Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"At a time when our school districts are facing severe budget cuts, it's frankly unconscionable that the state is still funding an office and staff for the governor's spouse," said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. "When the budget is in shambles, pencils and paper always trumps pomp and circumstance."
Jones' office attempted to find out how many state employees are assigned to The Office of the First Gentleman, but the office was not forthcoming with the information. It is also difficult to measure how many taxpayer dollars are used for the office because it is housed under the governor's office.
"My constituents are angry," Jones said. "Many tough cuts are being made in the state and yet the spouse of the governor has staff funded by their tax dollars. Whether we have a first gentleman or first lady this type of waste must stop. We don't need a ceremonial office; we need more money for our schools. Daniel Mulhern should set an example and end this practice."
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Watch Milton Friedman answer Phil Donahue's questions about "greed" and leave him with nothing to say. This clip says more in 2 minutes and 22 seconds than any college professor could say in an entire semester.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
"We are about to see where the Democrat priorities really lie when it comes to providing our children with a quality education. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contains provisions that could provide up to $400 million for our struggling school districts through the Race to the Top program. All Michigan has to do to apply for the relief is pass reforms that are already long overdue.
For years, Democrat-union politicization of the school system...[has] repeatedly put the interests of union members above those of our kids...After floating proposals for harmful tax increases to alleviate strained school budgets, the Democrat leadership should be jumping at this easy opportunity. We will see whether they were ever really in it for the kids, or if it was all about the control. Supporting these common-sense reforms is the easy choice, as long as the Michigan Education Association (MEA) isn't calling the shots.
If $400 million is not enough incentive for the Democrats to finally do the right thing, then they may never see the light. Either way, Republican legislators are beginning the fight for our children's success and the future of this state.
This week, the Republicans took the lead to improve our education system from the ground up. The Republican-controlled Senate approved legislation that provides needed education reform and puts Michigan at the ready to apply for the Race to the Top funds. House Republicans stand at the ready to approve this legislation. The only question that remains: What will the Democrats do?"
Monday, November 2, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Your next opportunity will reportedly be at the Saginaw ISD Transition Center, at 3860 Fashion Square Boulevard in Saginaw at 9:30 a.m. Here is a map.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Oh, by the way, the four Senators who voted YES?
Cherry (D) Prusi (D) Switalski (D) Thomas (D)
Senator Cassis, under her constitutional right of protest (Art. 4, Sec. 18), protested against the passage of Senate Bill No. 608.
"On a very important issue, I would like to express my “no” vote on Senate Bill No. 608. As you know, Senate Bill No. 608 is a supplemental, and it allows for ARRA money to be used toward job training. In as much as it is only one-time money, that raises concerns on its own. I would like to add that it is very interesting that, just within the last few days, DELEG, who oversees the job training programs and workforce training programs in our state, conveniently released a report. On the surface, it looks very optimistic that 72 percent of all the job training activities between August 2007 and February 2009 that job placement has been at a record rate of 72 percent. Again, that is very optimistic, and we hope it is accurate. I would then really suggest and recommend that this report be backed up by an objective investigation with specific, supportive references in order to verify the claims that are being made.
Further, I would recommend that our Auditor General actually become involved and do an audit of the workforce training programs and No Worker Left Behind. Up until now, there has been no realistic evaluation measurement of these programs. Included in here, as you may remember, are dollars for film training in the film industry. As you know, we are seeing certain promises about jobs coming from those training programs actually fall through...we hope these job training programs really will result in jobs because all of those people who are expecting to have employment deserve to have that expectation realized.
I raise these issues, and again, I am going to ask that the Auditor General very shortly investigate this whole arena."
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
So, I added an element to the poll. Respondents were required to leave their e-mail addresses. Suddenly the results changed. The final tally was 1651 to cut spending vs. 1211 to raise taxes. But among those willing to leave their e-mail address, the tally was 310 for "cut spending" and 2 for "raise taxes."
The taxpayers who are willing to put their name on the line say, "cut spending."
SB 945, a local right-to-work bill that allows local municipalities to create right-to-work zones. Don't expect it to go anywhere in the legislature, not enough courage, too many lawmakers beholding to the unions.
Read an excellent essay from the Mackinac Center here.
Do you think Michigan should be a right-to-work state? Vote here.
Monday, October 26, 2009
This is an excerpt from a speech he gave 14 October, 2009.
Here is an interview he did on Glenn Beck recently.
It was from a listener to his show that I first received the recording of George Cushingberry in his now famous "rant". Thanks, Renk, for "keeping it real."
Read the "Renk and File" blog here.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
You might want to show up anyway and respectfully ask the governor to let you into the meeting to offer your input, since it's YOUR tax dollars, and YOUR district, and YOUR kids.
As we fnd out other locations where she will be appearing, we will let you know.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
If it comes to that, what would be your preference? Take the online poll here. It's only one question. Results will be posted in a few days.
Kudos to Reps. Paul Scott and Jim Slezak, chief sponsor of HJR II, to amend the Michigan Constitution to define life as beginning at fertilization, establish life as an essential right, and require the legislature to pass laws to enforce this. Read the resolution here. The bill has 23 sponsors so far, but I would hope that every pro-life legislator in the House would sign on.
House Appropriations Chairman, George Cushingberry, the man responsible for driving the budget in the House is getting a little tired of calls from taxpayers asking him to hold the line on spending and taxes. Maybe "a little tired" is an understatement.
Reach Chairman Cushingberry here.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
C'mon, Mark, ease up a little, will ya?
Monday, October 12, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
"A bill to amend 1980 PA 299… A licensee who commits 1 or more of the following is subject to the penalties set forth in article 6: ALLOWS AN INDIVIDUAL NOT LICENSED UNDER THIS ARTICLE TO ENTER A LISTED RESIDENCE UNACCOMPANIED BY A LICENSEE OR PROVIDES INFORMATION THAT WOULD ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL TO ENTER THE LISTED RESIDENCE UNACCOMPANIED BY A LICENSEE UNDER THIS ARTICLE, OR BOTH."
If you are a realtor, I guess you will no longer be allowed to give the key to the termite inspector or contractor to do a few repairs, or the Molly Maid, or the carpet cleaner.. You will have to go with him and...waste your time.
Government loves to protect you.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
That is the whole point of Tom McMillin's transparency amendment to the school aid fund budget. Every district will have to report how much they spend out of their budget on lobbying. If Mr. Jackson is correct, we will know. Incidentally, here is an article from the Mackinac Center that sheds some light on the subject.
I encourage anyone with evidence to prove or disprove whether lobbyists for public education are funded with tax dollars to post their information.
Remember what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said: "Sunshine is the best disinfectant."
If you have been following the news, you know that the School Aid budget, that $13 billion behemoth, was the last budget to be resolved. It looks like that has finally happened. The great news is that there will not be any tax increases to pay for the budget, so far. On top of that, Tom McMillin's transparency components will be included in the budget, at least for this year. The following requirements will be written into the School Aid Fund budget for each district this year:
- Annual operating budget(s).
- Personnel expenditures, including salaries, wages, and employee benefit costs and retirement benefit costs.
- All other district expenditures, including instruction, support services, business and administration, and operations and maintenance.
- Current collective bargaining agreement for each bargaining unit.
- Each health care benefits plan offered to any bargaining unit or employee in the district.
- Audit for the most recent fiscal year available.
- Total salary and a description and cost of each fringe benefit included in the compensation package for the superintendent and for each employee whose salary exceeds $100,000.
- Annual amount spent on dues paid to associations.
- Annual amount spent on lobbying or lobbying services.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
So, get out that graduation tassel, air freshener or Mardi Gras beads! They may become legal again.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
So far, Mike Bishop and the Senate Republicans have held firm on not raising taxes, but the MEA is NOT about to back down. The first payment is due to the schools on October 20. Stay tuned, this battle may continue to the end of October. It might be worse than 2007.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Tonight, Lawmakers Penalize Taxpayers, Business Owners and Doctors
I am outraged that tonight, the House Democrats pushed through a series of tax increases on Michigan residents and job providers in order to balance the state's budget, while stalling for the last nine months!
In bills ultimately approved by the Democrat-led state House, the proposals raise taxes by almost $400 million, including the elimination of $116 million in Michigan Business Tax credits that Livingston County businesses have been utilizing, a new health care tax, and the elimination of a scheduled $100 increase in per person deduction for state income taxes.
It is unbelievable to me that we even considered tax increases when Michigan families and businesses already took a massive hit in 2007 with an income tax increase and a massive 23% surcharge tax added onto the new Michigan Business Tax (MBT). To bring up tax increases at the 11th hour under the cover of darkness is a stunning breach of the public trust. We had a bi-partisan, signed agreement to balance the state's budget without raising taxes, and now the Democrats have broken that deal!
To end a government shutdown in 2007, Democrats proposed and pushed through a $1.4 billion tax increase, one of the largest ever in Michigan's history. Since that time, Michigan's unemployment rate has more than doubled. The state is facing a $3 billion shortfall for the current fiscal year it is working on and is already facing a projected $1.4 billion shortfall for the following fiscal year!!!
We must balance the state's budget without relying on Michigan residents and business owners to send more of their hard-earned money to Lansing. I am embarrassed that the House Leadership continues to pass the buck on Michigan's future instead of making the tough decisions that need to be made.
We MUST look at making the structural reforms now if we ever want to get our state back on track financially and economically.
All taxes bills passed by the Michigan House must now be approved by the Michigan Senate and signed by the Governor. To see how your Legislator voted on these tax increases, please visit www.michiganvotes.org.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
REPRESENTATIVE BILL ROGERS' OFFICE
MEGHAN LIZOTTE - POLICY DIRECTOR/OFFICE MANAGER
MAIN PHONE LINE: (517) 373-1784
DIRECT PHONE LINE: (517) 373-8005
House Republicans today decried the move by House Democrats to raise taxes by nearly $400 million on Michigan families and job-providers, and issued warnings on the effects the taxes will have on Michigan's economy.
"On a day when the Washington Post predicts Michigan will lose a million jobs during Granholm's tenure, we should be doing everything possible to prove them wrong - not help the prediction become reality," said House Republican Leader Kevin Elsenheimer. "A tax increase sends the wrong message not only to Michigan families and Michigan businesses, but to job-providers looking to come to our state.
"This is exactly what Democrats did in 2007 - they raised the state sales tax without public input, at the last minute and behind locked doors, taking Michigan down the path from 7 percent unemployment to 15.2 percent. We simply can't afford another doubling of the unemployment rate."
Elsenheimer also noted that the Democrats had to lock the members onto the House floor, for their tax votes to be approved. The Democrat tax increases were narrowly approved, with bipartisan opposition on all tax increases.
The House Republican caucus offered 15 amendments that provide serious reforms for state government. Republican cost-saving reforms include:
· Eliminating lifetime benefits for lawmakers;
· Stopping job-killing actions by the Department of Environmental Quality;
· Freezing the Earned Income Tax Credit at 2009 levels;
· Rooting out unemployment fraud;
· Encouraging local government consolidation of services;
· Allowing school districts flexibility in designing student curriculums; and
· Improving transparency by creating a Web site that details every dollar of state government spending.
"Democrats knew the public support for tax increases simply wasn't there, especially in the absence of real government reforms," Elsenheimer said. "There are better options - target agreements have already been reached to balance the budget without raising taxes. It couldn't be more clear that our state has a leadership problem, not a revenue problem."
Even though the odds may be against them, Rep. Rick Jones today urged his House Republican colleagues to stand strong against new tax increases. There are 67 House Democrats in the state House, and only 43 Republicans.
But Jones said much like the Spartans in the movie "300," House Republicans have become stronger than their actual numbers because they are standing together for Michigan residents. Jones placed a "300" Spartan battle helmet on his desk as symbolism of standing strong. It sits on desk number #1 (Jones's desk) and all lawmakers view it as they go in and out of caucus.
"Although the Democrats have a clear majority in the Michigan House, it's becoming more and more apparent that Republicans have brought more lawmakers to the fight against new taxes," said Jones, R-Grand Ledge.
Rep. Jones asked his colleagues to remain strong against tax increases proposed today by House Democrats.
"In 2007, Governor Granholm got new taxes and stated that no more would be needed. She promised reforms. Those reforms have not taken place. Stand strong and vote NO on more taxes."
While Granholm had a private meeting today with Democrat House members, the Republican caucus also met.
- 15 percent in MBT tax "expenditure cuts" raising $116.1 million
- Other tobacco products tax, $41 million
- Extend bar hours of operation, $13.7 million
- Personal exemption index freeze $55 million
- Physician tax of 3 percent to leverage more federal Medicaid dollars, $52.5 million
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Do not expect a vote on revenue increases (a.k.a. tax hikes) in the House as part of the immediate budget solution for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010, House Speaker Andy DILLON (D-Redford Twp.) told reporters this evening.
Amid speculation that Dillon simply can't get enough votes in his 67-member caucus for even relative moderate tax hikes, the Speaker said the problem was the five-day rule, a Constitutional provision that states all bills that initially pass the House must sit in the Senate before they are acted upon.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Final tally: 106 No, 2 Yes, 2 absent
Remember, you can't tax yourself into prosperity or a balanced budget. The more taxes go up, the less the private sector produces, and revenues decline. They raised taxes $1.5 billion two years ago to "balance" the budget. So how does that explain the $3 billion shortfall this year?
Contact you lawmaker here.
Tell them, "We already cut our budget this year. Please don't make us cut it again so you don't have to."
Monday, September 28, 2009
At every bi-annual conference, there are volunteers who come to the island to help get the word out and campaign for the candidates. It is not unusual to see a dozen to 50 or 60 enthusiastic T-shirt wearing college students carrying signs, handing out literature and cheering on their favorite candidate. In return, these kids usually get a free ferry ride, a hotel room and all the chicken wings and refreshing beverages they can consume. NPR has a great article online about the straw poll. Read it here.
This year, however, it was a little different for one candidate in particular. Rick Snyder's campaign brought as many as 500 volunteers to the island. (At least that is the number rumored to have registered with the Snyder campaign in the last week alone.) They were easy to spot; they all had day-glow lime green t-shirts on. You knew they weren't road builders, Mackinac Island doesn't even allow cars.
All 500 of these volunteers were allowed to vote in the straw poll because the Snyder campaign paid the $100 for every one of them. (Nice $50,000 bump for the party coffers!) What is curious is why Snyder received only 396 votes. What was even more startling was the method used by the campaign to ensure that the "volunteers" were voting properly. I happened to notice when I was up at the hotel to vote that a Snyder campaign employee was standing inside the cordoned off voting area. Each Snyder green shirt who voted had to hand the ballot card to be checked for accuracy. Once the campaign employee was satisfied, he would stamp the hand of the voter. (Can you say "card check"? So much for secret ballots...)
To nobody's surprise, Snyder came in first in the straw poll. What was a surprise was how well Pete Hoekstra did. The Congressman from Holland is not as well known statewide as Mike Bouchard who ran on the statewide ballot in 2006 or Attorney General Mike Cox who has been elected statewide twice. Pete did not pay the way for 500 campaign workers, in fact, I saw a relatively small number of shirts with his name on them. I guess Pete received 219 votes because delegates actually liked his message and performance in the debate. Bouchard and Cox virtually tied with 300 and 298 votes respectively, very impressive indeed.
In the race for Secretary of State, Michelle McManus did very well. She garnered 404 votes; Sen. Cameron Brown, 311; Calhoun County Clerk Anne Norlander, 248; and Paul Scott, 212. So what is the deal with Paul Scott? He is a 26-year old freshman lawmaker with all of 9 months experience in elected office. Here is the inside story. The same organization that is "master-minding" the Snyder campaign has also recruited Rep. Scott, apparently convincing him that he is a viable candidate. So the word went out to the Snyder army that while voting for Snyder for governor, they should vote for Scott for SOS. Obviously, barely over half of them did. Get all the results here.
Incidentally, I had a brief conversation with one of the green-shirted volunteers. When I asked her if the guy she was supporting was going to be the next governor, seriously, her response to me was, "Who's that?" I replied, "You know, Rick." She had a blank look on her face. I pointed to her shirt and continued, "Rick...Snyder." She looked down at her shirt, her face brightened and she said, "Oh, yeah, duh. Gee, that was a real blond thing to do, wasn't it?" Here is a YouTube from Right Michigan that further illustrates the point.
Well, its early. What counts is not the straw poll. That was really just a fund-raiser for the Republican Party. What matters is leadership. We will find out in the coming months who those leaders really are. I think we have some very good candidates to consider.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here is what MIRS reported today
Budgets dealing with K-12 schools, Medicaid, college scholarships, day care for low-income working families and revenue sharing to local municipalities remain in a state of flux as the Governor and other lawmakers struggle with sparing those priorities against "dangerous cuts" by approving tax increases.
Two years ago, after squandering away the entire Summer, the legislature passed a budget that included $1.5 billion in new taxes. They did it in the dark of night, hours AFTER the October 1st deadline.
Here we are, just five days away from going over the cliff, and it's "Deja vu all over again." The legislature spent most of the Spring and the Summer NOT addressing the budget, and in fact, not even holding session. As of this writing, there is still no budget resolution.
It is my opinion that leaders in the legislature, who do not have the intestinal fortitude to make drastic reductions in state government are running out the clock. They are going to put the proverbial gun to our heads on September 30 and tell us we must accept a tax increase to preserve all those "essential services" or face a government shutdown.
There is a way to stop them. May I suggest the following courses of action:
- Stay informed. Two years ago, I was blogging up-to-the-minute reports on the process from the floor of the House. Nearly 2,500 readers stayed up past midnight to read every post. Most of them were telling me to "shut 'er down." This year, I encourage every conservative blogger in Michigan to converge on Lansing on the 30th. Sit in the gallery of the House and the Senate and blog to the world the blow-by-blow events. Make sure all your followers know instantly if there is a proposal to raise taxes. I will likely be blogging from the gallery on www.jackformichigan.org.
- Watch the proceedings live on your computer. Go to Michigan Government TV (MGTV). Legislative sessions are usually streamed live.
- Call, write, email, fax...flood the legislature with communications that expresses your opposition to more taxes and fees on your family, your business, your community to pay for their fiscally irresponsible ways. Here are the House and Senate links.
- "Storm the Castle." Come to Lansing Wednesday night and stand outside the capitol with your home made signs. Let them know what you think. Every day, the taxpayer-funded lobbyists are calling, visiting, buying coffee and lunch for lawmakers to convince them "not to cut MY budget." Now you need to lobby them not to cut YOUR budget. Because if your taxes go up, that's exactly what will happen. (Stay tuned for announcements of a rally to take place, if needed.) Who knows? Maybe they will settle this over the weekend; maybe they will pass a "continuation" budget, which is essentially kicking the problem down the road. But, if we get to Wednesday without a settlement, you may be needed in Lansing!
Thanks for being part of the solution.
Thanks for holding your elected officials accountable!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday September 24, 9:30 a.m.
116 West Ottawa, Lansing MI, MI 48083
Next to the "House Biggby's"
Agenda will be sent out early next week.
If you have an item for discussion, please let me know via e-mail. Legislators who have bills to discuss which promote limited govenment are always given priority! Bring handouts.
I have decided to move back to blogger. Blogs and newsletters will be posted on this site. In addition, I will continue to use Constant Contact to e-mail newsletters to all subscribers. If you are not on my mailing list, please send me a note at email@example.com and ask to be added.
Because of the transition, many of the archived blogs and letters will look a llittle strange. I apologize for that. Going forward, there should be continuity to the posts. Meanwhile, you can find my blog either t www.jackformichigan or www.coreprinciples.blogspot.com Thanks for your patience.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
His memo calls for almost $1 billion in news revenue. Rather than make the painful cuts, just like all of us have done in our families and businesses, he wants to extract another $1 billion from a rapidly shrinking tax base. Read his memo here.
Monday, August 24, 2009
- Written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it
- Passed and signed into law by a Congress and a President who never read it and are exempt from it
- Funded and administered by a Treasury Secretary who didn't pay his taxes
- Overseen by a Surgeon General who is obese, and
- Financed by a country that’s $65 Trillion in debt
Friday, August 14, 2009
It's called the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749). Under this legislation, according to Paul Williams, Ph.D., "this Act will grant the FDA the authority to regulate how crops are raised and harvested; to quarantine a geographic area; to make warrant-less searches of business records; and to establish a national food tracing system. It will impose annual registration fees of $500 on all facilities holding, processing, or manufacturing food. Farmers who fail to comply with the new regulations will be subjected to fines and criminal prosecution.
"Under the terms of the bill, crops must be grown in sterile areas, surrounded by 450 foot buffers, so that they are not exposed to other vegetation, runoffwater, birds, beasts, or wildlife of any kind. "To create such sterile farms, ponds will be poisoned; wetlands drained; and streams re-routed to safeguard the crops from untreated water. "Trees will be bulldozed from agricultural corridors to protect the fields from bird droppings. "Fields will be lined with poison-filled tubes to kill rodents. "All children under five will be prohibited from stepping foot on farmland or tilled soil for fear of leaky diapers. "A crow landing in a cornfield will mandate the destruction of the entire corn crop."
If you want to know more click here.
Ronald Reagan predicts the march of socialism through the federal takeover of the national health care system...50 years before it happens! Watch a one-minute video that says it all here.
A new food safety bill is on the fast track in Congress-HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. The bill needs to be stopped.
HR 2749 gives FDA tremendous power while significantly diminishing existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. The bill would impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme on small farms and local artisanal producers; and it would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse.
Read more here.
Get details on the bill and its sponsor Representative John Dingell here.
More information here.
Contact the good Congressman here.
Ronald Reagan had it figured out nearly fifty years ago. Ronald Reagan was a staunch free-market capitalist. He believed in limited government. He did not have an epiphany about conservatism when he decided to run for President. His beliefs were in the core of his being long before he ran for political office. Here is evidence of that fact. Here is a one-minute sound clip from a speech Ronald Reagan gave about national health care back in the 50's. He was right then, and he speaks to us from the grave about the pit we are about to step into with socialized medicine. Listen here.
Hear the full ten-minute speech here.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
I served in the legislature six years, until leaving under the state's term limits law. I learned a great deal about how government really works in the state. One of the things I learned is that the budget process really only involves five people: the governnor, the Speaker of the House, the Majority leader of the Senate, and the two minority leaders (House and Senate).
According to the Constitution, the governor proposes a budget and the legislature actually appropriates the money through an arduous and lengthy process. Eighteen budgets are deliberated over by both chambers of the legislature. In the end, there is a reconciliation between the House, Senate and Admnistration. But all of that process is window dressing. What really happens? It's called "targets."
Read this story by Kyle Melinn. He writes for the Lansing City Pulse and the MIRS newsletter. His somewhat cynical view of the process is in fact, very accurate. I can attest to that from first hand experience. I have copied the text below for those who don't want to link to the article.
Wednesday, July 22,2009
Don't Tell Anyone About Our Secret Government
by Kyle Melinn
From now until at least September, our state government leaders will be periodically locking themselves in a room at an unannounced time and place.
The public has no real idea what is being discussed “behind closed doors,” as Charlie Rich sings, other than the promise is that next year’s budget is getting smashed together. The daily spoonful fed to the media is that discussions “are ongoing,” somewhat like life itself, but we’re assuming much more painful.
Whoever steps into the room takes a Mason’s-like pledge of secrecy. Anyone with the gall to break that circle of trust by — gasp — talking to anyone but the Holy Father himself is shot at sunrise.
This deal-making process is called “targets.” Typically, the meetings include someone from the Governor’s Office or state Budget Office, sometimes the governor herself, the Senate majority leader, the speaker of the House, some other key lawmakers, plenty of paid staff or some combination thereof.
This “targets” fraternity process isn’t written into the Constitution or mentioned in state law.
And, yet, this is where state government discovers how much money it spends. On which programs the money will be spent. How much of that money will be spent on said programs. Which taxes and fees, if any, will be raised.
Pretty important stuff, really. And it’s all secret. Every last word.
What do these people talk about? What are the subjects that are truly “on the table?” What do all sides completely agree is “off the table?” The official answer: “Discussions are ongoing.” Until they cease to be ongoing, I suppose.
This year’s round of “targets” is particularly agitating to the few and the proud who prefer open government in Lansing. Myself included.
Typically, the governor puts out her budget plan in February. The House and Senate take the next four months to sniff it, bat it around and then, ultimately, gnaw on it before they, too, pass a budget that is remarkably similar but uniquely different than the governor’s. At that point they scurry into the “targets” room and, many weeks later, emerge with arms locked in a warm, wonderful embrace. They name the baby “Deal.”
This year, the governor proposed a budget in February and then watched state revenues drop off a cliff. President Barack Obama fed this state money as fast as Treasury could print it, but a lot of it is meant only for a social programming, energy efficiency and likeminded, well-intentioned programs. The hemorrhaging General Fund? Nope.
The House passed its budget, by and large, before anybody knew how bad the problem was, which left the Senate to pass something in June so hideous two senators fought about it in an elevator.
So now we’re allegedly in targets, but what is being targeted? The governor’s and the House’s public plans are outdated. Passing those budgets without tax increases would blow a hole in the state’s checkbook, and everybody knows it. They’re not seriously being discussed.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is telling her favorite mass media reporters that she doesn’t like some of the Senate’s cuts, which she shouldn’t. But outside of making a vague reference to $500 million to $1 billion in “tax loophole” closings, she isn’t offering a counter-proposal.
Maybe she has one, but Granholm only talks over the phone to select, big-market reporters who don’t ask tough questions.
Does the House leadership have a plan? I’m sure Speaker Andy Dillon’s has a brilliant, novel approach to balance the budget. I’m not being sarcastic about that, either. It’s just that unless you can read his mind, you’ll never know what it is.
So we have secret meetings taking place at secret times on secret proposals that ultimately will become a secret, unalterable “deal” that any member of the majority is obliged to vote for.
Sounds like the creation of the Michigan Service Tax of two years ago!
The difference, of course, is that the Service Tax was the spawn of some new dark hole that recently opened up in the Capitol called the “work group,” the poor and lessexclusive cousin of “targets.” Hand-picked lawmakers, lobbyists and staff all jump into this “workgroup” abyss when there’s a real big problem chasing them, like a broken tax system, for example.
If all goes well, out pops a bill “everybody” allegedly agreed to. Any substantive changes are completely out of the question. Minor, “technical” changes can be fixed on the House floor, where amendments are never read, rarely explained and almost always jammed through under the dull, loud roar of 110 people talking sports, movies and family.
Hey, but at least the final vote on the final product is recorded for posterity. The Legislature will even record who voted how in its official journal, and why wouldn’t it? Would you expect anything less from an open American government?
(Kyle Melinn is the editor at the MIRS newsletter. His column runs weekly. Write firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Do you remember the big battle in Evart, Michigan between Ice Mountain and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)? Nestle Waters was trying to create hundreds of jobs by bottling fresh ground water for retail sale. The DEQ, joined by the environmental groups like the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC), argued that Ice Mountain would deplete the ground water, causing damage to nearby lakes and streams. The case dragged on for years, coming to a final conclusion only last month when Ice Mountain agreed to pump no more than 313,000 gallons of groundwater per day. Originally, Ice Mountain had been granted permission to pump 576,000 gallons per day.
Terry Swier, president of the MCWC, called the settlement a victory for her organization. "This will leave more water in the system and should eliminate the more serious impacts" to the waterways that were threatened by the withdrawals, Swier said.
My question is this: If the DEQ and the MCWC were willing to fight so hard protect the ground water and the environment in that case, where are they on the situation in Grand Haven Township?
Look closely at the picture above. What you are looking at is called an "outfall structure." It is essentially a well with a pump at the bottom capable of extracting up to 450,000 gallons of fresh ground water per day. It runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How did this pump get here? The short version of the story goes like this. A property owner applied for and was given a permit to build a home. Just before construction began, the builder decided to move the foundation from the back of the property to the front. After digging the foundation and putting in the basement, they discovered they were in a high water table. They tried installing a sump pump but it couldn't keep up. They ended up installing the outfall structure you see in the picture. This pristine water is being extracted from the water table and dumped, ostensibly into a county drain.
The problem is, the county drain doesn't go anywhere, leaving the potential for severe flooding of the neighborhood, especially when there is a wet, rainy period like we had last Spring. This causes damage to crops, property values and the highway that runs about 50 feet from the pump. Granted, the water eventually percolates back into the ground, but doesn't seem like a waste of quality ground water to allow this to happen? Why are environmental groups and the DEQ not taking action to prevent this waste? A neighbor across the street has been inquiring of the DEQ, the Drain Commissioner, the Township Board, the Department of Transportation and the County Road Commission. No action has been taken. This situation has been ongoing for over one year.
When pressed on the issue, legal counsel for the DEQ said in effect: "Oh, we didn't give them permission to pump all that water, we just granted them a permit to put the pipe in the ground." Who knew that all that water would come spewing out of the pipe? Where are the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation on this one?
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Economist David Littmann, one of the four panelists at the Center Right Meeting July 16, provided written answers to the 25 of the 26 questions submitted. (The 26th question was addressed specifically to one of the other panelists.) Scott Hagerstrom, State Director of AFP-Michigan has also submitted answers. You can read Messrs. Littmann's and Hagerstrom's excellent responses below:
Center Right Questions from July 16 Panel:
1. 22 of the 23 state house districts in Wayne County are held by Dems. What can I do in Wayne County (as a candidate of otherwise to effect change in the county?)
DL: Ask the public & the media if they believe the Democrat monopoly on power has enriched or empowered anyone but themselves or their select, favored constituents. It’s time for competitive ideas & a new, responsible way of behaving as a trustee of the people.
SH: Many politicians love their job, so whether they are Republican or Democrat, your opinion counts – Issues like taxes are hot button issues whether Republican or Democrat - Ask hard questions of candidates, vote in every election, write letters to the editor, get involved at the local level, get involved with a local group like the Wayne County Taxpayers Association, sign up for the Michigan Tax Alert at www.mitaxalert.com, stay informed on the issues.
2. Economics has been called the “gloomy” science. Have Americans lost confidence in gloom?
DL: Economics is only “gloomy” if one doesn’t really understand the laws of economics or remains ignorant of the enriching & choice-expanding powers of the competitive marketplace.
SH: I can’t speak for all Americans.I saw a lot of disappointment and apathy after the November election. However, the politicians in charge in Washington overstepped their bounds beginning with the stimulus legislation and that ignited a fire under the grassroots. The healthcare bill has only furthered that sentiment. I believe that we have to message on how these policies will affect people’s jobs, paychecks and families budgets to win these battles. I am not sure Americans were ever interested in the intricacies of the science of economics. As a matter of freedom and liberty, and as we look at history and other countries that implement central control, those economies eventually fail. They cannot keep up with the dynamics of a fluid economy. Only a free people with a free market system can turn on a dime to adjust to economic changes and societal demands.
3. How does campaigning against national healthcare win in 2010 for Republicans?
DL: We must tell the constructive, optimistic story about our healthcare system & the dynamic technology & financially responsible reforms that encourage better patient communication & control over his/her own care, without taking choice or financial control away from others or discouraging science, innovation, and first rate care from existing professionals. Also, we must explain how bureaucrats keep destroying the system, from the post-office, Amtrak, Veterans and Indian health care to immense systems like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid…….$60 billion annual Medicare fraud already admitted….how much more are we never told? Is this what we want as “change?” Must begin the push back of Democrats and media by demanding that if their proposed system is so great, then why not start it on all federal employees, including themselves!!
SH: We are campaigning against nationalized or socialized medicine that will be controlled by a Washington D.C. bureaucrat. If you think it is bad now wait till a bureaucrat in a cubicle hundreds of miles away is making health care decisions for you and your family. The winning argument on healthcare is to preserve consumer choice, and break down barriers to competition. Also, we must keep in place systems that reward innovation and creativity. Those are the drivers of improvements in the quality of care delivered. On Sept. 16th at Oakland University, Americans For Prosperity-MI, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Heartland Institute will be holding a three hour forum on healthcare and solutions that do not involve increasing government control and oversight.
4. Is Obama-care the one irreversible part of the Obama Liberal agenda that cannot be reversed?
DL: In the short-term (5-20 years), yes; people will demand something for nothing at this time (especially if the cost is borne by the so-called “rich” or by yet to be born generations & workers). The failure in the long-term is guaranteed, as the boat tips.
SH: Anything that is passed and signed into law is difficult to undo. To do so would require a U.S. House and Senate that would vote to repeal the law and then a President willing to sign that repeal into law. I would say that the most damaging aspect is the obscene borrowing that is going on because that debt will have to be paid back someday and the interest payments will crush future generations. As Ronald Reagan used to say – Government programs are the closest thing to eternal life you will ever find on this earth.
5. Do you feel the GOP must extend its professed commitment to the principle of limited government to all aspects of public policy? That is, must not the party embrace decriminalization of drugs, the end of foreign interventions, the end of coercively funded public education, and the domestic surveillance state?
DL: Yes. A return to Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution would oblige the Fed Gov’t to focus public and press on their responsibilities, not just their rights and would focus the three branches of fed. gov’t on the duties to protect lives and property. It would also focus on the need to prosecute (publicly) the tax felons such as Geithner, Rangel, Dodd, et.al.
SH: As a non-partisan organization dedicated to free markets and economic liberty I can only say that I believe that any party that wants to be a majority party should embrace those economic principles that lead to prosperity for our nation. After 20 years of work in this arena, mostly as a policy advisor, I firmly believe that free markets and economic liberty are the only way to achieve prosperity for all Americans. I would recommend studying the Chicago School of Economics and Austrian Economics.
6. I heard 74% of population does not want government health care. Why, then is gov’t bent on giving people what they do not want?
DL: Follow the money to see where their campaign reelection funds emanate. Also, at the core of the problem lies the fundamental disintegration of the American family and overwhelmingly Marxist press corps.
SH: Overtime politicians become arrogant and the government becomes the center of their world. They need to justify their jobs and salary. They need to attempt to deliver services so they can get great photo ops for the next campaign. Just remember before they can give something to anyone they must first take from someone else. They have taxed us, indebted our great-grandchildren and beyond (to China and others), and have run the Treasury printing presses non-stop (inflation will come back to bite us).
7. Can state officials put pressure on national leaders to not pass legislation that devastates Michigan?
DL: They could, but they won’t. Why not? Because their entire agenda is to help create greater dependency on government (and less self-reliance or individual initiative). They crave consolidation of political power for the ages.
SH: They can but through public statements and resolutions; however, this has minimal effect. The best way to put pressure on officials is to call, write and e-mail them in mass numbers. That is why AFP has worked to increase membership. There is power in numbers. Someone has to speak for the taxpayer and be able to offer a differing opinion than those given by high priced lobbyists (you are paying many of their salaries). AFP has over 700,000 members nationwide and 34,000 on our e-mail list in Michigan.
8.What is your view on establishing New World Currency that would replace the American dollar?
DL: Like everything else, excellence is abetted via competition. Currencies are no different. If our policies were aimed at creating a more competitive business environment, our growth, prosperity, and currency would be second to none in strength.
9. We all know the media helped elect Obama as they led the uninformed voters by their collective noses. The Republican “elite” armed with the facts should point out their leftist bent on talk shows and intimidate them, but they do not. Why?
DL: Largely because they have no backbone or philosophical anchor. Most lack integrity (every day Mark Twain’s comment becomes more relevant and prescient: today’s politicians are truly ‘America’s only native criminal class’). Not all, but most.
SH: This has been a complaint of Republican leadership for many years. I don’t know why. However, since they may not be willing to take on the big government liberals then groups like AFP and other are.
11. Everyone says we will have huge inflation in the coming years. If so, what is a good plan for investment of cash and other assets?
DL: First, keep working (or earning current income!). With stocks, invest in general SPDRs (S&P-driven mutuals), along with stocks based in real resources needed for basic life and barter: agriculture, mining, power, forests.. Have supplies of emergency things that won’t be readily available or may be interrupted for who knows how long, including food, water, generator, medicine, backup communication devices, batteries, etc.
12. What is the best method of getting our elected “leaders” to listen to our concerns?
DL: Three suggestions: Threaten them with organizations aimed at voting against them in next campaign; reveal to them, friends, and the press, their corruption or sources of special interest favoritism at the expense of the rest of the constituency; shout out the contradictions between their advocacy and actions (like sending their own kids to private schools when they themselves put caps and restrictions on the expansion of private and charter schools for us, etc). Same with health care, pensions, pay raises, regulations, etc.
SH: This has been a complaint of Republican leadership for many years. I don’t know why. However, since they may not be willing to take on the big government liberals then groups like AFP and other are.
13. How does one reconcile free-market principles with a government-imposed ban on voluntary exclusive contracts between business and a labor organization?
DL: By not bailing out failure and subsidizing crime or granting special favors to criminals; demand symmetrical incarceration and restitution for violation of acts against private property and lives. Make it a rule of law, not of man. Privately made, legal (non coerced) contracts should be enforced ubiquitously, irrespective of the individual, firm, or other incorporated entity.
14. We are being crushed under debt. I am worried that we are being readied for an Islamic takeover. Your thoughts?
DL: You are correct in your apprehension….not just for us but for coming generations. Our focus must quickly return to rolling back non-defense federal spending.
SH: I hope not. We need to work now and always to preserve our freedoms and our way of life. Money is power and the more tax money the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are given the more power they will have over our everyday lives.
15. Why do we use the word Democratic when we should use the term Democrat?
DL: Only idiots say “Democratic” (instead of democrat, as an adjective). Glad to hear you know this! Most people are ignorant of their language, as well as their gov’t. They are indeed lemmings.
SH: Democrat is a party and Democratic is describing a type of government . . .
16. Should we develop a Center-Right speaker’s bureau?
DL: Yes. We need to grow and activate our side’s organizations.
SH: That is an excellent idea. AFP-MI would like to assist with that effort. Are there any volunteers that would like to assist with that project? We could house the list on our site and we would be glad to work with other small government organizations in Michigan to share the list and make that happen.
17. Why don’t we audit the Federal Reserve?
DL: We need to abolish the Fed. The Fed Reserve has inflicted on this country the worst economic Depression and contributed to the worst peacetime inflation in our national existence. The finest thing we can do is replace the corrupt and ignorant Fed Res with what worked magnificently for 75 years with no bank failure…..the 19th Century Scottish Free Banking System of Clearing Houses. The Bank of England forced them to disband.
SH: Great idea! I believe that Congressman Ron Paul has a bill in Congress that would do just that. It is up to the committee chair and leadership in Congress to take that bill up.
18. It has been demonstrated that when conservatives stand tall, articulate their principles and refuse to back down. The response from many parts of our society is applause. Why are so many elected officials and candidates reluctant to stand tall? Why the wavering toward moderation?
DL: Follow the money. See where the candidates get their funding and what compromises on principle they thereby accept. Lack of integrity, myopia, and “me-ism.” Many politicians are frankly sicko…..seeking eternal love, attention, security, and media adulation at the expense of everyone else, with no thought to the next generation.
SH: Good question. Most politicians are not necessarily leaders. Politicians believe they are trying to reflect public sentiment because they want to keep their jobs. Many in the political arena call those that stand by their principles ideologues. Compromise certainly a reality in politics. As small government, economic liberty minded individuals we are just trying to move in the right direction. Sometimes that means stopping bad stuff, other times it means making major changes and then other times it is making small gains.
19. Are the children in Michigan’s government schools doomed to learn Keynesian economics for another generation or will they be given the chance to learn other economic systems (i.e. Austrian economics)?
DL: They should be handed an easy, short, conceptually logical economics text, like Economics In One Step , by Henry Hazlitt. Actually, when teaching Keynes, the students are not learning the full Keynesian economics….they get only the Socialist-Marxian spin of the NEA/MEA. Just before his death, Keynes admitted that his regime was popular with politicians and was not suited to normal growth economics (a special case, and not really a “general” theory)! He also warned of the inflation calamity and how it worked!
20. I e-mail and call Sens. Stabenow and Levin, and Rep. Peters 2-3 times a week on various issues. How do I know that they read or listen to me? (Or how do I make them listen)?
DL: Keep at it and sign others onto it. Join us and/with others for protests, media contacts, and protest rallies and tea parties.
SH: You don’t and there is no way to know. You can’t make anyone listen. Your vote is your primary tool to make these politicians listen. You can also send letters to the editor and organize locally.
21. Most of Michigan’s budget shortfall could be closed if pensions were taxable. Why do I never read anything about changing this structural deficit? My letters to my reps and governor fall on deaf ears.
DL: My pension is sure taxable! By the way, I believe the answer is not to be distracted by the tax, deficit, or debt questions, but to strike at the root: GOVT SPENDING. Any tax system works as long as the government spending does not exceed the growth in the private sector of the economy -- not just for a single year, but (during peacetime) forever!! And, during war or natural disasters, it means cutting all non-defense spending to the bone and beyond! Let’s stop being distracted from the key concern, GOVT SPENDING.
SH: Government provided pensions are not taxable per the interpretation of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling. There are plenty of reforms and proposed budget cuts that would allow the budget to balanced and to create a surplus so that Michigan could cut taxes to make for a climate where businesses could thrive and increased employment.
22. What is the most effective way to reach legislators?
DL: Threaten recalls for criminal/wasteful spending; it is inter-generational theft that will impoverish us & our progeny, making the state & the nation militarily insecure. They are “feathering their own nests” at the expense of current and prospective generations of beleaguered taxpayers in Michigan’s private sector. Withhold funds.
SH: Phone calls, letters or e-mails are effective. Try to personalize your correspondence with legislators. Also call their office and make an appointment to meet with them in the district or in Lansing. Politicians call us at home and knock on our doors without an invitation during the campaign. We should return the favor. Just remember to be respectful.
23. Obama enlisted the youth to follow him. Why and how did the GOP lose that following? What is being done to change that?
DL: The best counter to what’s happened is to show the youth (media, etc) the blatant contradictions between what Obama says & what he’s done or is doing. Equally urgent is our need to let the media know that it only takes one good, competent, honest investigative journalist to show these inherent contradictions in order to display the fact that the self-anointed emperor “has no clothes.” Once you make a laughing stock of a person (especially a politician), his career is over or in great jeopardy.
SH: I believe that there is an appearance that the Republican Party wants to tell people how to live their lives. Whoever is to be the party that wins votes and obtains a mandate to govern must stand for freedom and liberty. They must also offer a vision and plan for the future.
24. Why don’t we re-brand our party as “constitutional conservatives”?
DL: Maybe the Constitutional Party. We need to align our party platform with individual responsibility & coherent families, focused on limited govt spending, regulation, and intrusion into the private sector & our private lives & fortunes. We must become the anti-pecksniff party!
SH: Interesting question - AFP is non-partisan. That is an internal question for those that are members of the Republican Party to discuss.
25. Large cities that all have “machines” have very crooked voting results; the Dems always win. What can be done about this?
DL: We must be active in auditing the vote: via poll-watchers/challengers, etc. & call for courts to exact maximum penalties on fraud & perpetrators complicit in fraud.
SH: In Michigan it is up to the Secretary of State to oversee elections. Any complaints of irregularities should be put through her office. In addition the U.S. Justice Department can investigate wrongdoing in the election process.
26. Why don’t Republicans defend their beliefs strongly and tell it like it is about their opponents? Republicans need to counter the negative untruths. They don’t – why not?
DL: You are so right! I believe in the default explanation: They, themselves, do not believe in the platform. They are often out for themselves and for short-term gains and financial benefits from holding the office or position….as a step for next job. Again, follow the money. That becomes the most effective threat system against such people.
SH: Another good question. I don’t know what politicians are thinking when they are on the air or before they go on that stops them from defending their beliefs or properly counter negative untruths.