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Contrast of Facts On the Presidential Race

This is long for a blog post. Sorry about that. But I was cc’d on an email exchange between two people I know that is worth sharing. The first email was a list of President Obama’s accomplishments straight from the campaign’s website. Fair enough, but just one more political hack who spams their friends’ inboxes with campaign materials doesn’t impress me much. In fact it’s kind of insulting.

What I’m copying here – and I have to copy and paste from the email since it’s not pulled off a campaign website that I know of – is a friend’s thoughtful response to that list, providing real facts and real context from a real person. If it doesn’t read like a campaign commercial that’s because it isn’t one. It’s the product of someone who’s done their homework and thinks for themselves.

I’m in the information business and I don’t fear providing information and links from people with whom I personally disagree because I think most people are smart enough to figure out what’s right, wrong, useful, and manipulative. So I’m giving you, via link and text, a bunch of information that you can add to the mix if you’re still on the fence. I’m not going to tell you who to believe or vouch for the data and assertions by either of these takes, but please look at the link above, and then at the rebuttal below. And then do your civic duty on Tuesday.

Rebuttal to “spammer friend” of Obama campaign’s list of accomplishments:

“1. Unemployment: According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession ended in June, 2009, over three years ago. Shortly into his first term, Obama promised if Congress passed the stimulus package unemployment would never top 8% and would drop below 6% by 2012. Just last month, for the first time since Obama’s election, unemployment dropped below 8%. Obama’s 43 straight months of unemployment over 8% is the longest for any presidency. As bad as that is, it is even worse if you analyze the real unemployment under Obama when you count all the folks who have given up looking for work. Taking those folks into account results in a true unemployment rate of 11.63%.

2. The Recovery Act: Most of America is now aware of the expensive failures of the stimulus just on green energy alone. These include Solyndra ($500 million), A123 Systems ($249.1 million), Abound Solar ($400 million), Amonix Solar ($20 million), and several more. Additionally, as stated above, the promised effect on employment never materialized. Despite this, digging deeper into the numbers shows the disastrous result of the stimulus. In the second Quarter of 2012, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that between 200,000 to 1.2 million people have jobs they otherwise would not have without the stimulus. Giving the President the benefit of the doubt by assuming the correct number is 1.2 million jobs, that equates to $692,500 per job “created or saved” by the Obama stimulus. Seems like we would have been better giving those 1.2 million folks a $100k each and saved the rest. While the president touts creating 5 million new jobs during his first term, it would actually have taken 9 million new jobs just to keep up with population growth. Consequently, the Obama economy is not just running in sand, it is running in quicksand.

3. Debt/Deficit/Budget: After criticizing as “unpatriotic” the doubling of the national debt from $5 trillion to roughly $10 trillion under Bush over eight years, Obama increased the debt by nearly $6 trillion in less than four years. Google or search on YouTube for “Hal Mason” and/or “United States Budget Dilemma” and you will learn the US budget cannot be balanced even if the government shut down. More specifically, you will learn the US will spend $3.8 trillion under Obama in 2012 but collect only $2.5 trillion dollars in tax revenue, a record deficit of $1.3 trillion. According to the White House’s own books, the government will spend $225 billion paying interest our debt, $2,252 trillion on entitlements and $1.319 trillion operating the government (military, energy, education, congress, courts, etc.). If you do the math, you will find that spending for entitlements in interest alone exceeds the tax revenue collected. That means we are borrowing money every day to run every other facet of government like the military, etc. Now, Washington talking about the upcoming “fiscal cliff.” After watching the Hal Mason video I came to the conclusion we already went over a cliff. Scary to think our current fiscal crisis can get even worse.

4. Health Care Reform: This was sold to the American people as costing $900 billion. This was done so Obama could say it would not add to the deficit. Now the cost is estimated to exceed $2 trillion. Obama also promised healthcare reform would result in a reduction of health insurance premiums. My health insurance agent, who is the same age and has the same number of children as me, informed me he attended agent training about the bill and what will happen in 2014 when it goes into full force. Based on the information provided, he calculated his premium will go up $300/month, or $3600/year, which means I will experience the same increase. Yet another broken promise, only this one directly hits my pocketbook (& everyone else’s).

5. Iran: Iran is 4 years closer to a nuclear bomb than when Obama took office. Despite what Obama says, the US’s relationship with Israel, our strongest allie in the Middle East, has never been weaker. Most alarming was Obama’s decision to go on “The View” to meet with Whoopi Goldberg and the gang instead of meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister.

6. Al qaeda: Obama deserves credit for authorizing our Navy Seals to kill Bin Laden. However, I think it is fair to say any President would have given the same order and I give more credit to our military and intelligence agency. While Bin Laden’s death was a terrific moral victory, we recently learned Al Qaeda wasn’t “decimated” as claimed. We learned this when an Al qaeda affiliated group attacked the US Consulate in Benghaze, Libya, and killed our ambassador (either before or after raping him according to news reports) and 3 other Americans, and then flew the Al qaeda flag over our consulate. Now I know what Obama means when he says we are leading from behind.

7. Immigration. Obama promised immigration reform in his first term. For the first two years of his presidency he had Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House. Despite this, he didn’t get it done.

8. Auto Bailout: Both before and after the auto bailout, American automakers faced a built-in disadvantage when compared to foreign automakers, even those with plants in the US. This is because of compensation and benefit contracts with the UAW. Due to these built-in costs, US auto companies incur an increase of cost of approximately $2000 per vehicle manufactured as compared to non-US companies. Had the US auto companies gone through a bankruptcy they would’ve had to make the structural changes necessary to eliminate this disadvantage. Instead, the US taxpayer bailed them out, leaving the structural defects in place which led to the failure in the first place. These defects include $22 billion in unfunded pension liabilities worldwide for GM alone ($10 billion in US alone, according to Bloomberg). The bailout was like handing a drunk man a drink for his drive home. The latest estimate is that the US taxpayer will lose between $20 to $30 billion on the GM portion of the bailout alone. Additionally, it should be noted that as part of the bailout the Obama administration forced hundreds of dealerships to close, costing thousands of jobs. Since dealerships are not owned by the auto companies, and these dealers bought products from the auto companies which were then sold to the public, I don’t understand how eliminating dealers, who ultimately sell the products, helps auto companies. Seems to me that since someone else is footing the bill to keep the dealership open, and the auto companies make their money selling their product to the dealers, the auto companies would benefit from having more dealers to buy and sell their products. I guess I just don’t understand Obamanomics.

9. Gay marriage: Obama was against gay marriage (2008) before he was for it (2012).

10. Leadership: For me, the biggest issue is leadership. I am reading Bob Woodward’s book “The Price of Politics” and have been watching Woodward on TV criticizing Obama’s leadership failure (which is surprising because neither Woodward nor the Washington Post are known for loving conservatives). In the book I learned even the Democratic leaders in Congress are frustrated with Obama’s lack of interaction and communication with them. Most telling is the story of how the White House had to scramble on election eve of 2010 to get John Boehner’s (the Republican minority leader) phone number so Obama could call and congratulate Boehner on presumptively becoming the new Speaker of the House. After 2 years of being President, Obama did not have the phone number of the Republican leader of the US House of Representatives. Incredible! How can you expect to change the tone in Washington DC if the executive branch is not communicating with the leaders of the legislative branch, especially with the leaders of the other party? Even Bush was able to sit down with Ted Kennedy and write an education reform bill in his first term.

The discussion on leadership leads me to a comparison of Obama and Romney. In 2008 I saw nothing in Obama’s history to suggest he was prepared to be President. Four years of Obama has not changed my opinion, especially after seeing him jet off to Vegas for a campaign event on 9/12 with the knowledge that Al qaeda killed our ambassador and had its flag flying over our consulate. Then, for more than a month he and his administration continued the narrative that Benghazi was the result of an anti-Islam video. We now know Obama and White House knew it was an organized attack before Obama landed in Vegas.

Compare Obama’s record with Romney’s and it is not even close. Romney succeeded in private business, saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics (and actually turned a deficit into a surplus), then turned a $2 billion deficit in Massachusetts into a balanced budget as governor and lowered unemployment to 4%.

All things considered, it isn’t even close for me. Nevertheless, I know there many good, patriotic folks such as yourself who feel differently; I just hope there are fewer voters who agree with you than agree with me. Not because of my ego, but because I really believe we are at a tipping point and can’t afford 4 more years of policies that have failed in Greece, California, Illinois, New York and other bastions of liberalism.”

Tax Foundation Releases Annual State-Local Tax Burden Ranking Montana Ranks 38th

A new study by the Tax Foundation, using the latest data from 2010, ranks the combined state and local tax burden in the 50 states. It calculates the percentage of income state residents are paying in state and local taxes and whether those taxes are paid to their own state or to others. (The study does not attempt to find the amount of money state and local governments have collected.) As for taxes paid to other states, the study estimates how much a Montanan might pay in taxes while, for example, vacationing in another state.

For the entire U.S., the average tax burden per capita is 9.9 percent. The average taxpayer is paying $3,055 to their home state and $1,056 to other states, for a total of $4,112 in state and local taxes. The average per capita income in the U.S. is $41,146. For the study, a ranking of 1st is the highest tax burden while 50th is the lowest.

For the 2010 tax year, Montana’s relatively low state and local tax burden garnered a ranking of 38th in the nation. Its state and local tax burden is 8.6 percent – 1.3 percentage points lower than the national average and 4.2 percentage points lower than New York’s high of 12.8 percent. The average taxpayer in Montana is paying $2,005 to state and local governments in Montana and $1,084 to other states, for a total of $3,089 out of a per capita income of $35,871. Montanans pay about two-thirds of what counterparts in other states pay in taxes to their home state, but pay a small fraction more in taxes to other states. The study shows that Montana has ranked anywhere from 27th to 43rd since the Tax Foundation started releasing the study in 1977.

Montana competes well with neighboring states in the ranking. Idaho is ranked right in the middle of the pack at 25th with a tax burden of 9.4 percent. North Dakota comes in at 8.9 percent, which places it at 35th. Wyoming and South Dakota are in the top five lowest with ranks of 46th and 49th respectively. Nationwide, Alaskans pay the least at 7 percent.

The line graph below shows the rank of Montana and our four neighboring states from 2000 to 2010. As you can see, Montana has fluctuated in the ranking over the time period from a low of 42nd to a high of 33rd. (For a good overview of Montana’s tax climate, see the Tax Foundation’s 2013 State Business Tax Climate Index.)

Looking at neighboring states, Idaho has made the biggest improvement over the time period, jumping from 8th worst in the nation to 25th. North Dakota has been the most erratic, especially from 2004 to 2010, when it went from a strong ranking of 42nd to a high of 26th. For 2010, North Dakota improved to a solid 35th. South Dakota and Wyoming have been the most consistent performers in our region between 2000 and 2010, vying for spots in the top five and often the top two nationwide.

It is worth pointing out that the study highlights that Wyoming, like this year’s winner Alaska, is able to keep the tax burden on its residents low because of revenue from severance taxes on natural resource development. According to a report by Wyoming’s Legislative Services Office, in 2009 Wyoming ranked 1st in coal production, 2nd in natural gas production, and 8th in oil production among the 50 states. Another contributing factor for Wyoming’s consistently competitive ranking is the tax-shifting nature of its 4 percent sales tax.

Anyone interested in taking a closer look at how business-friendly Montana’s 25 largest cities are, check out MPI’s recent report.

 

 

Welcome to our new website!

Welcome to the new home of montanapolicy.org, your go-to source for Montana free-market ideas and solutions to Montana issues!

Here at MPI, we wanted to bring you a site that was more readily available to meet your needs, whether you are looking for a particular study or press release that MPI has put out, if you simply want to find some general documents on a topic that interests you, or maybe just read our latest blog article, we have made that happen. There are many new features available on this new site, such as: printing, email, and social network sharing and commenting options; a video archive; a new blog format and commenting feature, that will allow us to have more frequent posts that are more readily accessible to you; as well as better organization and search capability, so you that you can find what you want when you want it. We encourage you to check out the site and be sure to email any suggestions or comments you may have about our new site to info@montanapolicy.org.

Happy surfing!

MPI Staff

Enough Already! – Energy Subsidies are Not Created Equal

In the world of energy subsidies, not all technologies are created equal.

Enough Already! – Your Tax $$ at Waste

$400 billion in waste at the federal level due to program duplication. We could do the same analysis at the state level and save $$$ millions.

Two recent studies have dealt MT disappointing grades

Two recently released studies have dealt Montana disappointing grades.
The first comes a report card put out by StateIntegrity.org, where Montana received the overall grade of a ‘D+’.

If you think that’s bad, the latter comes from the US Public Interest Research Group’s Follow The Money 2012: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data where Montana received a whopping ‘F’. Not quite something to brag about.

Click here to read StateIntegrity.org’s “Story Behind the Score” which cites the work MPI has been doing to help reverse these grades.

Enough Already! – Renewable Energy get most Tax Favors

Think fossil fuels get all the subsidies and tax favors? Think again. It’s not even close.

Enough Already! – Millionaires most downwardly mobile income class

What’s the most downwardly mobile income class in America? Turns out it’s millionaires. If you made a million dollars in 1999 your chances of making a million dollars in 2007 were less than 10%, and that’s before the recession lowered incomes even more.

Veterans Day

Message from: MG Paul E. Vallely. US Army Ret

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect. On November 11, 1919, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time. In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”. There were plans for parades, public meetings and a brief suspension of business activities at 11am.

We pause this day in America to remember our fallen heroes, the men and women who answered the call of freedom and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Let us remember and thank them for the nights they slept freezing in a tent or sweating in the desert, for the lonely days they spent fighting boredom and missing loved ones, for the hours they spent sick in pain from battle and without someone holding their hand other than their fellow soldiers, for the moments of sheer fright in the heat of battle, for the wounds suffered fighting evil, for the endless days in hospitals undergoing painful surgeries, for the precious occasions missed at home with family and friends.

For all of these sacrifices, we need to thank them on behalf of millions of Americans who are so grateful. We truly appreciate their dedication to duty. A special thank you to all families and friends, to the parents who raised them, stood by them and made them honorable men and woman. We thank the wives, husbands, and loved ones who stood by them and supported them with their love.

May their legacy be honored for generations to come, may the tears shed over their coffins fertilize the fields of patriotism in our nation. The new generations to come must be built on strength, duty, honor and country, willing and able to follow in their Warrior footsteps when duty calls to defend America. May their blood not have been shed in vain. May we prove worthy of their sacrifice.

You who have served and are serving as our brave ones, our heroes, are our national treasures. You are the pride of our nation, our strength and our foundation. Thanks to you, millions have been freed around the world. Those who criticize our country, burn our precious flag, and speak ill of you, are able to do so because their freedom is built upon your blood and your sacrifice.

Our son speaks from his resting place below our feet in Bigfork.. He speaks to me each day from his hallowed space with beautiful skies and mountains majestic white with snow. God bless his soul and the others buried here and I thank him for his wonderful contribution to our life. He lives forever in our hearts. I fear no evil when I walk with Warriors. We walk in the valley of death but we fear no evil. We are the Masters of our Destiny and the Captain of our souls. You are the wind beneath my wings. I fly with you forever in eternity.

WE salute you one and all. WE bow before you in respect and humility.

Today, our Nation comes together to honor our veterans and commemorate the legacy of profound service and sacrifice they have upheld in pursuit of a more perfect Union. Through their steadfast defense of America’s ideals, our service members have ensured our country still stands strong, our founding principles still shine, and nations around the world know the blessings of freedom. As we offer our sincere appreciation and respect to our veterans, to their families, to those who are still in harm’s way, and to those we have laid to rest, let us rededicate ourselves to serving them as well as they have served the United States of America.

Our men and women in uniform are bearers of a proud military tradition that has been dutifully passed forward—from generation to generation—for more than two centuries. In times of war and peace alike, our veterans have served with courage and distinction in the face of tremendous adversity, demonstrating an unfaltering commitment to America and our people. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve the country they loved. The selflessness of our service members is unmatched, and they remind us that there are few things more fundamentally American than doing our utmost to make a difference in the lives of others.

Just as our veterans stood watch on freedom’s frontier, so have they safeguarded the pros­perity of our Nation in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and our homes. It is our moral obligation to ensure they receive our support for as long as they live as proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces. On Veterans Day, we pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families. To honor their contributions to our Nation, let us strive with renewed determination to keep the promises we have made to all who have answered our country’s call. As we fulfill our obligations to them, we keep faith with the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve our Union, and with the ideals of service and sacrifice upon which our Republic was founded.

On this day in 2011, we formally announce here in the Flathead Valley of Montana in the United States of America, a formal announcement to Restore the Constitutional Republic of the United States and a Declaration by all Veterans and Patriots to restore and stand by our beloved Constitution and renew our oath.

We CALL upon every member of federal, state and local government, legislative, judicial, law enforcement and military, who have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitutional Republic from all enemies, foreign and domestic, to act upon those oaths for the stated purpose of restoring the Constitutional Republic.

We CALL upon ALL veterans and veteran organizations in America, who still believe in their oath to protect and defend, to unite with us at once – in this Declaration to Restore the Constitutional Republic.

We CALL for ALL citizens who still desire freedom and liberty, to stand with us and carry our demands to right the wrongs against our nation in the preservation of freedom, liberty, justice and the rule of law.

“We are Facing a Battle That Will Decide our Fate as a Nation!”

God Bless all of you and God Bless our Nation.

 

Paul E. Vallely MG, US Army (Ret)

CEO – NEMO Arms Inc ( New Evolution Military Ordnance); pvallely@nemoarms.com

Chairman – Stand Up America; E-Mail: standupamericausa1@gmail.com;; www.standupamericaus.org; www.soldiersmemorialfund.org

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Business needs to pick a side-free enterprise or free loading

You’re going to hear a lot more from us on this topic, but it’s time for business and industry to come out and say what they think about the government’s impact on their investment, hiring, and marketing decisions; and what they think about government picking winners and losers.

The first industry that does this will be embraced with open arms by the same majority of Americans who have picked a side and sent politicians to Washington and Helena with mandates to bring this country and state back to the basics that made them both great: free people, free enterprise, and limited government.

Ford may have made the decision and is picking a side with this ad. (video frame may not display in some browsers)

The GM/Chrysler bailouts are going to cost taxpayers around $16 billion. So-called “stimulus” projects wasted billions more. “Green job” subsidies are a huge black hole of political favoritism and picking winners and losers, as we’re already seeing with the Solyndra debacle (or crime). The National Labor Relations Board wants to tell Boeing where it can and cannot build manufacturing facilities. I could go on and on.

The point is that industries and businesses that stand up and say they’ll give up special treatment in return for government stopping overregulation and picking winners and losers will find a lot of allies. And those who don’t will find their customers going elsewhere.