Archive for September, 2013

Shut ‘Er Down!

Posted by on Sep 29 2013 | defunding Obamacare, federal shutdown, House Republicans, Natelson Rob', obama, obamacare, Rob Natelson, shutdown

Two stories in today’s Denver Post show how cynically the mainstream media are playing the story about what they misleadingly call a “government shutdown.”

Of course, it’s really not a shutdown, just a slowdown—more on that below. And in our constitutional system the states, not the feds, are the primary line of government. The states will still be around to help us through.

And neither story comes to grips with the truth: If we have to endure the full force of Obamacare, it will be a far greater, and far longer lasting, disaster than any temporary federal slowdown.

One of the two stories is “House Pushes Closer to Federal Shutdown.” The e-version is “Budget Fight: GOP Refuses to Drop Assault on Health Law.” It originated at the Washington Post. As both titles suggest, it is written to blame everything on House Republicans. No mention of President Obama’s unprecedented refusal to negotiate. Prior Congresses and Presidents have always been willing to give a little to come to a deal. The Obama position has been “My way or the highway.”

Actually, the House Republicans have been quite moderate about this whole affair. They have repeatedly passed appropriation bills. They have asked only to de-fund one program and have not asked for any other significant budget cuts. (With a $17 trillion deficit, you have to ask “Why not?”) Very moderate, in the overall scheme of things.

A second story, originating at the Los Angeles Times, is entitled “Federal Shutdown Would be Monumental,” but its on-line version is “Federal Officials Warn of Shutdown’s Effects.” Again, both headlines reveal the co-authors’ goal: To panic people—just like they tried to scare us about the sequester.

Would a federal slowdown really be so bad? Social security and other entitlements will continue to flow. Truly vital services will continue. The military and other federal workers will get their back pay. (Anyway, House Republicans stand willing to pass a military appropriations bill at any time.)

Yes, some unconstitutional federal programs will pause. There might be a delay, for example, in grants to promote political correctness or to study the mating habits of apes. But that’s a good thing. Yes, The national parks will close, but for most of them the season’s pretty much over anyway.

Is anyone really horrified at the prospect of, say, not being about to reach an IRS bureaucrat on the telephone?

Will the slowdown hurt the economy? I’m not so sure. If the slowdown reduces the deficit or keeps money in the private economy, it might help. If it forces federal regulators to take a holiday, on balance that might help, too. After all, we’ll still have state regulators available to deal with egregious situations.

For this constitutionalist and fiscal conservative, the stakes are “Obamacare or temporary slowdown?” Given that choice, I’ll take the slowdown any day.

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Colorado’s Billion-Dollar Tax Hike Proposal: Really Bad Constitution-Writing

Posted by on Sep 24 2013 | Amendment 66, Constitutional Amendments, Economics, Economy, education, Initiative 22, Politics, Taxes

Hear Justin Longo’s interview with Rob on Amendment 66 here.

Colorado’s Amendment 66—the billion dollar tax hike—is a constitutional monstrosity.

Amendment 66 is, technically, not entirely a constitutional amendment. It is an unusual hybrid of constitutional amendment and change in the state tax law. The secretary of state refers to it as Initiative 22, and it is on the ballot this fall.

The constitutional change would lock in a hugely-disproportionate share of state spending for a single program at the expense of every other Colorado service, public or private. The statutory change would impose a big hike in the state income tax.

As explained below, the costs across a wide range of areas—including public health and safety—could be immense.

But before we get to that, just think of how unfair this measure is:

Under its rules, everything else would take a back seat to the demands of the school bureaucracy. Law enforcement would suffer. So would disaster relief, parks, the environment, services for the elderly, health care, our universities, not to mention economic investment and the taxpayers’ own needs.

Why? Because Amendment 66/Initiative 22 says that (with a sinister refinement explained below) the state school bureaucracy “shall, at a minimum, receive forty-three percent of sales, excise, and income tax revenue collected in the general fund.” In other words, it requires that we spend nearly half our state general fund for a single service before funding anything else!

And that 43% is only a floor. Amendment 66 demands even more. Here’s why:

* The 43% is in addition to what we pay in property taxes.

* The statutory part adds a steep income tax hike on top of that and gives all he revenue to the school bureaucracy.

* The 43% is calculated on what the older, lower tax rates would have brought in. But an income tax of, say, 20% yields less than 20% more revenue, because of disincentives and tax avoidance. So the 43% is calculated on the older, richer system, not on the newer, poorer one.

Now consider some of the other consequences:

* Because of the 43% strait jacket, the legislature couldn’t freely reallocate existing revenue to new needs. For example, the Denver Post has reported that due in part to funding limitations for supervision, inmates released on parole often commit new crimes, including murder. Yet Amendment 66 would make re-allocating funds to parole supervisions that much harder, thereby endangering the lives and safety of Colorado citizens.

* That means a primary way of allocating revenue would become more tax increases.

* We would be crippled in adjusting school costs to reflect changes in technology or to promote educational accountability. Even if schools don’t do the job or are using money wastefully, they still get their guaranteed cut. This violates a basic principle of Anglo-American constitutionalism: agencies are responsible to the legislature for what they do with appropriated funds.

* State income taxes would jump for everyone—by over 27% for everyone with a taxable income of more than $75,000, and 8% for everyone else.

* And the cost of living would rise for every family in the state—including and especially the poor. This is because tax increases–even they seem to hit only the “rich”—have a way of seeping through an economy like venom. Almost everyone pays in the form of higher prices, lower incomes, and fewer jobs. A tax hike, like water, runs downhill.

* Higher taxes also weaken the entire economy. Don’t be misled on this score: The studies show that the additional spending mandated by Amendment 66 is likely to harm much more than it helps.

* The state income tax hike could wound Colorado’s economic competitiveness and kill Colorado jobs—a serious concern right now. Remember that we are in economic competition with other states and other countries, and several of our neighbors either don’t have an income tax or are cutting, reducing, or phasing out the income taxes they have.

* Colorado’s current tax may look like a flat rate, but because of the base on which it is calculated it is actually somewhat punitive as to income. Amendment 66 would make it much more so. Tax hikes like that have been shown to be particularly damaging to prosperity.

* Because the 43% guarantee is based on revenue from former, lower tax rates, the Amendment 66 insulates the school bureaucracy from the economic damage imposed by the tax hike.

A good constitution protects individual rights and structures government to serve the interests of all. But Amendment 66 mutilates our state constitution to privilege the greedy few. It transfers more money to the bureaucracy to do things that will hurt the general welfare, including the welfare of our children.

This violates every principle of good constitution-writing.

* * * *
P.S.: Here’s the ultimate irony: For years advocates of this money-grab have attacked Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), claiming it unduly restricts the legislature. Yet now they want to constrict the legislature far more than TABOR does. Hypocrisy, anyone?

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VIDEO: Dougco School Reforms, Billion Dollar Ed Tax Hike

Posted by on Sep 23 2013 | education, Video

First up, Damon Sasso from Dougco Champions for Kids joins me to talk about all the success Douglas County has had education wise. Hear what it takes to put kids first.

Next, Jefferson County school board member Laura Boggs joined me to talk about the $1 billion education tax hike that promises very little reform for an enormous crushing tax hike.

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My Act of Civil Obedience

Posted by on Sep 11 2013 | elections

I committed an act of civil obedience.

I’ve lived in Boulder for nearly 30 years, yet I just cast a ballot in the Colorado Springs recall election. I did so by legally using the irresponsibly lax new election law.

Now, we might not agree on policy or even political candidates, but I hope we all agree that everyone should know their full voting rights. Our election law changed drastically when Governor Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 13-1303. And everyone, not just the political team that concocted and rushed it through the process, should know how the law works and their new rights under it.

My act of civil obedience proved a simple truth – under this law voters can now be legally shuffled around in the last moments of a campaign, to any district around the state where their votes are needed most.

If this law stands, the future of Colorado elections will be decided by which campaign has the most buses.

Notably, HB-1303 forced elections to use mail-in ballots. Meaning if you are registered to vote, your ballot will be flung through the mail like a grocery store coupon, whether you want it to or not. As sloppy as that is, that’s not the worst part.

HB-1303 permits you to register and vote the same day in any district in Colorado you like, no matter where you were living just moments before. Basically anyone who has been, well, anywhere in Colorado for 22 days (a pleasant 3 week vacation), has an address in the district, and is over 18 can now vote in any district, anywhere in the state on election day if they affirm they have the “intention” of making that district their permanent home.

To educate voters of their new voter rights we created www.BringInTheVote.com, where you can get more details. But to drive the point home, I went to a polling location in the Springs, told them I’m living there now and I’d like to vote. I signed the form, they gave me a ballot, and I cast it. Read the Denver Post story here:http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24040159/new-el-paso-county-resident-jon-caldara-turns

While I cast a blank ballot as a new Colorado Springs resident, I could have just as easily voted “yes” for the recall. Thankfully, enough of my new neighbors did that for me.

Did you know that a utility bill is considered legal identification to vote in Colorado? Imagine this crime – operatives from out of state go through a few mailboxes in say Denver. They bring cable, phone, or water bills down to the election in the Springs. They then can register and vote that very day. Yes, they committed a crime, but their ballots have been cast and there is NO WAY to pull them out of the ballot box. If, and that’s a big IF, they somehow get caught, any enforcement comes after the election is over. Their votes counted. Legally.

Governor Hickenlooper, the man who jumped out of an airplane to help pass a tax increase, called my legal casting of a ballot a “stunt.” One House Representative threatened that if I went through with my plan I’d better “bring bail money.” A progressive group Photoshopped me getting drug away by police, warning that’s what would happen to others if the followed suit. Funny how the usual suspects that yell “voter intimidation” didn’t scream it on my behalf. Hmmm.

Well I voted all the same. I wasn’t arrested.

Even the Denver Post editorialized that my “stunt” had a purpose. http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_24053715/jon-caldaras-political-stunt-had-purpose

It is my hope that our state legislature and governor will act quickly to remedy this law that makes election manipulation legal.

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Adios, Weiner

Posted by on Sep 11 2013 | congress

This story, showing Anthony Weiner flipping the bird to a reporter after his concession speech in the New York City mayoral primary, adds the coda to the music: Weiner stands revealed for what he basically is: a spoiled brat.

The distressing thing is that someone of his character could have been elected to Congress at all, much less serve 12 years there. He was elected from New York City, but this is not just a New York issue: As a member of Congress Weiner inflicted on all Americans—including those of us in Colorado—his childish floor rants and his immature view of political policy. (Be assured: Weiner’s personal conduct and his “progressive” political drivel are connected.)

Part of the lesson here is that there is something wrong with our congressional election system: An institution designed to elect citizens of outstanding virtue now has more than its share of Weiners. It makes you wonder if we haven’t been a little too accommodating to the “low information” voter, and to voters who haven’t a stake in political questions other than how they can use government to steal stuff from other people.

The other part of the lesson is that Congress is made up of flawed individuals, and should have as little say over the lives of the rest of us as humanly possible.

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Lefty Group “Progress Now” May Send Their Apology c/o Us

Posted by on Sep 09 2013 | obama, obamacare

Progress Now Colorado recently had a “Thank You Obamacare” project that supposedly informed citizens of the “benefits” of Obamacare. (In lefty linguo, a “benefit” is something taken at gunpoint from the rest of us and given to the privileged. Decent people call it something else.)

Anyway, Number 1 on their list of “benefits” is “Congress will have the same health care as the rest of us.”

This claim remains on their website even after the nation has learned it simply not true.

It turns out that the Obama administration plans to implement a new rule that allows members of Congress—unlike the rest of us above a certain income level—to continue to enjoy taxpayer-subsidized access to the health care “exchanges.” The rest of us pay full freight. Members of Congress get subsidized.

That’s not fair treatment. In fact, not much about Obamacare is fair, as America has been learning: in one news story after another, we learn how the powerful get exempt, and the rest of us just get stuck.

We expect an apology and formal correction of the error from Progress Now. They can send it to the press, or to us here at the Institute. When we get it, we’ll pass it on.

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Know Your Voting Rights! Bring in the Vote Colorado!

Posted by on Sep 05 2013 | Election Law, elections, Video

I wanted to make sure you saw the media release we sent earlier today, along with the video we made. Below you’ll find the release followed by the video.


The Independence Institute president will exercise his legal voting rights in next week’s recall election, casting a ballot in a district outside his current residence.

Independence Institute president Jon Caldara’s decision to vote in the Senate District 11 recall kicks off the “Bring in the Vote” educational campaign, highlighting the significant legal changes in Colorado’s “Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act,” signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 10.

Calling attention to the lax new election law sponsored by Senators John Morse and Angela Giron, both facing recall elections, Caldara announced that he has the “intention” to make his permanent home in Senate District 11, currently represented by Morse.

Under HB 1303, the “intention” to establish residence along with a few minor requirements such as being 18 years of age, living in Colorado for 22 days, and having an address in the district, permits almost anyone to “Bring in the Vote” and cast a ballot in any district.

“It is my belief that this extremely sloppy new election law was designed to legally move voters into districts where their vote is most useful. I will show how this dangerous new law works by easily and legally voting in the John Morse recall election,” explained Caldara.

“John Morse sponsored this law and worked its passage through the Senate. And now, sadly, under this law future Colorado elections will be decided by which candidate has the most buses.”

To inform voters concerning their voting rights under the new law, the Independence Institute has launched an educational website: www.BringInTheVote.com.

“Though we may disagree on issues and candidates, I hope we all will agree that all Coloradans should be fully informed of their new voting rights and how to exercise them,” Caldara said.

 

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VIDEO: Ronald Reagan and Ending Corporate Welfare

Posted by on Sep 03 2013 | Corporate Welfare, Idiot Box (TV Show), Ronald Reagan

Just in case you missed my TV show last Friday before the big 3-day weekend, below are the two segments.

First I chatted with author and lawyer Perry Pendley from Mountain States Legal Foundation about his new book about Ronald Reagan and environmentalism.

Then I sat down with Lisa Ritland from Colorado Public Interest Research Group (COPIRG) to discuss one issue where we both agree 100%: ending corporate welfare.

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