Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quotes of the Day - self defense

"I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand." ~ Susan B. Anthony

"The whole subject of civilians carrying guns for self defense is discussed too much in the wrong places -- ACLU cocktail parties, gun club gatherings -- all placid atmospheres far removed from the terrifying reality of violent confrontation with the lawless. It should be discussed in prisons, where professional criminals are remarkably candid about their avoidance of armed citizens who can fight back. It should be discussed in rape crises centers. Ask a woman who has been raped, whether she ever wished she had a gun when it happened ... and whether she had bought one since. Her reply is likely to be “yes” to at least the first, and often to both. Talk to the bereaved who lost their loved ones to the streets. Talk to those who have been violated in their homes. Ask them how they feel about passive non-resistance. And when you have attuned yourself to the haunting fear that lives with them forever after their nightmare, you will be ready to talk with someone else who was in their place, but survived unscathed because they were armed. The contrast will be striking. These survivors don’t put notches on their pistols, and they don’t brag about what they had to do... The taking of a human life, no matter what the circumstances, is an unnatural act, an emotionally shattering experience that leaves its own scars forever. But none of those people regret what they did, and to a man, their first reaction was to go home to their wife and children and hug them, tightly and wordlessly." ~ Massad Ayoob

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ottawa Park Amphitheater concert schedule announced

From the City of Toledo website:

The Ottawa Park Amphitheatre is a Greek-style stone amphitheatre that was completed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1937. It is constructed of locally quarried limestone. Restoration was completed in 2002.

The Amphitheatre is located in Ottawa Park off Kenwood Blvd, across from The Toledo Hospital and behind the Police Sub-Station.

Families are invited to bring lawnchairs and/or blankets to sit upon the amphitheatre's grassy tiers as they enjoy a musical eveing (stet) in Toledo's largest City Park.

All concerts are on Wednesdays and start at 6 p.m. I believe these are free, but you can call the city to make sure: 419-936-2700.

August 3: Desire (Motown)

August 10: Extra Stout (Irish)

August 17: Night Session (Swing)

August 24: Bobby Holloway (50’s – 60’s – 70’s)

Toledo City Council Meeting July 26, 2011

NOTE: My friend, Sherry Zbierajewski, attends the Toledo City Council meetings and will providing notes on the agenda items and votes for publication on my blog. Here are her notes from the meeting this week. I'll share them with you for all the meetings she attends.

Toledo City Council Meeting

July 26, 2011

In attendance: Councilmen Steel, Ludeman, Martinez, McNamara, Copeland, Craig, Sarantou, Collins, Waniewski, Councilwomen Brown, Webb, Hicks-Hudson, Deputy Mayor Herwat.

Item 345 – Appointment – Board of Community Relations – confirmed – all voting yes.

Item 347 – Resolution – Recognize 50th anniversary of Cullen Park Marina and Visions of Cullen Park – adopted – all voting yes.

Item 233 – Purchase 48 acre Capital Commons Industrial Park, 5600 Angola Road, $1,050,000 CIP over 3 years – to Economic Development Committee – Ludeman - 8/8 1:00 PM Hearing.

Item 332 – Expenditure to TMACOG for 2011 membership dues, $59,334 General Fund – passed – all voting yes.

Item 333 – Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – Street Services, $16,716,438 – passed – all voting yes. Waniewski – check on trees – better analysis and assessment.

Item 334 - Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – City-wide Street Lighting, $3,358,262 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 335 - Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – Downtown Street Lighting, $236,923 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 336 - Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – Trees, $3,107,118 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 337 - Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – Surface Treatment, $685,318 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 338 - Levying assessments for 2010 Assessed Services Program – Weeds – passed – all voting yes.

Item 339 – Levying assessments for roadside Drainage Systems at 1856 Raynor and 4128 Graceway, $1,872 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 346 – Amend Ordinance 352-10 to establish deadline of September 30, 2011 for $10M HUD 108 loan for Tower on Maumee - passed – all voting yes. Ludeman – was at meeting – occupancy Downtown is at 97% - things are moving. Hicks-Hudson – Did you say 97%? Ludeman – Yes. Thank you McNamara and Martinez.

Item 348 - Approve LCSWND Amended Plan, $5.20 per ton and $5.00 per year per parcel within Lucas County – passed – Collins , no - rest yes. Webb – questions about rate and parcel. McNamara – Two Committee Meetings about this. J. Derringer – Amend? McNamara – Talked about this before. Collins – numbers looking at inclusive exposure – we are responsible for tipping fees – recycling program with Lucas County – move to Lucas County – we didn't receive the $5.00 fee. Webb – veto power. Adam Loux – yes or no on plan. Webb – change vote. McNamara – cost for removal. Craig – reiterate - tipping fee not part of removal – plan from State – worked hard for fair plan – more recycling – less our cost – don't tinker with plan. Slow Roll (Amended) – No – McNamara, Craig, Ludeman, Brown, Sarantou, Steel, Collins, Copeland. Yes – Waniewski, Webb, Hicks-Hudson, Martinez. Motion failed.

Item 349 – Lease-Purchase 555 N. Expressway Drive to replace Albion Street Municipal Garage, $29,759 per month, 15 years - 1st Reading. Herwat – send proposal to Council.

Item 350 – Purchase 85 PC's and software for Utilities Administration, $110,000 Utilities Administration Fund – passed – all voting yes.

Item 351 – Expenditure to FirstEnergy to review interconnection application for power to Omnisource, $17,000 TPP – passed – all voting yes.

Item 352 – Accept OPWC loans and grants for 4 roadway projects and 2 Utility projects, $3,441,520 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 353 – Accept Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission Grant for National Great Lakes Maritime Museum, $1,170,000 – passed – all voting yes. Webb – Thank you. Herwat – pass on Committee.

Item 354 – Expenditure for equipment for Dissolved Air Flotation Unit at Water Reclamation, $23, 023 Sewer Replacement – passed – all voting yes.

Item 355 – Accept PUCO grant Hazardous Materials Training for Environmental Services, $9,580 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 356 – Accept State grant for Police for Drug Use Prevention Program by SRO's in Middle/High Schools, $129,814 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 357 – Accept V-GRIP grant for Police for targeting gang-gun violent crime, $9,000 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 358 – Contribution to Toledo Police Museum, Inc. in Ottawa Park, $50,000 LETF – passed – all voting yes.

Item 359 – Purchase motorcycle for Police, $20,000 LETF – to PS, Law & Criminal Justice Committee.

Item 360 – Resolution – Change hours for Downtown metered parking from 8:00 – 11:00 and 2:00 – 5:00 to 9:00 – 6:00 – back to Administration.

Item 361 – Terminate any agreement with Downtown Toledo Parking Authority (DTPA) for new system with Port Authority – passed – all voting yes.

Item 362 – Agreement with Port Authority for sale of 3 parking garages and operation of downtown parking meters – Sarantou – need to allocate 5 – 10% for stabilization program. Martinez – move City forward working with Port Authority. Ludeman – this was the big item at the meeting. Craig – strict enforcement of the 2 hours. Waniewski – 600K in revenue – 400K in tickets. Hicks-Hudson – relocation with new ideas. Ludeman – change hours – Council. Passed – all voting yes.

Item 363 – Authorize amendment to 5-year consolidated plan & 1-year action plan to HUD for 108 loan for Berdan – to Neighborhoods Committee.

Item 364 – Amend TMC Sec. 1301.06(d) and (e) for named Fire Code and Property Maintenance Code – passed – all voting yes.

Item 365 – Appropriation of program income derived from NSP 2 & 3 program for further use within NSP 2 & 3 – passed – all voting yes.

Item 366 – Zone change at 3920 Funston Street – passed – all voting yes.

Item 367 – Minor revisions to Toledo 20/20 Comprehensive Plan – passed – all voting yes.

Item 368 – Amend TMC Ch. 1110, Flood Control Regulations – passed – all voting yes.

Item 369 - Additional extension (August & September) for dog control services with Lucas County – passed – all voting yes.

Item 370 – Name baseball diamond at Gunckel Park as Herb Mickles Field – passed – all voting yes.

Last Call:

Sarantou – this Thursday Finance Committee Meeting.

Waniewski – Meeting at Elmhurst on the 4th, 6 PM – Meeting rep. 6 PM on the 6th – refuse and recycling – update on storm damage.

Webb – 1) Governor in town – turnpike – provide how this will benefit. 2) Parking Garage – update on red light cameras – collections – renewing licenses because of fees – what can we do? 3) referral on Benore Road – truck traffic from 75 – fix access road.

Hicks-Hudson – Saturday first of two clean up days – no large appliances – 8/1 & 8/2 at Glenwood 6 PM, Jeep Development. Let know about selling of City's assets – bond. Talks about dump spots in her area.

Brown – Post Office will close 5 stations Point Place, Manhattan, Downtown, Dorr St., and Ashland St. People should question closings.

Taxpayer Town Halls

Press Release - (when a Toledo-area location for the Taxpayer Town Hall is announced, I'll add it):

AFP-Ohio announces Taxpayer Town Halls
-Town Halls to focus on financial crises many local governments are facing and how Senate Bill 5 can help-

COLUMBUS- Americans for Prosperity-Ohio kicks off a statewide series of Taxpayer Town Halls on August 16th in the Greater Cincinnati Area. AFP-Ohio is partnering with Tea Parties, 9-12 Groups, and other liberty organizations to host these town halls, which will focus on the financial crises many local governments across Ohio are facing, how those crises could affect citizens, jobs and our economy, what local governments can do to address their financial challenges, and how Senate Bill 5 can help.

"Now that Ohio has passed a budget that addresses Ohio’s financial crisis without raising taxes, we need to turn our focus to the financial struggles many of our local governments are facing," said AFP-Ohio State Director Rebecca Heimlich. "Ohio cannot continue on a path to jobs and prosperity if local governments increase taxes or are forced to layoff employees. Local governments need to use tools that will allow them to balance their budgets by more efficiently, effectively, and transparently managing taxpayer dollars."

Below is a list of Taxpayer Town Halls AFP-Ohio encourages citizens to attend so they can learn more and find out what they can do to help. Over the next few weeks, AFP-Ohio will announce more Taxpayer Town Halls across the state.

Greater Cincinnati Area - East
When: Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 7:00pm
Where: Connections Church, 7421 East Galbraith Road, Madeira, OH 45243*
Partner: Eastern Hills Community Tea Party

Geauga County
When: Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 7:00pm
Where: Orchard Hills Event Center, 11414 Caves Road, Chesterland, OH 44026
Partner: Chesterland Tea Party

When: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 6:30pm
Where: Camden Falls Conference Center, 2460 S. S.R. 231, Tiffin, OH 44883
Partner: North Central Ohio Conservatives

When: Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 7:00pm
Where: Crystal Room next to Club 55, 845 West Market Street, Troy, OH 45373
Partner: Miami County Liberty

Greater Cincinnati Area - West
When: Wednesday, September 14, 2011, 7:00pm (you can join your fellow patriots and purchase dinner at the Farm at 6:00pm)
Where: The Farm, 239 Anderson Ferry Road, Cincinnati, OH 45238
Partners: Southwest Cincinnati Tea Party, Northwest Hamilton County Tea Party

When: Monday, September 26, 2011, 7:00pm
Where: Norwalk High School, 350 Shady Lane Drive, Norwalk, OH 44857
Partner: If You Believe

To learn more about Americans for Prosperity-Ohio, please go to

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Nina and Pinta replicas sail into Toledo

Press Release:


Toledo, Ohio—On Friday July 29th, the ‘Pinta and the ‘Nina’ , replicas of Columbus ships will open in Toledo. The ships will be docked at the Skyway Marina, 1701 Front St., until their departure early Wednesday morning August 3rd.

The ‘Nina’ was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called the ship “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” The “Pinta” was recently built in Brazil to accompany the Nina on all of her travels. She is a larger version of the archetypal caravel. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the fifteenth century.

Both ships tour together as a new and enhanced ‘sailing museum’ for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the ‘caravel’, a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers used to discover the world.

While in port, the general public are invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8.00 for adults, $ 7.00 for seniors, and $6.00 for students 5 - 16 . Children 4 and under are Free. The ships are open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No reservations necessary.

Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30 minute guided tour with a crew member should call 1 787 672 2152. Minimum of 15. $4.00 per person. No Maximum. Visit our website at OR EMAIL The ships arrive on Thursday July 28th and there will be a private viewing for the media after docking.

It's the spending, stupid!

Despite what some people say, it is the spending by our federal government that is the problem. Revenue is down temporarily due to the current economy but is expected to rebound. However,spending is up greatly - and not anticipated to go down at all. This is what is making our national debt so outrageous and pushing us to bankruptcy.

The proof is in the numbers as Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at Cato Institute, shows in his Monday testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. His complete remarks, charts included, is available here, but below are some highlights. I hope you'll read his comments in their entirety.

* Federal spending has soared over the past decade. As a share of gross domestic product, spending grew from 18.2 percent in fiscal 2001 to 24.1 percent by fiscal 2011. The causes of this expansion include the costs of wars, growing entitlement programs, rising spending on discretionary programs, and the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

Recent projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that without reforms spending will keep on rising for decades to come.

* Some policymakers believe that our main fiscal problem is rising debt, and they are calling for a "balanced" package of spending cuts and tax increases. But CBO projections show that the long-term debt problem is not a balanced one — it is caused by historic increases in spending, not shortages of revenues. Excessive spending is the underlying cause of the government's long-run fiscal problems.

* A decade later in fiscal 2011, revenues are down by 4.7 percentage points of GDP, while spending is up by 5.9 percentage points of GDP. However, revenues are down only temporarily due to the poor economy.

* Looking ahead, the CBO projects that with current income tax cuts in place and AMT relief extended, revenues will rise to 18.4 percent of GDP by 2021, or a bit above the normal level of recent decades. For 2035, the CBO simply fixes revenues at the same 18.4 percent, but their discussion indicates that "real bracket creep" would actually keep pushing up revenues as a share of GDP beyond 2021.

* To recap, CBO projections reveal no shortage of federal revenues in coming years. Instead, they show federal spending — which is already abnormally high — rising to unprecedented peacetime levels and the government accumulating massive debt as a result.

* Historically, America's strong growth and high living standards were built on our relatively smaller government. The ongoing surge in federal spending threatens to undo this competitive advantage that we have enjoyed in the world economy. The CBO's new projections show that federal spending will rise by about 10 percentage points of GDP by 2035. If that happens, American governments will be consuming more than half of everything produced in the nation by that year. That would doom young people to unbearable levels of taxation and a stagnant economy with fewer opportunities.

* The reality is that Washington is very poor at trying to micromanagement short-term economic performance. Its failed stimulus actions of recent years have just put the nation further into debt, which has harmed our long-term prosperity. Harvard University's Robert Barro calculated that any short term benefit that the 2009 stimulus bill may have provided from small spending multipliers is greatly outweighed by the future damage caused by higher taxes and debt.

* The government uses a "leaky bucket" when it tries to help the economy. Former Chairman of the Council of Economics Advisors, Michael Boskin, explains: "The cost to the economy of each additional tax dollar is about $1.40 to $1.50. Now that tax dollar ... is put into a bucket. Some of it leaks out in overhead, waste, and so on. In a well-managed program, the government may spend 80 or 90 cents of that dollar on achieving its goals. Inefficient programs would be much lower, $.30 or $.40 on the dollar." Texas A&M Professor Edgar Browning comes to similar conclusions about the magnitude of the government's leaky bucket: "It costs taxpayers $3 to provide a benefit worth $1 to recipients."

The larger the government grows, the leakier the bucket becomes. On the revenue side, tax distortions rise rapidly as marginal tax rates rise.18 On the spending side, funding is allocated to activities with ever lower returns as the government expands.

* Federal spending is soaring, and government debt is piling up at more than a trillion dollars a year. Official projections show rivers of red ink for years to come unless policymakers enact major budget reforms. Unless spending is cut, the United States is headed for economic ruin.

* In recent years, policymakers have put great time and effort into trying to manipulate the short-run economy. These efforts have been very unsuccessful, and the government is much further in debt as a result.

Instead, policymakers should turn their full attentions to long-run spending reforms. They should begin terminating the many unneeded and damaging federal programs that draw resources out of the private sector and sap the economy's strength

* Congress should create budget restraint mechanisms to encourage policymakers to make spending tradeoffs. ... it would be better for new budget mechanisms to target spending, not deficits. A simple mechanism would be to impose a cap of three percent on the annual growth in total federal outlays. Even that modest restraint would be enough to balance the budget in a little over a decade.

* In conclusion, cutting federal spending is the right policy to strengthen U.S. economic growth over both the short-term and longer-term horizons.

It is because of these factors that any discussion about the national debt and the debt limit must be focused upon cutting spending and bringing the overall government spending under control.

The government really doesn't need any more money - it just needs to stop spending more than it can ever expect to obtain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Post Office closings show defect of district council seats

The U.S. Post Office is (again) considering closing various stations around the country due to their huge budget deficit. Both the Point Place and Manhattan stations in North Toledo are on the list. Point Place was targeted for closure several years ago as well.

And in case you've forgotten or are a new reader of my blog, I live in Point Place, Toledo's Council District 6.

Lindsay Webb, the City Council District 6 representative which includes Point Place, is rightly concerned. She points out that if the Point Place station closes, the next closest one, Manhattan, won't be open if the USPS goes ahead with their plans. The options for people in the North End would then be to travel to the Sylvania Avenue, Tremainsville or downtown stations. And she is right when she says that this would be detrimental to many individuals in the area and in her district.

But the USPS is facing huge deficits and needs to make some serious changes in their operations. They need to cut costs and reduce their size in order to continue without being a drain on the public treasury.

Now, many financial issues the USPS faces are beyond their control. Congress has mandated, by law, various provisions for their pensions, to the point where they've overpaid that fund by about $50 billion according to some calculations.

Additionally, their pay schedule is higher than private sector firms with which they compete (UPS and FedEx). Under current law, arbitrators who decide wage disagreements are not allowed to take into account the financial condition of the agency when ruling on disputes.

Certainly, there are steps the USPS can take to reduce costs. Many have suggested eliminating Saturday service. I'd support them eliminating a day of service, but I wouldn't pick the one that most people who work rely upon. I'd have them close on Mondays and I'd even support them delivering mail on the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule.

They can use more automated kiosks and contract with grocery stores and other retail outlets in places where they don't want to have an actual physical building. This seems to have worked well for many banks that station mini-offices in Wal-Mart and other businesses. Customers seem to like the convenience as well.

Congress can even allow them to expand their offerings beyond their federal mandate and truly begin to operate like a business rather than a government service.

But those changes aren't enough to address the continuing near bankruptcy the agency finds itself in, and closing stations is probably a necessary component of getting their financial house in order.

Enter a district councilwoman who, because of the nature of the office, is hired to be an advocate for the people and area she represents.

The decision to close the Point Place and Manhattan branches will definitely be detrimental - or at least a huge inconvenience - to the people Webb represents. So, in her efforts to support her constituents, she will oppose those closings.

But if those closings are in the best interest of the agency and the nation as a whole (including the people she represents), is she being 'selfish' in opposing them? Are her constituents?

Don't forget that if the Post Office requires an infusion of money from the federal government, the people in District 6 will have to pay for that cost along with the rest of America.

If her job is to be an advocate for her district, should that obligation be set aside for the 'greater good'? And, if so for the issue of the Post Office, should it also be set aside for other issues that come before her in City Council?

It's not just Lindsay Webb - it's an issue for all district reps. In advocating for their district, they are often put into the position of supporting items that, while good for the district residents, are bad overall. Additionally, the competition for limited funds ends up pitting district against district - or in terrible deals of a rep trading support for a bad project in another district in exchange for support for a project in their own.

It's the balkanization of the city and it is inherent in a district division for representation on a municipal body.

And this would also apply to the proposal to change Lucas County and elect representatives to a charter county form of government.

For the issue of the Post Office, the district reps are in a no-win situation. If the reps oppose the closings, their election opponents will accuse them of being fiscally irresponsible and supporting a continuation of bad financial decisions. If they support the closings for the benefit of the nation as a whole, they will be accused by their election opponents of not supporting the needs of their district.

It's an untenable position.

The Post Office situation just provides a good example of the inherent defect in the structure of district representation.

'I'm just quitting': why there's no recovery and where the jobs are going

Thanks to Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog, I read this post by David McElroy, a writer and filmmaker in Birmingham, Ala., called "I'm just quitting': A scene right out of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ in Birmingham.

It's about a businessman - a job provider - who happens to have a permit to start an underground coal mine which will employ about 125 people. He attended a public hearing in an inner-city Birmingham neighborhood to hear what government officials, environmentalists and the public had to say about a proposed coal mine in their area. After listening for two hours to attendees and officials bash companies - actual job providers - he spoke. McElroy has his complete statement, but he finishes with this:

I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting.
Thank you.

As if his statements weren't enough, you MUST read the comments on the post. Individuals sharing their similar stories of business men and women just saying 'no' to doing business - hiring people, purchasing supplies which leads to support jobs, paying taxes, creating a profit, contributing to their communities.

These are the stories media should be focused on. Rather than demonize people who want to (gasp!) pay people to work for them, we should be celebrating these job creators.

We should be encouraging them in their efforts and government should be asking how they can help - rather than looking for ways to shut them down, tax them more, impose more rules upon them and make them the source of all evil in the world.

Read the article and the comments - and then you'll know just how far from the American Dream we've actually come ... and then ask yourself what you're going to do to help put our country back on track.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What the GOP debt limit strategy should be

We've been hearing about the negotiations, and witnessing the antics and political posturing over the debt limit for quite some time now and last night's speeches by President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner didn't contain any new information.

The President, as Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog explains, "...changed his mind — again. Calling the President’s performance in the debt-ceiling matter during the past several weeks “Jello-like” would appear to be an insult to the referenced food product."

He also points out that Wall Street seems to be getting used to the impasse, saying, "Yeah, the media/White House “the markets will tank if there isn’t an agreement this weekend” scare tactic of the past two days didn’t work out too well, did it?"

The President's position is that raising the debt ceiling doesn't give the government any more money to spend - it just allows them to pay the bills that are due. What a maroon (as Bugs Bunny would say).

Of course it allows them to spend more money - it gives them the ability to borrow more (there's that word again) money which they plan to immediately spend on a host of worthless projects like tea pot museums, 'slow food' initiatives, shrimp and oyster research, youth soccer gang prevention, bike paths and window replacements in municipal buildings - all critical national priorities.

Additionally, had the Democrats bothered to pass an actual budget in the last 3 years (a statutory mandate that they - and the national media - seem to ignore), they'd realize that they've got more bills than money and would have had to admit that the President's line of 'no additional money to spend' was nothing more than political posturing.

Republicans, led by Speaker Boehner, have at least seen the light - belatedly, but finally - and, despite having contributed mightily to our precarious financial condition, are standing firm on cutting spending and not raising taxes. I can only hope that they've learned their lesson and have truly changed their ways, but I'm not holding my breath.

In fact, Rep. Boehner's 'two-step' plan (sounds sort of shifty, doesn't it) that he introduced yesterday afternoon didn't seem to sit well with some in the GOP, including Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio) who chairs the Republican Study Committee. His statement in reaction to the two-step plan:

“While I thank the Speaker for fighting for Republican principles, I cannot support the plan that was presented to House Republicans this afternoon.”

“The credit rating agencies have been clear that no matter what happens with the debt limit, the U.S. will lose its AAA credit rating unless we produce a credible plan to reduce the debt by trillions of dollars. Cut, Cap, and Balance is the only plan on the table that meets this standard. Only a Balanced Budget Amendment will actually solve our debt problems.”

So it seems the GOP is, thankfully, holding the line and the President is 'taking it to the people,' though not very effectively. But what should the next step be?

Currently, everyone in Washington is focusing on how to get a debt limit increase approved by all sides. The scare tactic is that failing to do so means we default on our loans. Everyone is rushing around talking about the dire consequences of a debt default and pushing their own position as the solution.

While common sense tells you that default doesn't have to happen, since the nation collects much more in revenue than is due on the debt limit, if we remove that component of the argument, the real discussion - the proper size and scope of the federal government and the funding for it - can begin. But that also means that the tool (scary world-ending scenarios on default) being used by the President goes away - certainly a good political strategy as well.

The fact is that the nation defaults when it fails to pay the interest/principle on its loans/bonds. As the chart in this article shows, there is plenty of revenue to pay the interest due. In fact, with $172 billion in income for August, the Treasury Department would have enough money to pay (in rounded numbers):

* $ 30 billion interest on debt,
* $ 50 billion in Social Security payments,
* $ 3 billion active duty military pay,
* $ 29 billion in Medicare expenses,
* $ 21 billion in Medicaid expenses,
* $ 14 billion in federal salaries and benefits,
* $ 7 billion in food stamp payments,
* $ 2 billion in TANF (welfare) payments, and
* $ 3 billion in Veterans Affairs payments.

And that would still leave us with $15 billion or so for miscellaneous items.

The problem is in prioritizing. My list above means that other entities go unpaid (like defense contractors and various departments -energy, EPA, etc...), but the vital issue of debt payments and the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government is not only addressed - it's removed as both a scare tactic and a political weapon.

After all, even Pres. Obama in his speech last night, said:

"...defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate."

How do we not default? The answer is simple: the Prioritize Spending Act of 2011. It's a very short bill that says:


This Act may be cited as the `Prioritize Spending Act of 2011'.


In the event that the debt of the United States Government, as defined in section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, reaches the statutory limit, amounts necessary for obligations incurred by the Government of the United States shall be made available to the following obligations before all other obligations and shall be made available as prioritized in the following order (with items listed in descending order of prioritization):

(1) Amounts necessary to carry out the authority of the Department of the Treasury provided in section 3123 of title 31, United States Code, to pay with legal tender the principal and interest on debt held by the public.

(2) Such amounts as the Secretary of Defense (and the Secretary of Homeland Security in the case of the Coast Guard) determines to be necessary to continue to provide pay and allowances (without interruption) to members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including reserve components thereof, who perform active service.

(3) Such amounts as the President certifies to the Congress are necessary to carry out vital national security priorities.

(4) Amounts necessary to carry out the authority of the Commissioner of Social Security to pay monthly old-age, survivors', and disability insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act.

(5) Amounts necessary to make payments under the Medicare program under title XVIII of the Social Security Act.

Passing this bill has several positive outcomes for the nation's economy as it ensures the threat of default will no longer exist. It also removes uncertainty and reassures creditors that the nation will meet its obligations, no matter what political posturing goes on.

When the House passes it, it goes to the Senate, forcing them to be accountable for the consequences of their actions. The Senate has failed to approve a budget of their own and unanimously defeated the budget submitted by the President.

Since they don't want to do their job of budgeting, force them to take a position on prioritizing. They'll either

* table it, sending a message to all Americans that they'd rather try to scare you and use the credit of the nation as a political ploy for their own means;

* defeat it, sending the same message while also saying they WANT to default if it accomplishes their personal political goals;

* or pass it, because it's necessary for their future re-election efforts.

If they pass it, it forces the same position on Pres. Obama.

If Obama really doesn't want to default or not get granny her Social Security check, he'll sign it. The President said:

This is no way to run the greatest country on Earth. It’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now. Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake. We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare.

If he really means that, he'll support the Prioritize Spending Act.

But my guess is that he'd veto it. And then he'd prove to the entire world that he really doesn't care about the nation - only about getting his way so he can spend even more money that he doesn't have.

A veto and a subsequent decision on behalf of the President to not make the debt payments would be devastating to the nation and its citizens. And make no mistake - if the nation defaults, it will be because Pres. Obama made the conscious decision to do so, despite his ability to avoid default.

Either way - veto or passage - it's a win-win scenario for Republicans.

So what are they waiting for?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Senate defeats 'Cut, Cap & Balance' plan

Yep - they defeated it with a motion to table, 51-46 on a strict party line vote. Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Republican, voted against the motion to table while Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat, voted in favor.

John McCain and two Democrats (including John Kerry) did not vote.

Sen. President Harry Reid refused to even allow the plan to be debated. He called the plan to cut spending and balance the budget “some of the worst legislation in the history of this country,” even though a new CNN poll shows 66% of Americans support the plan. Perhaps he had this confused with Obamacare - you know, the legislation that had to be passed so members of Congress could find out what was in it?!?

And their plan is?????

Here is what House Speaker John Boehner had to say:

Senate Democrats Defy the Will of the People, Reject “Cut, Cap, & Balance”

Jul 22, 2011


Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) released the following statement today responding to Senate Democrats’ rejection of House-passed “Cut, Cap, and Balance” legislation:

“Senate Democrats have defied the will of the American people who overwhelmingly support real spending cuts, caps on future spending, and a balanced budget to create a better environment for private-sector job growth. Republicans are standing with the American people and, as I’ve said before, will not pass a bill that fails to cut spending by more than it increases the debt limit, restrain future spending, or that raises taxes on families and job creators. To help avoid a default, I urge the Senate to rethink their decision and immediately approve the responsible, balanced, House-passed ‘Cut, Cap, & Balance’ proposal.”

NOTE: A recent CNN survey showed that two-thirds of the American people support a plan that “would raise the debt ceiling only if a balanced budget amendment were passed by both houses of Congress and substantial spending cuts and caps on future spending were approved.”


TARTA and your tax dollars - hard at work lobbying for more tax dollars

APTA, the American Public Transportation Association, has been running ads on local radio urging listeners to tell their members of Congress to support public funding of public transportation. Obviously, I have a few problems with this, especially since they invoke Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in doing so.

The first issue I have is with the distortion that today's transportation bills have become. It used to be that they supported the infrastructure (roads, highways, airports) as the quote from Pres. Reagan indicates:

The state of our transportation system affects our commerce, our economy and our future. . .Common sense tells us that it will cost a lot less to keep the system we have in good repair than to let it disintegrate and have to start over from scratch...

But today's transportation bill funds bike and pedestrian paths - and other strictly local items. And they're sucking up precious, limited funding that should be going to national transportation maintenance.

There is no way to construe the limited Constitutional authority of the federal government as allowing for the expenditure of funds on what can only be described as a local desire. A bike path in Toledo has no national - or even state-wide - impact and shouldn't be funded with federal dollars. If Toledo wants a bike path, it should build it with its own money and not expect the rest of the nation to fund, or even subsidize, it. And the same is true of every other city and community in the nation.

The second - and bigger - issue I have is with the federal funding of local public transportation - as in our TARTA, the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority. Besides the fact that TARTA is strictly a local need and should not be funded with federal dollars, it appears that TARTA and APTA are linked.

I confirmed with APTA that TARTA is a current member. Based upon the information from APTA's membership department and their website, TARTA is a Class A member and their dues are based upon their annual operating expenses, including para transit. With an operating budget around $30 million, TARTA's dues are either $26,000 or $33,000.

So we have a public, tax-funded agency paying dues to a national organization that is advocating for more tax money to go to its members. Is there anyone else who sees a problem with this picture?

As if that's not enough, TARTA is using its website to advocate for increased funding as well. Here is a screen shot asking visitors to send a form letter to members of Congress urging them to allocate more money to organizations like TARTA:

Public agencies that receive public funding should not be allowed to advocate for more public funding - or pay dues to organizations that advocate for more tax dollars on their behalf.

There is no way to actually separate the public tax dollars TARTA receives from its other funding - and even if the income is kept in different accounts, getting the tax dollars frees up other revenue and allows that other revenue to be used for lobbying for more tax dollars.

This is just plain wrong.

Of course, TARTA has a history of illegally using their public funds. They 'loaned,' without interest, public funds to their levy campaign committee and relied upon their public bonding agency to repay the illegal loans.

Ohio Revised Code, Section 9.03, states that “no governing body of a political subdivision shall use public funds to support or oppose the passage of a levy or bond issue.”

Perhaps it is time to include "or to lobby for other public funding" so we can be sure that our tax dollars are paying for the actual public services and not being used to influence a political agenda.

*** Follow up:

Yesterday I asked you to guess, without looking it up, who said the Quote of the Day on the Second Amendment. It was actually John F. Kennedy - and I'd bet that a lot of Democrats today would find his position on the right to bear arms "extreme."

It just goes to show you how far left today's Democratic Party has come. Of course, the more left they go, the more they think the GOP has gone to an extreme right. I don't see the Republican Party principles as having changed that much over time, though that is not to say that every person with an 'R' on their voter registration actually practices those principles when in office - can you say RINO?

Of course modern Democrats think the GOP has become extreme. The problem though, isn't the GOP - it's the Democrats who have moved much farther from the center than they were in the past, as the quote demonstrates.

It's a matter of perspective - and understanding perspective is critical in a political world.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reward offered in recent arsons

Press Release:

Toledo Fire & Rescue Seek Information On Recent Fires

Reward Of Up To $5,000 For Information Leading To An Arrest

The Toledo Fire & Rescue Arson Investigative Unit continues to examine the conditions of multiple fires that have occurred throughout the city and are asking for residents’ help. The department is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest of individuals involved.

Anyone with information concerning any of these fires is asked to call the Toledo Police Investigative Unit at 419-245-3142, the Toledo Fire and Rescue Arson Investigation Unit at 419-245-1131, or the Crime Stopper program at 419-255-1111. Callers may remain anonymous.


Identify this Quote of the Day - Second Amendment

Can you identify - without looking it up - this Quote of the Day on the Second Amendment?

"... By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important."

Answer tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

$1 Billion in unused dollar coins

I saw a blurb the other day about $1 billion in unused coins sitting in a government vault. It seemed a bit odd and not quite right, so I researched it - and it turns out, it's true.

The federal government has been printing presidential $1 coins. You've seen them, right? Me neither.

I do remember the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin. In fact, I've never used one but I did get 10 extra credit points in a marketing class in college for being the only one to correctly answer a question about it.

Q: "Why wasn't the Susan B. Anthony dollar successful at replacing the paper dollar bill?"

A: Because there was no demand for a replacement to the paper dollar.

And I do remember the Sacagawea dollar coin (as 'successful' as Susan B. Anthony) but just learned of the law that requires 20% of dollar coins to bear the Indian guide's image. Turns out, changing the name and person on the coin doesn't create a market demand for it.

And apparently, even presidents can't make the public want to use a dollar coin. The Presidential $1 Coin Act became law in 2005, and the U.S. Mint started producing the coins a couple of years later. I guess congress didn't learn from the lesson of the '80s and was doomed to repeat its mistake.

So have you ever even seen a $1 presidential coin? They're up to Rutherford B. Hayes, our 19th president, so they have a ways to go.

But it's costing us a mint (pardon the pun) for the first 18.

Each coin costs $.30 to make so we've spent about $300 million making coins that nobody wants - and that amount could double by the time the program ends in 2016.

It's hard to imagine so much money sitting inside a vault unwanted, but it's there. As an NPR story explained: a report to Congress last year, the Federal Reserve said the coins are now being held "with no perceivable benefit to the taxpayer," and that banks are sending them back to the Fed in increasing numbers.

"We have no reason to expect demand to improve," the Fed said. "We also note that a 2008 Harris poll found that more than three fourths of people questioned continue to prefer the $1 note."

NPR also wondered if switching to dollar coins would benefit taxpayers.

A Government Accountability Office study out this spring says that switching to a dollar coin "would provide a net benefit to the government" of about $5.5 billion over 30 years.

But it's not because coins are cheaper. The report says the government would not recover the cost of switching from bills to coins over that period.

Instead, the benefit to the government would come only from the profit it makes by manufacturing each coin for 30 cents and selling it to the public for a dollar.

When this profit, known as seigniorage, is factored out, switching to the dollar coin would actually cost taxpayers money over three decades, according to a Federal Reserve analysis of the GAO's figures. The cost works out to $3.4 billion.

The sad part is that we didn't need to be in this position. The Congressional Budget office warned Congress when it was considering the Act that demand for dollar coins was 'low.' That's an understatement.

But you know those members of Congress - they know so much better than we do so they went ahead and passed the law, making it three strikes against the dollar coin.

Yet the U.S. Government is still making them. I believe this qualifies for 'stuck-on-stupid' designation.

Considering our current fiscal situation, isn't this a program that could be cut in order to save money and help address the debt limit issue we're facing? What member of Congress will be brave enough to actually end a government program?

I won't hold my breath.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Even more good news for Ohio's credit rating

My friend and fellow Ohio blogger, Tom Blumer, has a further update on the recently upgraded outlook for Ohio's credit rating, proving that Kasich's recent balanced budget is responsible for the progress.

...there’s an even better part to all of this.

That’s because a related story reports an event which happened back in January which apparently didn’t get a lot of attention (or it got past me, which has been known to happen). This event, and the July news above which has followed it six month later, blows away every last conceivable shred of a claim by Ohio’s left and Democrats that Ted Strickland was really, really making things better in the final year of his term.

To hear them tell it, Ohio’s improving economy is merely a continuation of all the grrrrrrreat work T-Shirt and Turnaround Ted did in 2010. Why, one deluded BizzyBlog lefty commenter informed me that Ohio’s recovery last year was the best since 1983. Then Uncle Sam’s GDP growth by state report came out. “Never mind.”

Anyway, the super-fun, deal-sealing nugget is contained in the final paragraph of last week’s Wall Street Journal’s story on the S&P upgrade (bold is mine):

S&P had lowered its outlook on Ohio in January, citing the state’s depletion of its budget stabilization reserve. More recently, the state has made progress balancing its budget through the 2013 fiscal year, easing pressure on the rating.

Translation: After four years of Ted Strickland’s stewardship, on his way out the door, S&P told him, “Here’s the final bill for the damage you’ve done, Ted. You’ve left the state in a mess. Don’t let the screen door hit you.”

The cutoff couldn’t be any clearer. Before John Kasich took office, Ohio was rapidly turning into a problem child. A mere six months later (with the usual “don’t get too cocky” caution), Kasich has engineered an impressive enough turnaround to warrant an upgrade from S&P.

Perhaps the Ohio that Kasich envisions is a state where most of us want to live after all.

Partisanship and state fiscal policy

From National Center for Policy Analysis:

Since the Great Depression, the size of U.S. government has grown consistently. While most focus is traditionally on the expansion of the federal government, the states have played a significant role in this transformation, say Noel D. Johnson, an assistant professor of economics at George Mason University, Matthew Mitchell, a research fellow at the Mercatus Center, and Steven Yamarik, a professor of economics at California State University, Long Beach.

* The size of state and local consumption as a proportion of total government spending increased from 43 percent to 67 percent between 1960 and 2010.

* As a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), it grew from 9 to 12 percent.

* Much of the growth in the states concerns local public goods such as education, law and order, social transfers (welfare programs), and health expenditures.

There are significant differences in policy preferences between Republicans and Democrats concerning these budget items -- of which both voters and politicians are highly conscious. In general, the consensus view is that Republicans favor smaller government, while Democrats are viewed as favoring a larger role for government, raising the question: what role does partisanship play in U.S. state fiscal policymaking?

* In the presence of a fiscal constraint that binds the parties to some spending position that is between their most-preferred spending levels, Democrats will adopt platforms that call for more regulation while Republicans will adopt platforms that call for less regulation.

* Republicans do generally support budgets that decrease the size of government, whereas Democrats favor higher taxes and spending.

* Furthermore, to the extent that unified Republican governments seem to be elected in states with higher spending and taxes and vice versa for Democrats, it seems that voters expect the parties to purse these policies.

* Politicians in states that prevent them from pursuing votes through partisan fiscal policies will instead substitute into regulatory efforts.

* Democrats tend to favor further increases in the minimum wage and are less likely to outlaw a closed union shop by adopting a right-to-work statute.

* Republicans, on the other hand, are even more likely to adopt a right-to-work statute in the presence of a fiscal constraint.

Source: Noel D. Johnson, Matthew Mitchell and Steven Yamarik, "Pick Your Poison: Do Politicians Regulate When They Can't," Mercatus Center, June 2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Washington vs. the real world (or where solar art trumps the national debt)

The discussions by politicians in Washington, D.C. over the debt limit have me extremely frustrated.

First there is the whole 'default' and doom-and-gloom scenario. You know, where President Barack Obama and the Democrats are saying that failure to raise the debt limit will mean the United States will default and send the world into chaos, even though that wasn't the case when George W. Bush was president.

In 2006, every single Democrat voted no to raising the debt ceiling. That also means that Republicans who were in office then voted in favor of it.

Today, the Dems are saying the world will end without an increase and the Republicans are saying 'only if we cut spending, too.' At least the Republicans seemed to have learned from the past several elections and the Tea Party movement consisting of members of all political parties demanding a fiscally conservative approach for the federal government.

But the whole 'default' discussion isn't really relevant. When you reach your limit on your credit cards, you don't declare bankruptcy - you just have to stop using them for purchases. As long as you can make the required payments, your card isn't cancelled and you don't 'default.'

This is the same as the U.S. government. While they may not be able to borrow any more money, they don't have to default on the loans - at least, not as long as they make their payments. As Cato explains:

The Treasury Department estimates that the federal government will collect a bit more than $203 billion in taxes during August — roughly $36 billion just in the first three days. But, during August, the federal government is expected to spend $307 billion. That is why we have a problem.

If the government is not able to borrow more money after Aug. 2, spending will have to be reduced to the amount of revenue that the government has. That would require roughly a 44 percent cut in federal spending.

This will almost certainly hurt. But it's not the same as default. During August, interest payments on the federal debt will total roughly $29 billion, meaning that there will be sufficient revenue to meet our obligations to creditors. If the Obama administration is truly worried that we might not do so, they could always support legislation by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) that would require the Treasury Department to pay our creditors first.
In fact, the revenue we will collect in August would more than cover Social Security payments, Medicare and military salaries, in addition to interest payments on the debt.

It's a matter of priorities, as this article from the Washington Post explains, but setting priorities is, apparently, a 'heinous' choice for the President:

“You do not have to default and you don’t have to shut down the government if you choose not to,” said Peter Morici, an economist at the University of Maryland. If Congress raises the debt ceiling without a long-term plan for reducing the federal deficit, he added, “they’ll never solve the problem, and we’ll end up like Greece.”

Obama’s advisers have said that prioritizing some payments over others is impractical and would be chaotic. Money comes in and flows out at an inconsistent rate.

“You would have to make heinous choices about which bills you would pay,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

Just what does he think the rest of the world - and the citizens he's supposed to represent - are doing?!?

But that's not all - as Mark Steyn explains:

In the real world, negotiations on an increase in one’s debt limit are conducted between the borrower and the lender. Only in Washington is a debt increase negotiated between two groups of borrowers.

And he's right. You and I (and our descendants for probably more than a generation) are the ones expected to the foot the bill for this debt, as Steyn, with his irreverent sense of humor and irony, demonstrates:

On the one side are Obama and the Democrats, who in a negotiation supposedly intended to reduce American indebtedness are (surprise!) proposing massive increasing in spending (an extra $33 billion for Pell Grants, for example). The Democrat position is: You guys always complain that we spend spend spend like there’s (what’s the phrase again?) no tomorrow, so be grateful that we’re now proposing to spend spend spend spend like there’s no this evening.

On the other side are the Republicans, who are the closest anybody gets to representing, albeit somewhat tentatively and less than fullthroatedly, the actual borrowers — that’s to say, you and your children and grandchildren. But in essence the spenders are negotiating among themselves how much debt they’re going to burden you with. It’s like you and your missus announcing you’ve set your new credit limit at $1.3 million, and then telling the bank to send demands for repayment to Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s kindergartner next door.

Nothing good is going to come from these ludicrously protracted negotiations over laughably meaningless accounting sleights-of-hand scheduled to kick in circa 2020. All the charade does is confirm to prudent analysts around the world that the depraved ruling class of the United States cannot self-correct, and, indeed, has no desire to.

Think about the spending. We've got elitist politicians in DC bickering over the debt limit and saying they can't guarantee that granny is going to get her Social Security check in August, yet they're handing out $1 million for 'solar art.'

Seriously. The regional transit authority, along with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, is going to jointly design a solar panel to be used to help offset the cost of lighting the administration building. TARTA hasn't calculated exactly how much per year the solar panels are going to save, but they're going ahead with the project anyway. Isn't that grand?

For reference, the solar panels on the I-280 bridge (also a 'gift' from our 'esteemed' representative) cost $1.5 million and were 'projected' to save $9,721 per year in energy costs. When you do the math, you'll find that project will take a little more than 154 years to break even. And those solar panels only have a lifespan of about 20 years.

No wonder TARTA hasn't done the calculations!

Really now, if we're truly in need and at risk of default, shouldn't the federal government put a hold on such 'unnecessary' expenditures? Wouldn't even our representative, Marcy Kaptur, agree that NOT spending money to put a solar array on a TARTA building so they can, hopefully, save money is the wiser course of action - at least until the debt limit is addressed?

And how many other expenditures of this nature have been made over the past several months? A simple Google search for "representative announces grant" produced 9.8 million hits in .2 seconds. That's a lot of spending!

Washington elitists don't live in the real world - at least, the ones insisting on raising the debt limit don't. Even Republicans, who are holding the line and insisting on spending cuts and no tax increases, are only talking about cuts 'over the next 10 years.'

We all know that those cuts aren't guaranteed and that future congresses can decide to eliminate then and spend away. We've got history to show us this potential is actually the norm. Besides, if they can't stop spending on superfluous stuff today, what makes us think they've got the intestinal fortitude to stop in the future?

Raising the debt ceiling to solve our financial predicament is the equivalent of raising the blood-alcohol level to solve drunk driving. It doesn't work and we all know it - how can our politicians not know this, too?

Logic and common sense are completely lacking in the discussions, but fear-mongering, political posturing and rhetoric are rampant. We'd never survive if we ran our personal finances this way - and fortunately for our country, the majority of Americans not only recognizes this, but is speaking out and holding the elitists accountable.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ohio's credit outlook upgraded

This is such good news for Ohio and it's a testament to the success of Gov. John Kasich's new budget which he balanced without raising taxes.

Article in Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services upgraded Ohio's credit outlook on Friday, a forecast that bodes well for the economically challenged state's future borrowing needs.

S&P kept the state's rating at AA+, but improved the outlook from negative to stable.

The change means S&P expects Ohio to be a better credit risk going forward, said Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols, and if the state's rating is eventually upgraded to AAA, the highest rating, that should mean lower costs of borrowing and a savings to taxpayers.

The article also includes a quote from Kasich:

"This is great news for Ohio," the governor said in a prepared statement. "Standard & Poor's decision to improve Ohio's credit outlook for the first time in two years is a real show of confidence in the positive things we're doing. It's encouraging that our accomplishments are beginning to move the needle like this and be noticed by independent financial analysts like those at Standard & Poor's."

This is also a repudiation of our local paper's criticism of the governor's policies. In the linked post is this from Editor David Kushma:

I can’t believe that the Ohio the governor and Republican lawmakers envision is a state where most of us want to live. But I could be wrong.

Apparently, it's not just the editors of the Wall Street Journal - and a majority of Ohioans - who think Ohio is heading back to the right path.

Friday, July 15, 2011

GOP's time for choosing

I cannot recommend highly enough this column by Erick Erickson on

Here is the start:

Dear House Republicans,

In the election of 2010, voters sent you to Washington to do two things: (1) End Obamacare and (2) pull us back from the brink of financial ruin.

You have failed at the first task. Obamacare remains. You never even seriously attempted to restrain its funding or implementation. Heck, you haven’t even saved the incandescent lightbulb.

Will you now fail at the second task too?

If you cave, fold, or compromise on the President’s terms, you will have failed in both your missions. If you support Mitch McConnell’s plan, you will have decisively failed.

Now is a time for choosing. Now is your time for choosing.As I pointed out to John Boehner yesterday, despite what the pundits in Washington are telling you, it is you and not Obama who hold most of the cards.

And I agree.

In fact, Erick makes a point that few have made prominently: that if the GOP folds in this fight (or compromises or capitulates), they will lose every fight from here on in as President Obama and the Democrats will have set the precedent of holding hostage Social Security checks for granny.

It will all be because if you lose this fight now, the Democrats will know for certain from here on out that they can use withholding entitlements as a tool to force your hand.

He's right.

Erick makes great points about what pundits, the chattering class and others are saying - and how they're wrong in their assessments. He concludes with this:

House Republicans, this is a time for choosing: Do you choose to be more courageous than the Democrats who were willing to risk defeat to advance socialism? Is keeping your job more important to you than saving the country? If so, the odds are you will both lose your job and lose your country.

This is a time for choosing. Choose wisely.

I hope you'll read the entire column. It will provide you with good points to make when you call the members of the House and Senate and tell them to 'not blink' and go ahead and all Obama's bluff (especially since he's already admitted he's bluffing - lol).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Computer Game Gives Americans a Shot at Managing Federal Budget |

From the article:

"This game will lead you to the conclusion that there has to be structural change" in the big entitlement and revenue programs, said John Tanner, a former Democratic lawmaker from Tennessee.

Linda Fantin of American Public Media said the game has been played 830,000 times since the original version came out in 2008. The sponsors said they hope to get the new version into schools and universities by the fall semester. The game is free and available at

Computer Game Gives Americans a Shot at Managing Federal Budget

Play it and share how well you do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Five Facts about the Debt Limit

From NCPA:

Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of and, has a great column that spells out five facts we all need to know about the debt limit and that we should keep in mind when talking about the issue.

* August 2 is an arbitrary date.

* Reaching the debt limit is not the same as defaulting on the federal debt.

* Both sides are using the August 2 deadline to negotiate terms; the plain fact is that both sides are trying to get something out of the current moment.

* This is no way to run a country. A February 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the debt limit has sparked a lot scrutiny because it found that in some (though not all) recent cases where debt-issuance auctions were delayed, markets responded by increasing the government's borrowing costs. The real takeaway, however, is that procedural changes adopted from other countries might help to actually link spending to its effect on national debt.

* This is no way to run a country, part two. The debt-limit debate has to be properly understood in its larger context of a country whose spending has effectively run amok for at least the past 10 years, during which time federal spending has increased by over 60 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

For complete article go here.

Regional congressional redistricting hearings announced

Press Release:

COLUMBUS—Rep. Matt Huffman (R-Lima), Chair of the House Subcommittee on Redistricting, and Sen. Keith Faber (R-Celina), Chair of the soon-to-be-named Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, announced that they will hold a series of joint hearings in July and August in order to receive public feedback on Congressional redistricting.

“Ensuring an opportunity for public input is an important part of the Congressional redistricting process,” said Chairman Huffman.

In Ohio, Congressional district plans are enacted by the General Assembly through the legislative process and codified in Ohio Revised Code 3521.01. While there is no statutory deadline for completion of Congressional redistricting, the filing deadline for Congressional candidates serves as the practical deadline.

“I hope that these hearings will provide Ohioans with a meaningful opportunity to share their thoughts on how the redistricting process will affect their communities,” said Chairman Faber.

A detailed hearing schedule with times and locations is attached to this release.


Interestingly, there are none in Toledo - the closest to us is in Lima on Aug. 2nd. Here is the schedule:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

9AM – 12PM
Ohio Statehouse
Senate Finance Room
Columbus, Ohio 43215

3PM – 6PM
Ohio University – Zanesville Campus
Campus Center, Room T430
1425 Newark Road
Zanesville, Ohio 43701

Thursday, July 21, 2011

9AM – 12PM
Cleveland State University
Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs – Atrium
Euclid & 17th Avenues
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

9AM – 12PM
The Ohio State University at Lima & Rhodes State College
Life & Physical Sciences Building
4240 Campus Drive
Lima, Ohio 45804

3:30 PM – 6PM
University of Cincinnati
MainStreet Cinema
Tangeman University Center, Room 220
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221

Marxist garbage

You're probably wondering where in the world I'm going with a headline like that, but I just listened to the interview WSPD's Fred Lefebvre did with a representative from Republic, who - through a contract with the county - is the new trash collection provider for the City of Toledo. (interview will be linked when available on WSPD)

Republic is offering a rewards program for recycling through Recyclebank- you earn points for the amount of weight of the recyclables and then, based upon the amount of points, you can get coupons (for example: a $10 off a purchase of $50 at a local department store). This, according to what was said this morning, is how it works:

* each household puts their recyclables in their bins
* each bin has a chip that tracks it to the address and is used to weigh the amount of recyclables being disposed of.
* every route, not every address, will be aggregated for determining the weights.
* the total amount of recyclables collected from each route will determine how many points are awarded to all the households within the route.
* No matter how much you, individually, recycle, all households within the route will earn the same amount of points, based upon the weight.

So, if you're a family of five who recycles a lot and your neighbor is a single older widow who recycles a little, it doesn't matter. You both get the same number of points.

And just for reference, under the city's current program all of Point Place was a 'route.'

It's a 'community' program - a cooperative one, the representative explained, and he hopes that you'll provide friendly pressure to your neighbors to increase their recycling so 'everyone benefits.'

No - it's a Marxist program: from each according to his ability (amount recycled) to each according to his need (for coupons). Or perhaps a 'redistribution of wealth' wherein the benefits are collected and then distributed to all equally regardless of effort to produce said benefits.


Quote of the Day - federal government debt


I can't help but believe that if Congress followed this instruction, we'd not have anywhere near the amount of debt as we currently do. The American public would have revolted long before tea parties came into being.

"It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, 'never to borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually, and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors on the public faith.'" ~ Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, 1813

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

More positive views of Ohio's budget than you'll find in our local paper

Yesterday, I pointed out the hypocrisy of The Blade's Sunday editorial in which David Kushma criticized just about every action John Kasich has taken since becoming Governor of Ohio.

I wanted to add to the discussion by sharing with you what other newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, have said about the very same actions. Apparently, I'm not the only one who sees major flaws in our local newspaper's editorial position.

A Columbus Dispatch editorial about the reforms in the budget said many of them were long overdue. It points out that, for decades, the game of politics was played in our state and many common-sense reforms were delayed. The Dispatch called the budget 'historic' and, rather than complain and repeat Democrat talking points, said:

"Ohio lawmakers have approved a budget that should set the state on a far better course for the future.

It's a two-year spending plan that erases an $8 billion deficit left by the Strickland administration, doing so without raising taxes, a campaign pledge by Gov. John Kasich that many doubted was possible. But it also is a transformational budget containing fundamental policy changes.

Kasich is expected to sign the bill this afternoon. When he does, his administration will be equipped to tackle and resolve tough issues that past governors and lawmakers have allowed to fester.


Most important, the budget provides ways for all public entities to serve the public more efficiently, with less reliance on ever-escalating taxes.

It will reset government spending to a baseline that taxpayers can afford.


Kasich and this legislature came into office in January facing a disaster: an $8 billion deficit left by former Gov. Ted Strickland and lawmakers who failed to put the state on a sustainable fiscal basis by matching spending with revenue. Instead, they kicked the problem down the road, using federal stimulus money to paper over the problem.

Putting the state back on a sound fiscal foundation, with the tools to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, is an extraordinary accomplishment."

National publications weighed in as well. In a news story on the new governor, the New York Times article contained the following:

"In Washington, Congress may still be fighting over the national budget, but in Ohio, where Republicans control the House, the Senate and the governor’s office, the budget passage has been about as smooth as a knife through butter.


On Thursday night, he signed his $56 billion budget into law, with few major changes from the version he had originally proposed and neatly ahead of a July 1 deadline. On Friday, he held a news conference in Columbus to celebrate.

“We faced our problems and took them on,” Mr. Kasich said. “We have now stabilized the state. It is a new way, and it is a new day and, we are delivering.”

It was a fireworks finale to a legislative season steered by Mr. Kasich, who is among the closely watched class of new Republican governors in key electoral battle-ground states. His stewardship of the state budget could have outsize political implications, influencing the mood of voters and their economic circumstances, which will help set the backdrop for next year’s presidential election.

In his five months in office, Mr. Kasich, a former congressman and Lehman Brothers executive, has established himself as a get-things-done governor who has expansive powers and is not afraid to use them."

And then there was the Wall Street Journal editorial which says that Kasich's balanced budget, which cut both taxes and spending, ought to be a lesson for Washington:

"The reform-minded GOP Governors across the upper Midwest have sustained a lot of political damage lately, but at least they're delivering on their campaign promises and will be judged on the results. The latest is Ohio's John Kasich, who signed an ambitious budget late last week that will help the Buckeye State's economy and finances.

Mr. Kasich took office this year facing the largest deficit in Ohio history, close to $7.7 billion. His predecessor, Democrat Ted Strickland, had avoided any serious reform in advance of the 2010 election, despite a shrinking economy and tax base, and had concealed fiscal holes with federal stimulus dollars that have now run out. To close the gap with revenue alone, the Ohio tax department estimated that income rates for the average family would need to rise 56%.

Mr. Kasich's budget is bringing Ohio's finances into balance by cutting spending while also cutting taxes, which ought to be a lesson for Washington.


The reform-minded GOP Governors across the upper Midwest have sustained a lot of political damage lately, but at least they're delivering on their campaign promises and will be judged on the results. The latest is Ohio's John Kasich, who signed an ambitious budget late last week that will help the Buckeye State's economy and finances.

Mr. Kasich took office this year facing the largest deficit in Ohio history, close to $7.7 billion. His predecessor, Democrat Ted Strickland, had avoided any serious reform in advance of the 2010 election, despite a shrinking economy and tax base, and had concealed fiscal holes with federal stimulus dollars that have now run out. To close the gap with revenue alone, the Ohio tax department estimated that income rates for the average family would need to rise 56%.

Mr. Kasich's budget is bringing Ohio's finances into balance by cutting spending while also cutting taxes, which ought to be a lesson for Washington.

Mr. Kasich's approval ratings have fallen sharply as he's pursued budget and labor change, though challenging the status quo is always disruptive. On the other hand, voters didn't reward Mr. Strickland for making the problem worse by doing nothing."

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hypocrisy and the outcome of elections

Where to start?

Sunday's signed Blade editorial by David Kushma is a rant. I'm all for a good rant, as readers of this blog will attest; and I'm glad he's doing it on the editorial page instead of disguising it as an actual story in the news section of the paper.

But the hypocrisy is beyond me.

Kushma doesn't like what Gov. John Kasich is doing, calling it a 'revolution.' President Barack Obama has embarked upon a similar 'revolution,' but on a national basis with everything from dictating where businesses can relocate (National Labor Relations Board versus Boeing), to mandating that citizens purchase a product whether they want it or not (Obamacare), to spending billions in a failed stimulus that was supposed to - but didn't - reduce our unemployment rate to below 8%, to his radical agenda transforming us into a copy of socialistic Europe.

These are radical departures from our American way of life - the life that our founders intended when they formed this nation based upon individual liberty, personal responsibility and a limited federal government.

Certainly, if Obama's policies and goals are acceptable, then Kasich executing a similar type of change is okay as well?

Apparently not, however, since the paper's political leaning is vastly to the left. No wonder they conclude that a leftist revolution is fine and good, while a conservative one is somehow 'evil' and must be condemned.

Of course, we have the last four years of former Gov. Ted Strickland's policies - many similar to Obama's in terms of philosophy - that left Ohio and its citizens worse off. Common sense tells you that continuing those failed policies will just lead to more failure. In fact, much of the deficit the state faced this year was because Strickland used one-time stimulus dollars to balance the previous budget, leaving us scrambling now that those one-time funds are gone. Then Auditor Mary Taylor warned this was exactly the outcome we could expect - and she was right.

Kushma mimics the Democrat's talking points on the budget but never tells you that Kasich and the state legislature passed a balanced budget, addressing an $8 billion shortfall without raising taxes. As Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster) said, “This is how an effective, responsible government should operate.”

Would Kushma rather that the state increased taxes on citizens - most of whom can lease afford it during these (or any other) economic conditions? That's the choice that faced our elected officials in Columbus: cut government spending or raise taxes to cover the deficit. I, for one, am glad my taxes didn't get raised, but if Kushma doesn't think he's paying enough in taxes, he can always make a contribution to the state.

In the editorial, Kushma claims the budget slashes aid to, among other recipients, schools. That's not accurate, as one press release following passage of the budget explained:

Moreover, the budget adds more than $100 million in additional dollars over the executive version to the school foundation formula and guarantees that no district receives a cut in state aid.

The Legislature also expanded the value of and the eligible participants in the Cleveland Voucher Program to make education more affordable and to untie the hands of low-income families. The budget also increases the number of EdChoice Scholarship Program vouchers to 14,000 to 60,000 in fiscal year 2013 and increases the charter school sponsorship cap to 100.

“When the State of Ohio brought in increased revenue, we decided to invest those dollars in Ohio’s schools and give them an additional boost in their state aid,” said Vice-chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee John Carey (R-Wellston). “Through this budget, we continue to capitalize on the opportunities before us and invest in the things that matter. At this time, we believe that our schools need the additional dollars so we can ensure that Ohio’s students receive a quality education, even during this difficult economy.”

He claims that cutting state aid to local governmental entities will result in tax increases on a local level. That is one possibility. But the other possibility is that those local governmental entities either cut spending or ask for, and are denied, tax increases also resulting in spending cuts so that government lives within its current means without constantly expecting more. As the editorial states:

Mr. Kasich insists that his strong medicine will force local governments to become more efficient, share services, and merge.

What a novel idea! In fact, in direct contradiction to Kushma's expected result, he quotes local Democrat County Commissioner Pete Gerken:

“They’re transferring the debt from Columbus back to Toledo.” He laughs and quickly adds, in old-time pol argot: “I ain’t raisin’ no taxes.”

See? Kasich is right.

Kushma then claims that SB 5, the collective bargaining reform which was passed and may end up as a referendum on the ballot in November, "...would effectively strip 350,000 public employees of many of their rights to bargain at all."

This isn't exactly accurate, either. SB 5 will limit what public sector unions can bargain for, that is true. But it doesn't strip any union of their 'right to bargain at all.' Words matter.

And why did the governor and legislature pass this bill? To save the state - and local governmental entities - money. But note the hypocrisy of the editor of a newspaper, who has threatened to lay off its employees if they don't get their desired $8.8 million in cuts from their own union, complaining because the state has given governmental entities the ability to get similar costs savings from public unions.

Perhaps Kushma is more upset with some of the other conservative positions the governor has taken because he has a list of them in the editorial. He seems to think none of these policies have anything to do with jobs or the economic climate of the state.

He doesn't like the fact that local businesses may be able to take more water from Lake Erie. Hmmm... In a desperate economy, giving businesses access to a resource they need to be successful seems like a good idea. And with limited water availability in other parts of the nation, perhaps this decision could be used as leverage to bring companies into the state?!? Local leaders have long touted the access to fresh water as an upcoming economic development tool. Why would this be a bad thing?

This same logic can be applied to drilling on public lands. So if we can reduce our energy costs by drilling (using the most current environmentally-friendly processes), won't that help our business and economic climate?

Kushma doesn't like expanded conceal carry laws. He thinks this is a bad idea, especially as Toledo deals with an increase of gun violence. News flash to Mr. Kushma: the recent gun violence is being committed by people who have illegally obtained their guns - not by law-abiding citizens interested in exercising their Second Amendment rights. I'll bet dollars to donuts (I love that phrase) that none of the recent gun violence in Toledo is being committed by people who have a conceal carry permit!

He doesn't like the plan, NOT included in the recent election law reform bill, to require a photo ID when voting. Again, mimicking the Democrat talking points, he says that will "disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, many of them poor and old." Yeah - right. Allowing people who cannot afford it to obtain a free state identification card if they don't already have a photo ID is going to 'disenfranchise hundreds of thousands.'

Furthermore, is Kushma, like the Democrats, so filled with disdain for 'poor and elderly' voters that he believes they are incapable of complying with a photo ID requirement? How does he think they function in the world?

He also doesn't like any restrictions on the right of a woman to kill her unborn child. The Heartbill Bill, as it's being called, would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Much of the abortion debate over the years has centered around when life begins. This bill would define 'life' as when there is a heartbeat. Kushma thinks this is an "extremist" position - but he sees nothing 'extreme' in ending an innocent life.

Kushma does like some of the things Kasich is doing, but rails against 'gerrymandering' when it comes to redrawing legislative and congressional districts. Sadly, I don't believe he'd have such a concern if it was the Democrats doing the exact same thing if they were in control of the process.

He concludes with this:

I can’t believe that the Ohio the governor and Republican lawmakers envision is a state where most of us want to live. But I could be wrong.

In fact, Mr. Kushma, you are wrong. Have you noticed that Ohio has lost population over the last several years, primarily a result of the failed policies of the past? Kasich campaigned upon the promise to make the state more attractive to businesses, rein in the spending and keep taxes low. He's doing what the majority of voters in the state elected him to do.

I have only three words for you and they aren't even my own. They were uttered by President Barack Obama three days after taking office:

Elections have consequences.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Quote of the Day - taxes vs taxpayers

"We don’t need new taxes. We need new taxpayers, people that are gainfully employed, making money and paying into the tax system. Then we need a government that has the discipline to take that additional revenue and use it to pay down the debt and never grow it again. That’s what we should be focused on, and that‘s what we’re not focused on." ~ Marco Rubio

Friday, July 08, 2011

America heading down the wrong path

"A recent poll showed that nearly half the American public believes that the government should redistribute wealth. That so many people are so willing to blithely put such an enormous and dangerous arbitrary power in the hands of politicians -- risking their own freedom, in hopes of getting what someone else has -- is a painful sign of how far many citizens and voters fall short of what is needed to preserve a democratic republic." ~ Thomas Sowell

That was my thought when I read the release on the Gallup's 2011 Economics and Finance poll, conducted April 7-11.

According to Gallup, 47% believe the government should "enact heavy taxes on the rich to redistribute wealth in the U.S," while 49% disagree. At least this is better than in 2007 when the results were exactly opposite ... but with a margin of error around +/- 4%, that isn't saying much.

The breakdown is even scarier:

* 71% of Democrats believe in redistribution
* a majority of Republicans disagree, but a whopping 28% agree.
* 64% of non-whites agree
* the more money you make, the less you tend to agree. 63% of people with incomes under $30,000 agree.

Another finding in the poll indicates just how far we've come from the American Dream of working hard to better yourself: "...more believe there are too many rich people than too few, 31% vs. 21%."

Wikipedia defines the American Dream thusly:

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States in which freedom includes a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

We still have the possibility of prosperity and success, but too many people see themselves as victims (constantly promoted by so-called leaders) and now believe that they needn't work for their achievements, but that the government should take from those who have worked and achieved and give it to others who haven't, simply because.

These polling numbers reflect a trend, especially among Democrats and their proclaimed constituent groups (non-whites and the less well off), toward Marxism:

“From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need."

President Barack Obama and other Democrat leaders routinely espouse class warfare - pitting the haves against the have-nots. How far the Democratic Party has come since John F. Kennedy said:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

This poll shows that a large majority of Democrats want the government (the country) to take from others and give to them, rather than asking what they can do to make their own lives (and thus the country) better. They no longer assume individual responsibility for themselves and their welfare.

The entitlement attitude is promoted by not only the history since President Roosevelt's 'new deal,' but also in the rhetoric of today's politicians. It is promoted in the union/democrat-dominated school systems and perpetuated generationally through welfare.

And this isn't a new perspective - it's a growing one. A nationwide survey by Columbia Law School in May 2002 of voting age Americans found the following:

Almost two-thirds think Karl Marx's dogma, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" either was, or may have been, included in the Constitution.


Does the Constitution include the following statement about the proper role of government: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"?


Yes: 35%
No: 31%
Don't Know: 34%

Have we come to the point where we're a democracy instead of a democratic republic? Are we already in the dependency to bondage stage as noted below?

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

* From bondage to spiritual faith;
* From spiritual faith to great courage;
* From courage to liberty;
* From liberty to abundance;
* From abundance to complacency;
* From complacency to apathy;
* From apathy to dependence;
* From dependence back into bondage.

When I read the results from Gallup's poll, I cannot help but wonder if we are too far gone from the path of individual liberty and freedom that our Founders set us upon.

But then I see Tea Party groups and events like the We The People Convention and I'm encouraged.

I just don't know if it's too little - too late.
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