Why I would support Susan Stimpson against Bill Howell

November 12, 2014

There are whispers up in Stafford that former Board Chairman Susan Stimpson is considering a primary challenge against Speaker Bill Howell. At present, that might seem odd, but by Primary Day her victory (if it comes) could very well be the best news Republicans have.

As Board Chairman and Member, Stimpson built a record that earned my endorsement for Lieutenant Governor in 2013 (details here). That race was run in the shadow of Bob McDonnell’s transportation tax hike (or, as I’ve called it, Plan ’13 From Outer Space), and it is that tax hike that has led me to hope Susan runs and wins…but not for the reasons most think.

Contrary to what many believe, the argument over that tax hike isn’t quite over, in part because the tax hike itself hasn’t been fully implemented. Given the latest from Mr. Leahy, we can be pretty certain that the wholesale tax on gasoline will increase this January. Given the near complete lack of price elasticity for gasoline below $4/gallon (above that price and it’s a very different story), that means gas prices will jump in January as Republicans argue amongst themselves about whom to blame for it (the leadership of the General Assembly or the leadership in the House of Representatives).

In other words, 2015 will dawn to see Republicans arguing amongst themselves and trying to deflect blame for yet another tax increase…and voters in “off-off-year” elections have been very cruel to tax-hiking Republicans. In 2007, voters reacted to the Republican-drafted HB3202 by handing the State Senate to the Democrats and cutting the GOP’s House majority in half. Four years later, most of Virginia simply went status quo – except for Spotsylvania County, which turfed three incumbent Supervisors in the midst of a local tax revolt, padded up a huge margin for Bryce Reeves in the process, and thus flipped the State Senate practically by itself.

How will these voters – the most continuous, and thus the most knowledgeable, of the electorate – react to another Republican tax increase? To ask the question is to answer it…unless Republicans themselves show they’ve gotten the message. In other words, if Bill Howell doesn’t retire on his own, Republicans in eastern Stafford will have to do it for him.

That may sound ruthless, in no small part because it is. I’ve crossed swords with Howell in the past; that didn’t stop me from noticing when he steered his caucus away from a tax hike in the summer of 2008. I also think his effort to stop Medicaid expansion is underestimated.

However, the Senate majority is at stake again, and we can’t risk voter anger over the last phase of Plan ’13 From Outer Space. Susan Stimpson would be an excellent Delegate, and her nomination would show Virginia voters that the Republican Party is ready to move on from its recent tax-hiking past.

That’s how I see it.

Steve Israel…doesn’t get it

November 7, 2014

In response to his party’s caucus shrinking to its lowest number in over 80 year, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY, outgoing Congressional Campaign Chair) revealed a tone-deafness that, if shared by the rest of his caucus, could lead to even further shrinking.

Israel parroted the usual line we hear on the left these days – that the winning Republicans should “come into the middle” and work with Democrats (NROThe Corner), never mind that if voters had wanted Congress to be more amenable to Democrats’ wishes, they would have elected more actual Democrats.

Where Israel really goes off the rails is his insistence that the lame-duck Congress short-circuit the election (which at least in Louisiana is still ongoing) on “immigration reform” (same link):

Israel brought up corporate tax changes and, pointedly, immigration reform as issues on which the two parties can compromise.

“There really shouldn’t be any paralysis on this,” he said, noting that a Senate immigration bill has passed. “Let’s just pass it in the House,” he urged.

Let’s unpack this ass-hattery slowly.

First of all, there are good reasons why someone on either side of the argument on illegal immigration would have serious problems with the Senate’s immigration bill, chief among them the horrendous economic assumptions that “justify” it.  More to the point, a lame-duck session of Congress passing that bill would be a complete insult to the voters.

Lest we forget, John Boehner’s refusal to bring up the Senate immigration bill for a vote was one of the chief complaints thrown at him by the president, Senate Democrats, and just about everyone to the left of center in America. They hoped voters would send Boehner a message. Instead, voters sent him reinforcements.

Mitch McConnell was one of the 32 Senators who opposed the bill. Voters sent him reinforcements, too – eight so far, with perhaps one more coming in Louisiana.

Finally, of the 68 Senators who voted in favor of S.744, 5 Democrats lost their seats to Republicans (with one more, Mary Landrieu, likely to suffer the same fate), 4 have retired (3 of them Democrats to be replaced by Republicans), and one – Marco Rubio – has repudiated his vote. Even assuming no one else would vote differently (highly unlikely, especially given that McConnell will be more accommodating of amendments as Majority Leader), the bill could easily fail a cloture vote in the 2015 Senate. Whatever the voters of 2014 wanted, it sure wasn’t the Senate’s immigration bill.

Then again, Israel is trying to close his eyes to the voters anyway (same link again):

“In this election, one-third of voters chose a Democrat or Republican,” Israel said. “The other two-thirds just want us to get things done.”

Um…with all due respect, Steve, you don’t know what the other two-thirds want because they didn’t bother to vote.

If Israel (and the president) are any indication, the Democrats have decided that the non-voter is their perfect blank slate, upon which they can force any assumption and in whose they can put whatever words they like. That is a surefire recipe for a Republican president the next time actual voters get their say.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

Tax issue helped Republicans expand the wave election (too bad Virginia Republicans took it away from Gillespie)

November 5, 2014

Disaffection with the president was a major driver for Republican success in last night’s election – of that there is no doubt. That said, the extent of success was greatly helped by…wait for it…taxes.

We begin with the epicenter of the tax argument: Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback’s tax reduction were supposed to be his own worst enemy – a political millstone that might not only drag him down, but Senator Pat Roberts, too. Instead, Roberts won going away, and Brownback not only won re-election, but came within 100 votes of an absolute majority (a Libertarian nominee took 4% of the vote). AP (via the Lawrence Journal-World), explains why in their exit poll analysis:

TAX CUTS: Roughly half of the voters said that tax cuts Brownback pushed had mostly helped Kansas, while about two in five said they had hurt.

So the tax cuts broke roughly 10 ten points in Brownback’s favor, contrary to the conventional wisdom…not that this is any surprise to me.

In the rest of the country, the tax issue popped up in referenda. John Hood (NRO – The Corner) has the details:

It’s worth noting also that conservatives won all of the nation’s big fiscal-policy referenda this year, beating a gas-tax hike in Massachusetts and business-tax hike in Nevada, while winning tax limitations in Tennessee, Georgia, and Wisconsin.

Note the states listed: Massachusetts also elected a Republican Governor. In Georgia, both Republicans (Purdue for Senate and Governor Deal for re-election) managed to avoid runoff and win outright (yet another “surprise” for the chattering classes). Finally, of course, Wisconsin re-elected Governor Scott Walker with unexpected ease.

Finally, there is Maryland, where I must spend two nights a week for work. As such, I saw every add Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown (D) put up in his race to succeed his previous running mate, Governor Martin O’Malley. Brown’s ads ran the gamut of positive and negative, hard-hitting issue ads and soft-touch personal ones. By contrast, I only saw one ad for Republican Larry Hogan – an ad that tried to squeeze in all of O’Malley’s tax increases in 30 seconds (practically one per second), along with a promise to give taxpayers a rest if he (Hogan) won.

In fact, Hogan did win.

Similarly, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn used major tax increases to keep his state government afloat. Despite being in the president’s home state, Quinn lost to Republican Bruce Rauner last night.

Again, anger and disaffection with the president was the big driver here, but voters especially rewarded Republicans where they could also take advantage of the tax issue…

…which makes one wonder what could have happened in Virginia had Republican Ed Gillespie not had the headwinds of tax-hiking Republican Bob McDonnell to face.

I’m just sayin’.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

Why I am voting Republican tomorrow

November 3, 2014

Tomorrow is Election Day, 2014. It will be my first federal election in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District (I was in the 1st in 2012). As will likely surprise no one who read me regularly, I will be voting for the Republican nominees for Senate and Representative – Ed Gillespie and Randy Forbes.

I am voting (and volunteering) for the Republicans because the Republican Party remains the most viable vehicle for advancing economic liberty at home and American interests abroad. The minor parties are too small and unserious; independents are generally unaccountable; and the Democrats are – well, the Democrats. The Republicans aren’t perfect by any means, but they remain the best on offer.

As it happens, I will be voting in one competitive election (the increasingly exciting Senate race) and one non-competitive election (Congressman Forbes is a heavy favorite to win re-election), yet I consider both important. Obviously, in a competitive election, my vote could help determine who wins, and Republican Gillespie is far superior to incumbent Democrat Mark Warner. However, voting Republican in non-competitive elections matters, too. Should Forbes win with only 55%, for example, he will likely get more attention from the Democrats in 2016. He will have to expend resources (including national resources that could be used elsewhere) to defend his seat. He could garner an opponent who could even beat him in a bad Republican year. By contrast, if Forbes wins with 65% or more, all of the above begin to fade from view. I certainly can’t move the needle 10 points all by myself, but I can move the needle in that direction.

This is how every vote counts – even in the races that seem to be foregone conclusions. A Republican earning a larger margin of victory is a Republican who has more political capital to defend our interests abroad and economic freedom at home. A Democrat with a smaller margin of victory is put on notice, and less likely to ignore the growing Republican vote in his or her district or state. It is with this in mind that I choose the Republican nominees in both races.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift

Wall Street demands new money fix

October 27, 2014

Update: It appears the Fed isn’t listening (Washington Post), good for them.

They’re at it again.

The Wall Streeters who made their money while hooked on “quantitative easing” (or QE, for short) – the fancy term for when the Federal Reserve sucks up a whole range of securities and turns them into dollars – are insisting the world will come to an end if they don’t get their next fix (New York Post).

…it could cost Americans another $1 trillion.

As Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen winds down the huge Quantitative Easing 3 program, an addicted Wall Street is looking for the same fix in liquidity — a lethal cocktail to prop up feeble markets.

Despite the Fed reducing its purchases by $10 billion monthly since July, it now holds more than five times the sum of securities it had before the financial crisis.

The balance sheet, which exceeds $4.4 trillion, is approaching the size of Japan’s gross domestic product.

Of course, Wall Street would love to see QE4: it props up bond prices (when bond rates are low, their prices are high), while shoving folks who aren’t lucky enough to be sitting on that paper into stocks in a desperate search for a return on their investment. Stock and bond prices rise all around, creating an asset bubble.

Never mind that this does nothing for actual economic growth. Never mind that it exacerbates wealth and income inequalities (which are a real problem when they are caused by rent-seeking behavior like this).

In effect, we are still seeing the after effects of the Panic of 2008. The economic correction that should have happened was avoided when Washington enacted TARP (and thus convinced Americans that all the banks were sick, rather than just some of them). The flip-side was the fear of a “credit crunch” that was actually caused by shocking the corruption out of the LIBOR rate – while rates that were based on actual transactions (rather than a manipulated survey) barely moved.

To be fair, the Fed actually sounded the alarm on LIBOR, only to be ignored by their British counterparts. Still, the fact is, this in an economic funk that was caused not by the private sector, but two governments (in Washington and London)…and one of them is still perpetuating the myth that got us here in the first place.

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

Europe embraces its collapse with carbon reduction requirement

October 24, 2014

As we careen toward Election Day, the rest of the world drones on. Across the Atlantic, the European Union has decided to try reducing carbon emissions by 40% over the next fifteen years. Anthony Watts thinks it’s nuts…

Eric Worrall writes: The European Union has just committed economic suicide, by agreement a landmark deal, to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030.

Given that European emissions, by any rational measure, have been rising steadily, this would at first seem to be an impossible goal.

But anyone who is expecting a rational re-appraisal of European environment policy – don’t underestimate the blind determination of Europe’s green elite, to fulfill their dream of an emission free Europe. They will, in my opinion, happily bomb the European economy back into the stone age to achieve their ridiculous goal.

…and he’s not necessarily wrong. I do think, however, he needs to take into account the nature of the European economies. The Mediterranean nations are back on their…backs. France is slumping badly. Even Germany appears headed for recession (Open Europe). Yet the perverse quest for “ever closer union” continues in the EU.

So, the Eurocrats had two choices: acknowledge their grand political and economic experiment has been a bust, or embrace the collapse and try using it to achieve something politically correct.

Is it really a surprise which one they chose?

Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon

Remember Tax Cuts? They’re Baaaaaaaack.

October 3, 2014

Everyone in politics knows about that guy (or gal), the one who keeps banging on about taxes: they should never be raised; they should be cut at the first opportunity; government spending cuts can always be found in the budget; tax cuts are political winners; tax increases drive away voters like the plague; tax increases never bring in the revenue their supposed to raise anyway; tax increases discourage spending cuts, etc.

Of course, I am that guy. So I couldn’t help but notice that while Republicans in Washington are increasingly skittish about proposing tax reductions (the state capitals are another story), center-right politicians in the rest of the Anglosphere are grabbing them with both hands – and reaping the rewards.

Just last month, in New Zealand, National Prime Minister John Key asked voters for a third term with “promised tax cuts” while his Labour opponents proposed a new capital gains tax (Bloomberg via Sun-Sentinel). The result: the highest popular vote level for the National Party in over 60 years, and (pending special ballots) the Holy Grail of politics – an absolute majority in a proportional-representation election (Economist).

Meanwhile, just this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron launched the (unusually long due to fixed election dates) 2015 campaign with a promise of two separate income tax cuts. Less than two days later, YouGov (one of many pollsters in the UK) reported that Cameron’s Tories took their first lead in its poll in over two and a half years (Telegraph).

Finally, even our neighbor to the north is getting in the act: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is moving up his planned tax reductions by about six months (National Post).

Granted, in each of these nations, the center-right is actually in power, and thus have been better able to keep spending in check (at least since 2010). Still, it is yet another reminder in this era of near-record mistrust of government effectiveness (and not just here in the US), letting the people spend their own money is a powerful way to rebuild trust and support.

Cross-posted to Bearing Drift


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers