Your Paycheck Is All Yours Now

Finally, you can keep what you earn. In a new report, the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Cost of Government Center say that the average American has to work more than half of the year to pay the cost of government. This year’s Cost of Government Day — when the average worker has earned enough to pay for government at the Federal, State and local levels — didn’t arrive until July 15 this year. I’m glad unfunded liabilities weren’t included; if they were, the day would never arrive.

House votes to audit the Fed. Last month, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to demand an audit of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2012 passed by a bipartisan vote of 327-98. Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), who first introduced legislation to audit the Fed in 1983, declared that “The Fed’s trillions of dollars’ worth of asset purchases and its ongoing support of foreign central banks cannot be allowed to continue without Congressional oversight.” Paul said he hopes the Senate will consider the bill before the end of the year. Sadly, I don’t think there’s a chance of that happening.

Giving illegal aliens a free pass. President Barack Obama recently declared that illegal aliens who were brought to this country as children, graduated from high school or earned a GED, and were under the age of 30 would no longer be subject to deportation. Now we’ve learned that anyone can claim to qualify under the new rules. Chris Crane, president of the union representing immigration and customs enforcement agents, testified before Congress: “We believe that significant numbers of people who are not dreamers [qualified under the DREAM Act] are taking advantage of this practice to avoid arrest.” Gee, do you think someone would lie to avoid being deported?

Giving guests some saucy reading. A hotel in England has announced that it’s replacing the Gideon Bible in each guest room with a copy of the soft-porn bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. Owner Jonathan Denby explained that the replacement “is a ripping good yarn and everyone who’s in the target audience loves it.” If any guest prefers the Bible, he said copies will be available at the registration desk. It’s no surprise that the media loved the story and gave him a million dollars’ worth of publicity.

–Chip Wood 

Rand Paul Takes On The TSA

For the second year in a row, Kentucky’s junior Senator, Rand Paul, had the standing-room-only crowd at FreedomFest on its feet, applauding and cheering. (Although, there were a few gloomy dissidents I’ll tell you about later.) And also for the second year in a row, I had the great pleasure of introducing the Republican Senator and conducting a lively question-and-answer period with him.

Paul began with a story that got a huge laugh from the crowd. “As you may know,” he said, “I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the TSA.” He paused and then added, “Well, let’s be honest. It’s more of a hate/hate relationship.”

Paul related several horror stories about passengers who were abused by the people charged with making sure our airports are safe and secure. He described what it is like going through airport security. He raised his hands above his head, then mimicked a guard saying, “No, hon, a little higher. Raise your arms a little bit higher.”

While holding his arms high above his head, Rand turned to the crowd and asked, “Is this the posture of a free man?” The response was an enthusiastic burst of laughter, stomping and cheering.

The Senator then related his own recent experience. It seems a scanner saw something it didn’t like when he was trying to board a flight. He was instructed to sit in a cubicle and wait for a guard. He asked if he couldn’t just go through the scanner again, but was told no. When he complained about being detained, he was told, “You’re not being detained; you just can’t leave.”

He decided to alert the local media to what was happening. But when he reached into his carry-on bag to get his cellphone, a guard standing nearby said: “Now, you qualify for a full pat-down.” So Rand told the reporter he was talking to, “Looks like I’ll be here for a while.”

Finally, an older and wiser Transportation Security Administration official prevailed. When he arrived, he suggested the Senator go through the scanner again. In fact, he offered to take him to the head of the line. “No,” the Senator replied. “I’ll wait in line like everyone else.”

The second time through security the scanner was silent. “It looks like you have a 50 percent error rate,” the Senator remarked. “That doesn’t sound very good to me.”

A TSA employee standing by the machine told him, “Oh, that’s because they’re set to go off randomly.”

A higher-up later denied this, but you could tell the Senator was more than a little skeptical about the machines — and the agency that administers them.

Paul has introduced a bill in the Senate that would privatize the TSA.

“I’d rather have the airlines responsible for the safety and security of their passengers and their planes,” he told the crowd. He said that while many Democrats in Congress have told him privately that they agree with him (and have even shared other TSA horror stories), he doesn’t expect any action in the current Congress.

“The TSA is a big union,” he said. “And the Democrats won’t do anything this year to hurt a union.”

According to Paul, the TSA may be the second most-hated agency of the Federal government — next to the Internal Revenue Service. But it isn’t the biggest problem we face. No, that dubious honor belongs to our debt.

“We are borrowing $50,000 a second — over a trillion dollars a year,” the Senator said. “It is unsustainable. We must do something about it. And we aren’t.

“Last week,” he told us, “we tried to cut one penny from the price support for sugar. One penny. It would have saved $7 million a year. That’s not much when you’re faced with a trillion-dollar deficit. We’d have to do it another 140,000 times to balance the budget.”

Paul said the bill had a good chance to pass, but “then Harry Reid came along and twisted some arms and two Democrats changed their vote.” The measure failed.

He told the crowd not to believe there is no bipartisan compromise in Congress.

“This simply isn’t true,” he insisted. “We have it every year — to raise spending.” When you hear claims that Congress has agreed to cut spending, don’t believe it, he said. “What they’re cutting are increases that are already built into the system.”

If we just held spending where it is, we could balance the budget in 10 years, Paul insisted. “If we were to cut just one percent a year — one penny out of every dollar — we could balance the budget in six or seven years.”

As you might have guessed, Paul is totally opposed to raising taxes. He pointed out that the top 10 percent of taxpayers already pay 70 percent of all of the taxes collected in this country.

“The rich are paying more than their fair share,” he said. “If you want to make it fair, you should cut their taxes.” That sentiment was greeted with a hearty round of applause.

There was a lively question-and-answer period at the end of Paul’s remarks. The most common question, by far, was why he endorsed Mitt Romney for President instead of his dad.

“First of all,” he replied, “it’s not ‘instead.’ I did endorse my father and still do. I’ve been campaigning for him since I was 11 years old. There is no one who has worked harder for him.”

Paul said he believes “libertarians can accomplish more working within the Republican Party than outside.” When he decided to run for the Senate, he did so as a Republican. “I said then that I would support the Party’s nominee for President,” he said.

Paul then addressed the libertarians in his audience.

“If you support the Libertarian Party, I’m not going to bust your chops,” he said. “I’ve been there. I’m not saying that if you choose that approach you are wrong. But at least do me the courtesy of understanding that there’s no one more supporting of my father than me.”

The Senator may not have won over everyone in the audience. But the vast majority gave him a rousing standing ovation when he concluded by saying: “We have to believe in ourselves. We have to believe in the free-enterprise system. We shouldn’t apologize. Instead, we should tell the world that our system made us the strongest, the richest, and the most humanitarian country in the history of the world.”

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Heroes In Aurora

Amazing acts of courage. Like you, I was heartsick at the stories of the massacre at that movie theater in Aurora, Colo., last week. But I was also impressed by the heroic acts that occurred there. Four of the victims were men who gave their lives to protect the women who were with them. The courage, bravery and self-sacrifice of Alex Teves, Matthew Robert McQuinn, Jonathan Blunk and John Larimer should be an inspiration for us all.

The Boy Scouts refuse to compromise. For several years now, the Boy Scouts of America has been the target of the militant homosexual movement because it has refused to allow homosexuals to serve as scoutmasters. Despite the intense pressure and publicity, an 11-member special committee formed by top Scout leaders in 2010 recently voted unanimously to reaffirm the ban as “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” You can expect the intolerant left to increase its pressure against the Boy Scouts as a result.

Aren’t you glad you paid for it? Thanks to a reader for sharing the following story: On a recent episode of “Bridezillas,” a friend of the bride said her wedding gift would be paying for the $600 wedding cake. Knowing her friend was broke, the bride-to-be asked the baker how her friend was going to pay for the cake. The baker said the friend wanted to pay with “food stamps.”

Paying government to hold your money. How low can interest rates go? Recently, the German central bank sold $5 billion worth of two-year notes that pay a negative 0.06% interest rate. That means the bondholders not only won’t receive any interest payments for the next 24 months, but when their principle is returned two years down the road, they’ll actually receive less money than they lent the government. Of course, once taxes and inflation are taken into consideration, savers in the United States also end up losing money on such “safe” investments.

–Chip Wood

The Lie That Should Sink Obama

If there is one sentence that determines who will win this year’s Presidential election, I hope it will be Barack Obama’s incredible statement that “you didn’t build that.”

In just four short words, Obama confirmed his bias against America’s business builders and job creators — the men and women who slaved and sacrificed to help make us the wealthiest, most productive and most generous Nation the world has ever known.

Yes, I know, I’ll be accused of taking his words out of context. That he really wasn’t engaging in the blatant, anti-business bias I’ve accused him of. Baloney! Let’s look more closely at exactly what our Great Leader said. Here is a verbatim quote from his campaign speech in Roanoke, Va., on July 13:

[L]ook, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

Obama’s apologists like to claim that the President was merely referring to “roads and bridges” when he said “you didn’t build that.” What a bunch of nonsense! First of all, let me play grammarian here and point out that “roads and bridges” are plural, not singular. Anyone with a fifth-grade education, much less two college degrees, would know to say “you didn’t build those,” not “that.”

Moreover, if you try to accept the apologists’ explanation, then you have to admit that Obama not only made a grammatical mistake, he made a factual one as well. Anyone who drives a car or truck did pay for those “roads and bridges.” All of this infrastructure (and a lot more besides) was financed by the taxes on the fuel we used.

No, the message the President was trying to convey seems pretty clear to me: Every successful entrepreneur in America owes a debt of gratitude — and a lot more taxes — to government. Not only that, but the more successful you are, the more you owe.

So Henry Ford can’t take credit for giving birth to the automobile industry. Thomas Edison would never have invented the light bulb if it weren’t for “somebody else” who made it happen. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and thousands of other modern builders and inventors wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t for the helping hand of government.

In fact, the Harry Reids and Nancy Pelosis of this world go even further. They seem to believe that government is entitled to all of the money you make. And anytime our beneficent rulers allow you to keep some of your earnings, it is somehow doing you a favor. How else can you explain the attitude that cutting your taxes is somehow giving you a subsidy? That letting us keep anything is doing us a favor?

If “you didn’t build that,” then you really have no right to own it or control it. If “you didn’t build that,” then government is entitled to tax it, to regulate it, even to seize it, if it so desires. If “somebody else made that happen,” then government has every right to seize what you have and share it with “somebody else.”

The truth is 180 degrees the opposite of what these grade-school Marxists proclaim: Most business creators and job builders in this country have succeeded in spite of government, not because of it. And they would have been able to invest a lot more money, take a lot more risk, build more businesses and create more jobs, if they had been allowed to keep more of the money they earned.

Dan Danner, the president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, has this to say about Obama’s comments:

His unfortunate remarks over the weekend show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs.

I’m sure every small-business owner who took a second mortgage on their home, maxed out their credit cards or borrowed money from their own retirement savings to start their business disagrees strongly with President Obama’s claim.

I certainly hope so.

One of Mitt Romney’s favorite campaign themes is how the coming election will be a battle for the soul of America. “Do we believe in an America that is great because of government?” the presumptive Republican nominee has asked. “Or do we believe in an America that is great because of free people allowed to pursue their dreams to build their future?”

In this debate, there can be no doubt where our redistributionist President stands. We’ve got less than 100 days left before Americans get to cast their vote on which vision of the future they want.

Will the builders and creators and those who support them work as hard as the takers and receivers and those who pander to them? We’ll soon find out.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood 

Obama Called Our Most ‘Toxic’ President

Ed Klein told nearly 2,000 conservatives and libertarians who jammed the main ballroom at FreedomFest last week several shocking stories he heard while conducting the nearly 200 interviews that formed the basis of his bestselling book, The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House. But none was more gripping than what he learned during his three-hour interview with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor in Chicago.

“At first I had no interest in talking to Rev. Wright,” Klein told us. “But several African-Americans I spoke with said he had a story I had to hear.” Somewhat to his surprise, Wright not only agreed to meet with Klein but gave him permission to record the interview.

During their talk, Wright told Klein that Barack Obama was “steeped in Islam” when he first met him, but knew little about Christianity. “Barack and Michelle are not church people,” Wright said. “They didn’t even send their daughters to Sunday School.”

According to Klein, Trinity United Church of Christ (Wright’s mega-church with more than 8,000 black members) wasn’t the Obamas spiritual home; it was their political base in Chicago. Of course, once the media started exposing Wright’s hate-filled sermons and his “black liberation” theology, Obama dropped Wright like the hot potato he had become.

Wright told Klein that after the controversy erupted, he was approached by one of Obama’s closest friends and offered $150,000 if he would promise to keep his mouth shut during the 2008 election. When Wright refused, he said he got a phone call a few days later from the candidate himself, asking to meet with him privately in some “secure location.”

“I told him we didn’t need to meet in a ‘secure location,’” Wright told Klein. “I said he could just come to my home. After all, he’d been there before at least a hundred times.”

When Obama also asked him, for the good of his campaign, to refrain from controversial remarks while he ran for President, Wright said he couldn’t make that promise. He said Obama then told him, “The problem with you, Rev, is that you’ve got to tell the truth.” Wright said he replied, “That’s not a bad problem to have. Maybe you should try it.”

I doubt if anyone reading this will be surprised to learn that an Obama crony tried to bribe Obama’s long-time minister into keeping his controversial mouth shut. Of course, we know how well that worked.

Klein told his rapt audience that he offered copies of his three-hour interview with Wright to the national media. But with the exception of Sean Hannity, they all ignored it. Hey, surprise, surprise! There’s liberal bias in the mainstream media.

The author said that although his book has been on top of bestseller lists for nearly two months, he has yet to be invited on any of the major interview shows. No “Today Show,” no “Good Morning, America,” no “Charlie Rose.”

“If it weren’t for Fox News, most TV viewers would never have heard of my book,” he said. But thanks to that network, plus talk radio, the Internet, and all the other alternative news sources that have developed — like Personal Liberty Digest — a media blackout just doesn’t work anymore.

Another fascinating tidbit from Klein’s book is that Bill Clinton tried very hard to persuade his wife to run against Obama this year. He didn’t want to wait until 2016. A friend of the Clintons (Klein won’t say which one) quotes Bill Clinton delivering the following tirade: “I have no relationship with the President — none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be President. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s… he’s…”

Then Klein described what happened next:

Bill’s voice was growing hoarse — he was speaking in a rough whisper — but he looked as though he could go on forever bashing Obama. And then, all at once and without warning, he stopped cold. He bit his lower lip and scanned the faces in the room. He was plainly gratified to see that his audience was spellbound. They were waiting for the politician par excellence to deliver his final judgment on the 44th President of the United States.

Then, according to the friend, Bill Clinton said: “Barack Obama is an amateur!”

Obama is not an amateur at running, God knows. With a teleprompter in front of him, he’s one of the most gifted and eloquent campaigners this country has ever seen.

But when it comes to serving as President and commander in chief, Ed Klein doesn’t mince words. Obama is not only one of the most divisive and radical people to ever occupy the White House, but he is a dangerous amateur at the job.

[pl_amazon_book_order src="http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=perslibedige-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=1596987855&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr"]“Barack Obama is temperamentally unsuited to be President of the United States or commander in chief,” Klein told us. “He is inept in judgment, flawed in management, and lacking in leadership. He repeatedly makes errors that hurt our economy and harm our national security.”

And then the bestselling author hammered home his conclusion: “Barack Obama’s bumbling amateurism and radical ideology are a toxic combination for our country.”

Most of the speakers at this year’s FreedomFest who made a prediction about the November elections said they expect Obama to lose — a prediction that was greeted with a hearty round of applause every time it was uttered.

Klein said he wasn’t so sure. Obama’s team may be inept at leading the country, the bestselling author said, but they are ruthless, brilliant and unscrupulous at running a campaign. They will pull out all the stops to get their man re-elected.

“Those guys in Chicago know how to run a dirty, effective campaign,” he said.

If they succeed, the country will be in for a very dangerous time.

“If Obama is re-elected,” Klein said, “there will be nothing to stop him. He will be even more aggressive.” And he won’t hesitate to use edicts, regulations and even more czars to force changes down our throats — no matter what Congress does.

Obama’s goal, the author is convinced, is nothing less than to convert the United States into “a European-style socialist state.”

Klein’s bestselling book confirms what a lot of us already suspected. Too bad all this wasn’t known four years ago. If it had been, he has no doubt Obama would never have been elected.

What should we do about it now? The bottom line is simple, he says. “This guy must be defeated in 2012.” His book should help do the job.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Disability Numbers Increase

A flood of disabled workers. Here’s a statistic that should worry every taxpayer in America. While the economy has created 2.6 million new jobs since June 2009, in the same period an astounding 3.1 million people have been granted disability benefits. In other words, the number of newly disabled workers is growing 19 percent faster than the number of new jobs in this country.

Some good news on the unemployment front. Here’s something that should give aid and comfort to every conservative — and bug the heck out of Democrats. In the 2010 elections, Republicans won Governorships in 17 States. Every one of those States saw their unemployment rate drop since January 2011.

This UN-sponsored treaty is dead for now. Two more Republican Senators have told Majority Leader Harry Reid that they plan to vote against ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty because it infringes too much on U.S. sovereignty. The announcement by Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) means the treaty won’t win the approval of two-thirds of the Senate. That’s enough to make the measure dead in the water this year. But don’t expect the New World Order types to stop promoting it.

A coffeemaker in your car? Fiat has proudly announced that it will be the first car company to have an espresso maker built into a production automobile. Yes, beginning next year, you’ll be able to order the Fiat 500L, a four-door sedan, with a Lavazza coffeemaker already installed. Does anyone think brewing a cup of joe could be a bit of a distraction as you’re racing down the autobahn?

–Chip Wood

Nobama, No Convention

More Democrats distance themselves from Obama. It looks like there could be a lot of empty chairs at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September. The latest defections include three Democratic Congressmen from the State hosting the convention. U.S. Representatives Hayden Rogers, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell say they’ll be too busy campaigning to show up. Even more embarrassing for the national ticket, the three men have declined to endorse Barack Obama for re-election.

Would you pay to get off a plane faster? Many airline passengers are already paying extra to board faster or get a preferred seat near the front. Pretty soon you may be able to be first in line to get off — by paying another fee, of course. George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com, says it just makes sense: “They’re willing to pay to board early and sit in those uncomfortable seats, so why wouldn’t they pay for the reverse?” All those extra charges really add up. According to the Transportation Department’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in just the first three months of this year, airlines collected $816 million in baggage fees and another $631 million for changes in reservations.

Chris Rock wasn’t funny. As we celebrated the Fourth of July, here’s what comedian Chris Rock tweeted to his thousands of followers: “Happy white peoples independence day the slaves weren’t free but I’m sure they enjoyed the fireworks.” It’s sad how many people like to slam the country that made them rich and famous, isn’t it?

Now that’s a pricey bottle of wine. Austrailian fine wine producer Penfolds has announced that it has produced its most exclusive (and expensive) bottling ever. It has made just 12 bottles of the 2004 Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon. Each will come in a hand-blown glass vial in a special presentation case. The asking price is a staggering $168,000 per bottle. Only two bottles have been allocated to North America, so if you want one, you’d better hurry.

–Chip Wood

Getting A Pro-Constitution Court

A neighbor and I were discussing the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare a few days ago when he made the comment, “That was a really black day for America. Maybe the worst in many years.”

His remark got me thinking. Which was the more momentous date? When the Court issued its verdict on June 28? When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was enacted into law and signed by the President in March 2010? Or was the most critical date November 2008, when a lot of gullible Americans accepted Barack Obama’s promises for “hope and change” and elected him President?

Of course, they are all important dates in history. But it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it, that the first and second would never have happened if it weren’t for the third? Elections have consequences. One of the biggest consequences of the next one is that whoever wins the Presidency will probably get to appoint two or three new members to our Nation’s highest court.

Think about it. Three current members of the Court — conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, liberal dependable Ruth Bader Ginsburg and occasional swing vote Anthony Kennedy — will all reach their 80s during the next Presidential Administration. Assuming some or all of them retire sometime over the next four years, whoever is nominated to succeed them could change the Court’s complexion for decades to come.

As you know, a Federal judgeship is a lifetime gig. The average length of service on the Supreme Court is currently 25 years. But with nominees getting younger and younger and with longevity increasing, new appointees could serve for 30 or 40 years.

If you think Chief Justice Roberts had to turn logic on its head to find that Obamacare was Constitutional, just wait until you see what an even more liberal Court will allow. It’s hard to imagine that such a court would find any expansion of Federal power unConstitutional.

While I’m certainly willing to agree that June 28 was a bad day for liberty in this country, I can think of many others that were worse. In fact, in my humble opinion, it wasn’t even the worst Supreme Court decision I can remember. For that dishonor, we have to go back almost 40 years, when the Court voided the anti-abortion laws of 46 States in Roe vs. Wade. That decision (which came on a 7-2 vote), caused more death, destruction and controversy than any other ruling in my lifetime.

Another damaging day in judicial history was way back in May 1954, when the Court ruled (unanimously, by the way) in Brown vs. Board of Education that “separate but equal” educational facilities would no longer be allowed in this country.

Today, most of us would probably agree that separate facilities could never be equal. And that trying to use the police power of the State to keep races separate was a huge mistake. Segregation created some monstrous injustices at the time and a legacy of bitterness and resentment that has lasted to this day.

But in its decision the Supreme Court did much more than simply declare that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal. The ruling paved the way for a massive Federal takeover of education in the United States. It led directly to such insanity as cross-town busing, to achieve some dubious level of integration that was dictated by a Federal judge.

Until that time, it was generally understood that a Supreme Court decision was “the law of the case.” But with the Brown decision, it became “the law of the land.” The judicial branch of government had usurped the power of the legislative branch. The Court was issuing dictates that would never have been approved by Congress or the individual States.

At the time, there was an enormous amount of opposition to the Federal courts assuming these vast new powers. I remember helping distribute a powerful little book called Nine Men Against America. There were even calls for Congress to rein in the Court by limiting its authority or trying to remove some of its members.

One of the things that makes our system of government so remarkable is all of the ways that our Founding Fathers tried to limit the power of the central government. In school we were taught that the Constitution would not even have been adopted were it not for the addition of those first 10 Amendments known as the Bill of Rights. It’s been a long time, however, since any justice (or most politicians, for that matter) paid more than lip service to the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Remember hearing about all of the “checks and balances” the framers put in place between the three branches of the Federal government: executive, legislative and judicial? We know that the first, the executive, gets to appoint nominees to the Supreme Court (and other Federal courts). And that the second, the legislative, gets to approve or deny those nominations.

But Congress’ power over the judiciary doesn’t end there. Our Founding Fathers were determined to give the people’s representatives, the Legislature, additional ways to check the other two branches of government. One was the ability to declare some issues “off limits” to the courts, by voting to remove their “appellate jurisdiction.”

The other check that Congress was given over the other two branches of government was the power of impeachment — that is, the ability to present charges against members of the courts and even the President.

In the 1960s, when the John Birch Society launched a nationwide movement under the slogan “Impeach Early Warren,” many people weren’t even aware that the Constitution gave Congress such a power — or, for that matter, what it meant or how it would be exercised.

I don’t think Congress has ever voted to impeach a member of the Supreme Court. Bill Clinton was the first President since Andrew Johnson to even have impeachment charges leveled against him.

At the time, I questioned whether lying about a tryst with an intern approached the level of misconduct that our Founding Fathers envisioned before a sitting President would be impeached. A majority of members of the House must have agreed, because Smilin’ Bill wasn’t charged. (What he no doubt heard from Hillary when she got him alone is another matter entirely.)

What are the chances that Congress will use either of these Constitutional remedies to rein in the Supreme Court? Pretty darned close to zero, I’m afraid.

That means if you want to see more pro-Constitution decisions from the Supreme Court, you’d better make sure the next appointees share your appreciation for our founding document. Otherwise, we’ll just get more justices whose oath to uphold the Constitution means as little to them as the one Barack Obama took obviously means to him.

In other words, if you want to change the Court, you’d better begin by changing the guy in the White House.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

____________________________________________________________________

Corrected: Original stated Andrew Jackson, not Andrew Johnson, had impeachment charges brought against him.

Obama’s ‘Victory’ Could Spell His Defeat

So Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberal wing of the Supreme Court to decide that Obamacare, including the hugely unpopular “mandate,” is perfectly OK under the U.S. Constitution.

Now all three branches of the Federal government — the legislative, the executive and the judicial — have agreed to support the biggest expansion of government power in the history of this Republic. To say I’m aghast would be the understatement of the week.

Aghast, but not surprised. Let’s be honest: The Supreme Court has a lousy record of telling the Federal government it can’t do something. As far as the nine members of the Court are concerned, the 9th and 10th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution don’t exist.

Of course, Roberts had to twist the facts like a pretzel to justify the ruling. Barack Obama had insisted that Obamacare “absolutely” was  not a tax. The measure’s supporters in Congress said the same thing, over and over again.

Now comes the Supreme Court saying that of course it’s a tax. If it were to be judged based on the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause (two phrases in the Constitution that liberals love to use to justify every possible expansion of federal power), a majority of Court members said it would clearly be unConstitutional.

I’ll leave for another day speculation about why Roberts ruled as he did and gave himself the task of writing the majority opinion. Justices Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented: “… to say that the Individual Mandate merely imposed a tax is not to interpret the statue but to rewrite it.”

Exactly. The bill’s defenders were desperately afraid that the Court would rule against Obamacare. When it didn’t, they were ecstatic.

But their glee won’t last for long. Two things are going to happen that will turn their rejoicing into anguish. One will occur later this year, the other further down the road.

The first will be massive Republican gains this fall. Consider: Before the Court’s ruling, some 55 percent to 60 percent of potential voters said they opposed Obamacare. Now that they know it will be shoved down their throats, they should be furious. Many of them are. Pollster Scott Rasmussen put it this way: “The conservative interest in the election was already much higher than that of moderates and liberals. It went up to really stratospheric levels right after the ruling.”

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote something that will come back to haunt every liberal supporter of this odious law:

“We [the Court] possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Is there a single Democrat anywhere running for election this fall who will brag about foisting this massive tax increase on the country? I don’t think so. I predict we will see a ton of them “thrown out of office,” to quote the Chief Justice.

Fox News commentator Dick Morris put it this way: “So this really puts Obamacare front and center as the leading issue in the 2012 campaign. In a real sense it makes the 2012 campaign a carbon copy of the 2010 campaign — and we all know how that turned out.”

A lot of liberals are worried about this very thing. In a fundraising appeal on the eve of the Court’s decision, Ted Kennedy’s son Patrick predicted: “If the Court upholds the law, dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage.”

Don’t you just love the liberals’ scare tactics? Of course, no conservative will go on a rampage. The Tea Party types will do something the left will find much worse. They’ll vote — in larger numbers than ever before. And they’ll get a bunch of their friends and neighbors to do so as well.

Remember, the 2,300-page monstrosity that created Obamacare contains at least 21 tax increases. Estimates are that it costs taxpayers more than $800 billion. And get this: The majority of those increases will hit families earning less than $250,000 a year.

So much for Obama’s promise that his healthcare proposals would “never be purchased with [a] tax increase on middle-class families.” Tea Party favorite Sarah Palin used just four words to describe the situation: “Obama lies; freedom dies.”

When The Other Shoe Drops

What if I’m wrong and Republicans don’t enjoy enough legislative victories this year to repeal Obamacare?

If Obama wins re-election and the Democrats retain control of the Senate, I still think Obamacare will end up on the ash can of history. Here’s why.

Once Obamacare is fully in force and insurance companies are required to accept every possible applicant — no matter what pre-existing conditions they may have — you can bet that healthcare premiums will skyrocket.

When that happens, for many people it will be cheaper to simply pay the penalty rather than cough up the money for the premiums. After all, why shouldn’t they delay getting coverage until they actually need it? Just think what would happen if you could wait until your house was on fire to buy insurance on it. Who would be dumb enough to buy it before you needed it?

The only way to prevent this from happening is to make the penalties higher than the cost of insurance. But I don’t see that ever happening, even with a Congress filled with Nancy Pelosis and Harry Reids.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”

That’s the same problem Obamacare will encounter. The faster the plan is put in place, the sooner it will collapse. Of course, in the meantime, the government will do everything in its power to keep us tax cows producing as much milk as possible. It won’t be pleasant having every last dollar it can grab squeezed out of us.

Rather than waiting until the iron bars are around your neck, locking you in place in the dairy barn, wouldn’t it be a good idea to accept Roberts’ challenge and get the law repealed?

The only way to do that is by replacing the people who passed it. Of course, that means starting in the White House. But that won’t be enough if the Democrats still control the Senate.

We’ve got our work cut out for us, folks. Better get busy.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

What Happens Now?

No justice at Justice. Surprise, surprise. The Justice Department announced last Friday that it will not prosecute its boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, for contempt of Congress. Deputy Attorney General James Cole sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner declaring that “We will not prosecute an executive branch official under the contempt of Congress statute for withholding subpoenaed documents pursuant to a presidential assertion of executive privilege.” What happens now? My bet is a lot of bluff, blustering and rhetoric, but not much else.

Encouraging people to steal. An op-ed article in The New York Times several months ago carried the subhead “Why I stole Wi-Fi for years – and you should, too.” The author claimed that her neighbors’ decision to leave their Wi-Fi networks password-free “was essentially a gift, an ethereal gesture of kindness.” Sure it was.

More proof the free market works. Here’s an amazing statistic: The southern white rhinoceros, which was almost extinct a century ago, has enjoyed an amazing comeback. There are now an estimated 20,000 of the beasts in Africa. What made the difference? Encouraging private ownership of the animals. This promoted breeding, permitted controlled trophy hunting and even allowed rhino horns to be harvested humanely. (They grow back.) As a result, death from poachers, starvation and natural predators has all but disappeared.

A dramatic way to make the point. College students who want to show how offensive it is to base anything — including student admissions — on race have been known to organize a treat of an event: affirmative action bake sales. Wikipedia states: “A typical pricing structure charges $1.00 for White and Asian males, $.75 for White and Asian females, $.50 for Latino, Black, and Native American males and $.25 for Latino, Black, and Native American females.” The protests have taken place at many campuses across the country, much to the dismay of liberal groups and some college officials.

–Chip Wood   

 

Your Vote Matters

Finally, Obama said something I agree with. President Barack Obama was roundly criticized for his long, disjointed and uninspiring speech on the economy two weeks ago. But he said something in his conclusion that I’m sure most conservatives would agree with: “Your vote will finally determine the path that we take as a nation — not just tomorrow, but for years to come.”

Food stamp use explodes. Remember when Bill Clinton bragged that his welfare reform was taking Americans off the dole? The Administration of Barack Obama sure has reversed that. At the end of fiscal 2008, the food stamp program cost taxpayers $34.6 billion. Today, the tab has more than doubled, to $78 billion, with one in seven Americans on the dole. And believe it or not, the Department of Agriculture is spending millions of dollars on an advertising program to get even more people signed up. They’ve even got a $500 million bounty to reward States for finding more participants.

Meanwhile, families’ net worth plummets. A report by the Federal Reserve says that the average American family’s net worth dropped almost 40 percent between 2007 and 2010. It went from a high of $126,400 in 2007 to just $77,300 in 2010 — a level last seen in 1992. Most of the decline was attributed to the sharp drop in housing values. Family income is also falling, from an average of $49,600 in 2007 to just $45,800 in 2010. Does anyone want to bet that things have gotten better in the past 18 months?

How much will this matter in November? What do Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin have in common? First, they’re all considered toss-up States in the Presidential election. Whoever wins most of these electoral votes will undoubtedly win the White House. But second, they are all States where voters approved an amendment to the Constitution declaring that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

–Chip Wood   

Eric Holder Has To Go

The House of Representatives is about to vote on whether to declare Eric Holder, our Attorney General, in contempt of Congress. And by the time you read this, the Supreme Court will have issued its long-awaited ruling on the Constitutionality of Obamacare.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until next week to comment on both events. Thanks to publishing deadlines, I have to finish this column before the House takes its vote and the Court renders its verdict.

But I don’t have to wait another minute to predict that it’s just a matter of time before Holder is no longer our Nation’s top law-enforcement officer. While the list of unConstitutional excesses by this Administration is longer than both of my arms, Holder’s bungling mismanagement of the Fast and Furious crisis, followed by his outright defiance of Congress, is reason enough to color him gone.

What’s gotten lost in the whole contrived controversy over Holder’s claim of executive privilege is how this uproar began. In 2009, someone in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives approved plans to let some 2,000 illegal weapons in the United States get into the hands of a Mexican drug cartel. The idea was to track where the guns went, so they could nail some drug kingpins.

A bad idea went terribly awry in 2010, when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a shoot-out with drug traffickers. A firearm found out at the scene was traced to the botched Federal program.

Congress decided to investigate how this whole mess happened. And that’s when Holder’s Justice Department made a huge mistake. It sent a letter to Congress in February 2011 flatly denying that any such program ever existed.

The House Oversight Committee didn’t buy it and demanded to see various reports and communications. One of the items that subsequently came to light was an email in March of last year from then-acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson urging the Justice Department to “back off the letter.” But it took another seven months before Holder’s agency acknowledged the existence of the Fast and Furious program and admitted its previous claims weren’t true.

That would have been a very good time for Holder to abide by the old maxim, “If you mess up, ’fess up.” Instead, he took the opposite tack and dug in his heels. So far, Justice has given Congress only a tiny fraction of the documents it has requested, insisting that all of the others are somehow protected by executive privilege.

Claims of executive privilege can apply when you’re talking about communications between the President and the people who work for him, such as the Attorney General. But not when you’re trying to keep a duly constituted Congressional committee from learning about communications within a Federal department.

In a lead editorial last week, The Wall Street Journal noted the curious contradictions and dangerous implications of what’s happening here:

Did White House officials know and approve Fast and Furious before it went awry, and did they advise the Justice Department on how to respond to Congress’s investigation into the operation’s failure?

How can the President invoke a privilege to protect documents he and the White House are supposed to have had nothing to do with?

And what is so damaging or embarrassing in those documents that Mr. Obama is now willing to invest his own political capital to protect it from disclosure—at least until after the election?

The last three words contain the key to the current unpleasantness. Obama would like nothing better than to put off any resolution until after Nov. 6. And I think it’s safe to assume that Holder would like to keep his cushy job for as long as possible. Who could blame him?

If a majority of House members do vote to hold the Attorney General in contempt, then what happens? It would be up to a U.S. Attorney to prosecute the case — which means he would be prosecuting his own boss. Does anyone see a potential conflict of interest there?

On the other hand, Holder could order the U.S. Attorney not to prosecute. Wouldn’t Republicans have a field day with that one?

Unless Republicans in the House agree to meekly back down (something I don’t see happening), it won’t be long before Holder is gone. Some 115 Republican members of Congress have signed a no confidence resolution against Holder. Dozens already called for his resignation. Several members of the Senate, including two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed that demand.

Holder has been very obliging in the past about doing whatever his boss in the White House wanted. This included refusing to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and declining to prosecute New Black Panther Party members who were caught on tape in November 2008 trying to intimidate voters.

So I have no doubt that when Barack Obama wants to shove him out the door of Justice, Holder will quickly oblige. As I said before, you can color him gone. But don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that justice has been done at Justice. We’ve got a long way to go — at least until January — before that happens.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

King Obama Flouts The Law Again

What a difference a year makes — especially if you’re running for re-election and your pollsters tell you that you’re in deep doo-doo.

Last July, Barack Obama told his favorite Hispanic group, the National Council of La Raza, that he knew “some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own.” He admitted that the idea was “very tempting.” Then he added, “But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.”

In September, he expanded on this theme when he spoke to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. “I wish I had a magic wand and could make this all happen on my own,” he said. But then he noted, “But we live in a democracy, and at the end of the day, I can’t do this all by myself under our democratic system.”

Just to make sure that all of the politicians present understood what he meant, the former professor of Constitutional law added, “If we’re going to do big things — whether it’s passing this jobs bill, or the DREAM Act, or comprehensive immigration reform — we’re going to have to get Congress to act.”

But as I said, that was then, this is now. And now Obama needs all the Latino votes he can get. So, a few days ago, he decided to heck with Congress and our Constitution; he’d just issue an edict to change the rules.

Effective immediately, the President said, the United States would no longer try to deport any young people who are in this country illegally. If they were brought to this country as children and are not yet 30 years old, they’ll get a free pass for the next two years. The only stipulations are that they have no criminal record and have completed high school, earned a GED diploma or served in the military.

No one knows for sure how many illegals will benefit from the new rule, but estimates are that the number could be as high as 800,000. And no one knows how many votes this ploy will garner the President in November, but it could be several million.

So, once again, we have the disturbing specter of the President of the United States — the Numero Uno government official who, per the Constitution, is responsible for seeing that Federal laws are fully and fairly enforced — blithely announcing that he is going to ignore the law of the land and do whatever he wants.

Of course, this isn’t the first time such a thing has happened. It isn’t even the fourth or fifth time it’s happened. It’s been a hallmark of Obama’s Administration almost from his first year in office, when he said that the Federal government would not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

Right now, the Justice Department is waging war on officials in Florida because the Governor there wanted the election rolls purged of any people who are not legal residents of this country. That sounded pretty reasonable to me. But I guess someone in Washington realized that a lot of those illegal aliens were voting for Democrats, so maybe the Florida officials should be stopped.

Oh, and don’t you dare suggest that it is reasonable and proper for potential voters to be asked to prove that they are really who they say they are before being given a ballot. Never mind that you can’t board an airplane, buy alcohol or order a prescription without showing legal identification. Voter ID laws, we’re told, are the worst sort of discrimination since Jim Crow laws were rampant in the South.

Another example of the Obama Administration’s delight in flouting our laws was the so-called bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. Rather than following the traditional rules of bankruptcy, Obama’s car czar rigged the game. Bondholders had billions of dollars stolen from them and given to the Democrats’ friends in the United Auto Workers union.

By the way, it’s not just us crazy right-wingers who are saying this. In “Obama’s policy strategy: Ignore laws,” Politico reported: “On issue after issue — gay rights, drug enforcement, Internet gambling, school achievement standards — the administration has chosen to achieve its goals by a method best described as passive-aggressive.”

I disagree. Acts like these aren’t merely passive-aggressive. They are flagrantly unConstitutional!

At the top of the list of Obama’s defiant flouting of our Constitution, though, has to be his eagerness to wage war. He is not alone in this, of course. The last time a President asked Congress for a declaration of war before committing our troops to fight and die was after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But the fact that every President since then has ignored the Constitution doesn’t make it right.

Every schoolchild in America is taught that we are supposed to be a Nation of laws, not the whims of men. Does anyone really believe this anymore? How can we, with the example being set by the scofflaw in our Nation’s highest office?

Meanwhile, we wait in vain for our Senators and Representatives to demand a halt to this unConstitutional usurpation of their powers. Every single one of them took an oath of office to “protect and defend” the Constitution of the United States.

Maybe they should be required to read it, so they’ll have a better idea of what their job is supposed to be — and just how blatant this theft of their responsibilities has become. If they won’t, then it’s up to us to replace them this November with people who will — beginning with the guy in the White House.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Taxmageddon Looms

Another recession coming? The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office confirmed something I wrote about in Are You Ready For Taxmageddon. The CBO estimates that if the George W. Bush-era tax cuts aren’t renewed at the end of this year, our economy will contract by 1.3 percent in the first half of 2013. Gross domestic product is already pretty anemic, increasing just 2.2 percent for the first quarter of this year.

Another Democrat abandons Obama. Artur Davis, a four-term Congressman from Alabama who was one of Barack Obama’s earliest supporters, shocked the Democratic establishment by announcing that he was becoming a Republican. Quoting a phrase first popularized by Ronald Reagan, Davis said that the Democratic Party had left him, not the other way around. But the national media, which loved to publicize any Republican dissent with George Bush, has been conspicuously silent when a Democrat jumps ship.

Mitt Romney is raising some big bucks. Last month, the Mitt Romney campaign raised more money than the Barack Obama campaign. According to official accounts, some $77 million poured into coffers of Romney and the Republican Party in May. This was some $17 million more than Obama raised, even counting the big bucks fundraiser at George Clooney’s house.

The quote of the week. Actually, this one comes from a Peggy Noonan column in The Wall Street Journal two weeks ago: “Any president will, in a presidential election year, be political. But there is a startling sense with Mr. Obama that that’s all he is now, that he and his people are all politics, all the time, undeviatingly, on every issue. He isn’t even trying to lead, he’s just trying to win.” Indeed, he is.

–Chip Wood

Union Membership Dwindling

Labor losses are mounting. I mentioned in Wisconsin Vote Stuns The Left how membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees plummeted in Wisconsin once the State stopped taking union dues from their paychecks. But it turns out that union support is declining in other States as well. The Wall Street Journal reported: “In the 12 months ended in February, Ohio’s membership fell 8.5%, Pennsylvania’s dropped 3.4% and Michigan’s declined 11.7%.” Look for union clout to continue to decline as more and more States challenge their power and more and more members decline to pay their dues.

Another promise Obama didn’t keep. Union supporters in Wisconsin are still smarting over the lack of support they received from President Barack Obama. Many of them remember this promise the candidate made in 2007: “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America.” But when push came to shove, apparently raising funds in Hollywood was more important than marching with workers in Wisconsin.

The stock market could soar. I just got an interesting email from market analyst Gary Halbert about the anticipated Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare. He says that “If the High Court renders ObamaCare unconstitutional later this month, and I think it will, we could see a MONSTER RALLY [his emphasis] in stocks.” He anticipates that the court will render a decision by June 25, before it adjourns for the summer. Let’s hope he’s right.

Now that’s an expensive lunch. Every year, Warren Buffett agrees to let the Glide Foundation, a charity that helps the homeless in San Francisco, auction off a lunch with him. The winning bid earlier this month hit a staggering $3.5 million. For that kind of money, I hope the bidder (who thus far has chosen to remain anonymous) gets the best investment advice of his life.

–Chip Wood

 

 

Is Bill Clinton Sabotaging Obama’s Re-Election?

My, my, my. Is it my imagination, or are things starting to get a bit testy between the most popular former Democratic President in America, Bill Clinton, and the current occupant of the White House?

There’s been a rumor floating around Washington for weeks that the Clintons and President Barack Obama are going to cut a deal to make Hillary Clinton the Vice Presidential candidate. Joe Biden would plead health reasons for stepping down, and Hillary Clinton would resign as Secretary of State to run in the No. 2 slot. This would give the Democrats a much stronger ticket for 2012 — and Hillary Clinton a virtual lock to be the Democratic nominee four years from now.

It’s a juicy tidbit, but I don’t believe it for a moment. I suspect Dick Morris was much closer to the truth when he appeared on Sean Hannity’s TV program last week. The glee was obvious in his voice when the Republican pundit declared, “Bill Clinton does not want Barack Obama to win.”

Then he dropped the following bombshell: “I’ve spoken to several good friends who are staunch conservatives who have had a lot of exchanges with Bill Clinton in private. At one point, one of them quotes him as saying, ‘You have six months to save the country.’”

Now, I can believe that the Clintons are still upset over the way Obama snatched the Democrat nomination from Hillary Clinton four years ago. And I have absolutely no doubt that a lot of conservatives are convinced that we have six months left to save the country.

But I don’t believe for a second that Bill Clinton said that — especially not to anyone he knows is a staunch conservative. I wish it were true, but I don’t buy it.

What I can believe is that Bill Clinton is sick and tired of being told by the Obama team that he has to “clarify” yet another remark he made. The gaffes (and his corrections) are becoming downright embarrassing.

First the former President praised Mitt Romney’s “sterling record” at Bain Capital. Please note: That wasn’t said at some private fundraiser or some off-the-record meeting. No, Clinton made the remark during a highly publicized television interview. This was no slip of the tongue; it was thought out and calculated.

Clinton went on to rub some salt in the wound, saying that Democrats shouldn’t cast private equity as “bad work.” Talk about giving the Republicans fodder for a Romney TV commercial! That sentiment is the polar opposite of the Obama campaign’s strategy to demonize Romney’s career at Bain, where they’d have you believe he earned his hundreds of millions of dollars by destroying companies and costing thousands of workers their jobs.

So Obama’s people got on the phone to Clinton’s people. Within a matter of hours, the ex-President “clarified” his remarks. Romney’s policies would be “calamitous” for the Nation, smilin’ Bill proclaimed.

The accord didn’t survive the week. Two days later, Clinton said that Congress should extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of year. I could almost hear the screams of “w-h-a-a-t-?” that erupted from the Obama campaign headquarters when they heard about this one. Obama had repeatedly made it clear that he would veto a continuation of tax cuts for “the rich.”

Nor is Clinton winning any friends in the White House by his continued insistence that the candidates should focus on the issues, not merely run a ton of attack ads against the other. The coming election should be about “competing visions for the future,” he’s said over and over.

But Obama wasn’t honest about his vision for America when he campaigned for the Presidency four years ago. Why would anyone expect him to be any more forthright today? The last thing Obama wants to run on is his record.

Charles Krauthammer, who has to be one of the slyest commentators on National television, said that Clinton is acting more like a double agent for Romney than a fan of Obama.

I won’t go quite that far. But of one thing I’m certain: The guy is too darned clever to be making so many “mistakes.” If I were Obama, I wouldn’t want him driving the campaign bus for me — or packing my parachute, for that matter.

By the way, the Clintons are not the only royal family of Democratic politicos who have had it up to here with Obama. In his bestselling book Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House, Ed Klein says that John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, privately refers to the President as “a liar and worse.” This is quite a change from 2008, when she became the first prominent Kennedy to endorse Obama. Prior to that time, Kennedy support for Bill and Hillary Clinton was pretty much unanimous.

During the 2008 primary campaign, Caroline wrote that, “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.”

The man, of course, was Obama.

Once they were in the White House, however, Michelle and Barack Obama became “too busy” to return the favor. Klein says that early in his Presidency, Kennedy sent Obama a lengthy memorandum about education reform and asked to meet with the President to discuss it. The White House never bothered to reply.

Then, in 2011, Kennedy once again tried to meet with the President when her family and the Obamas were vacationing close to each other on Martha’s Vineyard. Once again, the President declined to meet with her. “A presidential snub had turned into an insult,” Klein says.

Oh, speaking of insults, Klein also reports that the President and first lady have made catty remarks about the Kennedys to White House guests, including how badly they dress and how shabby their homes are. Caroline Kennedy, on her part, is quoted as saying that shaking hands with the first lady was “like shaking hands with a cold fish.” Klein concludes this section by quoting Caroline as saying, “I can’t stand to hear [Barack Obama’s] voice anymore.”

By the way, Klein will be one the keynote speakers at this year’s FreedomFest in Las Vegas, where I’ll once again serve as master of ceremonies. I’ll try to get some more juicy tidbits for you when I meet him.

Personal Liberty Digest™ contributor Wayne Allyn Root is the opening speaker for the event.

Other powerhouse speakers at this year’s conference, which bills itself as “the world’s largest gathering of free minds,” include Judge Andrew Napolitano, Senator Rand Paul, Whole Foods founder John Mackey, Forbes publisher Steve Forbes and a host of other luminaries.

For all the exciting details, go to www.freedomfest.com. And note that if you register in June, you’ll receive a free silver American Eagle when you arrive. If you do come, be sure to say hello. I always enjoy meeting with Personal Liberty Digest™ readers.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Wisconsin Vote Stuns The Left

It’s been amusing to hear all the liberal talking heads on TV trying to claim that Tuesday’s vote in Wisconsin was no big deal. My friends, it was a very big deal indeed. In fact, it just may mark the beginning of the end of union power in this country.

Let’s be very clear about what was at stake in this election. It wasn’t just about ending collective bargaining for government employees. It wasn’t even about how much of their pay union members should contribute for their pensions or their healthcare. While these issues are important, they pale in comparison to what really mattered.

The paramount issue was whether the government could force someone to belong to a union in order to hold a job and deduct union dues from his pay without giving him any say in the matter.

Governor Scott Walker and a Republican majority in the Wisconsin Legislature ended that sweetheart deal for public-sector unions in the State. The results have been catastrophic for the bully boys (and girls) of collective bargaining.

Once the law went into effect, no State employee could be forced to join a union in order to hold a job. Dues would no longer be deducted automatically; employees had to specifically request the deduction of union dues from their paychecks.

Given a choice, guess what happened? Tens of thousands of former union members said “no thanks.” As a result, union membership and dues fell like a safe being dropped out of a window.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is the second-largest public-sector union in Wisconsin. The largest is the National Education Association.

Prior to the passage of the Walker reforms, AFSCME had 62,818 members in Wisconsin. Six months after the new law took effect, the number had declined to just 28,745 dues-paying members. In other words, once they weren’t forced to be union members, more than 50 percent headed for the doors.

Bryan Kennedy, the president of the American Federation of Teachers in Wisconsin, said that failure to recall Walker “spells doom” for his union. Let’s hope he’s right.

None of this should come as a surprise. Time after time and in State after State, whenever right-to-work laws have replaced compulsory union membership, the results have been the same: More and more workers refuse to support unions. As President Barack Obama’s team will tell you, it takes a heck of a lot of “community organizing” to make up the difference.

Fifty years ago, more than half of the blue-collar workers in America were members of a union. Today, only 7 percent of private-sector employees are union members. That is what happens when people are given a choice. A huge percentage of them will choose to keep the money they earn, rather than let some ham-fisted organization spend it — allegedly on their behalf.

Get government involved and the results are dramatically different. The percentage of government employees who belong to a union is about 37 percent. The total number of union members has skyrocketed, thanks to the explosive growth of government at Federal, State and local levels.

Walker won the Governorship in 2010 by promising to bring some fiscal sanity to Wisconsin, which was facing a $3 billion deficit. To do that, he said that union members would have to start contributing “their fair share.” (Sound familiar?)

His “5 and 12” plan called for government employees to pay more for their lavish pensions and their generous healthcare plans. Under the Walker proposal, contributions to the pension plans would climb to 5.8 percent of their pay. This was still a sweetheart deal compared to what private-sector workers get. Most of the latter have no pension whatsoever; those who do contribute, on average, a lot more than 5.8 percent of their pay toward their retirement.

Healthcare is even more expensive. The average private-sector worker pays 21 percent of the premiums for his or her coverage; government employees in Wisconsin paid just 6 percent of the costs of their health insurance, or less than one-third as much. The Walker plan would double that figure to 12.6 percent — still a bargain by almost any measure.

Union members in Wisconsin went absolutely ballistic at the thought of having to dig into their own pockets so much. Tens of thousands of them marched on the State Capitol in Madison, in a sort of local “Occupy” movement. When that wasn’t enough to intimidate the Legislature, 14 Democratic Senators fled the State. Yep, they high-tailed it to Illinois, so there wouldn’t be enough voters left in Madison to form a quorum.

That standoff lasted for a while. When a vote was finally taken, the Walker proposals passed handily. Union officials and their Democratic allies immediately launched a highly publicized petition movement to demand a recall of Walker, his Lieutenant Governor and four Republican State Senators. Thousands of union volunteers poured into the State. They ended up collecting more than 900,000 signatures for the petition — way more than the 400,000 needed to force a special election.

On Tuesday, the unions and their Democratic allies got what they said they wanted: a chance for the public to vote “aye” or “nay” on the Walker reforms. After one of the most costly and divisive campaigns in State history, a record number of voters showed up at the polls.

Bless their hearts! They gave Walker an even bigger victory than they did in 2010, when he defeated Tom Barrett (yes, the same guy) by 5.5 percent of the votes cast. This time his victory was even bigger; he carried the State by 53 percent to 46 percent.

Let’s not forget that other Governors, including Mitch Daniels in Indiana and Chris Christie in New Jersey, have seen their popularity soar the more they have challenged teachers and other union members.

By the way, I suspect Obama’s pollsters had a much better idea of what was going to happen in Wisconsin than the number crunchers at CNN. How else can you explain Obama’s invisibility in what was clearly going to be one of the most important pre-November elections this year?

Oh, sure, Obama issued a lukewarm endorsement of Barrett from the safe confines of the White House. But when it came time to press the flesh and energize the crowds in Wisconsin, the President was nowhere to be seen. Nor was Vice President Joe Biden.

Remember, Obama and Biden carried the State handily in 2008. Afterwards, the Veep told an enthusiastic crowd of union loyalists, “We owe you!” Sure thing, buddy. But not enough to risk getting some egg on their faces this time around.

Does Walker’s stunning victory mean that Wisconsin is “in play” for Romney this fall? Time will tell. But in the meantime, is that a groundswell I hear saying “Walker for VP?”

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Feds To Florida: Stop

No fair purging the voter rolls. Officials in Florida believe that as many as 182,000 non-citizens may be on the voter rolls in the Sunshine State. So Republican Governor Rick Scott ordered election officials to identify any ineligible names and purge them from the list. Now, however, the U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the process stopped. It says it must approve in advance any changes in voter-registration procedures. The Feds can’t allow any discrimination regarding who gets to vote — especially with major elections coming up in a few months.

Big Gulp meets Big Brother. Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire Mayor of New York City, has a bold new program to combat rising obesity in the city. He wants to ban restaurants, movie theaters and even street carts from offering containers that hold more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” Bloomberg told The New York Times. What’s next: mandatory exercise classes in the city’s parks?

A bounty for Obama’s grades. While critics are eager to dig into any shenanigans they can find to pin on Mitt Romney — even going back to his prep school days — they’ve been strangely silent about Barack Obama’s refusal to release his grades from college. So a conservative website is now offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who sends them his transcripts from Occidental College, Columbia University or Harvard Law School. So far, no one has come forward to claim the money.

That promise didn’t work out so well. Thanks to James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal for reminding us that when Congress was debating the first “stimulus” bill, the Administration of Barack Obama claimed that the $831 billion spending spree would create so many new jobs the unemployment rate would drop to 5.7 percent. So after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was rammed through Congress, what happened? Even using the government’s very questionable statistics, unemployment was at 8.2% in May.

–Chip Wood     

 

Thinking Of Fleeing The United States?

Wowee, some folks are sure angry that Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook, decided to unfriend the country that helped make him a billionaire.

Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) called a press conference two weeks ago to announce the introduction of the Ex-PATRIOT Act. The letters stand for “Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy.” I’ll bet somebody spent hours coming up with that one.

The measure would also bar individuals like Saverin from ever re-entering the United States.

Schumer couldn’t help sounding a little spiteful when he declared: “Saverin has turned his back on the country that welcomed him and kept him safe, educated him and helped him become a billionaire. This is a great American success story gone horribly wrong.”

Clearly, Schumer would have changed “fleeing” in the headline above to “fleecing.”

For the record, let it be noted that Saverin paid every penny of taxes the Internal Revenue Service said he owed before he left our shores to become a citizen of Singapore. But that’s not enough for the greedy Senators. Their measure would impose a 30 percent capital gains tax on all of the assets of any American who dared to renounce his citizenship. It was predicted that Saverin’s Facebook shares would be worth about $3.5 billion after the initial public offering; that would have been a $1 billion bite.

Singapore, by contrast, has no capital gains tax; so it would appear that Saverin had a hefty financial incentive to make the move.

Nevertheless, the new Facebook billionaire issued a statement denying that he was leaving the U.S. to avoid paying taxes.

“I have paid and will continue to pay any taxes due on everything I earned while a U.S. citizen,” he said. He added that he was “very grateful to the U.S.” for the advantages he enjoyed since 1992, when he moved to the United States from Brazil. His decision to renounce his U.S. citizenship, he declared, “was based solely on my interest in working and living in Singapore.” Sure thing, Eduardo.

When I first heard this story, I couldn’t help but compare the threats and accusations against Saverin to the treatment another American billionaire received when he decided to relinquish his U.S. citizenship.

John Templeton was an investor and mutual fund pioneer who renounced his U.S. citizenship in the 1960s and moved to the Bahamas. The move saved him an estimated $100 million in taxes when he subsequently sold his interest in Templeton Growth Fund, an investment firm he started in 1954.

But rather than threats of being drawn and quartered, Templeton was honored and feted. He was granted both Bahamian and British citizenship. In fact, he was subsequently knighted by Queen Elizabeth in recognition of his many charitable activities. At the time of his death, it is estimated that Sir John had given away more than $1 billion. His numerous gifts included establishing the Templeton College at the University of Oxford. He left the bulk of his fortune to the John Templeton Foundation, which manages the Templeton Prize for Progress toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities.

Templeton clearly believed he was a better steward of his wealth than our government would be since he took such a drastic step to reduce his tax bite, including what his estate would have to pay upon his death. But doesn’t every American who reduces his tax bill by making charitable contributions do the same  thing? By the way, this must even include Barack and Michelle Obama, who have made substantial gifts to charity. If they thought the government could spend the money better, why not just pay it in taxes?

When Templeton died four years ago at the age of 95, he was still one of the most admired and respected financial figures on the planet. I think it’s safe to say that Saverin will not be afforded the same affection and respect that Templeton enjoyed.

It turns out that an increasing number of Americans have decided to head for other shores. While the numbers are still a tiny fraction of our population, the trend is unmistakable: According to official figures, a mere 235 Americans gave up their nationality in 2008. Three years later, the number was more than seven times higher: 1,780 disgruntled Americans did so in 2011.

But that’s a pittance compared to the number of expats who have moved out of the United States without surrendering their citizenship. An estimated 6 million citizens live outside our borders. While that does not absolve them from paying taxes here, they do enjoy some substantial advantages — including, in many cases, a substantially lower cost of living.

So what about you? Are there any circumstances that would persuade you to pack your bags and head for another country? If you’ve already left our shores, I hope you’ll use the comments section below to tell us why you did, when it happened and where you went. I’m sure a ton of readers will be interested in your reasons — and your experiences.

If you are thinking of becoming an expat, where would you go? If the amount of economic freedom you will find in your newly adopted country is an important consideration, then you need to know about the Index of Economic Freedom. It’s a study that’s done every year by the Heritage Foundation, in cooperation with The Wall Street Journal.

You won’t be surprised to learn which countries head the list. Hong Kong is in first place, with Singapore right behind. Trailing those two Asian countries are Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada and Chile. Sad to say, the United States has slipped to 10th place on the list. Frankly, I was a little surprised we haven’t dropped further.

There were no surprises, either, at the bottom of the list. North Korea was dead last, with Zimbabwe, Cuba and Libya not doing much better. Other gems in the bottom 10, in descending order, were Equatorial Guinea, Iran, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burma, Venezuela and Eritrea. I don’t think you’ll find your own personal Shangri-La in any one of them.

As for me, while I have enjoyed visiting many of the world’s garden spots (and a few places that were more like garbage dumps), there isn’t one I’d consider making my permanent home — not even if it would save me a fortune in taxes.

Besides, I’m having too much fun in the fight for freedom here to seriously consider leaving. I hope you are, too.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood

Nobama

More people join the ‘anybody but Barack Obama’ club. It was no surprise that Mitt Romney won the Republican primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky last week. But did you hear what happened on the Democratic side? Forty-two percent of the voters in the Democratic primaries in those two States voted against the incumbent President. In Kentucky, where there wasn’t even an opponent on the ballot, Democrats selected “uncommitted.” That’s almost as embarrassing as what happened in West Virginia, where 41 percent of Democratic voters chose a prison inmate rather than our current President.

Taxmageddon could derail the economy. As discussed in last week’s Straight Talk, tax increases already set to take effect in January will cost taxpayers an additional $500 billion a year. Some economists estimate that it could knock 3 percentage points off the Nation’s gross domestic product and warn that another recession is all but inevitable unless Congress takes action to block this massive tax grab.

More Americans leave the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 63.6 percent of American adults were considered to be in the workforce in April — the lowest percentage since 1981. Some 88 million Americans have “chosen” not to be in the workforce — the highest level in history.

Fudging the unemployment numbers. The previous item helps explain why the Administration of Barack Obama can claim that the unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in April. And another eye-opener from the Bureau: Only 41.6 percent of people with jobs work more than 35 hours a week — the definition of having a full-time job.

–Chip Wood

Are You Ready For Taxmageddon?

Thanks a lot, Congress. It looks like you’ve really stuck it to us again. This time, just sitting on your hands and doing nothing is going to cause the biggest tax increase in our Nation’s history.

On Feb. 18, The Washington Post reported:

On Dec. 31, the George W. Bush-era tax cuts are scheduled to expire, raising rates on investment income, estates and gifts, and earnings at all levels. … The Social Security payroll tax will pop back up to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent… And new Medicare taxes enacted as part of President Obama’s health-care initiative will for the first time strike high-income households.

The potential shock to the nation’s pocketbook is so enormous, congressional aides have dubbed it “Taxmageddon.”

Taxmageddon won’t be the result of one massive new assault on our wallets. Instead, it will come from tax cuts expiring in seven categories, along with new tax increases taking effect because of Obamacare.

The biggest of the bunch will come from the expiration of Bush tax cuts that were passed in 2001 and 2003. At the time, proponents argued that the only way to get enough Democrats to support the measures would be to include a cap on how long they would be in effect. As a result, our lawmakers agreed that the tax reductions would expire on Dec. 31, 2012.

Although Democrats love to refer to the measures as “tax cuts for the wealthy,” the across-the-board tax cuts actually reduced taxes for almost everyone who paid any income tax. Some 60 percent of the benefits went to middle- and low-income taxpayers.

Curtis Dubay of the Heritage Foundation prepared a detailed analysis of the tax hikes that are about to hit us:

Almost 34 percent of the tax increase from Taxmageddon comes from the expiration of the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. These cuts are best known for reducing marginal income tax rates, but they also reduced the marriage penalty, increased the Child Tax Credit and the adoption credit, and increased tax breaks for education costs and dependent care costs.

In other words, they will impact just about everyone who pays any income taxes in this country.

We’re not talking about puny increases, either. Taxpayers at every level will be affected, with some of the greatest increases hitting people at the bottom of the ladder. For example, the lowest bracket is currently 10 percent. Beginning in January, it will jump to 15 percent — a 50 percent increase.

This “bracket creep” will affect every taxpayer. All of the existing brackets will go up at least 10 percent. Thus, 25 percent will become 28 percent; 28 percent becomes 31 percent; 33 percent climbs to 36 percent; and 35 percent rises to 39.6 percent. If you’re in the top tax bracket, congratulations! Your tax bracket just went up 13.14 percent.

That’s not all. Wait until you see what the new taxes in Obamacare will do to you. I’ll get to those in a moment.

People who depend on savings and investments will be hammered even harder than wage earners. Right now, the maximum Federal tax rate on long-term capital gains is 15 percent. Starting next year, that will go up to 20 percent — a leap of 33 percent. Those collecting dividends will suffer even more: The maximum rate will skyrocket from the existing 15 percent to a hefty 39.6 percent. (Assets acquired after Dec. 31, 2000, and held for at least five years don’t get hit quite as hard.)

In other words, the thriftiest among us — the people who carefully managed their household budgets, saved some money for the future and invested those funds in stocks, bonds and CDs — will be hit the hardest. The government attack on savings makes it seem almost as though there is a scheme in Washington to punish senior citizens and make them more dependent on government.

Almost every wage earner in America will pay more in taxes when the payroll tax cuts are allowed to expire. In his 2009 State of the Union address, Barack Obama promised: “If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime.”

Well, guess what? It turns out he wasn’t quite telling the truth — something a lot of us have pointed out many times.

Also scheduled to expire is a temporary fix of the Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT was originally sold to a skeptical public as a way to make sure “the rich” pay their fair share – which, of course, it never did. In 2013 it will scalp a lot more than the top 1 percent of taxpayers; current estimates indicate 34 million taxpayers will fall victim to it.

Remember the phase-out rules for itemized deductions? The big spenders in Congress came up with the bright idea of eliminating most of the credit high-income taxpayers got for deductions on mortgage interest, State and local taxes, and charitable giving. The phase-out was eliminated in 2010. But it will be back in full force next year, unless Congress acts before then.

By the way, don’t think that only “the rich” will be affected here, either. If you’re a married couple with an adjusted gross income of $175,000, better be prepared to lose a big bunch of the money you can deduct from your Federal tax bill. If you’re married but filing separately, that ceiling drops to just $87,500 — a long way from Barack Obama’s $250,000 limit.

And here’s an even more frightening thought: The $500 billion in increased taxes that Uncle Sam wants to take from us in 2013 will just be the beginning. As our economy continues to grow, so will the impact of all these new and higher taxes.

Just because these tax increases don’t take affect for seven more months, don’t think we’re not feeling the effect today. As Dubay explains:

Although these tax increases will not start raising new revenue until next year, they are having a negative impact on the economy today. Families, businesses, and investors need to know how much tax they will pay in the future before making important economic decisions. The uncertainty caused by Taxmageddon means they are stuck in neutral while they wait for President Obama and Congress to act. This is slowing job creation and stopping many of the millions of unemployed Americans from going back to work.

So there you have it: higher taxes on all of us, plus fewer new jobs being created and an economy that just stumbles along, all because Congress refuses to act.

I hope you’ll remember this — and remind your neighbors about it — when it comes time to vote for a new Congress this November.

Until next time, keep some powder dry.

–Chip Wood