Defending Mitch Daniels, Heartland’s new blog, Criticizing Tea Party Mistakes

The Heartland Institute has just started their new blog, called Somewhat Reasonable. I’m posting there regularly now, and I’ll be cross posting here, there, and over at ChicagoBoyz as well.

I don’t agree with Mitch Daniels trial balloon VAT proposal. I support a complete transition away from all income taxes, and toward consumption taxes. That said, the knee-jerk reaction to his attempt to discuss solutions to our national financial problems is wrong. This is the best Governor in the country. Having him as President would be a blessing.

For more debate, go here.

For a better proposal on swapping ALL income taxes, go here.

For a critique of Tea Party Candidate errors, go here.
[Read more...]

Scooping the National Review by 2.5 years

This Extreme Wisdom Search gets you several articles on the “False Prophet” meme.

This one promotes a short message that might have worked had McCain used it.

So does this one.

All of this was based upon my reading a book and seeing a presentation by Clotaire Rappaille, who argued that the one word “code” for political leader in America is “Moses.” McCain actually mocked Obama in an ad, using footage from DeMille’s Ten Commandments. He failed, however to close the deal, and prove to us that Obama was a false prophet.

Why do I bring this up. I just love scooping the Nat’l Review by 2.5 years, that’s all.

3 Cheers for Mitch Daniels, Leader

Let’s start with this. If Mitch Daniels is running for President, he’s made the strategic decision to run on bold policy, regardless of the risk. If he is not running for president, he has at least decided that he wants to have a positive impact on the policy debate, something the current GOP sorely needs.

If you haven’t heard, Mitch Daniels has once again voiced opinions that depart from the received canon of the GOP punditocracy and policy shops. He floated the trial balloon of using a VAT to offset other taxes and move the nation away from the financial conflagration brought on by our failed tax code. This is a good thing. Here is what we read in Politico and Newsweek.

Mitch Daniels open to VAT, oil tax hike

Daniels recited from Kahn’s book: “It would be most useful to redesign the tax system to discourage consumption and encourage savings and investment. One obvious possibility is a value added tax and flat income tax, with the only exception being a lower standard deduction.”

“That might suit our current situation pretty well,” said Daniels, who served as George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget director and was a senior adviser in Ronald Reagan’s White House. “It also might fit Bill Simon’s line in the late ‘70s that the nation should have a tax system that looks like someone designed it on purpose.”

The so-called VAT, common in European economies which have stagnated, is a toxic acronym to fiscally conservative activists like Grover Norquist and Dick Armey. It slaps a tax on the estimated market value for products at every stage of production. Progressives, meanwhile, loathe flat income taxes because they’re regressive and punish the poor. But some on the right have found the VAT attractive as an alternative to progressive income taxes and levies on capital gains.

The Horror!! He said the “T” word!!! Run awwwaaaaaayy! But wait, there’s more!

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Earns Conservative Ire for Tax Remarks

Mitch Daniels has been much talked-about in the media, and for good reason: he’s one of the more interesting Republican contenders for 2012. But the normally mild-mannered Indiana governor has occasionally made headlines for his controversial statements, and he’s back at it.

The reaction from some quarters was fierce. In what almost (but not quite) seems like a validation of Godwin’s law, Grover Norquist, the noted antitax activist who leads Americans for Tax Reform, compared Daniels to Rich Iott, the Ohio congressional candidate who wore a Nazi uniform as part of World War II reenactments.

Stay classy, Grover.

Let me say that I’m not particularly enamored of the form of this trial balloon, either as a matter of policy or the way it was floated. I’m on record for supporting a complete phase out of all forms of income taxation, both individual, payroll, corporate, and capital gain.

I floated my trial balloon here. I’ve backed off the gas taxes since then, but the rest is utterly reasonable and defensible, particularly in comparison with our failed tax code. Daniels was simply wrong to float the flat tax (or any income tax) along with the VAT. Get rid of all income taxes, period.

I’m guessing there is a reason that politicians, even those as successful as Daniels, are afraid of calling for an end to all income taxation. That reason has to do with the politics of taxing the lower income citizen at a very high rate, while the rich get the proverbial “free ride.”

BTW, The political solution to that problem is to phase in giving every American over 21 a stipend that covers health care, retirement, and HSAs. This is a feature to the flawed “Fair Tax” plan, and should be a part of any tax swap plan. Stop arguing about the welfare state, and simply individualize it. But I digress…

If I’m so critical of Daniel’s poor plan, why am I so happy he floated the idea? Because it shows leadership. Because it shows an understanding of the size of the problem and the political maneuvering necessary to gain bipartisan support.

It’s time to move America in a better fiscal and cultural direction, and the nattering nabobs of negative attacks (Norquist, Carville, Begala, and Rove) aren’t cutting it anymore.

We have had 3 decades of one ideology staying in power just long enough to enact the worst policies, while the next ideology encrusts that bad policy with layers of even worse policy. Break the stalemate, risk running on robust policy, and do the hard work of bargaining for a better deal. If you agree that the time is ripe for such a strategy, you couldn’t pick a better person than Daniels to be in your corner.

He is criticized for raising some taxes early in his administration, but his critics probably don’t want you to know that this came with;

  • Dramatic spending cuts
  • An Executive Order repealing collective bargaining rights for public employees
  • More spending cuts
  • HSAs and consumer driven plans for public employees
  • Substantial property tax relief.
  • Grover Norquist’s administration started with….

    Oh wait! Grover’s never been elected to anything. He’s never put his name on the line or submitted himself to a vote (or an important policy decision). Instead, he’s given us a generation of Republicans who have signed “No Tax Pledges,” many of whom spent (and thus taxed) us into oblivion.

    The current tax system is beyond reform and/or repair. Too few pay into it to flatten it out, an broadening means tax increases on the middle class. It is incapable of raising the money needed for the promises that have been made, even after the coming big haircut. Attempting to re-run the 80s, 1994, or the weaker 2000s is a fool’s errand. We can’t get there from here under any realistic growth scenario.

    The danger we face in following the “nattering nabobs” is the near certainty that we get both VAT taxes AND the income tax regime in any event.

    We are approaching a rare moment in time where Americans are interested in policy ideas, the Constitution, and a return to self governance. We should use that opportunity to reset the nation’s course, not to score talking points until the next wave of anger topples the next majority.

    Is all this an endorsement for Daniels for President? Probably. I admire him for leading. We could use more of that in the next few years.

    This graph shows utter waste and greed in education

    No Excuses - Just admit it's a waste of money

    No Excuses - Just admit it's a waste of money

    Carry this in your wallet or purse. When someone says we need to “spend more on education,” just take it out and beat them about the head and neck with it.

    They’ve turned it into a patronage job program. Fixing education, therefore, will require mass layoffs and totally transforming education from a “bureaucracy-based system to a child-based market.” Say it just that way, and stop trying to sugar coat the message.

    If you aren’t hacking entitlements, you aren’t serious about the deficit

    The video below will tell you just how much we are going to have to slash ALL entitlements if we are to survive into the future.

    Earmarks should be cut, to be sure, but if you aren’t talking about Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid cuts, then you aren’t serious about the debt and the deficit.

    As for taxes, yes, there is some wiggle room, but if you chase capital off shore, you can never catch up with the downward spiral.

    The rank stupidity of the NRA

    It’s time for supporters of gun rights to dump the “incumbent” NRA, and start joining more dynamic and intelligent gun organizations. It isn’t about being mainstream or balanced, it’s about the inability to understand when the ground has shifted.

    NRA backs Democrats in key races, frustrating GOP

    So far this year, the NRA has endorsed 58 incumbent House Democrats, including more than a dozen in seats that both parties view as critical to winning a majority.

    The endorsements aren’t the result of a sudden love for a party with which the NRA is often at odds. Rather, the powerful group adheres to what it calls “an incumbent-friendly” policy, which holds that if two candidates are equally supportive of gun rights, the incumbent gets the nod.

    One doesn’t know where to start when discussing such a stupid policy. It suffices to say that this kind of attitude is insane because it allows the incumbent to pander for the short term while offering the opportunity to stab you in the back for the long term.

    It also empowers the party whose leadership is always going to be hostile to gun rights, which is the essence of counter-productivity. The NRA has become yet another organization the deserves to end up on the ash heap of history, as should anything that has a “pro-incumbency” slant.

    Just say it! “Teachers Unions are morally illegitimate”

    It’s nice to know that the rhetoric I’ve been using on this website for about 6 years now, which some called “extreme,” has gone mainstream.

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page editors are dipping their toes in the water of truth. They ought to dive in head first, and start rescuing children.

    Hating ‘Superman’

    The new film “Waiting for ‘Superman’” is getting good reviews for its portrayal of children seeking alternatives to dreadful public schools, and to judge by the film’s opponents it is having an impact.

    Witness the scene on a recent Friday night in front of a Loews multiplex in New York City, where some 50 protestors blasted the film as propaganda for charter schools. “Klein, Rhee and Duncan better switch us jobs, so we can put an end to those hedge fund hogs,” went one of their anti-charter cheers, referring to school reform chancellors Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The odd complaint is that donors to charter schools include some hedge fund managers.

    Or maybe not so odd. Teachers unions and the public school monopoly have long benefitted from wielding a moral trump card. They claimed to care for children, and caring was defined solely by how much taxpayers spent on schools.

    That moral claim is being turned on its head as more Americans come to understand that teachers unions and the public bureaucracy are the main obstacles to reform. Movies such as “Waiting for ‘Superman’” and “The Lottery” are exposing this to the larger American public, leaving the monopolists to the hapless recourse of suggesting that reformers are merely the tools of hedge fund philanthropists.

    Teacher’s unions are on the moral defensive because people have finally started to question their moral legitimacy. (welcome to the club) Teachers Unions have none, and, as a concept, they have no right to exist.

    Every dime a teachers union extracts from a tax payer for pay, benefits, pensions, etc., is a dime that can’t be used to better educate a child. It’s so obvious that it’s been staring us in the face for decades.

    Just as Reagan hastened the fall of the USSR by challenging their moral legitimacy (evil empire, ash heap of history), we must openly start telling our neighbors that teachers unions have no right to one iota of say in education. Their interests, and the interests of society are diametrically opposed.

    You don’t negotiate with such an entity, you abolish it. It’s that simple. Get to work.

    Granting a Request

    My son made it back from his first tour in Afghanistan two days ago. He will probably have to go back at least once. This is from his Facebook posting.

    “Lindsay Lohan, 24, is all over the news because she’s a celebrity drug addict. While Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Chase Stanley 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, Sheldon Tate 27, they are all Marines who gave their lives this week, no media mention. Honor THEM by reposting…”

    Trashing our economy and culture while trashing our Mall

    This is a no brainer folks. Just post these two videos to your sites, Facebook feeds, and e-mail lists.

    Let’s show our friends the nature of our opposition.


    Addressing SEIU/AFSCME talking points

    Public Unions are taking well-deserved heat for their pension greed. If you look at all the pension articles, the comments are full of reasonable sounding folks trotting out the argument that the really bad examples of abusive pensions are “outliers.” They then tell you that the average benefit is “only $20,000/year.” It’s best to address this calmly, reasonably, and accurately. Here’s how.

    Some folks defending the public employee pension issue like to point out that the majority of those receiving benefits get relatively low payouts. They often use lines like “the average benefit is only $17-20K/yr.” This union talking point needs to be addressed.

    While it is technically correct, they mask the real problem, which is the large number of the new retirees on the horizon, coupled with the actuarial insanity of their benefits. (I’m using Illinois as an example, but the same has occurred in CA, NJ, and the entire Northeast)

    Think of 10 people who retired 15-20 years ago receiving $20K/yr. Now think of one greedy school superintendent who just retired sucking down $200K (or more) after hopping from district to district, ramping up his retirement with fat contracts no one ever vetted. Multiply that one person by a few 1000 in each state. Add to that whatever number of teachers are receiving big pensions after goosing their unwarranted salaries for the last 4 years of their careers.

    Now you have this large run up in the number of retirees, the size of the pensions, and the INSANE early retirement options. It’s a HUGE problem. For icing on the bankruptcy cake, add in free health care for life for many of these folks.

    Public Unions have bankrupted the states where they’ve gained massive power. It’s time to tell them to sit down, shut up, and take the massive cuts they deserve. Since their pension benefits are probably protected by awful constitutional clauses guaranteeing them, the best solution is to make every one of these folks with pensions over $100K pay 100% of their own health costs. In this political environment, that policy will pass political muster.

    When a politician balks at this policy, and defends unions, fat pensions, and the feeble idea that “government workers” have the right to bankrupt the state, burn their political career to the ground. The time is right. There is no real downside to being rhetorically and politically aggressive on this point. To that end, I post this type of comment on many articles about the pension greed of public unions.

    Look here, the fact that police protect us, that firemen run into burning buildings, and teachers educate our children, does NOT give them the right to bankrupt our civilization. It is time to get right up into the face of these unethical people and tell them to stop! It is also time for all of you to stop buying the “poor public employee” load of lies, and abolish public unionization. The best next step is to end this era of public greed is to cap the growth of EVERY government entity’s budget to inflation plus population growth.