Thursday, April 30, 2009
What is a hate crime? It is a crime that is motivated by bias against a victim who is a representative member of a disfavored or minority group. Should we punish hate crimes? Of course we should, and we do under existing laws. Should we punish certain criminals more harshly because of the identity of their victims? That's where the debate is happening in D.C. this week.
The first reason why we should refuse to punish thoughts is First Amendment principles. Although the freedom of speech and thought has been under siege in recent years and it seems that the real estate where true freedom can be found shrinks more each day, we have consistently stayed out of the brains of Americans and allowed them to think what they like. Even if the thoughts a person has are despicable, distasteful, and unfit for any decent human being, the answer is not to legislate those thoughts away. Hate must be defeated by love, not by law.
If we were to punish criminals for their thoughts, how would we ascertain what they were thinking as they committed a crime? If a person is beat up and robbed and that person is gay or black or a Muslim, how can we know if the true motivation was financial gain or hate-based? Don't all crimes involve hate? Hate for society, hate for our laws, hate for fellow human beings. Can we really expect judges and juries to make appropriate decisions on what was going through a criminal's mind as the offender committed a crime? We cannot punish what we cannot know beyond a reasonable doubt.
Is the suffering any less real no matter if the victim is black or white? Does the family mourn the loss of life any differently regardless of the sexual orientation of the victim? Is the act committed any less of an evil and injustice regardless of what religion the victim practices? Why then should we punish the actions differently depending on who was victimized?
Under current law, if a criminal picks out their victim based on their identification as belonging to a certain group, the criminal targets this person and commits a premeditated offense against the victim then the criminal is punished to the harshest degree under the law. Under current law, the motivation behind the crime is not the determining factor as to what the punishment will be. Financial gain or hate-based bias, criminals are punished regardless of who they choose as a victim.
When a criminal is treated differently based on who they choose as a victim, we call it injustice. We don't make it law.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
April 29, 2009
(Washington, DC) – US Representative Sue Myrick (NC-09) has released the following statement on today’s vote on the Fiscal Year 2010 budget conference report:
“I voted against this budget for the same reason I voted against it the first time. It’s still based on out-of-control spending, tax increases to pay for it, and debt that our kids and grandkids will be responsible for paying back for years to come.”
April 29, 2009
Congressman Jones’ statement on the Democrats’ budget follows below:
“During difficult times, American families and small businesses make sacrifices and do what they can to tighten their belts and reign in spending. Most people expect the federal government to do the same. Sadly,
“The spending in this budget resolution calls for a $1.23 trillion deficit for 2010, which will lead to unprecedented borrowing from
“While our nation continues to suffer amid a faltering economy, this budget includes $1.5 trillion in tax increases over the next 10 years. It not only imposes new taxes on corporate businesses but raises income taxes, harming the most successful small businesses that pay taxes at the top two individual rates. This budget also includes a new national energy tax that will cost every American household. Hiking taxes during an economic downturn will only hurt small businesses and slow job creation.”
“With its fast-track ‘reconciliation’ procedure to push through sweeping policy changes like government run-health care and its expansion of the federal government through huge increases in spending, taxes, and deficits, this budget resolution will plunge our nation further into debt and keep us from getting back on the right economic track.”
Click here to view the video from News 14 Carolina...
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Federal authorities have asked a Fayetteville car dealer about an SUV provided to former Gov. Mike Easley's son several years ago that Easley recently paid for with campaign money.
Monday, April 20, 2009
WASHINGTON – Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10) issued the following statement regarding President Barack Obama’s call for $100 million in administration budget cuts. These savings would amount to a reduction of 0.002% in the federal budget.
“I am encouraged that President Obama has finally recognized the need for fiscal discipline. The first three months of his administration have been defined by boundless government spending. In doing so, the President broke his often-repeated campaign promise to go 'line by line' to identify savings in the federal budget. Although these cuts are too miniscule to be considered anything more than symbolic, at least it’s a step in the right direction. In fact, we could have saved three times that much by not buying a new fleet of cars for government employees in the so-called stimulus bill. As the national debt continues to spiral out of control, I hope President Obama will work in a bipartisan way to reform the careless way in which Washington spends tax dollars.”
Bald Head in line for $5M from state
Gov. Beverly Perdue and the state Senate think Bald Head Island deserves a big chunk of state money to help rebuild its battered beaches.
But spending 28 percent of the state’s total budget for beach and water infrastructure projects on an island renowned for its isolation and affluence is drawing criticism, especially when North Carolina is experiencing record levels of unemployment and facing a multibillion-dollar deficit for the coming fiscal year.
“I have a hard time understanding how that’s a higher priority than after-school programs,” said Chris Fitzsimon, executive director of N.C. Policy Watch, a liberal government watchdog group.
The Brunswick County island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River would receive $5 million of the $17.6 million the N.C. Division of Water Resources would spend during the 2009-10 fiscal year to rebuild beaches, dredge waterways and fund other water-related projects under the budget proposals.
In comparison, the three New Hanover County beach towns would receive $3.6 million in state funding for their nourishment projects, which are all scheduled for next winter. ...
Quick unscientific survey. By show of hands, please indicate if you think you are paying too little in taxes. Now, please raise your hand if you think Democrats in Raleigh are spending too much of your money. End of survey.
Senate plan would broaden tax base, lower rates
By Jordan Schrader
April 19, 2009
State Senate leaders are drawing up tax changes that would add $500 million to state coffers, in part by taxing a broader share of the money North Carolinians make and the services they spend it on.
The proposal they expect to unveil as early as Wednesday would offset some of those changes by bringing down the rates of income tax and sales tax.
Senate Finance Committee chairmen say their plan would make the tax code fairer by eliminating deductions and exemptions taken by a few and lowering the rates paid by everyone.
Those goals are shared by recent study commissions that have scoured the state tax code. The difference: Some key studies call for maintaining, not expanding, total revenues. Senators are looking to increase the state's take, drawing opposition from those who say a recession is the worst time to ask taxpayers for more.
But senators say their plan will provide needed filler for a budget hole expected to top $3 billion and a more stable source of funds to prevent future fiscal nightmares.
“That's when you have to do it, because your system is broken,” said one of the three committee chairmen, Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat. “If you don't fix it, you'll just continue to limp along.”
Number not what is seems; small rise in N.C.'s jobless rate comes with a caveat, experts say
The slight increase in the North Carolina's unemployment rate to 10.8 percent in March may appear a welcome breather given that the rate has doubled in the past year.
However, economists cautioned yesterday that the state . likely hasn't seen a peak in its unemployment rate, and that the 0.1 percentage-point increase was likely caused by nearly 31,000 people no longer being considered as unemployed.
The increase -- reported yesterday by the N.C. Employment Security Commission -- continued the streak of setting a new monthly high for the unemployment rate. ...
When it comes to determining the rate, the commission primarily counts people who are without a job and actively looking for work. ...
Eventually, people who stop looking -- whether out of frustration or by choice -- are removed from the unemployment data.
They aren't the only ones unaccounted for in the data. Others include stay-at-home spouses, retirees, full-time students, people attached to their former employer through severance packages, and people without jobs who have moved into the state.
The unemployment rate also doesn't account for people who are underemployed -- those who are working in full- or part-time jobs below their skill levels.
Economists say that if all those people are factored into the jobless rate, it could be as much as three percentage points higher.
That's why Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University in Raleigh, said that the slight increase in the jobless rate was not good news.
"The lesson is keep your eye on the number employed, not the unemployment rate," Walden said. ...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
In the video below, the President claims his tax relief plan has allowed families to buy their first homes, send children to college, invest in retirement plans, and start new businesses. He also claims to have lifted 2 million Americans out of poverty presumably with the approximate $600 a year in relief of the tax burden for most American workers.
Mr. President, we're talking about $13 a week. That's about the cost of two Starbucks trips per week. It's a little more than one tank of gas per month in tax savings.
Who are you kidding?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Still, NC Democrats are standing in the way of pro-life advocates who wish to be able to choose life when they choose their license plate. If approved, $15 from every plate sold would benefit the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a nonprofit that seeks to provide alternatives to abortion for would-be mothers desperately searching for a better option.
For the record, no one is stopping Rep. Ty Harrell or anyone else from creating a "Right to Choose" plate whose proceeds partially fund Planned Parenthood or another pro-abortion group. But why stand on principle when you can just silence others? Isn't that the mantra of NC Democrats?
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The North Carolina State Senate proclaimed a budget this week and the process resembles the way a caste system operates.
At the top you have a handful of “those who know what is best.” In India, they are called the Brahmins. They breathe rarified air and do not like open meetings or open doors. About 10 in number, they are all Democrats, mostly white, mostly older males. One is not to question, just accept their edicts as truth.
He goes on to describe the other Senate Democrats as "sheep" and Senate Republicans as the "outcasts." Campbell then explains how we got here and what we can do to end the system.
The game changer occurred when both the Speaker and Pro Tem became the chief fundraisers for their respective houses. These powerful people now had large sums to see their friends elected and gave massive funds to the state political parties, earmarked for these friends as unlimited “in kind” contributions.
Here’s how it works. Those who know what’s best dole out large sums of cash to elect friends to office. Those friends, when elected, keep those who know what’s best in power, and if they vote like good sheep, meaning the way the power wants them to, they get enough campaign money to get re-elected.
This system will remain in place as long as we allow those who know what’s best to buy their flocks or members. Cut off the flow of money and you will break the rank and file dependence on those in power. Until then, the caste system will continue alive and well.
Monday, April 13, 2009
By Josh Barro
The Tax Foundation
Tax Freedom Day® will arrive on April 13 this year, the 103rd day of 2009. That means Americans will work about three and a half months of the year, from January 1 to April 13, before they have earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. Tax Freedom Day falls a full two weeks earlier in 2009 than it did in 2007. In fact, not since 1967 has Tax Freedom Day come earlier than this year's April 13 date.
This shift has been driven by two factors: the recession has reduced tax collections even faster than it has reduced income; and the stimulus package, a.k.a. HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, includes large temporary tax cuts for 2009 and 2010. Nevertheless, in 2009, Americans will pay more in taxes than they will spend on food, clothing and housing combined.
While tax revenues are falling, government expenditures are expected to explode in 2009, also driven in significant part by HR 1. Tax Freedom Day, like almost all tax burden measures, ignores the current year's deficits. If the projected deficit for 2009 were counted as a tax, Tax Freedom Day would arrive on May 29 instead of April 13-the latest date ever for this deficit-inclusive measure.
Click here to see the clock now!
To read Fitzsimon's full article, click here...
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Last week, Rep. Myrick voted for fiscal responsibility by voting for the Republican Budget Alternative for FY 2010. "How is increasing taxes by $1.5 trillion over ten years, increasing discretionary spending by 8.6 percent, and bringing our total national debt to $17.1 trillion considered a responsible thing to do in this economy?" Rep. Myrick said in a statement. "I voted for a Republican Budget Alternative that controls spending, decreases taxes for families and small businesses, and stops putting trillions of dollars in debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren."
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
N.C. First District Congressional Representative G.K. Butterfield requested $7.3 billion in earmarks requests in the Democrats' federal budget. The Wilson Democrat then hid the numbers under a tab on his Congressional website unlike his collegues who have placed the information on the home pages of their websites. When a Democrat requests that much new spending during a recession, it is no wonder he would want to keep it under the radar. You can view the full list of earmarks here.
Monday, April 6, 2009
For the past 30 years, America has grown increasingly dependent upon foreign sources of energy, sending American dollars to countries that are hostile to American interests and leaving us vulnerable to wild fluctuations in energy prices.
This energy crisis has not gone unnoticed in Washington. Every U.S. president since Richard Nixon has spoken about the need to make America more energy-independent. Despite their strong words, no rational strategy has been implemented for achieving that goal. In fact, where government has acted, it has usually made the problem worse. ...
Instead, America is suffering from an artificial energy crisis, one that is the product of our government's policies, not despite them. For example, until September 2008, Congress had made it illegal to drill for oil and natural gas in most areas off our coasts. Congress still forbids the development of the vast shale-oil reserves in the Rocky Mountains even though there are promising technologies that could make extracting oil from shale economically competitive. In addition, laws passed in the 1970s banning the recycling of spent nuclear fuel forced nuclear-power plants to invest in techniques to dispose of the fuel; the long-running feud over where to store the spent fuel has helped prevent the construction of more plants. ...
And now, in 2009, instead of making energy cheaper—which would help create jobs and save Americans money—President Obama wants to impose a cap-and-trade regime. Such a plan would have the effect of an across-the-board energy tax on every American. That will make our artificial energy crisis even worse—and raising taxes during a deep economic recession will only accelerate American job losses.
The Obama administration's own budget director is on record predicting an increase of about $1,300 in the price of energy for the average American from this type of energy tax. As a candidate, Obama himself recognized the pain this would cause every American: "Under my plan … electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."
What America needs is a rational energy policy that utilizes all our homegrown energy resources while protecting the environment. ...
Click here to read the full article...
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
The GOP's Alternative Budget
By Paul D. Ryan
Wall Street Journal
...Here's an outline of what we propose:
- Deficits/Debt. The Republican budget achieves lower deficits than the Democratic plan in every year, and by 2019 yields half the deficit proposed by the president. By doing so, we control government debt: Under our plan, debt held by the public is $3.6 trillion less during the budget period.
- Spending. Our budget gives priority to national defense and veterans' health care. We freeze all other discretionary spending for five years, allowing it to grow modestly after that. We also place all spending under a statutory spending cap backed up by tough budget enforcement.
- Energy. Our budget lays a firm foundation to position the U.S. to meet three important strategic energy goals: reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, deploying more clean and renewable energy sources free of greenhouse gas, and supporting economic growth. We do these things by rejecting the president's cap-and-trade scheme, by opening exploration on our nation's oil and gas fields, and by investing the proceeds in a new clean energy trust fund, infrastructure and further deficit reduction.
- Entitlements. Our budget also takes steps toward fulfilling the mission of health and retirement security, in part by making these programs fiscally sustainable. The budget moves toward making quality health care affordable and accessible to all Americans by strengthening the relationship between patients and their doctors, not the dictates of government bureaucrats. We preserve the existing Medicare program for all those 55 or older; and then, to make the program sustainable and dependable, those 54 and younger will enter a Medicare program reformed to work like the health plan members of Congress and federal employees now enjoy. Starting in 2021, seniors would receive a premium support payment equal to 100% of the Medicare benefit on average. This would be income related, so low-income seniors receive extra support, and high-income seniors receive support relative to their incomes -- along the same lines as the president's Medicare Part D proposal.
We strengthen the Medicaid safety net by converting the federal share of Medicaid payments into an allotment tailored for each state's low-income population. This will enhance state flexibility and sensitivity to spending growth.
In one of the most valued government programs -- Social Security -- our budget begins to develop a bipartisan solution to the program's pending bankruptcy by incorporating some of the reforms advocated by the president's budget director. Specifically, we provide for a trigger that would make small adjustments in the benefits for higher-income beneficiaries if the Social Security Administration determines the Social Security Trust Fund cannot meet its obligations. This is a modest but serious proposal which would not affect those in or near retirement, but is aimed at helping develop a consensus, across party lines, toward saving this important retirement program. We also assure that benefits for lower-income recipients are large enough to keep them out of poverty.
- Tax Reform. Our budget does not raise taxes, and makes permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax laws. In fact, we cut taxes and reform the tax system. Individuals can choose to pay their federal taxes under the existing code, or move to a highly simplified system that fits on a post card, with few deductions and two rates. Specifically, couples pay 10% on their first $100,000 in income (singles on $50,000) and 25% above that. Capital gains and dividends are taxed at 15%, and the death tax is repealed. The proposal includes generous standard and personal exemptions such that a family of four earning $39,000 would not pay tax on that amount. In an effort to revive peoples' lost savings, and to create an incentive for risk-taking and investment, the budget repeals the capital gains tax through 2010 for all taxpayers.
On the business side, the budget permanently cuts the uncompetitive corporate income tax rate -- currently the second highest in the industrialized world -- to 25%. This puts American companies in a better position to lead in the global economy, promotes jobs here at home, and strengthens worker paychecks.
We hope the administration and Democratic leaders in Congress do not distort and preach fear about our Republican plan. Some may be tempted to appeal to the darker emotions of envy and insecurity that surely run high in times like these. Yet we know Americans are stronger, smarter and prouder than this ploy assumes.
In the recent past, the Republican Party failed to offer the nation an inspiring vision and a concrete plan to tackle our problems with innovative and principled solutions. We do not intend to repeat that mistake. America is not the greatest nation on earth by chance. We earned this greatness by rewarding individual achievement, by advancing and protecting natural rights, and by embracing freedom. We intend to continue this uniquely American tradition.
Mr. Ryan, from Wisconsin, is the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee.