My weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, for July 22, Mayor Jorge Elorza’s self-positioning on the schools problem, Gina Raimondo’s national adventures, and David Cicilline’s impeachment vote.
Ocean State Current alumnus Kevin Mooney has an American Spectator article highlighting Rhode Island’s role in the vanguard of the inside-government attack on the fossil fuel industry:
In 2018, Rhode Island became the first state to file climate change litigation against 21 fossil fuel producers, a move that directly assaults the free speech rights of those who dared to voice a dissenting opinion on climate policy.
Sheldon Whitehouse, the state’s Democratic U.S. senator, joined with Governor Gina Raimondo and Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to announce the suit at a press conference last July. Rhode Island’s litigation closely mirrors lawsuits that have been filed by 14 municipalities across the U.S.
Although climate change litigants have repeatedly failed to successfully make their case in court, state attorneys general persist in reloading the same arguments.
That’s just the beginning of the sordid tale of political showmanship and lawyers’ fees that makes up this abuse of power.
A federal judge recently ruled that Obamacare is unconstitutional because the individual mandate, repealed in the 2017 federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is no longer in force. Even though existing federal health-care laws will remain in effect during the appeals process, states should not panic and codify Obamacare into state law, as it is not certain how long federal subsidies will remain intact.
While the courts hear the appeals, and with Democrats winning back control of the U.S. House of Representatives largely on the health-care issue, another furious debate is about to unfold.
Democrats will probably introduce some kind of government-centric plan, while Republicans are poised to introduce their own free-enterprise solution. What we all want are simply more choices at lower net costs.
Well, the good news, with Rhode Island’s looming loss of a Congressional seat, is that we can’t go any lower than the minimum:
Rhode Island last had a single seat in the House in the original Congress in 1789, when the number of seats was set directly by the U.S. Constitution. Since then, under a mandate in the Constitution, the number of House seats has been determined under a complex formula approved by Congress and based on state populations. Since the 1790 census, Rhode Island has always had two seats in the House, except for two decades in the early 20th century, when a booming immigrant population earned the state three seats.
The complex formula ranks potential House seats for each state. The top 385 are awarded seats in the House. That’s in addition to the minimum of one seat that every state is guaranteed by the Constitution.
I’ll admit that my thinking has changed a little on this over the years, at least to the extent of acknowledging some complications. Yes, Rhode Island is set to lose a Congressional seat after the next census because our local society doesn’t offer the opportunity that it should for families to grow.
Our failures have mainly been an accelerant, however. In the long run, we simply don’t have the space to keep up with other states’ expanding populations. My changing perspective is the understanding that it isn’t irrational for Rhode Islanders to resist a NYC-tri-state-area level of population density.
Still, losing a Congressional seat because your successful state doesn’t have room to fit more people looks very different than our current case of losing it because the state isn’t successful. We’d all be much wealthier in the former case and have disproportionate national influence for that reason.
Looks like local political pundits will have to adjust their predictions for another candidate: Dr. Evil!
But of course his lair is in Rhode Island. Hasn’t that been obvious all along?
His entry into the Congressional game is definitely going to mix things up when we lose one of our two congressional seats in 2020. At least my five year old already knows all of the words to our soon-to-be-new national anthem.
It’s been almost three decades since we have had balance of power in Rhode Island’s representation of U.S. Senators in Washington DC. Senator John Chafee(R) and Claiborne Pell(D), both highly regarded and respected across party lines, made Rhode Islanders proud at home and in Washington DC.
Time has come for Rhode Island to do it again.
For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, about the performances of Cicilline in a Congressional hearing, Raimondo and Brown campaigning, and Captain Trillo.
Congressman David Cicilline manages to capture exactly the divide in our cold Civil War.
— Marc Comtois (@marccomtois) February 26, 2018
Key point: @DavidAFrench argues DOJ adequately explained Steele dossier was "probably" based on oppo research. As @AndrewCMcCarthy points out, there was no "probably" about it. Key fact elided b/c DOJ knew it was on shaky ground.
— Marc Comtois (@marccomtois) February 26, 2018
But make up your own mind: French – https://t.co/MOoaGuQAya
— Marc Comtois (@marccomtois) February 26, 2018
— Marc Comtois (@marccomtois) February 26, 2018
In the Bonus Q&A of a recent Rhode Island Public Radio Political Roundtable, Democrat Congressman David Cicilline responded to a question by RIPR commentator Scott MacKay in a way that affirms the suspicions that many of us have had about the thinking of federal politicians, especially on immigration and especially among Democrats. MacKay asked, “Would you be willing to appropriate federal money to build Trump’s wall in exchange for taking care of the Dreamers?” Cicilline responded as follows (emphasis added):
You know, the proposal that Senator Schumer put before the president, that he has now withdrawn is something that I think it would be challenging for most Democrats to support. I support border security. I think that will obviously mean repairing some of the existing wall, maybe building some fences. It ought to be done in a smart, efficient, effective way. The president’s own chief of staff said a wall is not the way to secure our border. So, it’s probably not the best way to go forward.
Although, Louis Gutierrez said the other day: We ought to vote for the wall, take care of the Dreamers and then when we get back into the majority, in November, we can repeal the wall. That’s not a bad strategy.
As the recent cliché goes, this is why we got Trump. Part of the reason that immigration has become such a challenging issue is that the political Right has known for decades, now, that any deal must implement the stronger security that they seek before any of the laxity that the political Left wants can be done. That’s because we know that any sort of amnesty or relief will be done immediately, and then the federal government will never get around to implementing greater security. All that sequence does is send the message worldwide that the U.S. will ultimately bend its rules for people who can get here while leaving open the gaps to enter the country.
The lesson applies more broadly, too. We know from experience, and now from Cicilline’s own words, that his party nationally is not interested in fair negotiation and good faith negotiations. They have political objectives, and any promises, rules, and a sense of shared nationality are nothing in the face of those goals.
Wouldn't it be good if RI's Junior Senator read this, but that assumes he cares about hyper partisanship. Here’s the Cure for Hyperpartisanship, by @BillGalston https://t.co/i4j0iNjoNh via @WSJOpinion
— gary sasse (@gssasse) January 3, 2018
On behalf of the Center, I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Recently, Rhode Island families have received a gift… the “Tax Cuts & Jobs Act” has passed federally.
For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WNRI 1380 AM/95.1 FM show, this week, the topic was the 2018 campaign season, specifically the races for governor and U.S. Senate.
The Tax Foundation, specifically Nicole Kaeding and Morgan Scarboro, has estimated the effects of the U.S. Senate’s version of tax reform:
The TAG model estimates that the plan would result in the creation of roughly 925,000 new full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, while increasing the after-tax incomes by 4.4 percent in the long run, meaning families would see an after-tax income boost of 4.4 percent by the end of the decade. The increase in family incomes is due in part from individual income tax reductions and the broader rise in productivity and wages due to economic growth. These estimates take into account all aspects of the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including changes to the individual and corporate tax codes.
The results are provided by state, and Rhode Island stands to gain 3,135 jobs, with the typical middle-income family seeing another $2,707 in income.
Keep in mind that this is the outcome of improving the tax climate nationally. Imagine what would be possible if the State of Rhode Island were sufficiently forward thinking to improve its own tax and regulatory climate relative to other states.
Rhode Island’s far-left Democrat U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has joined the ranks of his colleagues engaging in (let’s say) enhanced questioning techniques of Christian nominees. As National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru highlights:
Whitehouse then asks nominee Trevor McFadden seven questions based (loosely) on these facts about his church. Whitehouse asks McFadden whether he agrees with the associate pastor, for example. Several other questions relate to whether McFadden could faithfully apply the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which required governments to recognize a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.
Suggesting that Whitehouse’s line of questioning is inappropriate, Ponnuru draws a distinction between a person’s being a member of a religious organization, like a church, and making statements similar to those that a senator finds objectionable. That approach misses the bigger problem (and hypocrisy) with Whitehouse’s approach.
Progressives such as Whitehouse believe that the Constitution ought to be interpreted so as to adjust to the changing standards of the times, as a “living document.” The only mechanism for doing that in a democratic society would be for the country, through elected representatives, to appoint judges who match their standards and will rule accordingly, even if it means overturning decisions that prior courts have made.
Of course, one suspects that Whitehouse and his ilk don’t really want the Constitution to be interpreted according to the standards of the people at the time. They want it to be interpreted according to the standards of an elite that sees itself as more enlightened than the hoi polloi.
This means that Whitehouse wants the evolution only to go in the direction that he believes to be correct. Those with whom he agrees should feel free to reconsider rulings of the past, while those with whom he disagrees should be kept from the bench.
Some of the responses of America’s tech barons under questioning by Rhode Island’s far-left Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse should raise concerns about the future of freedom in the United States. Of course, we should keep in mind that these are private corporations that can make their own decisions, but they do talk and act as if they’re somehow more fundamental to society than that. And so:
Twitter’s acting general counsel, Sean Edgett, told Whitehouse and other members of the Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and terrorism that detecting foreign-based influence campaigns run through phony shell corporations set up as American companies is a challenge. …
All three witnesses also agreed on the threat presented by shell corporations.
“Anything that prevents us from policing the authenticity of our users is a menace,” said Stretch.
It isn’t difficult to imagine freedom — whether explicit in law or simply part of the fabric of American culture — as just such a “menace.”
We accept that people will use freedom in ways that allow them to take advantage of other people because it’s unavoidable, and it would be unacceptable to give government (or oligarchs) the power to set the line between taking advantage of freedom and simply utilizing it in ways that powerful people don’t like. The fact that powerful people didn’t like the outcome of an electoral contest would be a poor reason to pressure tech companies to set up roadblocks to speech.
Instead, we should seek to educate people sufficiently that a few bogus stories on Facebook won’t dupe enough of them to change the course of history. We should also encourage more-respectable purveyors of news to get their bias under control so that they have the credibility to offer objective resources.
Here’s another interesting item that Dan McGowan found for Nesi’s Notes this weekend:
So what did Senator Whitehouse think of his big dinner with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump earlier this month? “They live well,” Whitehouse told reporters this week. “Really big house. Very fancy food.”
Ah, yes. Sheldon Whitehouse, man of the people, with his $535,000 annual income and $2.7 million Newport mansion.
I’ve heard it said that there is no class difference so confounding as that between the rich and extremely rich. The appropriate response of the rest of us, though, should probably be to laugh at them all… and insist that they implement policies that empower us to take their money through commerce and competition, not government redistribution that buys them a dependent underclass.
Dan McLaughlin points out a… let’s say… significant caveat about that study showing trillions in “cuts” to states in the latest Senate GOP health care proposal:
The study finds a $215 billion-over-seven-years reduction in spending from 2020-2026, but then jumps up to $489 billion when one more year is added, and ends up at $4.15 trillion by 2036. Why? Because Graham-Cassidy provides funding through 2026, then requires an affirmative reauthorization of the block grants after that. Avalere treats that “funding cliff” as if Congress has barred future funding. (“As the bill does not appropriate block grant funding to states after 2026, Avalere does not assume any state block grant funding available from 2027 onwards.”) Even over the full 17-year time horizon, as CAP Health Care analyst Topher Spiro confirmed to me on Twitter, the study assumes $1 trillion in cuts from the changed funding formula, meaning that 75% of the projected “cuts” are attributable entirely to the program requiring further authorization by Congress by 2026.
So, basically, researchers with integrity would have limited their time line to the period actually covered by the legislation. When 2026, either the program would be working well and therefore be easily renewed or it wouldn’t be working well and Congress would have to come up with something else. But the objective of this study — which the long window of itself strongly suggests — was clearly to stoke fear and gin up outrage.
Of course, as I emphasized last week, what really ought to be scaring Americans is the cost of ObamaCare if nothing is done. Somehow, that angle doesn’t make it into the reporting, though.
With Rhode Island’s own Democrat congressional delegation, particularly Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, signing on for Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders’s single-payer, Medicare-for-all health care plan, Betsy McCaughey’s recent New York Post article is worth a read for its turning of the tables.
Details on how Sanders’s plan would actually work, notably with regard to paying for it, are sparse, but McCaughey teases out some implications of concern. For one thing, according to McCaughey, private health care would be made illegal. Everything would have to go through the government system. Consideration of UHIP and DCYF in Rhode Island and the Veterans Health Administration nationally (to pick just three examples) make that prospect terrifying.
Perhaps even more significant, though, is this:
BernieCare guarantees you hospital care, doctors’ visits, dental and vision care, mental health and even long-term care, all courtesy of Uncle Sam. Amazing, right? But read the fine print. You’ll get care only if it’s “medically necessary” and “appropriate.” Government bureaucrats will decide, and they’ll be under pressure to cut spending.
That’s because Sanders’ bill imposes an annual hard-and-fast dollar limit on how much health care the country can consume. He makes it sound simple — Uncle Sam will negotiate lower prices with drug companies. Voilà. But driving a hard bargain with drug makers won’t make a dent in costs. Prescription drugs comprise only 10 percent of the nation’s health expenditures.
Consider this “hard-and-fast dollar limit” in the context of another national controversy over the debt ceiling and debate of the Senate GOP’s latest health care proposal, which would limit the expansion of government spending on health care, a prospect that Democrats and the media elite (not just news, by the way) are endeavoring to tar as inhumane. How can it be cruel to limit government spending on health care, but just dandy to ration health care generally?
The quick (if specious) answer may be that government spending accrues to the vulnerable and disadvantaged, but that argument dissipates if the wealthy are barred from supplementing their own care. Single-payer simply becomes the government providing care for services that and to people whom it considers worthy.
Another GOP ObamaCare reform proposal, and another wave of studies and news reports that tilt the numbers so Americans can’t see how desperately necessary reform is.
For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, last week, the topics were the likelihood of an evergreen veto override, whether the DCYF would haunt Gina, PawSox, DACA, and Rhode Works transparency.
I neglected to post my August 30th appearance on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, so this week, you get twice the audio.
On August 30, the topics were Elorza’s Dreamers, Pawsox, and District 13 follow up. On September 6, the topics were official silence on Ken Block’s voter fraud report, the start of the Senate’s PawSox road show, and local response to the DACA.
I wouldn’t 100% endorse Kurt Schlichter’s criticism of national Republicans, but he articulates a feeling that a great number of conservatives around the country surely share:
Yeah, so after nearly two years of tiresome finger-wagging about “the Rule of Law” and how we need to put our “principles” above our desire for “winning,” the whole sordid scam we always knew it always was is revealed for the world to see. They can’t hide it anymore and they aren’t even trying. Their glorious “conservative principles” aren’t principles at all but a skeevy ploy designed to tie our hands and keep us from pursuing policy goals our establishment coalition partners disfavor. They want open borders. They want illegals. They want cheap foreign labor that doesn’t get uppity to man their donors’ corporations so the Captains of Crony Capitalism don’t have to fuss with American workers who won’t tolerate being treated like chattel. Yeah, “we’re better than that” all right – if you mean that we are better than enforcing the laws the American people passed through a constitutional process if the ruling class decides it doesn’t like them.
One aspect that Schlichter leaves out is the role that the national Democrats are playing by being so radical. In the absence of a plausible alternative for either party, the power of voters loses out in the balance against the power of moneyed special interests.
Whatever the case, this isn’t a healthy development.
For my weekly call-in on John DePetro’s WADK 1540 AM show, last week, the topics were Raimondo’s budget reconciliation, the race for governor, and RI’s U.S. Senators make some news.
The headline given to Tyler O’Neil’s recent PJMedia essay probably captures the sense of many of us on the political right: “Imran Awan Scandal Shows Just How Much Dirt Dems Wanted to Hide By Focusing on Trump-Russia.” Over on National Review Online, Andrew McCarthy offers a worthy summary, with due incredulity:
… the proceeds of the fraudulent $165,000 loan they’d gotten from the Congressional Federal Credit Union had been sent ahead. It was part of a $283,000 transfer that Awan managed to wire from Capitol Hill. He pulled it off — hilariously, if infuriatingly — by pretending to be his wife in a phone call with the credit union. Told that his proffered reason for the transfer (“funeral arrangements”) wouldn’t fly, “Mrs.” Awan promptly repurposed: Now “she” was “buying property.” Asking no more questions, the credit union wired the money . . . to Pakistan.
As you let all that sink in, consider this: Awan and his family cabal of fraudsters had access for years to the e-mails and other electronic files of members of the House’s Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees. It turns out they were accessing members’ computers without their knowledge, transferring files to remote servers, and stealing computer equipment — including hard drives that Awan & Co. smashed to bits of bytes before making tracks.
On NewsBusters, Tim Graham notes how little coverage the issue is getting in the mainstream media, including avoidance of party designations and some the more-disturbing aspects of the story, such as national security implications. Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds offers a significant observation with his habitual insight and brevity:
Weird how, since the connection to Democratic dirty-tricks firm Fusion GPS came up, the press stopped talking about the Russia “collusion” story overnight.