Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Your Taxes Are Going Up...Again (Unless You Don't Pay a Utility Bill)

Ol' Ready Kilowatt is feeling pretty chipper today. He got a raise!

Last year, the legislature approved a bill to force electric and gas utilities to move towards a "renewable portfolio standard." Ten percent of the state's energy must come from renewable sources by 2015 according to this law. But because it is impossible to achieve without huge cost increases to the utility companies, the legislature allowed them to raise your rates with a new surcharge (tax) to cover the cost.

According to a story in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, electric bills will go up seventy-one cents a month starting next week. Gas bills will increase $1.72 per month and then, in September, electric bills will have an additional $2.50 per month added on. The utilities wanted $10.00 per month, and eventually they will get it, I predict.

Here is a story about how some small businesses are being affected by the rate increases, which are much larger for them. It is not good for business. But, if you want to read the positive spin, here is a letter from Governor Granholm about how "11,000 jobs" have been created in clean, renewable energy.

Oh, you will notice one of the new industries she announced as coming to Michigan to create those jobs is United Solar Ovonic. The governor proudly announced in March, 2006, hundreds of new jobs would be created with this company. Millions of taxpayer dollars in grants from the MEDC along with tax breaks were offered. Sadly, it was announced this month that they are laying off most of their workforce.

So, what we have is central planners (legislators and the governor) telling us what the next big thing is going to be, laying out millions in grants, and forcing new taxes on rate payers to cover the cost of "going green." And what we end up with is higher rates, at least one business going bust with your tax dollars, and existing small businesses (who aren't getting any MEDC grants) getting closer to going under. The experts in Lansing strike again.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Tax-Eaters Continue to Feast on Taxpayers

This except from the Detroit News about the continuing rise in unemployment in Michigan says it all:

"Michigan lost about 38,000 nonfarm payroll jobs in April. About 22,000 of those jobs were in manufacturing and another 9,000 were in construction. About 3,000 jobs were lost in retail trade.

Government was the only broad employment category to add jobs in Michigan last month, with a net increase of about 2,000 jobs. Employment in professional and business services remained steady."

There is only one way to end the ongoing feast at the public trough. Michigan needs to do what California did. Cut them off. After the results from California Tuesday, legislators have the ammunition they need to say it's time to turn off the spigot.

In the Face of $1.3 Billion Shortfall, Legislature Wants to Raise Taxes

It will happen, probably on the 30th of September. I went through this personally in September of 2007. We endured a one-week "lockdown" in the State House until the Speaker got his tax increases to balance the budget. The Dems could only muster 55 of the needed 56 votes, but two "Republicans" obliged and gave him the votes he needed to enact a huge $1.5 billion increase in personal and business taxes.

Get ready for Deja-Vu (all over again). The shortfall for THIS year, which ends September 30 is $1.3 billion and the predicted shortfall in general fund revenue for the 09-10 budget year will be at least $1.5 billion. There is not nearly enough intestinal fortitude to stop a tax increase from moving forward, (and even less courage to make the needed cuts.) Many proposals have already been "run up the flagpole."

Conservatives should be encouraged by the recent defeat of ALL the tax proposals on the ballot in California this week. They did approve one measure by a 75-25 margin; a denial of pay increases for elected officials when the budget is in deficit.

I opined a few weeks ago that only Mike Bishop, Majority Leader in the Senate has the power to stop a tax hike. After what happened two years ago, I believe this time, he will refuse to take any vote on a new tax hike. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Congressional Water Grab (yes, including mud puddles)

Michigan, through its Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is one of only two states that regulate wetlands with a state agency rather than through the federal government. This has been a problem because state guidelines are much more strict than federal guidelines. Additionally, the DEQ has proven to be arbitrary and capricious in its decision-making and has often caused long, unnecessary delays in approving permits.

While the concerns about over-regulation by a state agency are valid, they may be rendered "moot" by recent efforts in Congress. U.S. Senator Russ Feingold has introduced a bill with 23 sponsors including Senators Levin and Stabenow. Senate Bill S787 is entitled, "To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to clarify the jurisdiction of the United States over waters of the United States." Notice they start the description with the words "pollution control." That makes it sound caring and good, doesn't it?

In fact, this legislation will put ALL surface waters in the United States under Congressional jurisdiction. The bill language has a couple of key phrases in it. The first changes the definition of what is under Congressional jurisdiction. Ever since the Commerce Clause of the Constitution and several test cases in the Supreme Court, Congress has had jurisdiction over navigable waters. The meaning of that word has been argued, but according to precedent and legal definition, navigable includes anything you can get a canoe down, or anything that is connected by water to the same.

No matter because under S787, the word navigable is stricken, which means now ALL surface water is under Congressional jurisdiction. Additionally, in case there was any question of state's rights, the bill states that this applies to interstate and intrastate waters. That means there is no state sovereignty over waters within that state's boundaries. Are you wondering how Congress describes "waters"? It includes, "all waters subject to the ebb and flow of the tide, the territorial seas, and all interstate and intrastate waters and their tributaries, including lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, natural ponds, and all impoundments of the foregoing, to the fullest extent that these waters, or activities affecting these waters, are subject to the legislative power of Congress under the Constitution."

The bottom line is, Congress is taking over all the water. If the Obama administration and Congress are anything like this state's governor and her administration, you will see free trade and commerce come to a virtual stand still. Manufacturing especially will come to a screeching halt. Water is an essential resource in the manufacture of virtually any consumable or durable good. Without ready access, manufacturers will be stifled in their attempts to create new products for market and the jobs that go with them.

It is not too late to stop the Congressional Water Grab. Contact your U.S. Senators and ask them not to enact this legislation. Be respectful, but be firm. If you believe this will hamper future economic development, tell them!

Contact Levin                                                         Contact Stabenow

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Why Would Any Republican NOT Embrace the Pro-Life Agenda?

I think one of the reasons why many Republicans shy away from calling themselves pro-life, or from campaigning as a pro-life Republican is because they are afraid of being branded as some sort of religious zealot. What they seem to be missing is that, in politics, the reason for being pro-life is not a religious argument, it is a Constitutional argument.

Any politician who supports the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution should support the protection of human life from conception to natural death.

From the Declaration: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

From the 5th Amendment: No person shall be...deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

From the 14th Amendment: All persons born or naturalized in the United States...are citizens of the United States...No State shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

After reading these three clauses, the only question that remains is, "When does life begin?" While the answer to that question may have been in doubt when the 14th Amendment was written or in 1973 when the Supreme Court handed down their decision in Roe v. Wade, it is not disputed today in the scientific or medical community. Life begins at conception, period.

That having been decided, why would any candidate or office-holder not support the pro-life position? I believe there are two answers to that question. 1) The politician is part of, or beholding to a constituency group that has a pro-abortion agenda, or 2) The politician is afraid that public opinion is against them.

Well, I am pleased to report that politicians no longer need to fear the public. A new Gallup Poll has just been released that shows for the first time in 14 years, since Gallup first started asking the question, a majority of Americans consider themselves "pro-life."

Now is the time for men and women of courage and conviction to lead on this issue and run for office. We need candidates who are willing to stand for the Constitutional protections of human life and articulate the reasons why. I hope that in 2010, we will see a new breed of leaders step up and run.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Lords and Ladies of Congress Have Another Program for the Serfs

Have you ever noticed that there is a tendency by the Lords and Ladies of Congress to apply certain laws and regulations on the “serfs” (the people) but exempting themselves?

President Barack Obama joined key members of Congress in a press conference Wednesday, to announce that Congress would begin the monumental task of rapidly reforming US healthcare.

Obama indicated he would leave Congress to draft the legislation, but called for it to encompass "three basic principles." "First that the rising costs of health care have to be brought down; second, that Americans have to be able to choose their own doctor and their own plan; and, third, all Americans have to have quality, affordable health care.”


This sounds great, doesn’t it? The President knows these goals are impossible to achieve in a plan that is run by the government, but it is such a great sound bite that nothing else matters. Unfortunately, most Americans are too concerned about their own financial well-being; they don’t have time to pay attention to the details of a “Universal Health Care Plan.” They don’t know that everywhere else on the planet this has been tried, it has been an abysmal failure.


No matter, the mainstream media has just hammered home the message that we will have a government-run, socialized, single-payer plan that will be less expensive, allow for choice of doctor and plan, and will provide quality, affordable health care. Mr. Obama has the loudspeaker of the mainstream media spreading his message, regardless whether it is truthful or accurate.


Congress is about to foist a health care plan on America that will not work and will greatly increase the cost of health care while only lowering the quality. Here is an idea: why not tell the Lords and Ladies of Congress to try it on themselves before forcing it on the serfs?


Let’s tell Congress that if they have such a great idea, they should enact a pilot program, run it for three years, and then evaluate it for cost, quality, availability, etc. And who should be the test group? Congress! Yes, let’s tell Congress to try their great ideas on themselves, their staff members, and all members of the executive branch of the federal government. There are over one million employees in the executive branch alone. That should be a large enough group to successfully test a pilot program for three years. If it works as well as they think it will, they can roll it out for the rest of the country.


Why not send a note to your member of Congress, Lady Speaker Pelosi, and Lord Leader Reid suggesting this idea. Tell Congress, “you think it such a great idea, you go first!

Pelosi Reid Congress

E-mail the Speaker E-mail Senator Reid Contact YOUR Congress member

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Do You Own "Unsubordinated" GM Bonds? Read This.

According to the "Market Ticker," if you own GM bonds, the Treasury Department has decided to make you get in line behind the UAW to get your money from this soon-to-be-bankrupt corporation. I do not own GM stock, so I have no skin in the game. But for those of you who do, you may want to read this letter:!.html

I would also recommend FedUpUSA as a place to keep up with the latest info on the Federal Reserve. Kudos to Stephanie Jasky for her great work.

What Do These Tea-party People Stand For?


If you haven't already figured it out, the tea-party movement is not a passing fad. Excitement and passion for real change is growing; the April 15th events were not the climax, but the beginning.

The word 'change' has been used to the point were it has practically lost its meaning, but the tea parties have demonstrated that taxpayers are not looking for change to come from government, they want to bring change TO government.

This movement has grown to where it may lead to a realignment of political parties. I have been hearing since 2007, when Republicans went along with the tax and fee increases and enacted them into law, that we have only two options as voters: Democrat and Democrat-light.

It is time elected officials wake up and realize this is real. Voters will be looking for something very different in candidates for office in 2010 and they won't be easily fooled. They will be seeking candidates who believe in:

  • Individual Liberty

  • Personal Responsibility

  • Limited Government

  • Economic Freedom

Voters believe government has grown too large, spends too much, taxes too much and intrudes into every aspect of their lives: their schools, their homes, their businesses, and their private property. They want a government that protects their constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty and property. Voters are looking for candidates who value the rule of law and the protection of human life from conception to natural death.

Right now, neither party has the interests of the voters and taxpayers at heart. Voters are convinced that elected officials, regardless of party are concerned first and foremost about their next election, and that they only listen to the lobbyists and special interests, the takers who continue to demand more dollars from the state coffers.

If I were an elected official, I would be nervous, if not worried. Incumbency will have less value than it has in many years, and it may even be a detriment. Voters will be demanding accountability; they will be asking questions and expecting answers, not platitudes. Party affiliation will not help either. Candidates in "safe" districts will not be able to assume that if they win the primary, they have the election in the bag. None of the old rules will apply. It will be a very interesting election year.

I welcome your feedback, feel free to send me a note.

Another Effort by the Legislature to Allow Your Taxes to Go Up.


Your property taxes keep going up, even as your property values decline. Feel like giving your community yet another opportunity to raise your property taxes? Well, if you act quickly, you may be able to stop the legislature from allowing an ill-conceived idea to become law. Details are below.

Today, there exists in law a public act called The Recreational Authorities Act. It allows cities, counties, villages, and townships to create a recreational authority. What is an "authority" you might ask? It is a governmental body that has the authority to levy fees and taxes. In the case of a recreational authority, it allows for the building of playgrounds, swimming pools, conference centers, museums, etc. for the community to enjoy.

Under HB4700 and its twin brother SB222, SCHOOL DISTRICTS will be allowed to form an authority and ask for up to one mill in new taxation on your home to build a recreational center, park, swimming pool, etc.

Well, what do you think are the chances that school districts all across the state will be lining up to ask for one mill tax increases on your property so they can provide more recreation for your kids?

Senate Bill 222 has already passed the Senate. It has cleared the House Education Committee and is on the House floor awaiting final passage. If it passes the House, it WILL be signed by the governor and you will have yet one more potential tax increase to fight off.

Oh, but they aren't raising my taxes, you might say. They are just giving the district the opportunity to ASK for a millage increase. Perhaps so, but guess how that millage increase will be requested? By an all out effort from individuals and organizations who tend to be funded by taxpayers!

The time to act is RIGHT NOW. Call or e-mail your legislator in the House today. Tell them that as much as you love to see recreational opportunities for your kids, school districts should stick to education and let the city you live in worry about playgrounds and swimming pools.

Click here to find your lawmaker. Call or write today!


Sunday, May 10, 2009

When a Fee is not a Fee. (Or, Another Way to Tax You)

"House Bill 4678 would amend the Motor Vehicle Code to require the Secretary of State to charge a state park, public boating access site, and forest recreation passport fee of $10 ($5 for motorcycles) to the owners of motor vehicles (except for commercial vehicles) when the vehicle is registered or its registration is renewed, beginning January 1, 2010. 

Motor vehicle owners would not have to pay the applicable recreation passport fee if they affirm on the registration application that they do not intend to use the motor vehicle to enter any state park or recreation area, state public boating access site, or state forest campground, or to provide access to any state forest non motorized trail or pathway during the registration period."

The definition of a fee is a renumeration for a service rendered. If you want to use the park, you pay a fee. Under this legislation, everybody pays regardless if they ever enter a state park or recreation area. So, you are no longer paying a fee to use the park, you are being taxed for the state having a park, whether you use it or not. 

The question that must be asked is how much more revenue does this bring to the state coffers? As far as I am concerned, this is why they are making the change. It is simply a way to tax you more and increase state revenue without calling it a tax increase.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Socialized Medicine: The Ruling Class Needs to Go First

Watch out the U.S. Congress and the White House are starting a debate that could result in a radical change in the delivery, quality, cost, and choice of today’s health care system.


Historically the politicians in Washington pass programs that apply to American citizens but do not apply to themselves. We have a novel idea. It should apply first to those that pass it. Whatever healthcare program is proposed and passed into law should apply to Congress, all federal judges, the President and all their corresponding staff (the ruling political class).


If that pool isn’t large enough to achieve so called “efficiencies,” it can be expanded to all federal employees, all state and local elected officials, all state and local government employees and all public school and public university employees. There should be a three year pilot program with an extensive analysis of any and all cost savings that also includes an examination of the quality of care delivered.


The proposal is supposedly voluntary. The feds will subsidize a federally owned health insurance program that the private sector will not be able to compete with. So before we tear down or undermine our current system compliments of the U.S. taxpayer a pilot program is the way to go. The United States of America despite having a high level of engagement in high risk activities and lifestyles (i.e. smoking, etc.), has one of the higher life expectancy rates and the highest quality health delivery system. Let the politicians who want to tear this system down step-up to the plate and be first in-line for a pilot project testing a new system. Let the ruling class be the first to volunteer for their own program.

72% of Republicans Consider Themselves Conservative

While media reports, news stories, and many party insiders continue to tell us that Republicans have no chance of winning in 2010 or 2012 if they remain faithful to the core principles of the Republican Party, a recent poll found that 72% of Republicans self-identify as conservative.

Public Policy Polling, a firm that was found to be one of the most accurate in their predictions in 2008, further reported that among moderates, the top choice for President was Mike Huckabee.

The question then is, does the party continue to drift towards the next election with no clear purpose or mission and few solid principles upon which to stand? Or do we take the Ronald Reagan route, where strong, principled leaders not only capture the votes of all those conservatives but, as Ronald Reagan did, win the hearts and minds of the moderates, the independents, and the conservative Democrats?

Remember, everything rises and falls on leadership, and "the people" are always looking for strong leaders who have the courage of their convictions and are ready to stand tall on them.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mike Bishop Stands Between You and a Huge Tax Hike

This year's budget is at least $1 Billion in the red with only 5 months left. Next year's budget, which begins October 1st, will assuredly need to be reduced by $1 Billion to match falling revenues, unless revenues are increased, which of course means new taxes. Democrats have proposed several new taxes.

This could be a replay of 2007 when Speaker Dillon locked House members in the Chamber for a week until they finally got over $1 Billion in new taxes. What may be different this year is the resolve of Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop. He has stated clearly that he is not going to go along with any tax increases.

As reported in the Associated Press story of February 26, "Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, opposes tax and fee hikes to help balance the budget."

Bishop came under fire in 2007 for "allowing" a vote on taxes in the Senate. After the firestorm that those tax increases created back then, I would expect the Majority Leader will opt for a shutdown of state government before he goes down that road again.

Revenue Enhancement Scheme for May 6: Bridle Tags

Senate Bill 496: "Introduced on April 30, 2009, to impose a requirement that horseback riders on state land must buy a bridle tag for $5 per day, $25 per year or $60 for three years, and use the money to establish and maintain a network or horseback riding trails. The bill would authorize a state equine trailways commission to 'advise' the Department of Natural Resources on the use of the trailway network and the use of the new fee money."

It is ironic that a bill is introduced to establish new trails when the DNR has shut down one of the largest riding trails in the state. On top of that, the bill proposes to charge fees to ride and perhaps worse, create another "commission" with all the expenses to go with it.

These kinds of actions will discourage out-of-state trail riders from coming to Michigan. They will have fewer trails and higher costs to ride. It will put a huge dent in the $8 Billion equine industry in this state. How unfortunate.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Revenue Enhancement Scheme for May 5: Fee Increase for Hearing Aid Dealers

Say what? Yes, a new tax increase has been proposed for hearing aid dealers.

"House Bill 4865, Introduced on April 29, 2009, to increase the hearing aid dealer licensure fee from $80 to $130. Referred to the House Regulatory Reform Committee on April 29, 2009."

No reason was given for the 60% increase in this "fee."