Category Archives: News

Democrats to expand porkulus with 410 billion omnibus bill?

The Democrats aren’t done redistributing wealth to their constituencies yet. They want an increase in discretionary spending that Republicans say will cost another 410 billion dollars on top of the auto-bailout and the spendulus!

Wall Street Journal reports on the story here:

Congress returns next week to take up another spending bill, this one with a price tag of $410 billion. Unlike the emergency recovery plan rushed through Capitol Hill in a matter of weeks, this covers the regular functions of government, from education to agriculture.

The “omnibus” bill would increase discretionary spending — funds for programs that aren’t benefits like Social Security and Medicare — by 8.7% over 2008. “This would be the largest increase in discretionary spending since at least 1978 — with the exception of a 10% boost in 2002, shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks — according to figures from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

And it’s worse… the omnibus bill will contain loads of earmarks and pork:

President Barack Obama and congressional Democratic leaders boasted that the stimulus bill had no “earmarks,” or special projects inserted by lawmakers for their home areas. In contrast, the new spending bill will have billions of dollars in such projects.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog group, has listed several thousand earmarks in bills that have passed a subcommittee or full committee and are being combined into the final version. Among them, for example, are $425,000 for Aultman Health Foundation in Canton, Ohio, to buy technology and equipment; $540,000 for Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago to improve its facilities and buy equipment; and $300,000 for the Discovery Center in Boise, Idaho, to mount exhibitions and conduct outreach.

Wow, Michelle Malkin’s headline is “9,000 earmarks in the $410 billion omnibus spending bill: Gang tattoo removal, Maine lobster, La Raza & more!”.  She even has specifics from Hill staffer Tom Jones on the earmarks!

  • $200,000 for “Tattoo Removal Violence Prevention Outreach Program,” pg. 283;
  • Maine lobster earmark in the omnibus, pg. 173;
  • $5.8 million earmark for the “Ted Kennedy Institute for the Senate…for the planning and design of a building & an endowment,” pg. 232;
  • and National Council of La Raza, $473,000 earmark from Sens. Bingaman and Menendez, pg. 212.

Human Events reports (H/T GatewayPundit) that John Boehner and Mike Pence are both requesting that the bill be put out there in the open so everyone can see what’s in it. But they are getting snubbed, apparently:

House minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called upon the Speaker Thursday to release the voluminous spending bill online without delay. “If Democratic leaders plan to schedule a vote on the half-trillion dollar omnibus spending bill next week, they should post the legislation online immediately so the American people have adequate time to read the measure and understand what is in it,” Boehner said. “My colleagues in the Republican leadership and I made this request two weeks ago, and to date, our request has gone unanswered…”

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), the House Republican Conference chairman, joined Boehner in asking again – apparently in vain — for an open process from the secretive Democrat leadership this time around. “More than two weeks ago, House Republicans called on Speaker Pelosi to post online the text of the upcoming half-trillion dollar ‘omnibus’ spending bill, bringing it out of the shadows and before the American people,” Pence said. “So far, that call has gone unanswered…”

Read the comments, the commenters have found even more earmarks!

Also, Nice Deb notes the irony of Obama painting himself as a fiscal conservative. She links to CBS News, and they say:

Mr. Obama has promised to slash the federal deficit in half by the end of his first term, reports CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante.To do that, the president will reduce Iraq War spending, end tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and streamline government.

Contrast Obama’s wasting of taxpayer dollars with Bobby Jindal, turning down porkulus funds. The Anchoress linked to this video over at Hot Air of Jindal excoriating Obama for trying to pass off government spending as a means of stimulating the economy. Just listen to the way that Jindal structures his speech like a debater, and includes facts to support his assertions. WE NEED A COMMUNICATOR. Jindal is all substance and Obama is all style.

UPDATE: Here I explain how taking every penny earned by people making $75,000 or more will not pay for all the spending. Here I explain how Porkulus-2 would abolish the Washington, D.C. voucher program which allows school choice.

Jim Demint presses Democrats to vote on free speech

Senator Jim Demint
Senator Jim Demint

James “Jim” Demint is my favorite senator, (although he’s nearly tied with James Inhofe). Demint introduced the Broadcaster Freedom Act to protect free political speech in January, and he’s trying to force the Democrats to vote on the so called “Fairness Doctrine” so that their views on free speech over the radio can be made clear. If the Fairness Doctrine passed, free political speech on the radio would be effectively abolished. This is dangerous because talk radio is predominantly conservative just as the news media is predominantly leftist.

This NewsMax.com article notes that Senator Debbie Stabenow, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Tom Harkin all support reintroducing the Fairness Doctrine. Their article explains what would likely follow from passing the bill.

Since talk radio is overwhelmingly dominated by conservative hosts, and progressive talk radio draws few listeners, the “equal time” provision would likely force many radio stations to pull popular conservative hosts from the air rather than air low-rated liberal hosts.

If they do go ahead and ban political speech on the radio, I wonder what they will call the bill?

Remember that his Freedom of Choice Act abolishes the right of medical personnel to choose not to performing abortions.

The Family Research Council says:

If FOCA is passed, it would automatically overturn:

  • Forty-six states’ conscience protection laws for individual health care providers
  • Twenty-seven states’ conscience protection laws for institutions

And remember his Employee Free Choice Act abolishes the right of workers to choose not to join a union.

The Heritage Foundation says:

Abolishing elections deprives workers of a fun­damental democratic right. Elections guarantee that all workers can express their views on whether they want to belong to a union. Under card check, how­ever, workers who have not been contacted by union organizers have no say in whether their workplace organizes. If organizers collect cards from a majority of workers, all workers must join the union without a vote.

Maybe the bill to ban free speech on the radio will be called called the Happiness, Ice Cream, Apple Pie, Sunshine and Nothing To See Here Act?

Split decision on Texas evolution standards favors academic freedom

Over at the Discovery Institute’s Evolution News blog, they recently reported that the Texas State Board of Education reached a split decision on the state standards for teaching evolution.

Evolution News says this in their post:

Kudos to the New York Times for filing a story on the actions of the Texas State Board of Education that actually describes what happened last week. Unlike much of the rest of the newsmedia, the Times doesn’t tell only half of what happened or play up the hysterics. The story’s even-handed title is telling: “Split Outcome in Texas Battle on Teaching of Evolution.”

The NYT article they mentioned explains the compromise reached by the Texas State Board of Education.

First, the bad news:

…the board voted to drop a 20-year-old mandate that science teachers explore with their students the “strengths and weaknesses” of all theories.

But the board also passed some good amendments, among them this one:

…one that would compel science teachers to instruct students about aspects of the fossil record that do not neatly fit with the idea of species’ gradually changing over time, like the relatively sudden appearance of some species and the fact that others seem to remain unchanged for millions of years.

Let me explain why this is a big win for ID. One of my previous employers was a major academic publishing company. By major, I mean my alma mater’s campus library featured academic publication databases that I helped to code. In this company, it was well known that California and Texas were the two most important states, because their textbook standards set the guidelines for the other states.

The NYT article explains:

Whatever the 15-member board decides then will have consequences far beyond Texas, since the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks in the nation. The new standards will be in place for the next decade, starting in 2010, and will influence the writing of the next generation of biology texts, which the state will order this summer.

John G. West of the Discovery Institute evaluates the board’s decision as positive:

“They did something truly remarkable today,” John G. West of the Discovery Institute, a group that questions Darwinism, said in a statement. “They voted to require students to analyze and evaluate some of the most important and controversial aspects of modern evolutionary theory.”

I actually have podcasts for you of the testimonies of pro-ID scholars given to the Texas Board. If you want to learn how scientists argue for academic freedom on issues of origins, you should listen to these three 15-minute podcasts.

  1. My favorite ID scholar Stepen C. Meyer testified on the Cambrian explosion and the fossil record, (podcast, article). Meyer holds a Ph.D in the Philosophy of Science from Cambridge University. I once saw him explain biological information using colorful lock-blocks, live. (He stole them from his children). I often draw it up for my co-workers on a white board, just like he does!
  2. Microbiologist Ralph Seelke testified about how his lab research that shows clear limits on how far bacteria can evolve, (podcast, article). Seelke holds a Ph.D in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
  3. Biochemist Charles Garner testified on the chirality problem in chemical evolution, (podcast, article). He also discussed the importance of not glossing over the weaknesses of scientific theories. Garner holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from University of Colorado, Boulder. Garner is now a Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at Baylor University.

For those looking for a definition of what intelligent design is, look here. I highly recommend the work of Canadian journalist Denyse O’Leary, who is probably the foremost expert on why there is an ID controversy. Her main blog on ID is called Post-Darwinist.

As a supporter of academic freedom, I sent a donation to the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture yesterday. The CSC is currently offering a free book with donations received before February 28th, 2009. For my annual donation, I chose Stephen C. Meyer’s forthcoming book “Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design“.

On another note, I am also excited about Jay Richards’ forthcoming book, “Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem“. Jay did a great lecture on basic economics for Christians and another great lecture on what Christians should think about global warming. Maybe his employer, the Acton Institute, will give me a free book if I send them a donation?

UPDATE: Casey Luskin just posted audio of Stephen C. Meyer responding to questions after is presentation at the hearing.

Ezra Levant: “the best news on the freedom of speech front in a year!”

Ezra Levant, champion of free speech
Ezra Levant, champion of free speech

Alberta is the most conservative province in Canada, and the most free. It is therefore shocking that they have one of the worst Human Rights Commissions in the country, just behind British Columbia and Ontario. But it looks like there may finally be hope for free speech in Alberta, at least, as Ezra reports here.

Ezra begins by recounting his own brush with the Alberta Human Rights commission.

Fifteen government bureaucrats and lawyers investigated me for 900 days, leaving me with $100,000 in legal bills — and the taxpayers of Alberta out five times that — before the charges were dropped.

He notes how the phony right to not be offended now trumps real civil rights, like freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion. But there is hope. Lindsay Blackett, the provincial Cabinet minister in charge of the Alberta HRC, was interviewed by Rick Bell in the Calgary Sun. And he is not happy about their little kangaroo court.

Here is my favorite quote from the interview:

“People shouldn’t feel they can’t come to Canada, like a university professor who talks about a subject matter and then there are reprisals,” says the cabinet minister.

“They should have the ability to say what they say and somebody should have their ability to have the counter argument. That is what a free and open society does. Let’s get away from trying to mediate everybody’s feelings.”

And this one:

Lindsay talks about being turned down by a girl at a school dance with all his pals watching.

“You feel about two inches tall. I guess maybe I should have taken her to the Human Rights Commission because I had hurt feelings. Where does it end?”

Levant concludes that the interview is “the best news on the freedom of speech front in a year”. We can only hope that Blackett acts on his convictions. Fire. Them. All.

UPDATE: If you want to see Ezra Levant in action against leftist opponents of free speech, click here.

Michele Bachmann explains why we need to cut corporate tax rates

Representative Michele Bachmann
Representative Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann is by far my favorite House Representative. In a post dated 2/17/2009, she draws attention to the little-known fact that the combined corporate tax rate of the United States is the fourth highest in the world. This is important because the higher to corporate tax rate, the more likely it is that a corporation will move overseas and lay off all of its American workers. Also, a lower corporate tax rate attracts the best and brightest from abroad to move here to start their businesses, powered by American workers.

This might come as a surprise to you, but the United States is near the top of the list of industrialized countries with the highest corporate tax rates.

You may be asking yourself “so what,” or “who cares,” but it’s important to recognize that lower corporate tax rates result in attracting more investment capital. A reduction of the federal corporate tax rate would increase firms’ productivity and investment incentives, and ultimately stimulate our nation’s long-term competitiveness by enhancing economic freedom.  The end result would be a boon to your family budget.

The problem gets even worse when you realize that many eastern European nations are slashing their corporate tax rates and even imposing flat taxes, leading to astonishing economic growth. This growth attracts foreign investments away from the USA, because investors can get a better return wherever there are lower corporate tax rates.

Bachmann post cites a study from KPMG showing just how bad the USA is compared to other nations.

“U.S. corporate income tax rate is higher than all other global regions—14 percentage points higher than the global average and nearly 17 percentage points higher than the average among European Union nations. Of the 106 countries surveyed, only the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Japan impose a higher corporate tax rate than the combined rate of 40 percent. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait each have a staggering tax rate of 55 percent; Japan’s rate is 40.69 percent.”

She also cites alarming figures from Heritage Foundation.

“Even Europe’s old welfare states have joined the aggressive tax cut parade: Sweden has cut its corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 60 percent; Norway’s rate has dropped over 50 percent to 28 percent; and Denmark’s corporate tax rate is now 25 percent.”

Is it any wonder that American firms are laying off workers and shipping jobs overseas? Cutting corporate tax rates creates jobs, increases economic growth and, eventually, increases consumer spending. If you don’t believe me, believe the 69-page research paper published by the Congressional Budget Office. The Tax Foundation summarizes their findings here.

A new study from three prominent economists finds that employees suffer most when their corporate employers must pay high corporate taxes. That contradicts the theory that has prevailed for decades — that corporate taxes mainly hurt investors — but it supports a recent CBO study by Randolph that found workers bearing 70 percent of the burden of corporate income taxes.

They find that the workers’ share of the corporate tax burden ranges from 45 to 75 percent.

The Tax Foundation has a complete study of corporate tax rates across the world. We are not winning. We are losing. Badly.

On a positive note, I find it charming and delightful when women speak passionately about how fiscal conservatism supports marriage, family and charity. Bachmann and her husband Markus run their own business. She’s worked as a tax lawyer and an elected legislator, but she still found time for a period of home-schooling. And not only did she raise her own 5 children, but also 23 foster children.

In her speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008, (video, transcript), Bachmann makes the connection between fiscal conservatism, small government, a strong family and private charity.

As Republicans, we recognize that service is an innately personal characteristic. It is best achieved by individuals and community groups, faith-based organizations and charities. And, service thrives best in an environment of freedom. Government fosters service best when government binds it least.

As Republicans, we recognize that when you keep more of your hard-earned dollars, you are free to spend it as you choose on the charities that touch your heart and make a difference in your community.

Bachmann believes in marriage, family and charity. My favorite quote from her is from her profile in World Magazine.

Bachmann says for her one thread ties all the day’s obligations together: “radical abandonment to God’s call.”

For more on big-government socialism and its conflict with marriage, family and charity, see this video lecture, by the eminent economist Jennifer Roback Morse.