Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Conservatives - Please Read This!

This was written by Governor Mike Huckabee and it really struck home with me. (I edited out some of it for space.) As a conservative voter, I need to be active and not sit on the sidelines hoping things go my way. Please read this and then get involved!

Enough already of the hand-wringing and night sweats about the demise of the conservative movement!

Conservatives aren't challenged because of the basic principles that define us, but by the failure of the principles being translated into policy and practice. Gandhi once said, "If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today."

I would be so brazen to say that if conservatives would really live according to the principles of classic conservatism, all of America would be conservative today. The crisis is not one over the precepts, but the practice. It's not that we've failed in our doctrine, but our "doing."

Conservatives believe that the best government is the most local government possible and that the 10th Amendment means something and should be followed. Yet, the supposedly conservative Republican Party has been a drum major for the expanded role of the federal government.

Our founders feared a highly centralized and endowed federal government, instead preferring a system of strong and virtually independent states so that no one person, party, or power broker would exercise a great deal of control. The inherent danger of allowing too much power in the hands of the few was the heart of the major dispute between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson won, believing that the dispersing of power among the states would by design keep the federal government from becoming too consuming and powerful in its approach to governing.

The genius of the 10th Amendment, as is true of all of the Bill of Rights, was that it deliberately limited what the government could do - not what the individual could do. The 10th Amendment defines the limits of the federal government in 28 words: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Over the past few years, Republicans have been either acquiescing in or encouraging the acquisition of more power and control by the federal government - in policy shifts in education, health care, and even how a driver's license looks.

Perhaps no other example is more glaring than having painfully watched so-called Washington conservatives abandon the most fundamental principle of conservatism - fiscal restraint. A Republican administration pushed for and got the authority to spend $700 billion that we had to borrow from our grandchildren's future so we could do what government has no business doing - picking out winners and losers in the private sector marketplace. It was especially disgusting to me to watch some of the very leaders who had smugly dismissed my candidacy for president because I had the audacity to speak out against the excesses of Wall Street and Washington as early as February 2007 now stand up and flop-sweat as they explained why they were about to support the government taking off the striped shirts of the referee and put on the jersey of a team to play the game for one team against another all in the name of "saving the markets." By abandoning our bedrock conservative principles, and those of our founding fathers, they risked ruining our country to save the markets.

What gives me hope is my belief that the party of Reagan will reunite behind the consistent conservative policies that have made our country great - policies that empower individuals, families, and entrepreneurs, not government, to shape our own destinies. If we do that, we will not fail.

We don't need so much to redefine conservatism. Just practice the real thing.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NC State Budget - An Accident Waiting To Happen?

NC State Senator Peter Brunstetter (31st District) had the following to say about the upcoming NC state budget in a 4/2/09 newsletter: "The other ingredient for next week’s storm is most likely to be the Senate budget. We are hearing that the budget will be released to the public and the Senate early next week, although that information is second hand at best. One of the biggest sources of frustration to me, as a Senator, is my inability to participate meaningfully in the budget process. There has been a lot of work going on in the Senate, behind closed doors, but the activity has been restricted to only a handful of Senators.

The primary participants are what are called the “Big Chairs”. In other words the four co-chairs of the Appropriations/Base Budget Committee, the President Pro Tempore and the Majority Leader. There may be a few others who drift in and out of the process. Other than that, most of the Senate waits for the budget to be delivered to it...We will then have a very short time (often less than 24 hours) to review the massive document before the first vote is taken in Committee, with a floor vote shortly thereafter. The group that I mentioned above has been working on the budget for months, and yet the rest of us need to turn it over night. Something isn’t right about that picture.

I suppose that some centralization is necessary. With 50 people expected to vote, there does need to be reliance upon a core group of leaders at some point. The majority party has the privilege of leading that charge. In our Senate though, the centralization and secrecy almost borders on paranoia, shielding the budget from Republicans, the Press and the public until the last possible moment. In the ten years that I chaired the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, I bent over backwards to make sure that Republicans and Democrats alike had a full voice in the budget process. I knew where the majority votes would come from, but the input from our Democrats was often very helpful and constructive and shaped a budget that was fairer and more reflective of the entire community’s priorities. Eight of the ten budget votes taken while I was Chairman were unanimous. I think that there would be many more Republicans who would vote affirmatively on state budget issues if there was a meaningful opportunity for participation and input. It’s hard to vote for, and place your stamp of approval on, a budget you have had less than 24 hours to review." (I put in bold print information I thought was important, they were not in bold print in the newsletter.)

I appreciate Senator Brunstetter's concerns with our state's budget. Didn't anyone in Raleigh pay attention to the budget fiasco in Washington, DC not long ago? Did they not see Senators tell us they voted on a budget they didn't read that authorized bonuses to AIG? With the economic issues we face in our state, it would be in our best interests to allow our elected officials the appropriate amount of time to review and vote on our state's budget.

Foxx Opposes Debt-Financed Budget

The following is from a press release from NC Congresswoman Virginia Foxx

Foxx opposes massive, debt-financed budget
Votes in favor of alternative budget that keeps spending in check

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-05) voted last night against the Democrat budget that produces more than $9 trillion in new debt over the next ten years, in addition to raising taxes by more than $1.4 trillion. She also voted in favor of the Republican alternative budget that puts a lid on runaway government spending and keeps taxes low for North Carolina families.

“The choice was clear,” Foxx said. “It was a choice between a budget that borrows and spends unprecedented amounts of money and a Republican alternative that recognizes that we cannot borrow and spend our way to prosperity—that’s what got us into this mess in the first place.”

The Democrat budget plan remakes the federal government, creating the largest federal government since World War II. In the process of growing the size of the federal government the Democrat budget creates a record-setting deficit—$1.75 trillion. In contrast, the Republican alternative budget would save the nation $3.6 trillion over the next ten years.

But the differences don’t stop with debt and spending. The Republican alternative also refrains from raising taxes—unlike the Democrats’ budget, which raises taxes by $1.4 trillion over ten years.

Another key difference is the approach to energy policy. The Democrats’ budget contains so-called “cap and trade” provisions that will put a cap on carbon emissions and by extension, economic growth. This plan will raise the cost of energy for every sector of the economy and, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, will ship 3-4 million jobs oversees where energy costs will be much lower.

Instead of punishing Americans with a new energy taxes, the Republican budget pursues energy independence with an innovative plan that aggressively focuses on alternative energy without creating new taxes and government mandates.

“Two budgets with two sets of priorities: one budget means more government, more debt and more taxes,” Foxx said. “The GOP alternative, on the other hand, means a return to a common-sense approach to government that emphasizes individual freedom and responsibility instead of a big-government, nanny state.”