player in the Middle East. Russian President Vladimir Putin alluded to as much during a speech Monday before the U.N. General Assembly, in which he took direct aim at U.S. policy in the Middle East and North Africa:Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster.Challenging U.S. calls for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to step down, Putin added, “We think it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces, who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face.”
“We would like to see a transition in which Assad disappears from the scene,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter testified before the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee on June 17, reflecting the longstanding U.S. position on Assad’s fate.
The U.S. and Russia are at loggerheads in Syria. Consequently, my time on the battlefields of eastern Ukraine became a lot more relevant to the U.S. troops I visited in the region.
While I was in Iraq, I briefed a group of Air Force pararescuemen and combat rescue officers on the Ukraine war. I showed them a video of some combat footage I had shot from the trenches and bombed out neighborhoods, including artillery and tank attacks and lots of small arms gunfights. I felt funny at first, almost embarrassed, explaining my combat experiences to a group of battle-hardened elite troops. But they had a lot of questions. The war in Ukraine, after all, is a different kind of war from the one they have been fighting. And now that Russia has thrown its hat in the Syrian ring, my experiences in Ukraine were more than just a curiosity—they were useful.
A kindergarten destroyed by artillery outside Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine. (Photo: Nolan Peterson)
The wars in Ukraine and Syria are connected. I told the pararescuers there was a good chance that Russian troops and the combat tactics they used in eastern Ukraine would appear in Syria before long, and that some pro-Ukraine fighters might follow their Russian foes to this new battlefield.
In Ukraine, there are Chechen fighters on the front lines among the volunteer battalions who have fought in Syria against Assad but ultimately decided to fight in Ukraine because they’d “rather kill Russians.” Well, now they can fight Russia in Syria, too.
There are reports that Arseny Pavlov, a prominent combined Russian-separatist commander from the Ukraine war known by the nom de guerre “Motorola,” is in Syria. In an interview with the Georgian Journal, Pavlov said he was a soldier in the Russian army in the Chechen War in the 1990s.
Maybe Pavlov is in Syria on vacation, just like all those Russian troops caught fighting in eastern Ukraine, according to the Kremlin. Or maybe he’s part of Russian military pivot to Syria.
Some consider the Cold War history. Some say it never ended; only the names have changed.
After my trip to Iraq, I traveled to Scotland to give a couple speeches about Ukraine to the Ukrainian Club of Edinburgh. While I was there, I met several Ukrainian veterans from World War II. They had been conscripted to join the Germans and fought against the Red Army in the war. Under Soviet artillery and aerial bombardment, their unit was overrun and annihilated at the battle of Brody in western Ukraine in 1944. They told me stories about brutal hand-to-hand fighting against the Soviets. One explained how he killed Russians with a bayonet.
The few scattered survivors fled west, eventually crossing the Alps at the end of the war to surrender to British and American troops. After a few years in a POW camp in Italy, they were transferred to camps in Scotland, where they eventually settled, learned English, married, and built new lives. For some, adjusting to life after the war was a struggle. They had their demons to deal with from the war, and they were immigrants, exiled from their homeland. They couldn’t return to Ukraine, knowing that re-entering the Soviet Union would mean almost certain imprisonment in a gulag or summary execution at the hands of the KGB.
“I would get in fights a lot,” said Oleksa Demianczuk, a solidly built, energetic 91-year-old with bushy sideburns and a knack for owning a conversation.
“It was hard to turn off the war,” he said. “And it’s a miracle I stayed out of jail.”
Demianczuk speaks perfect English in a Scottish accent, although he breaks into Ukrainian sometimes accidentally, for which apologizes and which he blames on getting old. Late one night at the Ukrainian club after one of my speeches, Demianczuk took the hand of his wife, Krystyna, and danced; he twirled her around long after the rest of us were seated and yawning.
“In spite of everything, life is a very good thing,” he told me.
Now in their 90s, the few surviving Ukrainian veterans have made return trips to post-Soviet Ukraine to visit their long abandoned hometowns and whatever friends and family survived the war and a half-century of Soviet rule.
I asked Demianczuk what he thought about the current conflict.
“Russia has always been our enemy,” he said. “If I was 10 years younger, I’d go back and fight.”
After Edinburgh, I traveled to London. I had a conversation with an old friend one evening at a pub. She told me the United States is more respected now among its European allies due to a renewed emphasis on diplomacy and soft power. That sounds nice, I thought as I sipped a pint of IPA. I was happy to hear my country is once again en vogue across the pond and that my American accent doesn’t earn me quite as many eye rolls. But, I began to wonder, what price have we paid to be cool again?
I opined to my British friend that the world is a more dangerous place now than it has ever been in my lifetime (I’m 33). I pointed out that state-on-state warfare in Europe is not just a possibility; it’s already happening. Even if it feels like a secret.
But what’s scariest for me, I added, is a “Franz Ferdinand” scenario—that unanticipated event no think-tank expert or political pundit can anticipate, which pulls the bottom out of the shaky house of cards upon which the fate of world peace now rests.
What if, I wondered aloud, Putin overreaches and launches covert operations in Estonia or any other NATO country, as he did in Ukraine? That means Article V if he does. And that means war between Russia and NATO.
“If NATO sees foreign forces infiltrating its sovereign territory, and if we can prove it comes from an aggressor nation—then that’s Article V,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme allied commander in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt in August 2014.
“That means a military response to the actions of the aggressor,” he added.
Or maybe the U.S. shoots down a Russian warplane over Syria or accidentally bombs Russian or Iranian troops there. Maybe a Russian surface-to-air missile in Syria shoots down a U.S., Turkish, or French jet. Maybe a NATO or Russian military exercise in Eastern Europe is misperceived as an actual attack.
What if a Ukrainian soldier back from the hell of the front lines in the Donbas takes a potshot at Putin? What if a Russian warplane flying with its transponder off over the English Channel or the Baltic Sea collides with a civilian airliner? (According to U.S. Northern Command, Russian heavy bombers flew more out-of-area patrols in 2014 than in any year since the Cold War.)
The “what if” and “maybe” game can go on forever. The bigger point is this: There is diminishing wiggle room in international affairs to absorb one of these unanticipated crises without it leading to a war. And with Russian warplanes now bombing targets in Syria and calling on the U.S. to ground its flights there, that “Franz Ferdinand” scenario just got a little more likely.
Tensions are increasing to the point that when they are released, it will be with a tectonic shift and not a tepid pop. And despite whatever warm feelings America has rekindled in Europe, “leading from behind” isn’t working.
I’ve been to enough trenches, dodged enough bullets and artillery shells, and seen enough dead soldiers to tell you that — because sometimes just showing isn’t enough.
--------------- Nolan Peterson, (@nolanwpeterson) a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal’s foreign correspondent based in Ukraine. Tags:wars, Ukraine, Syria, connected, Nolan PetersonTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Senator John Barrasso Delivers Weekly Republican Address - The Obama EPA's Costly And Burdensome Regulations
The costs of these regulations are real. They are significant to our economy, to good-paying jobs, and to the ability of Americans to live freely. That’s why Republicans are fighting so hard.” ~ Sen. John Barrasso
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the Weekly Republican Address, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming says the Obama Administration is saddling the nation with thousands of costly and burdensome regulations that are driven more by ideology than practicality. In the past six years, the administration has issued more than 2,500 new regulations that are expected to cost the American economy a staggering $680 billion. “You might ask, what do Americans get for all this time and money? One of EPA’s rules on power plants would cost as much as $2,400 for every $1 in direct benefits. This imbalance is a big reason why Americans’ wages have been stagnant since President Obama took office,” says Barrasso. Video and transcript below:
Sen, John Barrasso (R-WY)
Full transcript of the address follows:
“Hi. I’m Dr. John Barrasso, United States Senator for Wyoming.
“Let me tell you a story about a family in my home state.
“Andy Johnson is 32, he works as a welder. He and his wife Katie have four kids and they live out in the country. They have a few cows and some horses.
“Two years ago, the Johnsons wanted to build a small pond in their front yard.
“They got their plan approved by the state, and used the pond to provide water for their animals.
“They thought it was a beautiful addition to the dry landscape.
“The pond attracts birds and other animals that make our state a special place to live.
“Everything was fine until the Johnsons got a visit from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
“Even though the state of Wyoming had approved the pond, the federal government had not.
“The Johnsons now face fines of more than $37,000 every day, until they remove the pond.
“This is what’s happened to government in America. It’s gotten so aggressive, so inflexible, and so unyielding – and seemingly for so little purpose.
“And it’s going to get worse.
“The Obama administration is seizing new authority to control what it calls Waters of the United States.
“This includes things like irrigation ditches, isolated ponds – even low points in the landscape where water might collect after a heavy rain.
“The consequences of this new federal authority will be severe.
“Local land-use decisions will now be driven by Washington bureaucrats.
“And this new water rule is just one of the thousands of regulations that Washington is churning out.
In the final 15 months of the Obama administration, Washington bureaucrats are working overtime, to finalize new rules on everything from prairie puddles to power plants.
“Just this week, the White House released a new ozone rule that will increase electricity costs and decrease reliability.
“In this administration’s race to control more of what Americans do every day, it has lost all perspective.
The rules are based on ideology, rather than practicality.
“The result is an explosion of expensive regulations and new federal requirements on hardworking families.
“Washington’s assault on Andy Johnson in Wyoming could soon be repeated all across the country.
“The Obama administration has issued more than 2,500 new regulations in the past six years.
“Complying with these regulations is expected to cost our economy a staggering $680 billion.
“People will be forced to spend millions of hours filling out the paperwork.
“You might ask, what do Americans get for all this time and money?
“One of EPA’s rules on power plants would cost as much as $2,400 for every $1 in direct benefits.
“This imbalance is a big reason why Americans’ wages have been stagnant since President Obama took office.
“The costs of these regulations are real.
“They are significant to our economy, to good-paying jobs, and to the ability of Americans to live freely.
“That’s why Republicans are fighting so hard.
“The White House’s cynical response is that only polluters would oppose these new environmental rules. I’m fortunate to live in Wyoming, one of the most beautiful, pristine places in the world.
“We protect fiercely our open spaces, our clean air, and water.
“At the same time, the entire country benefits from our responsible and reliable production of American energy.
“We’ve proven you can have both.
“The Obama administration long ago left this reasonable objective in the dust.
“What the administration won’t tell you is that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress oppose many of these regulations – including the new rules on Waters of the United States.
“Senators Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Manchin – all Democrats – joined us to change these water regulations.
“Yet commonsense changes to all this rulemaking are being blocked by the president and the liberal Democrat leaders in the Congress.
“Even the courts have dealt the Obama administration serious setbacks to its regulatory rampage.
“But by the time the courts finally act, the damage is already done – those jobs are gone, and communities suffer.
“The head of the EPA bragged that it didn’t matter if the Obama administration lost in court – because the rules had already been in effect for three years.
“Meanwhile, the fines against Andy Johnson continue to pile up, and could exceed $16 million.
“His family cannot afford to fight anymore.
“Just like the Johnsons in Wyoming, the American people can’t afford the overreach and the near-constant onslaught of new Washington regulations.
“This fall, Republicans will put legislation on the president’s desk to rein in runaway regulations. He will have to choose between big government and hardworking Americans.
“We’ve already made our choice.
“Thanks for listening.” Tags:U.S Senator, John Barrasso, Weekly Republican Address, President Obama, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, costly, burdensome < /b>To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): “‘They issued press releases praising the bill, but they seem prepared to block the Senate from even debating this bill, too,’ he said. ‘It's all part of some half-baked Democratic scheme to get more money for the IRS and the Washington bureaucracies.’” (“Senate Democrats Block VA Funding Bill,” The Hill, 10/1/15)
'307,000 Veterans May Have Died Awaiting Veterans Affairs Health Care,' VA Bill Will ‘Decrease The Claims Backlog’
“Hundreds of thousands of veterans listed in the Department of Veterans Affairs enrollment system died before their applications for care were processed, according to a report issued Wednesday. The VA's inspector general found that out of about 800,000 records stalled in the agency's system for managing health care enrollment, there were more than 307,000 records that belonged to veterans who had died months or years in the past.” (“307,000 Veterans May Have Died Awaiting Veterans Affairs Health Care, Report Says,” CNN, 9/3/15)
“This [Military Construction-Veterans Affairs] bill builds on Chairman Kirk’s work over the last years to decrease the claims backlog, and to that end his bill funds $290 million for the paperless claims processing system, $141 million for digital scanning of health records, and $26 million for centralized mail. To prompt greater national and regional progress in reducing VA claims backlogs, the bill also maintains strict reporting requirements for claim processing.” (Sen. Kirk, Press Release, 5/21/15)
“The VA appropriations bill, which also includes military construction funds, would have provided a 3 percent budget increase for the new fiscal year. It’s another spending boost for the department, which has seen its total budget nearly triple since the late 1990s.” (“Senate Democrats Block VA Budget Bill,” Military Times, 10/1/15)
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): “Yesterday, provisions supporting New Hampshire veterans … were included in the Senate Appropriations Committee bill for FY 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies. ... ‘We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who have served our country and that includes making sure they have access to the services they need,’ Shaheen said.” (Sen. Shaheen, Press Release, 5/22/15)
LAST WEEK: ‘Democrats … Blocked A Spending Bill For The Pentagon For A Second Time’
“Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a spending bill for the Pentagon for a second time… Senators voted 54-42 on a procedural vote on taking up the fiscal year 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill. Sixty votes were needed to move forward. The vote comes after Democrats first blocked the spending bill in June.” (“Senate Democrats Block Defense Spending Bill,” The Hill, 9/22/15)
Congress Has Shown Bi-Partisan Support For A Long-Term Defense Program, Which President Obama Has Vowed To Veto
President Obama Says Our Military Needs ‘Long-Term Planning,’ Contradicts His Veto Threat
PRESIDENT OBAMA:“Part of what makes us a leader is when we govern effectively, and we keep our own house in order. And we pass budgets. And we can engage in long-term planning… And we can't just keep on kicking down the road without solving any problems or doing any long-term planning for the future. That's true for our military.”(President Obama, Press Conference, 10/2/15)
“New threats have emerged. New opportunities have appeared. We can't fund our country the way we did ten years ago because we have greater demands. With an aging population, with kids who need schools, with roads that need to be fixed, with a military on which we are placing extraordinary demands.” (President Obama, Press Conference, 10/2/15)
Yet, President Obama Wants To Veto Exactly That ‘Long-Term Planning’
“The House passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act Thursday, setting up a veto showdown with the Obama administration… President Obama has issued a veto threat against the bill, which senior administration officials warn he will follow through on. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Wednesday he has already recommended that the president veto it.” (“House Passes Defense Authorization, Setting Up Veto Showdown,” The Hill, 10/1/15)
Q: “On the Hill yesterday, lawmakers reached a compromise on the annual defense authorization bill. And they have it so that it would use $90 billion believe from special war funds to avoid sequestration. Would the White House oppose this bill on the grounds that it would end sequestration for defense but not other programs?” JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: “…if the President got this bill he’d veto.”(White House Press Briefing, 9/30/15)
Strong Bipartisan Support For 2016 Defense Authorization Bill
Tags:President Obama, Defense Veto threat, editorial cartoon, Joe HellerTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Nothing Fails like the Success of Private Enterprise and Freedom
Cropped image by Dick Vos via Flickr
by Dwight R. Lee: The current obesity “crisis” represents a significant triumph for private enterprise and freedom. For the first time in human history, people in most of the world are more worried about the risks of gaining weight than about the risks of starving. But this triumph is being discussed as a crisis which demands government to take action, and that action invariably involves more government restrictions over private enterprise and our freedoms. Unfortunately, the obesity “crisis” is but one of many examples of the successes of our economic system—a system based primarily on private property and voluntary exchange—being treated as failures. Such “failures” are then used to justify government actions that reduce both our prosperity and our freedom.
This is not to suggest that obesity and other concerns that arise in market economies are never problems, but when they are, they are the problems of increasing prosperity that inevitably result from overcoming the far worse problems of poverty. Without recognizing this, we face the risk of solving the former problems by reducing our ability to solve the latter. I first consider the obesity “crisis” in some detail and then discuss other examples of the successes of private enterprise and freedom being presented as failures.
Overcoming Starvation Becomes a Problem
Until well into the twentieth century, being overweight was a sign of affluence and good health. Starvation may have never been a serious concern in the United States, but until the recent move toward private markets in China and India lifted hundreds of millions out of wretched poverty, starvation was a genuine threat for much of Asia’s population. And the threat of starvation in the poorest countries of the world, though often serious, is less than it would be without the transfers of food to these countries from those societies that rely primarily on private enterprise.
Even in the United States, getting sufficient calories, not to mention a balanced diet, was a struggle over much of our history. This struggle is reflected in the research of Robert Fogel and his associates, who have examined the height, weight, and longevity of surviving Union soldiers from the Civil War. Young American men in the early 1860s were shorter, lighter, had more illnesses, and lived much shorter lives than their counterparts in the Baby Boom generation. Poor nutrition, particularly during infancy and childhood, is seen as a contributing factor. As late as the twentieth century, a beached whale would have attracted a crowd on American shores, but a crowd with long knives more anxious to get more fat in their diets (a real problem for many) than with getting the whale back into its natural habitat. Long hours of hard physical work, both outside and inside the home, ensured that few of the working class were overweight. As late at the 1940s, the claim that the poor would soon be more likely to be overweight than the rich would have been considered preposterous. Yet this is exactly what has happened.
Ironically, one reason for the problem of obesity is that most agricultural jobs have been eliminated in response to market incentives. Private-sector entrepreneurs and firms have found profit in developing ways to grow more food at less cost by substituting capital and chemicals for farm labor. The result is more food grown on less land by fewer workers. Tens of millions of agricultural workers have been released to innovate new products, improve old products, and expand the production of both in jobs that are far more interesting, safe, and productive than the ones they replaced. Increasing agricultural productivity, along with the general increase in wealth, clearly allowed people to purchase more calories in fresher, more nutritious, and tastier foods for steadily decreasing amounts of labor.
Given that people evolved to avoid starvation, not obesity, it is difficult for many of us to avoid gaining weight when surrounded by an abundance of convenient, low-cost, and tasty food. Our natural response when food is available is to store as many calories in our fat cells as possible to sustain us until the next successful hunt. Of course, the next successful “hunt” almost always occurs three times a day, not to mention those trips to a vending machine. Couple this with the sedentary jobs that economic progress has allowed us to substitute for physically demanding ones, and it is hardly surprising that a large percentage of the population has become overweight or obese.
Until quite recently, being significantly overweight was considered a personal problem, if a problem at all. An overweight adult was assumed competent to evaluate the personal costs and benefits of eating more than was consistent with his recommended weight, and he could alter (or not alter) caloric intake accordingly. I remember a talk in the 1970s at the University of Colorado by Israel Kirzner in which he pointed out that the market is often criticized for giving people what they want. Kirzner defended the market against this criticism by saying it is analogous to blaming the waiter for obesity. I was impressed at the time with how effective this argument was. I fear it would be less effective today.
Increasingly it is not those who are overweight who are seen as responsible for their condition. They are more likely to be considered the victims of “waiters” in the form of those who are responding to consumer demand by making more and tastier food conveniently available at ever-lower real prices. Instead of seeing this as a significant victory in the battle against poverty and hunger, we hear from trial lawyers, health officials, and other politically influential activists that it is a national crisis requiring immediate government action.
The success of market incentives and freedom in effectively eliminating the threat of starvation has, in the minds of the public, been converted into a failure that is being used to justify further undermining the power of markets and freedom to continue replacing the problems of poverty with the problems of prosperity.
--------------- Dwight R. Lee is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and the William J. O’Neil Endowed Chair Global Markets and Freedom and Scholar in Residence at Southern Methodist University. This excerpt comes from his full article published in the Spring 2009 print issue of the Intercollegiate Review. H/T Intercollegiate Review (IR) who shared this article with the ARRA News Service editor. IR is published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI). Tags:Dwight R. Lee, Nothing Fails, Success of Private Enterprise and Freedom, Intercollegiate Review, Intercollegiate, Studies InstituteTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Paul Jacob, Contributing Author: We live in a time when intelligent people expend vital brain power concocting explanations for war that weigh drought as a more significant cause than . . . previous tyranny and warfare.
Yes, the President’s friends and acolytes defend the notion, in all seriousness, that it is unregulated capitalism leading to global warming and Levantine droughts that made Syrians all unruly. This explains everything!
Just blame Islamic State violence on the weather and not on . . . the murderous dictator willing to kill masses of his own people, the intoxicating ideology of jihad, and (definitely not!) on Barack Obama’s Mideast policies.
I emphasized the Syrian dictator’s acts last Sunday. But surely American foreign policy — going back to Bush, at least — destabilized the region, and constitutes a major cause of the violence.
A far greater cause than our car-driving addiction! And coal!
And flatulent cows . . .
Blame shifting is not just a foreign policy vice, though. My Townhall column began not with the nascent Caliphate’s droughts, but California’s. And there’s more than just a few syllables of pronunciation similarity. People are assigning the wrong causes in both regions.
When California’s government-run water system subsidizes almond growing in a near desert, of course there is going to be waste. And yet politicians focus on home water use, scolding folks for taking long showers.
Yet, who sets the price of the water homeowners buy? Who, then, is responsible for the incentives to which consumers react?
The State of California. Suffering no drought of disastrous dictates by politicians in over their heads.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
------------------ Paul Jacobs is author of Common Sense which provides daily commentary about the issues impacting America and about the citizens who are doing something about them. He is also President of the Liberty Initiative Fund (LIFe) as well as Citizens in Charge Foundation. Jacobs is a contributing author on the ARRA News Service. Tags:Paul Jacob, Common Sense, drought, tyranny, warfare, price of water, Islamic State, Syria To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Newt Gingrich: Hardline conservative House members finally made life sufficiently unpleasant for Speaker John Boehner that retirement was a practical alternative.
When Pope Francis spoke to the joint meeting of Congress, Speaker Boehner, a devout Catholic, knew he had been through the best day he would ever have as speaker. That night, he says he considered announcing his retirement. As a cautious, thoughtful leader, he slept on the idea, prayed, and decided he was right.
The hard-line activists, talk radio hosts, and bloggers were ecstatic. Boehner would be gone. The price for not successfully defeating Obama would be paid.
Then a funny thing happened.
It now appears that the next speaker will be Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy — the Majority Leader and second to Boehner in the current leadership structure. This is unlikely to be the revolutionary shift the hard-right craved.
It quickly became obvious that the angry, noisy members who had constantly attacked and undermined Speaker Boehner simply lacked the numbers to compete in the conference. They had the noise but they did not have the votes.
I have watched this pattern over and over for the last five years, beginning with the remarkable sweep Boehner led in 2010 to take back the House. His constant focus that year on the question “Where are the jobs?” was a unifying theme on an issue the American people cared about. It worked and the GOP won back the majority in the House.
Boehner’s 2010 achievement was all the more remarkable because the Democrats had only been in control for four years.
Think of the contrast! The Democrats had been in charge of the House for 40 years, 1954-1994. Then the Republicans took over for 12 years before losing control. Now with Boehner’s leadership, that Democratic interlude was cut short at 4 years and Republicans have been in control for at least another six.
Boehner led House Republicans to three consecutive victories and increased the number of House Republicans to the largest Republican majority since 1928.
In the process, he helped elect a number of conservative, change-oriented members who were dissatisfied with the failure to defeat Obamaism.
As the country grew more hostile to Washington — 75% believe there is widespread corruption in government; the average American believes 51% of federal spending is waste; 62% of Republican voters are unhappy with their congressional leaders; and only 2% are very satisfied — that hostility was transferred to Boehner and McConnell.
Now Speaker Boehner has announced his retirement. But the new speaker will not be one of the fire-breathing activists who have made a career of attacking Speaker Boehner.
The result will be the promotion of Boehner’s senior lieutenant.
There are profound reasons why legislative bodies tend to evolve rather than leap to radical change.
There are 247 House Republicans.
Boehner and McCarthy have helped virtually all of them personally.
In many cases they have been in their districts raising money.
In most cases they have done press events with them on issues that matter in their district.
In many cases they have helped them pass legislation.
It is very striking that the noisiest and angriest of the “anti-leadership” group give very little money to the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (which is charged with protecting and growing the House majority), that they campaign in virtually no districts for colleagues, and that they simply don’t do the hard work it takes to build the party.
Press releases and harsh interviews are not a substitute for years of team-building, recruiting, fundraising, and nurturing.
In a legislative body, the person who reaches out to help the most people has an enormous advantage.
Kevin McCarthy will now benefit from that fact.
If the activists really want to change the House Republican Conference, they must learn the historic principles of gathering votes, recruiting candidates, helping incumbents, and doing all of the mundane things that are at the heart of winning and keeping majorities. Until then, they will be noisy but ineffective.
---------------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions. Tags:Newt Gingrich, U.S. House, leadership, The Speaker, John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
In The Hole: Report Finds States Hiding $1.3 Trillion In Debt
by Andrew Collins: Much is made of the federal government’s debt, but what about debt at the state level? It may not have reached such eye-poppingly high figures, but it’s still a matter of concern. In its sixth annual Financial State of the States report, the nonpartisan accounting group Truth in Accounting (TIA) took a full account of government assets and liabilities. It found that even though many states claim to have balanced budgets, state governments have in fact accumulated a combined debt of $1.3 trillion.
“As a CPA looking at government finances, I found they were not being truthful and transparent about their financial condition,” Sheila Weinberg, founder of TIA, told Watchdog.org. “For years, citizens have been told that their home state budgets have been balanced. If that were true, state debt would be zero and Taxpayer Burden would simply not exist.”
She argues the generally accepted accounting standards the government uses are flawed for two reasons. First, she suggests that Government Accounting Standards Board that controls how the standards are set is not as independent as it sounds. Second, she notes that the government always has the power to tax, which reduces the incentive for sound fiscal policy – because if and when it comes up against a wall, it can always tax its way out.
Watchdog reporters covered the report and looked at the ramifications for their states. Here’s a state-by-state snapshot of what they found:
Seeing red in the Green Mountain State Vermont’s $3.2 billion in debt may not seem huge compared to many of its counterparts, but with its relatively small population, Vermont’s budget shortfall works out to $14,300 for every taxpayer.
“The most common budget trick involves excluding pension benefits from annual budgets, according to the report,” wrote Watchdog reporter Bruce Parker. “Financial officers keep those liabilities off their balance sheets because the expenses don’t have to be paid until state employees retire. By ignoring expenses incurred in the present but paid in the future, states can claim to be balancing their budgets. In reality, the costs are being shifted to future taxpayers.”
These accounting tricks mean states like Vermont are in for a rude awakening next year. Weinberg said 2015 will be the last year they are used nationally, as standards have changed. Next year, states will have to add their pension liabilities to their balance sheets, and in 2017, retiree health care liabilities will also be added to state balance sheets.
A fuzzy picture In Mississippi, Watchdog reporter Steve Wilson found that his state’s taxpayers weren’t getting the entire picture of Mississippi’s financial health. The law requires the state legislature to send the governor a balanced budget, so in order to eke out more spending, the proposed budget uses certain accounting principles to show only $139 million of the pension fund’s liability.
In reality, however, the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, the state’s defined benefit pension plan for most state, county and municipal employees, has $4.6 billion in liabilities.
More trouble in the Northeast
Ranking just below Vermont and well below Mississippi in debt-per-taxpayer is Pennsylvania. The state neglected to list $53 billion on its balance sheets, ranking third among the 10 Northeast states in hidden debt. In total, the Keystone State’s debt works out to $15,600 per taxpayer, the 11th highest in the nation.
Watchdog reporter Andrew Staub explains how spending can get out of control but still remain largely hidden: “Much of that debt can be traced to retirement benefits, which represent more than 50 percent of state bills. The unfunded liabilities have accumulated, as the state promised billions of dollars in benefits to retirees without adequately funding them, according to Truth in Accounting.”
The New York exodus
New York State was another hefty spender with $77 billion in unfunded liabilities for an average of $20,700 per taxpayer – second highest in the Northeast. Watchdog Arena writer Nicholas Fondacaro noted that each taxpayer’s share could grow even larger if New York’s exodus of workers continues.
Not so sunny in Sacramento
When California Governor Jerry Brown released his spending proposal last June, the Los Angeles Times wrote that California’s budget was “flush with cash.” The state claimed it had cut spending by $6.6 billion from 2013 to 2014, but due to obfuscating by the aforementioned accounting methods, TIA found that California’s hidden debt actually amounts to $111 billion.
From bad to worst
At the bottom of the pack is New Jersey, which TIA ranks as the worst spender with $160 billion in debt, or $52,300 per taxpayer. Upon further investigation by New Jersey Watchdog, however, reporter Mark Lagerkvist noted that the report actually understates the debt, and the proper figure is actually $10 billion higher. The discrepancy stemmed from a new valuation in State Treasury records that found New Jersey’s responsibility for unfunded retiree and employee health benefits has increased to $65 billion.
Local governments in New Jersey have troubles of their own. “The $170 billion hole does not include the debts of New Jersey’s local government units, which face a collective shortfall of $50 billion for pensions and health benefits,” wrote Lagerkvist. “Nor does it encompass the bond debts and other liabilities of the state’s 21 counties, 565 municipalities and 610 school districts.”
Not all doom and gloom
Though the overall picture is bleak, the debt situation isn’t quite as troubling in some states. Nebraska’s financials, for example, are actually in decent shape. The state has $5 billion in liquid assets and $3 billion in bills, for a “surplus” of $2 billion — or $2,800 per taxpayer. Even though Nebraska’s pension funds are mostly funded, the report found that it still hides some debt, but it’s in a much more manageable position than any of the aforementioned states.
Is there any hope?
Even though 49 out of 50 states have balanced budget requirements (Vermont being the exception), TIA identifies 39 states that have dug “financial holes” for themselves, while only a handful currently run true budget surpluses. The first step in reforms of any kind is transparency, which TIA and Watchdog.org have focused on providing in our coverage of state debt. Government has proven more responsive to the electorate and much more capable of reform at the state level, so there’s still an opportunity for many of these states to turn their financial situations around.
----------------- Andrew Collins (@ACwords) when not writing an article, spearheads Franklin Center’s social media campaigns, promoting journalism through Franklin Center, Watchdog.org, and Watchdog Wire-branded accounts on various social media platforms. Previously, Andrew worked in campaign communications and television news. Tags:States, in the hole, hidding debt, Andrew Collins, Franklin CenterTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Next up, the Democrats’ first presidential debate on October 13th. The fireworks have started.
The Democrats’ debate process is proving controversial. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schulz recently, according to therightscoop.com and given national prominence courtesy of the Drudge Report, repeatedly was heckled by an auditorium packed full of Progressives demanding more debates:
While the press has been completely obsessed by el Trumpo so that they can damage and dismantle the Republican party, they have tried their best to ignore the growing mutiny in the Democrat party.
But it burst into their faces Saturday morning when the Democrat National Committee chair … was HECKLED by an entire crowd demanding more debates among the leftist presidential candidates!The DNC, controversially, has limited the number of debates. The Democrats are allowing for only six debates in the 2016 cycle. Both Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. Martin O’Malley have expressed their displeasure, with a campaign spokesman for O’Malley calling this out as facilitating a Hillary “coronation.”
Now comes yet another controversy. Perhaps it will be a doozy.
Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig recently announced, after crowdsourcing over $1 million, his own unconventional presidential campaign. Lessig is proposing to run exclusively on national electoral reforms, predominantly the public financing of Congressional elections.
Lessig passionately considers the current Congressional campaign financing system the fountainhead of all political dysfunction. He calls it corruption, not quite in a moral but rather in an operational sense, and has offered himself as a single-issue candidate who will resign the presidency in favor of his vice president promptly upon the enactment of his proposed reforms.
I am not persuaded of Lessig’s hypothesis. I am on record stating that there is too little money, big or otherwise, in politics. Furthermore I believe most of that big money is sterilized in the process of being absorbed by high-priced consultants and much of the rest of it wasted. That said, he has a legitimate point.
I have described Lessig as the “greatest radical at work in America today.” His hypothesis deserves the national referendum into which he has forged his candidacy.
In my column above referenced, reviewing Lessig’s book The USA is Lesterland, I summarized the essence of Lessig’s crusade this way:
What if candidates had to gain the support of many, preferably a majority, of the 150,000 Lesters [who live in America] … before the rest of us got to vote? That would give “the Lesters” disproportionate influence on elections.
Lessig then notes that candidates do have to raise enough money, to run, from 150,000 self-selected campaign contributors. Lessig does not present this as an attack on the rich or on capitalism. It is an attack on a campaign financing system that gives disproportionate influence to around a quarter of one percent of the electorate (themselves a minute fraction of “the rich,” few of whom make political contributions).
Lessig’s demand for a system that creates, as a non-coercive option, without muzzling big donors, a bigger presence for rank-and-file voters is consistent with arguments that this right-wing columnist elsewhere has made about the crucial vitality of citizen engagement. Since about twice as many Americans consistently describe ourselves as conservative than we do liberal it is slightly indecipherable that so many conservatives are diffident about Lessig’s proposition.
Restoring “consent of the governed” is not about Right versus Left. It is about setting up a system to restore control of Congress to us outsiders, the people, over the insiders, the special interests, by creating an incentive for us to contribute and an incentive for candidates to take our contributions in preference to those of the special interests. And most Congressional campaign donors are special interests — if only because they are victims of a Congressional extortion racket.I am impressed by Lessig’s integrity as evidenced, in part, by his refusal to endorse the overturning of Citizens United. This is a courageous stand for a man of the left to take. And, full disclosure, a year or so ago I suggested to Lessig, a friend, that he consider entering the presidential contest (clearly an immaterial factor in his decision).
Now, according to the DNC’s debate rules, Lessig is likely to be excluded from the first presidential debate. As reported by The Guardian:
To qualify for the debate Democratic candidates must earn at least 1% in three national polls in the six weeks before the debate. But Lessig, a political neophyte running a single-issue campaign based on campaign finance reform, said he can’t possibly compete if he is not being counted.
“There’s a catch-22 to the process,” Lessig said, adding: “It’s only fair to apply that standard if it’s actually being tested.”There are two wild cards in this deck. One or both just might come to the fore to un-rig this game and land Lessig a spot.
The first wild card: Progressives passionately believe in public financing of Congressional elections. Hillary Clinton has propounded a plan for that, one enthusiastically endorsed by the Washington Post. Bernie Sanders endorses public financing. Lessig, however, is the gold standard of public financing, the one by which all others ought to be measured. It would be gracious, and not out of character, for Sens. Clinton or Sanders to apply suasion, publicly or privately, on the DNC to include him. Perhaps one or both will do so. Could tip the balance.
The second wild card: Will MoveOn push for including Lessig? MoveOn is a Progressive leviathan. As I elsewhere, in 2008, wrote MoveOn was a critical factor in securing the nomination of Barack Obama:
MoveOn started as a vehicle to oppose the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. As that issue faded, MoveOn was revived by a merger with an email list of 500,000 created by Pariser in opposition to a militant response to 9/11, which proved a durable unifying and motivating issue as the war in Iraq became increasingly unpopular.
Boyd and Pariser [author's note, and MoveOn co-founder Joan Blades] sensed their online community’s enthusiasm for a progressive candidate, so they provided Obama with exposure and channels to the liberal base of the Democratic Party. MoveOn’s 4 million members are an electoral asterisk, but they became an extraordinarily potent force in the political culture.MoveOn, earlier this year, activated to encourage the candidacy of Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Not so incidentally MoveOn chose none other than Lessig as a prime spokesperson to encourage the Warren candidacy, sending out, presumably, tens of millions of emails with his message. In one of these Lessig wrote:There’s always been one thing, and one thing only, that could convince her to take on a challenge. Not money. Not power. Just one thing: the realization that her jumping into the fray was necessary to make a difference.
This is one of those moments. And the more of us that raise our hands and say we’re ready to fight by her side, the more clear it will become to her that she has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to fight the central battles of our nation. Not alone. With a movement.MoveOn reportedly now has grown to 8 million members. It is a huge civic force, potentially, especially on the Democratic party.
Pariser, Boyd and Blades have retired from executive status with MoveOn. Anna Galland now serves as executive director of MoveOn Civic Action. Well?
There are defining moments in the life of every organization. If MoveOn’s members really believe that public financing is as crucial as claimed let it now rise to the occasion and demand that Lessig be given a lectern.
This is one of those moments. If MoveOn moves in the odds go way up that the DNC will ListenUp and give Larry Lessig a place among the contenders in the first Democratic presidential debate.
Will MoveOn move in?
----------------- Ralph Benko is senior advisor, economics, to American Principles in Action’s Gold Standard 2012 Initiative, and a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Founder of The Prosperity Caucus, he was a member of the Jack Kemp supply-side team, served in an unrelated area as a deputy general counsel in the Reagan White House. The article which first appeared in Forbes was submitted for reprint by the author. Tags:Ralph Benko, Democrats, democrat debate, democrats, Larry LessigTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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