Dear Republican Friends,
On July 4, 1776, 56 delegates of the Second Continental Congress gathered in a stuffy room in Philadelphia to make one of the most important decisions the world may ever know. 56 brave souls chose that day to forgo the comforts afforded them by staying loyal to a despotic, controlling regime and instead embark on a journey to liberty that would threaten all their lives but change the course of history forever. We celebrate Independence Day for the 232nd time this year still commemorating that faithful day and the bravery of the Founding Fathers whose stand for liberty yet echoes throughout our country.
The actual document of the Declaration of Independence was penned mostly by Thomas Jefferson. According to Jefferson, the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of . . . but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take.” As conservatives, we are wholly committed to defending the principles of liberty and resistance against government tyranny that the Founders laid out for us on the first Independence Day. We defend our freedom not with new principles or new arguments, but unapologetically with the same values and beliefs that have provided strength to our country and our greatest leaders throughout our history. A faith in God and country, in the inherent dignity of men and women, in the fact that democracy is our last, best hope for freedom; these are the values that have shaped this nation and made it great. We celebrate it today and we celebrate those who have fought and died to defend our freedom and way of life, including the brave men and women who place themselves in harm’s way everyday to see that we continue to enjoy our freedoms.
Years later, after a young America had prevailed in its fight for independence, a different group of delegates convened to create a Constitution for the new nation. The story is often told that upon the adoption of the Constitution, Ben Franklin was approached by a group of citizens who asked what kind of government the delegates had created. Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” What we must recognize now more than ever is that the duty of keeping our republic falls on us as citizens and descendents of the Founding Generation. We must work to protect and preserve the principle of freedom and legacy of liberty that we have received as precious gifts. We are the ones who must pledge ourselves anew to the cause of defending the values that have knit our union together and kept us strong while growing from a fledgling nation to the greatest defender of democracy the world has ever known. We must be the ones to do this because there is no one else. We must understand that still today we have a republic, if we can keep it. Thank you for all your hard work and sacrifice on behalf of our country, our state, and the Republican Party. God bless you and God bless America!
Chairman, North Carolina Republican Party
McCRORY: Offshore drilling could benefit eastern N.C.
By Brock Letchworth
The Daily Reflector
July 1, 2008
Eastern North Carolina would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of offshore oil drilling if the state was permitted to do so, Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory said Monday morning.
Speaking during a campaign stop at the Greenville Convention Center, McCrory said pursuing offshore drilling permits would be one of his first acts as governor if he is elected in November.
The Charlotte mayor said he would meet with the Coastal Resources Commission to change coastal energy policies. He would then issue an executive order providing for safe, technologically sound deep-sea exploration and drilling before petitioning the federal government to permit North Carolina the right to drill off its coast.
Drilling could provide thousands of new jobs for the east and produce revenue which would go a long way toward balancing the state's budget, he said.
"The east has a higher unemployment rate and lower per capita income than the rest of the state, but it does not have to be that way," McCrory said. "With safe, environmentally sound drilling in the deep sea off our coast, we can create new high paying jobs, jobs that the people of our poor counties can fill." …
McCrory said the Manteo Project is evidence of the possibilities. The project, located 45 miles off the state's coast on the Continental Shelf, indicates there are nearly 1.5 billion barrels of oil or equivalent gas there, McCrory said.
Officials also project the area could contain as much as five trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the equivalent of 833 billion barrels of oil, he said.
McCrory said the state could see as much as a 37.5 percent revenue share if drilling is approved. The additional money could be used to protect the environment, help schools and address the infrastructure needs of the state, he said.
"At a time when the North Carolina budget is in dire shape, we think this will help bring more revenue to state government," McCrory said. "I'm not sure where else we're going to get that money in the next decade. It is our job as leaders to prepare for the future. I think future generations will depend on this."
EASLEYS CAUGHT SPENDING TAXPAYER MONEY ON TRIPS OVERSEAS… AGAIN
NC governor defends wife's taxpayer-funded trip
July 1, 2008
RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley on Tuesday defended overseas cultural exchange trips led by his wife that cost taxpayers $109,000, saying such visits can reap exponentially larger monetary rewards for the state with art exhibits.
The Democrat also said the weak exchange rate for the U.S. dollar in Europe made the trips he and his wife have taken more expensive.
"I wish it didn't cost that much," Easley told reporters, but "it cost what it costs."
Mary Easley, an executive assistant and a Highway Patrol trooper traveled to France in May 2007, while the first lady and state arts leaders also went to Russia and Estonia in May this year.
For the France trip, taxpayers paid more than $27,000 for the chauffeured Mercedes sport utility vehicle that Mary Easley used, according to The News & Observer of Raleigh, which first reported on the expenses.
Another $8,900 was paid to the first lady, the assistant and a state highway patrol trooper, who provided security, to stay in a hotel and participate in a Monet-themed tour.
For the Estonia and Russian trip, business-class airfare for five people traveling cost more than $34,000, the newspaper reported. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the group stayed in an $800-a-night hotel and had ballet tickets that cost about $1,100. …
A taxpayer-funded trip to Italy taken by the Easleys, state commerce officials and others in April cost more than $170,000. Easley said the trip was designed to attract Italian residents and companies to come to North Carolina.
The state's travel policy, covering both elected and appointed officials, prohibits luxury accommodations "for the convenience or personal preference of the employee in the performance of official state business."
State Republican leaders jumped on the recently disclosed trips. GOP chairwoman Linda Daves said the Easleys are again "lavishly spending taxpayer money on vacations overseas."
"I think we all agree that a certain amount of cultural exchange ... is an appropriate thing," said Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, but "the average person that's out there, standing by the gas pump paying $4, $4.15 per gallon ... just is not very well served by our leadership in those kinds of decisions."
FROM THE PRESS ROOM: NCGOP CHAIRMAN RESPONDS TO GOVERNOR EASLEY’S REMARKS ON THE STATE BUDGET
RALEIGH—On Sunday, Governor Easley attacked the repeal of the state gift tax included in the state budget, saying “It makes no sense to provide almost $20 million in tax cuts to the wealthy in this economic environment.” (Biesecker, Michael, “Taxes, raises may stymie budget,” The News & Observer, June 30, 2008, http://www.newsobserver.com
- North Carolina’s gift tax is far harsher than the federal gift tax. The federal gift tax allows $1,000,000 in lifetime gifts without tax. The NC gift tax only allows $100,000 in lifetime gifts.
- North Carolina is one of only three states with a state gift tax at all. (Connecticut and Tennessee are the others.)
- Current NC gift tax law does not distinguish between the rich and non-rich. The NC gift tax affects many middle class families. A common example is siblings settling finances of a sick or elderly parent with one sibling giving to the other a “gift” of more than $12,000 and being forced to pay NC gift tax.
- An argument can be made that the middle class is more adversely affected by the NC gift tax because the rich are able to easily pay the tax. The rich also employ accountants and lawyers who find ways to lower their overall tax burden. The middle class giver is often completely unaware of the NC gift tax at the time of the gift and is only later hit with the tax bill which they must pay out of their own pocket.
- From a revenue collection standpoint, it makes more sense for the state to encourage lifetime gifts because that causes the recipient of the gift to pay income tax on any appreciation of the gift if the recipient decides to later sell the gifted asset.
- The NC gift tax also discourages retirement and location of businesses to North Carolina for those who can afford to locate elsewhere. Why retire to NC or locate a business in NC when our neighbors in the Southeast and across the nation have no such tax? The income and sales tax collections that would be gained from those who might decide to retire or move their business here but for this tax could make up a large share of the difference in revenue when the gift tax is repealed.
Chairman Linda Daves, North Carolina Republican Party, made the following statement:
“Either Governor Easley is misinformed on the nature of the NC gift tax or he has deliberately mischaracterized it in order to continue the class warfare rhetoric typical of the Democrat leadership in Raleigh. The Governor loves high taxes so much that he opposes the repeal of even the most unfair, capricious taxes in North Carolina. What makes no sense in this economic environment is to continue tax policies that have made us the highest taxed state in the Southeast. North Carolinians want more money in their pockets and not in the feeding trough of free spending Democrats in Raleigh.
Meanwhile, those who are truly being shafted in this budget are children. While Governor Easley remains in lockstep with teachers’ unions and tries to protect his prized rhyming pet programs, we do nothing to broaden our approach to educating North Carolina’s children. The truth is we have no idea whether Governor Easley’s programs are offering results because there is no oversight or study being offered on their effectiveness. The same is true of dropout prevention grants which have thus far done nothing to lower the abysmal graduation rate in North Carolina.
It is time to look at new ideas like lifting the cap on charter schools so that parents have more choices in their children’s education. It is time to think about raising teacher pay for those teachers who volunteer to teach the most at-risk students. It is time to consider expanding vocational education so that students can learn skills that will help them get a job instead of merely getting frustrated with the curriculum and dropping out. It is time for fresh vision and a renewed commitment to excellence in education in North Carolina. Over the past eight years, that is a test that Democrats have consistently failed.”
Perdue Advances Dishonest Argument
June 23, 2008
Wealthy parents, of course, can choose any school for their children. And there is growing support for the idea of giving that choice to all parents, not just the wealthy. And it would be easy to do. For an amount much smaller than is spent to send a student to a public school, a parent could be given a voucher that could be used in any school.
Let's say it costs $5,000 per year to send a child to a public school (the real number is higher). And then let's say we offer parents a $2,500 voucher. So for every parent who uses a voucher for her child, there would be an additional $2,500 available for the remaining public school children.
To extend this illustration, if just 1,000 students were to take advantage of such vouchers, there would then be an additional $2.5 million for the remaining children. Just imagine how much more per child North Carolina's public schools would have if 10,000 vouchers were used; Or 100,000.
Still, the NCAE makes the intellectually dishonest argument that vouchers would somehow make public schools poorer. The only way that could possibly happen would be for the amount of the voucher to be larger than the per-pupil public school expenditure.
There's only one organization that might be weakened if vouchers were adopted: The NCAE, which would end up with fewer dues-paying members. So candidates who receive a coveted endorsement from the politically powerful NCAE know they must also repeat the group's dishonest argument. And that is exactly what Lt. Gov. Perdue did this weekend. …
FROM THE BLOG: Why we need more judges like Justice Scalia
By Brent Woodcox
Communications Director/Assistant Legal Counsel, North Carolina Republican Party
By a slim 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court upheld the right of private citizens to "keep and bear arms" this week. Though we thought that this right was guaranteed in 1791 when the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution was first adopted, the reality is that we are always one rogue decision of the Supreme Court from having even basic liberties stripped from us. For today, we can breathe a collective sigh of relief as those who would further erode the freedoms guaranteed us by the Founding Fathers have been defeated once again. This is why the issue of the role of judges and judicial appointments is so important. Please read Justice Scalia's brilliant opinion on behalf of the Court in Heller for yourself, but I particularly enjoyed this section and wanted to share it with you.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. ___, (2008)
We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding "interest-balancing" approach. The very enumeration of the right takes our of the hands of government--even the Third Branch of Government--the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon. A constitutional guarantee subject to future judges' assessments of its usefulness is no constitutional guarantee at all. Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them, whether or not future legislatures or (yes) even future judges think that scope too broad. We would not apply an "interest-balancing" approach to . . . the First Amendment . . . The Second Amendment is no different. Like the First, it is the very product of an interest-balancing by the people--which JUSTICE BREYER would now conduct for them anew. And whatever else it leaves to future evaluation, it surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home. ...
We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that prohibition of handgun ownership is the solution. The Constitution leaves the District of Columbia a variety of tools for combating that problem, including some measures regulating handguns. . . But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our Nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem. That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct. ...