Friday, April 30, 2010

Obama's Salary Cap



Freedom: In voicing his feelings Wednesday about earned wealth, President Obama shone a bright light into the thought recesses of the far left. And what a dark and ugly place it can be.

During a two-day swing through Illinois, Missouri and Iowa, the president went off teleprompter and blundered into another Joe the Plumber moment, that unguarded instant during the 2008 campaign in which he told a potential small-business owner that he planned to spread the wealth around.

"Now, what we're doing, I want to be clear, we're not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that's fairly earned," Obama said in Quincy, Ill. "I mean, I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

Remarks prepared for the occasion reportedly don't include the president's thoughts about how much money he'd let Americans make. But without the help of a teleprompter to carefully steer him away from his gut feelings, he wandered into a Marxist bramble.

It takes a certain kind of person to think he or she has — or should have — the moral authority to cap other people's incomes. Especially when that person and his wife somehow made $5.5 million in the first year of his presidency, a job that pays $400,000 a year.

In a free society, it's not the president or any other government official or branch that decides when someone has "made enough money," even if liberties are being lost in that free society. Incomes, with the exception of labor contracts won through coercion and union-favorable federal law, are decided by voluntary agreements between employer and employee. To limit what someone can legally earn is morally corrupt and economically foolish.

Envy, the urge to exercise authority over others and pandering to both of those baser instincts are staples of the political left and drive its agenda. Unfortunately, emotions tend to have consequences, and these feelings blind democratic-socialist eyes to the value of economic incentives.

What the left doesn't understand is that capping salaries through government policy destroys the motivation for Americans to develop products and services that enrich lives and expand our economy.

If the president is eager to regulate salaries, he might begin — and end — with the federal work force. Commerce Department data show that average federal worker compensation of $119,982 in 2008 was twice that of average private-sector pay ($59,909).

If he can't bring himself to spread federal workers' wealth around, he and the rest of Washington need to stay away from everyone else's income.

This is the land of liberty and opportunity, where state interference in private affairs is supposed to be intolerable.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Praising Arizona (In Border Battle)



Immigration: Arizona moves to protect its citizens from a raging border war, and the administration and its activist supporters cry racism. Why is antelope protection more important than protecting American lives?

'We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act," Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Friday after signing a tough new immigration law giving police more power in dealing with illegal immigration. "But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation."

Arizona's new law is a reminder that the states formed the federal government and not the other way around. One of the federal government's functions was to provide for the security of the new country against foreign enemies and intruders. At this, and particularly under this administration, it has failed miserably.

There are 460,000 illegal aliens in Arizona, a number that increases daily, placing an undue burden on the state's schools, hospitals and law enforcement. Arizona has a window seat to an illegal invasion and on the escalating and violent drug war in Mexico that has put American lives and society at risk.

On March 27, the consequences of a porous and unprotected border claimed the life of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz after he radioed his brother that he was checking out someone he believed to be an illegal immigrant.

Incredibly, his murderer escaped to a pronghorn antelope area that the Interior Department of Secretary Ken Salazar had placed off-limits to U.S. Border Patrol agents.

So unserious is the administration about protecting the border that it has allowed a bureaucratic turf battle between Interior and Homeland Security to let 4.3 million acres of wilderness area become a haven and highway for illegal aliens, drug smugglers, human traffickers and potential terrorists.

The new law makes it a state crime to be in Arizona without proof of legal status, and would authorize police to demand documents from those they suspected could be illegal immigrants. It would also make it a crime to transport or hide illegal immigrants.

The police are authorized to act only when "REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES" and clearly states that police "MAY NOT SOLELY CONSIDER RACE, COLOR OR NATIONAL ORIGIN" in inquiring about immigration status of a suspect individual.

President Obama calls Arizona's tough new law "irresponsible" and "misguided." But it wouldn't be necessary if the federal government fulfilled its responsibility to secure the border. We are a nation of immigrants — legal immigrants — but we are also a nation of laws that 70% of Arizonans and most Americans want to see enforced.

There may be something else afoot here. "We reform the immigration laws, it puts 12 million people on the path to citizenship and eventually voters," stated Eliseo Medina, international executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union at a June 2009 Washington conference.

In 2008, Medina noted, "immigrants" and Latinos "voted overwhelmingly for progressive candidates. Barack Obama got two out of three voters that showed up." Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "voting with their feet." The more the merrier?

Americans want the federal government to protect our borders, not endangered species. They want the gaping holes in border protection closed and the National Guard sent to the border. What part of "National Guard" does the administration not understand?

Joe Arpaio, sheriff of Arizona's Maricopa County, was grilled by Geraldo Rivera on Fox News about what constituted probable cause under the new law. Arpaio responded: "During the course of the duties of law enforcement, my deputies, if someone doesn't have a license, doesn't speak English, 10 guys stashed in back of a van, I think that's reasonable action or probable cause to take action."

We think so too. It doesn't make sense to protect antelope but not the American people. The first duty of the federal government is to protect the rights, property and lives of U.S. citizens.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dodd Bill Sends Wrong Signal To Wall Street By Rep. Mike Pence



The American people are tired of the borrowing, spending and bailouts that have been advanced by the administrations of both political parties. It's time to end the era of bailouts and reaffirm our belief that the freedom to succeed must include the freedom to fail.

Unfortunately, under the guise of financial services reform, congressional Democrats are trying to pass a permanent bailout bill for the financial services industry, ensuring that American taxpayers would be on the hook to bail out reckless Wall Street firms well into the future. Despite claims to the contrary, even some Democrats admit that it would be a permanent bailout.

Don't just take my word for it. California Congressman Brad Sherman, a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee, told Politico recently that the financial reform bill proposed by Senate Democrat Chris Dodd "has unlimited executive bailout authority. . .. The bill contains permanent, bailout authority."

Specifically, the Senate bill provides for a $50 billion resolution fund, created with taxes on financial institutions. Consumers, including families, small businesses and family farms, would pay that $50 billion through higher costs for credit products. Then, regulators would be able to use this fund to pay off the creditors of those failing firms, similar to the backdoor bailout of Goldman Sachs with money the Fed gave to AIG.

That means families on Main Street would still be paying to bail out firms on Wall Street.

The Democrats would also keep "too big to fail" alive by authorizing the Federal Reserve to regulate firms that are considered "systemically important." This special regulatory structure will send a clear signal to the markets, indicating that those firms have the implicit guarantee of the U.S. government. This will permanently distort the financial markets, providing advantages for those select firms to the detriment of small ones.

While Democrats perpetuate a scheme to make taxpayer-funded bailouts permanent, Republicans are offering better solutions. Last year, House Republicans introduced the Consumer Protection and Financial Regulatory Enhancement Act. The Republican bill would end bailouts once and for all, restore market discipline and keep taxpayers off the hook for Wall Street's bad decisions.

Republicans would also provide for the orderly but necessary liquidation of failing non-bank financial firms by creating a new chapter in the bankruptcy code. And, the Republican plan would establish a board of outside experts and financial regulators to analyze the financial system and ensure that government is smarter and more efficient in its regulatory work.

We believe that there are already enough federal agencies. What we need is consistent enforcement and accountability through a system that is modernized to end redundancy.

Finally, a chief cause of the financial crisis was the failed policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. While Democrats do nothing about Fannie and Freddie, Republicans have a much-needed exit strategy to privatize them within four years. It would end the current model, which gives profits to Fannie and Freddie's executives while leaving taxpayers with the losses.

Regulating the financial services industry is a complex issue that requires more than empty slogans. Republicans have free-market solutions that will create jobs and protect taxpayers without putting hardworking American taxpayers on the hook for one more Wall Street bailout.

• Pence represents Indiana's 6th Congressional District and is chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Why No Debate?



Misgovernance: Barely a month after the 2,600-page health care bill became law, Congress has teed up another landmark piece of legislation: a 1,600-page financial overhaul. So what's the big hurry?

As with the health care measure, no one seems to know exactly what's in this massive new bill. And what we have seen leaves a lot to be desired.

Legislation that radically changes the way we conduct our daily lives is usually subject to long deliberation and thorough debate before a decision is reached. But not in this Congress.

The financial reform that Sen. Chris Dodd has put forward contains little if any input from opposition Republicans. With their 59-41 majority in the Senate, Dodd and his Democrat colleagues are convinced they no longer need to compromise.

In his speech on financial reform last Thursday in New York, President Obama made his case and invited Americans to "debate" it. But that very day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to the surprise of nearly everyone, announced there could be a vote on Dodd's bill as early as Monday.

Has a U.S. government ever been so transparently insincere? Not content to let the opposition respond, the Democrats are moving forward with a plan that will not end bailouts, will not fix what ails Wall Street and will in no way guarantee there won't be another meltdown.

But don't take our word for it. Claims such as "this is not a bailout bill" ring hollow even on the left. Adam Davidson, a reporter for the reliably liberal National Public Radio's Planet Money blog, did what he called "an informal survey of economists and regulatory experts on the right and left."

The result? "We couldn't find any who fully endorse the reforms backed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress." That's how bad this legislation is. For example:

• It makes bailouts a routine part of America's financial markets, putting smaller, entrepreneurial financial houses at a serious competitive disadvantage to bigger firms such as Goldman Sachs that give millions to Democratic candidates.

• Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which triggered the housing meltdown in 2005 with an unparalleled surge in mortgage lending, go untouched. And taxpayers are still on the hook for a $400 billion bailout of the two largest mortgage banking companies on Earth.

• Sweeping new powers are given to the Fed to regulate not just banks, but all financial companies, across the board. As Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute wrote:

"The Fed, never having regulated a hedge fund or an insurance company, is now supposed to set capital levels, liquidity requirements and permissible activities for each type of business and for each individual institution." Good luck with that, Ben Bernanke.

What we know about the bill is bad enough. But it's what we don't know that really has us worried. As with health care reform, we wonder what we'll find on further inspection — the shocking political favors, taxes and loopholes that will make our system more complex and less accountable. If Reid gets his way, due diligence is out the window.

Is this the new style of governance the Democrats want? Is this the "change" they promised — the passage of radical, life-altering legislation in unseemly haste with little input from average Americans?

We certainly hope not. Americans deserve more from their government — including a chance to scrutinize and debate major legislation that would radically alter the way we do business in this country.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obituary - Truskolaski


TRUSKOLASKI, Phyllis B. (nee Hoffman). On July 28, 2009 age 63 of Moorestown, NJ. Phyllis was retired from the Delran Middle School where she taught 6th Grade. She was a longtime member of the St. Matthew Lutheran Church and a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority. Wife of the late Frank J. Sister of Christine H. McClain of Wayne, Pa., George E. Hoffman of Wilmington, De., Howard W. Hoffman of Hamilton, NJ., Jennifer Hoffman Gambol of Woolwich, NJ. and the late William Hoffmann Jr. Also survived by Several Nieces and Nephews. Funeral service 10 am Friday at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 318 Chester Ave., Moorestown, NJ. Viewing Thurs. Eve 7 - 9 pm at the LEWIS FUNERAL HOME, 78 E. Main St., Moorestown, NJ. Interment Lakeview Memorial Park, Cinnaminson, NJ. Please no Flowers. Memorial contributions may be made to the church.

Published in Courier-Post on July 29, 2009