Economy & Budget

A Better Strategy on Poverty

David Brooks had an interesting article in Tuesday's New York Times about the different approaches taken by John Edwards and Barack Obama when it comes to the issue of poverty. Brooks is an astute political observer, and he didn’t mention any approaches taken by any Republican candidates, probably because no Republican has really focused that much on the issue. It is time for the Republican candidates to get in the game.

Poverty is a real issue in America. Poverty crushes the dreams of millions of Americans. Efforts to take care of the poor cost the Treasury billions of dollars, money that seems to get little results. Poverty encourages crime. Where there is poverty, the chances of disease, like TB, increases. 
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The Problem With Taxes As an Issue

My favorite part of the Democratic CNN/YouTube debate was the guitar-playing anti-tax guy. He was playing my song.

I think taxes should be a big issue in the next campaign. I believe we pay too many taxes to fund too much wasteful government. I think it is an issue that Republicans should unify over. I think people should be taking to the streets to protest outrageous tax rates.

Unfortunately, I am in the distinct minority. Taxes fall way down on the list of the most important issues in most polls.
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Two Terrible Ideas

The weekend headlines bring no respite from the bad news. Two of the absolute worst suggestions are now in the public domain, the first courtesy of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats and the second from our old friend John Edwards.

Dumb Idea #1. Senate Democrats are proposing that an independent counsel (i.e., special prosecutor) be appointed to investigate Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys back in December. As the song goes, “When will they ever learn?”
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Time to Play Some Offense

I was watching the news the other day, and I saw an advertisement put up by the Democrats thanking the Democrats for all their success in the first seven months of their majority.

Talk about chutzpah.

Talk about smart.

My mom always told me that if you don’t believe good things about yourself, nobody else will. Well, it is time for the Republicans to start believing that their philosophy has led to some real progress for the American people. If we don’t start believing it, nobody else will. 
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The Dog Days of Summer

The weather in Washington, D.C. has been rather pleasant, all things considered, but that doesn’t mean the nation’s capital has avoided the dog days of summer.

In Congress, the dog days of summer mean it is the appropriations season. With 13 appropriations bills to complete before the end of the fiscal year at the end of the September, the Congress usually slogs away at spending bills designed to keep the government open.

These are especially dog days for the taxpayer, because the Democratic Congress is trying to go on a spending binge.
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ACORN Cried Foul Over Minimum-Wage Hike; What Would Edwards Do?

As he wrapped up his three-day poverty tour through the South yesterday, Louisville, Ky.'s Courier-Journal reports that presidential candidate John Edwards (D) told a crowd in Prestonsburg, "We're going to raise the national minimum wage so people working for the minimum can actually provide for a family.”

That’s all well and good for a Democratic candidate who’s trying to position himself as THE liberal in a crowded field of liberal candidates. But again, it begs the question: Why then would John Edwards campaign with the liberal activist organization ACORN, which in 1995 sued California to be exempt from the minimum-wage law, arguing, “the more that Acorn must pay each individual outreach worker … the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire.” (John Fund, The Wall Street Journal.)

A lot of small-business owners would make the same argument. Then again, Edwards isn’t out campaigning on behalf of America’s entrepreneurial class, is he?
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Can't Get Enough

“Please help me before I spend again!” Oh, you won’t hear any member utter those words on the House floor this summer during debate over the annual spending bills, but their actions betray their sentiments as well as their desperation. They repeatedly show arrogant disdain for the voters who beg to be heard: “Stop! For the love of Pete, just stop the spending!”

Just last week, House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) coyly announced he will publish a list of earmarks in the Congressional Record before a House-Senate conference committee will vote on final passage. How noble of you, Mr. Chairman!
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Unfair Rules

This country is about equal opportunity, not equal outcome. How many times have we heard that? It's the American way to give everybody the same fair chance at success. What a wonderful theory.

So let's talk about all the equal opportunity here in the U-S of A, shared by rich and poor alike: 
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Them That Got v. Those That Don't

Let's talk about our economic system. More and more it is ruled by a Tyranny of the Quarterly Report. Profits über alles. No longer is business governed by anything more than the amoral push to constantly increase earnings and reduce expenses. That has become the only way top executives can keep their jobs and their obscene compensation.

And how do they do that? Let's see: They can "improve productivity," which often means cutting jobs. They can reduce expenses, which often means cutting jobs and product quality. They can move their operations to a Third World country where they can pay near slave wages, and leave their workers and communities in the dust, as well as the consumer, who is less likely to be protected from dangerous goods. 
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A Strong Economy, A Weak Stomach

“This is far and away the strongest global economy I’ve seen in my business lifetime,” Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson recently said to Fortune magazine.

People investing in the stock market would seem to agree. It broke another record yesterday, and barring unforeseen circumstances, will break the 14,000 barrier by the end of the summer.

While America hums along, the rest of the world is going like gangbusters. Most of the big growth is happening overseas, in places like China, India, Chile and even in some African countries. But we are growing too, as is Europe. A rare time when the world is growing together.
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