Monday, August 27, 2007

Blue Dogs Cave to Pelosi on Spending

Before Republicans lost majorities in both houses of Congress last year, many had shown little will to advance or apply fiscally conservative principles to issues of budgeting, spending, and taxation. Democrats who describe themselves as fiscal conservatives and compose the Blue Dog Coalition in Congress played a major role in giving Democrats control of Congress. The blue dogs largely come from conservative districts and ran campaigns whose focus on fiscal conservatism helped deliver their victories by capitalizing on disenchantment with the GOP. As Opinion Journal writes today, blue dog voting records show they have not supported fiscal conservatism, but have consistently supported tax increases and Speaker Pelosi's wishes.

So far this year the blue dogs have been almost all bark when it comes to fiscal restraint and debt reduction. Thirty of the 48 have voted for every one of the non-defense spending bills their committee chairman have sent them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is enforcing party discipline, and as a result 28 of the 48 blue dogs voted "no" on each of the 27 amendments that Republicans proposed to cut the costs of these bills.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Virginia Best for Business

In case you missed it last month, Forbes rated Virginia as having the #1 overall business environment of any state in America. Despite this distinction, there remains room for improvement if the Commonwealth is to keep this designation.

Ranking is based on six categories:
  • Cost of doing business, Virginia ranked 17th (10th in 2006)
  • Labor pool, Virginia ranked 5th (4th in 2006)
  • Regulatory environment, Virginia ranked 1st (1st in 2006)
  • Economic climate, Virginia ranked 11th (8th in 2006)
  • Growth prospects, Virginia ranked 8th (10th in 2006)
  • Quality of life, Virginia ranked 6th (5th in 2006)

The complete rankings and the story are available here.

The 2006 rankings are available here. Virginia also ranked #1 in 2006.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rules 'hiding' trillions in debt

Liability $516,348 per U.S. household

The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year — far more than the official $248 billion deficit — when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows. The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss — equal to $11,434 per household — is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.

Read the complete story from USA Today here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Budget Transparency

Americans for Tax Reform has been at the forefront of advocacy when it comes to budget transparency. Their efforts on this issue and others are greatly important and have also been very successful. ATR's recent brochure mistakenly omitted Virginia from the list of states that have taken the important step of opening the books to citizens.

In 2005, Senator Walter Stosch introduced and secured passage of SB934, which requires Virginia's Auditor of Public Accounts to create a website where anyone can obtain state expenditure, revenue, and demographic data for the last decade.

The website is called Commonwealth Datapoint and can be found at .

Monday, August 06, 2007

Private Sector Partnerships for Transportation Infrastructure Maintenance

Facing aging transportation infrastructure, costly road repairs, and budget constraints, states have begun looking for help from the private sector. Indiana is one of the best examples. In the Hoosier state, Governor Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road to a private consortium for nearly 4 billion dollars, turning a budget deficit into a budget surplus, and providing needed transportation improvements in the process. The group leasing the toll road collects the tolls and they are limited in how much tolls can be raised. The private investors must also meet certain requirements and stipulations in managing and repairing the road, or the road goes back to being administered by Indiana, and the state gets to keep the money.

Private sector partnerships like Indiana's are examined in this Opinion Journal column from August 5.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Will Anyone Address the Cost of Entitlements Our Nation Faces?

Despite the enormous bill for entitlement programs coming due in the next 30 years, few acknowledge the reality Americans face. The problem isn't just Social Security, but also Medicare, Medicaid, and a host of other programs. Enormous tax increases or dramatically decreased benefits will be the only options available if no action is taken. The following Newsweek article calls for "brutal candor" on the part of politicians and think tanks in addressing this issue--one of the most pressing facing the United States.

Why Silence Isn't Golden

If you haven't noticed, the major presidential candidates—Republican and Democratic—are dodging one of the thorniest problems they'd face if elected: the huge budget costs of aging baby boomers. In last week's CNN/YouTube debate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson cleverly deflected the issue. "The best solution," he said, "is a bipartisan effort to fix it." Brilliant. There's already a bipartisan consensus: do nothing. No one plugs cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes, the obvious choices.

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Best Economy Ever?

The Wall Street Journal notes that the world economy has never been stronger than it is today. The article also makes the important observation that one of the greatest threats to global economic growth, and the US economy, is a return to protectionist policies.

The volatility of world stock markets last week should not distract attention from the fact that the world economy is currently experiencing a level of growth unsurpassed in human history. World growth has been running at close to 5% for over three years -- the highest level since the late 1960s. But the current situation is profoundly different from that era: In the 1960s, over two-thirds of the world's people were excluded from the global economy because of their political regimes. During the past 20 years, China, India, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Africa have rejoined the global economy.

Continue reading here.