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Phil Gramm: Let Freedom Be The Rallying Principle For Health Care Reform

Remember the debate over HillaryCare? Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm sure does. He was in the middle of the fight to fend off the first attempt at a government takeover of the health care/health insurance system in our country. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Gramm offers advice, steeped in his experience dealing with HillaryCare, for ending ObamaCare and restoring freedom and choice to our system.

The opportunity to restore freedom of choice may arise well before January 2017. If the Supreme Court decides to let Congress clarify its own intent on federal exchange subsidies, Republicans should demand that all American families be guaranteed the freedom to opt out as a precondition to bringing up any legislation to “fix” ObamaCare.

Republicans should not underestimate the power of freedom in the health-care debate. In 1994, when 74 senators had either co-sponsored President Clinton’s health bill—or a very close alternative—Sens. John McCain, Paul Coverdell and I set out to try to defeat HillaryCare. The media in Washington largely ignored our opposition, but we conducted over 40 public forums around the country in hospitals and other medical settings.

We talked about efficiency and people looked at their watches. We talked about costs and they yawned. But in Atlanta, when my mother attended the meeting and I started to talk about her freedom to make her own health-care choices, people started to respond and HillaryCare started to die.

In the end the debate was not about money or efficiency. It was about freedom. This same principle offers our only real hope of stopping the suffering under ObamaCare now and repealing it in 2017.

As it has been throughout history, freedom is a powerful force for reform.

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University of Arkansas Report: Charter Schools More Productive Than Traditional Public Schools

A new University of Arkansas report finds that public charter schools are more productive than traditional public schools in each of the more than 20 states studied, including North Carolina.

Titled “The Productivity of Public Charter Schools,” the report documents that students gained an average of 17 additional points in math and 16 points in reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress for every $1,000 invested.

In this video clip, Dr. Terry Stoops, John Locke Foundation director of research and education studies, calls the report good news for North Carolina charter school supporters.

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Life Sure Is Fun When You’re Spending Other People’s Money

Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith reports on shenanigans in Tarboro, as revealed in State Auditor Beth Wood’s audit of town spending.

State Auditor Beth Wood said an audit pointing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in misspending by top Tarboro officials should serve as a call for governing boards across North Carolina to ratchet up their oversight of public spending.

“It’s a huge message to cities and councils, that their board members, their commissioners, their city council members are watching their operations,” Wood said Tuesday. “These are the things that council members should have their arms around.”

Wood’s office issued an investigative audit finding numerous violations and irregularities centered on former Tarboro Town Manager Sam Noble.

The investigative audit found that, over a six-year period, Noble made nearly $366,000 in purchases that exceeded the scope of his duties and that he obtained more than $87,000 for universal life insurance premiums without approval of the Tarboro Town Council.

The audit chides Noble for failing to comply with the town’s purchasing policies. The report says that many of the items purchased appeared not to relate to his job as a town administrator.

Among reimbursements Noble received were $15,405 for items purchased at the Apple Store, $19,665 for purchases at Boater’s World, $8,316 for items from Dick’s Sporting Goods, $11,071 for Best Buy, and $8,533 for items purchased at Bass Pro Shops. Items purchased included shirts, coolers, gun holsters, life vests, flashlights, helmets, wetsuits, marine equipment, knives, and jackets.

He also purchased police equipment, including handguns, that were not necessary for his duties, the report says. “A former police chief said there was no reason the former town manager needed all the police equipment and clothing,” the report said.



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They’re Counting On You Not Checking Into Their Ridiculous Claims

Over at sister blog The Locker Room, Jon Sanders points out more false information being spread about important legal rulings and policy debates. Sanders begins:

Looks like another disinformation campaign is underway in reaction to court ruling unfavorable to Obamacare. This one regards the Halbig ruling that Obamacare subsidies shall be distributed only to individual market exchange consumers living in states that have set up their own health insurance exchanges.

Continue reading Jon’s analysis here.

Be sure to stay on top of facts about Obamacare by reading analysis of Katherine Restropo, JLF’s health and human services analyst.

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“One’s right and one’s wrong, that’s really the gist of it.”

Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports on the two conflicting Court of Appeals Obamacare rulings that were released Tuesday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday ruled 2-1 that the federal government cannot tax employers in order to provide health insurance subsidies in North Carolina and 35 other states that refused to establish Obamacare exchanges, potentially threatening the national health reform.

That same day, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond unanimously upheld the subsidies, rejecting similar arguments by plaintiffs in another case. Both lawsuits charged the IRS with rewriting the law in 2012 illegally.

Because of the split in the circuit court decisions, legal observers believe the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately will decide the issue, which affects more than 50 million people who bought taxpayer-subsidized insurance policies on the federal exchange.

“One’s right and one’s wrong, that’s really the gist of it,” said Sam Kazman, general counsel of the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute, of the decisions. Kazman coordinated the plaintiffs’ arguments in the Halbig v. Burwell case before the D.C. Circuit, and also worked on the King v. Burwell case before the 4th Circuit.

Continue reading for the details on each case.

And don’t forget to follow the analysis of Obamacare made by JLF health and human services analyst Katherine Restrepo.

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Nanny-Staters Want Shopping Carts To Tell You What To Buy

Vicki Alger, writing for the Independent Women’s Forum, has the latest idea from the nanny-staters: $30,000 talking shopping carts.

The USDA “MyCarts” would be divided into sections separating a variety of healthy foods, colored-coded, and rigged with algorithms capable of determining when shoppers had met their USDA-certified healthy food minimums. Grocery stores would be required to modify their POS systems and aisles according to USDA specifications. A typical grocery store would need to spend around $30,000 for 300 new MyCarts costing $30,000 each (p. 30).

Can you guess who would end up paying for all of this? Say hello to $10 bananas.

You can read the 80-page U.S. Department of Agriculture report here. 



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College Grades Based On “representational equity”

Here’s what’s going on at the University of Wisconsin — grading based on “representational equity.”  The piece is written by W. Lee Hansen, professor emeritus, of the university.


Let us take a closer look at one of these working definitions included, namely “representational equity.”

It calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.”

We are not told exactly what adherence to this will entail. It appears to mean that directors of programs and departmental chairs will have to somehow ensure that they have a mix of students with just the right percentages of individuals who embody the various “differences” included in the definition of diversity. I cannot see how that is possible and even if it were, how it improves any student’s education.

Suppose there were a surge of interest in a high demand field such as computer science. Under the “equity” policy, it seems that some of those who want to study this field would be told that they’ll have to choose another major because computer science already has “enough” students from their “difference” group.

Especially shocking is the language about “equity” in the distribution of grades. Professors, instead of just awarding the grade that each student earns, would apparently have to adjust them so that academically weaker, “historically underrepresented racial/ethnic” students perform at the same level and receive the same grades as academically stronger students.


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Will Raleigh Using Zoning To Shut Out Big Grocery Stores?

A proposal by Publix to build a 50,000 square foot store on Falls of Neuse has drawn opposition from a group called Grow Raleigh Great. But now a trade group, the International Association of Shopping Centers, has entered the debate. Spokesman Joseph Lee fires back at the opposition group’s argument and what it could lead to.

But the International Council of Shopping Centers says that what Cox suggests would effectively ban new grocery stores in Raleigh.

“It is also highly probable that grocery expansion would all but cease in the city, outside of small boutique grocers,” Lee wrote. “Publix Supermarkets, Harris Teeter and Kroger almost certainly would not be able to compete effectively in the City of Raleigh given this revised interpretation.”

Lee’s report points to 11 grocery stores in Raleigh that are bigger than 30,000 square feet, and he says they wouldn’t be allowed under the proposed change. But according to the city’s proposed new zoning map, most of the existing grocery shopping centers will be designated community mixed use.



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N.C. Liberals Champion Hollywood Welfare, Attack Tax Relief For Average Families

John Hood eviscerates the schizophrenic arguments used by North Carolina liberals as they desperately seek ways to criticize the governor and legislative reformers. Hood’s example is liberal/Democrat support for our state’s misguided film incentive. At $61 million, North Carolina’s film credit is nothing more than special carve-out for a chosen industry.


Yet most of these same Democratic politicians and left-wing activists have previously argued that state taxes are not a significant factor in business decisions — that the taxes are too small to matter in the whole scheme of things and that states with lower taxes don’t grow faster, all other things being equal, than states with higher taxes.

Are movie moguls and TV producers the only business leaders who care about their tax burdens? Are media-production jobs the only ones that state policymakers should strive to attract and retain?

Here’s another consistency problem with the Left’s tax claims. Last year, when Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislature enacted historic, pro-growth tax reform — including the passage of a modified Flat Tax — liberals complained that the measure eliminated the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit. Citing its absence, they then claimed that North Carolinians of low to moderate incomes would actually experience a net tax increase from tax reform, with only wealthy taxpayers coming out ahead.

But when my colleagues and others pointed out that the state’s sales tax burden had dropped by nearly $1 billion in 2011, which lowered the burden on low- and middle-income taxpayers far more than the disappearance of the Earned Income Tax Credit raised it, liberals denied the significance of the event. The Republican-led legislature didn’t actually cut the state sales tax in 2011, they insisted. They simply failed to extend a temporary sales-tax increase that had been enacted two years earlier.

That’s technically correct, although whether to extend that sales-tax increase was a highly contentious and partisan issue during the 2011 legislative session. Here’s the problem, however: by that logic, the Republicans didn’t eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, either. It was also originally enacted as a time-limited measure, back in 2007, and was set to expire in 2013. The Republicans simply chose not to reauthorize it, arguing that the larger per-child tax credits and standard deductions for single parents with kids in the 2013 tax-reform measure accomplished a similar objective.

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“Our disproportionately higher tax rate puts foreign companies at a huge advantage competitively”

Miles White, chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, has had enough of the myths about so-called “inversions” in which businesses incorporate in countries with lower tax rates than in the U.S. — where the corporate tax rate of 35 percent is the highest in the world. In this Wall Street Journal piece, he explains the facts.

The U.S. is among only a handful of countries, and the only one in the Group of Seven, that taxes companies on world-wide earnings rather than the earnings in their home domiciles. It’s a double whammy: the highest rate, by far, and it’s applied worldwide.

In terms of global competitiveness, the U.S. and U.S. companies are at a substantial disadvantage to foreign companies. Taxes are a business cost. Our disproportionately higher tax rate puts foreign companies at a huge advantage competitively, and their lower tax burden amounts to a subsidy that encourages them to acquire American businesses.

Furthermore, the U.S. enjoys the lower prices of products sourced from overseas. Mylan CEO Heather Bresch explained this on CNBC on Monday. Half of the generic medicines prescribed in the U.S. come from foreign manufacturers, which have numerous cost advantages, including a lower tax rate. Can you imagine the sales rep of any American company in any business suggesting that a customer in the U.S. should be willing to pay more for a product from a U.S. company because our tax rate is higher and it’s patriotic to do so?

Unfortunately we are living in a time when facts are often ignored by people who want more and more of other people’s money in order to grow government.

Thankfully, here in North Carolina, the legislative fiscal reformers haven’t allowed liberal rants and mud-slinging to stop them from making sure North Carolinians of all income levels keep more of their own money. 

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