Friday, October 30, 2009

Health bill: 42 studies, 214 mentions of taxes

House Democrats' health care bill runs to 1,990 pages, costs $1.06 trillion, covers 96 percent of eligible Americans and demands the production of 42 studies on everything from whether post-partum screening should be required to using student loan programs to help recruit doctors. The studies could be a blueprint for action by future congresses. They include looking at geographic disparities in Medicare, whether more services need to be provided for those who don't speak English and the undercapitalization of nursing homes. But studies are just part of the extensive reach of the measure, which Democrats introduced Thursday. The word "report" appears 364 times and "tax" is used 214 times -- and while some of those refer to bookkeeping such as tax years, the bill does raise several key levies, such as a "surcharge" of 5.4 percent on individual taxpayers who earn $500,000 or couples with incomes of $1 million. Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said the bill uses the word "shall" 3,425 times, which he said was an indication that a lot of new mandates are being more

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Dismantling Of America

Just one year ago, would you have believed that an unelected government official, not even a Cabinet member confirmed by the Senate but simply one of the many "czars" appointed by the President, could arbitrarily cut the pay of executives in private businesses by 50 percent or 90 percent? Did you think that another "czar" would be talking about restricting talk radio? That there would be plans afloat to subsidize newspapers — that is, to create a situation where some newspapers' survival would depend on the government liking what they publish? Did you imagine that anyone would even be talking about having a panel of so-called "experts" deciding who could and could not get life-saving medical treatments? Scary as that is from a medical standpoint, it is also chilling from the standpoint of freedom. If you have a mother who needs a heart operation or a child with some dire medical condition, how free would you feel to speak out against an administration that has the power to make life and death decisions about your loved ones? Does any of this sound like America? more

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time for the Tea Party to become Tangible

Like many Americans, I have been encouraged by the average citizens who have taken private time and resources to take a stand for the good ole United States of America, the US Constitution and the founding principles and values of freedom and liberty at Tea Parties and Town Hall meetings. But like many who have attended these events, disgusted by the overt intentional destruction of our magnificent country by DC elitists, I am deeply troubled by that fact that NOBODY in Washington is listening or reacting to the growing voice of peaceful dissent. When folks refuse to listen, sooner or later, people stop talking. Early in the Tea Party movement, I wrote about the significant difference between the Boston Tea Party and the Tea Party movement of the 21st century. Namely, that complaining and marching in the 21st century was by no means equal to tossing British Tea in the Boston Harbor and flatly refusing to pay another penny in taxes to a tyrant clearly operating at odds with the American taxpayer. At the same time however, I believed that the Tea Party movement might one day reach a point in time and power when it could and would become a tangible tool for real pro-American change. With 20-30 million Americans now fully engaged in that movement, I believe that this day has arrived and that time is of the essence in capitalizing on the power that has grown within the Tea Party and Town Hall more

NY-23 race first test of tea party power

Tea party activists from across the nation are rallying around the House special election in upstate New York, viewing it as the first electoral test of the nascent conservative movement’s political muscle. Organizers up and down the East Coast report that activists are making their way into the campaign offices of Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman, with the volunteers focusing their efforts in Oswego, Madison and Jefferson counties. While tea party organizers say the election is a unique opportunity to hold the Democratic and Republican parties to account, much of their energy is being directed against Dede Scozzafava, the GOP establishment-backed nominee whom they view as a squishy moderate who represents all that is wrong with the Republican more

Who are the Tea Partyers?

Just who are the Tea Partyers? And how far will the Republican establishment go to prevent the resurgence of Reagan conservatism? Those are the two questions which will decide whether the Republican Party can make a decisive comeback in the next year. One of the Tea Party leaders from a western state told me last week that they were real conservatives, a reflection of the base. He could not be more wrong. The Perotistas were in 1992 -- and the Tea Partyers are now -- “kitchen table issue” voters. Healthcare is one of those issues that affects families directly, and most Americans feel strongly enough about it to become politically active. Their political activity is transient, and their votes -- to the extent they are cast -- are up for grabs. The question is whether Republicans can capture their anger and turn their energy into votes? Or will the Tea Partyers stay home in 2010 as they did in 1988? As one recent poll found, most Americans believe that their healthcare system will be better if Congress does nothing rather than pass Obamacare, and believe that members of Congress don’t have a good understanding of the subject. And all the political energy expended by the Tea Partyers in August seems to have gone for naught. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to pass a healthcare bill that will be – in all relevant terms – the same as the one that was the subject of all the August more

Monday, October 26, 2009

Richardson orders freeze on capital projects

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has ordered a freeze on capital outlay projects around the state. Richardson says unless state agencies or local governments had contracts in place as of last Friday - with contractors or engineers, for example - projects will be put on hold. The freeze announced Monday will remain in place through the next legislative session, which starts in January. Richardson said lawmakers did not do enough in last week's special session to cut so-called pork spending. He said the goal of the freeze is to come up with as much as $150 million in savings. The Legislature did not cut any capital spending in the recent session. Instead, it ordered that $150 million in dormant projects be identified for possible cuts in January. AP

Job growth at 66-year low in NM

New Mexico lost 30,900 jobs from September 2008 to September 2009. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the month was 7.7 percent, reported the Department of Workforce Solutions. That’s up from a revised 7.4 percent in August and 4.4 percent one year ago. The rate of job growth from September 2008 to September 2009 was negative 3.6 percent. This was a slight improvement over August’s negative 3.8 percent growth, the lowest level the state had seen since December 1943. Job growth is at a 66-year low, while unemployment is at a 13-year high in New more

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Summary of NM legislative action

Save about $253 million this year by reducing spending on public schools, colleges and general government operations ranging from courts to prisons.

• Schools face net cutbacks of less than 1 percent in the more than $2 billion in state aid that's distributed to education through a funding formula. Lawmakers softened the blow to schools by using $45 million in federal stimulus money to replace state aid. In addition, $29 million from a school capital improvement fund will pay for property insurance costs that districts otherwise would have financed with general state aid. The legislation calls for school cuts ranging from 4 percent to 6.5 percent, but the net reductions are less because of the revenue offsets. Smaller school districts can request financial help from a $3 million emergency fund if cutbacks create difficulties for them.

• Cuts will vary by agency. Those under control of the governor will be cut 7.6 percent, although state police will be trimmed no more than 2 percent. The courts, attorney general, district attorneys and public defender are cut 2 percent. Elected officials other than the governor, such as treasurer and secretary of state, will have to cut their budgets by 4 percent.

• State money for Medicaid is cut $16 million, but that is offset by additional federal money and revenue the state receives from a national settlement with tobacco companies.

• There are 2 percent net cuts in state aid for colleges and universities to cover instructional and student services, administrative and maintenance expenses. About $13 million in federal stimulus money offsets cutbacks. Other higher education spending, including for research and athletics, is trimmed 6.5 percent.

• The governor must eliminate 102 political appointees in his administration. The impact is lessened because of vacancies. About 60 appointive jobs are vacant throughout executive branch agencies.

Federal money

• $20 million in federal economic stimulus money is allocated to the state's main budget account to pay for governmental expenses. It serves as a one-time boost in revenues. The money is from a pool of stimulus aid that went to the governor to use at his discretion.

Fund transfers

• $115 million is taken from cash balances of programs and agencies and slightly more than $1 million previously allocated for computer projects is pulled back. Of the total, about $68 million is removed from the College Affordability Fund, which provides student scholarships.

Capital outlay

• $136 million is freed up with a financing swap for more than 200 capital improvement projects. Severance tax bond proceeds will replace general state tax revenues used previously. No projects were canceled.

School flexibility

• Some school districts are allowed to temporarily use a portion of local property tax levy money for operational expenses, except worker salaries. That money has been restricted to capital improvements such as equipment and maintenance and remodeling of buildings. Any money that is borrowed for operating expenses must be more

Richardson criticizes deficit reduction package

Gov. Bill Richardson has criticized the deficit reduction package New Mexico lawmakers sent him Friday to repair a $650 million shortfall in the budget. The governor says the cuts to state agencies are excessive and could result in layoffs and reduced services. He said he will get input from the public and state workers in deciding whether to veto any part of more

NM Legislature passes budget bill

A budget that largely protects K-12 education, while cutting deeply into most state agencies, won approval from the Legislature Friday evening. The budget passage came after an exhausting and confusing day in which state lawmakers dueled and disagreed before finally finding common ground. Five Senate amendments were added to a bill that originated in the House of Representatives. The changes, which had appeared at first to be a major obstacle, turned out to be nothing more than a speed bump to passing the budget. The House agreed with four of the five amendments, and asked the Senate to withdraw the fifth amendment, which it did. That decision effectively sent the budget bill, which trims more than $200 million in spending, to Gov. Bill Richardson for his signature. Of the Senate amendments, the only one that substantially altered the budget restored $5 million for state police, which had been facing 7.5 percent cuts. Some anticipate that the state may face a much tougher challenge when state lawmakers convene the 2010 regular session in January, when a $1 billion shortfall may greet them as they cobble together a spending plan for fiscal year more

Senate's climate bill a bit more ambitious

Climate legislation took a small step forward late Friday night as Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) issued a version that includes big benefits for farmers, provisions for deficit reduction and a ceiling on carbon prices. The proposal, sponsored by Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Boxer, calls for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to a level 20 percent below 2005 emissions, a more ambitious target than the 17 percent set in a climate measure approved by the House in June. The draft, which resembles the House bill, sets the parameters for what promises to be a sharp debate on one of President Obama's top legislative priorities. Like the Waxman-Markey bill adopted by the House, the Kerry-Boxer legislation favors a cap-and-trade system that would issue permits for greenhouse gas emissions, gradually lower the amount of emissions allowed, and let companies buy and sell permits to meet their needs. And like the House bill, the Senate measure would give away the vast majority of allowances for a transition period of 20 years to ease burdens on energy-intensive industries and on consumers in states that rely heavily on coal for electricity. But 25 percent of the allowances would be auctioned off, with revenue going to the federal government to keep the legislation from increasing the more

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Can Obama and Congress Order You to Buy Broccoli?

Can President Barack Obama and Congress enact legislation that orders Americans to buy broccoli? If so, where did they get that authority? What provision in the Constitution empowers the federal government to order an individual to buy a product he does not want? This is not a question about nutrition. It is not a question about whether broccoli is good for you or about the relative merits of broccoli versus other foods. It is a question about the constitutional limits on the power of the federal government. It is a question about freedom. Can President Obama and Congress enact legislation that orders Americans to buy health insurance? They might as well order Americans to buy broccoli. They have no legitimate authority to do either. Yet neither Obama nor the current leadership in Congress seems to care about the constitutional limits on their power. They are now attempting to exert authority over the lives of Americans in a way no president and Congress has done more

Millions of federal employees might be exempt from health benefits tax

Democrats are looking for ways to exclude a bevy of big groups from their proposal to tax so-called Cadillac health insurance plans. So far the list of groups seeking exclusions include labor unions, firefighters, coal miners and other high risk occupations. At this point, is there anyone else left to tax who has one of those big insurance policies? Oh right. Federal employees. Well, now some members of Congress want to carve out an exclusion for them as well. Reps. Jerry Connolly and Jim Moran, two Democrats from the federal employee haven of Northern Virginia, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expressing concern that the Senate health care proposal, which includes the tax, "may adversely affect health coverage for federal employees and retirees." Connolly and Moran explain in the letter that the Congressional Research Services has provided them with data indicating that the cost of Federal Employees Health Benefits Plans used by federal employees is close to the threshold ($8,000 per individual and $21,000 per family) that would trigger the proposed 40 percent excise more

Friday, October 23, 2009

Senate Healthcare Bill Uses the Term “Tax” 124 Times

A word search of the 1,502-page Senate healthcare bill (S. 1796) reveals that the term “tax” is used 124 times, “taxable” is used 158 times, and “excise tax” is used 12 times. Other terms of interest are as more

Thursday, October 22, 2009

White House planning another "stimulus"

The White House is prepared to unleash another so-called “stimulus” upon the U.S. economy, according to Yahoo! News. Only, they do not want to admit it’s a “stimulus”. According to White House spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, "The fact is that this is a word game.” It could add up to over $100 billion in tax funds when all is said and done. Which may help explain why the White House dare not use the “s” word. First off, this would be the third such so-called “stimulus.” The first occurred in 2008 under President George Bush totaling some $152 billion. The second occurred earlier this year, costing the taxpayers $787 billion. And that’s without even calculating interest that will be owed by future generations for what amounts to record-level deficit-spending, borrowing and printing cash designed to prevent the economy from sliding—but actually further pushing it—into the Abyss. Put together with $300 billion for foreclosure “prevention” in 2008, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, $200 billion to nationalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, over $300 billion in FDIC liquidity guarantees, the Federal Reserve’s $300 billion committed to purchase treasuries, and other initiatives, the federal government has kicked out more than $4 trillion to “rescue” the economy. And it has pledged as much as $12.8 trillion as “necessary.” That’s over 3.58 times what the federal government collected in individual income taxes in 2007, some $1.115 trillion. Put another way, the government could grant a three-year moratorium on income taxes, and it would still not equal the amount of money that the government has put on the table in its failed attempt since 2007 to “stimulate” the more

7 Months After Stimulus 49 of 50 States Have Lost Jobs

The table below compares the White House's February 2009 projection of the number of jobs that would be created by the 2009 stimulus law (through the end of 2010) with the actual change in state payroll employment through September 2009 (the latest figures available). According to the data, 49 States and the District of Columbia have lost jobs since stimulus was enacted. Only North Dakota has seen net job creation following the February 2009 stimulus. While President Obama claimed the result of his stimulus bill would be the creation of 3.5 million jobs, the Nation has already lost a total of 2.7 million – a difference of 6.2 million jobs. To see how stimulus has failed your state, see the table below...Go here to see the table.

Stimulus - 419 jobs saved or created in NM

The 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act has saved or created precisely 419.02 jobs in New Mexico. No more, no less. That data comes from the website set up by the Obama Administration to track the stimulus money and report its impact. Those 419.02 jobs were created from $263,559,316 dollars of stimulus funds so far received in the state, out of a total $514,911,760 grants approved so far. To see the state-by-state breakdown and results click here. The site is also reporting that $259 per capita in stimulus funds has been received in New Mexico. The cost of the 419.02 jobs so far created by the 2009 stimulus funds comes to $628,990 per job. The site does not report the average wage of the jobs created or saved. NM Watchdog

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finance Committee bill has been filed

The Senate Finance Committee filed its sweeping health care reform bill Monday and its release served largely to highlight the divisions among Democrats over the direction of reform. The massive, 1,500 page bill is expected to serve as the backbone for Democratic reform efforts going forward and five senators expressed concerns about one of its main provisions, a 40 percent tax on high-end insurance plans. The tax is designed to pay for reform and lower costs by making the so-called Cadillac plans less attractive for insurers to offer. Under the bill, a plan that costs an individual more than $8,000 and a family more than $21,000 annually would be subject to the tax. But Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez, Debbie Stabenow and Jay Rockefeller are concerned that the threshold that defines a Cadillac plan is too low and will whack middle-class more

Sunday, October 18, 2009

$2.3 million in federal stimulus money is going to cosmetology and massage schools

More than $2.3 million in federal economic stimulus grants have gone to eight Tampa Bay area cosmetology and massage schools to pay tuition for the hairdressers, masseuses and nail technicians of tomorrow. That's swell news for those who see the beauty trades as a way to gain a firmer footing in the job market. But is there truly demand for more beauty school graduates at bay area salons? Not really, said Monica Ponce, owner of Muse The Salon in Tampa. "Instead of encouraging more people to go to beauty schools," Ponce said, "they should probably help the stylists who are unemployed." more

Redistributing Health

Proponents of compulsory, government-designed health insurance can't seem to understand why others disagree. Perhaps the public is realizing that these proposals are fundamentally about redistributing health? Health-care "reform," that is, aims to shift costs and benefits of health insurance from some groups to others. And the losers are turning out to be less docile than politicians had more

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tea partiers turn on GOP leadership

While the energy of the anti-tax and anti-Big Government tea party movement may yet haunt Democrats in 2010, the first order of business appears to be remaking the Republican Party. Whether it’s the loose confederation of Washington-oriented groups that have played an organizational role or the state-level activists who are channeling grass-roots anger into action back home, tea party forces are confronting the Republican establishment by backing insurgent conservatives and generating their own candidates — even if it means taking on GOP more