Estimate of medical marijuana cost is way, way off
By Chuck Warren
The most brazen act was to get the State Office of Education to attach a fiscal note to the bill that amounted to over $700,000 (one-time costs of $421,750 and on-going costs of $281,200). After much argument, public shaming, and request for meaningful justification of these outlandish numbers, the fiscal note was reduced to under $35,000 – less than 5% of the over-inflated fiscal note that had the sole purchase of torpedoing the bill.
This exercise confirmed two long-held suspicions. 1) The government’s fiscal impact studies are, as best, suspect and rarely to be trusted. 2) Fiscal notes are highly influenced by peer and political pressures.
After the bill’s note was reduced, it passed, and there has never been any actual cost sheet released to grade the fiscal note that was reduced to 20 times below the original amount.
Fiscal notes are little more than best guesses and slick tools for politicians and bureaucrats to influence support. They will remain so until there is follow up, after-the-fact grading and consequences for poor analysis. Some smart legislator ought to introduce legislation requiring this.
Recently the Governor’s Office of Budget and Management (GOMB) released a fiscal impact amount for the proposed 2018 medical cannabis ballot initiative, similar to the process legislation goes through. The analysis is less than a page long, does not include any process details and the confusing language has lead to claims the law would cost the state $3 million. It won’t! And GOMB knows it.
The key point for voters to understand is that any supposed costs associated with establishing a medical cannabis system will be offset by fee collections within the program. In other words, the system will essentially pay for itself. The GOMB fiscal note ignores this basic fact.
The analysis estimates that costs will amount to $1.8 million annually, and fee revenue from patients and the businesses that serve them will cover nearly 80% of that, leaving only $400,000 a year to be picked up by the state.
But, that’s not the whole story. The initiative allows state agencies to determine the amount of each fee, providing for adjustments so the program can be revenue neutral.
Adding to the confusion, the official analysis mentions that “the state and local governments would forego $1,600,000” because medical cannabis, like other medications, would be exempt from sales tax. This tax money does not exist now, and would not exist anyway. You cannot lose something you do not have, and taxes patients will pay at purchase of cannabis will go back into the state’s medical cannabis fund to pay for ongoing costs.
Most medical cannabis programs in the country are either revenue neutral or net revenue generators. The proposed initiative was written to allow Utah’s medical cannabis program to fall into one of those categories.
It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that for purely political purposes some are grossly misrepresenting the fiscal impact of the proposed 2018 medical cannabis ballot initiative.
Rest assured fellow taxpayers, voting “yes” for medical cannabis will not make a dent in your – or the state’s – wallet.
The GOP Needs Points on the Scoreboard
BY CHUCK WARREN JULY 14, 2017
Published on PJMedia
Call me cynical, but I am dubious that Republicans are going to repeal and replace Obamacare before an abbreviated August recess. Please note, I don’t think Congress should take a recess until Obamcare and tax reform are on the President’s desk, but let me not digress here.
If Republicans don’t start getting some wins, Americans have every right to ask, “What good is it with you folks in the majority?”
It’s a fair question … a question we either need an answer to or we truly are proving that DC was not only built on a swamp, but the swamp has now encompassed it.
Americans – contrary to much of the DC and NY press corps desire – want Congress to get some tangible conservative things done. If Republicans do not understand this basic fact – they will be seen as incompetent, do-nothing bureaucrats posing as Congresspersons who are spending all their time fighting Russian rumors accusations and hostile, progressive led town halls.
So if by chance Republicans can’t seem to unite behind Obamacare replace and repeal legislation to send to President Trump later this month, here is some practical advice to get some points on the scoreboard and show Americans Congress can still work.
- A stand-alone bill eliminating the individual tax/mandate on people who don’t want insurance. If some don’t want to get behind this common sense bill, then include a amendment that if you don’t have insurance and a medical emergency requires you to visit a ER, then like student loans, make it impossible to declare bankruptcy on this debt. Have on the President’s desk in August. #Win
- Eliminate the anti-competitive, job killing Medical Device tax. Have on the President’s desk in August. #Win
- Have House Speaker Ryan and Senate President McConnell invite all 50 state’s governors and Congressional Democrat leadership to a working session, close the doors, sit-down to discuss and negotiate the Medicaid portion of an insolvent past-hope called Obamacare. Have an actual working session on how to handle Medicaid, how to make it work for the states and taxpayers and a really important fact, come to a resolution how to pay for it. Those who have skin in the game should be at the table. #NowOrNever
No more drip-drip-drip in this slow Waltz that is quickly turning into the Dance of Death, literally for the millions who are beginning to look away from the city always meant to be a beacon of hope on a hill.
Time to rattle the chain and stop this process from being the standing joke on everyone’s tongues each morning at coffee shops from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Republicans and conservatives need to practice “adulting” and get some wins – for their electoral hopes and more importantly, for the good of America.
By Chuck Warren, September Group, LLC; Salt Lake City, Utah
May 4, 2017 Posted on Servedaily.com
Entitlement programs consume an inordinate share of government spending and are the main driver of federal deficits. Not surprisingly, the three largest in the federal budget are Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. All entitlements.
States aren’t able to print their own money and each year must balance budgets, making new entitlement programs a very serious commitment. Despite Utah’s fiscal discipline, these programs continue to increasingly encroach on other state needs, taking up a growing share of our budget each year.
Though our state rejected Medicaid expansion under the ACA (Obamacare), Medicaid spending in Utah has increased 77 percent in 15 years and is projected take a full 30 percent of our general fund by 2020.
Because the majority of newly insured individuals nationwide receive health coverage not through private plans but through Medicaid, the pressure on entitlement spending across the country is growing. As the word itself denotes, once people are granted entitlements they feel, well, entitled. And how does a government ever really pull that back?
In a recent New York Times article, Robert Frank explained repeal of the ACA would “precipitate a political firestorm of epic proportions” because of a well-known concept among social scientists called loss aversion. Frank explains that we humans are willing to expend greater effort resisting the loss of something we already possess than acquiring something we don’t already have.
Unfortunately, this means very difficult choices need to be made in states that already chose to expand Medicaid. State cost sharing begins this year and expansion costs are not only 49 percent higher per enrollee than projected, the number of enrollees far exceeds estimates. States are left with the decision of either pulling money from priorities such as schools, roads or other social service programs or simply doing away with expansion altogether. Good luck with that. See above, “loss aversion.”
Medicaid expansion under Obamacare didn’t allow any coverage cap or limit on state dollars. Once the program was implemented, the state became responsible for its share of costs regardless how high they might go. Those championing Healthy Utah claimed once the state had to start paying, or once the costs were simply too high to afford, the entire program could simply be dumped. Not only is this cruel, but the political reality is it would probably never happen. The Medicaid expansion would have continued to suck the life out of other state programs for decades.
Initial numbers on Governor Herbert’s Healthy Utah plan indicate a state cost of $40 million by 2020. One year later that number had risen to $80 million and the overall cost had gone from $400 million to $800 million. These are staggering figures for a proposal that would cover a very small portion of our state population and based on the assumption only half of those eligible would enroll. Average enrollment has been more than double projections nationwide and we have no reason to believe Utah would be different.
If the governor were to have succeeded in passing Healthy Utah, our state could easily have faced a bill of $80 million this year, with $160 million in obligations by 2020 when we are required to pay 10 percent of the program’s total cost. That $80 million probably would have had to be taken from the $115 million weighted pupil unit increase received by public schools this year. There is simply no other budget item big enough to cover the cost.
Where would we find an additional $160 million, year after year, in just a few short years, to continue funding this program?
House Speaker Greg Hughes saw this coming while some in other states, and some in our own, chose to shield their eyes and pretend the truth wasn’t there. That day of reckoning will be painful not only for them but for those who suffer with the consequences of their poor choices.
AWAKENING THE PANAMERICAN VISION IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
Presidential Aspirants Should Focus on Our Own Backyard
By Chuck Warren, Originally posted at Panampost.com
Presidential candidates have never lacked for opinions on how to fix problems abroad, whether it’s confronting the Middle East, strengthening ties with Europe or creating economic opportunities in China. The consistent failure lies in losing focus on the current situation in the Americas, due to apathy or the immediacy of a foreign-policy crisis.
By and large, we’ve lost sight of the wisdom of Thomas Jefferson, the first true PanAmerican, who said of Mexico and Cuba, “We consider their interests and ours as the same.” Our neighbors to the south should be our closest allies, and it is to our own long-term peril if we continue to take them for granted. As the satirist Horace so eloquently stated, “It is your business when the wall next door catches fire.”
For many years now, our hemisphere has been on the back burner because of the happenings in Russia, China, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. As a result, the long-time neglect of the Americas has allowed open wounds to fester. Inconsistently, we’ve attempted to halt opium production in Afghanistan while allowing cocaine and guns to sell across our border.
Of course, we continually need to keep our eyes on the rest of world, but the Americas should be our top priority. If Uganda falls apart, it is a bad thing — but if Costa Rica falls apart, the problem could very well land on our shores, affect our trade, and disrupt our peace. Greater scrutiny should accompany the closer problem.
One has only to look at history to find reinforcement. In addition to Jefferson, early US statesmen like Henry Clay and Alexander Hamilton spoke positively of a PanAmerican identity. In recent years, we’ve lost what our forefathers understood well: the strengthening of diplomatic ties and of US influence within this hemisphere is important because of the many dangers that lie at our back door.
The obvious first step is for Republican presidential candidates to stop spreading conspiracy theories about a so-called North American Union and start promising to pay special attention to the yearly General Assembly of the Organization of American States. Alternatively, promise to call a special PanAmerican Congress to identify and address our hemispheric issues and act upon them.
It is then vital for the next Republican presidential nominee to develop a plan of renewed outreach to, and engagement with, the rest of the Americas. There are many countries that sit in the United States’ backyard — our neighbors — who depend on us for a variety of things, whether it’s defense or trade, economic partnership or common values. It only makes sense for the United States to be closest, in terms of trade and interaction, with countries located geographically closest to us. Consider too, those countries where we share significant linguistic advantages (37 million US residents speak Spanish) and where many of us share a Judeo-Christian outlook that is more common in the Americas.
This plan needs to fundamentally identify the hemispheric issues such as the indigenous peoples and how to treat them, legitimate economic opportunities and investment, defense partnerships and training, coastal erosion, environmental protection, immigration reform, and historical preservation. The Republican presidential nominee should be prepared and anxious to engage in dialogue on these issues with leaders from other countries in this hemisphere.
Natural disasters and cultural awareness bring additional opportunities to show interest in our neighbors. Hurricanes, earthquakes, typhoons, and other crises regularly impact more than one country at a time. Hurricanes rip their way through country after country. The earthquake in Haiti only impacted one country directly, but the response came from many neighboring states. In July, the PanAmerican games kick off in Canada — one of the largest athletic events in the world after the Olympics and deserving of recognition from US leaders. Our president, now and in the future, must not miss the chance to create hemispheric goodwill and a foundation of friendship by paying special attention to the issues, concerns, and happenings of the many nations in our hemisphere.
Increased trade can only benefit us at this point. Republican presidential candidates often talk a good game about free trade without actually having a plan in place for improvement. We only rise above lip service by having specific plans in place to protect the existing free-trade agreements and by identifying how to expand or improve upon them in the future. This definitive action would also show US voters the direction needed. There are more than 950 million people in the Americas, and a renewed effort to pass a PanAmerican free trade agreement, similar in structure to NAFTA, would benefit the ability of US businesses to reach hundreds of millions of consumers with a higher GDP per capita than China.
Fighting to bring down drug violence, arms shipping, and smuggling of illegal materials are also issues of hemispheric agreement. Any Republican presidential candidate should have a plan about how to combat terrorism, not just in the Middle East, but also here in the Western Hemisphere. For instance, he should have a plan for helping Colombia defeat FARC, helping Peru shut down the Shining Path guerrilla, and combating the large drug cartels that have set up shop in Mexico. In each of these cases, the violence of the terrorists or narco-terrorist groups spills over the borders and into other countries. A Republican presidential candidate who wants to be seen as forward thinking and dynamic will put these groups on notice and have a plan in place to weaken or destroy them.
Increased focus on creating high-school student exchanges among countries in the Western Hemisphere could create more cross-cultural bonds, alongside more student visas for students from this hemisphere looking to attend college in the United States. We want the best and brightest students, and they want to be educated in the best universities in the world; it’s a win-win opportunity.
There are many ways unmentioned to strengthen these alliances, these friendships. If you want to improve the neighborhood, you start with your own backyard. You follow the time-honored wisdom of setting your own house in order, knowing it will bring strength. Republican presidential candidates have not only the opportunity, but the responsibility to prove that outreach to the Americas combined with international experience and knowledge is the trifecta that will prove the United States to be a formidable leader … and trusted friend.
Chuck Warren is a prolific fundraiser for Republican candidates, including serving as the National Republican Congressional Committee finance chair for Utah and Arizona, as well as on the Utah and National Finance Committee for Romney for President. He is a managing partner with Silver Bullet LLC, a public affairs, crisis communication, and initiative qualification company (@SilverBulletLLC).
Racism charge convenient distraction to avoid discussion of Obamacare
It has become convenient, as of late, for media talking heads and pundits to dismiss legitimate criticism of Obamacare, and other Obama-preferred policies, as simply an extension of racism. Opposition to these programs, it is claimed, must be the result of bigotry rather than simply disagreements about policy, economics, or ideology. This is intellectually lazy as well as incredibly dishonest. To smear someone as racist because they disagree on policy is a very low form of attack, even in the realm of politics.
Are there some racists who dislike President Obama or his policies simply because he is black? Of course there are, but to assume that a majority, or even a sizable portion, of the opposition to his programs is related to the color of his skin is to do a disservice to Americans generally, to Republicans specifically, and it only serves to worsen the culture of disunity that has become so common in the political arena.
Many Democrat pundits and elected officials from MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, to Louisiana Democratic Party Chairman Karen Carter Peterson, to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius have contributed to this tone-deaf narrative. The more than 50% of the country that opposes Obamacare would be startled to hear that they are being accused of blatant racism, rather than a difference on how health care policy should be crafted and implemented.
What is more startling is that these individuals, sometimes more than mere media talking heads, cannot conceive of opposition to the law that is rooted in anything other than bigotry. The fact is that they know that the opposition to Obamacare is not bigoted. After all, they have never been forced to answer how it is that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, two main opponents of the law and Hispanics to boot, could be at the center of this incredibly racist plot against providing affordable health care. Indeed, if Obama was elected by a majority and his health care law is now opposed by a majority—it stands to reason that there is some overlap. That is to say: there is a sizable group of individuals out there who, for whatever reason, voted for Barack Obama and now oppose his health care law. Are they, too, motivated by racism? These aren’t questions that will ever receive answers because these aren’t questions that will ever be asked of those figureheads and media-personalities that are stirring up the pot.
This narrative is derived from one that is much older and more sinister: that the GOP is a fundamentally racist party, or that its voters are likewise. This is a slur aimed mostly at the most conservative aspects of the party, but that is, whenever convenient, directed at the entire party if necessary. It was from the conservative elements of the party, after all, that Alan Keyes received the most support in the various Republican primaries in which he ran. So too with Herman Cain, the African-American businessman who briefly led the polls in 2012. This does not sound like a party that opposes people based upon the color of their skin, by and large, but rather a party that eschews identity politics in favor of proven policies and good ideas.
Need more proof? Some of the Republican Party’s stalwarts recently have been Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, National Chairman Michael Steele, and Congress members like Tim Scott and Allen West. Opposition to Obamacare unites all of these individuals, even though they are, gasp, African-Americans too! If that still isn’t enough proof, then there’s yet more evidence. Colin Powell was a front-runner in early president primary polling for the Republican Party in the year 2000 and could have probably won if he had entered the political arena. His 29.7% in that poll topped eventual Republican Primary winner George W. Bush. Eight years later, Condoleeza Rice would perform well in early polling too, scoring almost 20% and placing third behind only Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Republican individuals who are reportedly considering runs in 2016 and beyond include Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley, neither of whom could exactly be accused of disliking minorities in politics. According to this poll, even after several years out of the spotlight Condoleeza Rice commands attention in Republican primaries. Furthermore, in 2012 she was the favored choice of 32% of Republican entrepreneurs for vice president. In addition, Politico reported in 2012, that “Condoleezza Rice tops the vice presidential wish list among Republicans and right-leaning independents, according to the poll Wednesday. Twenty-six percent of those polled backed the former national security adviser and secretary of state under George W. Bush as Romney’s No. 2.” Doesn’t seem like these voters got Chris Matthew’s “you’re a racist party” memo.
It is irresponsible to pretend that every person who dislikes Obamacare is somehow akin to Lester Maddox or George Wallace standing at the school-house door. First of all, both of those men were Democrats—not that this is relevant. Second of all, there are plenty of not-bigoted reasons to oppose Obamacare and they have been discussed and written about at length. Unfortunately many Democrats do not like to discuss the merits of those arguments. What people like Chris Matthews do is create more polarization in our country and less civil debate.
Like former President Clinton’s scolding publicly of Sister Souljah, maybe this is President Obama’s opportunity to have his Sister Souljah moment and scold the more derisive and hate-mongering elements on his party.
HELPING SOLVE A VETERAN UNEMPLOYMENT PROBLEM AND A NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERN
Do any of us fully realize the vulnerability of the electricity infrastructure of the United States?
Given the interconnectivity of our information age, it is undeniable that essentially everyone not only uses the power grid, but they do it every single hour of every single day. From traffic signals and air conditioning to alarm systems and Internet commerce, electricity is absolutely vital to daily functioning.
Many would be shocked at the idea that something this essential would be at the same time so defenseless – and yet, that is the scary reality.
On April 16, 2013, just before 1 a.m., someone slipped unnoticed into an underground vault near PG&E’s Metcalf Transmission Substation, near San Jose, California. They cut the telephone cables and opened fire on the substation. In all, 17 transformers within the complex were destroyed in an attack lasting less than 20 minutes. To date, the perpetrators have not been caught.
Luckily, other plants were able to meet the power need preventing a temporary blackout and continued filling the void during the 27-day repair until the substation was fully operational. Notably, Jon Wellinghoff, then the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), called the attack, “The most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred.”
The obvious question: Why would someone attack a substation? Or that substation?
Imagine how easily a small cell of terrorists could destroy infrastructure and create large-scale blackouts, with little risk of being caught. Our Country’s enemies could so easily capitalize on our hyper-vulnerability, this figurative chink in our security armor, making it all the more important to address it—and soon.
A well-planned and executed attack on several substations could easily cause rolling blackouts and leave millions of Americans without power for days, and perhaps far longer. This is not only a security risk, but also a societal threat that would result in an economic nightmare. In a worst case scenario, hospitals, retirement homes, schools, businesses and law enforcement could all be running on emergency lights and generators, assuming they were running at all.
We pass transmission substations daily without giving them a second thought. The lack of apparent security should never make us forget they are vital cogs in the network that makes up the infrastructure of this nation. They serve as hubs for intersecting grid lines and make it possible to move electricity over long distances.
The large transformers targeted in last year’s attack make electricity transmission possible. The fact that they are heavy, expensive and not quickly produced means that a successful, coordinated attack on a number of important substations could result in outages affecting tens of millions and lasting for weeks, months or even longer.
Thus far, everyone seems to be more or less in the dark (pun intended!). Clearly, closed circuit television feeds from cameras, chain linked or occasionally barbed wire fencing and a few warning signs are not going to protect these substations from harm. We need to find a more effective solution.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ numbers from January of 2014 say the unemployment rate among military veterans is 5.6%, which means that roughly 600,000 veterans are currently unemployed. The unemployed rate rises to 7.9% for veterans who served since September 11th, 2001, representing around 190,000 veterans without jobs.
So here’s an idea: It is achievable, not to mention relatively inexpensive, to create a force of guards for America’s transmission substations comprised of unemployed veterans. The size of the force would depend on the specifics of the substation, but teams of between two to three dozen guards would certainly be helpful added protection. We have already invested money in training our military veterans, giving them invaluable skills we can now use to guard our Nation’s infrastructure.
The simplicity of this solution should not detract from its potential effectiveness. It would not take many armed veterans to deter such attacks on these substations. The mere human presence alone acts as a more potent deterrent than all of the methods being used today.
In short, we plug a hole in the defenses of the Country while decreasing veteran unemployment—a true win-win. In terms of funding this measure, a marginal fee could be placed on utility bills coupled with less training overhead and the sheer number of individuals paying the fee; it would be virtually unnoticeable to the average consumer.
This deficit neutral idea, used effectively, to successfully guard the United States from attacks: that’s a plan that should light up Capitol Hill.
How to Ensure the IRS Never Abuses Its Powers Again
It is not so much whether or when or why the IRS abused its authority by targeting Tea Party and conservative groups. We know by now the answers are: of course, over a period of year, and to aid the re-election of President Obama.
Going forward, the most important question is: How can we prevent it from happening again? The answer may be more complicated than we think.
First, the IRS as a tax collecting entity is not going the way of the Dodo bird. Until you find 60 Mike Lees (R-UT) in the U.S. Senate and a President willing to work to repeal the 16th Amendment, the IRS is here to stay. So the first step is to take the IRS out of the resident’s political hands – specifically the IRS Commissioner appointment.
The evidence proves the IRS was used as an abusive political tool to hobble or destroy as many organizations as possible that opposed President Obama’s agenda. The partisan media may continue to suppress this fact, but the denial that it happened at all is growing more absurd by the day.
Journalists raised to never trust anyone over the age of 30 now seem to accept any excuse – no matter how implausible – to explain away the scandal.
Once the problem came to light, the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Division claimed to have “lost” her emails. At the same time, the IRS was known to sanction individuals for not maintaining seven years of receipts. Would the New York Times have accepted this excuse from the Koch Brothers?
Perhaps a better example is the media’s reaction to abuses by the Nixon administration and the ample evidence it abused the IRS in a similar way. One word: Firestorm.
Still, what the IRS did to Tea Party organizations is tyranny personified and it cannot be ignored or forgiven, because it can happen to anyone who opposes the policies of the powerful.
What if you oppose same-sex marriage and are outspoken about it? Or oppose military intervention overseas? What makes you believe you are more inoculated than a Tea Party entity?
This controversy presents us with an opportunity to remove the Internal Revenue Service from political influence altogether. Anyone who respects the separation of powers, regardless of whether they are conservative, liberal, moderate, libertarian or anything else, ought to see the wisdom in separating IRS enforcement and presidential appointments.
Appointments by the president are, by and large, intended to mirror his political decisions. The IRS, however, is different. Because of its massive power and essentially unlimited authority, it must be more than fair – it must be 100 percent non-political. Even if this is unattainable, every attempt must be made.
Join the Discussion at the Daily Caller, click here.
Now Is The Time to Take a Stand
Reasonable and thoughtful people can argue and disagree about the pros and cons of the current federal government shut down. This is not the first, nor will this be the last shutdown we will see in our lifetime.
Every Congress and every President disagree. This is not novel. Ask Bill Clinton or read Ronald Reagan’s autobiography. So, the real question is: where do we go from here? And specifically, where do Speaker Boehner and House Republicans go from here?
Before I give my unsolicited advice, we need to look at what is given:
Given #1 – President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid are not going to negotiate. And if they did, it would be for a photo-op and not any cooperative, bipartisan consensus agreement.
Given #2 – Two-thirds of Americans think shutting down the government is a bad thing. That number will not drop for a variety of economic and perception reasons.
Given #3 – According to a Fox News poll, “A quarter of voters blame “Republican leaders such as John Boehner” (25 percent) for the shutdown and about the same number point the finger at President Obama (24 percent). Some 17 percent blame “Tea Party Republicans such as Ted Cruz.” Just 8 percent blame “Democratic leaders such as Harry Reid.” Another 20 percent think all of them are responsible for the shutdown.”
Summation: these numbers will not improve for Republicans.
So we have an obstinate, take-my-ball-and-go-home president and his grumpy, get-off-my-lawn Senate Majority Leader (who is still bitter about being left out of the debt limit talks a couple of years ago).
So Republicans have made their bed and are forced to lie in it. While Democrats and their media pawns say caving in now is the best thing for the country, it is frankly the worst thing to do for our country in the short and long-term.
If Republicans equivocate and are seen as road kill now, there is not a chance in the world that spending cuts or entitlement reforms will be enacted. We will effectively have no real check on the White House and its voracious “give me more” coalitions.
The way Republicans recover as a brand – a brand currently about as popular as Miley Cyrus — is to have a strong message and coherent vision that resonates with voters concerned about our national interest and the country’s future. They will take Republicans serious when they act like leaders.
So the course Speaker Boehner should consider is this:
Our nation faces bankruptcy. We spend more than we take in. We are leaving our children and grandchildren with a debt that raising taxes can never cover.
Today’s working men and women are nearing a time where our currency will become worthless, where inflation will devour our savings and interest rates will reach a point where buying a home will be unaffordable.
Our nation faces a math problem. The numbers don’t add up.
Until President Obama sits down with House Republicans and negotiates a debt-limit ceiling vote and how to implement real, long-term cuts to offset increasing the debt ceiling, the government will stay shut down.
No more Band-Aid approaches to issues that affect every American. We don’t care if we lose the majority and stay in the minority for 20 years. Or longer.
We will no longer watch our nation become second-class. This out-of-control government growth stops now and we are willing take our electoral lumps to ensure our future is strong.
Senate and House Republicans need to fan out to their states and congressional districts and meet with editorial boards and news outlets. Take their message to civic groups, PTAs, churches and employers. Explain what is at stake long-term. Explain that time is not on our side.
They need to enlist Republican legislators to explain to their constituents what is at stake. This is an “all hands on deck” moment.
Republicans act like they don’t have numbers. They do. Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans have a majority of governorships and state legislators. Time to get up and like Howard Beale in “Network”:
“I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE! Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation . . . . But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
Republicans have gone down a path – probably a path of no return. The time for squabble and debate whether we should or should not have chosen this course is past us. Now is the time to man- or woman-up and simply say “Enough!”
Keep it shut down until America’s president acts like a leader and sits down, recognizes our financial problems and works with the duly elected members of Congress. It is the way our system was set up.
To read and discuss on Breitbart, click here.
Appoint Romney Ambassador Of Haiti?
Imagine if America experienced a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in a highly populated area with notoriously unstable buildings resulting in more than 200,000 dead, 1.5 million homeless and $8 billion worth of damage. Needless to say, it would garner world headlines and galvanize a national effort to completely rebuild.
While we can only imagine the scope of pain and suffering, this natural disaster did occur, albeit in one of the world’s poorest nations – Haiti.
Despite multinational efforts – including a joint public campaign by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton that raised considerable resources – the recovery process ought to be a lot further along than it is. The fact is, despite billions of dollars in aid and countless hours of work by relief organizations, volunteers and the people of Haiti, the island nation is still severely damaged and the scope of human suffering is simply staggering.
Over $9 billion in aid has flooded into the country in the years since the earthquake occurred, but a lack of transparency and absence of an overall strategy have prevented these resources from making a lasting difference on the ground.
If Barack Obama feels compelled to do the right thing for Haiti, he should take a hard look at the idea of appointing Mitt Romney as Ambassador to Haiti.
Why? The answer lies in Mitt Romney’s special skills, which he can use to help Haitians get back on their feet and build a stronger and more stable nation for the future.
Let us start off with the simplest of obstacles: language. Romney served his missionary outreach in France, spending almost two-and-a-half years there and picking up the language in the process. Mr. Romney thus speaks a language many Haitians understand, and he would be able to credibly communicate with the people there in a way that most cannot.
A lack of suitable housing is probably the single most pressing issue in Haiti, although it could be argued this it is only an issue due to the lack of economic recovery.
Mitt Romney tackled complex housing issues as the Governor of Massachusetts. He also handled emergency situations during his tenure as he dealt with heavy flooding in large swaths of the Bay State. His father George Romney may be best known as a popular former Governor of Michigan, but he also served effectively as Richard Nixon Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As such, Mitt Romney has shown a specific interest in housing issues for many years.
Housing in Haiti remains a desperate challenge, especially in Haiti’s capital Port Au Prince, where hundreds of thousands still live in tent cities that grow increasingly less safe and sanitary every day. Tens of thousands of others live in dilapidated and condemned buildings rather than face the overcrowding of the tent cities or the harsh reality of having no roof over their heads.
The economy is in complete disrepair, with tens of thousands of businesses, formal and informal, destroyed in a matter of minutes. Furthermore, economic growth within Haiti is not as simple as just pumping billions of dollars into the country, where corruption, malinvestment, and a lack of infrastructure would frustrate its success.
Finally, the United States is home to over eight hundred thousand members of the Haitian Diaspora. Like it or not, we are Haiti’s neighbor, and as citizens, we have a vested interest in helping to improve the situation there.
So what difference might Mitt Romney make – personally, economically and organizationally?
Economic investment into Haiti is a task for which Mitt Romney has a wealth of experience. His leadership while serving as CEO of Bain Capital shows that he knows how the business world works and that he has advanced management skills. Emergency preparedness and response is a daily need in Haiti, especially since major hurricanes can strike at any given time and further stall progress.
While Romney dealt with emergency services issues as Governor of Massachusetts, his work as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics truly illustrates his ability to tackle a challenge of this scope.
Facing revenue shortfalls, organizational bottlenecks and no ready sources of revenue, Mitt Romney took over the Games and oversaw an incredible turnaround that ended with a $100 million surplus.
We have a true stake in helping this Caribbean nation become stable and even prosperous, instead of a never-ending parade of non-government organizations with tents to put up and food to hand out. Mitt Romney can help the recovery process to transition from the “give a man a fish” level to “teach a man to fish,” if only Barack Obama will give him the chance.
To his detractors, Barack Obama represents divisive politics at its worst, and they are convinced he has designs to marginalize his political opposition – perhaps even destroying the GOP. But think what a move like this could mean – for the people of Haiti, for the character of American generosity and the president’s frequent calls for us to come together after the bruising 2012 election.
Time to Focus on Religious Freedom
By Chuck Warren
Same sex marriage is one those issues that ignites the fury of the entire political spectrum. Many conservatives are keenly aware these days that demographic trends will soon render opposition to gay marriage obsolete. This appears to be not a matter of if, but when either the courts or a majority of Americans approve same-sex marriage in a lion’s share of states.
So the question is: How can social conservatives ensure that the impending legalization of gay marriage does not infringe upon their places of worship?
There is a dangerously presented false dichotomy where the gay marriage debate is concerned. Too often, people want to paint the issue as simply bigoted on one side or immoral on the other. There is, however, a third set of people who believe gay marriage is not a threat to their lives and is essentially already a political reality, but who wish to ensure that if it is ushered into law without trampling all over the religious liberties of those who might be less supportive.
Many conservatives have concluded that they do not want government to discriminate against gays, but neither do they want for example Christians to face discrimination from the state for their beliefs regarding sexuality or marriage. Many are dismissive of this threat, but it is a real concern for those Christians, and others, who do not want to see their churches being forced by government to accept or promote something they are diametrically opposed to.
At any rate, it should be a concern for all citizens to ensure the government is not in the business of forcing churches, mosques, or synagogues to accept, reject, marry, or divorce anyone.
Religious liberty is a sacred right of which virtually all Americans are supportive. And yet, recent trends use laws and regulatory practices to force churches and other religious institutions into engaging in actions with which they do not agree. It is not absurd to suggest that individuals, and yes, legislators, might seek to impose their will on churches and religious institutions in the case of gay marriage, too.
These are not new issues that need to be confronted for the first time. The issue of public acceptance of religious freedom versus state-sponsored promotion of particular religious beliefs is a conflict as old as our nation.
The section of the First Amendment that discusses religious liberty does not prohibit public practice of religion (as so many individuals are contending these days), but rather protects religions from the influence of government and citizens from persecution for religion reasons.
This does not mean that we are free to use the government to persecute individuals for irreligious reasons, either. Rather, it means that the state does not have a role to play in promoting particular religious beliefs, but should do nothing to stand in the way of religious practitioners and their beliefs.
Ezra Taft Benson, who served as both the Secretary of Agriculture under President Dwight Eisenhower and the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, understood this lesson well,
“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”
In the case of gay marriage, this is maybe a lesson social conservatives should implement: do not try to use the world to shape human behavior. Instead, they ought to use government as it was meant to be used: to protect the rights of the minority.
In this particular case, that means recognizing the will of the majority regarding gay marriage while also protecting churches, clergy, and the laity from governmental bullying. This means providing specific legislative protection against churches ever being forced to provide space for gay marriages under the auspices of equal treatment or anti-discrimination laws.
There is little to be gained by attempting to force churches and religious groups to provide services, goods, or equal access for gay marriages except for resentment and anger, which goes against everyone’s aims. There are reasonable, amiable, workable solutions for conservatives to seek when addressing their concerns over the legalization of gay marriage.
ANTI-WAR GROUPS PLAY A MEAN GAME OF HIDE-AND-SEEK
“Come out, come out wherever you are” is a common refrain we hear children yell when they play hide-and-seek. Today, many anti-war groups who had pestered, vilified and protested President’s Reagan’s and Bush’s national security objectives in the past are playing an expert level of hide-and-seek, no one can find them.
The word “principle” is used often in political context by the left and right. We often hear we need elected officials “who are true to their principles.” The word is used so often that it has lost its meaning in the political arena. The actions by today’s anti-war groups add to that hypocrisy because their principles only seem to apply by who is in the Oval Office.
In February 2003, as the US prepared for war in Iraq, Congressional approval already granted and the majority of the country supportive of the invasion, one of the largest anti-war protests of all time took place.
In New York, “a giant puppet depicting President Bush holding buckets of blood and oil towered over the cheering crowd . . .” and Desmond Tutu, Susan Sarandon and Danny Glover spoke at the protest of somewhere between 100,000 and 350,000 people. Maybe many of these people are not protesting today because they got jobs? That is doubtful in the Obama economy.
In Los Angeles, Rob Reiner defined the protestors as patriots, simply attempting to protect the troops from needlessly being placed in harm’s way and thus, offering the greatest support ever for those who risk their lives protecting our freedoms.
Up to two million Britons, joined by Jesse Jackson, also demonstrated against the war, chanting, “George Bush, terrorist.” Of course words and apparently other people’s money mean little to the Jackson family.
Estimates are between 10 and 30 million people, in 600 cities, protested around the world that day.
Groups that were very active under George Bush have nearly disappeared, and although there have been small gatherings here and there across the country, they have been unable to garner significant support. Could the current occupant in the White House be the reason?
Last week, about 200 showed up in New York City to protest a potential attack on Syria, “at least 100” were marching in Los Angeles and 1,000 were out in London.
There have been complaints from the groups themselves that they haven’t had the resources or the participants since the end of the Bush years, when opposition to war pretty much died down. I wonder if they mean the “Republican Bush years?”
According to Medea Benjamin, founder of Code Pink, “ . . . most of the groups that existed before don’t exist anymore.” If opposition to war, and not politics, truly is the driving force behind these groups and their protests, there would be more reason than ever to protest now. Of course “principles” for these gallant folks is only a word to be used to secure political points against Republicans.
President Obama has stepped up unmanned aerial drone attacks to an unprecedented level, has failed to shut down Guantanamo Bay, has continued Bush’s policy of renditions, has doubled the number of troops in Afghanistan, has continued and increased the secret surveillance of US citizens under the Patriot Act and has supported indefinite detentions. Yet these groups who vigorously supported “Hope and Change” have hidden behind trees and bushes in your local urban area.
A study by two sociologists recently claimed that after President Obama’s election, participation at anti-war rallies “plummeted significantly,” although many of the same policies have been carried out under both the Bush and Obama administrations.
The war in Syria today is opposed by far more of the American people than the Iraq War ever was. Today 60% oppose military action in Syria, while in April 2003 a full 74 percent believed that the US made the right decision in using military force in Iraq.
Could it be, as an article in slate.com argues, that because of the videos that have gone viral showing the world the effects of the chemical weapons that many believe Bashar al-Assad has used on his own people, that protestors feel differently about this war? That this one doesn’t look like the war they believe Bush wanted to drag us into, that is–a war built on hyped-up intelligence that Bush had planned to get us involved in along? That Obama doesn’t look like he is inventing a reason to invade a country he has wanted to invade for years anyway?
Just one problem—public support for the Iraq invasion at the time of the mass protests was nearly four times greater than current support for a war in Syria, 74 percent v. 20 percent. Also, slate.com conveniently ignores the murders Sadam committed and ordered against his people or today’s despots who murder their people daily throughout the world.
While speaking to the anti-war protestors in New York in 2003, Desmond Tutu admonished President Bush to listen to the voice of the people, “for many times the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Maybe that message for anti-war protestors goes in one ear and out the other. Principles are a funny thing. They only have lasting standing when you actually adhere to them. Apparently one of the only principled anti-war activist is actor John Cusack and he can’t figure out what the heck this administration is up too. Maybe he can join us and call out “come out, come out, wherever you are” to his hypocritical anti-war friends.
Read it at Breitbart.com, click here.