John M. O'Hara
John M. O'Hara

Shutdown Shenanigans

CNN's Dana Bash, speaking about ideas to fund essential programs like NIH clinical trials, asked Harry Reid “if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn’t you do it?” He responded, “Why would we want to do that?”


Though it is certainly despicable that he wouldn't want to make this happen, I don't think he or his colleagues simply don't care about kids with cancer. It does, however, highlight just how far those who depend on large government for power will go to preserve the status quo.

For one, they enjoy the pressure created by effecting as many people as possible with this shutdown - including expending more money keeping people out of national parks than it would have cost to keep them open.

Second, if they restored funding for the federal government one piece at a time using a common sense approach or public support of each program as a litmus test for what is "essential," government would get very small very fast, leaving fewer fiefdoms to control and fewer dollars to hand out in exchange for re-election.

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Patronizing and Wrong

President Obama's reelection campaign recently released "The Life of Julia," a slide show demonstrating how President Obama has made virtually every aspect of every woman's life better.  At each point in "Julia's" life, viewers are also reminded that Mitt Romney would destroy all this good work and thus the lives of millions of women.

This is not hyperbole on my part - watch the slide show.

This is an unbelievably disturbing combination of gross policy distortions and patronizing of women fueled by a philosophy of total government dependency and what can only be described as clinical narcissism.

Check out these great perspectives from NRO's Kevin Williamson and Human Events' David Harasanyi.

Update: For an alternative vision of public policy proposals that would empower Julia, check out the Heritage Foundation great post here.


Killing Illinois

The Illinois Policy Institute released this paper today.

If you are from Illinois, this is quite alarming.

Even if you are not from Illinois, this is a real wake-up call.  The anti-growth, big government policies persued for decades in Illinois that have led to this decline are what President Obama is pursuing for the rest of the nation.  Think about that come November.


Your $250,000 Car

This $250,000 car isn't an Italian import.

It is a plug in from Detroit that's been catching fire.  Not in terms of sales, though...only about 6,000 have sold.  It has literally been catching on fire.

The Chevy Volt, a plug in hybrid,would merely be chalked up as another "green" and Detroit automaker failure if it weren't for the fact that taxpayers have footed $250,000 per car in subsidies as the folks at the Mackinac Center recently discovered.

Proponents of subsidies like this claim that "everybody is doing it" and that it creates jobs.  But who decides which projects get subsidies?  Those with political clout, not necessarily those with the best projects at the best price, tend to win out.  This has been a halmark of the Obama administration.  Decisions on investment in emerging technology are best left to the market where decisions are made most efficiently and, in sharp contrast to the use of taxpayer subsidized "investments," made willfully.

Politically directed investment is dangerous, as demonstrated by the Volt and the Solyndra fiasco.  It is also morally wrong.  Much like the Cash for Clunkers failure, the Volt subsidy is essentially a wealth transfer from the lower end of the income spectrum to the higher end.

Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize new kinds of electric cars any more than they should be asked to bankroll electric yachts or helicopters.


Stifling Innovation in Illinois

This past spring, Illinois lawmakers passed a job-crippling law known as the affiliate nexus tax. This tax hurts an already struggling economy in Illinois by pushing small businesses out of Illinois or shutting them down altogether.

From the Illinois Policy Institute's recent paper on the topic:

The misguided affiliate nexus law attempts to offer a backdoor “solution” to the thorny issue of online sales tax collections. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that out-of-state retailers who do not have “nexus” – a significant physical presence in a given state – are not required to collect sales tax on purchases made by consumers in that state.

Illinois sidestepped this decision by legislating that an advertising relationship with an Illinois-based online affiliate marketer creates enough of a physical presence to compel tax collection from an out-of-state retailer. Online affiliate marketers are individuals, start-ups, established small businesses or nonprofit organizations. These affiliate marketers direct traffic to retailers through a link or coupon website in exchange for a small portion of resulting sales.

The following video explains the issue and how it impacts people.


For the full report, click here.

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What’s in a name?

Last night I went on WGN-CLTV's Politics Tonight to discuss ObamaCare.

Host Paul Lisnek brought up an interesting question: isn’t calling the recent federal health care bill “ObamaCare” partisan or, as Jon Stewart once asked me, offensive?

I don't believe it is partisan at all.

For one, ObamaCare is simply what most people call this law. Most people don’t know it by “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Calling it that or some version of that, like “the Affordable Health Care Act” as Jim did isn’t a balanced clarification, it is premeditated rebranding. Most citizens and most pundits call it ObamaCare. Calling it by its technical name is confusing for viewers, plain and simple.

Case in point from the other side of the aisle: when you think of the tax cuts that first came from the last guy in the White House, what do you hear pundits calling it – on both sides of the aisle? The Bush tax cuts. Nobody calls them by their official legislative name. I should say names, as they were codified in two separate bills during Bush’s tenure: the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. That’s a mouthful.

Second, the technical name is ridiculous. Like many bills and laws – Republican or Democrat – this law’s name doesn’t accurately reflect what it does. Why talk about bills or laws on the terms Beltway wordsmiths set? ObamaCare doesn’t protect patients or make health care more affordable. It does just the opposite.

Perhaps most importantly, if this bill is so great and this president is so proud of how great it is, why wouldn’t the president, his supporters, and supporters of this bill want to call it ObamaCare?

For the full set of videos, click here. Click here for: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or Part 4


Debt Tea

Today The New York Times ran my brief commentary on the debt ceiling and the tea party's influence:

Efforts to tie spending reductions to a debt ceiling increase aren’t merely ideological demands made by reckless ideologues.

Voters, particularly those who voted in this freshman class of Republicans, realize that their shot at achieving the American dream is threatened when the government continues to expand in size and scope, draining resources from their more efficient, equitable allocation in the private sector. What’s more, wasteful government spending crowds out both private and public programs that serve as the social safety net for the poor and disadvantaged.


Taxpayers Deserve Better


Last night I went on Fox Chicago to debate the debt ceiling issue.

My last comments that were cut from the segment were:

1) Obama isn't sticking to his guns - we don't know what they are as he simply assigns blame and doesn't have a plan of his own.

2) Democrat or Republican, if you're a lawmaker and serious about getting this country back on a fiscally responsible path, taxpayers deserve a guarantee of serious structural spending reform in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

Our nation - like Illinois - doesn't have a revenue problem. We have a spending problem that got us to this very high ceiling in the first place.

If your teenager taps out the credit card limit at $20,000, you don’t just call up American Express and ask for a raise in the limit without engaging in serious conversation where you assess past spending habits (what’s necessary, what was excessive, what’s possible in the future within a certain budget) and secure a guarantee of change in behavior for more responsible prioritization and spending in the future.

That isn’t partisanship, which is all too common in Washington and state capitals across the country. It is common sense and it is in short supply in this debate.


Blago Boondoggle

I appeared on Fox St. Louis regarding the bogus Sparta shooting complex taxpayers have shelled out over $50 million for.

I love shooting as much as the next guy...probably more...but taxpayers shouldn't be in the business of running a trap and skeet facility.


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Outrageously Out of Touch

Three raises in a year?! My colleague Kristina Rasmussen at the Illinois Policy Institute went on Fox Business to discuss the IL government union's latest out of touch request of the financially strained taxpayers that support them. Take a look: