Lobbying organizations dedicated to curbing political speech rights today renewed an effort to convince Senators to vote for a third time on a modified version of the DISCLOSE Act, a misguided campaign finance bill.
It's unclear if the Senate will vote on the DISCLOSE Act again in the already packed post-election session, but the updated version would reportedly strip out provisions of the bill that explicitly ban political advocacy.
"For months, self-styled reformers claimed that the DISCLOSE Act was simply about disclosure. Now, forced to strip out the most explicit speech prohibitions in the bill, they disingenuously insist what remains is ‘disclosure only,'" said Center for Competitive Politics Chairman Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC Chairman. "Nonetheless, groups spanning the political spectrum—from the ACLU to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—have blasted the bill's heavy-handed and poorly-drafted disclosure and disclaimer provisions as unconstitutional restrictions."
Assuming Senate leaders simply remove the provisions of the DISCLOSE Act banning campaign expenditures of many government contractors and U.S. subsidiaries, the remaining disclosure and disclaimer provisions still substantially restrict and deter political speech.
"In unveiling the DISCLOSE Act, Sen. Chuck Schumer touted the fact that the excessive disclosure and disclaimer requirements would deter political speech," said CCP President Sean Parnell. "Whatever cosmetic changes are being considered will not change the bill's effective suppression of the voices 'reform' lobbyists wish to mute."
The pro-regulation lobby often stresses part of the Supreme Court's opinion endorsing disclosure in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the January decision that lifted government prohibitions on the independent political speech of advocacy groups, businesses and unions. But the Court's opinion merely reaffirmed past decisions highlighting certain benefits of disclosure. The Court has ruled in other cases that certain limits restrict the government's ability to force private, independent groups to reveal their member and donor lists, and the broad disclosure and disclaimer scheme in the DISCLOSE Act would be constitutionally suspect.
The drawbacks to onerous disclosure have long been noted by leading campaign finance experts: "Since few aspiring censors will admit openly to their purposes, the appeal to ‘disclosure' has given them the moral authority, in public argument, that they need," prominent Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer wrote on his now-defunct blog in 2007 (Bauer now serves as White House counsel; the administration supports the bill). "This is because ‘disclosure' is a regulatory tool; it is meant to serve the government's purposes, not only or even primarily those of individual citizens in need of information... This is a large part of disclosure's work: to force outcomes, not principally to inform free voter choice."
A detailed summary of the DISCLOSE Act (and an attached memo featuring extensive point-by-point analysis) explain why remaining provisions would still undermine political speech rights:
Analysis of the 'DISCLOSE Act' (S. 3628)
Senate leaders and pro-regulation groups have reportedly called for passage of the DISCLOSE Act without § 101 and 102 of Title I, which would have banned the political speech of government contractors and U.S. subsidiaries, respectively. Major remaining provisions would restrict political speech directly and indirectly.
Coordination regulations would censor grassroots legislative advocacy and expose independent groups to frivolous complaints [Title I]
§ 103: Coordination
The DISCLOSE Act would regulate a great deal of previously-protected issue advocacy as election-related speech subject to more stringent regulation and sweeping up grassroots advocacy on legislation months before elections. Congress has no basis to order the FEC to investigate coordination so broadly. Regulating grassroots lobbying ads as coordinated communications raises constitutional problems. For example, ads asking citizens to call and tell a Senator seeking reelection to oppose filibusters would be a covered communication under DISCLOSE, yet this is the same content that gave the Supreme Court pause in its 2007 Wisconsin Right to Life opinion. Such ads are "genuine issue advocacy," not election advertising. Congress may not treat them as election-related advertising under the First Amendment. The bill would also unfairly regulate any republication of a candidate's campaign materials as a contribution to that candidate's campaign, whether or not the group actually coordinated the ad with candidate's campaign.
§ 104: Party coordination
This section would make the standard for proving coordination extremely difficult between candidates and their party committees while leaving in place a far easier standard for proving coordination between candidates and outside groups. This provision is either a covert attempt to make it easier for party lawyers to file frivolous coordination complaints against independent groups or a ham-handed attempt to even the footing between parties and upstart groups. Instead, Congress should simply remove the McCain-Feingold restrictions on party coordination to allow parties to effectively coordinate with candidates (especially considering parties must raise regulated, limited funds, there's virtually no legitimate argument that this could corrupt either parties or candidates).
Expanded definitions would radically redefine longstanding terms and burdensome disclosure and disclaimer provisions would deter political speech [Title II]
§ 201: Independent expenditures
DISCLOSE would define independent expenditures subject to reporting as including any speech that is "the functional equivalent of express advocacy," ignoring Supreme Court precedents such as Buckley v. Valeo (1976) and FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (2007), known as WRTL II. In that case, the Court held that to constitutionally regulate political speech, the communications must meet both the definition of an electioneering communication (i.e., not be overly vague) and be "susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than a call to vote for or against a particular candidate" (i.e., it could not be overly broad). The criteria that DISCLOSE would use to regulate independent expenditures is remarkably similar to the FEC's regulation at 11 C.F.R. 100.22(b), which has repeatedly been held to be unconstitutionally vague by federal courts, and is no longer enforced. The Supreme Court has allowed the regulation not only of "express advocacy," but also its functional equivalent. However, the Court has insisted that any standard not be overly vague-it has used the term "functional equivalent" to describe non-vague standards that pass a constitutional test. It has never suggested that the phrase "functional equivalent" itself somehow survived the vagueness concerns of Buckley
§ 202: Electioneering communications
DISCLOSE would dramatically expand the amount of regulated political speech by expanding the time frame for "electioneering communications." BCRA, which relied on extensive congressional fact-findings, defined "electioneering communications" as limited to broadcast ads run 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election. DISCLOSE would significantly expand this limited window to cover ads mentioning a candidate from any time starting 120 days before the general election. Congress has established no record for the proposition that ads run 120 days-four months!-before the general election are not "true issue ads." Indeed, the record of DISCLOSE includes puffy platitudes rather than any sort of factual or academic analysis.
§ 211-213: Expanded disclosure requirements
DISCLOSE would impose duplicative and vague disclosure burdens. Campaign finance law already requires the reporting of independent expenditures above $250 and contributions for the purpose of funding independent expenditures above $200. Similarly, expenditures of and contributions for electioneering communications over $1,000 must be disclosed. Furthermore, 527 organizations, regulated by the IRS, must disclose all contributions and expenditures of over $1,000.
Low disclosure thresholds threaten donors to controversial causes and grassroots groups
DISCLOSE would infringe on the rights of private association recognized by the Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama by threatening to disclose all donors to a group regardless of whether the donor intended to have their donation used for independent expenditures or electioneering communications. "Contributions of any size to political communications that are wholly independent of any candidate for office have not been shown to contribute to official corruption. Accordingly, disclosure of such donations serves no legitimate public purpose," the American Civil Liberties Union recently explained in a letter opposing the DISCLOSE Act. "Unfortunately, the DISCLOSE Act would wipe away such donor anonymity—most notably, that of small donors to smaller and more controversial organizations, even when those donors have nothing to do with that organization's political speech."
Disclosure of transfers exempts unions
DISCLOSE would impose draconian disclosure burdens on donations made from one organization to another, including those not made with the intent of supporting independent expenditures. However, DISCLOSE would exempt many transfers among affiliate organizations, principally benefiting labor unions.
Unequal treatment of speakers: the ‘Shotgun Sellout'
DISCLOSE includes a "NRA exemption" that removes only a handful of large, well-established 501(c)(4) organizations from certain disclosure requirements. Exempting these favored groups from the burdensome disclosure requirements creates a two-tiered system of favored and disfavored speakers, and will only serve to hinder genuine grassroots and local political movements that lack access to expensive campaign finance attorneys. This provision is likely unconstitutional.
Separate fund option unworkable
The Citizens United decision reaffirmed the right of corporations and unions to engage in independent expenditures using general treasury funds. The intent of this legislation is to circumvent that ruling. Lacking the ability to do so directly, it tries to stifle it as much as possible with a completely unworkable "separate fund" option. The legislative language allows for corporations and unions to set up separate accounts from which to make political expenditures and heavily regulates what must be disclosed from the money transferred to that fund. If a corporation chooses to accept this alternative, it must make expenditures from only that fund-forever. The result of this provision is to force corporations, including many tax-exempt organizations, to choose between two options that have each been found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. These groups can either disclose all members and donors, a requirement that the Court ruled was unconstitutional in NAACP v. Alabama, or restrict political spending to a "Campaign-Related Activity Account," a type of PAC and thus an impediment the Supreme Court held in Citizens United could not be constitutionally imposed on a group making independent expenditures.
§ 214: Disclaimer requirements
The DISCLOSE Act would impose disclaimer requirements on broadcast ads that would be comical were it not for the extreme burden on free speech imposed. The requirements could effectively cut in half the amount a group could say in a 30-second ad, demonstrating an extreme hostility to independent speech. [Again, large, nationally prominent 501(c)(4) groups such as the Sierra Club would be exempt].
Forced disclaimers by top donors amount to compelled speech
DISCLOSE would force a group's leader to make a "Stand By Your Ad" (SBYA) statement. Current law already requires a verbal disclaimer for independent ads. No valid informational purpose would be served by replacing this simple disclaimer with two bulky disclaimers. The disclaimers would be "so burdensome they would either drown out the intended message or discourage groups from speaking out at all," the ACLU noted. Citizens and organizations would be forced to engage in government-required speech, and a very real possibility exists that donors to organizations would be forced to state publically that they "approve" of a particular commercial when in fact they may have little interest or may even oppose the particular expenditure. This is because the bill does not limit identification of "major funders" to those who give or were solicited to support independent expenditures, but also includes persons or groups that give to an organization's general treasury.
Harsh treatment of independent groups as compared to candidates
Unlike the voluntary SBYA disclaimers for candidates (which came with the incentive of lower ad rates) created by McCain-Feingold, the SBYA disclaimers in the DISCLOSE Act would be mandatory and would likely face constitutional challenge as government dictation of a speaker's message.
DISCLOSE would hamper effective and prompt judicial review [Title IV]
§ 401: Judicial review
The judicial review rules proposed in the DISCLOSE Act fail to follow the precedent set in McCain-Feingold, which allowed for expedited review and shortened the time between the filing of a suit alleging that enforcement of the act was in violation of constitutional rights and a final judgment on the issue by the courts. Even with the expedited schedule for challenges to BCRA, many groups were forced to wait years before having their right to speak vindicated by the courts. Citizens United, of course, wished to speak during the early part of 2008, but did not get a final ruling until January of 2010, well after the opportunity to speak had expired. The lack oxpedited appeal, combined with jurisdictional requirements that make it difficult for smaller groups to challenge the Act, seem tailor-made for those seeking partisan advantage and facing potentially difficult election cycles in 2012 and beyond.
The Center for Competitive Politics is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group dedicated to protecting First Amendment political rights. CCP seeks to promote the political marketplace of ideas through research, litigation and advocacy.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 28, 2010
This was one of the public meetings hosted by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) regarding the proposed 300% Sewer Rate Increase for 63 communities in the N/E Ohio area. This tax is being forcefully imposed on the residents by the NEORSD to pay for EPA mandated upgrades under the proposed $3 Billion Clean Lake Project for compliance with the Clean Water Act. This particular sewer rate increase is separate & above the proposed Storm Sewer Tax being sought by the NEORSD.
Join us and several other Tea Party & Liberty groups in supporting Middleburg Hts Mayor & NEORSD Board Member Gary Starr request that a 1yr moratorium be put in place on any sewer rate increase. For our Action Alerts on contact info and who to call please click the following; Action Alert 1 / Action Alert 2.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
We have all pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. But what is a flag? It is mere thread, stitching and colored dye. It is a mere symbol. What we are pledging allegiance to is the Republic! The Republic, for which the flag once stood.
John Adams wrote, “A republic is an empire of laws, not men.” A republic’s ruler is the law; its ruler is the rule of law. And no law is more supreme in this land than the U.S. Constitution; its subjects are princes and paupers alike.
Yet we have elected representatives to our federal government whose first official act of office is to lie. They place their hand upon the holy bible, and make the most sacred of oaths to defend the Constitution against all foes, both foreign and domestic. Yet they turn around, almost immediately, and break it. They are the domestic foes.
Beware the representative who comes to you touting a staunchly conservative voting record, giving lip service to the Constitution. What you should instead hear is, “I am perfectly willing to discharge my duty to uphold the constitution when politically and ideologically expedient.”
If the tea party movement is to be about anything, it must be about restoring the Republic; it must be about reestablishing the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. But here forth lies our challenge: We must be as willing to oppose unconstitutional legislation or action rooted in conservative ideology, as we are willing to oppose unconstitutional legislation or action rooted in liberal ideology. If not, we are no better than they are. If not, the Constitution will continue to be relegated to a mere relic, and we shall forever be an empire of men, not law.
Friday, November 26, 2010
From Center for Responsive Politics --
A handful of federal lawmakers are invested in one of the companies behind the controversial full-body scanning machines now in more than 60 U.S. airports. The individual investments are worth thousands, and in some cases tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars.
According to a Center for Responsive Politics review of the most recent personal financial disclosure filings, eight members of Congress -- three Democrats and five Republicans -- owned at least $2,000 worth of stock in L-3 Communications, which is one of the two main contractors involved in the full-body scanning machines.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) disclosed possessing the most stock in L-3 Communications -- with a minimum investment of at least $500,000 and a maximum value of $1 million. The L-3 Communications stock is fully owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz, according to federal financial disclosure reports.
Members of Congress file annual personal financial disclosures detailing their assets and liabilities, as well as those of their spouses and dependent children. These forms also allow lawmakers to describe the value of their holdings and debts in broad ranges, so it's impossible to know exactly how much the holdings of Kerry's family, or any other lawmaker's household, are worth.
Republican Reps. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) both disclosed possessing between $16,002 and $65,000 worth of L-3 Communications stock in 2009.
And Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) was the member of Congress with the next most valuable holdings in L-3 Communications, worth between $15,001 and $50,000.
Here is a table of all eight lawmakers whose 2009 personal financial disclosure forms, which were filed in May, noted holdings in L-3 Communications, along with the minimum and maximum value of these holdings, according to the Center's research.
- Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) -- $500,001 to $1,000,000
- Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del) -- $16,002 to $65,000
- Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) -- $16,002 to $65,000
- Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill) -- $15,001 to $50,000
- Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla) -- $1,001 to $15,000
- Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va) -- $1,001 to $15,000
- Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz) -- $2,173
The government's investment in full-body scanners has broadened since the "underwear bomber's" failed terrorism attempt last Christmas. Days later, L-3 Communications was awarded a $165 million contract for the machines, and another company, RapiScan, was also awarded a $173 million contract.
- Rep. Kenny Marcharnt (R- Texas) -- $2,086
Both companies have seen significant jumps in their federal lobbying expenses since just a few years ago, and both are employing officials with well-heeled government connections, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported.
For instance, RapiScan utilizes the services of Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush. And former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Linda Daschle, the wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), are both actively lobbying for L-3 Communications
Thursday, November 25, 2010
It is easy to spot bubbles looking backward. It is more difficult to see bubbles yet unpopped. I contend our healthcare system is in a huge bubble. Here is why:
People generally prefer their salary in the form of dollars, not goods or services. They want to be paid in cash, not in toilet paper, oil changes or Hamburger Helper. Given this, why do employees receive healthcare benefits from their employers?
Our federal tax code allows for employer-provided healthcare benefits to be tax-exempt. In other words, you don’t have to pay taxes on healthcare if your job provides it, but you do if you buy healthcare on your own. This tax policy alters the natural preference to be paid in salary, to instead be paid in healthcare.
What we get from our employers is called health ‘insurance,’ but it is anything but. Insurance is defined as “the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium.” Common examples that fit this definition are homeowner’s insurance, which pays out in the event of fire, and car insurance, which pays out in the event of an accident. Yet health insurance pays for everything from routine doctors visits to Viagra. This is not a transfer of risk in exchange for paying a premium; it is a third party buying your healthcare so you don’t have to pay taxes on it.
While this allows healthcare consumers to purchase their healthcare tax free, it has the unintended consequence of stripping price signals from the patient’s decision-making process. This turns health insurance into the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet where consumers gorge themselves with no consideration of cost. When was the last time you selected a doctor based on price? What about a prescription drug? Do you even know what the real prices of these things are?
How does this translate into a bubble? Let’s put all the pieces together.
The bubble is blown like this: Our tax structure creates the incentive for people to get as much of their healthcare through employer-provided benefits; with people getting as much of their healthcare through employer-provided benefits, consumers do not price shop their healthcare services; with consumers not price shopping their healthcare services, there is no sensitivity to rising prices; with no sensitivity to rising prices, prices spiral out of control; with prices spiraling out of control, a system is created that is completely artificial, exorbitantly expensive, and not built on market forces. This is a bubble.
All bubbles burst. It is not a matter of if, but when.
The bubble will burst like this: As healthcare continues to become more and more expensive, employers will no longer be able to afford to provide their employees benefits; with employers no longer able to provide their employees benefits, less people will have their healthcare paid for by a third party; with less people having their healthcare paid for by a third party, there will be more consumers responding to price signals in the healthcare market; with more consumers responding to price signals in the healthcare market, the existing system will begin to crack due to the infiltration of market forces; with the infiltration of market forces, America's healthcare system will be shown to be wholly uneconomic and will collapse on itself.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Ed Fitzgerald (County Executive)
PH: (216) 529-6600
Dave Greenspan (District 1)
Will Review & Respond
State Senator Dale Miller (District 2)
(REFUSES to Support Moratorium)
Dan Brady (District 3)
Chuck Germana (District 4)
??? Undecided ???
Michael Gallagher (District 5)
Supports Request for Moratorium
Jack Schron (District 6)
Unavailable to Contact
Yvonne Conwell (District 7)
Click Here to Email
Pernell Jones Jr. (District 8)
Will Respond Monday
C. Ellen Connolly (District 9)
Julian Rogers (District 10)
Will Review & Respond
Sunny Simon (District 11)
Unavailable until Nov. 30th
(Cuyahoga County Area)
Rep. Kenny Yuko (District 7)
Rep. Armond Budish (District 8)
PH: (614) 466-5441
FX: (614) 719-0008
Rep. Barbara Boyd (District 9)
PH: (614) 644-5079
FX: (614) 719-0009
Rep. Robin Belcher (District 10)
Rep.-Elect Bill Patmon (District 10)
Rep. Sandra Williams (District 11)
PH: (614) 466-1414
FX: (614) 719-0011
Rep. Michael DeBose (District 12)
Rep.-Elect John Barnes (District 12)
Rep. Michael Skindell (District 13)
Rep.-Elect Nickie Antonio (District 13)
Rep. Mike Foley (District 14)
Rep. Timothy DeGeeter (District 15)
PH: (614) 466-3485
FX: (614) 719-3911
Rep. Nan Baker (District 16)
Rep. Josh Mandel (District 17)
Rep.-Elect Marlene Anielski (District 17)
Rep. Matt Patten (District 18)
Rep.-Elect Mike Dovilla (District 18)
Rep. Richard Hollington (District 98)
PH: (614) 644-5088
FX: (614) 719-6998
Rep.-Elect Tim Grendell (District 98)
Supports Request for Moratorium
(Lake County Area)
Rep. Lorain Fende (District 62)
(Lorain County Area)
Rep. Matt Lundy (District 57)
(Summit County Area)
Rep. Brian Williams (District 41)
Rep.-Elect Lynn Slaby (District 41)
Rep. Mike Moran (District 42)
Rep.-Elect Kristina Roegner (District 42)
Cut, Copy & Paste into your email for quick sending the above OH Representatives...
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Marlene@marlene4ohio.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,
Cut, Copy & Paste into your email for quick sending the above OH Senators...
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Friday, November 19, 2010
At the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) public hearing this past Wednesday night nearly 250-300 people showed up to voice their displeasure's over the proposed sewer rate increase. Other than Julius Ciaccia (NEORSD Executive Director), the only NEORSD Board Members present were Middleburg Hts Mayor Gary Starr & Ron Sulik.
After hearing comments from citizens & Tea Party members from across the District, when asked if he would support the moratorium on the rate increase -- Mr. Sulik "was still undecided." Whereas, Mayor Starr was a "star" in speaking out against this gross abuse of power by the NEORSD & the U.S. EPA and requested a 1yr moratorium on these increases that will cause an increase in your sewer bill to more than $50 a month by 2016 and eventually to more than $140 per month.
The increase to fund the $3 Billion Clean Lake Project is over, above & separate from the additional Storm Water Management Fees the NEORSD is also seeking to impose on behalf of the U.S. EPA & the Clean Water Act.
The NEORSD will vote on this rate increase at 12:30pm on December 2, 2010. In a NEORSD meeting held today, Mayor Starr made a motion to re-schedule the time of this meeting at 7:00pm so it would afford the public the availability to attend this meeting. NOT ONE BOARD MEMBER WOULD SECOND THE MOTION! In fact, NEORSD Board President Darnell Brown found Mayor Starr's Motion -- out of order!
By not attending the public hearing & then by the refusing to even Second a Motion rescheduling the vote at a time where it can be witnessed by the very public they wish impose a tax on by federal edict, shows the board members of the NEORSD, a court-created regulatory & taxing agency created on behalf of the EPA for enforcement of the Clean Water Act (ORC 6119), could care a less about the further hardships their vote will cause on this already financially & economically distressed region.
Our first steps are getting the moratorium in place -- Please contact the NEORSD Board members and voice your opinion on the increases and request the meeting be reset for 7pm and, the 1yr moratorium be put in place. Please read entire post for complete list of people to contact.
Darnell Brown (President)
Email ATT: Darnell Brown
Ron Sulik (Vice-President)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ATT: Ron Sulik
Mayor Dean DePiero (Secretary)
PH: (440) 885-8001
Sheila Kelly (Member)
PH: (216) 295-0100
Walter O'Malley (Member)
Mayor Jack Bacci (Member)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Lisa Jackson (Administrator)
US Environmental Agency / Region 5
Susan Hedman (Region 5 Administrator)
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
Chris Korleski (Director)
PH: (614) 644-2782
FX: (614) 644-3184
Laura Powell (Asst. Director)
PH: (614) 644-2782
Fx: (614) 644-3184
OH EPA N/E Ohio District
Bill Skowronski (District Chief)
PH: (330) 963-1130
FX: (330) 487-0769
Keith Riley (Asst. District Chief)
PH: (330) 963-1111
When you are done contacting the above NEORSD Board members & EPA offices, we urge you to also call the following people;
County Executive-Elect Ed Fitzgerald
PH: (216) 529-6600
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson
County Councilman-Elect Dave Greenspan, Middleburg Hts Councilman-at-Large Ray Guttman & Middleburg Hts Ward 4 Councilman John Grech & former Congressman Ron Mottl were the ONLY other public officials in attendance. They have no authority over the NEORSD either - but they were there standing with the residents against this sewer rate increase. Congratulations to these elected officials for doing the right thing!
And why weren't the elected officials of your city present? Call and find out -- ask that they also support the moratorium. Email us back at email@example.com and we will make their answers and responses public. Click here for more on some recent EPA actions.
Please continue checking back for more contact information or join our email list by signing up at www.clevelandteaparty.com for updates.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Largest Meeting Of Local Tea Party Leaders Meet In DC With Freshmen Congressmen & Launch Exciting New Action Plan
(West Palm Beach, FL) South Florida Tea Party Leaders and over 200 tea party leaders from 31 states met in Washington, DC with Freshmen Congressmen and develop an "action plan". This is the largest meeting of local tea party leaders ever.Since July, a Tea Party Patriots, nationally the largest and original tea party group, has been working with its over 3,000 local tea party leaders coordinators to meet with incoming Congressmen for a "Tea Party Orientation."In addition to the "Freshmen Orientation," local tea party leaders spent a day sharing best practices, brainstorming, and voting on items for their action plan. In a true bottom up grassroots organization format, all tea party leaders were given equal rights on voting."We heard from excellent speakers and found ourselves in the company of some of the cleverest people in the movement. It was a pleasure to spend the weekend with such a high caliber of tea party activists. The tea party movement is in very good hands." Andrew Ian Dodge, Tea Party Patriots Maine Coordinator."The information we've received here has been absolutely stunning, this gathering has surpassed my best expectations. It really shows that we are a permanent force to be reckoned with." Shelby Blakely, Director/Host - TPP Radio, National Leadership Council/WA State Coordinator - Tea Party PatriotsJohn Stahl of the Berks Tea Party.org in PA said, " A wonderful experience! We were able to let new Congress people know what we want them to do to restore America. We have our work cut out for us. They now know who we are and what we can do, Giving them our agenda, allows for a dialogue while at the same time, we get them on board with our basic principles.""I am excited about the ideas that came out of the meeting," Everett Wilkinson, Florida State Coordinator and Chairman of South Florida Tea Party. "We met with several Freshmen and let them know that we will be there for them. I also feel very confident that the tea party is going to be here 4 years and 40 years from now!"Press Contact:
Florida Tea Party
South Florida Tea Party
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Below is an op-ed from Senator Tom Coburn in support of the Senate earmark ban...
From National Review Online --
As Senate Republicans prepare to vote on an earmark moratorium, I would encourage my colleagues to consider four myths and four realities of the debate.
Myths of the earmark debate:
1. Eliminating earmarks does not actually save any money
This argument has serious logical inconsistencies. The fact is earmarks do spend real money. If they didn’t spend money, why defend them? Stopping an activity that spends money does result in less spending. It’s that simple. For instance, Congress spent $16.1 billion on pork in Fiscal Year 2010. If Congress does not do earmarks in 2011, we could save $16.1 billion. In no way is Congress locked into to shifting that $16.1 billion to other programs unless it wants to.
2. Earmarks represent a very tiny portion of the federal budget and eliminating them would do little to reduce the deficit
It’s true that earmarks themselves represent a tiny portion of the budget, but a small rudder can help steer a big ship, which is why I’ve long described earmarks as the gateway drug to spending addiction in Washington. No one can deny that earmarks like the Cornhusker Kickback have been used to push through extremely costly and onerous bills. Plus, senators know that as the number of earmarks has exploded so has overall spending. In the past decade, the size of government has doubled while Congress approved more than 90,000 earmarks.
Earmarks were rare until recently. In 1987, President Reagan vetoed a spending bill because it contained 121 earmarks. Eliminating earmarks will not balance the budget overnight, but it is an important step toward getting spending under control.
3. Earmarking is about whose discretion it is to make spending decisions. Do elected members of Congress decide how taxes are spent, or do unelected bureaucrats and Obama administration officials?
It’s true that this is a debate about discretion, but some in Congress are confused about discretion among whom. This is not a struggle between the executive branch and Congress but between the American people and Washington. Do the American people have the right to spend their own money and keep local decisions at the local level or does the federal government know best? Earmarks are a Washington-knows-best solution. An earmark ban would tell the American people that Congress gets it. After all, it’s their money, not ours.
An earmark moratorium would not result in Congress giving up one iota of its spending power. In any event, Republicans should be fighting over how to cut government spending, not how to divide it up.
4. The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility and authority to earmark
Nowhere does the Constitution give Congress the authority to do earmarks. The concept of earmarking appears nowhere in the enumerated powers or anywhere else in the Constitution. The so-called “constitutional” argument earmarks is from the same school of constitutional interpretation that led Elena Kagan to admit that Congress had the authority to tell the American people to eat their fruits and vegetables every day. That school, which says Congress can do whatever it wants, gave us an expansive Commerce Clause, Obamacare, and a widespread belief among members of Congress that the “power of the purse” is the power to pork.
Earmark defenders are fond of quoting Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution which says, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” They also refer to James Madison’s power of the purse commentary in Federalist 58. Madison said the “power of the purse may, in fact, be the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.”
Yet, earmark proponents ignore the rest of the Constitution and our founders’ clear intent to limit the power of Congress. If the founders wanted Congress to earmark funds to specific recipients, micromanage American society, and ride roughshod over state and local government they would have given Congress that authority in the enumerated powers. They clearly did not.
Our founders anticipated earmark-style power grabs from Congress and spoke against such excess for the ages. James Madison, the father of the Constitution said, “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, spoke directly against federally-funded local projects. “[I]t will be the source of eternal scramble among the members, who can get the most money wasted in their State; and they will always get the most who are the meanest.” Jefferson understood that earmarks and coercion would go hand in hand.
Also, if earmarks were a noble constitutional tradition, how did we thrive for 200 years without an earmark favor factory in Congress?
Finally, for those worried about ceding constitutional authority to the executive branch, I would respectfully remind them that the president has zero authority to spend money outside of the authority Congress gives him. The way to hold the executive branch accountable is to spend less and conduct more aggressive oversight. Earmarks are a convoluted way for Congress to try to regain authority they have already ceded to the executive branch through bad legislation. The fact is there is nothing an earmark can do that can’t be done more equitably and openly through a competitive grant process.
Beyond these myths, I would encourage members to consider the following realities.
1. Earmarks are a major distraction
Again, earmarks not only do nothing to hold the executive branch accountable — by out-porking the president — but take Congress’ focus away from the massive amount of waste and inefficiency within federal agencies. In typical years, the number of earmark requests outnumbers oversight hearings held by the Appropriations Committee by a factor of 1,000 to 1. Instead of processing tens of thousands of earmark requests the Senate should increase the number of oversight hearings from a few dozen to hundreds. The amount of time and attention that is devoted to the earmark chase is a scandal waiting to be exposed.
2. This debate is over among the American people and the House GOP
If any policy mandate can be derived from the election it is to spend less money. Eliminating earmarks is the first step on that path. The House GOP has accepted that mandate. The Senate GOP now has to decide whether to ignore not only the American people but their colleagues in the House. The last thing Senate Republicans should be doing is legislative gymnastics to get around the House GOP earmark ban.
3. Earmarking is bad policy
In recent years the conventional wisdom that earmarks create jobs has been turned on its head. The Obama administration’s stimulus bill itself, which is arguably a collection of earmarks approved by Congress, proves this point. Neither Obama’s stimulus nor Republican stimulus — GOP earmarks — is very effective at creating jobs.
Harvard University conducted an extensive study this year of how earmarks impact states. The researchers expected to find that earmarks drive economic growth but found the opposite.
“It was an enormous surprise, at least to us, to learn that the average firm in the chairman’s state did not benefit at all from the unanticipated increase in spending,” said Joshua Coval, one of the study’s authors. The study found that as earmarks increase capital investment and expenditures by private businesses decrease, by 15 percent specifically. In other words, federal pork crowds out private investment and slows job growth. Earmarks are an odd GOP infatuation with failed Keynesian economics that hurts local economies.
Earmarks also crowd out funding for higher-priority items. Transportation earmarks are a good example. Pork projects like the Bridge to Nowhere and bike paths divert funds from higher priority projects according to a 2007 Department of Transportation inspector general report. Thousands of bridges continue to be in disrepair across America in part because Congress has taken its eye off the ball and indulged in parochial spending.
4. Earmarking is bad politics
If the Senate GOP wants to send a signal that they don’t get it and are not listening they can reject an earmark moratorium. For Republicans, earmarks are the ultimate mixed message. We’ll never be trusted to be the party of less spending while we’re rationalizing more spending through earmarks. The long process of restoring fiscal sanity in Washington begins with saying no to pork.
— Sen. Tom Coburn represents the state of Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
From Politico --
Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) filed a legal brief today backing the growing state legal revolt against the job-killing health care law, which Boehner -- a former small businessman -- and other Republicans have warned will continue to cost our economy jobs unless it is repealed and replaced.Now that Mike DeWine will be State Attorney General for OH we fully expect him to fulfill his campaign promise of having OH join these lawsuits against Obama Care. Lawsuits against Obama Care is how this over reaching government intrusion in our life will be stopped.
Boehner’s brief supports a lawsuit filed by 20 state attorneys general and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the nation’s largest small business association.
“I’m proud to stand with these states and the NFIB on behalf of America’s workers in the revolt against this job-killing health care law,” Boehner said. “Of course, the easiest way to prevent this health care law from costing our economy more jobs is to heed the outcry for its repeal. That’s why Republicans have made a pledge to America to repeal this job-killing health care law and replace it with reforms that bring down costs and protect American jobs.”
Boehner’s brief requests leave from the trial judge to file an amicus brief challenging the constitutionality of the ‘individual mandate’ at the heart of the job-killing health care law. In August, primary voters in Missouri rejected the mandate by a nearly 2.5-to-1 margin. Two months prior to that, House Democrats voted to reject a GOP proposal to repeal the mandate.
Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his intent to file a brief backing the states’ lawsuit.
Defunding sounds good, is great for sound bytes & headlines -- but will or may have minimal effect on stopping Obama Care. Congress can vote to defund all they want, and they should, but this will not stop the implementation of Obama Care. Not funding any of the newly created departments can and will most likely be circumvented by forcing the burden of enforcing these mandates on the states -- much like Medicare & Medicaid, etc..., through regulation. As we have witnessed in the past, the federal government 'farms out' these duties to the states. Then when states fail to meet these mandates they are threatened with loss of federal dollars for highway, schools, etc...
So the burden of funding these mandates can be passed on to the already cash-strapped states. Much like the federal government & the EPA is doing with bypassing legislation for Cap & Trade and in effect enacting it through regulation.
So along with State Attorney General elect Mike DeWine promise of initiating legal proceedings against Obama Care & now that OH has turned 'red' our newly elected State Legislature should proceed with supporting the PCCOH's efforts for a State Sovereignty Amendment to the OH Constitution or begin crafting legislation to this effect.
Our three branches of government, Executive, Legislative & Judicial, have a built in checks and balance system. The check & balance on the federal government is the states -- this is what makes our state sovereignty rights so vitally important in this fight against not only Obama Care, but illegal immigration, any Cap & Trade legislation and, any attempts of over-reaching regulation by federal entities under directives or mandates from the Executive Office in violation of our State Constitution.
Friday, November 12, 2010
So you hate smoking and don't care that the governement Brown Shirts are stepping on someone's rights? That's great fast-food Sparky -- because besides other things, the HHS Hamburgler's are already attacking Happy Meals, salt intake, banning of trans fats, drinking of Coke/Pepsi, etc...
The proposed graphic warnings would significantly cover the front of cigarette packs, replacing the current warnings on the narrow side of cigarette packs, and would be required as part of the new proposed rule. The proposed warnings include images of tobacco-related cancers and even the corpse of an individual who has passed away from lung cancer. More....
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Below is a statement from Tax Payers for Common Sense President Ms. Ryan Alexander & some info supporting some of the proposals in the plan....
The co-chairs’ proposal makes clear that they are serious about leaving no budgetary stone unturned. While many sacred cows were put up for sacrifice, some remain. And just as no one likes to see their tax dollars wasted, no one likes to see their favorite program on the chopping block. Policymakers and interest groups across the spectrum are already leaping to attack almost every proposed reform. To overcome opposition the proposals cannot simply be aspirational instead of implementable and projected savings need to be real and realistic.Taxpayers for Common Sense has also put out a list of Common Sense Reforms for the incoming 112th Congress that can read by clicking here.
But political challenges should not deter the Commission and Congress as we move ahead. This is a great starting place for the commission’s work. These proposals challenge the Commission and Congress to make the kind of hard decisions it is going to need to make if there is any hope of putting the government’s finances on a more sustainable path. We cannot afford to squander this opportunity to rid the budget of ineffective and wasteful spending – from energy and agriculture subsidies to wasteful defense spending practices – and put the country in a better position to face the challenges ahead, whether from global economic shocks or threats from terrorism.
Taxpayers for Common Sense looks forward to working with the Commission to adopt a strong proposal that is adopted by Congress
Research by TCS on some of the Co-Chair’s Proposals
We are less convinced savings from Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed Pentagon reforms should be applied toward deficit reduction. Laudable as the reforms are, we’re unsure the methods he’s outlined will produce the savings he’s promised. Likewise with defense contracting reforms: Though we have long advocated for such steps, it’s difficult to measure just how much savings these reforms will produce and foolhardy to budget around it.
Issues in the Report in General:Bridge the Partisan Budget Divide
Highway Trust Fund:Finding New Fixes for the Highway Trust Fund
Highway Trust Fund Fix Hurts Taxpayers
Abandoned Mines:More than 161,000 Abandoned Mines in the West
Market Access Project:Representatives Murphy and Garrett Introduce Bill to End the Wasteful Market Access Program
Congressional Pay Raise:Let’s Stop the Congressional Pay Raise
Army Corps of Engineers:Taxpayers Must Not Carry Water for Bad Projects: Comments on the Draft Principles and Standards for Water Resource Projects
Doc Fix:Intensive Care Budgets
Medicare Part D:Prescription Propaganda
Medicare and Social Security:Next President’s Challenge: Medicare and Social Security
Agriculture Disaster Aid:Taxpayers Plowed Under
Cultivating Cash As in today’s proposal, we have historically called for eliminating business tax expenditures, including the LIFO method of accounting and energy tax preferences for the oil and gas industry. We would go further to include loan guarantees to mature industries, like nuclear power, and eliminating other subsidies to energy companies. We applaud the Commission for taking on some sacred cows in its defense proposals. Budget-watchers agree Defense Department health care programs such as Tricare are in desperate need of reform despite political aversion to taking them on. We are also confident our military can absorb the suggested topline cuts in procurement and research & development without compromising our security.