Great article by Rand Paul

One of Rand Paul’s strengths is that he connects well with his audiences. This article is addressed to college students but has a good message for all of us.

The federal government now attempts to micromanage American life at practically every level.

The government tells you what kind of lightbulbs you can buy, what kind of toilet can be in your home, how much water can come out of your showerhead. Privacy is seemingly an antiquated notion, with government snoops able to access third-party records, such as phone records, e-mails, financial records, and pretty much any other personal information they want, without a judge’s warrant.
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America has drifted away from the constitutional principles of limited government, separation of powers, and individual liberty.
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We need to do a better job of communicating why big government is the problem—why it is bad for the economy, freedom, and a restrained, yet strong, foreign policy.
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conservative solutions are tangible too. We’re not just saying no to more government. Our proposals will lead the way to more prosperity, more stable families, political decisions made at the local level, a dollar that holds up in a global marketplace, an education system that puts students and parents first, a vibrant culture supported by religious institutions, and opportunities for young people like you to grow and lead America into a renewed age of freedom.
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Our political opponents and the media like to portray conservatives as unconcerned about the poor, senior citizens, and minorities. Nothing could be further from the truth. But we need to do a better job of communicating the promise of conservatism, not simply the failures of liberalism. We advocate not for special privileges for “the rich” but rather for a flourishing economy that lifts everyone up, creating millions of jobs and lessening the burden of taxes and government regulation.

We need to shout to anyone who will listen, “More freedom and less government means more jobs, more wealth, and a better life for everyone.” Despite the trillions of taxpayer dollars spent on bailouts and “stimulus” plans over the past several years, the economy hasn’t fully recovered from the Great Recession.

One in six Americans lives in poverty, more than at any other time in the past several decades. This is unacceptable.
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Decentralization of power is the best policy. Government is more efficient, more just, and more personal when it is smaller and more local. By decentralizing government, we strengthen communities, allowing people to depend on and care for one another, rather than on some distant, incompetent bureaucracy masquerading as defender of the common good. This is a message we need to do a better job communicating.

Read the whole thing.

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“unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy”

[They] see the uninterrupted forward march of the American left. Entitlement spending never stopped growing. The regulatory state continued to expand. The national debt grew and grew and finally in the Obama years, exploded. They see an American population becoming unrecognizable from the free and self-reliant people they thought they knew. And they see the Republican Party as having utterly failed to stop the drift toward an unfree nation supervised by an overweening and bloated bureaucracy. They are not interested in Republican policies that merely slow the growth of this leviathan. They want to stop it and reverse it. And they want to show their supporters they’ll try anything to bring that about. (my emphasis)

That Brit Hume commentary has it just about right. Too many Republicans, especially in Washington, are content with Big Government as long as they have a hand in running it. The grassroots and, polls show, the American people prefer smaller government:

far more voters continue to favor a smaller government with fewer services than a bigger government that provides more services. — Pew Research Center

 

Down in Concord

“It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones.” — Calvin Coolidge

Down in Concord, the Senate Finance Committee has made its recommendation about the State budget. The full Senate no doubt will approve it next Thursday, June 6. Their version of the budget calls for spending $10.7 billion. The Governor initially proposed $11.1 billion, which the House reduced to $11 billion. The budget for the current two years is about $10 billion, so the new budget will be an increase of about 7%, perhaps more.

A piece of the budget that has received little press is downshifting of Medicaid costs to the county budgets. In Sullivan county, and I think in most counties, the single biggest expense is not the nursing home, not the jail, it is paying for Medicaid. Last I looked at the Sullivan county budget, we had to write a $4.5 million check to the state to pay for Medicaid. Our next largest expense was a net cost of $3 million for the county nursing home. The House-passed budget downshifts an additional $8 million Medicaid expense to the counties. The Senate budget still downshifts but not as badly – about $3.5 million.

One of the main reasons for the difference between House and Senate spending is a difference in revenue estimates. E.g., the House estimates $107 million more revenue from the Medicaid Enhancement Tax than the Senate estimates. Given that the House revenue estimators have consistently overestimated revenue for more than four years, I trust the Senate estimates more than the House estimates.

Opponents of the Senate budget quickly demonstrated a lack of understanding of simple arithmetic or the English language. Gov. Hassan and other Democrat leaders complained about “devastating cuts” to the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Try this quiz: Which is higher, $1296 or $1319? The Senate budget increases spending on HHS from the House-passed $1296 million to $1319 million. Is higher spending a “cut”? Is it “devastating”?

For Developmental Services, the Senate proposes spending the exact same amount as the Governor and as the House. All three budgets increase spending over the current budget by about $38 million, or about a 15% increase. What is Hassan’s definition of “devastating”? As the old saying puts it, “She is entitled to her own opinion but not to her own facts.”

In terms of the legislative process, the House has not officially received the Senate amendment to the budget. You and I have heard about it, but the full Senate has not yet voted on it and the House has not received written notification about it. In the meantime the House continues with routine business. Wednesday, June 5, it will vote on the last of its Senate bills. If it doesn’t finish them Wednesday, it will meet the next day because its deadline for all Senate bills is June 6. This week and for the next few weeks, committees will meet to work on retained bills. (If you have been reading my columns, you know all about retained bills.)

On Thursday, June 6, the Senate will meet to vote on the last of its House bills, including the Finance Committee’s recommendations on the budget bills. When the Senate has voted on the proposed budget, it will send an official message to the House declaring that it “has passed House Bill 2 with an amendment and requests the House concurrence thereon.”

When it meets on June 12, the House will officially receive the Senate message. It then has three options: 1) It can Concur with the Senate amendment, thereby sending the Senate budget to the Governor for signature. It won’t do that. 2) It can Non-concur, which would have the effect of killing the bill, leaving the state without a budget. It won’t do that. 3) What the House will do is Non-concur and request a committee of conference.

The Senate, meeting on June 13, will receive the House request for a conference and will “Accede” to that request. On occasion, and only on relatively unimportant bills, the Senate might refuse a request for conference. It won’t refuse a conference on a budget bill. So finally, more than two weeks after everybody knows what is in the Senate budget, finally the committee of conference will meet to discuss an agreement on the budget. Their deadline is just seven days later, June 20, so I expect they will be rather busy in those seven days.

The House and Senate conferees must reach a unanimous agreement on the compromise budget. On occasion the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate will replace a conferee with someone more willing to accept a compromise. Once a compromise has been reached, the bill will go to the House for a vote on June 26, and to the Senate for a vote on June 27. The votes will be up or down, no amendments will be allowed.

In the unlikely event the two sides cannot reach an agreement, they will vote on a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government running past the June 30 deadline. That CR would be based on the current budget, which is less than either the House or the Senate budget, so they and the Governor behind the scenes have some motivation to pass a normal budget.

Obama has made the rich richer and the poor poorer

After four year’s of Obama’s rule, the rich are richer and the poor are poorer. “Households with a net worth in the upper 7 percent have seen their net worth rise, on average, by nearly 30 percent in the years after the recession … everyone else’s net worth has dropped by an average of 4 percent.”

For six years, we have had massive borrowing to finance huge spending on more government programs and more regulations. The result is “high unemployment, a shrinking labor force, stagnant gross domestic product growth and rickety consumer confidence.”

Obama knows nothing about Obamacare

Obama’s “I know nothing” about the scandals in his administration might also apply to ObamaCare.

Investors Business Daily wonders “Is Obama just dangerously misinformed about ObamaCare? Or is he willfully misleading the country?”

  • The Congressional Budget Office expects 7 million workers — and possibly as many as 20 million — will lose their employer coverage because of ObamaCare.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said millions of seniors will get dumped from their private Medicare Advantage plans by 2017 thanks to sharp payment cuts required by the law.
  • small businesses now providing coverage face huge rate hikes thanks to ObamaCare’s many market regulations and benefit mandates.
  • ObamaCare’s high-risk pools have been a disaster, attracting a third as many people as predicted while costing far more than the administration budgeted.
  • Obama’s own health care number crunchers say ObamaCare will force national health spending up 7.4% in 2014, and add billions in costs over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office says it will add massively to federal health spending.

Down in Concord

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” — Pericles (430 B.C.)

Down in Concord it is another quiet week. There are 47 bills with public hearings in the House or in the Senate. Most probably are not interesting to most people. I found four that are mildly interesting.

On Tuesday morning, the Senate has public hearings on two firearms bills. HB 135 restricts your right to defend yourself, your family, and your community. It says that if someone attacks you with deadly force, you may not use deadly force to defend yourself, if you can run away. So if you or your daughter is a young nurse walking through a dark parking lot, and a would-be rapist pulls out a knife, you should try to run away instead of pulling out your pistol. I expect a large crowd to oppose the bill.

The second firearms bill is HB 388, which says that if a thief steals a weapon from your house, you are not responsible for any damage the bad guy does with your weapon. That bill passed with a strong bipartisan vote in the House. The crowd on hand to oppose HB 135 probably will stay to support HB 388

Wednesday the Senate hears HB 595, which would repeal changes to photo identification requirements of voters that was passed just last year. By wide margins, voters approve of the requirement for a photo ID, so there might be a good crowd opposing this repeal bill.

Thursday the House Fish&Game committee will hold a public hearing on SB 122, establishing a commercial shrimp license. We have survived all these many years without needing a shrimp license. Thursday we will learn why some people think we really need yet another license.

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Some time ago a friend asked why I spend time on politics. Well, the fact is that politicians can have an enormous impact on our well-being. It’s not so much that they can do good but that they can do great harm. As Walter Williams puts it, “In general, presidents and congressmen have very limited power to do good for the economy and awesome power to do bad. The best good thing that politicians can do for the economy is to stop doing bad. In part, this can be achieved through reducing taxes and economic regulation, and staying out of our lives.”

A report from the government’s Small Business Administration estimates that the cost of federal regulations is $1.75 trillion. That works out to about $15,000 per family. Are you getting your money’s worth?

It wasn’t regulations that made us the greatest country on earth. It was freedom – the freedom for ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and Steve Jobs created entire industries that provided good jobs for tens of millions of people.

Today there are so many regulations that FedEx could not get off the groundSubway RestaurantsHome Depot, Whole Foods, and Wynn casinos might not exist at all if they had started in today’s regulatory environment.

Together these companies have over 800,000 employees. How much worse would our economy be without those jobs? without the goods and services they produce? How many of tomorrow’s giant companies are being killed today by excessive regulations?

An old American adage declares that “To err is human, but it takes a politician to really screw things up.” They certainly have screwed things up. The latest jobs report was just one more example. Almost half a million people gave up looking for a job. The labor force participation rate is the lowest since 1979.

Poverty is the worst since the mid-1960s. The number of people collecting food stamps is at record high levels. Median family income is down for four straight years.

The current so-called recovery is the worst in 70 years. Per capita income and employment are lower than they were at the start of the recession. If this economy had been merely average, we would now have a GDP per person more than $4500 higher and we would see more than 14 million more people employed.

Why do I spend time on politics? Because it matters. Bad economic policies produce the conditions we now suffer. Good policies produce growing economies.

Canada’s conservative government adopted principles of lower taxes, smaller government, and more decentralization of federal government powers. For the first time in history, the average Canadian is wealthier than the average American.

There is one set of economic policies that has worked every time it has been tried. Year after year, around the world, among the fifty states, one simple policy has produced greater prosperity, better life expectancy, a cleaner environment, and more human rights.

That policy is economic freedom.

That is not just theory or ideology; that is history. Nearly 20 years of analyzing 183 countries has consistently shown that more freedom produces higher per capita income, longer lifespans, and more “happiness”.

Sadly, the United States’ rank in the Index  of Economic Freedom has dropped every year since 2006. We have fallen from “Free” to “Mostly Free”.

For a better economy, we need to elect politicians who support property rights, limited government, less regulating, and free markets. It works every time it is tried.

Education: administrators way up, scores flat

From 1950 to 2009 the number of students increased 96%. During that same time the number of administrators increased more than 700%. Zero improvement in scores or in graduation rates. Those are just a few items from a report by the Friedman Foundation for School Choice.

New Hampshire is one of 21 states that have more non-teaching staff than teachers. From 1992 to 2009, the number of NH students has increased a modest 12%; the number of non-teaching staff has grown 80%. If administrators had increased only as fast as students, NH would save almost $250 million EVERY year. That would be more than $31,000 for every classroom.