Friday, August 19, 2011

Over Sixty Attend Center Right Meeting August 18th

The monthly meeting of the Center Right Coalition attracted over sixty attendees who came to hear from policy makers and elected officials about the future of public education in Michigan.

Center Right is becoming the hottest monthly meeting in Lansing. It is where politicians, policy makers and conservative leaders from GOP and tea party groups around the state gather to exchange ideas about how to reduce the size and scope of government at the local, regional, state and federal level.

Interested in attending? The next meeting will be held on September 15th, 9:00 a.m. 116 West Ottawa, Lansing, MI. Have an issue you would like to discuss? Let me know, we will put you on the agenda.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eric Holder's Department of Justice: Bankers are Smiling Clansmen?

From the Investor's Business Daily:
DOJ Begins Bank Witch Hunt
In what could be a repeat of the easy-lending cycle that led to the housing crisis, the Justice Department has asked several banks to relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination, according to court documents reviewed by IBD.

Prosecutions have already generated more than $20 million in loan set-asides and other subsidies from banks that have settled out of court rather than battle the federal government and risk being branded racist. An additional 60 banks are under investigation, a DOJ spokeswoman says.

Civil Rights Division chief Tom Perez...has compared bankers to Klansmen. Only difference is, he said, bankers discriminate "with a smile" and "fine print." He said this kind of racism, though more subtle, is "every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood."

Read the full story here.

Are Americans Fed up? Here Are 16 Indicators to Consider

Here is a compelling compilation of statistics, courtesy of Stephanie Jasky at FedUpUSA. Perhaps the second wave (2012) will be bigger than the first (2010).

The following are 16 statistics which prove that the American people are absolutely seething with anger right now….

#1 A new Washington Post poll has found that a whopping
78 percent of Americans are dissatisfied “with the way this country’s political system is working”.

#2 That same poll found that only
26 percent of Americans believe that the federal government can solve the economic problems that we are now facing.

#3 Gallup says that Barack Obama’s job approval rating has hit
an all-time low of 39%.

#4 According to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, Congress has a disapproval rating

#5 A new Rasmussen survey has found that
85 percent of Americans believe that members of Congress “are more interested in helping their own careers than in helping other people.”

#6 That same survey found that
46 percent of the American people believe that most members of Congress are corrupt. That figure was a new all-time high.

#7 According to a different Rasmussen survey,
only 17 percent of Americans now believe that the U.S. government has the consent of the governed.

#8 A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll discovered that
73 percent of the American people believe that the nation is “on the wrong track”.

#9 A recent poll taken by Rasmussen found that
68 percent of Americans believe that we are actually in a recession right now.

#10 According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans that lack confidence in U.S. banks is now at an all-time high
of 36%.

#11 U.S. consumer confidence is now at its lowest level
in 30 years.

#12 According to
a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 90 percent of Americans believe that the economy is performing poorly.

#13 That same poll found that approximately
80 percent of Americans believe that it is “difficult” to find a job these days.

#14 According to one recent poll,
39 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy has now entered a “permanent decline”.

#15 Another recent survey found that 48 percent of Americans believe that it is likely that
another great Depression will begin within the next 12 months.

#16 According to
a brand new Rasmussen survey, 48% of Americans believe that reductions in government spending are “at least somewhat likely” to result in civil unrest inside the United States.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wisconsin: New Collective Bargaining Bill Already Paying Huge Dividends

From the Washington Examiner:
By: Byron York | Chief Political Correspondent Follow Him @ByronYork | 06/30/11 8:05 PM

AP Photo/Green Bay Press-Gazette, Corey Wilson
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs his first budget in front of supporters gathered at Fox Valley Metal Tech in Ashwaubenon, Wis., on Sunday, June 26, 2011. The budget helped save the struggling Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin.

"This is a disaster," said Mark Miller, the Wisconsin Senate Democratic leader, in February after Republican Gov. Scott Walker proposed a budget bill that would curtail the collective bargaining powers of some public employees. Miller predicted catastrophe if the bill were to become law -- a charge repeated thousands of times by his fellow Democrats, union officials, and protesters in the streets.

Now the bill is law, and we have some very early evidence of how it is working. And for one beleaguered Wisconsin school district, it's a godsend, not a disaster.

The Kaukauna School District, in the Fox River Valley of Wisconsin near Appleton, has about 4,200 students and about 400 employees. It has struggled in recent times and this year faced a deficit of $400,000. But after the law went into effect, at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn that $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. And it's all because of the very provisions that union leaders predicted would be disastrous.

In the past, teachers and other staff at Kaukauna were required to pay 10 percent of the cost of their health insurance coverage and none of their pension costs. Now, they'll pay 12.6 percent of the cost of their coverage (still well below rates in much of the private sector) and also contribute 5.8 percent of salary to their pensions. The changes will save the school board an estimated $1.2 million this year, according to board President Todd Arnoldussen.

Of course, Wisconsin unions had offered to make benefit concessions during the budget fight. Wouldn't Kaukauna's money problems have been solved if Walker had just accepted those concessions and not demanded cutbacks in collective bargaining powers?

"The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," says Arnoldussen, a political independent who won a spot on the board in a nonpartisan election. Indeed, some of the most important improvements in Kaukauna's outlook are because of the new limits on collective bargaining.

In the past, Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from something called WEA Trust -- a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," says Arnoldussen. "Well, you know what happens when you can only negotiate with one vendor." This year, WEA Trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums.

Now, the collective bargaining agreement is gone, and the school district is free to shop around for coverage. And all of a sudden, WEA Trust has changed its position. "With these changes, the schools could go out for bids, and lo and behold, WEA Trust said, 'We can match the lowest bid,'" says Republican state Rep. Jim Steineke, who represents the area and supports the Walker changes. At least for the moment, Kaukauna is staying with WEA Trust, but saving substantial amounts of money.

Then there are work rules. "In the collective bargaining agreement, high school teachers only had to teach five periods a day, out of seven," says Arnoldussen. "Now, they're going to teach six." In addition, the collective bargaining agreement specified that teachers had to be in the school 37 1/2 hours a week. Now, it will be 40 hours.

The changes mean Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes -- from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the much-maligned changes in collective bargaining.

Teachers' salaries will stay "relatively the same," Arnoldussen says, except for higher pension and health care payments. (The top salary is around $80,000 per year, with about $35,000 in additional benefits, for 184 days of work per year -- summers off.) Finally, the money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.

It is impossible to overstate how bitter and ugly the Wisconsin fight has been, and that bitterness and ugliness continues to this day with efforts to recall senators and an unseemly battle inside the state Supreme Court. But the new law is now a reality, and Gov. Walker recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the measure will gain acceptance "with every day, week and month that goes by that the world doesn't fall apart."

In the Kaukauna schools, the world is not only not falling apart -- it's getting better.

Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent, can be contacted at His column appears on Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blogposts appear on Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The National Debt Explained in Simple Terms

Your family has an annual income of $58,000 a year, but spends $75,000 a year and has $327,000 in outstanding credit card debt. 

As head of the household, you decide it is time to deal with this problem. So, you decide to cut annual spending to $72,000 per year.

Now you understand what Congress just did.

- Adapted from Dave Ramsey

10 "Non-religious" Reasons Why Marriage Should be Protected and Defended

There has been no lack of debate about the role of government in preservation of the institution of marriage. The book Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles, by the Witherspoon Institute makes some valid arguments why marriage is so important to the preservation of a civil society. Here is a summary of the ten principles:

From "Marriage and the Public Good: Ten Principles" by the Witherspoon Institute, 2008.
  1. Marriage is a personal union, intended for the whole of life, of husband and wife.
  2. Marriage is a profound human good, elevating and perfecting our social and sexual nature.
  3. Ordinarily, men and women who marry are better off as a result.
  4. Marriage protects and promotes the well-being of children.
  5. Marriage sustains civil society and promotes the common good.
  6. Marriage is a wealth-creating institution, increasing human and social capital.
  7. When marriage weakens, the equality gap widens as children suffer from the disadvantages of growing up in homes without committed mothers and fathers.
  8. A functioning marriage culture serves to protect political liberty and foster limited government.
  9. The laws that govern marriage matter significantly.
  10. "Civil marriage" and "religious marriage" cannot be rigidly or completely divorced from one another.
The entire book is available online. It's only 38 pages and can be read here.