Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dirty Little Rumors

I hate gossip. It is something that we as men, chide women for doing, yet I have to admit that men seem to do it more. Sharing the office scuttlebutt around the water cooler is a normal thing. Washington D.C. is no different. There are countless blogs and papers that treat members of congress like the Kardashian sisters. I did stumble over some gossip that I found intriguing if not troubling.

There is a rumor that Rep. Renee Ellmers, 2nd District Congresswoman from North Carolina, is having an extra-marital affair with a member of the GOP leadership. There are several sources sniping that Kevin McCarthy, House Majority Leader is that man.

It is not a surprise that the leadership seems to like Rep. Ellmers. She is totally devoted to the party line, and is a loyal foot solider for Speaker John Boehner. Nowadays, loyalty is very appreciated by the leadership. I hope that these rumors are untrue. For one, it would devastate the families involved. Two, it would mean that once again the Hubris of Washington D.C. had ensured the country girl from Dunn, NC.

The story has not gained legs. Trust me, if the liberal media gets ahold of this it would be a field day. I do not bring this up to hurt Rep. Ellmers or her family. I take no pleasure in bringing this up. However, we here in the 2nd District want truth. We want a Representative to Congress that is not an adulterer. These rumors may be just that. I would feel a lot better if I heard it from the mouth of our congresswoman.


Friday, March 6, 2015

NCGA Has a Gas Problem

     It is widely known that North Carolina has the highest gas tax in the southeast. We contribute vast amounts of money to the transportation department budget. It is also widely known that our infrastructure and the department that runs it, is full of waste and inefficiency. This is not uncommon but still upsetting. We, the motorists of the old North State, pay so much for so little in return. If you weren't mad enough, then just wait till you see what our GOP led State House and Senate are doing.
     The calculation that determines gas prices was going to adjust this year. A The adjustment was going to be rather expansive due to falling crude oil prices. Estimates had the gas tax dropping as low as 26.9 cents. Instead the NCGA has passed a bill that does not allow the drop in prices and actually pushes a gas tax hike. The logic that is being used to justify this bill sounds like talking points from a Jim Hunt administration or a Marc Gaslight budget briefing. Not a GOP led, supposedly conservative legislature.
I understand that we need to spend money on transportation. I want to drive on safe bridges, smooth roads, and uncontested free ways. However, for the money we are already spending and have spent we should have that already. It's time for a new approach.
The legislature could actually start using sound budgeting practices. If you look at budget worksheets and budget documents you see millions of dollars worth of transfers and bailouts. We need to adopt zero based budgeting at the state level. Instead of using base line budgeting that rarely yields cuts or spending reductions, using zero based budgeting would be more efficient and more effective.
    The legislature should also stand up to Tony Tata and enforce fiscal discipline. We need to stop subsidizing pork barrel projects that help politicians and not motorists. The legislature needs to make sure that we look at our infrastructure needs and ensure that projects that need to be done get done and leave the pet projects alone.
     The legislature to me should adopt this common sense approach:
          1. Reduce DOT staff by 25%.
          2. Form a plan that prioritizes the repair of major bridges and highways based on need and not
             who the Rep. or who the Senator is.
          3. Institute a fixed gas tax rate. Not a calculation.
          4. Cap it, and require super majorities in the House and Senate to raise it.
     This plan is just the start. We should look into privatizing the State DOT. The Governor would appoint the Transportation Secretary. The Secretary and their star would put projects out to bid and take the bidder who deliver the best product for the best price.
     I am not a policy wonk, but common sense, conservatism is not hard and is not rocket science. The wizards of smart in Raleigh missed the boat on this one. The GOP led house retreated from a fight that needed fighting. It's tell a Republican face nowadays. Since they always seem to retreat from the fight, all I see is the back of their heads.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Washington is Leaving Our Kids Behind

In the old North State, education is king., It is an issue that affects all levels of government. It never seems to be resolved or fixed. There is always something wrong. It could be that way because as government has grown, so has it's role in education. Have you ever noticed that when government gets involved in something, it always leaves it worse than it found it? Education is a black hole. Billions of dollars are spent on it with nothing to show for it. What can we do about it?
The first thing we need to do is get rid of No Child Left Behind. As is Washington's way, a bill is named for a cause and does the opposite. Millions of children are left behind everyday. They are lacking proficiency in Math, Science, and Reading skills. I thought that the goal of No Child Left Behind was to stop this slide? Instead the problem is much worse.
Teachers are teaching to a test. They are compensated based on a test score and not if the child is actually learning. The children spend most of the year studying for multiple tests outside of their everyday curriculum only to fall behind our international competition. What is the solution?

1. When the vote for No Child Left Behind comes up early this year, kill it. We need Republicans in the House and the Senate to stand strong and vote to not reauthorize. We may even find some moderate, red state democrats to vote with us as well.
2. No more holding states money hostage in exchange for Common Core standards. Under the current system, Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan can issue a waiver to a state who is not up to snuff according to the benchmarks in NCLB. In exchange for the waiver and not having to pay million in fees, the state simply has to adopt Common Core as their curriculum. By ending NCLB, we would end the need for waiver and penalties. States could opt out and pursue their own curriculums without penalty.
3. Start using block grants. By block granting the money to the states, it gives our Governor's and Legislator's money free from the web of DC. It allows states, like NC, to not accept the watered down, incoherent standards of Common Core and issue better localized standards. I'm sure the Feds in Washington mean well, but I think Ed Dennison, and Moore County School Board should have more say.

We need to change. We need to stop trying to outsmart ourselves. I went to a small Christian school in Southern Pines, NC. It was a religious based school and it was not fancy. The only kind of smart board we had is if you wrote the word smart on there. We had one room dedicated to keyboarding and the computers we had were not IMac's. I say this not to whine but to enlighten. I would wager to say that the SAT scores of Calvary Christian School, and other private schools like it in Moore County were far superior to out public school counterparts. Why? Because at our school you taught a curriculum that had nothing to do with a test. In schools nowadays you have students with IPads and laptops but I would rather have that old chalk board in my science teachers class than the Surface I am writing this post with. I learned about the subjects. I worked on them, and was a tested on them. I didn't need a ton of standardized tests. My teachers knew how I was progressing by the quality of my daily work and the cumulative tests on the material.
I can remember taking one SAT at the end of the year. That test was a guide. A barometer of how well the curriculum we used worked. It was not a test our teachers were compensated for. It was not a test we prepared for or were taught to. The real mark of whether you passed or not was your report card. The report card was based on your homework, your tests, your mid and end of year exams. If you had an F or a D average you did not pass. There was no t-ball, everybody wins mentality. You either passed on because you earned it or you didn't. We need more of that simplicity in public schools.
The best way to fix our schools is to get Washington as far away from it as possible. Lets get rid of No Child Left Behind. Lets stop the bullying by our Federal government . Lets get teachers back to doing what they do best, teaching. We can fix our education system. It doesn't take a bunch of Washington Bureaucrats to do it. Actually it would be better if they stopped. We just need to go back to what was working before Washington butted it's nose in.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

State Needs To Reform Lottery

The NC lottery was passed under questionable circumstances. Governor Mike Easley and the Democratic controlled legislature jammed it through while some GOP lawmakers were out of town or with sick family members. It came into being in a bad way and today it functions in a bad way. 
According to the last fiscal year only 503 million dollars were contributed to education. That sounds like a lot but when you divide that by the State budget allocation to education of $11,000,000,000, it is only 4% of the funding. 
The legislature routinely uses lottery funds to balance the  budget. Instead of keeping funding at a consistent rate, many times they cut the portion of lottery funds to education if overall general fund spending on education goes up. 
If we are going to use the title, "education lottery", we should spend most of it on education. 
 About 30% of all lottery revenue goes to education. According to even if 100% of the proceeds were given to education funding it would be a paltry 19% of education funding. 
We need to make some common sense  reforms to the education lottery. 
1. Education only- make the education lottery strictly for education. No more robbing Peter to pay Paul. 
2. Increase the % of lottery revenues allocated to education no less than 50%.
3. Make the lottery funding a true supplement. Instead of using it to make up a shortfall or to complete the funding, make it in addition to. So instead of $11,000,000,000 you would have $11,503,100,000. 
The legislature, originally, promised 40% of the lottery revenue share would be for the capital project fund. That number is more like 22%. This legislature needs to fulfill their promise to our local schools. 
I was not for the lottery, but it's here to stay. The least they, the legislature, could do is spend most of it on education. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Tragic Masquerade

Rep. Renee Ellmers was elected in 2010. She unseated Rep. Bob Etheridge. Etheridge was, at the time, a giant in Democratic politics. He was a huge favorite to retain what was thought of as "his" seat. The TEA party revolution and the tidal wave of voters who caused it, swept Renee Ellmers into office. Of all the candidates who won that year, her story stuck out. 
A Nurse from Dunn, NC who was not widely known. Someone who spoke of the evils of Obamacare, not in abstract, but as a medical professional. She spoke of liberty and freedom. She became the face of a movement. 
Sadly, the face was a painted mask of deception. She donned the wool of a sheep to hide the fur and fangs of the wolf. In the end, like all deception, truth was revealed. The Renee Ellmers of 2010 is a different character than the one we see in 2015. 
She became the mouth piece for a flacid leadership. Instead of championing the cause of the David's of her district she drank the wine of Goliath's Phillistines. She became Speaker Boehner's most ardent supporter. Instead of fighting for immigration reform she fought for amnesty. Instead of balanced budgets , she voted for back room deals and more spending. 
There is a clear, unmistakable pattern that has emerged over her time in Congress. She is more at home at DC cocktail parties than at a rally for Moore TEA citizens. She is more in line with the Chamber of Commerce than she is with Heritage Action for America. She is more comfortable with liberal talking points than conservative truth. She has traded her righteousness for filthy rags. She is no longer the Representative of us. She is the representative of the establishment which she worked to defeat in 2010. It is as infuriating as it is tragic. 
Now we hear that Rep. Ellmers is against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. This act would make it illegal to have an abortion after the pregnancy has reached 20 weeks. It is a scientific fact that children in the womb can feel pain at 20 weeks and after. This bill was considered, on anniversary week of Roe v. Wade, to be a slam dunk. Rep. Ellmers is fighting it. She is fighting it on two points. 
First, is politics. She, Ellmers, is scared of offending millennials and losing their votes. Do take a moment and pick your jaw up off the floor there's more. 
“I have urged leadership to reconsider bringing it up next week. … We got into trouble last year, and I think we need to be careful again; we need to be smart about how we’re moving forward,” Ellmers said in an interview. “The first vote we take, or the second vote, or the fifth vote, shouldn’t be on an issue where we know that millennials—social issues just aren’t as important [to them].”
Let us bask in the glory of this hubris. She is saying that she would rather let the bill die, and unborn children as well for that matter, because she doesn't want to lose votes. This kind of blatant arrogance and conceit is more at home in a House of Cards episode than from a Rep. of conservative counties like Moore, Lee, Randolph, and Chatham. 
She goes on to say that the language in the bill that would allow for exemptions for rape victims as long as they report the rape to authorities. Imagine, ensuring that women who want an abortion based on the crime of rape, so long as it is reported to the police. This language is not only logical but necessary. Without it, women who want an abortion would simply cry rape. This is simply making sure that the woman and the baby are protected. Yet, our dear Congresswoman is against this common sense language. She is against common sense in general I suppose. 
Where do we go from here. We fight. We call her office, (202) 225-4531, and ask her to drop her opposition to and vote for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Then, when a suitable conservative candidate comes along we throw all our weight behind them. We knock on doers. We raise money. We do what we did in 2010. We unseat a powerful incumbent, who has forgotten their place. Rep. Ellmers represents D.C. not N.C. She must go. Our budget, our spending, our district, and our unborn children will be better off. 


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Randy Saunders Takes Mask Off

Commissioner Randy Saunders ran as the anti-Tim Lea. He wanted to be open and transparent. He did not want to play the political games that Tim Lea was so good at playing. However, his actions over the last several months have proven otherwise. 
He went on record with a regional tv station saying that he would not have voted for a resolution the Moore County Board of Commissioners passed in November. The resolution condemned the actions of activist judges who overruled the will of Moore County, and NC voters, who had voted for Amendment 1. Saunders was not present but made it abundantly clear that his spine does not extend to the social issues. 
Then yesterday Randy Saunders continued his deception. He was a voting delegate to the NCACC conference. The conference is an opportunity for the County Commissioners as a group across the state to push their legislative goals. 
The Moore County Board of Commissioners in conversations had come to a consensus on the following goals: 
1. Lottery funding- making sure that the legislature funds education initiatives with the lottery funding as promised. 
2. Keep School bus funding a state matter or responsibility. 
3. No unfunded mandates. 
There were others, but these were the main ones. Education was the main area of concern for the Commissioners. Randy Saunders said that he would carry out the will of the board. 
He instead voted went against the will of the board and went along with the crowd. He voted to make expanding Medicaid more important than what he and his fellow board members agreed to do. He said one thing and did another. 
It is bad on two points. The first is that the expansion of Medicaid makes no fiscal sense. Second, is that he went to represent the Moore County Board and instead of voting the collective will of the board he substituted his own agenda. 
We have learned two things from this. The first is that Randy Saunders is more liberal than he lets on. The second is not to trust Randy Saunders. 
It is sad. It truly is sad that Randy Saunders could have been a leader in that room. He could have shown that Moore County is for education, limited government, and fairness. Instead, he voted, with the crowd, for more spending and more government. Sad. 

We Can Do Better

There is a push going on in North Carolina politics. The push is to expand Medicaid coverage in the state under the Affordable Care Act. You would not be shocked that the Moral Monday Democrat Party is for this. Would it shock you that there are many Republicans for the measure? 
Governor McCrory recently met with President Obama and spoke about expanding Medicaid coverage in the state. There are many institutions like the NC County Commissioners League that have expressed support for such an expansion. It is very likely that we will see this happen. This legislative session. Even if some say so. 

When NC Policy Watch says it won't happen, that is a sign it may happen. 

The Percentage of our state budget that goes to Medicaid funding is around 17%. Any study, by liberal or conservatives, only show that the growth will continue to rise. Some projections are that by the year 2040 it could be as high as 50% of our budget. 

The expansion will only accelerate the growth. The monies from the Federal Government will pay for the expansion for three years. Then the state will have to start kicking in for a share of the cost. Even at overly optimistic projections of a 90-10 split of the costs, the cost of Medicaid will skyrocket. We already are having trouble with the 17%. The amount of money paid out now does not decrease and the expanded coverage will only bend the cost curve further up not down. 
Expanding Medicaid is pure politics. It allows politicians to claim that they are helping people who can't afford it get coverage. They only see the political upside, not the budgetary and structural downside it will cause our state. 
I know we can do better. Here are a few ways we can help lower health care costs for North Carolinians: 
1. Tort Reform- Texas passed protections for frivolous lawsuits and have seen an exponential increase in medical professionals moving there. We need to do the same here. We will be able to attract good doctors to our state. This will also lower the rate of malpractice insurance and other costs that doctors pass on to consumers/ patients. 
2. HSA- why doesn't the state give folks who can't afford it HSA accounts with $2500 in it. These accounts are tax free and these folks many of whom are younger can bank savings to pay for emergencies and potential catastrophic care. 
These are just a few ideas. There are a great many others that are a better alternative to expanding Medicaid coverage. 
I hope that you will contact your state Rep. and Senator. If you live in Moore County your Rep. is Jamie Boles and Senator is Jerry Tillman. Their contact info is listed below. Please contact them and tell them that we do not want, nor can we afford Obama's Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina. 

Senator Tillman

Rep. Jamie Boles