March 14, 2007

The Washington Ratings Game, Part 4: Club for Growth

Filed under: Economy,News from Other Sites,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:20 pm

The Club for Growth has released its 2006 scorecards.

I have compiled lists of the scores, with links to 2006 and 2005, comparing the two years and calculating the differential.

I was told by Andy Roth at CFG, though I can’t find it anywhere yet, that there is some kind of “honor roll” that has 22 members, and that Steve Chabot is the only local rep who made the “honor roll.” no local rep made the honor roll (Mini-update: Here it is, or more correctly, there it was all along — The “Defender of Economic Freedom Award” winners. :–>)

Further commentary beyond the couple of quick local comments below is going to have to wait until the weekend. By that time, I will hopefully get more detail about how CFG did its calculations (mini-update: Got it. Thanks, Andy). At that point, I will digest the five important surveys released so far (National Journal, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Tax Reform, Club for Growth, and American Conservative Union [link is to ACU; not yet covered at BizzyBlog]) to try to get an overall reading of things.

HOUSE — Local (CFG links — 2006 House, 2005 House)

Scores are in the following order: 2006; 2005; change from 2005.

Ohio:
- Chabot — 86; 98; -12
- Oxley — 67; 52; +15
- Tiberi — 62; 59; +3
- Boehner — 59; 74; -15
- Gillmor — 56; 47; +9
- Pryce — 55; 56; -1
- Schmidt * — 54; 82; -28
- Turner — 51; 48; +3
- Hobson — 49; 51; -2
- LaTourette — 39; 48; -9
- Regula — 35; 42; -7
- Ryan — 9; 10; -1
- Kaptur — 7; 3; +4
- Brown — 7; 1; +6
- Jones — 7; 0; +7
- Kucinich — 7; 0; +7
- Strickland — 7; 0; +7

Kentucky:
- Davis — 55; 57; -2

Indiana:
- Pence — 97; 100; -3
- Sodrel — 53; 66; -13

* – BizzyBlog pro forma done last year based on data supplied by CFG

QUICK LOCAL HOUSE COMMENTS:

  • It’s clear that Jean Schmidt caught a break last year by being around for and casting the “correct” votes on items that the National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and Club for Growth (CFG) considered more important than those that took place earlier in the year. Her score for 2006, for better or worse, is probably reflective of how those two organizations will see her in the coming years. The big debate around here is going to be whether to put more weight on CFG or other ratings that put Schmidt in a more favorable light.
  • Boehner’s deterioration, and even Chabot’s to an extent (though still obviously stellar), could be considered in some ways more disappointing than Schmidt’s, because they are both full-year comparisons.

HOUSE — Other Notables
- Paul (TX) — 83; 82; +1
- Hunter (CA) — 63; 49; +14 (5:30 PM – I believe this was changed from earlier)
- Tancredo (CO) — 80; 88; -8
- Mollohan (WV) — 21; 12; +9
- Murtha (PA) — 14; 11; +3
- Rangel (NY) — 7; 3; +4
- Pelosi (CA) — 7; 3; +4
- Hoyer (MD) — 7; 3; +4
- Conyers (MI) — 4; 12; -8

SENATE — OH-KY-IN (CFG links — 2006 Senate; 2005 Senate )
- DeWine (OH) — 43; 43; 0
- Voinovich (OH) — 40; 56; -16
- Bunning (KY) — 94; 82; +12
- McConnell (KY) — 87; 89; -2
- Bayh (IN) — 1; 2; -1
- Lugar (IN) — 52; 69; -17

SENATE — Other Notables
- DeMint (SC) — 100; 100; 0
- Coburn (OK) — 100; 90; +10
- Hagel (NE) — 87; 99; -12
- Santorum (PA) — 81; 73; +8
- Dole (NC) — 80; 77; +3
- McCain (AZ) — 76; 76; 0
- Clinton (NY) — 8; 0; +8
- Obama (IL) — 7; 0; +7
- Kerry (MA) — 4; 0; +4
- Biden (DE) — 1; 0; +1
- 16 Democrat Senators had scores of 0 in 2006.

__________________________

UPDATE: The “Defender of Economic Freedom Award” went to anyone with a score of over 90. The Defenders are:

  • Senate (12) — Coburn (OK – 100), DeMint (SC – 100), Sununu (NH – 100), Enzi (WY), Brownback (KS), Kyl (AZ), Bunning (KY), Ensign (NV), Inhofe (OK), Chambliss (GA), Gregg (NH), Allard (CO).
  • House (10) — Flake (AZ – 100), Shadegg (AZ – 100), Hensnarling (TX – 100), Franks (AZ), Pence (IN), King (IA), Neubebauer (TX), Westmoreland (GA), Garrett (NJ), Chocola (IN)

__________________________

Previous Posts:
- Part 1 — National Journal Has Some Local Surprises
- Part 2 — National Taxpayers Union Notes Little National Improvement
- Part 3 — Americans for Tax Reform — Local Congressional Delegation Gets Straight A’s
- Part 5 — American Conservative Union
- Consolidated Rankings for All Five Sources

BHOO’s Parking Ticket ‘Investment’

There was somewhat interesting and awfully quiet news about the unpaid parking tickets of Barack Husseian Obambi Obama (who I call “BHOO” for short, with “Obambi” being the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd’s favorite nickname for the Illinois senator) in Cambridge, MA from the late 1980s.

Here is what the Somerville (MA) News reported:

….. Records from the Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation office show that between Oct. 5, 1988 and Jan. 12, 1990 Obama was cited for 17 traffic violations, sometimes committing two in the same day. The abuses included parking in a resident permit area, parking in a bus stop and failing to pay the meter. Twelve of Obama’s 17 tickets were given to him on Massachusetts Avenue.

In one eight day stretch in 1988, Obama was cited seven times for parking violations and was fined $45. Thirteen of the 17 violations occurred within one month in 1988.

Obama’s disobedience of the rules of the road earned him $140 in fines from the City of Cambridge. The tickets went unpaid for over 17 years and $260 in late fees were added to the tab. On Jan. 26, the fines and late fees were paid in full. The final tally for Obama’s parking breaches was $400, according to Cambridge Traffic, Parking and Transportation.

The paper also reports that “Obama settled all his outstanding debts with Cambridge’s Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department Jan. 26.”

Here’s an interesting point made by a Lucianne commenter last week (link no longer available):

There would have been a warrant out for my arrest a long time ago if I had ignored parking tickets. Why didn’t they go after him?

Good question (it could be that Obama experienced some unpleasantness related to these tickets, but since they were unpaid, that appears doubtful). It has been a few years, but I recall stories of acquaintances being pulled out of university classrooms by cops because they were delinquent on parking tickets. I believe that a few readers could regale me with personal or acquaintance-related stories of nastiness they faced as a result of unpaid parking tickets.

BHOO’s parking booboos prompted a brief bit of investment and inflation research, which makes the case that the Democratic presidential contender has perhaps benefited substantially, even after considering the penalties, by waiting to pay off his tickets for so long:

  • The base fine amounts of $140, if invested in the 18 years between 1989 and 2006 in the S&P 500, would have grown to at least $1,000 — $600 more than BHOO owed and paid, WITH penalties.
  • If the penalties also go back 18 years and you could somehow show that BHOO invested $400 in the S&P 500 instead, it would be reasonable to contend that he’s several thousand dollars better off today for having been a parking scofflaw in the late 1980s. Who says crimes parking violations (okay, okay) don’t pay?
  • The point is that a smart guy like BHOO should know that by only paying $400 for parking tickets that go back nearly two decandes, he’s getting one heck of a gift — and he should have paid at least some, uh, token amount more in acknowledgment of that.

Finally — You would at least think something that in the big picture seems relatively unimportant (though undeniably a bit revealing) would get a quick “I was wrong; I am sorry” out of the BHOO’s campaign. You would be incorrect. Again from the Somerville News:

Obama spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said the presidential candidate’s parking violations were not relevant.

Thanks to that reaction, Jennifer, I hope that you are wrong. But given the “Obamessiah” treatment he has received thus far, it’s probably a pretty good political calculation on BHOO’s part.

Of course, the “if this were a Republican or conservative presidential candidate …..” question about parallel treatment applies here, as it does in so many other areas.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Interview Passage of the Day: Fred Singer on Globaloney and Globalarmism

From a PBS Frontline interview with Dr. S. Fred Singer (described at the link as “an atmospheric physicist at George Mason University and founder of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a think tank on climate and environmental issues”; bolds are mine):

SINGER: Take an example. Take the UN Science Advisory Group, the IPCC. In their report–which is a very good report, by the way…which is close to 600 pages without an index, so no one really reads it except dedicated people like me–there’s a five-page summary of the report that everyone reads, including politicians and the media. And if you look through the summary, you will find no mention of the fact that the weather satellite observations of the last twenty years show no global warming. In fact, a slight cooling. In fact, you will not even find satellites mentioned in the summary.

Now, why is that? These are the only global observations we have. These are the best observations we have. They cover the whole globe. The surface observations don’t cover the whole globe. They leave out large chunks of the globe. They don’t cover the oceans very well, which is 70 percent of the globe. So you see, the summary uses data selectively, or at least it suppresses data that are inconvenient, that disagree with the paradigm, with what they’re trying to prove. This happens often, unfortunately.

Now, you’ll also notice that people who are skeptical about global warming generally do not have government support for their work. They don’t have to write proposals to government agencies to get money. They tend to be people who have other sources of income. They might even be retired and live on pensions, or they might [have] other sources of income that do not depend on writing research proposals to federal agencies. And if you look at research proposals to federal agencies, you will find that people who write a proposal saying, “I’m going to do research to show that global warming is not a real threat”…they’re not likely to get funding from any of the government agencies.

FRONTLINE: Do you think, then, this is no longer operating as “normal” science, that there’s some kind of pathological mechanism here?

SINGER: I think climate science is on its way to becoming pathological, to becoming abnormal in the sense that it is being guided by the money that’s being made available to people.

One of the most tiresome arguments the globalonists use to try to marginalize skeptics is that the skeptics are funded by corporate money or have some other personal ax to grind. The tactic should be considered out of order, but since they used it first, and have used it hundreds of times already, the question should be turned around: How objective are you if your very ability to make a living as a “climate scientist” depends on getting grants from a government that appears to be dominated by globalarmists?

Definitely an Argument Worth Making: Why ‘Profit’ in Healthcare Should Not Be a Dirty Word

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:13 am

Richard Ralston at Capitalism Magazine wrote a “Read the Whole Thing” piece a couple of weeks ago on the topic, and made a great backhanded point towards the end:

But who would replace these greedy businessmen in providing our health care? Evidently there is a class of higher beings who are not only morally superior but vastly more competent administrators. This group includes such role models as politicians, many civil servants, university faculty members, selected journalists and, of course, the heads of public employee service unions. Their profit is political power over our lives. Thomas Jefferson addressed this group in his first inaugural address: “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer the question.”

If the baseless assertions about government health care were actually true, why not nationalize all major sectors of the economy so they will also be run like government agencies? How can anyone who looks at the government today—or who noticed the 20th Century as it was going by—claim that government is more efficient than private enterprise? Or that the government has proven its ability to control the cost of anything?

It is precisely because health care is so vitally important to all of us that we must fight to defend profit, individual rights and personal choice as the only proper basis for health care in America.

Yes, there have been abuses in the for-profit sector, but you know what else? There have been responses too. When consumers were fed up with HMO second-guessing, the HMOs backed off. When executives have overdone it with the comp and perks, they have, more often than not, been tried and jailed or fined. Who really thinks that a government bureaucracy would be more responsive than a for-profit enterprise? If you do, you haven’t looked at Great Britain’s NHS recently.

Excerpt of the Day: On Enviros and Population

Filed under: Economy,Environment,Quotes, Etc. of the Day — Tom @ 6:08 am

From Chuck Colson at Townhall last Friday:

As Catholic writer Erin Manning says, the belief that growth in human population should be controlled is “an important tenet of mainstream environmentalism.”

Environmentalists agree that “there are too many people on the earth,” and that repairing environmental damage requires “aggressive measures to limit and restrict human population.”

In contrast to the Christian idea of stewardship, which “wishes to conserve and protect the natural resources of the planet for the sake of future generations,” this viewpoint “wishes to eliminate future generations for the sake of the planet.”

The above buttresses points previously made here and here.

From the ‘No, We DON’T Want to Be Just Like Them’ Department

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:03 am

The differences between Europe and the US economically is starting to remind of the mid- and late-1980s, when the economic differences between the lumbering old Soviet Union and the high-tech US were becoming too obvious to ignore.

Here’s something I saw (HT Market Center Blog, though I saw it elsewhere too) about a week ago on the topic (bolds are mine):

The EU is 22 years behind the US on economic growth according to a new study, with several other economic indicators showing further gaps despite Europe’s ambitious reform agenda to be praised by leaders at this week’s summit.

A report by Eurochambers, the Brussels-based business lobby, published on Monday (5 March) argues that the US reached the current EU rate of GDP per capita in 1985 and its levels in employment and research investment almost 30 years ago.

Given the stark differential, which continues to grow, it’s disappointing that so many, including the New York Times’ Paul “French Family Values” Krugman (link requires registration; fisked nicely by Independent Sources here and here), point to Europe’s high-tax, high-regulation, entrepreneur-hostile environment as something to emulate. No way.

Positivity: Hiker survives fall, saved from cliff by tree

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Kodiak, Alaska:

Article published on Monday, March 5th, 2007

A long slide down a hill, then a hard hit up against a life-saving tree at the edge of a 40-foot drop from a cliff, could have been much worse for 23-year-old Luke Nymeyer, who is in the hospital with broken bones.

Luke was hiking with friend Ryan Boudreau early Sunday afternoon near Artillery Hill about a half-mile from the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge headquarters building when he slid and began a 200-yard tumble that briefly knocked him unconscious.

For a time, rescuers had difficulty locating him, but finally pulled him out. Then at 4:16 p.m. he was transported to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center where he remains today.

The rescue ordeal lasted about three hours before Luke was finally brought to safety by the U.S. Coast Guard Fire Department. Some 15 firefighters helped Luke in the rescue operation.

Luke, at 6-feet, 4 inches, and 210 pounds, is a firefighter for the Base fire department. He is the son of Susan and Mark Nymeyer. Mark is pastor of the Kodiak Bible Chapel.

“We were rescuing one of our own,” fire chief Jeff Holcomb said.

But both Holcomb and Luke’s mother, Susan, give much credit to the tree.

“What a wonderful tree,” she said.

“No doubt, a friendly tree,” Holcomb said.

Susan said his injuries are serious, but he is recovering without any anticipated long-term damage.

“It could have been so much worse. But all responses are normal. Apparently, there is no nerve damage,” she said.

“We are grateful he is alive and there is no paralysis,” Susan said.

She said her son has two fractured vertebrae just below the rib cage, a broken bone just above the right wrist and one broken rib.

She said doctors today are continuing to determine the full extent of the injuries and a second CAT scan is being done.

Susan said Boudreau, a North Star Elementary School teacher, was significantly helpful in comforting and keeping her son safe until rescuers could get to him.

“He (Boudreau) climbed down the hill and helped keep him warm. Then they just sang and prayed,” she said.

Susan said she does not know how long her son will be recovering in the hospital, and that visitation is limited until he is in better condition.

She said her son lost consciousness just before hitting the tree, but has remained conscious since; although he is in considerable pain and has chosen not to use much medication available at the push of a button at his bedside.

Holcomb said the ordeal began while Luke and Boudreau were out for a Sunday hike just above the Buskin beach, near the Buskin River.

“He just slipped and fell,” Holcomb said. “The tree saved his life and it was a good thing they had cell phones.

“We had to find him because they could not describe the exact location themselves. It was a place that was completely out of site,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said there were six fire units at the scene in addition to Alaska State Troopers, the city ambulance and a number of bystanders.

“From the edge of the cliff there would have been anywhere from a 30-foot to 40-foot drop. He was right on the edge braced against the tree,” Holcomb said.

“Our crews did an outstanding job. After all, they were rescuing one of their own,” he said.

“Our prayers were answered,” Susan said.