Monthly Archives: September 2014

A Budget Primer

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moneypuzzleJust in case you missed the reasoned explanation, last week’s talk of the Wisconsin state budget crashing deep into deficit territory is a giant load of bunk.

Democrats were quick to pounce on—and exploit—projections that on current trajectory the budget would go $1.8 billion into the red, in effect creating a deficit half as big as the one Democrats abandoned on the doorstep as the Walker administration entered office in 2011. It had to be sweet news for gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, a participant in that deficit-producing Doyle administration.

Ah, but there’s that problematic phrase, “on current trajectory.”  What it means is Democrats are partying now (“See? See? Walker’s almost half as bad as we were!”) willfully pretending the Walker administration will do exactly what they did, and mindlessly drive the budget over a cliff instead of balancing it in the ample time available.

Here’s reality: Despite revenues falling short of projections, the 2013-14 fiscal year ended with a $443 million surplus.  The current two-year budget is projected to end June 30, 2015 with a $116 million shortfall but balanced by a Rainy Day Fund holding more money than ever before.

The projected $1.8 billion “deficit” would occur June 30, 2017 at the end of a budget nobody’s written yet, and that’s if revenue collections continue to slump and knowing all this, the administration simply refuses to adjust spending priorities.

Women Making War on Women

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warriorSaddled with a gubernatorial candidate who affects bafflement when a friendly reporter asks what she was doing in 1993 and ’94, Wisconsin Democrats looked like they’d picked the wrong woman to carry the banner in their War on the War on Women.

But that was before Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, their candidate for Attorney General, outperformed Burke by making it really, really clear that a woman’s eligibility for Democrats’ support depends on her helpfulness to Democrats’ political ambitions.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel a Jefferson County man accused of child sexual assault after buying Happ’s house had an easier-than-expected time with the D.A.’s office, which delayed his case and finally knocked the charge down to disorderly conduct, no jail time.

It’s also come to light that after the story broke, an activist Democrat official in the D.A.’s office discouraged the victim from talking publicly about the soft treatment of her assailant. The victim has filed a complaint against Happ with the state’s Office of Lawyer Regulation.

Naturally, when a woman objects to the conduct of a woman fighting the Democrats’ War on the War on Women, that means war!

And so the Happ campaign rolled out an unfortunate reminder of the last time a Democrat occupied the Attorney General’s office. Former A.G. Peg Lautenschlager (last seen losing a primary after drunk-driving a state-owned car into a ditch,) pronounced the assault victim not credible, given that her complaint might interfere with the political advancement of Democrat Happ.

Former Lieutenant Governor Margaret Farrow had a good answer.

Perhaps the Happ campaign takes the attitude that in Lautenschlager’s drive-by assault, the victim had it coming. No soft treatment for women who get in the way of fighting the War on the War on Women.

Will the First Last?

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vector flag bubble speech. Eps10The First Amendment, that is.

Of course there’s no chance a Republican-controlled House of Representatives would consider the proposal to gut the First Amendment Senate Democrats tried to take up last Thursday.

What’s troublesome, though, is that a majority of the U.S. Senate voted in favor of the measure to remove First Amendment protection for “the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”

In case it got lost in the muddle of moralizing what passes for civics education in modern America, the activities under attack are at the heart of the Amendment’s reason for existing: It’s not about protecting the freedom to yell dirty words at the opposing hockey team—though that’s presumably covered too—it’s about protecting the freedom to celebrate or criticize the policies and practices of government.

The latter is what Senate Democrats hope to stamp out.

And generic use of the collective “Senate Democrats” is not painting too broadly. Fifty-two of the 53 (New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand didn’t vote,) supported their amendment gutting the First Amendment. It failed to reach a vote on passage only because 60 were needed to move it to that stage. Under the Senate’s current partisan makeup, it takes five Republican crossovers to make that possible. This time there were none.

Recent court actions in Ohio, Minnesota and Texas have exposed government reprisals including the threat of financial ruin and imprisonment to eradicate political competition. With their cynical amendment purporting to “advance democratic self-government and political equality,” Democrats would advance an assault already well underway against America’s most basic freedom.

Without a single dissenting vote they identified themselves last Thursday—fittingly, September 11—as a party with totalitarian aspirations.

A Rigged Judicial Game

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obamacare ahead warning conceptual postPremature celebration greeted the three-judge panel of a federal appeals court ruling, in July, that Obamacare subsidies are unlawful in states without their own insurance exchanges.

Those who noticed that the administration immediately petitioned for review by the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit knew the game was to run the clock while Obamacare’s poisonous roots burrow deeper into the U.S. health care system.

Last Thursday the court performed as expected, accepting the case for en banc review. It’s a lesson for everyone who complains about “gridlock” and the supposed inability of the federal government to “get anything done.”

Twelve judges sit on the D.C. appellate bench. One received his lifetime appointment from Jimmy Carter, one from George H. W. Bush, three each from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and four from Barack Hussein Obama. Twelve judges, eight appointed by Democrats personifying expansionist government.

Just 16 months ago, the D.C. Circuit had only eight—arguably underworked—judges. But four were appointed by presidents of either party, the court had repeatedly thwarted the Obama Environmental Protection Agency and others attempting lawmaking through the bureaucracy, and this wouldn’t do.

Harry Reid blew up the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule specifically to allow the Obama administration to pack the court with leftists and vitiate its restraint on government by fiat.  Between spring 2013 and January 2014, four brand-new Obama appointees ascended the bench.

It will be astounding if the full court doesn’t restore the Obamacare subsidies, delivering a costly lesson in the value of gridlock, and of retaining the right to elect judges at the state level where, no thanks to liberal media busybodies, we still can.

Choose your friends carefully

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chartLast week’s fast-food worker protests—to the extent they were staged by people actually employed in the fast-food industry—see below, tell a cautionary tale about affiliations and their consequences.

Dramatizing the plight of people in low-skill, entry-level jobs is not a new thing in American politics. What might be at least new-ish would be a serious look at where some of them turn for help and what good it’s done them.

Last Friday the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its August 2013-August 2014 unemployment numbers. Sixty-eight long months into the Obama presidency, Black unemployment stands at 11.4 percent overall, more than double the 5.3 percent rate for Whites.

Dig deeper into the numbers and among the young people who comprise the bulk of the fast-food labor pool you’ll find, among Whites aged 16 through 19, 17.7 percent unemployment while Blacks of the same age are unemployed at the rate of 32.8 percent.

If the Obama-allied Service Employees International Union (SEIU) succeeds in pushing fast-food wages to $15 per hour, those numbers will get worse, not better. Fifteen dollars per hour does not spell opportunity for the low-skilled.

Speaking of the SEIU, it would be interesting to know how many protesters weren’t fast-food workers at all, but freelancers bulking up SEIU rent-a-mobs.

One potential clue is that the approving mainstream media coverage made no reference to restaurant patrons having difficulty obtaining service. We can’t help wondering if they wouldn’t have been doing some protesting of their own and attracting media attention, if there’d been anyone in that predicament.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve released statistics showing that no amount of beating up on “millionaires and billionaires” will be enough to extend prosperity to the supposed beneficiaries of that cynical rhetoric.

Maybe a growth agenda would help?

Trivializing Hate

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dwsWe hadn’t planned to write anything about the trashy attack on Governor Walker by the Democrats’ national committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz because—well, it’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

But her obviously calculated use of domestic abuse analogies –giving women “the back of his hand,” and “grabbing women by the hair and pulling us back” for purposes of defaming Walker the Eagle Scout seemed like the only thing people wanted to talk about last week.  It’s worth asking why.

The most obvious reason is that Democrats are back with their “war on women” meme for the simple reason that there’s so little they can safely discuss. The absolute last thing any political party wants is people talking about its actual ideas, when those ideas have demonstrably harmed women—and men, and children. Better to tell women someone else is responsible for their problems and hope women don’t think it through.

Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch had an answer that was both pointed and comprehensive.

But beyond that, why does the embarrassing Wasserman-Schultz have longevity in her party position? The inescapable conclusion is that she heads a political movement empty of constructive thought, thus driven by resentment and predisposed to knowingly indulge in rhetoric designed not to illuminate ideas or even defeat opponents, but to blast by all that in favor of hateful acrimony.

Today’s Democrats pose less threat of physical danger than most prototypical hate-driven movements because they are too undisciplined to do much beyond venting the infantile rage that accompanies rejection of unwelcome truths. But they are dangerous in their ability to ruin the civil institutions that make a free society possible.

For that, discipline is unnecessary; simple ignorance will suffice.

It’s ISIS! Fire the marshmallows!

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a bit overdoneSometimes we can’t resist combining apparently unrelated developments to draw a lesson about the way things are.  On second thought, maybe not so unrelated.

Last week the King of Saudi Arabia—who probably has a pretty good grasp of what his enemies are up to—warned that the ISIS terrorist army rampaging through Iraq will strike Europe and the U.S. within months.

That was about the same time that the President of the United States said his administration doesn’t have a strategy to defeat ISIS.  How about, “Keep calm and run for your lives?”

Near simultaneously arrived word of a Vermont diner praised by local officials for bravely caving in to people who objected to a sign advertising its bacon.  Lost in the refined discussion of cultural sensitivity was the distinction between declining to consume pork and objecting to the existence of people who do.

Then the U.S. Justice Department, in need of no extra time to develop its strategy, aimed its legal firepower against St. Anthony, Minnesota (pop. 8,220) for refusing to permit establishment of an Islamic Center in violation of local zoning. Conspicuously absent was any reference to disappointed Islamic groups suing over the village’s decision; apparently the Justice Department has formed a coalition of one.

Unwilling to be shown up by the Department of Justice, another arm of the federal government, the Forest Service, has perfected a strategy to keep Americans safe—when roasting marshmallows.

We hope we’re missing something.  Maybe the administration is secretly planning to invite ISIS over for healthier, fruit-filled s’mores—and give them roasting sticks that are only 24 inches long. Imagine the carnage.

Entrepreneurial Subsidy-Seekers

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generationBack in June, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the average price of electricity for U.S. end-use consumers reached 14.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.  According to the BLS, that’s an all-time high. It hasn’t come down and there’s no reason to expect it will.

It won’t come down because the people responsible for U.S. energy policies don’t want it to.  Remember Barack Obama to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board, January 2008?  “My policy of a cap-and-trade system will cause electricity prices to necessarily skyrocket.”

They’ve hardly begun, and now subsidy-seeking activists are campaigning to bring even more costly electricity to Wisconsin through “third-party ownership.”

The typical deal: Developers put solar panels on your roof and you get free or reduced-cost electricity. But the developers aren’t there to do you a favor. They’re there to use your real estate as a base to generate surplus power that the incumbent utility is required to buy at full retail rates, subsidized by its customers.

The customers—including you—remain responsible for the expense of maintaining the utility system so you still have power when an overcast or six inches of snow or—heaven forbid—nightfall darkens your solar array.

Months ago we lamented Tea Party groups in other states falling for green energy activists peddling third-party ownership as a free-market alternative to monopoly utilities. It’s bad enough when left-wing crony capitalists line their pockets making other people pay for more expensive, less reliable energy; it’s galling when Conservative groups, dazzled by the shiny object of “free-market” rhetoric, pitch in to help.

Subsidy-seeking green energy developers made a preliminary pass at the Wisconsin Legislature last year and they’ll be back in 2015 to write third-party ownership into the statutes. It’s not too early to wish them bad luck.

The Fatigue Factor

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happysadpostSixty-one days to go. November 4 will see the most consequential statewide elections in 40 years.  Sixty-two days from now we’ll know which is more highly valued by Wisconsin voters:  government that tries to keep out of the way while people build their own lives, or ever-present, intrusive government ceaselessly promising to help people get even with imaginary oppressors.

We’ve seen how the latter choice works, every time and everywhere it’s been tried, so why does credible polling show the Wisconsin governor’s race too close to call?

Governor Walker this past week cited “fatigue” among Conservative voters. Counting State Senate recalls, voters in many counties have been called to the polls at least seven times since he took office in 2011.  There appears to be—at least one poll suggests—an enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans, and this time it’s switched, favoring Democrats.

Whether it’s enthusiasm or sheer survival instinct, Democrats are more energized—make that relentless—than ever before.   A colleague who isn’t even a member of any political party has received more than 70 spam emails in just the past two weeks from Democrat campaign organizations asking for money.

We’ve written before about the changed dynamics since the early Walker agenda established that genuine reform is possible. Now, every time voters go to the polling place it’s for all the marbles, and at the moment Democrats are behaving like they’re the only ones who know it.

We aren’t overly fond of football analogies but the late Vincent Lombardi’s wisdom applied far and wide when he said “fatigue makes cowards of us all.”  Conservative voters are no cowards but may understandably be tired of having to defend the same ideas over and over. That’s life.  Time to get busy and do it again.