Another Sore Loser

As Steve pointed out earlier, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski is running an active write-in campaign to secure her seat after she lost the GOP primary to Joe Miller.  She is attempting to undermine the duly approved candidate of the Alaska GOP and threatening to turn this seat over to Democrats by dividing Republicans.

Today, the Senate GOP voted to allow Murkowski to retain her seat as ranking member of the Senate Energy Committe despite her decision to challenge Miller in the general election.  I guess I understand part of their reasoning in doing so.

Another senior GOP aide said he thought the members felt Murkowski could win and did not want to look as if they were “kicking her while she’s down,” adding, “And if she does win, by some chance, they don’t want tick her off and push her away from voting with the conference.”

Murkowski, who is in Alaska, said earlier Wednesday that she is a Republican and always has been and has every intention of caucusing with Republicans should she win.

She is an opposite example of the Joe Lieberman phenomenon in Connecticut,  She, like Charlie Crist in Florida, decided to deny the will of the voters.  And Murkowski, like Crist and deated Delaware Senator, Mike Castle, is a sore loser from the establishment.  Murkowski was appointed to the Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who was governor at the time and later defeated by Sarah Palin.  Frank was part of the GOP establishment, earmark-happy trio from Alaska that included Don Young and Ted Stevens.  Lisa was a moderate continuation of that establishment bloodline who was defeated by a Tea Party-backed conservative, Joe Miller.

The Lisa Murkowski threat is real.  She can’t win the general election as a write-in candidate, but she can punish Joe Miller and hand the seat to a Democrat due to her family name.  She has decided that she is the only one of the three candidates for Senate qualified to serve the people of Alaska.  That’s total narcissism and reflects the sense of entitlement that she feels as a member of Alaskan royalty.

Hannity and Rush spearheaded a drive, indirectly, that put $1 million+ into the coffers of Delaware GOP Senate candidate, Christine O’Donnell.  It’s time to do the same for Miller.  Murkowski has $1 million to spend in Alaska.  Miller has some funds from the Tea Party and (thank God) the RSC folks.  He needs help from us.  Miller is the conservative in the race and deserves our support.  The House will go GOP in the elections, but we also need the Senate to ensure that Obama’s socialist agenda is stopped.  The Alaska race is crucial.

Donate here.  Don’t let Lisa ruin the party.  She is not entitled to anything.  The establishment is endangered.  Let’s send the message.  Don’t just elect Republicans.  Elect Conservatives.

Don’t Allow RINOs to Turn Us Back!

It’s announced by the Washington Post moments ago that defeated incumbent RINO-Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is expected to announce a write-in candidacy after losing the Republican primary to Palin-backed Joe Miller.

What’s next?  Is Mike Castle going to do the same thing in Delaware?

This week has been funny watching liberals suddenly rush to the defense of all the same types of the Republicans they blame for the mess we are in now when we actually get around to nominating real conservatives to bring back the party’s principles.

In addition to liberals whose pants are scared off, a lot of RINO back-scratchers like Karl Rove are throwing fits on Fox News whenever a conservative Palin-backed candidate ousts another RINO incumbent.

Let me make myself clear:  RINOs are just as bad for this country and for our party as the liberals are.  IF we have to sacrifice seats this year to keep them out, it is worth it.  Because when the chickens come home to roost as a result of these rotten spending plans, we’ll know which party is responsible for it. 

We must stand united in saying “No!” to candidates like Murkowski and other RINOs alike.

Common Sense Conservatism: Education

May 16, 1980: a day that will live in infamy. It is the day the Department of Education began operating as an autonomous Cabinet-level department. The national graduation rate peaked a decade before President Jimmy Carter created the Department of Education at 77.1%, and has enjoyed an almost uninterrupted decline since, currently hovering in the high 60s. That means three out of every ten students, and almost half of minority students, won’t graduate. The State of Nevada ranks dead last in graduation rates for two years running, as only 47% of high-schoolers graduate.

Everyone agrees that our education system needs to be improved, and liberals and conservatives disagree, as usual, on how to address the challenge. The liberal position typically includes additional funding, even though spending on education has skyrocketed since 1980 with no results to show for it. Conservatives have proposed a number of ideas that routinely get shot down:

“The Party of No” supports School Vouchers, so parents can send their children to the school of their choice, regardless of cost.

“The Party of No” supports Open Enrollment, so parents can choose better performing schools, instead of the one closest to their home.

“The Party of No” supports Charter Schools, which are free from many of the restrictive and costly regulations placed on traditional public schools in exchange for producing measurable results.

“The Party of No” supports Empowerment Schools, which allow for more local control of curriculum, and less micro-management from the Department of Education.

Meanwhile, “The Party of Yes” routinely opposes all of them. Teachers Unions across the country have frequently opposed School Vouchers, Open Enrollment, Charter Schools and Empowerment Schools. And why do teachers unions and many Democrats oppose these choice options? Because they threaten the status quo, which unions and Democrats have worked very hard to establish over the years. Let’s dig a little deeper:

The best example of the successes of school voucher programs is our nation’s capital. The Washington DC public school system ranked 46th in the nation in 2002, and remains below 50% when charter schools are excluded. The District also spends the most money per pupil, at roughly $28,000, proving that money won’t solve our education crisis. Six years ago, Washington DC began a school voucher program that allows low-income parents to take their children out of poor performing schools, and put them in private schools regardless of cost. In fact, the average cost of a voucher is around $6,500, ONE-FOURTH of the cost of enrolling the same child in the public school system that only graduates 48% of kids.

Not only has the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program helped more than 3,000 students, it has done so with significant savings to taxpayers. So why do unions oppose it? And why did Democrats in Congress, and President Obama, END THE PROGRAM? Teachers Unions believe that if school vouchers give parents the ability to send their kids to private schools, there will be fewer students in public schools. Fewer students mean fewer tax dollars, which when combined will lead to fewer public schools, fewer public school teachers and fewer union members paying dues. That’s pretty obvious, and it’s simple math – even if 52% of public school students in DC can’t add and subtract. It should also be noted that a large portion of dues paid to unions are spent attempting to get union-friendly politicians elected, who then continue to oppose common sense reforms like school vouchers.

So is the program worth saving? Does it work? The answer is a resounding YES! The latest report from the Department of Education shows that students who used their vouchers had graduation rates 21% higher than those who did not receive them. It doesn’t take a high school diploma to see how amazing that is. The fact that there are far more students seeking vouchers than there are vouchers to give, clearly illustrates the need for expansion. Liberals believe the public school system will collapse if vouchers remove tax dollars from poor performing schools, but conservatives see it differently. Perhaps if public schools feel the need to compete for students and tax dollars, they will do better in providing a quality education. If the end result is the building of more private schools, and the complete collapse of the public school system, I’m all for it. We should not tolerate a 48% graduation rate when we’re spending $28,000 per pupil in a failing school system. Our goal should be to provide a quality education at a practical cost, which is an area where public schools fail.

Survival is a powerful instinct. I can’t blame teachers unions for opposing these common sense reforms, because they will most definitely result in a less-robust public school environment for them to control. I also can’t blame them for opposing these ideas on the grounds that they will show how truly ineffective our public school systems are. However, we should care more about the students and their results, than about the politics. Whatever reforms work best should be implemented – even if they are advocated by conservatives.

Today in Nevada, the state hardest hit by low graduation rates, U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle is being labeled a radical because of her belief that the Department of Education should be abolished. Is that a radical idea? I’m sure President Carter had the best intentions when he put education in a prominent position in our federal government. But like everything our government does, financial cost always keeps pace with inefficiency. Since 1980, the Department of Education has produced significant cost increases and graduation rate decreases, all in the name of a failed one-size-fits-all approach to education. Do we really need 4,800 bureaucrats spending $80 billion a year (of our money) to fail our kids?

If someone asked you for $1,000, and told you they’d send you back $500 and tell you how to spend it, would you give it to them? That’s exactly what the Department of Education does. It takes our tax dollars and sends a fraction of them back to us with strict instructions on how those dollars must be spent. Do you honestly believe bureaucrats and politicians in Washington know better how to educate the children of your hometown? It isn’t radical to want the Department of Education to be downsized, and returned to the fold of the Department of Health & Human Services. It isn’t radical to want local control over local school systems. And it isn’t radical to want a better education for our children, at a lower cost, with more choice and accountability.

When it comes to education, the Democrats are the “Party of No.” Unfortunately, they get a free pass. Why? Because the vast number of educators and administrators in our nation’s school system are Democrats. They don’t want to call out their own. Meanwhile, the “Party of Yes” built a $578 million school in Los Angeles while Democrats in Washington passed a $26 billion spending bill to save teacher jobs. Apparently a high-tech swimming pool, vaulted ceilings and a marble sculpture of Robert F. Kennedy are more important than teaching students English, Math and Science. Believe it or not, the school cost $78 million more to build than the Olympic Bird’s Nest in Beijing, China. The L.A. Unified School District has a $640 million budget shortfall, and a 35% drop-out rate, with 3,000 teacher layoffs over the past two years.

Really?

REALLY?

I’ll leave you with a question. What percent of a school district’s budget (not counting expenditures for capital projects or equipment purchases) should go to the classroom?

If you said 13%, welcome to Clark County, Nevada. And people think spending more money is the solution.

Common Sense Conservatism: Cap and Trade

The future of our planet is at stake! That’s what you’ll hear from proponents of cap and trade legislation. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Cap and Trade, let me explain what it is and what it is designed to accomplish.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Cap and trade is an environmental policy tool that delivers results with a mandatory cap on emissions while providing sources flexibility in how they comply.” That sounds a little vague. Over at Wikipedia, they explain it a bit better: “Emissions trading (also known as cap and trade) is a market-based approach used to control pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.” Not bad, although it sounds voluntarily. Here are the facts from a pretty fair article over at Now Public:

  • Cap and trade legislation “aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020.”
  • Cap and trade legislation would “cap” or limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industrial industries.
  • If companies go above their limit, they have to buy pollution permits.
  • If companies stay under their limit, they can sell their additional permits to companies that need them.

The idea of limiting carbon emissions with a system of rewards and penalties sounds like a great way to help keep our planet clean and ensure companies make our environment a priority. The bill passed the Democrat-super-majority-controlled House of Representatives 219-211 (Democrats control 255 votes, and only need 218 to pass a bill). The bill has yet to pass the Senate.

Many conservatives and Republicans are against this bill. In traditional fashion, these “anti-climate,” “anti-environment” conservatives are being painted as “hating green jobs” by proponents of Cap and trade legislation. So do conservatives hate the environment? Or are there other reasons why they’re against Cap and Trade?

First, opponents of Cap and Trade extend beyond the Republican Party. After all, 44 Democrats voted against the bill and 8 Republicans voted for it. I haven’t seen a news story asking why those 44 Democrats hate the environment, but I’m sure it’s in the works. Like all pieces of legislation, there are both good and bad components. When evaluating whether a bill should be passed, we should take a look at how good and how bad these provisions are. Let’s do just that.

Reducing greenhouse gases 17% by 2020 is a noble goal. What are greenhouse gases? According to the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC) they include water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane among others, in order or importance. According to their website, “the feedback loop in which water is involved is critically important to projecting future climate change, but as yet is still fairly poorly measured and understood.” So we know water vapor is important, we just don’t know how or why.

The site also tells us that carbon dioxide has increased 30% since before the industrial revolution, but that is to be expected. It has risen from 310 parts-per-million (ppm) to 370 ppm since 1955, hardly a giant leap. However, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends an exposure limit of 5,000 ppm. If the current rate of increase continues (roughly 1 ppm per year), we will reach unsafe limits in the year 6640.

Methane, which we’re told is the most dangerous by-product of the cattle industry and our dependence on beef, has not increased significantly in our atmosphere since 1990. According to the NCDC, “there is no scientific consensus on why methane has not risen much since around 1990.”

While reducing greenhouse gases is a respectable objective, it hardly seems as though we are in the throes of an environmental catastrophe.

Limiting the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by industrial industries also sounds practical. However, no one will argue that reducing the output of every carbon emitter in the country by 17% will result in problems. To address this problem, pollution permits have been created. Companies that must go over their allotted emissions can purchase these carbon credits from companies that have extra. The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) is one greenhouse gas emission registry which will trade these carbon credits between companies, no doubt for a tidy profit, as the European Climate Exchange (ECX) is already doing. Companies like Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management will seek to make money from the exchange of these credits, by charging fees to their clients. This amounts to nothing more than penalties for going over the cap; penalties that will undoubtedly be passed on to consumers.

In 1975 we learned of impending doom in the form of Global Cooling. The last 15 years has been dominated by talk of Global Warming. In the end, there is so much inconsistency among scientists, including evidence of scientists falsifying information to prove warming trends. If there’s no real emergency, why is Congress trying to pass a bill that the Obama Administration admits could cost families almost $1,800/year?

While conservatives are being vilified for opposing Cap and trade legislation, Americans should take the time to learn about exactly how this bill will affect them. Our nation is $13.4 Trillion in debt, unemployment remains near 10%, and Congress continues to spend money on bill after bill. Would passing Cap & trade help us solve these problems, or would it simply create more?

Imagine a nation where our industries are restricted by arbitrary limits on emissions, and penalized for not complying with potentially unrealistic goals for reduction. This will happen while China and India, the world’s top polluters, would have no such restrictions! How does this help America? If the playing field was level, and America was not forced to operate at a huge disadvantage, this bill would be worth taking a second look at. Until that happens, how can we honestly support Cap and Trade?

Rahm Emanuel is known for having said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” It is with that philosophy that President Obama, and his Democrat-controlled Congress, is using our current economic crisis to pass trillions in new spending. These policies will have long-term effects on our country and taxpayers, and it’s time to start analyzing whether we need this spending now giving our economic challenges.

Al Gore, the most prevalent advocate of Cap and Trade and other global warming legislation, doesn’t even follow his own advice. He routinely travels via private jet, keeps his motorcade’s engines running, and lives in a mansion, four-times the size of the average American’s home – resulting in energy consumption 12-times higher than the average American family according to Associated Press. He even plagiarized a clip from the disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow” in his environmental epic “Inconvenient Truth” to advance his views.

Conservatives don’t hate the environment, but they do hate government expending by trillions of dollars, if taxpayers are on the hook for something we don’t need. Saving our planet shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but has been made one by environmentalists hell-bent on using government to achieve their goals. These liberals blame conservatives for fear-mongering, while they scare Americans into supporting bills like Cap and Trade with Global Warming doom and gloom scenarios. It’s hypocrisy, and should be treated as such.

“The Party of No” continues to be vilified by the Left, but they never take the time to explain why “yes” is the right answer. Today, being “The Party of Yes” means supporting:

  • Government-imposed penalties for emitting pollution, costing us money and jobs.
  • A complete government takeover of the health care industry via the public option, which Democrats are still trying to pass.
  • Limitless bailouts for everything and everyone, regardless of how much debt we accrue.
  • The immediate end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell without allowing the military to weigh in and assess the impact on our military readiness during wartime.
  • A mandatory reduction in salt at restaurants.
  • Taxes on soda and candy.
  • Removing toys from Happy Meals at McDonalds.
  • Mandating equal time for conservatives and liberals on the radio.

If saying “No” to this stuff means conservatives are the bad guys, so be it!

Common Sense Conservatism: Taxes and the Size of Government

How much of your income should the government be able to take? Think about your answer as you read the rest of this post.

The first permanent, broad-based federal income tax went into effect in 1913 and placed a 7% tax on the top 1% of wage-earners in the United States. Within five years it had risen to be a 77% tax on the top 6% of income earners. In 1913, Americans paid between 1% and 7% on income over $20,000. However, in 1918 every American paid the tax, and those making less than $4,000/year paid 6%. Once the door was opened to an income tax, the government abused the privilege. For the record, the top tax bracket reached 94% in the mid-1940s. Imagine having to fork over 94% of your income to the government.

So here we are almost a century later, and the top income tax bracket pays 35% with those earning less than $16,750 pay only 10%. However, with the Earned Income Tax Credit, deductions for children and dependents and the ability to write-off health care costs, real estate taxes, charitable donations and other expenses many Americans earning less than $25,000/year pay no federal income tax. Some Americans who pay no taxes actually receive a refund, meaning the government sends them a check simply for being a low-income earner.

The federal government does need revenue in order to pay for the services it provides, and it certainly doesn’t have the ability to earn money of its own. Therefore, it is up to Americans to cover the costs of these services in the form of taxes. Since it is our hard-earned dollars being used by the federal government, there are obviously disagreements on which services the federal government should provide. Many on the Left believe that the government should be a force for good, and use those dollars to help people whenever possible. Those on the Right believe the Constitution outlines the responsibilities of the federal government, and anything outside of those duties should be handled at the state level or through individual choice.

The position taken by many on the Left isn’t a bad one in theory, but where do you draw the line when it comes to helping people? Does the federal government have an obligation to ensure all Americans have access to food and shelter? The answer is “yes,” as we have Section 8 housing and programs like welfare, food stamps and WIC. But how far should the federal government go in taking care of its people? Should the government be providing homes and cars for those who can’t afford them? How about computers with internet access? This is where opinions begin to divide.

Conservatives tend to believe the U.S. Constitution provides a clear-cut answer on the role of government. When our country was founded, the 13 colonies-turned-states created the federal government to handle matters of national interest. They were clear, however, through the 10th Amendment, that the states reserved the right to handle everything else. Matters of national interest include protecting us from foreign invasion, defending us against foreign threats and maintaining a three-branch government including the Presidency and his cabinet, Congress and the federal court system. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government granted the right to meddle in education, the environment, health care, automobiles, and many other areas where their presence is very obvious today. Those issues were historically handled at the state level, until such a time when they weren’t.

So back to my original question: How much of your income should the government be able to take?

The appropriate answer to that question depends on how much the government spends, because the more it spends, the more you’ll have to pay. Now both liberals and conservatives have good points when it comes to the role of government. It would be great for the government to be able to take care of everyone, but we must remember that they are paying for that care with the hard-earned dollars of working Americans. It would also be great if government was small so that all Americans were free from government intervention in their lives, and can keep more of the money they earn. But we must also remember that there are programs that are necessary and they must be paid for with our tax dollars. We must find ways to address legitimate problems without unfairly hurting others in the process.

Just like the federal government abused their ability to tax Americans in the first half of the 20th Century, Americans are noticing a disturbing trend today. In addition to paying federal income taxes, most Americans pay a state income tax. They also pay half of a 2.9% Medicare tax, and they pay into Social Security, which may not be around in a decade. We are not only taxed on our income, but we are also taxed every time we move. We pay taxes on our property, a home that we own. We pay taxes every time we pay our bills for electricity, water, gas, cable, internet, phone and other utilities. If we want to leave our house, we get taxed on our car in the form of registration fees, inspection fees and of course the gas we use for fuel. If we go to the supermarket, we are most likely taxed on prepared foods and most non-edible items. If we go to the liquor store we are taxed on all alcohol, from as little as $1.50 per gallon in Maryland to $26.45 in Washington State. For everything else we buy, there is a state sales tax between 2.9% and 8.25%, depending on where you live. We are taxed every time we turn around and usually on goods and services purchased with money we’ve already paid taxes on. Doesn’t that sound oppressive to you?

Here’s a simple exercise to show you how crazy this all is:

You are a single person living in California. You earn $34,000 per year, or $2,833 per month. The federal government takes 25% for income tax, 1.45% for Medicare and 6.2% for Social Security. The state of California takes 6.25%. Let’s say you spend a generous $100/week on groceries, which are tax-free. The rest will be spent on utilities, gas for the car and other small purchases. These purchases are ALL subject to tax, which is a double tax. The state sales tax is 8.25%, so let’s use that as a basis. You still have to pay one month’s share of your yearly property taxes and motor vehicle registration fees (roughly $275), leaving you with $943, plus your $400 in tax-free groceries.

You earn $2,833 per month, but you actually receive $1,343 in tax-free profit, a whopping 47% of your income. That means your $34,000 per year only amounts to just over $16,000 per year in your pocket, with which to pay bills. It should be noted, that even with tax rates at this level, the federal government is $13 trillion in debt and our example state of California is bankrupt.

How have we arrived at a point in our lives where we only get to keep 47% of the money we earn, and our state and federal governments are in debt? These numbers are disturbing, and it only gets worse the more money you make! If you earned $82,400 you’d pay an additional 8% in taxes, taking home only 39% of your income.

So is it unreasonable for conservatives to feel there needs to be a limit on how much money the government can take in taxes? Can we really keep creating more programs that rely on our tax dollars?

Today, our national debt sits at $13.4 Trillion. That comes out to be $43,173 per citizen – every man, woman and child in America. That figure does not include our unfunded liabilities including Social Security and Medicare, which totals another $110 Trillion ($355,296 per citizen). Good thing that’s not due yet! It also doesn’t include state debt, which is as high as $16,296 per citizen (New York).

The current administration, and the Democrat-controlled Congress, passed a trillion-dollar health care reform bill which doesn’t go into full effect until 2014, a $26 billion bailout to the states, and a failed $878 billion stimulus bill. They still have plans to pass Cap & Trade ($200 billion/year), a bailout for Fannie & Freddie ($148 billion), and a potential second stimulus bill ($50-$80 billion). Citizens Against Government Waste also identified $16.5 billion in pork in 2010 (and $19.6 billion in 2009), from an administration that promised to reform the earmark profess and cut wasteful spending.

So, how much of your income should the government be able to take? Maybe the better question is: How much should the government be able to spend?

Either way, it’s currently too much. And sometimes the “Party of No” is saying the right thing.

Common Sense Conservatism: Health Care Reform

“How can health care for everyone be a bad thing?”

Several months ago, one of my friends uttered this quote in an attempt to combat the negative press surrounding President Obama’s health care bill as it was being considered by Congress. The answer to that question, of course, is that health care for everyone is not a bad thing, it is a great thing. Sadly my friend missed the point, and so did many Americans: How do you pay for it when we’re $13 trillion in debt? Health Care Reform gripped the nation as yet another non-partisan issue was politicized for the sole purpose of damaging political opponents. In the end there was no winner; only losers: The American People.

Every issue has an upside and a downside. In 1986, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act required hospital emergency rooms to treat anyone in need of care, regardless of citizenship, legal status, or ability to pay. The upside was that patients were not turned away from needed health care. The downside is that “about half of all emergency services go uncompensated.” The best intentions of government resulted in a huge unfunded mandate to emergency departments nationwide and a loss of $4.2 billion in revenue in 2001 according to the American Medical Association. Nobody wants to see patients denied much-needed care, but how can the government pass laws that help some people and completely destroy others?

Health care reform divided the nation along lines defined by views of big government versus small, and compassion versus fiscal responsibility. At a time when the economy was the top concern for Americans, not health care, Congress unveiled a $940 billion bill which was passed into law on March 23, 2010. Republicans were once again labeled “obstructionists,” even though they didn’t have enough votes to stop the Democrats from passing the bill. Democrats called Republicans the usual names, accusing them of being racists, hating the poor and defending the rich.

Today, 60% of Americans favor repeal.

It seems as if every issue where Democrats and Republicans disagree ends with more Americans believing that the GOP is racist, anti-poor and pro-rich. Why are Democrats so good at convincing Americans of these stereotypes? I believe it is because Democrats tend to politicize with emotional buzzwords and headlines, while Republicans do it with logic. So, are Republicans heartless to oppose a bill that would extend health care benefits to 32 million Americans? Well, let’s consider some of the objections.

The government is notoriously inefficient. In a previous post I went over the resume of the U.S. Government in detail, including the tremendous successes (read: failures) of Amtrak, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the U.S. Postal Service, the Ryan White CARE Act, and Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac. Even recipients of government funding like Planned Parenthood operate without oversight, as they apparently can’t account for $1.8 billion in taxpayer dollars received over the last decade. This isn’t a partisan problem. The government is inefficient under EVERY administration, which is why a majority of Americans prefer a smaller government. As it is, the bill is already estimated to cost $115 billion more than anticipated, and it hasn’t yet gone into effect.

It is simply a bad law. The health care law is designed to increase access to health care and lower costs so more Americans can afford to purchase health insurance. Correct? Does taxing the manufacturers of medical devices and brand-name prescription drugs help lower the cost of health care? Those increased costs will undoubtedly be passed on to the consumer, who is now forced to carry health insurance because of the mandates in the health care law – no matter what the cost! In fact, nothing in the new law controls the rising costs of health care. It does, however, force businesses to file a 1099 form for every vendor transaction of $600 or more, which creates a pile of paperwork for even the smallest businesses. What purpose does this serve in a health care bill? None! It has nothing to do with health care.

Going forward, individuals will no longer be able to claim medical expenses on their taxes that exceed 7.5% of their income. The new number is 10%, resulting in roughly $800 less in deductions for someone earning $25,000/year. President Obama said those earning under $250k/year wouldn’t see their taxes increase by a “single dime,” but if you can’t claim an additional $800 in medical expenses on your tax return, I think you’re out more than a dime. Medicare payroll taxes are also going up 2.35% for those earning more than $200k, and revenue from the increase in Medicare taxes will not be going to help save or fix Medicare. Medicare, in fact, is being cut by $500,000,000,000.00!

Then there are the mandates. Individuals will now be required to carry health insurance, whether they can afford it or not. Your coverage must also meet minimum government standards to “qualify” as an acceptable health care plan. The penalty for not complying will be as much as $750 per year for an individual, $2,250 for a family, or 2% of your income – whichever is higher. The employer mandates could cause some series damage. Employers who cannot afford to offer health insurance to their employees will pay fines, which could amount to $3,000 per employee, per year. This will unquestionably cause jobs to be cut and businesses to close. That’s a fact that cannot be ignored.

Of course we can’t forget luxury health care plans, called “Cadillac Plans.” These are plans that cost more than $8,500 per year for an individual. They’re great plans, but there will now be a 40% excise tax on them. Yes, that’s right – 40%. It is designed to go after the rich, but it is not indexed for inflation, which means in 10 years when all plans cost $8,500/year or more, everyone will be paying the 40% tax. Many union-negotiated plans are considered “Cadillac Plans,” but if you’re in a union you don’t have to worry about it. President Obama exempted unions from this 40% tax. For the record, only 8% of Americans are in unions.

The new law also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to create “qualified non-profit health insurance issuers” to offer health insurance, with federal grants, and exempt from federal taxes. It requires health care coverage information to be reported to the IRS, and provides funding to hire 16,000 additional IRS agents to ensure compliance with the individual and employer mandates.

What’s not in the bill? Tort reform for starters. We live in a lawsuit-happy society, and doctors must carry expensive insurance policies to protect themselves from frivolous lawsuits and mega-million dollar settlements. Those costs get passed on to patients, contributing to the high costs of health care. Republicans wanted tort reform included. Democrats argued it would not result in a significant savings, however it should be noted that trial lawyers donate almost exclusively to the Democratic Party. Another provision not included in the bill was the ability to purchase health care plans across state lines. This would increase competition and help lower costs, as we’ve seen happen in the auto insurance industry. Again, Democrats refused to include it after it was proposed by Republicans.

The House of Representatives requires 218 votes to pass a bill into law, and when the health care law was passed 253 were Democrats. The Senate requires 51 votes to pass a bill into law, and when the health care law was passed 57 were Democrats. Once again, I need someone to tell me how Republicans were being “obstructionists.” In reality, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi didn’t get to pass the law they wanted because conservative Democrats were pressured to oppose the bill. That’s why the far-left liberals today feel as though the law doesn’t go far enough. Republicans, who opposed the bill almost unanimously through the entire process, didn’t even have to show up for the final votes.

In the end, not a single Republican in the House or Senate voted to pass what is now referred to as ObamaCare. After the Senate passed the health care law, the San Francisco Chronicle stated, “The passage of Health Care Reform means the death of the Republican Party. Can you imagine any Republican effectively explaining to an electorate why they voted against help for the uninsured?” Help for the uninsured, at the expense of the remaining 90% of Americans? This issue is not as black and white as the Chronicle would have us believe.

Nine months later, a clear majority of Americans favor repeal and Democrats face the possibility of losing the House of Representatives. When you politicize a non-political issue like health care, emotions get in the way and eventually you have to start looking at the facts. Almost everyone agrees that our health care system is in need of reform, but if Congress is going to spend years and trillions of taxpayer dollars reforming it, shouldn’t we do it right? “It’s better than nothing,” is simply not good enough.

The simple truth is that President Obama and Democrats in Washington thought health care reform would be their golden moment, ensuring victories in 2010 and 2012. They completely underestimated the political cost of going against the majority of Americans, and I’m happy to see our nation waking up and paying attention to important issues again.

Someday we may even see Americans paying attention to the details of those issues. I welcome it.

Common Sense Conservatism: A Series

For a variety of different reasons, many Americans believe that the 2010 mid-term election is one of the most important in our country’s history. Republicans and Democrats are engaged in an ideological war of words, spinning their versions of reality for the entire nation to witness. For those who are not news junkies or political fans, most election cycles can be frustrating experiences as they navigate a sea of information trying to make the right decision in November.

As someone who is involved in politics, I have noticed a disturbing trend develop over the past decade. Politicians have seemingly stopped talking about the actual issues and how they affect us as Americans, and instead choose to solely focus on winning. Candidates now spend millions nationally, tens of thousands locally, on consultants to shape their campaigns. Their goal is to find the right strategy, the perfect messaging, to turn out voters and outsmart their opponents. Winning is important, but it’s difficult to get anyone to follow you if you can’t explain why they should. This is true in both parties, but how does this help the average American understand what is going on?

It doesn’t.

As a conservative Republican, I have seen my party take for granted that people understand what they’re talking about. When we refer to “free market solutions,” or “small government,” we expect the average voter will know exactly what we mean, when many simply do not. Many Republicans act as though conservative values are “common sense,” and that people will “come around” when they realize it. Unfortunately this laissez-faire attitude, combined with poor messaging, has left us playing right into the hands of crafty Democrats.

If we oppose the unfunded extension of unemployment, we are labeled “insensitive.” If we oppose illegal immigration, we are called “racists.” If we believe marriage is a rite instead of a right, we are labeled “bigots.” If we support tax cuts, we’re accused of being “for the rich.” This happens because we continually lose the battle when it comes to messaging, at a time when many Americans don’t read past the headlines.

The rift between the Left and Right in this country is wide, but it pales in comparison to the chasm between the political class and the average voter. Most Independents, Non-Partisans, Libertarians and other third-party or unaffiliated voters have walked away from the major parties because they no longer engage the average American in civil discourse.

For example, calling President Obama a “socialist” may rile up a crowd of conservatives, but that’s preaching to the choir. Meanwhile, many people who aren’t as knowledgeable when it comes to government and politics will be immediately turned off to any message that follows, and take their votes with them. Sadly, there is rarely a message that follows. Instead, we need to detail exactly what we feel is wrong with a policy position, piece of legislation or new law – and present it well.

Americans, despite their growing apathy toward government and politics, tend to have good judgment when acting as a group. They want to do what’s right, even if some of us don’t agree with their decision. But they need the facts, not the rhetoric. Politicians today spend so much time scaring their base in an attempt to mobilize them that they are immobilizing so many others who want nothing to do with those tactics. It’s a losing strategy long-term.

“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” – Thomas Jefferson

It is for these reasons that I have decided to write a series of posts on the issues affecting us – as Americans – from a common-sense conservative point of view. I will explain how many on the Left routinely mischaracterize the GOP position to paint us as radicals and racists, instead of simply disagreeing on logic and methodology – and how the Right continues to fail at messaging.

Stay tuned for Part I: The Mosque at Ground Zero!

The Political Power of Networking Sites

Thank you, Facebook!

Thank you, Twitter!

Forget Palin-for-President.  She’s making a lot of money (more than she would as President) and is having a ball being an unelected American endorsing candidates with her own new form of power, much of which has been propelled by Facebook and Twitter.

Rand Paul won in a landslide after her endorsement.

Susana Martinez won after her endorsement.

And the few who have lost were in heavy blue states (or tainted with RINOs) and still lost only by a couple of numbers.

Obama’s endorsements on the other hand = a guaranteed loss.  In fact, if conservatives wanted to be unfair to their opponents this year, they could all pay Obama to campaign and endorse them.

Palin is still growing a massive following and people just love her for the reactions she gets out of liberals. 

There is much to be said for Facebook and Twitter with regard to fueling her messages which immediately get reprinted on every major news outlet across this great land.

Palin was right.  With networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, conservatives are getting their messages out.  Even within my circle of personal friends on Facebook, the ones who never cared about politics before are swinging closer and closer to the right and inheriting wisdom by fact-checking one of my rants. 

Even some of my Facebooking left-wingers are vowing to never vote for liberals again.

Because of Facebook, we are able to hold constant conversations and continue to inform folks — even if they don’t sign on looking for it.

As such, I firmly believe that Facebook and Twitter used by powerful people like Sarah Palin are proving to surpass the power of the major media outlets. 

Take the Helen Thomas scandal for example.  Days ago, Mel here at gayconservative was the first to my world to write on Helen Thomas’s boneheaded remarks in which she suggested Jews go back “home” to Poland or Germany (where they were gassed in masses years ago).  Of course, there was no significant coverage of this — at least not to the point where anything was done about it –particularly since these comments were blatant leaving absolutely no room for excuses or characterizations of misspoken words and botched sentences.

This morning, after Palin’s Twitter, and after the MSM’s reporting of Palin’s Twitter, Nine Speakers, Inc. has fired Helen Thomas from the list of speakers.  As such, an upcoming speech of hers was cancelled. 

Amazing!  The first phase of holding the media responsible and sending a message to all journalists: if you want to keep your jobs, quit being biased idiots!

And if that isn’t proof enough, have a look at the liberals’ comments on a liberal website.  They really make it all worth it:

We all hate Sarah Palin sooo much! The other day she said she liked strawberry ice cream…I mean, it HAD been my favorite flavor but now I’ll never eat it again…becuz Palin’s political ideas are….slutty stewardess ideas, yeah that’s it. It’s so cool to hate her along with you guys, hating her is what makes me (and us) so EXTRA cool!

Read More (Profanity-warning)

If you aren’t on Facebook or Twitter and are one of the many articulate visitors of this blog, what the hell are you waiting for?

Not On Oprah’s Reading List

This one is sure to NOT be a part of Oprah’s Book Club.  It’s called “2010: Take America Back” by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann.

As a graduate student at Ohio University’s School of Interpersonal Communication in 1998, I wrote a Master’s Thesis entitled “Saying Much While Saying Nothing: Bill Clinton’s Use of Ambiguity As A Rhetorical Strategy.”  Little did I know at the time, Dick Morris was the driving force behind the triangulation and ambiguity that President Clinton utilized to make himself the “Teflon President.”  I’ve watched Morris’ metamorphisis over the years from a disgruntled detractor to a cheerleader for Republicans and conservatives.  Many, such as Rush Limbaugh, still seem to hold a grudge and distrust him.  But others (Sean Hannity) have embraced him as a strategist with much to offer the GOP.

“2010: Take America Back” is a gutsy book that Morris wrote with his wife, Eileen McGann.  The book has four parts.  The first lays out the case against Obama and Congressional Democrats.  The second part indentifies specific Democrat senators and representatives ripe for the picking in the 2010 congressional elections.  The third part (speaking mainly to candidates and campaign staff) discusses how to frame the debate for the 2010 elections.  The fourth part tells me, an individual, exactly what I can do to effect the 2010 elections in favor of the GOP.  Part #2 was, naturally, right up my alley.  Part #4 was so exciting that I posted this and decided to embark on a new project via this blog.

Skipping ahead to Part 4, Morris and McGann note:

“Too many of us still labor under the illusion that politics is a top-down game, driven by the manager and candidate whose intiatives filter down to the lowly campaign workers – the foot soldiers on the ground.  We wait for our phones to ring or emails to arrive telling us what to do to help win the election.

But in today’s politics, those intitatives have to come from us, not from on high……

It is now clear, however, that the Internet is becoming the most powerful forum for political campaiging.  And we all have equal access to the Web.

The means one thing:  You are the campaign!  You can be your own campaign media guru, strategist and manager.  You don’t need money.  You don’t need fame.  You just need to be able to produce cogent and effective campaign messages to send to your friends and associates by email and to the world at large on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and whatever else is invented between now and when you read these words…..

In this new era, we – the party’s and candidates’ supporters – must do the heavy lifting.  We, not the candidate or his staff, must get the messages out.  The campaigns themselves – with their budgets and exposure – become ammunition factories producing shells for us to fire.  Why?  Because we have credibility they do not…”

Steve has done all of us who believe in the Conservative Cause a great favor by establishing a credible blog site at GayConservative where our posts and comments are not in vain.  We aren’t exactly the Huffington Post or Michelle Malkin, but there is a readership there.  Based on the emails we receive privately and the comments in response to our posts, I can deduce that our voices are being heard.  There are web searches and our presence on other blog rolls that send folks our way.  That translates into word-of-mouth that carries our message onto the streets.  That gives hope to me that everything we do can help translate to victory in 2010.

I’m a laid-back guy (non-medicinal) and not prone to theatrics, but I am genuinely frightened.  The direction of our nation is all wrong.  Under Obama, we acquiesce to thugs and terrorists, build up our national debt and budget deficits at an alarming pace, nationalize our private industries and run our nation into ruin.  After eight years of Bush, we had a $500 billion deficit.  Less than 2 years into Obama’s reign, we have put that deficit to nearly $1.5 trillion (give or take). Banks and automotive companies are slowly but surely being put under government control.  Taxes are on the rise (on the middle class too – don’t kid yourselves).  Health care is going to be administered by a government who bankrupted social security and can’t run the postal service.

We can’t do anything about Obama or the Marxists who occupy the White House until 2012.  But we can render them impotent by electing Republicans (especially Conservative ones ) in 2010.  Obama’s feeding frenzy will come to a halt in 2010 if we all get the message out.  The mood is ripe for a repeat x 2 of 1994.  Morris believes we can win both the Senate and House.  I personally believe that we will retake the House and bring the Senate with 2 or 3.  Winning both gives us our best chance at halting the socialist tide.

My new project here is based on part 2 of Morris and McGann’s book.  They go into detail about congressmen and women who are vulnerable in 2010.  You need to read the book to realize how corrupt and disingenuous some of these people can be.  The GOP had ethical issues that put us in this mess in 2006 and 2008.  Most of those losers have been weeded out.  Now it is time to weed out “moderate Democrats” who vote with Pelosi and Reid 85-98% of the time.  Yeah – that’s right.  There are Dems from GOP or swing districts proclaiming themselves to be “moderate” and still vote the Dem party line 85-98% of the time.  Read the book.

Over the next few months, I will take on some of these targets and expose them for the frauds that they are.  I will profile them individually and make the case for their defeat.  I have, in the past, pledged my meager financial support as well as my moral support to Republicans in other states and districts.  I will continue to do so and encourage all of you to do the same.  Adopt a Republican.  Do what you can.  We better start now before it’s too late.