We’ve all heard that Democrats were going to usher in a new era of transparency and that Barack Obama was going to do something about earmarks, pet projects that aren’t vetted the same way as general spending. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that neither one of these has happened, in fact, spending on earmarks increased in the last fiscal year:
Congressional reformers contend that they corrupt the process, and President Obama has vowed to sharply reduce them. But Congress devoted nearly $16 billion to lawmakers’ pet projects in their home states and districts last year — a slight increase in funding over the previous year, although the number of earmarks decreased.
For fiscal 2010, Congress included 9,413 earmarks in the annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government, down from 10,363 in 2009, according to a report released Wednesday by Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog dedicated to rooting out waste. Those earmarks accounted for $15.9 billion, up from $15.6 billion the previous year, the group found. That represents less than 2 percent of overall spending appropriated by Congress each year.
No doubt you heard about Andrew Joseph Stack flying his Piper Cherokee into an office building where about 200 IRS employees worked in northwest Austin, Texas. In addition to the intentional plane crash, he apparently set his home ablaze and possibly booby-trapped his car with a bomb. His suicide note/manifesto was briefly posted here, before the webhosting company took the site offline “due to the sensitive nature of the events.”
You may recall a report issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center last winter that equated support of many “extreme” views common in libertarian thought, including resistance to the current tax levels and system, with domestic terrorism. It’s obvious from the note left by Stack that he is no fan of the government, specifically calling out the IRS and FAA, as well as Congress’ manipulation of the tax code. It will likely be a few small correlations between Stack’s manifesto, his actions, and the MIAC report that generate more government scrutiny of those who oppose the continued growth of the federal government.
A new poll from Rasmussen shows that the government has lost the consent of the governed:
The founding document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence, states that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Today, however, just 21% of voters nationwide believe that the federal government enjoys the consent of the governed.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 61% disagree and say the government does not have the necessary consent. Eighteen percent (18%) of voters are not sure.
Among voters under 40, 25% believe government has the consent of the governed. That compares to 19% of those ages 50 to 64 and 16% of the nation’s senior citizens.
Those who earn more than $100,000 a year are more narrowly divided on the question, but those with lower incomes overwhelming reject the notion that today’s government has the consent from which to derive its just authority. Those with the lowest incomes are the most skeptical.
When a government constantly goes off course by defying the Constitution, colludes with business to undermine taxpayers and attempts to alter rights and liberties that existed before the foundation of the government, you cannot expect anything less than people to lose faith.
A heartbreaking story is told over at CNN, where a twelve year old girl found herself in handcuffs and in a police station after showing her affection for her friends:
There was no profanity, no hate. Just the words, “I love my friends Abby and Faith. Lex was here 2/1/10 :)” scrawled on the classroom desk with a green marker.
Alexa Gonzalez, an outgoing 12-year-old who likes to dance and draw, expected a lecture or maybe detention for her doodles earlier this month. Instead, the principal of the Junior High School in Forest Hills, New York, called police, and the seventh-grader was taken across the street to the police precinct.
Alexa’s hands were cuffed behind her back, and tears gushed as she was escorted from school in front of teachers and — the worst audience of all for a preadolescent girl — her classmates.
If you’ve noticed more and more cases like this, you’re not hallucinating:
We are arresting them at younger and younger ages [in cases] that used to be covered with a trip to the principal’s office, not sending children to jail,” said Emma Jordan-Simpson, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national children’s advocacy group.
This all comes as a result of post-Columbine school policies, in which zero tolerance has been placed on disciplinary acts in school. This policy is extremely short-sighted, as it creates a traumatic episode in a very vulnerable period of a child’s life - puberty. I’m not a child psychologist, but I strongly doubt that that sort of trauma is going to make anyone less inclined to violence or aggression in the future.
WSB Radio Washington Correspondent Jamie Dupree has the details on the health care bill that seems to be coming back to life and could include the government-run option:
Yes, it’s about to be back again, front and center in the political debate - health care reform, as the run to next Thursday’s health care summit is heating up this controversial issue again.
One highlight is that the Obama Administration plans to release a newly revised health plan that’s basically a combination of the House and Senate passed bills.
While that simmered, Democrats in both the House and Senate have started making more noise about getting a public insurance option in the bill, something that most people have thought was dead, dead, dead.
“Momentum Building for Public Option in Reconciliation,” said a press release issued Thursday night by leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“A public option is the best way to save the government tens of billions of dollars while making sure Americans are covered affordably and do not go bankrupt due to catastrophes,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).
Over 120 House members have now signed onto a letter asking for a public option, though that is well short of the 218 votes needed in the House.
Over in the Senate, a similar letter is also garnering more support than expected, as 17 Senators (all Democrats) are on board.
I don’t see a public option passing, not in this climate. Though use of reconciliation is inevitable, I think.
The Washington Post and ABC News released the results of a joint poll on the recent Citizens United decision from the Supreme Court, ith federal limitations on corporate spending during an election. The results are concerning:
Americans of both parties overwhelmingly oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns, and most favor new limits on such spending, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
Eight in 10 poll respondents say they oppose the high court’s Jan. 21 decision to allow unfettered corporate political spending, with 65 percent “strongly” opposed. Nearly as many backed congressional action to curb the ruling, with 72 percent in favor of reinstating limits.
The poll reveals relatively little difference of opinion on the issue among Democrats (85 percent opposed to the ruling), Republicans (76 percent) and independents (81 percent).
This poll, however, could be used as an example on how to phrase a question to get a specific result. As NewsBusters notes:
State pensions represent the next big fiscal obstacle:
Pension plans helped bring down the auto makers and the airlines. They are budgetary bombs on timers, set to go off on somebody else’s watch.
At the end of last year, 92 percent of corporate pension funds were underfunded. And the federal insurer of pension funds was $22 billion in the red.
This is why these pensions are vanishing from corporate America, replaced by savings accounts in which employees take responsibility for their retirement.
But government is slow to change, which is why government is becoming the last bastion of union employees and defined pensions.
The result: California. The Florida Legislature needs to dump our state pension system while there’s still time. Government workers can do what the rest of us do: Contribute to a 401(k).
There have been a few people talking about this, Glenn Reynolds being one of them. Not many understand that governments are going to have to raise taxes or significantly cut spending in order to meet the burden of these pensions, specifically in states that require a balanced budget, unless they modify these pension plans or privatize them.
During a recent event sponsored by the University of Chicago Law School’s Federalist Society, former US Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) and John Yoo, whose legal opinions paved the way for the Bush Administration to subvert the Constitution and Bill of Rights, squared off for a debate on national security and individual liberty during wartime.
Here is the debate in its entirety:
Mike Hassinger is a political consultant with Landmark Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. These views are his own.
The Tea Party movement has been ignored, mocked, dismissed, and cast as a collection of conspiracy kooks and racists. To become a genuine political force, this fledgling movement must face internal challenges of direction and leadership while under full assault from the statists on the left and their enabling lapdogs in the mainstream media. In one sense the Tea Party’s journey has been a compressed version of libertarianism -it took libertarians decades to become misunderstood and marginalized, whereas the Tea Partiers have done so in less than a year.
The Tea Party, as force in American electoral politics, stands at a crossroads –several crossroads, actually. Do they form their own political party, or back candidates from existing parties who support their views? Will they start small, with state and local races, or swing for the fences and jump into contested races in the house and Senate? The biggest question is going unasked: Will they co-opt, or be co-opted, and if they’re co-opted, who’s going to get them?
A CBS News/New York Times poll released a few days ago, before the one-year anniversary of the passage of the so-called “stimulus” bill, shows that only 6 percent of repondents believe Keynesian-style spending has “created” jobs.
The public should be skeptical. Despite the Obama Administration’s claims that a drepression was averted, a ridiculous assertion, we were told that unemployment would remain around 8 percent. We were told that without this deficit spending, which has had no measurable impact on the economy, unemployment would surpass 9 percent. Unemployment surpassed 10 percent with stimulus spending.
Comparing this to some other polls, Rob at Say Anything points out that back in 2006 a third of respondents to a Scripps Howard believed that 9/11 was an inside job. On the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death, 7 percent of respondents to a CBS News poll believed he was still living.
Taxpayers aren’t buying it.