April 25, 2008

 

1. Johnny Sack in the Voting Booth?- The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace has a new ad warning Americans of a Congressional proposal to take away workers’ secret ballots.

 

2. Tax Traitors- 6 Minnesota Republican lawmakers voted to increase taxes by $6.6 billion.

3. Taxpayer Rights in Jeopardy in Colorado- Democrat Speaker Andrew Romanoff never wants Coloradans to get a tax rebate ever again.

4. Damned if they Don’t- The presidential candidates need to take a stand to defend the dollar.

5. Robbing the Blind- The New York City Council was allocating funds to fraudulent not-for-profit organizations.


Johnny Sack in the Voting Booth?

 

Would you be able to confidently cast your vote on whether or not to organize a union at your workplace if the Sopranos’ intimidating Johnny Sack was looking over your shoulder?

 

The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace doesn’t seem to think so.  As reported by FOX Business, they have released a clever, new ad which demonstrates the danger of the proposal being considering in Congress, HR 800, which would take a worker’s right to a secret ballot away.

 

ALG News has previously reported to you on the dangers of coercion and intimidation involved in the so-called card-check system both nationally and in Hawaii.  Democrats proposing these measures are doing so solely to enable unions to more “efficiently” be organized.

 

Well, duh.  Without the protection of a secret ballot, workers can more “efficiently” be pressured into organizing a union without there being any debate at all in the open.

 

And, then the Johnny Sack’s of the world can get on your case until you give into their demands to organize a union.

 

You’d probably vote to organize a union if Johnny Sack were watching closely.

 ALG CTA: The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, composed of more than 500 associations and organizations in all 50 States, are uniting to protect all workers’ right to a secret ballot when deciding to organize a union.  We call upon journalists across the nation to make their audiences aware of CDW’s new ad, and to encourage them to spread the word.


 

Tax Traitors

 

The Taxpayers League of Minnesota is calling for the heads of 6 Republican legislators who voted to override Minnesota Governor Pawlenty’s veto of a $6.6 billion tax increase.  This poster published by the organization says it all:

 

 

ALG CTA: Looks like Minnesota is in need of some new deputies to haul in these treacherous RINO’s.  In the interests of aiding the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, we call upon journalists to encourage their audiences to contact these tax traitors to let them know exactly how they feel about legislators who slap the citizenry with tremendous tax hikes.

 

Jim Abeler (R) 48B
203 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-1729
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Ron Erhardt (R) 41A
245 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-4363
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Rod Hamilton (R) 22B
215 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-5373
(800) 735-2463
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Bud Heidgerken (R) 13A
237 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-4317
(800) 339-6071
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Neil W. Peterson (R) 41B
213 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-7803
E-mail: [email protected]

 

Kathy Tingelstad (R) 49B
255 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
(651) 296-5369
E-mail: [email protected]


Taxpayer Rights in Jeopardy in Colorado

Residents of Colorado may soon have the opportunity to again decide what to do with their own money.   Back in 1992, voters in the state of Colorado passed a measure called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR.  In 2005, a Heritage Foundation report credited TABOR with greatly helping to boost the state’s economy; Colorado was even listed by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) as one of the five states who ended fiscal year 2002 without a deficit

However, in 2005, state voters approved Referendum C, a measure which allowed the state to execute a 5-year freeze on the tax rebates, and reallocate the money to fund state projects.   Advocates of the referendum argued that it would not be permanent, and would allow the state to ‘catch up’ on some expenses.   But that does not appear to be the case. 

Lately, Colorado legislators have contended that they cannot comply with both TABOR and Amendment 23 of the state constitution (passed after TABOR), which requires an annual increase in education spending, equal to inflation plus one percent.   So, they intend to change both, in the new proposition by state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-6th District), which, among other things, would eliminate the spending cap imposed on the state by TABOR. 

Were this measure to pass, the state would unwisely restrict itself from flexible use of money – the very thing which they are complaining about presently.  Furthermore, state officials would be breaking the promise made to Colorado taxpayers in 2005.  Instead of a temporary “suspension” of taxpayer rights, the state politicians would deal a mortal blow to taxpayer rights, tax rebates, and fiscal sanity. 

While this new proposition would halt the annual constitutionally-mandated education raise, it would also deny citizens the right to receive tax rebates, instead setting them aside into a “rainy day” fund – for education expenditures.  Other than the ability to vote on tax hikes, citizens would lose the soul of TABOR – voter control over the use of the surplus tax dollars. 

ALG Perspective:  In 2005 the entire political establishment came together to push into law a 5 year “time out” of TABOR.  That meant that for 5 years any money the government collects over and above the amount they are allowed to spend (capped increases yearly at population and inflation) instead of returning it to the taxpayers as the original TABOR mandated.  They projected it would mean $3 billion more to the state and allow it to “catch-up” on “necessary” spending.  Well, they are now on line to keep (some might say steal) $5.8 billion, not $3 billion.  And, as they near the end of their “time out” they are plotting to end the give backs altogether.  They lied in 2005 and they are lying now. 


Damned if they Don’t

As the prices of food and energy continue to rise globally and the dollar remains weak, the presidential candidates appear to be haplessly ignoring any practicable solutions which would strengthen the dollar and bring the prices of commodities down, leaving Americans in the fast lane on the Road to Perdition.

Instead, they appear to be content campaigning on high fuel costs in order to promote their own agendas, whether that includes decreased taxation or more, less regulation or more, spending cuts or increases.  None have promoted a defense of the dollar as the means of bringing down the costs of commodities, which leaves a tremendous opportunity for the candidate that first takes advantage of the issue, as recently noted by John Tamny of RealClearMarkets on Kudlow & Company, commenting on Larry Kudlow’s interview with Republican candidate John McCain (R-AZ):

 

“I think we heard, once again, a lot of talk about spending cuts and balanced budgets – and a lot of discomfort in talking about tax decreases.  So you know, I’ll take a tax cut wherever I can get it.  I think the problem there is [McCain] is talking about suspending the gas tax, but in fact, what he should be talking about is a stronger dollar [emphasis added].  That would actually drive down the oil price and gasoline prices a lot more… I think [the lack of a discussion on the dollar] is a big shame.  One of these candidates is going to wake up to the fact that that’s the number one populist issue – strengthening the dollar.  It would be a big vote getter.  A weak dollar is bad for the middle classes.”

For McCain’s part, he believes that the weak dollar is a symptom of the trade deficit, the need to import foreign oil, the national debt, and Congressional spending practices.  He stated in the interview that these problems hurt the economy and that weakens the dollar.  Missing from that equation is the fact that the weak dollar significantly contributes to the rising costs of commodities, which increases the costs of doing business, which means less profit, less jobs, less wage increases, etc., and that brings down the economy.

He’s got it backwards, and by not understanding the problem, the U.S. is no closer to a solution.

It may be so that reducing the trade deficit, becoming energy independent, paying off the national debt, and bringing spending under control could partly strengthen the dollar in the long run.  But none of these things are likely to occur in the next four years as free trade comes under assault, government regulations stand in the way of oil exploration, gasoline refineries, and nuclear energy alternatives, and the Democrats (who want even more Big Spending) keep control of Congress.

What is needed is an active “dollar defense,” in the words of Kudlow.  Barring the presidential candidates actually promoting real solutions to the real problems facing America – the Second Coming appears to be closer – those who presently serve in the White House, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury, and their counterparts in the G7, are left to address the biggest issue facing not just America, but also one of the greatest problems facing the global economy.  

For its part, the CATO Institute’s Jagadeesh Gokhale and Thomas Firey are encouraging the Fed to stop cutting interest rates

 

“Congress has given the Federal Reserve two sometimes conflicting mandates: It should maximize economic growth and restrain inflation. The former apparently requires low interest rates; the latter, high ones. Walking that tightrope gives currency to the old saying that the Fed should "take away the punchbowl before the party really gets going."

 

“As we learned in the 1970s, high inflation -- and expectations of high inflation -- can devastate the economy. Low inflation -- and expecations of low inflation -- mean stable wages, interest rates and prices, all of which tend to encourage work, innovation and production…

 

“The FOMC's policy disagreements over interest rates reflect its members' different perceptions and preferences about how quickly such adjustments should be promoted via monetary policy. We worry that further delays induced by excessively accommodative policy will result in a vicious cycle of higher inflation, increased inflation expectations, reduced Fed anti-inflationary credibility, slower capital reallocations and, eventually, a weaker economy [emphasis added.”

Internationally, Kudlow has been calling on the G7 to take an active role as well, and has noted that this may actually be in the works:

 

“Investors worried about the dollar, as I am, should really take a look at the recent London Daily Telegraph story written by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard… He reports an interview with Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg premier and chair of Eurozone financiers who is also known as the EU’s ‘Mr. Euro.’ The interview strongly hints of a G7 action to halt the collapse of the dollar and bring an end to commodity speculation by hedge funds.”

 

That could be good news if it’s pulled off correctly, and that in turn could mean real relief for consumers the world over when it comes to ever-higher food and energy prices.  As Americans get prepared to vote November, however, it remains unclear if any of the candidates are ready to get on the ball, and the American people may be damned if they don’t do so soon.

 

ALG Perspective: The inexplicable silence by the presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, on an active dollar defense as the means to bringing down soaring prices clearly must come to an end.  And coordinated action by the Fed and their G7 counterparts may be required before it is too late.  ALG News will keep you posted on further developments on the dollar front, including if any of the candidates take the lead on this important issue.


Robbing the Blind

What happens when you combine pork-barrel spending politicians with unregulated funds?  New York City residents are learning the hard way that, when you don’t give a politician funding for their favored projects, they may just find ways to get that money anyway.

Two New York City council members are the latest casualties of an ongoing exposure of the practice of creating fake nonprofits in order to steal money from the taxpayers.  Some of the money has then been used to provide additional funds to organizations or activities without the approval of the mayor, while some has gone to personal interests, as in the case of the two aforementioned council members, who are now facing an indictment after stealing some $145,000. 

Earlier this month, city council speaker Christine Quinn (D) revealed that council members had misappropriated approximately $17.4 million in the past 7 years, sending the money to fraudulent charities.  The money could then be used at the discretion of the politician who owned the “nonprofit,” or, as in the case of councilwoman Margarita Lopez, could raise ethical questions when the nonprofit’s supporters send in large campaign donations. 

While at least one of the embezzlers has defended the action, saying it goes to help causes supported by the city council, Quinn disagreed, calling it “inappropriate” and demanding an end to the practice. 

Quinn herself, however, has lost some credibility in the scandal, with some calling for her resignation, claiming that she bore some responsibility – or even knew about the theft.  Quinn also received negative press after it was revealed that over $422,000 had been allocated to a non-existent veterans group.  

How far will this scandal reach?  Some investigators claim that the two indictments issued Wednesday could be just the beginning.

Hopefully, this corrupt practice will quickly come to an end, the guilty parties rounded up, and fiscal sanity restored to the City of New York.

ALG Perspective:  The end result of this scandal may hurt genuine nonprofits, as the scandals may lead to action to restrict funding. Sadly, if that is the case, it will be the fault of – you guessed it – Big Government.  As Stephen Malanga points out, the “war on poverty,” begun by President Lyndon B. Johnson, transformed nonprofits from being dependent on private donations to relying on the government for the money off which to operate.   By taking advantage of loopholes and embezzling taxpayer funds, it would be sadly ironic if government ends up hurting the very organizations they originally intended to help.  Then again, that would not be a new thing.  




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