Thursday, June 30, 2011

Myths about collective bargaining and SB 5

Yesterday, Ohio unions filed over 1 million signatures to put a repeal of Senate Bill 5, the collective bargaining reform bill, on the ballot. There already has been, and will continue to be, distortions about what the bill contains and what its impact on Ohio, Ohio taxpayers and unions will be.

The Buckeye Institute has done some terrific work laying out the 'myths' and clarifying SB 5. Just recently, they released a short video that explains The Fifteen Myths of Collective Bargaining. These are from their works released over the past several weeks, Five More Myths About Collective Bargaining and Senate Bill 5 and the Top Ten Myths About Collective Bargaining and Senate Bill 5.

Please read and watch - and then share with family, friends and neighbors. It is likely, with over a million signatures, that the repeal will be on the ballot in November and we need every voter informed on the issue.

To view the video visit

To view the five new myths click here.

For the original ten myths click here.

Ohio election reform bill goes to governor

Press release:

Ohio Legislature Sends Landmark Election Reform Initiative to Governor

House and Senate Republicans Restore Integrity to Ohio Elections

COLUMBUS—After extensive debate in both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, the legislature has approved a comprehensive set of common-sense reforms that aim to modernize Ohio’s elections process, streamline operations and reduce costs for local boards of elections. These reforms will ensure fairness and uniformly restore integrity to the elections process in all of Ohio’s 88 counties.

The Ohio House of Representatives today concurred on Senate amendments to House Bill 194, which was introduced in April by State Representative Bob Mecklenborg (R-Cincinnati) and Speaker Pro Tempore Lou Blessing (R-Cincinnati). The bill makes numerous efforts to ensure the integrity of the elections process and simplify the process, including eliminating a period of time where voters can register and vote at the same time, known as “Golden Week,” helping to verify the accuracy of voter rolls, improving the verification process for valid provisional and absentee ballots, and setting statewide standards to all facets of voting.

“I’m very pleased that both chambers have given House Bill 194 its due consideration and made it a better, more comprehensive bill,” said Rep. Mecklenborg. “The bill, as passed today, is the product of months of research, testimony, and thoughtful debate, and at the end of the day, we’ll have a more fair and uniform elections process that increases voter access for all Ohioans.”

In addition to improving the integrity and accuracy of elections, central objectives of the bill are to allow the secretary of state to establish and administer a statewide voter database, permit online voter registration, allow for online voter change-of-address, and move the 2012 primary date from March to May.

“Saving tax dollars and improving the way this state operates are some of our top priorities during this General Assembly, and House Bill 194 accomplishes this goal,” Rep. Mecklenborg said. “As lawmakers, protecting the integrity of this process is just one of the ways we are keeping our elections fair, accessible, honest, and accurate.”

House Bill 194, having received the approval of both the House and the Senate, will now be sent to Governor Kasich for his signature.


Ohio budget eliminates shortfall without raising taxes

Press Releases

***from Ohio House Republicans (bolded portions in the release are mine):

Ohio House of Representatives Passes Historic Budget that Prioritizes Education, Job Creation in Ohio

$8 billion deficit closed without raising taxes

COLUMBUS—Maintaining a promise that was made during the previous General Assembly, the Ohio House of Representatives today passed a sustainable, fiscally responsible budget bill, marking a historic effort to successfully fill an $8 billion budget deficit without raising taxes on Ohioans.

Substitute House Bill 153, in addition to improving government efficiency and making Ohio more economically competitive, makes significant investments in the programs and services that matter most to Ohioans, while at the same time respecting and protecting Ohio’s taxpayers.

“After a challenging three and a half months of thoughtful debate and consideration from members on both sides of the aisle, today we took a momentous step toward a leaner, more cost-effective state government,” said Speaker of the Ohio House William G. Batchelder (R-Medina). “Throughout this process we have kept the interests of Ohio’s families and the middle class at the center of the debate, ensuring that we didn’t increase their tax burden at a time when they are least able to afford it.”

To retain Ohio’s small businesses, assist family farmers and encourage retirees to remain in Ohio, the Ohio Legislature included a provision in Sub. H.B. 153 to eliminate the estate tax in its entirety effective January 1, 2013. In total, Ohio’s taxpayers will save nearly $1 billion over the biennium through the Legislature’s efforts to reduce government waste and reconfigure the allocation of scarce financial resources.

The budget also establishes InvestOhio, which strives to spur new investment in Ohio and enhance innovation by rewarding major investments in the state. If an individual who utilizes the gains from selling a stock to reinvest in an Ohio company and retains that investment for a two-year period, they may apply for a refundable state tax credit related to that original sale of shares.

“Creating jobs, encouraging investment in Ohio’s small businesses and making it easier to do business in Ohio were some of the primary objectives of this budget,” said Chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee Ron Amstutz (R-Wooster). “We took significant steps toward making Ohio a role model for the rest of the nation in an effort to revitalize what has been, in recent years, a struggling economy. We’re transforming the way the state of Ohio operates, solving the current structural imbalance without raising taxes. This is how an effective, responsible government should operate.”

Sub. H.B. 153 holds education paramount and uses existing funds to provide in-state college tuition rates for Ohio high school graduates who have left the state within the past 10 years, which would incentivize their return to the state. 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.”

The Legislature prioritizes protecting Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens by investing $31.3 million in fiscal year 2012 and $63 million in fiscal year 2013 over the executive budget in PASSPORT for seniors and allocating an additional $7.5 million for mental health services. Funding for Second Harvest Food Banks increases by $1 million annually to provide food and resources to people in need. Additionally, the budget provides for kinship care funding at $6 million over the biennium.

Moreover, the budget provides $400,000 for the State Medical Board to fight prescription drug abuse, which has become increasingly prevalent, particularly in southern Ohio.

“The 2012-2013 budget means more than just an allocation of money for the biennium—it is an outline of our state’s priorities now and in the future,” said Amstutz. “In addition to promoting a better state economy and investing in our schools, the budget also safeguards Ohio’s citizens and promotes a better quality of life in Ohio.”

Putting education—as well as job creation and economic growth—first in this budget, the Ohio Legislature devoted an unwavering commitment to responsibly filling the multi-billion dollar budget deficit that was inherited from the previous administration.

Speaker Batchelder, Chairman Amstutz, and Vice-chairman Carey would like to thank Governor Kasich and the Ohio Senate for their continued hard work and collaboration on Sub. H.B. 153. They are also appreciative of the many citizens and interested parties who testified before the committee to help make the budget a better, more comprehensive bill.

“This budget has been a long and, at times, difficult process, but I could not be more pleased with this bill or the diligence that went into construction of this budget,” said Batchelder. “We’ve taken great strides toward making Ohio a better place to live, work, raise a family and start a business—but to paraphrase my good friend in the Governor’s Office, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Sub. H.B. 153 now awaits the governor’s signature.


***from Ohio Republican Party:

Ohio General Assembly Eliminates Historic Budget Shortfall Without Raising Taxes

Columbus - This afternoon Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine praised the Ohio General Assembly for approving a balanced state budget that reins in spending and eliminates an estimated $8 billion shortfall without raising taxes.

"Ohio taxpayers gave Republicans control of the General Assembly last year with the hope that they would restore fiscal responsibility to government. Today campaign promises became reality. Considering the tough economic times facing Ohio, Senate President Tom Niehaus and Speaker William Batchelder deserve tremendous credit for stabilizing the highest financial shortfall Ohio has ever seen, all while allowing taxpayers and businesses to keep more of their hard-earned money," Chairman DeWine said.

"From education reform and health care assistance to pro-growth initiatives which strengthen private sector job development, this budget sends a message that no Ohioan should be left behind on the road to economic recovery."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Idiocy of Ohio's cell phone texting ban

Earlier this morning I wrote about the passage of a texting ban in the Ohio House, but I thought this particular point about the ban deserved its own post.

There are a lot of onerous facts to consider in the ban, and one of them, as I detailed, is that members of the Ohio House are touting this bill as 'making our roads safer.'

But if safety is such a big concern that we need to have a law, why wait six months to actually enforce it?

From the press releases I received comes this identical wording:

Additionally, House Bill 99 provides that for the first six months after the effective date of the bill, no ticket, citation or summons may be issued for a violation of the new prohibition established by the bill. During this time, only a warning may be issued that provides information about the prohibition.


We so desperately need to make our roads safer that we need a new law when we already have one on the books that will suffice, but for the first six months, we're not going to allow a ticket, citation or summons to be issued? We're only going to warn people that the ban exists?

If there is no penalty for violating the law, the law is worthless. And if we need it to ensure our safety on the roads and highways, how will not enforcing the law accomplish this goal?

If having a law that bans texting and driving is enough to keep us safe, won't the fact that people know they'll only get a warning for the first six months encourage them to go ahead and break the law, knowing there are no consequences for doing do?

As Glenn Beck says, get out the duct tape before your head explodes!

And yes, this does qualify for 'stuck on stupid' designation.

Ohio House promotes nanny state with new texting ban

I received two press releases yesterday regarding House Bill 99, the cell phone texting ban, which would "prohibit driving a vehicle while using an electronic communications device to write, send or read a text-based communications."

It was sponsored by Rex Damschroder (R-Fremont) who said upon passage:

“Texting while driving is a danger that has affected many within our communities,” Damschroder said. “We took an important step today toward addressing this issue and making our roads and highways safer.”

In a release from Terry Boose (R-Norwalk Township) was this comment:

“Texting while driving is a distraction that has resulted in many unfortunate automobile accidents that have led to the loss of lives,” said Boose. “House Bill 99 will make our roads safer by banning texting while driving.”

What I don't understand is why Republicans - supposedly the party of limited government and personal responsibility - are rejoicing over the passage of an unneeded law and the expansion of government.

First, there are already laws on the books regarding distracted driving. It's "Operation in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property" (ORC 4511.20). Texting while driving is certainly covered under that description - but so is shaving while driving, putting on makeup while driving, reading a newspaper while driving, etc., etc., etc. There is no need for another law when one already exists.

Additionally, as my post from October of 2009 (when Toledo was considering such a ban) details:

As author Radley Balko explains, "...we need to get over the idea that we can solve every bad habit with a new law. We can't, and this issue illustrates why."

Because, as he documents, despite the increase in cell phone usage, traffic fatalities and accidents have dropped. Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle even has a post about Lucas County getting traffic safety grants where the press release from the state touts this fact in Ohio:

In the past three years, Ohio roadway fatalities have decreased to near record lows. There were 1,191 fatalities on Ohio roads in 2008, down from 1,257 in 2007 and 1,239 in 2006.

So why, exactly, do we need a law?

Why indeed?

Secondly, they're not going to stop people from texting and driving - they'll only give police another excuse to pull people over. Also from the October 2009 column, quoting the same author:

These laws aren't about safety; they're about symbolism.

Here are two things these bans will do: They'll give police officers another reason to pull people over, and they'll bring in revenue for the municipalities that aggressively enforce them. I think both are arguments against a ban. You may disagree, but the one thing these bans aren't likely to do is make the roads much safer. And if they won't accomplish that, there's no reason to enact them.


This law is all about emotion, as documented in my November 2009 post on the issue.

'Polls show people want such a ban...'

'Polls show people think texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking while driving...'

Yes, because we all know how accurate polls are and they certainly reflect a well-thought, reasoned argument in favor of a further limitation on our liberties. Why - if the people 'believe' it's needed, it must be! Let's create a law because people believe something that may or may not be true. This is such a terrific method of determining public policy, I can't believe we don't do it all the time!

But there is also a failure to understand the reason we have laws. As District 2 Councilman D. Michael Collins explained to me, "...laws are created to insure and protect the citizens from harm and injury."

And this is the same 'logic' promoted by the two Republicans - that such a law will "...make our roads safer."

As I wrote then,

"...laws are not created to insure and protect us from harm and injury. Laws are supposed to exist to guarantee our rights and freedoms. They protect our right to life by penalizing those who would take it. They protect our right to property by penalizing those who would steal it or damage it.

No amount of laws can ever keep us from injury, and they shouldn't try. But if this is what a councilman believes laws are for, what other onerous, duplicate and freedom-destroying ordinances will he introduce and support in the future?"

I can understand why Councilman Collins would think otherwise, but not our Republican representatives in the Ohio House. They're supposed to be upholding our Republican Party principles and adhering to the Constitution - not promoting the idea that they're 'keeping us safe' merely by passing a law.

In explaining his vote in favor of Toledo's texting ban, Republican District 5 Councilman Tom Waniewski said one of the things impacting his 'yes' vote was that council would be 'taking a 'proactive approach' - if we make it illegal, some people won't do it and that may help the problem.'

Perhaps that's what our state legislators thought as well. But if that's the case, I wonder what other laws they'd support 'if they save just one life...' which is the emotional appeal that so many make when they want onerous, unnecessary laws on the books.

So now we have a law that cannot be enforced and will not keep us any safer on the roads and highways than we were before. As the author Balko said in the article quoted above, it's TOBAL-itis:

TOBAL is short for "There Oughtta Be a Law." Here's the progression of symptoms: Wrenching anecdotes about the effects of some alleged new trend make national news. A panic takes root in the media. Earnest editorialists scrawl urgent pleas for action. Politicians grandstand. Soon enough, we have our new law or regulation. It doesn't matter if the law is enforceable or may have unintended consequences. Nor does it matter if the law will have any actual effect on the problem it was passed to address. In fact, it doesn't even matter if the problem actually exists. The mere feeling that it exists is sufficient.

And so it goes with the panic over texting while driving. I'm not going to defend the act of clumsily thumbing out an E-mail while guiding a 2-ton, gasoline-loaded missile down the highway at 70 miles per hour. That's foolish. Nor will I argue there's some right to drive while iPhone-ing tucked into a constitutional penumbra. I will argue that we need to get over the idea that we can solve every bad habit with a new law.

Thank you Republican House members for reacting rather than thinking and for giving us more of a nanny state with a false sense of security than we had before you saved us from ourselves.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Union derangement syndrome

Warning: this post and the linked article contain potentially offensive language and terms.

I have no other way to describe the warped thinking evident in this missive than to call it 'union derangement syndrome.'

You may have heard part of this article in the June newsletter of the Northwest Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council (NWOBCTC) being discussed on both the morning and afternoon shows on WSPD. That's where I first heard of it.

I managed to get a copy and am sharing it here for all to see in its entirety, because I believe it's important for people to know exactly what union leaders are thinking.

The title of the column, "Union haters are ignorant fools" might tell you all you need to know in terms of what officers of unions think of those who aren't in a union. But, as I've said recently in other posts, when you start with an incorrect premise, you draw an incorrect conclusion.

In this case, the incorrect premise is that those who want to rein in the unsustainable public union compensation packages must 'hate' unions. Further, as the article makes clear, they have to be fools if they don't agree completely with the union agenda.

But the article itself is dripping with 'hate' and derision toward people who see a problem and are trying to fix it. How else do you explain the use of the word "tea-bagger" - a sexually-explicit and intentionally derogatory term opponents (and even the media) have called members of the tea-party movement?

"Governors and Mayors, bankers and developers, Tea-Baggers and their conservative mouth-pieces are blaming unions for our economic woes. They complain about how much money union workers make and how opulent our benefits are while they give themselves and their pals pay raises and bonuses. Simultaneously, they introduce reckless anti-union bills in the name of budget balancing, while in reality these are nothing but thinly veiled union-busting tactics.

Why else would Senate Bill 5 contain language to the effect that public union members would only have to pay dues voluntarily?"

Let's look at the 'logic' here...

While I don't believe that unions are the sole source of our economic woes - and I haven't heard any elected officials say that is the case - the 'opulent' (his own term) benefits and compensation packages of public sector unions are contributing to the budget problems of the state. I don't blame unions solely for this - I also blame elected officials who, with their symbiotic relationship to the public sector unions, fail to properly represent the taxpayer when it comes to negotiations and voting on contracts.

Both parties are at fault for the situation, but it is unions who are making things worse by this type of rhetoric and incendiary language, refusing to admit that maybe, perhaps, possibly, the 'opulent' (again, his term) compensation they receive has a significant impact on the current financial state.

In fact, unions are doing themselves - and their members - a serious disservice by failing to understand that future public pension and health care obligations are at risk if steps are not taken quickly to address the problem.

Of course, it should be noted that NWOBCTC is not a public sector union, so SB5 doesn't even apply to them.

But other pending Ohio legislation, to raise the threshold for the prevailing wage (PW) provisions and to eliminate Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), would. In case you're not familiar with these, PW laws require state and local governments to pay what is 'determined' (via formula) to be the 'prevailing' wage in the area for government jobs/projects/contracts. This most often turns out to be the union wage as it is traditionally the highest. The law requires bidders on contracts to pay their workers that particular wage, thus ensuring that union companies are not at a disadvantage to non-union companies when bidding.

A project labor agreement is more insidious in that the governmental entity will mandate a union contract with a bidder for the duration of the project bid. In most instances, the government actually negotiates the contract with the union and then imposes the terms upon the company and its workers. The workers - who are not in a union - are then forced to pay union dues and other fees to the union while they are performing the work under the contract with the government.

I opposed PLAs in Lucas County, but the Commissioners instituted them after my term was up. Interestingly, it was the NWOBCTC that pushed the PLAs in Lucas County. (For more on this you can go here, here, here and here.)

Mr. Schlagheck, of course, doesn't want to see these measures passed because he, and his union coffers, directly benefit by using government to force non-union members to pay dues to an organization they have previously refused to join. But his 'logic' on why these two measures shouldn't be instituted boggles the mind:

"Both of these bills have been introduced by Tea-Bagger politicians to "save the budget" even though every study ever done proves PW and PLAs do not drive up costs."

Really? Every study ever done???

A quick Internet search came up with this website which lists multiple studies and findings showing exactly the opposite. In all fairness, I did find a study done by a union-dominated group that said PW doesn't increase costs, and multiple references to that study. But as the unions will claim a bias by those who say otherwise, I cannot help but believe there is a bias toward the union position when a study is done by a group that is dominated by unions.

There are numerous other articles talking about the problems with the federal PW law and why it should be repealed. Apparently, Mr. Schlagheck is not as well-read as he would like to believe.

As for PLAs, there's actually an entire website dedicated to the sinister nature of such agreements,, which has a page of studies proving that PLAs raise costs, diminish bidder participation and reduce competition.

Aside from these studies, common sense tells you that when bidders to public projects are required to pay more than what they'd normally pay, the cost of the project is higher than if the bidder were allowed to pay the lower wage. Nothing could be more simple and even a child understands this concept. Why don't the unions?

One can only conclude that the denial of such basic logic qualifies under the definition of 'deranged.'

But it gets worse:

"Of course, much of this labor bashing rhetoric stems from those hateful morons on conservative talk radio and TV. It appears to me that these idiots and their Tea-Bagger minions unusually have one thing in common. Hate. Among them it is O.K. if you do not even hate the same thing as the next hater, as long as you hate something.

It is hard to believe that a bunch of misfits with so much hate could somehow form an organization. Groucho Marx said, "I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." I pointed this out to a Tea-Bagger. Now he hates me for it."

Would Mr. Schlagheck also apply the Groucho Marx 'logic' to his own union membership? If he did, he wouldn't be a union member.

Remember the line from the article quoted above:

"Why else would Senate Bill 5 contain language to the effect that public union members would only have to pay dues voluntarily?"

Why would any union want a member who didn't want to voluntarily support the organization they were a part of by 'voluntarily' paying dues? The contradiction makes me want to wrap duct tape around my head before it explodes.

Despite giving no evidence of 'hate,' the premise continues to be advanced. But what could be more 'hateful' than to call people you disagree with 'morons,' 'Tea-Bagger,' 'minions' or 'misfits'??? Talk about a lack of civility.

As for his friend, I would have loved to know the entire conversation for I can't help but believe the discussion was filled with 'derangement' on the part of Mr. Schlagheck that drove his friend insane. Further, if the individual was a 'friend,' I doubt the feeling is now 'hatred' as much as frustration. This is the usual reaction of a tea party member to the lack of logic, reason and common sense (like this article demonstrates) promoted by many on the union side.

But that's not all.

Apparently, there is some sanity within the union membership ranks - and that cannot be tolerated by the organizations that preach tolerance to others.

"The thing that bothers me the most about this contempt for labor is that we have some of our own members who listen to this crap and believe it. He votes for those who attack us. He thinks we should settle contracts for less to keep the company competitive. He works overtime for straight time. He skips breaks. He back stabs. He hauls materials and tools in his own truck. He complains about union dues. He complains about "the union." He mows the boss's grass and shovels his snow.

He is in general a brown-nosing ass kisser. You all know this guy. Maybe he is you."

Wow - if that's not 'hate,' I don't know what is.

Notice the 'anti-logic' here: 'we shouldn't settle contracts for less so the company which employs us and pays our wages can continue to be competitive and keep us employed.' Does Mr. Schlagheck not realize that if a company fails to be competitive it goes out of business and all his precious union workers will no longer have jobs? And without jobs, where will his wages, derived from the dues of those members, come from????

Derangement is the only term that applies to such thinking - or lack thereof.

And look at how Schlagheck demeans and belittles someone who doesn't go along - sort of like children on a playground - criticizing a person who chooses to work and not take breaks; who - gasp! - uses his own vehicle for hauling materials and tools; who is the lowest of low - a "brown-nosing ass kisser.' How dare he make the rest of us look bad for not going above and beyond.

That's hate - someone who publicly disparages, mocks, sneers at and vilifies another because they disagree. Mr. Schlagheck should look in the mirror.

It is the hypocrisy exhibited in this piece that bothers me most. I can understand someone disagreeing with me about various positions. I can more than hold my own in the debate about whether or not prevailing wage and project labor agreements add to the costs of government thus requiring more from taxpayers. I can agree to disagree with people who, for their own reasons, staunchly believe that unions are the best thing for them.

What I cannot 'tolerate' though is a headline that calls me a 'union hater' and 'ignorant fool' because I disagree and then goes on to display the most hateful attitude and use the most despicable language to describe those of us who have a different opinion.

In this article, the writer shows himself to the be the 'hater' and the 'ignorant fool' - thus earning the distinction of derangement.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Where Ohio stands in economic competitiveness

Several reports have been released lately that rank state standings on a variety of items.

The first is not good news. The Institute for Truth in Accounting released their analysis of the 'true' fiscal condition of states. In a press release, they write:

Only four U.S. states have sufficient assets to pay their debt and obligations related to pension and retirees' healthcare

Chicago, (June 27, 2011) -- Today, the Institute for Truth in Accounting (IFTA) announces completion of a significant, comprehensive study of all 50 states' assets and liabilities, including pension and retirement healthcare obligations. The study determined that six states had a per taxpayer burden over $20,000: Connecticut ($41,200), Illinois ($26,800), Hawaii ($25,000), Kentucky ($23,800), Massachusetts ($20,100) and New Jersey ($34,600). The Taxpayer Burden represents the funds that will be needed to pay the commitments the state has already accumulated divided by the state's taxpayers.

'If governors and legislatures had truly balanced each state's budget, no taxpayer's financial burden would exist,' said Sheila Weinberg, Founder and CEO of the Institute. She continued, 'A state budget is not balanced if past costs, including those for employees' retirement benefits, are pushed into the future.'

The study found four states (Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming) have assets available to pay their debt and obligations related to pension and retirees' healthcare.

The study reviewed each state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to offset assets against liabilities. For the first time, a detailed analysis of pension and healthcare liabilities uncovered the states' actual obligations. From these calculations, the Institute was able to determine the Taxpayer's Burden.

Employee compensation packages include retirement benefits. A portion of these benefits is earned each period and should be included in the current budget as a portion of current employee compensation costs. Instead most states handle many of benefits on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis. This obligates future taxpayers to cover these past costs - without receiving any benefits or services.

'Though 49 of the 50 states have constitutional or legal requirements to balance budgets, most states employ a variety of financial maneuvers to circumvent this requirement,' said Roger Nelson, chair of IFTA and former vice chair of Ernst & Young. 'The largest of these maneuvers is related to employee compensation.'

Ohio does rank 20th in the list, putting us in the top half of the nation, but the money needed to pay our bills is just under $18.1 billion which equals a $4,700 burden for each taxpayer in the state.

While Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio legislature are taking steps to address these financial burdens, I'm not sure the proposed fixes to date will be enough to cover the obligations.

But if that wasn't enough, the 2011 ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitive Index was also published and it puts Ohio 49th out of 50 states in terms of our economic performance ranking (see page 101 of the linked report). The good news is that they rank us 38th in terms of our economic outlook, "a forecast based on a state’s standing (equally weighted average) in the 15 important state policy variables shown below. Data reflect state + local rates and revenues and any effect of federal deductibility." It's still in the bottom half of the nation but at least our outlook is better than our performance.

A quote from Gov. Kasich included on the last page of the report:

“The data and analysis from ALEC on state economic conditions is a powerful resource for policymakers who care about reducing spending so they can begin reducing taxes. It’s both a report card and a score card. Frankly, Ohio’s not doing as well as it needs to do. The information that ALEC provides helps us understand our competitive position and helps spur us to do better.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Detailed look at report on changing Lucas County government

I've begun my review of the Lucas County Citizen Review report and their recommendation that Lucas County change to a home-rule, charter county form of government with an elected county executive and legislative county council. Below are my initial thoughts on what I've read so far.

The first glaring issue that hits you in the executive summary is the fact that they start with an incorrect premise:

“Simply put, we believe government must lead.”

They write:

The Committee recognizes that renewal of this region is not solely dependent on the public sector. The business, educational, arts, and social service constituencies of the region are equally responsible. However, the focus of this study is the structure of Lucas County government. We leave the remaining arenas for other citizens and other studies.

So why must government lead? Why don't we let businesses lead with government reacting to the needs of the job creators? Why do they assume that a single leader needs to be a government official rather than, say, a chamber of commerce? If the issue is truly economic standing, there is nothing government can do, by itself, to 'give' us that. They can provide an environment for job growth, but that environment is determined by the businesses located here - or considering us - and what THEY need to succeed, rather than some bureaucrat's idea of what's good for business even when business is telling them differently.

They don’t start with what the problems are and how government can help in solving them – they are looking at the structure of county government – and they haven’t yet concluded that there is anything wrong with what 86 other counties are doing with their structure.

They state that they interviewed elected county officials, but I wasn’t interviewed. I know that I've been vocal in the past about the fact that changing our structure isn't going to give us different decisions, but as the only Republican commissioner in the last 20 years with a dedication to limited government and ideas on reducing the cost of county government (which never got a proper hearing due to my minority status on the 3-member board), you'd think this bi-partisan, objective committee would have like to know my thoughts on what I saw and observed while in county government.

***Side Note:

In fact, I wonder if any of them remembered when I suggested that if we wanted to reduce our sales tax, making us more attractive to companies, we had to start immediately to identify ways to reduce the cost of government so we could live with less revenue? I was crucified for even suggesting such a thing! That idea went nowhere fast, but taxation, including sales tax, is certainly a factor in our economic condition. I mention this because you would think that having input from someone who thought there were things we could do to address the problem without having to change county government structure might be valuable for the committee to hear.

End Side Note***

Lest you think I'm somehow 'offended' at not being interviewed, it's not just me. They also don't say anything about interviewing former candidates for the county public offices. As campaigns are all about drawing a contrast, it would seem that candidates who had ideas about how to improve the office they were seeking would have had valuable input as well.

They say they didn’t conduct an efficiency study of the various offices and departments – that such a review was beyond the scope. So they don’t know if county government can be more efficient and more responsive under the current structure.

They incorrectly summarize that there is a leadership problem because no single person is in charge of the entire county. They conclude that the county needs a single unifying leader without first having identified the problems that are leading to our current economic condition.

The leadership problem is easy to see but not so simple to correct in the current governmental structure. For example, economic leadership in Lucas County is presently shared by eleven elected county officials, four elected city mayors, six elected village mayors and the elected trustees of eleven townships. Each of these is independent and can affect some aspect of Lucas County’s economic performance. The committee recognized that each jurisdiction possesses its own sense of pride in its community. But all of this begs the question, “who is in charge?”

The Committee reached this major conclusion:

Lucas County needs a single unifying leader. The absence of such an office and such a person makes reversing our condition more difficult and perpetuates a fragmented decision-making environment.

They also don’t ask if the various jurisdictions agree that they need to subordinate their economic development efforts to a single leader.

Furthermore, they don’t compare Lucas to Wood County which is having remarkable economic success without changing its structure.

So, because they go into the ‘study’ with the idea that the problem is the government structure, they come out with a new structure.

They also conclude:

Armed with this knowledge, the Committee believes the County needs to embrace a political structure that can contribute to reversing our economic decline – a structure that facilitates concerted, collaborative efforts to reduce costs, eliminate duplication, and encourage regional cooperation.

But they fail to acknowledge the regional cooperation that already exists in multiple areas – from the jail, the correctional facility, the courts, purchasing and yes, even economic development – efforts which also reduce costs for all the jurisdictions participating.

Funny, though, they even admit that they cannot attribute cost savings in Summit County, the other Ohio county that instituted a similar change years ago, to the restructuring – so they don’t even know that their claim of ‘reducing costs’ will be achieved through the restructuring they recommend.

As part of the report, they even tell us the type of ‘leader’ we’re supposed to elect:

…a visionary individual with the ability to lead and bring divergent groups together.

As if the majority of Lucas County voters would recognize such an individual and actually put them in office.

One of the biggest problems immediately with the study and the suggestion that we move to a county council is the fact that doing so would give us a new legislative body.

Right now, the county elected officials (commissioners) are administrative offices carrying out the state mandated functions at a local level. Making this change means that the council has the ability to write laws – something the current commissioners cannot do. Can you imagine Toledo’s living wage law applied to the county as a whole? How about the county’s disastrous Project Labor Agreement mandate applied to everyone?

They suggest that the sheriff be appointed – but who will be the responsible party for investigating the appointers? The same goes for the Clerk of Court. There’s a reason why municipal clerks in large population centers are elected and not appointed by the judges – and I can tell you that independence is a requirement as a check and balance on tomfoolery in the courthouse.

They claim that citizens will be able to elect their own representatives on the council – but that just leads to the balkanization of the county. Look at how it works in Toledo: my district council member ‘fights’ for her district to get a larger piece of the pie – as do all the other district people. They’re not looking out for what’s in the best interest of the city as a whole – but what’s in the best interest of the district they represent. How, exactly, will that give us ‘better leadership’??? That ‘theory’ hasn’t proven true in Toledo.

They also say:

A County Executive can develop enhanced financial and performance measures to further reduce expenses to taxpayers.

But such measures can be put into place by the commissioners today if they wanted. There is nothing to prohibit the commissioners from instituting financial measures on the various county offices as part of the budgetary process. As the controller of the budget, commisioners can certainly require the other elected officials to detail certain performance measures and how those are reflected in the budget requested and modify funding accordingly. If there is the will to do so.

The study also cites other areas that have made such changes - they included:

Review of, and comparison to, regions outside of Lucas County that have undertaken structural change.

But they fail to recognize that copying the governmental structure of other areas isn’t going to give us the same results. Too many seem to think that if we just copy some of the things other areas have done, we’ll be successful. What they fail to realize is that our area has its own unique problems and the solutions to our problems aren’t necessarily the same solutions that other communities found.

Additionally, by their own admission, they didn’t look at other counties (in Ohio and outside) that HAVEN’T changed their structure, yet do well. Again, can you say Wood County?

Since the study doesn’t look at WHY we’re having a hard time economically, they cannot come up with solutions that will put us on the path to economic prosperity. What they won’t find out, as a result of this failure, is that many of the economic problems are CAUSED by government – and that has nothing whatsoever to do with the structure.

They limited themselves:

(The) goal of the study was to assess and determine whether changes in the structure of Lucas County government might afford opportunities to improve economic conditions in Lucas County.

Note the use of the term ‘might.’

But think about it – since they don’t know what barriers to economic development the government is causing, they cannot even create a structure that prohibits or inhibits such problems from happening in the future, thereby forcing us into the likelihood that a structural change won’t give us the desired results we’re seeking.

Bottom line – which even Ben Konop agreed with me on – changing the structure will not give us different people, different philosophies or different decisions. If they are successful in promoting such a change, we’ll find we’ve gone through all the work and effort only to have the same names/same approaches in charge and we’ll still be doomed.

Fully-funded public pensions could cost Ohioans $2,541 more per year

If states and local governments are going to pay pensions under current policies, contributions would have to immediately increase by a factor of 2.5, which represents a tax increase of $1,398 per U.S. household per year.

That's the finding of a new report from Northwestern University by Robert Novy-Marx (University of Rochester and NBER) and Joshua D. Rauh (Kellogg School of Management and NBER).

The report, The Revenue Demands of Public Employee Pension Promises, states:

We calculate the increases in state and local revenues required to achieve full funding of state and local pension systems in the U.S. over the next 30 years. Without policy changes, contributions to these systems would have to immediately increase by a factor of 2.5, reaching 14.2% of the total own-revenue generated by state and local governments (taxes, fees and charges). This represents a tax increase of $1,398 per U.S. household per year, above and beyond revenue generated by expected economic growth. In thirteen states the necessary increases are more than $1,500 per household per year, and in five states they are more than $2,000 per household per year. Shifting all new employees onto defined contribution plans and Social Security still leaves required increases at an average of $1,223 per household. Even with a hard freeze of all benefits at today’s levels, contributions still have to rise by more than $800 per U.S. household to achieve full funding in 30 years. (emphasis added)

According to the report, Ohio would require one of the largest increases relative to GSP (gross state product) and "would need the immediate increase to be several hundred dollars larger per household" than other states. Based upon their analysis, Ohio's required tax could be as high as $2,541 per household.

They also say:

At sufficiently high parameterizations there would be no level of taxation sufficient for Ohio or Oregon to amortize their legacy liabilities. The tax burdens and service cuts become so onerous on residents that decide to stay in the state that everyone immediately moves out.

Only New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Wyoming would require a higher tax per household than Ohio to fully fund the pensions, if there are no policy changes.

While some of the writing is technical, I hope you'll take the time to read the entire report and understand the dire situation Ohio is facing with its public pensions.

Quote of the Day - morality vs. legality

"How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist urges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people." ~ Walter E. Williams

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Initial thoughts - report on restructuring Lucas County government

Well, the whole idea of a county council is now down in paper thanks to the hard work of some dedicated volunteers.

While I appreciate their efforts and commitment to helping make the area better, I'm not sure the information in the news reports so far has convinced me that changing our form of government will give us any different results.

I do intend to read the entire 88-page report and will document my comments and concerns here. The most important thing I'm going to look for is how they prove that changing the form of government - including giving the county more authority to implement law - will give us a 'better' county.

Under the current structure, county elected officials have no ability to pass laws - the commissioners are administrative offices, not legislative ones. They are, technically, the arm of the state - implementing, on a local level, the duties and responsibilities of the state government. That is why they oversee/appoint such agencies and offices as job and family services (welfare and food stamps), child support, mental health board, etc...

As such, their duties are specifically limited in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) and, because they have no independent rule-making authority, they can only do what is required or permitted by law. For instance, the ORC mandates a dog warden but is silent on the issue of cats. As a result, the commissioners must have a person to address the duties and responsibilities of the dog warden, but cannot order him to deal with cats.

A 'home-rule' county council, however, would have such authority and could, by virtue of the new structure, expand the scope of county government far beyond what it is now.

This is a serious issue, as the last thing an economically-depressed area needs is more government, and none of our communities want to have more laws and regulations they have to deal with.

The initial news coverage by our local paper, long a supporter of uni-gov and such a restructuring, contains information about how Summit County (Akron/Canton area) has a lower cost per person for their county government. But it's critical to note this key statement:

The study said it didn't have enough information to attribute the lower costs to the difference in government structure, but didn't rule it out.

This, too, is critical - citing the difference in costs is a red herring designed to get us to think that we'll save money if we change our form of government. However, even the study said they cannot attribute the lower costs to the structure, so no conclusion is possible and this is an 'educational item' that the public must learn if it is to make a good decision on the matter.

It's also been claimed, so far, that a new structure will give us more accountability. But accountability isn't a matter of structure so much as it's a matter of an involved electorate who holds the power over the elected officials. But no change in structure can address the strong-publisher form of government and the strong and unequal influence of public-sector unions, so 'accountability' cannot be assured.

Besides, that's the line we were given in 1993 when we changed from a city-manager to strong-mayor form of government in Toledo. That change in structure did not give us the promised benefits - but a string of the same names/same families and same-old perspectives as we had all along. Even with a mayor like Mike Bell, we've got a city council that couldn't get out of its own way when it came to an important economic development deal (see here and here on how they almost lost the Dashing Pacific/Marina District deal).

There are a lot of unanswered questions and I don't really think that the document I'll be reading will answer them all.

If you'd like some background, here are some earlier posts I did on the issue of a charter county government:

Asking the wrong questions about a county charter form of government for Lucas County

The Blade is wrong about charter county government

Next public meeting on county council issue scheduled (this post contains some specific questions that should be asked in terms of how a structural change addresses the economic problems in the county)

Konop admits that I am right

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quote of the Day - foreign military commitments

"The average taxpayer in Germany or Japan pays less for the defense of his country than the average taxpayer in America pays for the defense of Germany or Japan." ~ David Bergland, Libertarianism In One Lesson, P. 41 (Sixth Edition 1993)

12-Match Boxing Event in Promenade Park

Press release from City of Toledo:

Twelve Match Boxing Event in Promenade Park

USA Boxing will sanction a twelve weight class boxing event scheduled for Saturday, June 25th in Promenade Park. The event will run from 3pm – 6pm and will be held with the support of The City of Toledo, The Toledo Athletic Commission, and BCSN. All bouts will be sanctioned by USA Boxing and will serve as a precursor to the Junior Olympics. The event will be held open-air and free to the public.


Cheers and Jeers - Zoo's levy request for Wood County

Cheers - in fact, BIG cheers to the Wood County Commissioners who said no to placing a levy for the Toledo Zoo on the ballot. They listened to their constituents, performed their duty to make a decision, looked at the bigger picture (the impact of additional taxes on their county) and said no. Oh, to have such vision and responsibility in Lucas County.

Jeers - to the Toledo Zoo for thinking that simply because people from an area visit their location that they should tax themselves to pay for the entity. Zoo officials could have done multiple things before seeking a levy, but they didn't bother. They didn't:

* start a membership drive: A single membership is only $42, a family membership is $71. At least then they'd have people who WANTED to support the zoo, rather than taxing people who have no interest in supporting them.

* raise prices: The current admission is $11 for adults, $8 for children & seniors. They could have raised the rates for non-Lucas County residents (who already support the Zoo via a tax levy) and generated more income to help address their financial issues. The last time they raised prices was in 2009 and most people would find a three-year time frame to the next increase quite reasonable, even in this economy. But Zoo Director Anne Baker has said in the past that it was 'too much work' to try and determine Lucas residents from other residents at the admission gate. That's easily solved. All they need to do is put a notice on all admission notices that Lucas County residents should present their ID for their discounted price. Obviously, any person presenting an ID is a Lucas County resident who should be charged the lower rate. No additional work required.

Additionally, there is a serious contradiction in Baker's logic/position on the issue. If it's too hard to determine the residency of the visitors, how in the world can she state that a significant number of Wood County residents visit the Zoo each year? Both cannot be true.

* do a host of other drives (sponsorships, estate planning bequests, etc...) before deciding to come to voters.

Instead of taking such steps, the Zoo is choosing to force people (through taxation) to fund an organization they don't want to support with membership dollars.

Jeers - to the woman who, at the hearing yesterday (as heard on WSPD this morning), said not putting the levy on the ballot was acting like Hitler. As one Wood County resident said:

"If there's so many supporters of the zoo out there that want to vote, here's the way you vote. Pick up the phone and donate more money to the zoo," suggested David McClough, a father of two and a zoo member.

Cheers - to David McClough for such clarity of position!

Cheers - to the commissioners for taking the position that 'letting the people decide' would have been the abdication of their responsibilities. Under state law, boards of commissioners have the obligation to decide whether or not to put levies on the ballot. They should certainly heed the input from their constituents, but the decision is still theirs to make. In Lucas County, the commissioners set up a 'citizen levy review committee' to do such work for them - abdicating their responsibility to an unelected committee and pushing the accountability off to them.

Jeers - to the distortion of the concept of a 'regional attraction.' Yes, the Zoo is a regional attraction. People come from all over the region to attend it and some will come for the sole purpose of visiting the Zoo and its special events/exhibits. But being a regional attraction does not mean you get to mandate money from the entire region. Just because people are willing to come and pay admission to the Zoo doesn't mean that everyone in a specific county (or multiple counties) should be taxed to maintain/operate it. If this logic were to hold, there would be no limits whatsoever on taxation for any entity that could claim such a description.

Cheers and Jeers - to The Blade for a similar distortion of 'regionalism.' I say 'jeers' because they continue to advance the distortion as described in the above point, and because they believe, as explained in this editorial, that the Commissioners should have punted the issue to the voters. There's a reason we're not a democracy, but a representative government. It prevents the tyranny of the majority, which is what all levy requests end up being: a majority of people deciding that others should pay for what they don't support simply because the majority wants it.

But I say 'cheers' because they have revealed, for all to see, that The Blade's concept of 'regionalism' means that others need to pay for the failures (fiscal and otherwise) of Toledo and Lucas County governments and entities.

Their editorial uses the Zoo's excuse that "dwindling revenue from a deteriorating Lucas County tax base" is cause enough to seek funding from non-Lucas County tax bases - as if it is somehow the fault and/or responsibility of surrounding communities to solve the problems of Toledo, which is quickly gaining the reputation of 'little Detroit.'

This issue alone is a perfect example of the paper's concept that successful communities should bear the brunt of the bad decisions made by the paper's hand-picked politicians in Toledo and Lucas County government. Fortunately, the other communities have been immune to this redistributionist perspective and have soundly rejected it.

Finally, cheers - to Wood County residents who took the time to attend the hearing, write or call their commissioners to express their opinions. It is their involvement which made the decision for the commissioners so clear - and defensible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Quotes of the Day - thrift and taxes

I'm hoping that my video interview with the writer/director of "The Undefeated" (the Sarah Palin documentary I saw at RightOnLine) will download properly and I'll have a post on it shortly. In the meantime, two quotes that complement each other nicely.

"Why be thrifty when your old age and health care are provided for, no matter how profligate you act in your youth? Why be prudent when the state insures your bank deposits, replaces your flooded-out house, buys all the wheat you can grow? ... Why be diligent when half of your earnings are taken from you and given to the idle?" ~ David Frum

"The median family of four ... paid $4,722 in federal taxes last year. That’s enough to pay for a new curtain for the secretary of commerce’s office, to bribe a farmer not to plant 38 acres with corn ... seven weeks of salary for a Customs man assigned to save us from the terror of high-quality, low priced foreign TV sets, or the subsidy on 6,000 bushels of wheat to prop up the Soviet regime. Surely civilization would collapse without such essential services." ~ Alan Bock

Monday, June 20, 2011

Wood County hearing on Toledo Zoo levy request

From Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown:

On Tuesday, June 21st, at 10:00 a.m., the Wood County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing to consider a request by the Toledo Zoo to place a tax levy on the ballot in our county.

Ohio law stipulates that zoos can make such a request and Boards of County Commissioners may approve or deny that request.

The meeting is being held at the Wood County Courthouse, One Courthouse Square, Bowling Green, Ohio.

Your views on this matter are welcome and you are certainly welcome to attend the hearing.

If you cannot attend the hearing, you can contact the commissioners by phone at 419-354-9100, or email them at the addresses below:

Tim Brown:
Alvin Perkins and James Carter:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

RightOnLine - Closing Session including Herman Cain

rough notes from the closing session speeches - apologies for typos:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli - Virgina:

(suing regarding the unconstitutionality of Obamacare (Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius) and is also suing the EPA; backing a state constitutional amendment to curb the ability of the state to exercise eminent domain to transfer land from one private owner to another or merely for tax gain. Music for his intro was theme from "Rocky")

* great dormancy in federalism - but it's back.

* Founders pledged lives, fortunes and sacred honor to establish this nation on first principles - principles that apply as much today as they did in 1776. Americans are awakening to the idea that this matters not just to the nation but in their particular lives as they sit around the kitchen table.

* American people have asked government to do more and more and politicians have been happy to comply....but we were giving away our liberties a little at a time. Now we don't have a limited government, but a central government that needs to be restored to first principles.

* Seen people waking up to the issue. Republicans grew government and spending like no one could - well, except for Democrats. Spending, taxes and regulations are the three ways government increases their power and any time they do any of them, they infringe upon our liberty.

* now states are taking the role that founders intended to stop the over-reaching of the federal government.

* states are suing the federal government to protect the Constitution FROM the federal government. This is one of the roles envisioned for states when the founders set up our Constitution.

* federalism is the check between state and federal governments in the protection of our liberties. It's never happened that 26 states have sued the federal government.

* when we got the first federal judge to rule that Obamacare was unconstitutional - and you need to read Judge Vinson (?) ruling on the issue.

* the commerce clause does not give the government the power to order you into commerce. they can regulate you once you do, but they can't force you into it. If they can order you to do this, they can order you to do anything. That's why the case is not about health care - it's about liberty.

* If there was a bill that ordered everybody to buy a gun, would it pass?

* government's argument is that the decision not to purchase insurance is a decision to self-insure... clever way of saying 'doing nothing.' Judge who ruled for individual mandate said that what they're regulating is 'mental activity.'

* ultimately decided by Supreme Court - probably in the summer 2012 time frame.

* In colonial era, the question was whether or not a boycott of British goods was treason? Colonists had been well advised legally and had right up to the line but not crossed it. Conclusion was that British subjects couldn't be ordered to purchase British goods...but today, our government is saying it can order us to purchase a good. the irony.

* sued the EPA because they're committed an illegal act - not just because I don't like the policy (though I don't). Economically, they're implementing a failed bill administratively.

* EPA relied upon climategate scientists conclusions and, in doing so, exposed their approach to ridicule even among those who want the same things in terms of policy.

* questionable benefits - EPA says ruling will reduce temperature of the earth by a fraction of a degree by 2100; Lisa Jackson noted that the difference they expect in temperature change is immeasurable over the 90 years. I think this type of power needs to be reigned in.

* petitioned EPA to open the hearings on greenhouse gas findings due to new information that is now available. They rejected that request citing 'new information' that wasn't previously available. (the irony)

* Virginia is a coal state - we have exclusive authority to regulate the permitting of coal mines in Virginia...the word exclusive has been determined by a court to actually mean 'exclusive.' But they are trying, under federal law exclusivity, to elbow us out of the process.

* advantage of suing them...when I send them a letter that says 'if you don't stop doing this I'm going to sue you' - they believe me.

* Also involved in the Boeing/South Carolina/ NLRB issue...Virginia is a right-to-work state so this does affect us. NLRB is saying that moving from a union state to a right-to-work state is coercion. If that's the case, then no one will ever move. This is the overstepping of authority by the NLRB.

* so if the NLRB gets its way, no company will ever go to a right-to-work state. They'll be trapped like a roach (you can get in, but can't get out).

* Right-to-work states have a big advantage because we enforce freedom more than you do in non-RTW states. Hope RTW spreads - freedom breaking out everywhere!

* most brazen act - most defiant rule of all: the FCC has voted for Net Neutrality. First - not neutral. Remember 'opposite day' in school? Every day is opposite day when this administration is naming regulations.

* in 2010, the DC court that has jurisdiction over these agencies ruled that the FCC doesn't have authority to regulate the Internet. But the FCC ignored the ruling and did so anyway.

* they've violated their own federal laws so many times and they clearly have no respect for the U.S. Constitution. But with the FCC, they are showing the utmost disdain for the process that is supposed to be the objective arbiter of such things. And for a president to do this is truly amazing. Hard to overstate the historical importance of this.

* haven't had such federalism issues since states were trying to prevent blacks from voting.

* while federal government can't order you to purchase health care, the states can. Was asked why this is different - six of one... I told the congressman that that's not what the Constitution says. It's to limit the federal government and boy does it need it to be limited.

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter - Michigan:

* you are our front line online - our cybersecurity to ensure freedom and liberty.

* Wants president to reject teleprompters so he can employ some cue card holders.

* This joke does point out the reality that the Democratic Party and the left practice the politics of the past.

* first, they are wed to big government ... but we know that it's not over, but it is imploding. we live in the era of a consumer economy - where the individual genius of your decisions in a free market advance the best decisions in the economy.

* But dems believe in big government where they can make your decisions for you and even regulate the weather. It's not just anti-American, it's insane.

* comparative effectiveness - where some genius in DC determines whether or not you get your treatment based upon your value to the government...that's what we get with Obamacare. Anti-American and we will not invert our sovereignty beneath that policy.

* seen it in Fairness Doctrine and Net Neutrality where people who disagree with what you say seek to prevent your ability to share it...politics of the past.

* seen it in the bailout...politics of the past.

* we must no longer nibble around the edges of our unsustainable spending in DC. We must fundamentally restructure big government into limited government - citizen-driven government that reflects the founders' vision.

* when we do, we will have matched the consumer economy with the citizen government and will usher in the next American economy.

* have choices between duty/indulgence; bankruptcy/profitability; exceptionalism/decline. We will choose rightly and show the world what a free people can achieve.

Herman Cain - candidate for president:

* good to be with you, but better that you are here; you are involved and inspired to take this nation back.

* quote: tragedy of life doesn't lie in not reaching your goals, but in not having goals to reach for; not a calamity to die without reaching dreams, but to die w/o having any dreams.

* The dreams of our founders for this great nation are under attack - but we can take it back.

* This nation has become a nation of crises; we are living a national nightmare; have an economic crises; an entitlement crises; an immigration crises; a foggy foreign policy crises; a moral crises; a severe deficiency of leadership crises.

* it appears as if nothing gets fixed; problems don't get solved - they get worse or they create more problems.

* we're living in this nightmare - callers to my radio show two years ago would say they are concerned about the future of the America. By January, they were 'fearful' about the future of America - an anxiety we all feel.

* I have some ideas for everyone of those crises - you can find them at (C-A-I-N - like in the Bible but I didn't kill anybody).

* it won't take rocket science to get our nation back - just the will and you're showing that will and we saw that will last November.

* If I were president - I'm just saying - here's what I'd do about the economy: it's like having a train stuck in neutral; one boxcar has 15 million unemployed; one boxcar has small businesses hanging on for dear life; another boxcar with all the businesses that have filed for bankruptcy; and the caboose filled with Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank legislation, failed stimulus and debt. The reason the train isn't running is because there's no engine.

* One of Obama's senior advisers mentioned a couple of weeks ago that in order for the economy to get back, it was going to take the private sector to lead it out. The private sector is the engine of the train and the administration hasn't put fuel in the engine.

* here's the fuel - lower corporate and individual tax rate (no more than 25%); take capital gains taxes to zero; suspend taxes on foreign repatriated profits (profits made overseas that stay overseas to avoid U.S. taxes on them if brought back).

* this is just common sense. Think about it $3 trillion is sitting offshore that could come home if there were no taxes on it. Suspend the tax rate on those profits and some of them will come back home. Dad would say that's a no-brainer. How smart do you have to be to figure that out?

* also a payroll tax holiday of a full 6.2% for employers and employees so they can pay the bills they've got due.

* then, most importantly, make all these new tax rates permanent - remove the uncertainty and watch our economy grow.

* hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no matter how much the media and administration spin it, the economy is not going to improve until end of 2012 - but hang on - help is on the way!

* plan for energy independence: I would not go to Brazil, loan them money and then tell Brazil that America is going to be their best customer for the oil they're going to drill with our money. Cain plan - we have enough resources to be energy independent: We are going to be America's own best customer with our own resources! (standing ovation on that)

* I was describing that to reporters lately and they said, that sounds good, but you can't do that in Washington DC and I said, If I'm president I can. But, reporter said, it's not politically easy. But Americans are tired of people going to DC to do what is politically easy - they want people to go there to do what's right whether it's easy or not. Told reporter I have a secret weapon: when they feel the heat, they will see the light - 'we the people' will be the heat to force the politicians to change.

* if the people understand it, they will support it and they will demand it and that's the difference between what we can do with the right leadership in the White House, compared to what we have today.

* America is an exceptional country; been through tough times - survived Civil War, World Wars, Great Depression, Civil Rights struggle - spirit of America make us great and that spirit is bubbling up.

* I firmly believe that the American people have decided that they are sick and tired of being sick and tired of the same old stuff in Washington DC

* Another skeptical question I get from reporters: what do you say to critics who say you're running for president but never held public office before? I tell them that the audience gives me a big "Amen" when I tell them I've never held public office...Americans know that having held public office is not assurance you're going to get someone who can solve the problems.

* another question: how can you run for president when you don't know how Washington works? I tell them, 'yes I do - it doesn't!'

* My job is not to learn how Washington works - as a president of the people, by the people, for the people, my job is to change Washington - not learn how it works.

* the people of the country are changing what's going on...your enthusiasm and work inspires me. I thought I would be able to retire and be on cruise control, but the country got off track. I can't *not* use the talents God has given me.

* I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and am now 5 years cancer free...obviously God thinks I have work I still need to do.

* it's not about us - it's about our children and grandkids. You're not here for yourself;you're here so we can give the next generation the same type of future that we had.

* closing song of the 2000 Olympics that express our American spirit: life can be a challenge; life can seem impossible; it's never easy when there's so much on the line; but you and I can make a difference; there's a mission just for you; just look inside and you will find just what you can do; just look inside and you will find just what we can do.

* the founding fathers did their job with a great vision and a great start to the greatest nation in the world and we must be the fathers that continue our greatest nation.

RightOnLine - Special Session - Tim Pawlenty

Gov. Tim Pawlenty was unable to attend the general session this morning, so he was scheduled for a special session in the afternoon. Herman Cain, also a presidential candidate, is scheduled to speak at the closing session.

rough notes - apologies for typos

Tim Pawlenty - former governor of Minnesota, and candidate for President:

* glad to welcome us to Minnesota - he loves his state, but it's the land of 'lefty' representatives...

* took kids on vacation to Wisconsin Dells and they were driving back home ... stopped to get gas and he was mumbling about the kids and the tempers and the ride and the guy next to him says 'I wish I had two kids'... and I thought what a jerk I was being. "Don't you have kids?" 'No,' the man answered, "I've got 5 kids." Perspective!

* live in the freest and most prosperous nation in the world. important to reflect on the things that made us great.

* not the greatest because we're the largest or the cheapest, but because we are the freest... With freedom they have the ability to dream the American dream, to worship as they want, to innovate and create.

* when government comes into play, those freedoms are at risk.

* government crowds into our lives and takes over one more increment of space that was previously reserved for business, or family or philanthropy... It happens so incrementally that we often don't notice.

* this weighs down and discourages our American spirit. We have within us the greatness of America. Our greatness doesn't come from government - it comes from people.

* I what people say - that American spirit is unique and cannot be taken for granted. separates us from most other nations throughout most of time.

* it's past the hour to stand up and fight back about this government intrusion.

* getting financial house in order/restoring prosperity to our nation

* Govt. spends $44,000 per second...$144 million per hour that they don't have. Take in $2.2 trillion in revenue and spend $3.7 trillion. out of control. what's coming: biggest slow-motion crash in history.

* we have to elect people who have the strength and fortitude and conviction to draw lines in the sand and say no more.

* Have to tell Iowa we're going to phase out the ethanol subsidies

* have to go to Florida and tell seniors what it's going to take to fix medicare

* have to go to Wall street and tell them to get their snout out of the trough

* have to go to public unions and tell them they can't have better benefits than the people paying the bill - the taxpayers.

* as governor, I tackled all these things: set a record for vetoes; shut down the government over spending; took more out the budget in 8 years than all prior governors combined; addressed the largest transit strike in the nation; tackled public benefits long before it became 'popular.'

* had signs "Pawlenty is a weapon of mass transit destruction" ...

* accountability, choice, market-based health care reform - these were the issues of my time as governor.

* If we're going to tackle Obamacare, we need to have a leader who wasn't a co-conspirator in implementing it.

* we need someone who has a record of doing the things a president does. CATO gave me and only 3 others, good rankings (missed part of this comment)

* wants a constitutional amendment to balance the budget - spending must be brought under control.

* need to get the economy growing - but let's not set the growth target at 2 or 3%, let's set it at 5%...if China and Brazil can have 5% growth, why can't we? Others say it's too high. I say it's achievable.

* need to cut corporate tax rate from 35% to 15%. Let's tell the triangle of crony capitalism (unions, big government, bailouts) all their special niches and giveaways are all gone.

* businesses need to have their success built upon being connected to consumers, not to members of Congress.

* cut individual tax rate for people and small business owners.

* energy policy: more energy! simple - drill in ANWR, drill everywhere; advance nuclear; take advantage of massive amounts of natural gas and bring it to market.

* message I hear from everyone is: get the government off my back.

* some talk about regulation, taxes, permitting, EPA, cap and trade, etc... basic message from businessmen is get out of my way. You can't be pro-jobs and anti-business - that's like being pro-chicken but anti-egg.

* close with story about Michael Jackson - scored 56 points by himself in one wanted to pull him off so he could get a well-deserved ovation. Rookie goes in - gets fouled and makes 1 point in the penalty. After the game, one reporter talks to the rookie and asks what should be remembered. Rookie says tonight's game should be remembered as the night Michael Jackson and I scored 57 points together.

* we have to be a team - the role you play is critical in putting the country back and track.

* if we're going to have a restored America, we need a new President. Obama said he'd cut the deficit in half in his first term; that raising the debt limit is a sign of failed leadership.

* If you've had enough, let's get to work and take back this country.

RightOnLine - General Session 4

rough notes - apologies for typos:

Due to internet connection problems I missed Guy Benson from Apparently, there are a lot of bloggers and reporters covering the event and internet connections are a bit slow this morning.

S.E. Cupp - author and Fox News commentator:

* I'll take any excuse to leave New York City because it's all Weiner all the time - too much Weiner...

* what the future looks like for new media and hope you'll be exited about it.

* in early '90s, we realized that the media had lost its way...they were starting to sound the same and subjective; picking winners and losers; by the time Lewinski broke, it was clear it was all liberal.

* the watchdogs decided that they didn't want to watch the state because defending the state was getting tricky. So instead, they started watching you.

* they started using their relationships with liberals and dems to tell you that your conservative values were backward, stupid and judgmental. The problem wasn't Clinton's actions - it was your attitude.

* eventually media because so unabashed and unapologetic that conservatives became first, frustrated, that they didn't have a voice that represented them. They then got motivated - and then took action - to fill the gap themselves.

* they didn't try to stifle the existing media with a fairness doctrine or regulations - they just offered an alternative. With no subsidies - just a free market response to liberal media ... not an attempt to restrict it.

* so now that we have this free market alternative, we have an obligation to protect it and grow it. Some ideas will fail as not all ideas will work...that's okay. We're trying to find ways to harness it and make the most of it. And ideas will succeed - new ways to produce news and consume news.

* believe that the future of news distribution and consumption will change to online.

* new media is democratizing news distribution and consumption and the old media is not going to be able to compete. News is customized now - you can choose what news you want to have and old media cannot compete with that.

* you are the news producer, the news editor - that's power and control.

* in the end, better alternatives always find a way to push themselves through to fill the gaps in the market. And only a free market is capable of developing the media platforms we deserve - and we deserve the best.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp - Kansas:

* come from a small town in Kansas...have an admission to make: I agree with John Edwards when he said 'there are two Americas': them and us.

* there is the Chicago elite and the rest of us, the insiders and the outsiders, the beltway elite and the rest of the nation.

* I wondered, on the floor of the House if they really believe what they're saying - and they do: that the stimulus didn't work because it was too small, that government can make better use of your money than you can, we need to pass Obamacare to find out what's in it, we need to redistribute the wealth, too many troops on one side of Guam might make the island tip...

* Washington is about them having one plan for themselves and the rest of us living under their rules - Obamacare is THE example. Asked about waivers - what we need is a waiver for all.

* if you want to talk about hypocrisy or want to identify the left, look at the labor unions who spent millions to elect Obama and push for Obamacare - why are they getting all the waivers? Over 4,000 waivers issued so far - but what about the millions of other Americans who also want a waiver?

* Process should be to go out and visit with real one place, he hired a neighbor kid to mow the lawn...OSHA fined the company $6,000.

* Was in a hearing where administration was trying to regular coarse particulates...turns out, they wanted to regulate farm dust - if it blew too much on a farm, you'd have to shut down your equipment...they don't want to live under the rules they make.

* do you think the next generation of Americans will be better off than you are? This is the definition of the American dream and too many think this is in jeopardy. We have the opportunity of a lifetime - choice in direction between liberty and freedom or slavery and dependency.

* debt ceiling is the opportunity of a lifetime - this is the best chance to cut spending now and in the future and balance the budget in the long term. This is the time to restore America.

* Asked four economists in a committee hearing: 'How much time left as a nation if we don't address the debt?' Act like you have no time left is the answer from the first economist...all three then agreed.

* we need to restore the Constitution. The debt is a spending problem. It is a power problem. It is Washington trying to tell us what to do with our money. We are not far off from being like Greece.

* We have the ability to restore America to her greatness with the ideas of freedom and liberty.

* we need to astonish America and restore her to the principles that made her the greatness nation. We can restore America to her greatness. We can take back the nation from the left. We can restore America to the principles of freedom and prosperity. This is America and we are taking it back.

Rep. Michele Bachmann - Minnesota:

* our conservative ranks are big and growing - the conservative voice in MN has been found.

* thanks for everything you do - pulling back the curtain in DC and exposing the waste and the we're able to join forces and voices with the power of the social media and these people can't run and can't hide.

* there was a debate earlier this week - CNN in New Hampshire - but I learned quite a lot during this debate: learned that Newt prefers American Idol, Ron Paul likes the Blackberry, Herman Cain likes deep dish and that I like both Johnny Cash and Elvis. I was prepared because I thought they'd ask boxers or briefs...

* in sharp contrast to the current occupant of the WH, there is leadership on the part of the Republican Party.

* honor for me to announce there that I filed my paperwork to see the office of President of the United States.

* will have formal announcement the last 5 years in Washington, I have tried fervently to bring a different voice to Washington and the halls of Congress - a voice that hadn't been heard in a long time...and that voice was heard and now I want to take that voice to the White House.

* adopt the 3-legged stool approach...add to our ranks. Have to have the strong peace-through-strength conservatives; the strong fiscal conservatives; the social conservatives. I'm one of each of these - we cannot kick them out of the tent.

* we need the tea party movement. the liberals are deathly afraid of this movement. They want you to think that the tea party is just the right-wing fringe of the GOP...It is an idea - and idea that is being embraced and the left is quaking in their boots.

* the tea party is made up of disaffected democrats, republicans, libertarians, people who've never been political in their life - they are gaining steam and will be take the nation by storm in 2012.

* Pres. Obama enjoying the lowest approval ratings of his presidency due to the tea party movement...they just want to take their government back. Obama will be a one-term president (crowd joined in yelling the last three words).

* second thing learned in debate - election will be about jobs and the economy. President has failed the nation miserably. We're two years into a recovery...can you believe that?

* approaching the Obama trench of a double-dip recession...that explains why people are worried today about their retirement. They see dreams for their children falling apart. These are the voters we can capture for 2012.

* Husband & I started a company and we like profit. We like people who like profit. We like prosperity - it's a powerful story - and Obama cannot tell it.

* sum up election in simple terms: price of gas was $1.79/gal when Obama took office - today it's over $3.50. President has failed us on keeping our currency sound.

* look at the national debt - numbers so large we can't get our arms around it. We have to pay this money back. Share of debt per person was $35,000 when Obama took office; today it's $46,000 per person - and increase of 35% on his watch.

* of course the president has failed us...maybe you'd like to join me in sending him change of address cards to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

* the signature issue of his presidency is Obamacare - you cannot talk about this enough; the government takeover of health care - the American version of socialized health care: this is the symbol of the left.

* Democrats are itching to get back to scaring the seniors over Medicare...but we need to be on offensive: our story needs to be told. Two weeks ago, in private closed-door meeting with President. He was asked three times - what is your plan for Medicare - it's going to be broke in a few years. He didn't want to give an answer even though the media wasn't present. He mumbled: but we have Obamacare.

* Clear he has no plan. But he wants people to think Medicare will continue as is if they stay in power. I believe Obama's plan is that Medicare won't be able to continue so seniors will be rolled into Obamacare. That is the future for senior citizens in this country.

* and who will be directing Obamacare? We know 16,500 IRS agents will be enforcing it. But what's worse is that seniors will lose control over what they get because an unelected board will make the decisions about what care we will get - and what care we won't. And if you don't like their decisions - your choice is to convince 2/3 of the members of both chambers to overturn those decisions.

* that's all?!?

* we need to tell story about Obama's plan not just for seniors, but for all of us.

* first member to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. (much applause)

* it's only 41 words long...and as president of the U.S., I will not rest until we repeal Obamacare.

* not only is Obamacare a killer for the health care industry, it's a job killer. CBO says it will kill over 800,000 jobs. What person would support this know that it's going to kill 800,000 jobs?

* Seniors get the problems with Obamacare...they know that half a trillion dollars will be shifted from Medicare to help fund young people in Obamacare. This is the future of the president's plan for you: shift money from old to young.

* Obama's morbid obesity of spending... National debt has been identified by Joint Chiefs of Staff (retiree???) as the #1 threat to the U.S. Yet they want to borrow more money to keep on spending. Raised debt ceiling 10 times in 10 years.

* I've voted no on every single bill to raise the debt ceiling.

* Asking people to hold up dollar bill - look at it. Reason I voted no - every time Congress spends a dollar, 42 cents is borrowed. Could you live that way? Even for a month? I can't live that way; my business can't live that way and the government can't live that way.

* Quoted Obama's comments as a senator when he voted against raising the debt ceiling, calling it a failure of leadership. I would say, Mr. President, you have demonstrated a failure of leadership.

* In 2008, Congress was told we had to give a blank check of $700 billion to the Treasury Secretary or we'd see Armageddon in the U.S. If true, we needed to solve the problem...behind closed door, I couldn't get an answer to my question that if we gave a no-strings-attached $700 billion, what would happen? So I voted no - bucking my own party.

* voted against stimulus bills - not because I'm a constant nay-sayer, but because the policies won't work.

* we were told we couldn't afford a government slowdown, but I knew the American people would support us.

* So when are we going to say no - that we're listening to the people and not to the politicians who keep telling us we need to keep doing what doesn't work.

* As president, I'll get the budget in order so we never have to raise the debt ceiling again.

* Yes, I know it's going to be painful and Harry Reid will have to do without his cowboy poetry festival...but it has to be done.

* Likened Obama to the wizard behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz - printing money ... devaluing the dollar by 14% in two years. He has damaged our currency, but strangely, he finds this sort of amusing. Confronted with 9% unemployment, he called it a bump in the road. Mr. President, it's the Grand Canyon...

* asked about shovel-ready jobs and he said they weren't so shovel ready...Someone grab that shovel out of his hand before he digs us any deeper.

* president promised he'd make lives better - and we want that for everyone. Have 16% unemployment in black community, 12% in Hispanic community. He is failing the black community, the Hispanic community and all of us in every community.

* love that yesterday morning, the Russian president gave a speech - and even he has figured out that you have to have private industry. 'Russian economy ought to be dominated by private industry and private investors'...think about this - a Russian president calling for more of a private sector. Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear our American president calling for this? As president of the U.S., I will.

* explosive bureaucratic state in D.C.: worst of all is backdoor cap-and-trade. I am not convinced of the science that human activity is the cause of global warming. This terrible legislation will give Washington more unimaginable control over every aspect of our lives...

* introduced the light bulb freedom of choice act. With Pres. Bachmann, every American can buy any light bulb they want. EPA should be renamed the job-killing agency of America.

* if we're going to tell this great story, we need a different kind of leader - a leader who isn't afraid to tell the story of liberty. it's a great story.

* former tax attorney, business owner, proud wife and mother - foster mother, too.

* One thing we know from RightOnLine - we face nearly insurmountable odds, domestically and internationally. Never forget that there are people who wake up every day and try to think of ways to kill us.

* Most dangerous thing recently was when Obama called upon Isreal to shrink its borders. I stand with Isreal.

* We could go on like this all day, but I want to call to mind a hero of mine - from ancient Isreal, someone considered a bit inconsequential. His name was Jonathon and he was the son of King Saul. He faced a battle with the Philistines, who were up on a hill, far outnumbering and better armed than Isreal. But Saul was fearful of certain defeat. Jonathan made a secret pack with his armour bearer and said, let's climb to the outpost. Armour bearer said - go ahead - I am with you heart and soul. They not only defeated the Philistines at the outpost, they defeated the entire army...all because two men had courage, scaling the cliff, confronting the enemy and saving the day.

* Americans have this courage and are longing for a president who will lead from the front and not behind - who will scale the cliff...together we can turn this country around. And together we will.
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