Watching key Obamacare architect & MIT academic slimeball Jonathan Grubertestify at this week's House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington (DC), I couldn't help but be reminded of Uriah Heep, the disgustingly obsequious fictional toady created by English writer Charles Dickens for his novel DAVID COPPERFIELD.
Gruber spent a good amount of time groveling before tough grilling from the likes of Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC). But if you pay close attention to the tense exchange between both men, you can see that Gruber's rehearsed responses are a clever form of "pleading the Fifth" without calling attention to the fact that he's deliberately NOT answering Gowdy's questions. Like the ever "umble" Heep, Gruber glibly pretends to be contrite & self-abasing as a way to cloak his true character, his true motivations, & his true role in Obamacare from any further scrutiny.
Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) tersely remind Gruber that "glibness" can have unintended consequences in the lives of ordinary Americans whom Gruber infamously derided as "stupid". But her admonitions will have no impact on Gruber & his ilk. They will put up with the discomfort of what they perceive to be the GOP version of a show trail because they know that most Republicans are spineless & will be loathe to do the unpleasant job of (to paraphrase Conan The Barbarian) crushing their enemies, repealing the legislation of said enemies, & listening to the genuine lamentations of the NGOs, the media, & the academies of whom Gruber The Glib is its most notable personification.
The list of Jones' supporters includes James Kelcourse, an Amesbury Republican who awaits the results of a recount for the seat formerly held by Rep. Michael Costello (D-Newburyport). Kelcourse holds a 10 vote lead over Democrat Ed Cameron. Rep. Matthew Beaton, a Shrewsbury Republican who was re-elected but plans to resign to serve as energy secretary in Baker's administration, is also on the list of supporters.
Last spring, Republican Reps. James Lyons of Andover and Marc Lombardo of Billerica called for Jones to step aside as minority Leader, saying he was too cozy with Democrats and unwilling to fight for conservative viewpoints. Lyons, Lombardo, O'Connell, and Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman) are not among those who signed pledge cards.
The latest edition of Commonwealth Magazine has an insightful article written by James Aloisi. He opines that this year's state election might turn out to be a watershed moment if opportunities are seized to position Massachusetts at the forefront of economic development. However, the former Deval Patrick cabinet member issued this warning:
For the Democratic Party, this is a watershed moment not unlike what it faced in the early 1990s. In 1991 the party was reeling from the turbulence and unpredictability of the 1990 election, when John Silber effectively took control of the party for a brief, tumultuous two months, before losing to Bill Weld. It was the first time since the mid-1970s when the party was not dominated by Michael Dukakis and Frank Bellotti. January 1991 saw the inauguration of a new speaker (Charlie Flaherty), a new (Republican) treasurer (Joe Malone) and new secretary of state (Bill Galvin).
It took a long time for the Democratic Party to regain its footing. A short list of capable people - Mark Roosevelt, Scott Harshbarger, and Shannon O'Brien - tried to take on the mantle of gubernatorial leadership. All were destined to fail. Patrick's imminent exit doesn't quite resemble the vacuum that was caused with Dukakis's exit in 1991, but it will likely leave state Democrats repeating the pattern of the 1990s. There will be decentralized nodes of power, centered most obviously in the House and Senate, but also thriving in the offices of the new Attorney General and Treasurer. (Stan) Rosenberg, who has waited for his moment of leadership for well over a decade, serving for a time as Senate Ways and Means Chair, comes better prepared to lead the Senate than any of his recent predecessors. Neither he nor the governor-elect will need a nano-second of on-the-job training.
Aloisi thinks Evan Falchuk & his United Independent Party might become a long-term threat to the political hegemony of the Democrats. Now that Falchuk has legitimized his party (the UIP secured more than 3% of the gubernatorial vote), he has an opportunity to attract disaffected Bay State voters who are turned off by the corrupt practices of one party & the serial incompetence of the other party. Such a development, however, wouldn't bode well for the GOP either.
The Republican Party is basically ignored in Aloisi's article. He mentions Charlie Baker within the context of what he would like to see the governor-elect do given the tectonic changes that are making themselves felt in politics, economics, & culture. If the GOP wants to avoid the ashcan of history, its going to have to get serious about re-imagining & re-tooling itself. Its gains this past election cycle are hopeful. Let's hope they aren't a transient aberration.
Massachusetts Republican candidate Charlie Baker may have cinched the 2014 gubernatorial election due in part to the anecdote he delivered during a debate sponsored by WCVB-Channel 5. As he spoke about talking issues with a fisherman, Baker became visibly emotional. Democrat candidate Martha Coakley gamely tried to tap into the moment by providing her own take on how federal regulations are destroying the local fishing industry in Massachusetts.
During the course of Baker's story, the studio camera went from a CU of Baker to a "two-shot" that presented Coakley left of center on the TV screen & Baker framed on the far right. The cut happens roughly at the 00:36 mark & at that moment Coakley appears distracted - if not bored. Then the camera cuts back to a CU of Baker. At roughly 01:03, Baker places his right hand over his face in an attempt to contain his emotions. After an awkward pause, Baker regains his composure and continues his story. At roughly the 01:15 point, Baker's emotions compel him to pause again.
Just as he delivers the close of his story, the studio camera cuts back to the two-shot. Coakley can be seen looking distant as Baker is in the middle of his close. The camera cuts back to Baker's CU at roughly the 01:27 mark. When it does, we see the full emotion in Baker's eyes & in his voice as he finishes his story. An awkward silence hangs in the air for a few seconds. At roughly 01:34, the camera then cuts to an establishing shot with Baker on the far left, Coakley on the far right, & the three representatives for Channel 5 in the center. Check out Coakley's demeanor if you can.
The minute Baker provides a coda to his anecdote, the camera cuts back at around 01:38 to a CU of him with the emotion weighing heavily on his face. He regains his composure and in a gentlemanly way he proffers that stories like the one he delivered on the fisherman is the reason why he & Coakley have done public service. The camera cuts back to the two-shot of Coakley & Baker at roughly the 01:46 mark. Coakley seizes the baton Baker hands to her (when he says both of them seek to help people through public service) and reiterates the main themes raised by Baker.
Regrettably, Coakley opines "they are not unique" when commenting on the fisherman & his family. Obviously she means the hardship suffered by the fisherman of Baker's story is a story shared by hundreds if not thousands of people like him. However her inelegant way of expressing that sentiment comes across as cold. Prior to making that statement, the camera at roughly 02:07 cuts to a CU of Baker with a pensive look of sadness in his eyes just as we hear Coakley's off-camera voice utter "they are not unique". It creates a subtle contrast between Coakley & Baker.
A split screen occurs at roughly the 02:15 mark so that we see Coakley in a CU on the left & Baker in a CU on the right. It's at this moment that Coakley hurts herself. While Baker damns Massachusetts for not sticking up for its fishing industry, Coakley rarely looks at Baker. Instead, she glances at the reporters in front of her or looks off into the distance. She reacts negatively when Baker declares federal regulations have distorted the state's "rule-making process". Baker picks up on her ruffled feathers & quickly reassures her that she has "fought the legal fight - which I admire." He then closes with a promise to fight for the state's fishing industry when he becomes governor.
I won't be surprised if this clip from the debate goes viral nor will I be surprised if the reaction said clip produces among Massachusetts voters results in Baker becoming the Bay State's new governor. In less than three minutes, the clip shows Baker to be a man of compassion for those less fortunate than himself as well as a policy wonk determined to change the kind of politics that forces people to become less fortunate than himself. This is the kind of moment that pulls in rank & file Republicans, independent voters, & Old Left Democrats. It's the kind of moment that wins elections.
In 2014, Republican Governors are staving off attacks in their respective contests. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Michigan's Rick Snyder are breaking away from their Democratic opponents, despite a few months of setbacks, with middling poll numbers. Other Republican Governors are struggling, or have become political dead meat. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback enshrined comprehensive tax and spending cuts. He also tried to get rid of public funding for the arts, and attempted to put private special needs providers in charge of disabled adults. Kansas Republicans as well Democrats have cried foul. In a state which has been ruby red for decades, a blue governor and a liberal independent may sweep state offices for the first time in years.
Other governors who are struggling for reelection include Nathan Deal of Georgia, where allegations of cronyism and corruption have marred his campaign. He has maintained a mere one point lead over President Jimmy Carter's grandson. Like Brownback, Governor Deal partnered with a ruby red legislature, and enacted extensive conservative reforms, including expanded concealed carry permits, as well as direct legislation repudiating the Affordable Care Act. Have Georgians gotten tired of conservative principles? Do they believe that Deal has gone too far?
The deeper ideological divides in the several states stem from the unprecedented number of legislatures where the Governor and the majority belonged to the same party. A laboratory of conservative reforms have emerged in Republican states, and progressive activism (or epic stagnation) now defines the super-majority Democratic states.
Based on consistent polling, voters in red states may be souring on their conservative leaders uninhibited reforms, and those politicians are paying the price for their political boldness.
Could the same be happening in one-party Democratic states?
California, one of the super-majority blue states, had a moderate governor, old retread Jerry Brown. Yes, he balanced the state's budget, but only on paper, and the wall of pension debt lingers like the fiscal sword of Damocles over the entire state. Four state senators have been arrested, indicted, and/or convicted of corruption. Brown has turned California into a sanctuary state for illegal immigration. The legislature passed laws to allow transgender youth to use public school bathrooms, and let owners take their dogs out for dinner, and banned the plastic bag. Brown reelection is assured.
Illinois has the worst bond ratings, pension liabilities, and crime rates. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has combined brass-knuckles politicking with progressive pandering. Gun-control, jobs for illegals, and salary increases for do-nothing (or do-wrong) teachers unions. Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner gathered the endorsements of life-long Democrats, who recognize that the Land of Lincoln is in big trouble.
Then there's New England. . .where Democratic majorities have dominated key states for years. Will New England start going red again in 2014, as part of the national voter backlash to entrenched hegemony?
Rhode Island has had a super-majority Democratic legislature for eight decades. The result? A culture of cronyism, taxation, and regulatory burdens. Like his Left Coast counterpart, GOP-Indie-Dem Governor Lincoln Chafee has turned Rhode Island into a sanctuary state of progressive secularism: no more eVerify for employers, HealthSourceRI (which is going bankrupt). No matter how a state leans, however, money cannot materialize from nothing. Necessary pension reforms put the Ocean State on the map, and the reform, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo, has the twin challenges of running against Wall Street and the Labor Unions.
Enter Republican Mayor Allan Fung. He balanced budgets, enacted pension reforms, supported businesses in Cranston. He opposes driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, will reinstate eVerify, and he opposes taxpayer payback for 38 Studios. Fung is running neck-and-neck with Dem Gina in a five-to-one Democratic cesspool.
Then there's Massachusetts, or Marxachussetts for its defining cultural relativism, or Taxachusetts for the take-and-take-some-more Beacon Hill legislature. Critics have lost count of the number of Mass Dems arrested, indicted, convicted, then reinstated in the media or the Boston political machine. In this deep blue state, a Republican state senator became a US Senator, and the 2014 GOP Gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Baker, is polling within the margins of error. Of course, he is running to the left of President Obama on social issues, but by his word he opposes illegal immigration. Will the Mass GOP take back the Corner Office? Will the fallout over RomneyCare and then Massachusetts' Obamacare add-on beef up GOP numbers in Beacon Hill, too?
Then there's Connecticut, where Governor Dannel Malloy expanded the regulatory burdens in his state as well, and then implemented a disconcerting gun registration program. This sweeping legislation felonized at least three hundred thousand gun owners, who in an act of civil disobedience refused to register anything. Malloy is losing by six points to a Republican challenger in this deep blue state.
While Republican governors in deep red states are facing a backlash for their sweeping reforms, Democratic leaders (and their party) are bracing for the same backlash. Could New England be going red for the first time since Reagan was President? If unrest continues over illegal immigration, and individual candidates ride the anti-Obama groundswell, New England Republicans may resurrect their presence and influence again.
We are pleased to learn that Christian Whiton over at Fox News has thought one of our long-standing research agenda items (reforming the Davis Bacon Act and prevailing wages in general) was a good enough of an idea to place in any New Contract with America that the GOP might want to present to the American public up to November. In the context of rebuilding our infrastructure (an issue close to home) and increasing our competitiveness, Whiton writes:
Americans waste an average of 38 hours per year in traffic jams according to researchers at Texas A&M. Most U.S. airports are also in terrible shape. Antiquated laws and regulations that needlessly elevate the cost of new infrastructure are to blame. The worst offender is the Davis-Bacon law. Originally passed in part to suppress black labor, the law today is used by unions to eliminate the cost advantages of their non-union competitors. A study by the Beacon Hill Institute estimated that Davis-Bacon requirements increase the cost of infrastructure-related labor by 22% over the market rate. The law should go.
Read more at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/02/nine-ideas-for-new-contract-with-america/
The sentiment carries over to state Democratic Party as a whole when it comes to BHI's State Competitiveness Index which usually finds the Bay State at the top according to a variety of indicators of economic growth that we've assembled since 2001. (We guess our friends at the Democratic Party are using our index since most are not so favorable.)
A friendly reminder to Chairman McGee, MA was also on top when a Republican occupied the corner office on Beacon Hill.
An article posted on Breitbart.com should be utilized as an important memo for all GOP candidates running this year for either the US Senate or the House of Representatives: make the 2014 midterm elections a national referendum on President Barack Obama's post-election scheme to provide amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.
James P. Pinkerton, a veteran of the Reagan White House and now a Fox News contributor, argues that Republicans need a 1980 or 2004-type "wave" election highlighting a "wave" issue to win the Senate. He asserts that it's not too late to nationalize the campaign, recalling Newt Gingrich's Contract with America, unveiled September 27, just six weeks before the historic 1994 midterm election.
Twenty years later, the issues are different but the strategy remains the same. When a wave comes, candidates must ride it - and most Republican challengers would probably sweep into office on an immigration-control tsunami washing away the Democrats. In fact, we're halfway there, as tough anti-amnesty spots are being aired in support of GOP Senate candidates in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Michigan, Arkansas, and Louisiana, among the competitive states surveyed by Politico.
Those ads need to be broadcast nationally and especially in battlegrounds, hammering Obama and the Democrats on the risks that porous borders pose to national security and middle-class jobs. If Republicans do that, they'll retire more than enough Democratic senators to retake the Senate - and lead a transformation of American politics that Karl Rove never saw coming.
Scott Brown has found the tactic to be effective enough to make his US Senate race in New Hampshire against Democrat incumbent Jeanne ShaheenVERY competitive. Hopefully MA Republican US Senate candidate Brian Herr will effectively use the same kind of strategy against Democrat incumbent Ed Markey. Ride the wave, boys. Ride it!
It's a sweet dream. But don't count on seeing it come true.
One can forgive Jacoby's cynicism regarding the changeability of House Reps in Congressional elections, particularly off-years (although 1994 and 2010 served as tsunami elections against the Democratic incumbent President). For two decades, the Massachusetts GOP has witnesses its own slow demosie, losing its last two house reps in 1996 (in part because of the 1994-1995 shutdown, but more likely the liberalizing trends shaping the Bay State). Determined that 2014 will provide little change in Congressional representation, Jacoby half-heartedly acknowledeges the defeat of nine-term incumbent John Tierney, who barely gripped onto his MA-6 seat in Northeast Massachusetts by one percentage point in 2012. His Republican challenger during the last cycle, openly gay moderate Richard Tisei, was prepped to challenge him again as one of a slate of House GOP "Young Guns".
Suprisingly enough, Tierney lost to a dismissed challenger, Seth Moulton, who has blasted the now-ousted Tierney's incapacity to get things done. Still, even with Tierney and Cantor's loss (plus two other incumbent losses to primary challenges thisy year), Jacoby surmises that such revolutions in representation are quite rare. Regarding Jacoby's expectations of a whimper as opposed to a wave, Jacoby's frustration is justified, at least regarding a term-by-term analysis, particularly in Massachusetts.
With the 2014 Massachusetts Republican Primary just days away, I hope GOP activists ask themselves one crucial if not existential question before they cast their vote. The question they all should seriously ponder is this: will the candidate they support maintain the status quo for Beacon Hill's minority party or will said candidate join other like-minded Republicans in electing new leadership representing a new GOP when the time comes for its members to do so?
If activists are happy with the faux opposition party on Beacon Hill led by Brad Jones then - by all means - said activists should proudly vote for those GOP candidates who get a thrill up their leg at the thought of being a dependable rubber stamp. And if Jones prevails thanks to said candidates, said activists shouldn't bitch & moan over the gradual yet continuing diminishment of the Massachusetts Republican Party as a serious political party in the eyes of the voters.
If activists are unhappy with Jones' obsequious relationship with Democrat House Speakers (no matter who holds the title), his indifference towards the Republican rank-&-file, & his lack of interest (if not imagination) in building an effective opposition party with an eye towards one day making the GOP the majority party, then said activists & their respective networks of family, friends, & colleagues should identify & vote for those who share their vision of a post-Jones Republican Party. It's going to take time & a lot of effort to make that dream a reality. But the time to effectuate that change starts on September 9, 2014. Think strategically. Be the change you seek. Vote for change this Tuesday.
For election year 2014, Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel threw all into unseating a decades-old Establishment GOP incumbent in Mississippi.
McDaniel was a favored candidate not just of his candor, but for his respect for opponent Thad Cochran. McDaniel outlined his plan not to get along to go along in Washington. Frustrated with the tepid decisions of the incumbent to vote against cloture and resist pressing against US Senate Democratic dominance, McDaniel claimed that the voters needed a fighter. Following the spate of scandals spouting out of the White House, from Operation Fast and Furious to the numerous lies about ObamaCare, to the IRS and EPA abuses, along with the invasion of our privacy from the NSA and the CIA, demand immediate response and retribution from our representatives, Cochran has done nothing. McDaniel would.
Indeed, the former radio host is an articulate fighter, and we need lawmakers like him to fight back against the institutionalized fraud, deceit, and endemic arrogance of Washington DC. Unlike more prescient politicians, like minority leader Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch, Cochran did not plan for a fight, nor did he prepare for the tenacity of a challenger from the libertarian right. Cochran was going to find himself facing the fight of his political career, one which campaign aids and political king-makers took more seriously than the incumbent himself. For months, conservative groups descended into Mississippi, the reliably red state whose thirty-plus year senator had admitted privately that they Republicans could never stop Obamacare. Cochran shared support for Common Core legislation, and he touted his influence to bring in the pork for Magnolia State residents.
Therein lay a problem. When a state needs financial aid following a natural disaster, should its Senator not take the initiative to ensure that his constituents receive necessary funding? McDaniel's common sense demand for less government should not limit the role of state as defender of the people. Still, primary challenger did not slacken his pace to win the race, nor did he have to.
McDaniel railed against Common Core and shared his outraged with the unsustainable debt of Washington. Presenting himself as an iron stalwart who would stand with US Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, the state senator from Mississippi would prove a formidable plank in a new wave of resistance to big government encroachment, whether from Democrats or Republicans.
McDaniel did so well in the June 3rd primary, that he bested the incumbent by a percentage point, but the win was not decisive enough, so Cochran and McDaniel would face off in a run-off. Tea Party supporters rallied to the former radio host's aid, a slick young operator with a libertarian streak, one who declared his bold pastels in contrast to the fading shades of Cochran's greying tenure.
Still, politics is a full-contact support, and incumbents, especially with four decades of experience and connections, do not give up easily. Defined by the Washington culture as well as immersed in it, Cochran and state party supporters not only increased their efforts, but they reached out to Democratic voters who had not participated in the first primary. Some operatives decry such tactics, shouting that Cochran and company played on unfounded racism smears to bring down McDaniel. The incumbent Senator also argued his support for food stamps and federal largesse, which appeal to Democratic voters.
Following the second vote at the end of June, Cochran carried the day with a slightly wider margin. McDaniel supporters cried foul, citing not just pandering with taxpayer dollars, but outright lies and voter fraud. Still, Cochran won the race, and he is the Republican nominee of Mississippi's US Senator. What can McDaniel draw from this outcome? Should he keep fighting? He should let go of the election lawsuit. He made his case, the state party rejected it, and so have Mississippi state courts. He is not a loser for spotlighting the importance of incumbents not taking their seats for granted. He has a ground game in place which have enlarged his name ID while strengthening his outreach for the next race. Cochran's victory has enhanced GOP outreach to black communities, proving that voter discrimination even in the Deep South is a thing of the past. McDaniel can capitalize on this subtle victory for the future, too, and prepare for another statewide run, whether as a US Senator or even as Governor.
The state senator and radio host has every right to be outraged, but he should learn from the measured examples of other Republicans, like Richard Nixon and his admired example Ronald Reagan. Running more than once for President, both men did reach the office at last. Nixon had time and opportunity to contest dubious results in his 1960 campaign, but chose not to, for the sake of the country. Reagan lost twice before getting the nomination, and the second time, in 1976, a fractured primary fight led to a contested floor vote at the Republican convention. The Establishment won in 1976, but four years later the conservative upstart finished on top.
McDaniel's loss in 2014 can promote him to victory in years to come.
Major upsets in primaries are sending shockwaves across the political landscape nationally, and Massachusetts gubernatorial underdogs may yet ride low voter turnout to longshot wins against Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker, experts say.
But there's a long road ahead if second-tier Democrats Steve Grossman and Don Berwick and Republican Mark Fisher want to take a serious shot at the two front-runners, but low voter turnout in the primary just a week after Labor Day can lead to upsets, experts say.
So, if you're Baker or Fisher, the darling of the Tea Party, where do you go for votes? Consider that in the last contested statewide Republican primary for the special U.S. Senate seat, Gabriel Gomez won with just over 96,000 votes statewide. That's a paltry amount when you consider that there are well over 2 million registered independents in Massachusetts. If just a sliver of independents - all of whom are eligible to vote in the Republican primary - join with Tea Party activists and vote for Fisher, Baker could suffer a surprise attack similar to what former Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor experienced when he lost to fellow Republican David Brat in June.
Jim O'Sullivan of The Boston Globe could barely contain his sarcastic snark in the article he wrote about the Massachusetts Republican Party titled "The Republican Revolution Is Underway. Maybe."
After enumerating the fallen condition of the state GOP, O'Sullivan informed his readership that help was on the way:
With financial backing from Christopher Egan, son of the late EMC founder and hefty Republican donor Dick Egan, (Rob Gray & Andrew Goodrich) are launching a super PAC and sister nonprofit focused on state lawmakers.
The five-year plan, operating with a planned cumulative budget of more than $4 million for the twin organizations, is to serve as a sort of clearinghouse of opposition research on Democratic lawmakers. For instance, under an entirely plausible scenario, if a Democratic state rep in a contestable district makes an asinine comment at a town meeting, the group, inventively titled Massachusetts Citizens for Jobs, is hoping to have a camera there to record it for posterity and political utility.
Modeled after national groups like American Bridge and America Rising (the next stage of evolution in campaign finance is to come up with better names), the group, which planned to formally file organization papers Thursday, will track votes, collect testimony, issue reports, send direct mail. All in the name of, as Goodrich puts it, "lifting the veil on Beacon Hill." They've been making fund-raising visits to reliably Republican enclaves and plan "dispassionate" decisions about which districts to contest. Read: Worcester County, the South Shore, the Cape, and near the New Hampshire border.
This is the way parties are built - or, in this case, rebuilt. Most of it is far from sexy: long drives to boring meetings and longer hours trawling through tape. But if the Republican Party's heart is to beat again in Massachusetts at any healthy frequency, the resuscitation is better coming from the bottom up, rather than the top down.
"It should make it more of a fair fight, anyway," said Gray.
How does one react to this news beyond the automatic instinct to scream, "are you shitting me?"
Rob Eno from RedMassGroup recently wrote about RMG's new project that will score, going back ten years, every spending and debt vote taken by Republican Legislators. Scored will be Budget Bills, Supplemental Budget Bills, and bond bills. Votes scored will only be on the final bills, not amendments. Eno's concern is that many conservative organizations focus only on opposing tax increases and not enough on dealing with spending & debt. Brad Wyatt told me that he would vote against the budget unless it held the line on spending.
I agreed with 99% of Eno's posting and the one percent I disagreed on relates to my focus as a fiscal stewardship activist. I am the Research Director of the Newton Taxpayers Association and we primary focus our fiscal stewardship activist efforts on government spending, the size & role of government and Newton's $1.16 Billion Borrowing Binge consisting of unfunded pensions ($244 Million), retiree health care ($602 Million), bonded debt ($234 Million) and other liabilities ($80 Million).
My belief, which I am instilling in the NTA's membership, is that an expanded role of government drives higher spending & debt. Higher spending & debt drive calls for higher taxes at all levels and especially Proposition 2.5 overrides at the local level. Although we did not defeat the 2013 Newton override, we got 45% to vote no on the override, which is very good considering that we were facing the following headwinds:
1. The pro-override group co-opted opponents of prior overrides.
2. Mayor Warren had reduced compensation spending growth by reducing the growth of salaries & benefits.
3. The pro-override group was able to sell themselves as promoting "reform from reformers" because Mayor Warren was the primary spokesman for the override and made the override into a referendum on Mayor Warren's performance in office, specifically reducing compensation growth.
4. They made the usual arguments about rotting school buildings and infrastructure but also how Mayor Warren made a Capital Improvement Plan to fix Newton's infrastructure, which had never been done before in Newton.
5. When Mayor Warren was proposing his override in October 2012, the Newton Republicans were doing rallies for Romney in New Hampshire.
6. Scott Brown only got 33% of the vote in Newton in 2012 versus 55% in Shrewsbury.
7. There were Republicans that voted for some or all of the override questions, including the lone Republican Alderman Greer Tan Swiston.
8. The President of the Newton Taxpayers Association (at the time) was quoted as saying that Mayor Warren was doing a superb job in 2011.
9. The anti-override group Moving Newton Forward with Fiscal Responsibility did not form until 6 weeks before the election.
I am surprised that Newton's anti-override group Moving Newton Forward with Fiscal Responsibility got 45% against the override whereas Shrewsbury for Responsible Taxation only got 34% in the Republican stronghold of Shrewsbury. That is not supposed to be a negative reflection against SRT, but rather show that when I was Co-Chair of Moving Newton Forward, I must have been doing something right. I think my willingness to take on budgetary sacred cows such as employee compensation and costs for educating out-of-district students helped strike a nerve with our targeted taxpaying voters and swung votes our way.
I recently wrote in The Newton TAB about how the continuously climbing compensation of the Newton Public Schools system's unions and educrats is crowding out spending in other areas of city government in Newton's FY2015 budget. I could tell it was very well received as I received two positive emails from Democrat Aldermen. In addition, the head of the Newton Republican City Committee as well as the State Committeewoman for the First Middlesex & Norfolk District (Newton, Brookline & Wellesley) suggested I forward my column to the Executive Director of a well-known fiscal responsibility & good governance watchdog group.
I believe that good prudent fiscal stewardship is more than merely opposing tax increases, and highlighting poor fiscal stewardship through lavish compensation growth is a winning issue for our side. I am pleased that my most recent column confirmed that. My article prompted a follow-up response from former Newton Mayoral Candidate Bill Heck, an indirect rebuttal column from Alderman Rick Lipof and 2 letters rebutting the rebuttal column. I am pleased that it got people talking about Newton's fiscal position in the Newton TAB.
I'm also happy that it generated interest on the Newton TAB Blog. With 40 Comments, it was the third most commented on article this year. With 13 Unique commenters, it was in the top 4 in terms of unique commenters. The 40 comments for that article represented 34% of all comments on April blog posts. The 40 total comments and the 13 unique commenters for my article were well ahead of the 5.5 average total comments received for all blog articles in April excluding my article. When Village 14 made a blog post on Newton's pensions and linked it to my August 2013 column, it was so well-received that it was the highest rated blogpost in the history of Village 14 (Top Rated Posts-All).
When I publish research reports on Newton's fiscal woes, I seek to stimulate an actively healthy debate and show a prudent outlook centered on fiscal stewardship and good governance reform that is a Clear & Effective Alternative to Newton's political status quo. Former Newton Mayoral Candidate Bill Heck said it best when he said "Joshua insists upon REAL facts, REAL consequences, and REAL debate when discussing Newton civic issues." People in Newton have tuned out what goes on in the city as nearly 68% of Newton voters did not vote in last year's override election and 77% of Newton voters did not vote in last year's municipal general election. These are the people I am trying to bring back to the discussion regarding Newton's fiscal and civic affairs.
Lastly, although the NTA is not currently endorsing candidates, the reason why I (personally) support Mark Fisher for Governor is that he is the only candidate that supports policies promoting prudent fiscal stewardship and good governance reform by limiting the size and scope of government. Deval Patrick raised taxes by $1.3 Billion annually and Mark Fisher not only was the only candidate to sign the No-New-Taxes Pledge and articulate a bold tax cut platform, but also the only candidate that articulated specific areas of spending ($1.8 Billion annually on benefits for illegal aliens and $400 Million annually on EBT Fraud) he wanted to cut. Mark Fisher supports the Tank the Gas Tax effort (and gathered signatures with Chris Pinto, Paul Franco & Billy McCarthy) and is also the only 2014 gubernatorial candidate that opposed the minimum wage increase, his town's Proposition 2.5 tax override, Cape Wind, RomneyCare socialized medicine and the $2.2 Billion South Coast Rail Boondoggle.
The Obama administration is weighing options for an imminent response to the crisis in Iraq, including airstrikes against Islamic extremists who have overrun Iraqi cities to within striking distance of Baghdad, and expanded intelligence and targeting assistance for Iraqi military forces.
In the face of rapid extremist advances and the collapse of Iraqi military defenses in the north, the administration has decided temporarily to put aside its long-term goal of pressing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for political reforms in favor of immediate action to stabilize the security situation.
Asked whether he was considering drone strikes, President (Barack) Obama, who held a principals' meeting with senior national security aides Thursday, said a number of options were being considered. "It's fair to say . . . there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily," he added.
A senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations, said: "We are definitely looking at this with urgency."
U.S. contractors began evacuating the air base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, that is being prepared for the arrival this year of F-16 aircraft purchased by Iraq. The international engineering and electronics company Siemens was trying to move 51 people out of Baiji, about 30 miles farther north, where they are upgrading Iraqi power plants.
With House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's historic defeat in yesterday's Virginia GOP primary, the Tea Party movement has managed to score an impressive victory after a series of failed challenges against other Republican incumbents.
National Review Online's Joel Gehrkehas already sorted out the winners & losers. I tend to agree with him that immigration reform is dead for this year & that the divisions within the GOP will continue to play themselves out.
Can it happen here in Massachusetts? Will Tea Party candidates (or candidates supported by the Tea Party) field enough GOP candidates who, if they win, have enough votes to replace current House Republican Minority Leader Brad Jones with someone more attuned to the party's grassroots? We'll have to wait & see, won't we?
National Review policy fellow Andrew C. McCarthy's new book, Faithless Execution: Building The Political Case For Obama's Impeachment, will be released tomorrow by Encounter Books & it can be purchased at Amazon.
I'm certainly sympathetic to the idea of Barack Obama being impeached but it ain't going to happen for the reasons I've previously cited. McCarthy, bless his heart, is willing to tilt against the windmills of today's elite opinion:
Impeachment cases have to be built. Consequently, Faithless Execution tries to show how you would build one against President Obama. I plead seven articles of impeachment, in the manner of a prosecutor structuring an indictment. The articles include the president's willful refusal to execute the laws faithfully; his usurpation of Congress's legislative authority and other constitutional powers; his derelictions of duty as commander-in-chief; his fraud on the American people in such debacles as Obamacare, the Benghazi massacre, and the Solyndra farce; the failure to enforce the immigration laws; the Justice Department's shocking Fast & Furious scandal and its politicization of law-enforcement; and the administration's willful undermining of our constitutional rights - from the IRS's targeting of conservatives, to the elevation of sharia blasphemy standards over free speech, to Obamacare's denial of religious liberty.
The articles are pled, however, with an important caveat: The purpose of illustrating rampant presidential lawlessness is not to show how easy it would be to file articles of impeachment. It is to persuade the public that when a president betrays his basic constitutional obligations, when the laws are not executed faithfully, all of us are threatened.
Why? Because the precedent is then set for this president and all future presidents that even-handed law-enforcement and basic honesty are no longer required. The precedent is set that the law is no longer what the Constitution says, what Congress legislates, or what Courts adjudicate, but what the president decrees. The precedent is set that the vast executive bureaucracy - agencies like the IRS and the Justice Department - can be used as weapons against the president's political opposition.
When Richard Nixon attempted this sort of thing, on a scale far more modest than what Barack Obama has actually carried out, the public said, "No."
President Nixon had won reelection in one of the greatest landslides in American history - one that dwarfs President Obama's comparatively narrow victory in 2012. Yet, this overwhelming political support evaporated in a flash. Once the public focused on presidential lawlessness, all of us - Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, independents and everyday citizens - became convinced that we could not tolerate an administration that flouted the law and repeatedly lied to the nation.
So Faithless Execution is not a call for immediate impeachment. It is an effort to raise public consciousness about the dangers of executive lawlessness.
Sadly, a good chunk of the republic's citizens are content to turn a blind eye at the fascism that has been slouching through the corridors of power in Washington. Congress' indifference at the gradual diminishment of its constitutional prerogatives due to the unconstitutional overreach of the Executive Office merely entices Obama & his cronies to push the envelope even further. McCarthy remains more hopeful than me but even he can see what the consequences will be for America if the country remains indifferent towards a constitutional crisis that most people pretend doesn't exist:
If these three tools - elections, the power of the purse, and impeachment - are not used, that is a political choice the country can make. Faithless Execution simply argues that we should make it with our eyes open. President Obama's brand of lawlessness is not like what we saw from President (Bill) Clinton. It is an attack on the constitutional framework itself. A decision to do nothing about it is not without consequences.
It would mean the separation of powers that is the key to safeguarding our liberties has been permanently eroded. It would mean the president is no longer accountable for the wrongs that he and his subordinates commit. It would mean the United States of America has been fundamentally transformed: from a nation of laws, to a nation ruled by presidential whim.
As the Fisher/State GOP debacle slouches towards another legal venue in search of a resolution, GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker shouldn't allow this intra-party crisis to go to waste. He should take the following actions:
1) Baker Should Demand That Mark Fisher Be Placed On The GOP's 2014 Primary Ballot.
It's clear that Fisher was screwed out of his 15% vote by some of the Republicans in charge of the convention playing fast & loose with the rules. This is the official opinion of an impartial judge. The resulting fiasco has made the GOP an object of derision not just among the political talking heads but in the eyes of knowledgable voters. The longer this idiocy plays out, the more damaged the Republican brand will be by the time Election Day rolls around.
By demanding - not "asking" - that the State Committee allow Fisher to be on the ballot, Baker shows leadership in seizing the opportunity to end the controversy ASAP while the issue is newsworthy in the early part of the year. By summer, it'll be a footnote; By autumn, it'll be a faded memory inside the political memory hole. Such a demand by Baker will force the media to focus on him. How he handles a crisis within his own party could in real time demonstrate the managerial qualities of his leadership style. As the self-inflicted drama plays itself out in public, Baker can use the free media's spotlight to effectively re-introduce himself to the voters in a way that paid media can't. It would've been more effective had Baker initiated this kind of action immediately after the convention but better late than never.
Baker's demand would mean he would have a primary to fight. He should embrace the opportunity to do so. Why?
2) A Primary Presents Baker An Opportunity To Outline His Vision For The GOP & His Vision For Governor.
Congressional Republican candidate Richard Tisei has made it clear that should he win his race, he'll mold the GOP into his narrow version of what the party should be. That's why many grassroots Republicans in his district will stay home, ignore his race as they vote for other Republicans in other races, or - out of spite - vote for Tisei's Democrat rival.
Thankfully Baker has abjured Tisei's kamikaze approach to winning elections. Over the last few years, he's worked with a variety of grassroots Republicans. He's built up a lot of good will among them. But the complaint remains - & to some extent I've voiced it myself - that Baker lacks vision not only for the party but (most importantly) for the state itself.
A GOP primary will force Baker to hone those visions & have them tested under the heat of Op-Ed articles, candidate debates, & the normal give-&-take of a candidate being grilled by the voters. Because the process allows both Baker & Fisher to air their respective visions in a public manner, how they & their supporters conduct themselves will be as important to voters as their respective platforms. If they keep the focus of the primary on the issues, there's no reason why the loser of the primary can't assist the winner in beating the standard bearer for the Democrat Party in November.
3) Baker Should Demand The GOP State Committee Replace Its Executive Body With A New Team Of People.
In order for the party to reach some form of closure from the 2014 GOP Convention debacle, some of the people responsible for the convention's mismanagement need to be held publicly accountable. GOP Chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, in particular, needs to be replaced with someone not associated with the taint of scandal that hangs over the state party's mishandling of its own convention. The GOP won't have any credibility with the public attacking Democrat mismanagement of the state if it ignores the mismanagement of its own party by some of its own leaders.
By making such a demand, Baker reinforces his public image as a take-charge kind of guy - not a feckless voyeur of events that seem to be out of his control - who gets things done no matter how controversial the issue. Voters today have a hunger for a leader who exhibits decisiveness. That hunger springs from the public's painful experience of suffering under the long Reign of Error that has characterized the gubernatorial terms of Governor Man-Child.
The clean slate will reinvigorate the grassroots (especially if a special election for the office of chair produces a candidate that unites all the factions within the GOP). If the new executive team keeps the party united against the Democrats in November, then the GOP may see some significant victories within this election cycle.
Last year, my State Committeewoman Lisa Barstow put on her Facebook page that she wanted to hear from fellow Republicans from Brookline, Newton and Wellesley [precincts A,C,D,E, and H] what's working, what's not, how is the GOP going to see victory in 2014. In the wake of the state party's officers demanding "party unity" from the base while defending what happened at the MA-GOP Convention on March 22, I felt compelled to write this open letter in response to those demands:
These "Party Unity" calls don't work anymore because the MA-GOP is just selling bad process and bad candidates committed to maintaining big government, but who think they are the ones who can manage it "more efficiently".
It's absolute lunacy to rally behind this party and excuse it for shafting gubernatorial candidate Mark Fisher. This arrogant mentality has got to go away forever, fast. To say there is an absolute lack of leadership, accountability and transparency in this party is the grossest understatement anyone can ever make. No one can ever find out just what is really going on and it breeds a level of distrust that makes attempts at unity impossible.
I see a party that is out of control, it has lost its focus, it doesn't know where it wants to go and the only way to fix that is to take control of the organization and force the conditions so the party can act like a group of adults in the room and take charge of its own destiny.
There is plenty of talk about the new GOTV tools and the coordinated campaigns, but unless the MA-GOP field candidates that excite the voters, we will continue to lose elections. Personally, I view the MA-GOP establishment as a Modern Day House of Bourbon in which they all have learned nothing & forgotten nothing.
I do believe that good conservative candidates who run can be competitive and potentially win elections. The reality is that these things can happen yet our party staffers and operatives are pushing candidates that don't support our platform and our values. They don't have the willpower to change this culture. A few years ago, Newton for Fiscal Responsibility, a fiscal stewardship group in my hometown, hosted the author of "Reinventing Government" David Osborne. When asked what is the difference between organizations that change things versus those that don't, he said that it is simply the willpower to do so period. I will tell you that I got into being an activist later than most of you all when I saw that our party's political insider clique is content to be the "Loyal Opposition" to the Democrats. It is clear to me that the MA-GOP is not committed to changing its culture because it keeps pushing a flawed operating process and flawed candidates.
The one good thing about the Democrats is that they are recognizable. I can tell that they are left-wing, big government socialist statists. What worries me are people who claim to be Republicans but who support big government candidates and programs. What especially worries me are people who claim to be "to the right of Attila the Hun and who are way more conservative than I" yet they compromise their stated principles in the "name of electability" when it comes to candidates. I don't know whether it bothers me more to see "so-called social conservatives" support pro-abortion/pro-gay marriage candidates against socially conservative candidates or whether "so-called fiscal conservatives" support fiscally-squishy candidates against fiscally-conservative candidates. In the meantime, I'll let those "social club Republicans" talk about "how much more conservative they are than I" while I show how conservative I am through my actions. I believe in results, not rhetoric.
If the MA-GOP wants "party unity" between the Political Insider Establishment Group and the base, then now is the time to band together to do what is right, let the chips fall where they may, and everybody move forward in unison because we have taken the corruption off the table and cleaned up our house. My version of cleanup is Fisher is put on the ballot and refunded his $25,000 speaking fee, his case is withdrawn, heads roll at the top, an emergency State Committee meeting is called to elect new officers, and we move forward with everybody feeling that we have turned the corner to an ugly chapter that started out with scandal, but the scandal stops here.
Lastly, I will sum up my objectives for reforming the MA-GOP into five bold statements of purpose:
In response to latest, and lamest, line of attack from libs, trolls, and other creepy progressives who go bump in the night, I have started asking people to share Obamacare horror stories, either their own or other people's.
Here are some of the stories which I have heard or have been shared with me:
Jay Berman I'm 57, healthy, went to exchange, the cheapest, a bronze plan was $455 a month, it will pay 60% of the bill after I surpass the $4500 deductible. This my friends is simply thievery and I won't participate. I want to buy the coverage I want, not what I'm told to (or forced to under threat of the IRS) .. this, is not the America I know, this is some sort of hybrid socialist dictatorship
P. L. of Redondo Beach -
I just got a letter from health insurance company, and my premiums went up.
Ed of Hermosa Beach (and girlfriend)
My health insurance premiums went up three hundred dollars.
E. C. of Gardena:
I have doctor friends who get fined if they do not write out a specific number of prescriptions ever month!
Here's a letter I wrote about an elderly gentleman I met in Manhattan Beach, CA:
Upset with Waxman
Walking down Manhattan Beach Boulevard last month, I met a gentleman who had posted a piece of paper on his minivan.
The white sheet with black letters read: "My insurance was cancelled because of ObamaCare."
I would have never expected someone to air such a frustrating grievance, but such outrageous outcomes must be shared.
When I discussed the issue, he told me that because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, his insurance coverage was cancelled. His heart doctor had informed him that if the law passed, he would quit his practice.
In 2012, shortly before the June primary, Congressman Henry Waxman admitted in a House budget committee hearing that he did not know that General Motors went bankrupt.
The colleague asking about GM7, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, reminded him: "Well, it did. I am surprised you hadn't heard about it. It was the second largest bankruptcy in US history, if not the largest."
Relating how retired teachers' and police officers' pension funds were defunded to bail out GM, Mulvaney asked: "Since you supported the bailouts, what would you like to tell them?"
On behalf of every resident of the 33rd Congressional district who is losing his health insurance, or struggling to find a doctor, or paying higher health care premiums because of ObamaCare, Henry Waxman's signature legislation, I ask the Congressman: "What would you like to tell them?"
To everyone reading, I ask: "What would you like to tell Waxman? What should happen to him in 2014?"
Arthur Christopher Schaper
Here's a post on my blog:
March 6, 2014 at 9:30 PM
Respectfully, don't you have BETTER THINGS TO DO then re-post Media Matters talking points for the progressive mega-cause of ObamaCare?!
Here in my state of RI, HUNDREDS of people have been unable to get healthcare door to poor planning and implimentation. Their are MANY people - whether it be by design or just poor planning - that fall through the cracks thanks to this federal monstronsity...
Here's a statement from Assemblyman Mike Chippendale of Rhode Island:
Responding to a telephone inquiry, Chippendale [state assembly member from Johnston. Here's his contact info] commented that as a member of a permanent joint committee on health care oversight, "It became clear to me that it was nothing but smoke and mirrors. This committee had no say on really anything that the lieutenant governor was doing to set up the exchange."
About the impact of Obamacare on his constituents, Chippendale added:
"Insurance is being dropped. Some of the elderly are starting to see gaps in their Medicare coverage that didn't exist before, that now suddenly do. Businesses are frantic. They simply cannot afford to put their employees on these very expensive health care plans."
Despite claims for accessibility and affordability, from rising health care costs to spiraling government debt, the Affordable Care Act's careless implementation and uncaring implications have exposed that Obama-Care-Less about the health and wealth of Rhode Islanders.
Here's a statement from Democrat Jan Malik:
Cosigning the legislation, Assemblyman Jan Malik (D-Warren) stated: "I just don't think we can afford it because of the situation we are in right now. Let the feds pay for it." Making a point that the costs of the state healthcare exchange would increase substantially over the next four years, Malik rejoined: "The issue for me is the dollars and sense. If we could afford it, we should keep it."
For the record, Malik cosigned legislation which would require the Rhode Island health care exchange be funded only by federal dollars, because the state cannot afford it.
From Amy Gallagher, a benefits manager in Rhode Island:
Local Prov Health/Business expert Amy Gallagher works as a benefits administrator, and she had nothing but bad news about Obamacare, citing businesses would face rising premiums beyond the normal 7%. "A defense contract based in Rhode Island will face a 26% hike in health insurance premiums because of this law." She further commented on other statewide firms which face no other option beyond raising the insurance premiums on their employees just to manage the costs associated with Obamacare. She did not disclose specific names, for fear that those firms would face political retaliation, like losing key contracts with the state.
Please, Bay State Conservative, Republicans, and disaffected Independent and Democrats (I know you are out there) - please feel free to comment about your Obamacare horror stories, or visit my blog post and share your thoughts there: